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Is the oil crash a secret US war on Russia?

Is the oil crash a secret US war on Russia

Lower oil prices, reflected in falling petrol prices at the pump, have been a boon for Western consumers. Are they also a potent US weapon against Russia and Iran? That’s the conclusion drawn by New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, who says the US and Saudi Arabia, whether by accident or design, could be pumping Russia and Iran to brink of economic collapse. Despite turmoil in many of the world’s oil-producing countries – Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria – prices are hitting lows not seen in years, Friedman writes.

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Why Is Turkey Increasing Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean?

Why Is Turkey Increasing Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean

On September 23, the drill ship SAIPEM 10000 built in South Korea at the cost of $250 million and flying the flag of the Bahamas arrived in the EEZ of Cyprus to begin exploring for gas under a license awarded to an Italian-South Korean consortium, ENI-KOGAS. The Turkish authorities declared that the drill ship violated Turkey’s area of maritime jurisdiction and sent the Corvette Bafra to monitor operations. The Cyprus foreign minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, said that exploration would continue despite Turkey’s “potential harassment.”

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Yemen Shiite rebels set sights on strategic strait, oilfields

Yemen Shiite rebels set sights on strategic strait, oilfields

Shiite rebels who breezed into the Yemeni capital unopposed last month are now widely thought to be moving to cement their grip by snatching a strategic strait and oilfields. Numerous sources in Yemen say the Huthis are now setting their sights on prized assets like the narrow Bab al-Mandeb strait leading to the Suez canal, as well as oilfields in Marib province. Bab al-Mandeb, a chokepoint whose Arabian shores are only 40 kilometres (25 miles) across the water from Africa.

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In the shadow of Iran a new UAE oil port is transforming energy sector

In the shadow of Iran a new UAE oil port is transforming energy sector

In response to Iran’s strategic grip over oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz, a new export route for crude from the Persian Gulf is growing on the coast of the Arabian Sea, with the potential to transform global energy markets. Giant tankers now queue in lines stretching for miles to load oil or refuel at Fujairah after the government invested billions of dollars into building a giant oil pipeline across the rugged Hajar mountains.

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Tanzania Likely to Become Next Major Producer of ‘Rare Earth’

Tanzania Likely to Become Next Major Producer of 'Rare Earth'

Some 189 kilometres from the district centre in Chunya, on the edge of the East African Rift Valley, there lies one of the largest and highest grade rare earth deposits in the world. It consists of 17 elements on the periodic table, including 15 elements beginning with atomic number 57 (lanthanum) and extending through number 71 (lutetium), as well as two other elements having similar properties (yttrium and scandium). These are referred to as “rare” because although relatively abundant in total quantity, they appear in low concentrations in the earth’s crust and extraction and processing is both difficult and costly.

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Russians To Build $3 Billion Strategic Platinum Mine In Zimbabwe

Russians To Built $3 Billion Platinum Mine In Zimbabwe

The good news for Zimbabwe is that Russian investors have started a new $3 billion (R33bn) platinum mine about 50km north-west of Harare. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe turned the first sod yesterday. Peak production would be 800 000 ounces a year, which should help Zimbabwe produce 1 million ounces annually in five years time.Various potential Russian and Chinese speculators and potential investors have been prospecting the former Zimplats land for nearly a decade.

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China Is Mass-Producing Islands To Extend Its Strategic Borders

China Is Mass-Producing Islands To Extend Its Strategic Borders

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

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Global strategic move: India increases defence trainings in Asia, Africa and Latin America

Global strategic move: India increases defence trainings in Asia, Africa and Latin America

India is subtly increasing defence training programmes in friendly countries in southeast Asia Africa and Latin America, with a global strategic objective. Besides training military officers and personnel of Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Asean, African and Latin American nations in domestic training facilities, Indian trainers are also visiting countries like Laos and Vietnam and Namibia and Ethiopia to impart military training, official sources told ET.

