North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, seen as the hardline regime’s political regent, has apparently been purged and two associates executed, South Korea’s spy agency said on Tuesday nearly two years after the young supremo came to power. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told a parliamentary committee that it believed Jang Song-Thaek had been removed from all posts, including vice chairman of the communist country’s top military body, the National Defence Commission.
Ukraine had dodged a “death spiral” by protecting its eastern trade flows. Putin has been tightening the screws for months, blocking shipments of goods and targeting heavy industry in the eastern region that depends on the Russian market. A freeze on imports of railway carriages has hit 80 per cent of Ukraine’s carriage output. Another victim is Roshen chocolate, owned by Petro Poroshenko, a champion of the EU cause in Ukraine’s parliament. Roshen sales in Russia have been banned for “toxic impurities”. The guerrilla warfare tactics have pushed Ukraine to the brink of financial collapse.
A former officer said: “The primary goal the authorities will have had is to present Bouteflika as strong and in control of the state—including the security apparatus. On the other hand, the big changes taking place in the region, the security deterioration along Algeria’s borders, and the corruption scandals that have come to light have forced these actions and changes in military and government officials. But to say that there is a struggle between the intelligence service and the presidency—this is just to distract public opinion. There is no struggle whatsoever; they are in perfect harmony.”
Afghan parliamentarians and analysts are concerned about the Iranian regime’s machinations in Afghanistan. “Iran is quite busy inventing crisis in Afghanistan,” Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, a writer and director of the Regional Study Centre in Kabul, said. “Iran has two goals,” he told Central Asia Online. “First, it wants to create barriers to Western countries, and second, it wants to build up its own influence by establishing pro-Iran universities, religious seminaries and media outlets.” Nazir Ahmadzai accused Tehran of supporting insurgents in order to destabilise Afghanistan before its April elections.
It’s an election in name only: even the challengers to Tajikistan’s autocratic president have praised him and the only real opposition candidate has been barred from the race in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation. Emomali Rakhmon, 61, who has led the mountainous, Sunni Muslim nation neighboring Afghanistan and China for more than two decades, is all but certain to win a fourth presidential term in Wednesday’s vote. He polled 79 percent in the previous election seven years ago. Western monitors criticized it as lacking any genuine competition.
Along the lines of the intensifying regional rivalries between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iran, the Lebanese arena continues to play the role of a “mailbox” for sending messages between the concerned states – an issue that was apparent in the continuing clashes in Tripoli between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. There is talk of a Saudi-Syrian struggle in the poorer districts of Tripoli, manifested in rumors of massive amounts of money being transferred to the different groups and their fighters.
China’s interest in a peaceful Middle East is enormous, by contrast. Beijing is not only the biggest customer of precisely those oil powers who presently are fanning the flames of conflict in Syria; as a VIP customer, Beijing has growing political influence, which it should use openly. The word of the Chinese foreign minister has just as much weight in Tehran and Riyadh as that of his American counterpart. China’s situation, Zand continues, is rather like Germany’s after reunification: a state whose economic power is growing will eventually be asked what it puts on the table politically.
The GCC countries spent about $130 billion in 2012 to bolster their defences, according to ‘Jane’s Defence Weekly’. While most of their requirements are currently sourced from Western manufacturers, there is change in the offing. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Saudi Arabia made a $15-billion weapons contracts proposal to Russia in July 2013. And, if the possibility of Turkey choosing a $4 billion Chinese missile defence system materialises, at the cost of Western firms, it will create big openings for the Asian giant in the Gulf.
Beijing considers Central Asia as a region of its own, if not a testing ground for China’s foreign policy, while publicly stating that the region remains under Russia’s sphere of influence. The post-Cold War Chinese approach to Central Asia is based on the concept of Zhoubian, or peripheral strategy, meaning that security has to be reached in the bordering Chinese territories through the development of a belt of stable neighbors based on peaceful coexistence. Thus, Central Asia represents a continental bridge between China and Europe: regional stability is paramount for Beijing because turbulences on the bridge could endanger the whole sub-system.
“Karzai has a mental map of the incredibly Byzantine patronage networks and small balancing acts among local leaders that have formed the spiders’ web of connections that is the current government,” he said. That may not please NATO planners, who privately say they are running out of time to strike a deal for forces to remain. This week Mr. Karzai gave a reminder of his short fuse, railing against international forces for causing “great suffering” for the past year.
An audio recording attributed to Egypt’s Defense Minister al-Sisi was published on Thursday by Rassd News Network in which the army chief has called for providing a constitutional immunity for him if he is not elected Egypt’s president “You should lead a campaign with intellectuals to draft an article in the constitution to provide immunity to Gen. al-Sisi in his capacity as a defense minister and allow him to resume his role if he is not elected president,” al-Sisi reportedly says during an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.
Fidan’s rise to prominence has accompanied a notable erosion in US influence over Turkey. Washington long had cozy relations with Turkey’s military, the second-largest army in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). But Turkey’s generals are now subservient to Erdogan and his closest advisers, Fidan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who are using the Arab Spring to shift Turkey’s focus toward expanding its regional leadership, say current and former US officials. “Hakan Fidan is the face of the new Middle East,” says James Jeffrey, who recently served as US ambassador in Turkey and Iraq. “We need to work with him because he can get the job done,” he says.
After finding favour with energy resource-rich countries such as Nepal and Bhutan, India’s proposal for a common power market in South Asia is now gaining traction with power-deficit countries of the region like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. While Indian power companies have a strong footprint in the hydropower sectors of Bhutan and Nepal, estimated to have generation potential of 30,000 mw 40,000 mw respectively, they have now found toeholds in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Pakistan, too, has solicited Indian investment in its power sector.
Saudi Arabia, exasperated with U.S. vacillation related to Syria’s chemical arsenal and now its effort to reconcile with Iran, Riyadh’s foremost adversary, is forging a new alliance of Islamist rebels in Syria under a pro-Saudi warlord to supersede the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army. Riyadh also wants to foment an Iraq-style “Sunni Awakening” to unite Syria’s majority sect to topple the minority Damascus regime of President Bashar Assad. “The Saudis have enlisted ’50 brigades’ and some thousands of fighters under a new structure headed by Zahren Alloush, head of Liwa al-Islam, the new group’s most powerful Salafist brigade.”
Algeria’s ailing head of state, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, had been widely expected to stand aside in presidential elections slated for April 2014 after ruling the oil and gas-rich North African country since 1991. But instead, the 76-year-old Bouteflika, one of the few surviving veterans of Algeria’s 1954-62 war of independence against France, has boldly sought to consolidate his power base in his running battle with the country’s generals by purging the powerful intelligence services.
Russia knows very well that should Ukraine sign the EU Association Agreement, it will no longer have the tools to incorporate Ukraine into the Customs Union, thus making further political integration into the Eurasian Union impossible. The Eurasian Union has been at the forefront of Putin’s attempts to create an umbrella group for former Soviet nations that would strive for their security, economic prosperity and cultural closeness. The idea of seeing Russia as the core of a new geopolitical center that would act as a bridge between West and East has long been an attractive idea to many Russians and is a project that Russian rulers have promoted for centuries.
Ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s massive reorganisation of the cabinet, in which he gave key posts to close allies, aims to ensure he has control over his succession next year, analysts and media say. The reshuffle on Wednesday, the largest since 1990, saw nearly a third of ministers lose their jobs and came after Bouteflika had put a confidante as head of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) and trimmed the sails of the powerful DRS military intelligence agency. “It’s a war cabinet to prepare for the presidential election” in April 2014, political analyst Rachid Grim said.
With a subtle motion of the hand” China took away the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India (TAPI) pipeline project from USA and became yesterday the chief controller of gas resources in Central and South Asia.
Somebody else’s ideas and plans have been expropriated by means of contract for sale of 25 bn cu m of gas per year concluded between State Concern Turkmengas and Chinese Company CNPC. The deal will increase the total volume of Turkmen gas supplied to China up to 65 bn cu m.
Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean are capable of reacting to an escalation in the Syria conflict, a military source said, as Moscow fine tunes its maritime presence ahead of possible US military action. “Today we consider our presence in the eastern Mediterranean to be sufficient to solve the tasks. If necessary, together with submarine forces, they (the ships) are capable even today of influencing a military situation,” a general staff said. “We are ready to solve sudden task.
Natural gas basins could turn the Mediterranean into a “sea of prosperity,” but there is a risk that politics may hamper economic progress, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned. “The biggest problem in the eastern Mediterranean is not the existence of reserves, it is the potential that politics may supersede the economy,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, told daily Hürriyet. “If this settles down, I believe eastern Mediterranean gas will raise the prosperity of regional countries and could become an important alternative to Russian gas,” he said.
Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Mongolia are expected to become full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at its next summit, said former Secretary General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Akram Zaki on Wednesday. Speaking at an international conference entitled “SCO’s Role in Regional Stability: Prospect of Its Expansion” organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute here, Akram Zaki said China and the Russian Federation had supported Pakistan, India and other countries’s membership of the SCO.
Tens of thousands of Russian troops have been placed on alert after a suspected Israeli airstrike destroyed advanced, Russian missiles recently delivered to Syria. In a July 13 report from ITAR-TASS, The Russian Defense Ministry has announced what is being described as “the most ambitious [check alert] in the history of post-Soviet test readiness.” The alert, according to the ITAR-TASS report, involves more than 80,000 troops, around a thousand tanks and armored personnel carriers, some 130 aircraft and 70 naval vessels.
Both Gen Sisi and Adly Mansour, the chief justice appointed as interim president by the generals, have old ties with Riyadh – Gen Sisi was once military attache there, while Mr Mansour spent seven years as an adviser to the Saudi ministry of commerce. The day before Saudi’s money was sent to Egypt, it won another small battle when Ghassan Hitto, who was said to be close to Qatar and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, finally resigned as the interim prime minister of the Syrian National Coalition. Two days earlier, Saudi’s man, Ahmad Assi Jarba, a tribal sheikh of more traditional bent, became its president.
Those who wanted to believe Bouteflika dead were disappointed, those who plotted against him in the interim shelved their plans, those who longed for a huge succession fight realized they’d wasted their time, and those who dreamed of a new day for their country would have to dream of something else instead. And just you wait, Bouteflika will punish them all. He will go after everyone who declined to come out and mourn for him, who failed to organize fervent processions, to sacrifice sheep, to make offerings like in the days of the sultans.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what is right or wrong. What matters is what is practical. For this week eurocrats went a step further and— having already exasperated many of the EU’s own members— they managed to alienate the one of the block’s biggest trading partners too, by slapping tariffs on cut-price Chinese solar panels. The scrap has become so petty that even the country which started it, Germany, wants no part in the fight, while France, which will be hit the hardest by any Chinese wine tariffs, is posturing angrily on the point of principle.