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‘Sensitive assets’: how ports are advancing the GCC’s strategic interests

'Sensitive assets': how ports are advancing the GCC's strategic interests

The Gulf’s oil bonanza and resulting economic windfall has in recent years placed unprecedented burden on the region’s transport infrastructure, impacting its ability to trade efficiently with the outside world, writes Simon Hallett in an article in The Gulf, our sister publication. The six states have allocated billions of dollars to new cross-border transport projects, including ports, which link directly into new industrial parks and economic cities with the promise of long-term benefits.

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Germans are taking over the control in Balkans

Germans are taking over the control in Balkans

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

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China is taking lunar mining seriously

China is taking lunar mining seriously

China’s plans to return to the moon early 2020s. Filling one shuttle’s cargo bay with helium-3 could bring the equivalent energy of 1bn barrels of oil back to earth. The moon is rich in rare earths, titanium and could support mining with recent evidence of the existence of water, the big prize when excavating the moon is helium-3. Almost non-existent on earth, helium-3 is abundant and accessible on the moon and could be used in nuclear fusion, producing much more energy than fission reactions and with much less radioactive waste.

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Foreign policy: Germany’s all inclusive package for Africa

Foreign policy: Germany's all inclusive package for Africa

Despite minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, calling for more military responsibility, the country has only sent a few Bundeswehr troops to support recent crisis in Mali, Central Africa and Somalia, within the EU and UN frameworks. “France, the UE and the US put Germany under pressure to do more. We do it at a very low level. Germany does not have the military capacity for a greater engagement” says the researcher and African expert Robert Kappel.

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Strait of Hormuz, globally significant as ever

Strait of Hormuz, globally significant as ever

An independent think-thank says the Strait of Hormuz remains one of the most significant, volatile and strategic areas in the world. The Oman Supreme Council of Planning announced that it will begin constructing a 90 square kilometre logistics hub near the central coast of the country near one of the Strait’s two entry/exit points. That project aims to capitalise on the high volume of traffic that moves through the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

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China Expects to Win Control of Biggest Greek Port Dubbed ‘Gateway to Europe’

China Expects to Win Control of Biggest Greek Port Dubbed 'Gateway to Europe'

Chinese government-owned shipping and logistics giant COSCO is expected to complete the purchase of a controlling stake in Piraeus Port as it continues to take advantage of Greece’s privatisation programme. China views Greece as being a potential logistical hub, as it seeks to boost trade into Europe. Piraeus, being one of Europe’s largest passenger ports and the largest container port in the Eastern Mediterranean, is at the heart of its plans.

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India and China compete for South Asia’s water resources

India and China compete for South Asia’s water resources

A stable supply of water is critical for regional stability. South Asia is a region of multiple crises where water is connected to many of its challenges, its development, security and economic growth. The region occupies about five per cent of the world’s land mass and has about four per cent of its annual renewable water resources, flowing through several basins. Almost 90 per cent of water is consumed by the agricultural sector.

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EU ‘to Extend’ Southern Gas Corridor from Azerbaijan

EU 'to Extend' Southern Gas Corridor from Azerbaijan

The EU would extend the route for supplies through the Southern Gas Corridor and its pipes will make their way further into Europe’s mainland, according to reports. The Corridor envisages that a pipeline system called TANAP-TAP should be built from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz deposits to Georgia and Turkey and further to Greece, Albania and Italy.
About 6 B cubic meters of gas could be thus pumped into Turkey every year, while Europe could receive up to 10 B cubic meters.

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World Bank Director: Turkey to Become Global Energy Hub

Martin Raiser

Turkey has a good chance to become an energy hub if it keeps the historical achievements it made in the last decade, Martin Raiser, country director for Turkey of the World Bank. Turkey is in a strategic geographical location “between major markets in Europe and major supply sources in further east,” said Raiser. He said this geostrategic advantage increases Turkey’s chances to become a global energy hub, adding that Turkey’s geopolitical context require resolving some of the political issues around energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean basin and Iraq.