“Qatar has spent about three billion dollars in the past two years to support the opposition in Syria, which far exceeds what provided by any other government. However, the Saudi Arabia competes now in leading the bodies providing Syrian opposition with weapons,” the paper said. “The cost of the Qatari intervention in Syria, which is the latest effort of the oil-rich emirate to support an “Arab revolution,” only represents a very small part of the international investment of Qatar,” it added. “Qatar’s support for Islamist groups in the Arab countries puts it in confrontation with the other Gulf States and provokes competition with the Saudi Arabia,”
Russia is engaged in a major buildup of both nuclear and conventional missile defense systems at the same time Moscow is seeking legal limits on U.S. missile defenses, according to U.S. officials.
The Russian military is developing and deploying an array of new and modernized anti-missile interceptors that are part of a strategic doctrine that calls for defending against what Moscow believes to be an increasing threat posed by offensive ballistic missiles, said U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports.
A bid by Qatar to relocate the United Nations’ civil aviation agency from Montreal to the tiny emirate has angered Canada, where politicians from all sides vowed Friday to band together to fight the proposed move.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets international civil aviation standards, has been in Montreal since its founding in 1946. Qatar presented ICAO with an unsolicited offer last month to serve as the new permanent seat of the organization beginning in 2016.
China has allegedly sold helicopter gunships to ethnic Wa rebels who occupy areas of Shan State in eastern Burma, intelligence monitor Jane’s Information Group reported on Monday.
The report claimed China “delivered several Mil Mi-17 ‘Hip’ medium- transport helicopters armed with TY-90 air-to-air missiles to the Wa in late February and early March, according to both Myanmar ethnic minority and Myanmar government sources.” Bertil Lintner, an expert on Burma and author of Great Game East: India, China and the Struggle for Asia’s Most Volatile Frontier, confirmed the accuracy of the Jane’s report.
Analyzing Beijing’s foreign policy is a relatively simple exercise. That’s because, unlike the United States and other Western nations, China doesn’t even pretend to operate on any other principle except naked self-interest. On one hand, China has courted Israel as a partner in developing Mediterranean gas fields — but it also has been happy to do business with Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran, and has sold weapons that ended up in Hezbollah’s arsenal. In South Asia, meanwhile, China has cynically helped Pakistan check India’s regional role, even as China’s state-controlled press has warned Pakistan that Beijing may “intervene militarily” in South Asia if Pakistani-origin jihadis continue to infiltrate Muslim areas of Western China.
With the Sino-India standoff in Ladakh now in it’s third week, Chinese are showing no signs of withdrawing from the territory they occupied after their incursion in Ladakh two weeks ago. On Monday news reports said Chinese troops have erected an additional tent in the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector raising to five the number of such structures in the area. The Chinese troops have also deployed Molosser dogs to keep a vigil, according to latest reports on Monday from the site of incursion, 70 km south of Burtse in Ladakh division. A banner hoisted outside the camp reads in English “you are in Chinese side” with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel maintaining a round-the-clock vigil, official sources said.
Morocco could be the first victim among the emerging democracies of Southern Mediterranean, a European strategy for economic independence and political sovereignty. The World Social Forum held recently in Tunis, associative altermondialists Maghreb, South European and Scandinavian, had preached an alarming discourse: It would be according to what was discussed by them, a wide ranging a war that is about to pit the EU-27 countries against the democratic spring countries in the southern Mediterranean. Thus, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and to a lesser extent Jordan, whether it decides its orientation towards democracy or not, will be kept on a leash by Europeans through Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs)
In the way China made land grabs across the Himalayas in the 1950s by launching furtive encroachments, it is now waging separate stealth wars—without firing a single shot—to change the status quo in the South and East China Seas, on the line of control with India, and on international river flows. Although China has risen from a backward, poor state to a global economic powerhouse, the key elements in its statecraft and strategic doctrine have not changed. Since the Mao Zedong era, China has adhered to ancient theorist Sun Tzu’s advice, “The ability to subdue the enemy without any battle is the ultimate reflection of the most supreme strategy.”
The 2008 war with Georgia allowed Russia to greatly enhance its already considerable military presence. Russian officials say there are roughly 5,000 Russian personnel in Abkhazia: 3,500 military and 1,500 Federal Security Service (FSB) officers and “border guards”. Moscow allocated $465 million over four years to the rehabilitation and construction of military infrastructure. This included work on Bombora, the largest military airfield in the South Caucasus, in Gudauta. Though Russian media sources describe significant weapons at the base, Western military officials in late 2012 said intelligence indicated only four fighter craft there on a regular basis – two Sukhoi 27s and two MiG-29s.
THE leading independent election monitoring group in Russia yesterday became the first non-governmental organisation to be prosecuted in President Putin’s nationwide hunt for “foreign agents”.
Golos (Voice) has reported widespread irregularities in recent Russian polls and said in March last year that the presidential election, in which Mr Putin was re-elected for a third term, was not “fair, just and open according to the Russian constitution and international standards”. The Justice Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that Golos “receives foreign funding and carries out political activities in Russia, thus it fulfils the functions of a foreign agent”. It will present its case in court today.
There are three major means for the U.S. to conduct deep involvement in the Asia-Pacific region: first, wide alliance to win over various countries in the Asia-Pacific region; second, military forward deployment to realize strategic “re-balancing”; and third, occupy a “leading” position in the region to play “pro-active role”.