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Mounting Challenges to Geostrategic Access

Mounting Challenges to Geostrategic Access

The durability of the US-centric system of global security provision is now a matter of growing concern for strategic planners around the world. At the source of their preoccupations are doubts regarding the ability of the system’s underwriters to sustain long-standing commitments in the face of increasing military and economic constraints. Chief among these are restrictions on the unmatched ability of the US armed forces – and, at a much lower level, those of first echelon allies like the United Kingdom and France.

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Turkey Warns Russia it Will Blockade Bosphorus if Violence Occurs

Turkey Warns Russia it Will Blockade Bosphorus if Violence Occurs

According to diplomatic sources, Turkey has threatened Russia with a blockade of the Bosphorus Strait. The threat to close the Bosphorus to Russia comes from a report by Hvylya, citing a Turkish diplomatic source. According to the source, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan yesterday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone and warned of the consequences for conflict with Ukraine. The Hvylya source was also reported on by UNIAN.

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Australia to buy U.S. Triton drones to secure Indian Ocean resources

Australia to buy U.S. Triton drones to secure Indian Ocean resources

Australia has committed to purchasing the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, its prime minister said on Thursday, continuing a trend amongst Asia-Pacific nations to protect commercial maritime interests amid rising regional tensions. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that Australia will acquire an undisclosed number of the surveillance aircraft once they become available. The U.S. Navy is still testing the Triton and has plans to buy 68, with the first due in service in 2017.

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India’s own string of pearls: Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles and Maldives

India's own string of pearls: Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles and Maldives

On 7 March, Shiv Shankar Menon, India’s National Security Advisor, announced that the Indian Ocean island states of Seychelles and Mauritius had joined India’s naval arrangement with Sri Lanka and the Maldives in a new Indian Ocean security grouping that some have called the ‘IO-5′. The new arrangement signals a significant consolidation of India’s leading security role among the Indian Ocean islands. For decades India has been the de facto security guarantor of these island states.

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Mauritius, Seychelles to soon join Indian Ocean trilateral group

Mauritius, Seychelles to soon join Indian Ocean trilateral group

Mauritius and Seychelles will soon join the Indian Ocean trilateral group on maritime security. After the third meeting of the trilateral -which includes India, Sri Lanka and Maldives – NSA Shivshankar Menon said the informal grouping now has a system to monitor activities in the Indian Ocean, conduct search and rescue operations and counter piracy among other things. The grouping is an avenue to enhance India’s power in the region at a time when China is stepping up its naval activities.

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China’s New Silk Rail Road Must Pass Through Middle East

China's New Silk Road Must Pass Through Middle East

Three hundred kilometers by high-speed rail between the cities of Eilat and Ashdod, connecting the Red Sea coast to the Mediterranean: They call it the “Red-Med” Project. Financed by Beijing and launched from Jerusalem, China has revealed its strategy for “West Asia” — the term that the China Shipping Container Lines company uses to delineate the area of operations between Hormuz, Suez and Haifa. The use of the term West Asia rather than Middle East is no accident — this gives precedence to the size of the economic link with China rather than the ever troublesome geopolitics of the region.

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Turkish Navy intercepts gas-hunting Total ship licenced by Cyprus

Turkish Navy intercepts  gas-hunting Total ship licenced by Cyprus

Turkish Naval Forces directed a warship to intervene in the seismic exploration being carried out by a Norwegian ship that had entered a Turkish naval authorization zone off the southern part of Cyprus on Saturday.The Norwegian ship was operating on behalf of Greek Cyprus in its search for oil and gas in the east Mediterranean. Turkey does not recognize Greek Cyprus as a sovereign country and insists that the Greek Cypriot search for oil and gas flouts the rights of Turkish Cypriots to any gas-generated wealth while undermining negotiations to reunify the island.