The U.S. believes that the time span from the end of the Cold War to 2015 is a period of “strategic opportunity”, during which the rise and development of such major regional countries as China and Russia will pose serious challenges to the U.S. around 2015. Among the two, China “is more likely to become the challenger”.
Saudi authorities have called in several influential Shiite Muslim clerics and intellectuals for questioning, as last month’s arrest of 16 people on charges of spying for Iran threatens to raise tensions between leaders of the religious minority and the government in the oil-rich kingdom.
The trigger for the summons was the Shiite community’s angry reaction to last month’s arrest of 16 Saudi Shiites, who are accused of providing information and documents to Iran, allegations that Iran denies.
Which cruel ruler is continually forcing new rounds of austerity measures on the Greeks? And which dark power managed to break the resistance of Cypriots in just a few days? The answer is not Germany. It is the eurozone’s shadow state.
“Within this euro shadow state is a shadow government, the European Council,” Mayer said at a recent lecture at the Academy for Civic Education in Tutzing, southern Germany. “There’s a shadow executive, the Eurogroup. And there’s a task force to implement discipline that was grossly infringed upon. That’s the troika.”
Australia is seeking to bypass trading in U.S. dollars with China in an effort to avoid the commercial uncertainties that come with the recent fluctuations in the greenback. For example, just a half a year ago, the dollar traded at about $1.20 to the euro; by February, it had weakened to $1.34 per euro and now it is going for $1.27.
Eliminating the dollar in trade will be the focus of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s trip to Beijing next week. Trade with China, Australia’s primary trading partner, totaled $120 billion in the last fiscal year. China buys nearly one-third of Australian exports.
In October, the government started a new program of “nationalization of the elite.” That’s a term that was thought up by Konstantin Kostin, an advisor to President Vladimir Putin. Kostin says the Kremlin is aiming to change the mentality of many elite Russian business people, who see Russia as a country to exploit, but who end up going to live elsewhere. Other sources close to the Kremlin agreed that there was another motivation for these laws. They said that this “nationalization of the elite” was a direct response to the mass protests last year demanding honest elections in Russia. “The government is convinced that there are foreign governments behind these protest movements,” said one source.
Qatar, the small Gulf state that on Tuesday hosts an Arab summit, has become a key regional player thanks to its support for Arab uprisings and the marginalisation of traditional heavyweights.
But the “chequebook diplomacy” of this energy-rich state — a staunch US ally — and its backing for Islamists who have managed to seize power in some countries rocked by the Arab Spring have triggered criticism. The emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is “obsessed by an ambition to leave his heirs a country that counts on the world map after it was practically unknown only 20 years ago,”
Large depositors face heavy losses and the Central Bank of Cyprus will be given new powers to shut down struggling banks under a last-ditch plan to prevent the island’s exit from the euro. Included in legislation drafted by the European Central Bank are draconian controls on capital, including unprecedented restrictions on debit card use and cash withdrawals. Cypriot MPs were meeting on Friday night in a final attempt to stop the ECB and eurozone from carrying out a threat to withdraw cash support from the country’s banks next Tuesday.
Standard Bank analyst Simon Freemantle said he thinks China will try to use the BRICS bank to push the status of its currency. “I think very core to the bank from China, at least, has been the desire to use it as a means to continue the internationalization of the renminbi,” he said.
“The idea would not be not to host it in a single currency. … But there will also be benefits in removing the dollar from bilateral trade between, say, South Africa and Brazil, South Africa and India, if that can happen. But I think principally, it’ll be a push for RMB internationalization,” Freemantle added. But he said it is unlikely that this move will unseat the major reserve currencies. He also said trade within the BRICS group makes up a small portion of international trade – which is mainly in dollars.
Banks in Cyprus will not resume work until the country accepts a bailout plan to rescue the local financial market, stated a European Commission spokesperson. In the statement, the official in effect said that the EC supports the position of Germany, which has requested the Cypriot government to stop financing banks by Friday. “At present, the European Central Bank is supplying half the financial resources for the system in Cyprus. If the ECB flow is shut down, banks in Cyprus will default,” added the EC spokesperson.
Excessive secrecy in government has now been recognised at all levels, from Obama down. In 2009 he effected an executive order that provided for information to be released to the public as soon as possible, and the following year he signed HR 553, the “reducing over-classification act”.
Yet, at the same time as Obama has talked about enhancing transparency, he has also presided over one of the toughest administrations in terms of policing state secrets. There have been six prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act under his watch – more than under all previous presidents combined.
“Every day,” Pavlovsky said of Putin, “he gets these terrible revelations. If he believed them all, he’d have to fire everyone or imprison them. They’re all accusing each other not only of theft but of espionage, of being American spies. He suspects them all, but he doesn’t understand the degree of rot.”
This sums up one of the main challenges facing Putin. His grip is not absolute. Factions within the Kremlin vie for supremacy, while Russia’s vast bureaucracy looks out, primarily, for itself. He has his own minefields to deal with.
Diplomats and leaders from the Bricks countries are also thrashing out details on the proposed currency swap mechanism — a potentially game-changing idea that could take on the dollar, euro and other currencies.
Brics countries are looking at ways to establish a foreign-exchange reserve pool, along with a currency-swap arrangement, meant to insulate these emerging economies against the economic woes faced by developed economies. Intra-Brics trade is more than $300bn and is expected to reach the $500b n mark by 2015.
With drastic decline in militancy, infiltrations from across the border and significant improvement in security situation the political class has genuinely been asking for repeal of some of the harsh security laws which are not required anymore.
However, at the same time the state government has come up with a draft legislation which puts Police ahead of every civilian organ of the State and the laws related to policing more stringent than those which are sought to be repealed, as in the case of Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Turkey was seriously considering becoming a member of the SCO instead of continuing its efforts to join the EU.
‘The European Union needs to stop stalling us,’ Erdogan said. ‘We have a strong economy. I told [Putin], “You should include us in the Shanghai Five [the former name of the SCO] and we will say farewell to the European Union.” The Shanghai Five is much better off economic-wise. It is much more powerful. We told them, “If you say come, we will”.’
“India’s grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighbourhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over actions of outside powers.” – C. Raja Mohan
India with a population of 1.24 billion and GDP of $2.19 trillion in nominal terms looms large on the South Asian subcontinent. None of the other South Asian countries comes even close to the size of India’s population and economy. In fact, its population and GDP are more than the combined population and GDP of all the other South Asian countries.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is at the forefront of a regional push to build up domestic defense manufacturing capability to reduce reliance on imports that come with too many strings attached, analysts say.
Wary of non-Arab adversary Iran in a competition for regional predominance, and seeing an increased security threat from Islamist militants, Gulf Arab monarchies have some of the fastest growing military budgets in the world. The UAE has established a small defense industry that includes maritime security and defense-related services such as maintenance and repairs over the past two decades.
China’s acquisition of a strategic port in Pakistan is the latest addition to its drive to secure energy and maritime routes and gives it a potential naval base in the Arabian Sea, unsettling India.
The Pakistani cabinet on January 30 approved the transfer of Gwadar port, a commercial failure cut off from the national road network, from Singapore’s PSA International to the state-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Limited. The Pakistanis pitched the deal as an energy and trade corridor that would connect China to the Arabian Sea and Strait of Hormuz, a gateway for a third of the world’s traded oil, overland through an expanded Karakoram Highway.
In Egypt, Libya and Syria, where Qatar tried to play a role post-Arab Spring, it finds itself blamed for much that has gone wrong on a local level. Close ties to Egypt’s new leaders, the Muslim Brotherhood, have alarmed countries like the United Arab Emirates, where the group is banned and which in January said it had foiled a Brotherhood-linked coup plot. Senior officials in the UAE have long believed Qatar has long-term strategy to use the Brotherhood to redraw the region. “There is both greater apprehension and appreciation for Qatar two years after the Arab awakening in the region,”
Residents told the Yemen Post on Sunday they saw French warplanes patrol the sky of the capital in a great show of strength, which they say they felt a bit “over the top” and slightly insulting to Yemen military potency. A retired General, Ali Mohsen Khawlani stressed that Yemen should have been put in charge of all security details . “Our armed forces are perfectly capable and well-trained. What kind of message does it send to see foreign troops invade our capital. Are we moving toward a military occupation? Did foreign powers come to announce they will divide Yemen into zones of influence?”
Chinese firms have become more active in mergers and acquisitions since the global financial crisis that began in 2008, as economic distress has thrown up bargains around the world.
Between 2005 and 2011, the number of China’s overseas acquisitions tripled to 177 and jumped five-fold by value to $63 billion, according to law firm Squire Sanders and intelligence service Mergermarket. But Chinese state media used the Nexen success to blast unspecified “Western powers” for alleged unfairness and protectionism.
Struggling to quell violent protests that have threatened to derail a referendum on an Islamist-backed draft constitution, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt moved Saturday to appease his opponents with a package of concessions hours after state news media reported that he was moving toward imposing a form of martial law to secure the streets and allow the vote.
Under new rules that threaten to greatly increase the risk of armed conflict, Chinese law enforcers starting next year will be boarding and seizing foreign vessels in areas claimed by China in the volatile West Philippine Sea, according to a report by the Chinese state media.
“That’s too much. While we are exerting all peaceful means, that is what they are doing,” said Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban, commander of the AFP’s Western Command. “That’s a violation of (the rules) over international passage.”
For years, the tiny oil sheikdom of Qatar has been a reliable US partner in the Middle East — as a host to the largest American military base in the region and as a diplomatic bulwark against Iran. It has backed the fall of autocratic rulers in Libya and Syria.
Two years after the start of the Arab Spring, however, Qatar’s carefully cultivated reputation as a U.S. partner — and as a neutral broker in the region — is increasingly muddled. With billions of dollars in natural gas and oil revenue, it is bankrolling a new generation of Islamists across the Middle East, raising questions about its vision for the region and whether some of its policies are in direct conflict with U.S. interests.
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc has begun planning its own development bank and a new bailout fund which would be created by pooling together an estimated $240 billion in foreign exchange reserves, according to diplomatic sources. To get a sense of how significant the proposed fund would be, the fund would be larger than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 150 countries, according to Russia and India Report.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un apparently remains determined to rein in the military, whose power under former leader Kim Jong-il had turned it into a state within the state.
Former army chief Ri Yong-ho, who was sacked in July, is under house arrest at a hot spring in North Hamgyong Province, South Korean intelligence have learned. Also, two business fronts of the North Korean military that were responsible for bringing in hard currency have been placed under state control.
General Sir David Richards said plans were being drawn up in case winter made conditions on the ground worse. Any intervention would be ‘limited’ and needed the support of people inside Syria, he said. But it would be seen as a potential step towards a full-scale military intervention bringing British forces directly into conflict with the regime of president Bashar al-Assad.