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American and Chinese geo-economic interest in a New Great Game in Central Asia

American and Chinese geo-economic interest in a New Great Game in Central Asia

Today, the US invasion of Afghanistan and opening of military bases in Central Asia and the economic expansion of China into the region have convinced experts that a new Great Game is afoot. German journalist Lutz Kleveman writes that a new Great Game “rages in the region.” Quoting Bill Richardson, former Secretary of Energy and US ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton years, Kleveman writes that the US is involved in Central Asia not only to defeat al Qaeda but also to “diversify [its] sources of oil and gas [and to] prevent strategic inroads by those who don’t share [its] values.”

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Defense sector ready to provide arms for Arctic operations

Defense sector ready to provide arms for Arctic operations

The Russian defense sector is ready to supply armaments for the Defense Ministry’s operations in the Arctic, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.”The Arctic is one of the systemic threats we have been analyzing. For instance, the Future Research Fund has listed a possible growth of tensions and the struggle for Arctic resources amongst the threats the Fund takes into consideration,” A system of the kind, the “northern” modification of the Pantsir-S1 air defense missile and artillery system, was demonstrated to the chief of state who familiarized himself with the products.

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Romanian Transport Ministry plans to ‘complete’ high speed railway project with Chinese partners this year

Romanian Transport Ministry plans to ‘complete’ high speed railway project with Chinese partners this year

The Ministry of Transport and the Chinese partners could complete this year the project for the Romanian section of the high speed railway linking Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest and the Romanian seaside city Constanta, and start the actual construction, according to Romanian transport minister Ramona Manescu. “We are talking with Chinese partners about the Vienna-Budapest-Bucharest-Constanta high speed train. We can do the section from the border to Constanta without European funds. This year we hope to at least complete the project under which we could start the actual construction of the railway,”.

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Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula?

Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula

According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in Defense News, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates over three disputed islands in the Persian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence. According an unnamed “high level UAE source,” secretive talks taking place over six months led to a deal on the islands, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, finalized on December 24.

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Trilateral Security Group: India looks to expand strategic footprint in Indian Ocean

India looks to expand strategic footprint in Indian Ocean

India is expanding its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean. A trilateral security group of India, Maldives and Sri Lanka will be expanded to include Mauritius and Seychelles. Senior officials of the trilateral group will meet on December 19 to prepare the ground for a formal joining of these countries, where deputy national security advisor Nehchal Sandhu will lead the Indian delegation. The government hopes that the third trilateral meeting at the NSA level would be able to formalize this arrangement before the general elections.

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Multinational Support Powers NATO Counter-Terrorism Group

The operating area for NATO’s counter-terrorism task group, Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2), covers 2.5 million square kilometers of vast open space from Gibraltar to the Suez Canal, from the shores of Tripoli to the Turkish beaches. A NATO maritime force tasked with covering so much water relies on logistics support from multiple nations, ashore and afloat, to stay engaged in the vital counter-terrorism Operation Active Endeavor (OAE). Outstanding logistics support from all NATO countries is vital to ensuring the counter-terrorism task group remains at sea for greater periods of time.

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Flashback: ‘Russia eyes Egypt’s ports in bid to boost military presence’

Russia has been seeking to upgrade its military ties with Egypt in an effort to augment its limited access to the Mediterranean and bolster its navy’s presence in the region, the London Times reported.

According to the report, Moscow has been shopping for alternatives to the Tartus port in Syria, where it maintains a limited naval facility, due to fears that President Bashar Assad’s regime will eventually be toppled by rebel forces.

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Iceland Pushes to Become Arctic Hub After Scrapping EU Accession

Iceland wants to turn itself into a hub for business in the Arctic and strike more trade accords on its own after scrapping talks to join the European Union, its foreign minister said. “The focus of Iceland’s foreign policy is on the Arctic,” Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said in an Oct. 25 interview in Reykjavik. The island will work for deeper cooperation within the Arctic Council and seek to provide a base in the region to help support trade with China, Singapore and South Korea, among others, he said.