The French effectively view the launch of new EU military missions as a Trojan horse for a European military headquarters and France will mount a major offensive in mid-2014 that could see it back treaty change to scrap national vetoes over defence.
Britain last year blocked moves to create an EU military operations HQ (OHQ), with William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, threatening to veto the plan over concerns that it would rival Nato command.
The race for a share of the enormous reservoirs of fossil fuel — an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil alone — beneath Greenland’s ice sheet in the Arctic Circle is heating up. Some four years after the US Geological Survey came out with its estimates of huge oil and gas reserves in the region, periodically, in ways big and small, the stakes are being raised by the “Arctic Five”.
Germany is secretly drawing up plans to step in and overhaul parts of France’s economy. Berlin has instructed a powerful body of economic ‘wise men’ to produce a list of the changes it would impose on its neighbour. The move fuelled fears that Berlin is making a covert power-grab to take control of the tax and spending decisions in weaker European Union economies.
Outgoing President Hu Jintao, in his agenda-setting report this week at a Communist Party gathering to choose the coming decade’s leadership, signaled China’s intent to step out more on the world stage.
Hu said China would “get more actively involved in international affairs, play its due role of a major responsible country,” while underlining Beijing’s deep sensitivity to matters of sovereignty and its rejection of “any foreign attempt to subvert the legitimate government of any other countries.”
Analysts say Wen’s role as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) friendliest face — a counterpoint to the stodgy, unsmiling bureaucrats that fill its ranks — has made the disclosure of his family’s wealth a deep embarrassment to the leadership.
“Someone like Wen is a very good focal point for the party’s overall narrative — that it’s the only vehicle that can maintain the prosperity that the Chinese people have achieved over the last 15 or 20 years,” said Rana Mitter, an expert on Chinese politics at Oxford University.
Speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, the officer said the Greek state had been fully aware of the activities of Golden Dawn for several years, with the National Intelligence Service and other security agencies monitoring it closely. The officer claimed police chiefs had had the opportunity to isolate and remove these small “pockets of fascism” in the force but decided not to. The state, he said, wanted to keep the fascist elements “in reserve” and use them for its own purposes.
Moscow is cozying up to China, supporting the Assad regime in Syria and ignoring the Iranian nuclear race. The Kremlin is hard at work to create a sphere of influence along its periphery and a “pole” in the multipolar world that would stand up to Washington.
Recent developments have an unmistakably flavor of the 1920s and 1930s, when the Soviets sent people the Gulag simply for who they were, not for what they did. For example, the Cheka — the grandfather of Russia’s security service, the F.S.B — preventively arrested those of noble descent or with relatives abroad.
The U.S. ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone revealed on October 16 that the Turkish government rejected the U.S. proposal for joint venture extermination of Murat Karayılan and other leaders of the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq are exposing irreparably Turkish government. As stated by the American ambassador in Turkish journalists, Washington submitted this proposal to the Turkish government to launch an operation similar to that which led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Rich countries and international lenders on Friday promised $165 million to a fund to provide financing for stronger public institutions in Arab nations seeking to establish democracies. The fund aims to help build economic institutions and promote reforms in countries where huge public uprisings ousted autocratic regimes. Major western economies and wealthy oil states are the founding donors of the fund announced in Tokyo alongside annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank.
Turkey redirected the European missile defense system in the Kurecik base near the city of Malatya to Syria to monitor the situation in the country, the Sabah newspaper reported.
This will allow Turkey to control offensive and defensive actions of the Syrian government troops and missile launches. According to the newspaper, Turkey took such a decision with the consent of NATO after shells from Syrian territory killed five Turkish citizens on Oct.3.
Fed up with what it sees as Washington’s malign neglect of the dollar, China is busily promoting the cross-border use of its own currency, the yuan, also known as the renminbi, in trade and investment. Displacing the dollar, Beijing says, will reduce volatility in oil and commodity prices and belatedly erode the ‘exorbitant privilege’ the United States enjoys as the issuer of the reserve currency at the heart of a post-war international financial architecture it now sees as hopelessly outmoded.
The Turkish Parliament voted in favor of a motion which gave green light to the government to stage cross-border raids on Syria after the Oct. 3 shelling from there killed five Turkish citizens. “I am calling once more on the al-Assad regime and its supporters: Don’t dare to test Turkey’s patience,” Erdoğan said, adding that testing Turkey’s capacity for deterrence would be “a fatal mistake.”
“We are not bluffing and we will follow this incident closely. God willing, the Syrian people would soon be saved from this cruelty and governed by an administration that guarantees the rights of all parties.”
According to a new Transportation Ministry order, starting July 1, 2013 data about every passenger who enters or exits any region in Russia will be added to a new FSB/Interior Ministry database. The Transport Ministry has published the text of the new rules in the ‘Russian Gazette.’ The FSB and Interior Ministry are ordering this new database in order to track the route of any person that law enforcement on the ground deems suspicious.
European Union chief Jose Manuel Barroso launched a campaign today to grab sweeping new powers for the bloc under the pretext of solving the EU economic crisis.
The European Commission president, who heads the EU’s powerful yet unelected 27-commissioner policy-making and enforcement body, used his annual state of the union address to its weak parliament to tell countries that they should get used to giving up power to Brussels.
Faced with global powers such as the United States and China, he claimed, “even the biggest European countries run the risk of irrelevance.”
Even though Turkey continues to deny reports that it has been setting up bases for the Syrian opposition — for example in Adana — it is no longer a secret that it is providing military support to the Syrian opposition.
One of the centers in Turkey used as a military base for the Syrian opposition is the Reyhanli “military” refugee camp, located in Hatay province. This camp is exclusively reserved for Syrian officers, among them generals and colonels, and their families who have defected to Turkey. This camp, which hosts around 1,000 Syrians, is tightly guarded by Turkish security forces. Even foreign diplomats who want to meet the camp residents are not allowed to enter.
“Criticism is allowed. However, when it is too widely publicized or when it is too personal, then it is not allowed. When the criticism is of the president himself in particular, when it is of his personal wealth, for example, or corruption aspects, or criminal aspects high up within the regime, then the state begins to crack down. So in other words there are limits,” said Nixey.
Nixey says Russia under the leadership of President Putin, a former KGB officer, is veering toward the old Soviet style of governance.
President Mohamed Morsi’s government and allies are pushing back against critical news coverage, suppressing critical journalists and state-run newspapers, putting a journalist on trial, and attacking three journalists on the street, according to news reports.
“This is a troubling backward step that Egypt’s newly elected President Mohamed Morsi should not be taking,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We urge President Morsi to reverse this course immediately and demonstrate his commitment to press freedom.”
Several journalists have reported suppression at the state-run newspaper Al-Akhbar.
Saudi authorities are deploying a range of judicial methods to stifle the country’s pro-democracy and human rights campaigners in a crackdown on dissent that includes jail terms and travel bans, according to activists.
Some rights defenders, who have been held for years without trial, had been presented to court in recent months in cases that demonstrate a change in the process of dealing with political prisoners, activists and lawyers told Reuters.
They said seven rights advocates, including professors and lawyers, had been investigated in the past five months and 20 had been banned from travel. Four of those investigated are facing trial while one has been sentenced to four years in jail.
With China’s once-a-decade leadership transition only months away, the party is pushing back with a highly visible campaign against disloyalty and corruption, even requiring all officers to report financial assets.
“Party authorities have come to realize that the military is encroaching on political affairs,” said a political scientist with high-level party ties. “Although the party controls the gun, the expression of viewpoints from within the military on political issues has aroused a high level of alarm.”
He, like others who agreed to discuss internal party affairs, spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals.
BEIJING – Impoverished North Korea is gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after young leader Kim Jong-un and his powerful uncle purged the country’s top general for opposing change, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing said.
The source added that the cabinet had created a special bureau to take control of the decaying economy from the military — one of the world’s largest — which under Kim’s father was given pride of place in running the country.
South Korean government officials believe the chief of the North Korean Army’s General Staff, Ri Yong-ho was abruptly sacked as part of a purge aimed at consolidating leader Kim Jong-un’s grip on power.
A government official here said it seems Jang Song-taek, the uncle and patron of Kim, and Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the People’s Army General Political Bureau, got the nod from Kim to investigate Ri and sacked him after uncovering corruption.
“Ri’s dismissal did not happen suddenly but was meticulously planned to gain control of military officers whose power had grown out of hand,” says one source familiar with North Korean affairs. “The new military heavyweights will see their influence weaken significantly.”
It’s never been harder to be a dictator, says at least one analyst. Faced with rapid demographic growth, massive increases in unemployment for college graduates, and changes in the information environment, modern authoritarian regimes are increasingly coming under challenge. But in response, they are using 21st-century techniques themselves, to wield their power and maintain the status quo.
In the battle between repression and freedom in the 21st century, opposition movements are increasingly turning to modern technology and non-violent methods.
The recent bilateral cooperation agreement between Japan and the Philippines is part of the United States’ (US) strategy of rebalancing its forces in Asia, a militant group claimed Monday.
“The US wants a seamless interface with all its treaty partners in the region. This is [why] Japan is enhancing defense ties with the Philippines,” Renato Reyes Jr., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General, said in a statement.
Hong Kong’s new leader, Leung Chun-ying, has had a turbulent start to his five-year term, with more than 100,000 people joining an anti-government rally just hours after he took office. The mass demonstration is one of several major problems facing Leung as he tries to build his administration.
Hong Kong’s annual July 1 protest march from the city’s Victoria Park to the government headquarters was the biggest of its kind in the semi-autonomous Chinese region since 2004.
Now that Egypt has its first freely elected president, Egypt’s powerful generals appear headed toward copying the Turkish model from decades past — retaining overwhelming powers while allowing a civilian regime complete with the trappings of democracy to emerge.
It is not the model that many in today’s Turkey boast about, but rather one dating back to the 1980s and 1990s when civilians ran Turkey’s day-to-day affairs under the watchful eyes of the military.
Russia’s chief arms exporter said Friday that his company was shipping advanced defensive missile systems to Syria that could be used to shoot down airplanes or sink ships if the United States or other nations try to intervene to halt the country’s spiral of violence.
“I would like to say these mechanisms are really a good means of defense, a reliable defense against attacks from the air or sea,” Anatoly P. Isaykin, the general director of the company, Rosoboronexport, said Friday in an interview. “This is not a threat, but whoever is planning an attack should think about this.”
Actually, Putin aspires to construct, the sooner, the better, a geostrategic axis: Russia (Union States – members of the CU, CES, CSTO) – Germany and France (as the most powerful EU players) – China (as the main player in Asia). The Russian President understands that now the EU is weakened as the geopolitical player, and to be as much productive as possible it is necessary to build direct relations with Berlin, Paris and other European capitals. The strategy with China is also clear, as this country extends its geopolitical influence through economic expansion and a strategy to tap in the world’s reserve stocks.
The West may be forced to seize Bashar al-Assad’s weapons of mass destruction including toxic gas stockpiles, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper Thursday.
International troops could be forced to intervene in Syria if the collapse of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime were to leave the stockpiles of his chemical weapons vulnerable to terrorists, western diplomatic sources have told the paper.
Like Israel, Syria has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997, nor is it a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which verifies stockpiles of these weapons.
The civil unrest consuming Quebec is also seizing media attention abroad — with more than 3,000 news reports from 77 different countries in recent weeks.
That’s according to an analysis released Monday by Montreal-based company Influence Communication, which is monitoring Canadian and foreign media coverage of the conflict.
Influence analyst Caroline Roy said the student crisis generated 66-times more foreign news coverage in two months than Canada’s entire mission in Afghanistan — this country’s most extensive international undertaking since the Korean War.
Israel wants its energy projects in Greek Cyprus to be run by Israelis and is seeking to deploy as many as 20,000 commandos for their protection, Anatolia news agency reported today.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuand his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Demetris Christofias, met on Feb. 16 to discuss the two countries’ joint ventures. Details of the talks between the two leaders were kept secret.
Anatolia cited a source it said was close to the Greek Cypriot government who reportedly said Christophias specifically asked Netanyahu to convince Israeli businessmen to halt their investments in Turkish Cyprus during the meeting.
Syria’s rebels have seen an influx of arms including anti-tank weaponry for their fight against President Bashar al-Assad regime, in an effort coordinated with the help of the United States, a report said today.
Officials in President Barack Obama’s administration insist it is not directly supplying the weapons or providing funding, with Gulf states paying for the new arms, the Washington Post said, citing US and foreign officials.
But Washington has stepped up links with the rebels and regional militaries allying with them, playing a role in the rebel’s foreign support network, the report said.
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it approved the expansion of the U.S. operations of three of China’s largest banks, including the first acquisition of a U.S. bank by a Chinese bank.
The Fed said it had approved applications from the Bank of China Ltd. and Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. to establish new branches. The central bank also approved an application by China’s largest bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., to become a bank holding company through its acquisition of The Bank of East Asia.
Senior Eurocrats are secretly plotting to create a super-powerful EU president to realise their dream of abolishing Britain and other nation states, UK media has revealed.
A covert group of EU foreign ministers has drawn up plans for merging the jobs currently done by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.
The new bureaucrat, who would not be directly elected by voters, is set to get sweeping control over the entire EU and force member countries into ever-greater political and economic union.
China’s growing capabilities in space could undercut any U.S. military response if Beijing resorted to force to bring self-ruled Taiwan into its fold, a study released Friday by a congressionally mandated U.S. commission said.
China’s military is rapidly boosting its space programs to advance Communist Party interests “and defend against perceived challenges to sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the 84-page report by the Project 2049 Institute, a research group on Asia-Pacific security issues.
China has claimed Taiwan as its own since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and has vowed to bring the island under mainland rule, by force if necessary.
Sudan is caught in a multidimensional conflict involving weapons trade, internal instabilities, multiple civil wars and the reality of outside players with their own interests.
None of this is enough to excuse the readiness for war on behalf of Khartoum and Juba, but it certainly presents serious obstacles to any attempt aimed at rectifying the situation.
With a single act of aggression, a whole set of conflicts are prone to flaring up. It is the nature of proxy politics, as many armed groups seek opportunities for territorial advances and financial gains.
TEK was created in September 2010 by a governmental decree, shortly after the Fidesz government took office. TEK exists outside the normal command structure of both the police and the security agencies. The Prime Minister directly names (and can fire) its head and only the interior minister stands between him and the direct command of the force. It is well known that the head of this force is a very close confidante of the Prime Minister.
TEK was set up as an anti-terror police unit within the interior ministry and given a budget of 10 billion forints (about $44 million) in a time of austerity. Since then, it has grown to nearly 900 employees in a country of 10.5 million people that is only as big as Indiana.
In what may be a crucial development in the Bo Xilai affair, the Chinese military is conducting internal investigations into the size and nature of Bo’s military influence.
Bo didn’t have any troops officially under his command. But he did have close relationships with the army, including in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.
The South China Morning Post reports that on April 15, the Party’s Military Committee sent out five teams to investigate Bo’s influence in the Chengdu Military Region, in Sichuan. The military unit in Yunnan, once led by Bo’s father, has also reportedly been placed under investigation.
A military coup was staged against the regime of US-backed Qatari King Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani with no success, a Saudi TV channel reports.
According to Al Arabiya TV, a number of high-ranking military officers rose against the Qatari Emir, triggering fierce clashes between some 30 military officers and US-backed royal guards outside the Emir’s palace, the report said on Tuesday.
The coup was foiled following the arrest of the officers involved in the effort.
A group of deputies of the State Duma on the party “United Russia” led by first deputy chairman of the Committee on Housing, Alexander Sidyakin made to the State Duma amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences (CAO).
The amendments require increased penalties for violations of the organization of street activities, from 10,000 to 100,000 rubles (3,400 dollars) for the organizers of the shares and 1,000 to 10,000 rubles ($ 340) – for the participants. Currently the maximum fine for such offenses is not more than 2000 rubles.
The bill also introduces an alternative punishment – mandatory work. Now they are provided only to the Penal Code (60 to 480 hours) for persons who have committed minor crimes. In the proposed Administrative Code to establish the period of compulsory work from 20 to 200 hours.