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Geography in the News: International Shipping Chokepoints

While incredibly important and providing passage for a large portion of the oil that arrives in the North America and Europe from the Middle East, the Suez Canal is but one narrow strait (called “chokepoints”) through which oil passes on its way to oil-dependent countries. According to an article by Business Insider, seven oil chokepoints of the world are crucial to the world economy. These chokepoints moved about half of the world’s oil production of 84 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2010.

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Putin Builds North Korea Rail to Circumvent Suez Canal

Vladimir Putin is inching closer to his goal of turning Russia into a major transit route for trade between eastern Asia and Europe by prying open North Korea, a nuclear-capable dictatorship isolated for half a century. Russia last month completed the first land link that North Korea’s Stalinist regime has allowed to the outside world since 2003. Running between Khasan in Russia’s southeastern corner and North Korea’s rebuilt port of Rajin, the 54-kilometer rail link is part of a project President Putin is pushing that would reunite the railway systems of the two Koreas and tie them to the Trans-Siberian Railway.

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The Indian Ocean: Strategic Nexus or Dud?

The Indian Ocean is distant, its littoral states largely irrelevant, unfriendly, or unimportant to American interests, and a pain to navigate from the Atlantic-Pacific vantage point of the American strategist. Kaplan rejects this. The Indian Ocean is the strategic heartland of the 21st century, and much of this emerges from American oversight in the 20th century. From the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz in the West, to the Strait of Malacca in the East, the Indian Ocean is the transit passage for goods and commodities between East and West.

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China’s Ex-Im bank funding the Strait of Malacca bridge, linking or breaking the region?

The Strait of Malacca bridge project connecting Teluk Gong in Malacca and Dumai in Indonesia. Source: Strait of Malacca Partners Sdn Bhd.Plans have been mooted to construct a bridge to link the Indonesian port-city of Dumai in the Sumatran province of Riau with Malacca. This bridge will obviously result to any of these two circumstances; linking or breaking the region. The Import-Export Bank of China has agreed to finance 85% of the total cost of the bridge project.

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Could a maritime conflict start a Sino-American war?

On Aug. 26, I read a rather frightening op-ed in the Los Angeles Times coauthored by David Gompert — until recently the second-highest-ranking U.S. intelligence official in the Obama administration. What scared me was his sober assessment of the possibility that a conflict in the maritime arena could trigger a China-U.S. Armageddon — at least for Asia.There is now little doubt that China and the West are going to clash. They are already competing in both military and civilian ways and more fundamentally in values and the pursuit of political power. The as yet unanswered questions are will the conflicts become “physical,” and if so how and why?

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Taiwan to Spend $100 Million For Warship Dock In Disputed Islands

Taiwan plans to spend more than $100 million to build a dock big enough for warships in the disputed Spratly islands, a legislator said Thursday, as other claimants strengthen their regional military presence. The plan submitted to parliament Thursday by the coastguard would cost Tw$3.4 billion ($112.4 million). Sources said the spending is expected to be approved. The dock will be an upgrade on the existing pier at the Taiwan-controlled island of Taiping, the biggest island in the Spratlys. It is scheduled to become operational in 2016.

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Game Changer?: Gazprom’s Oil Arm Signs Strategic Deal With Halliburton

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia’s state-owned gas monopoly, has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with US energy services giant Halliburton to facilitate technological exchanges that will help increase production, the Russian company said Tuesday. “One aspect of cooperation will be special technical seminars for employees of Gazprom Neft, with the aim of getting to know the main ways in which Halliburton uses its technology,” Gazprom Neft said in a statement posted on its website. “Some of the most important topics will concern work with tight oil reserves, unconventional resources and deep-water drilling.”

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The (Russian) Arctic is open for business

Russia is intent on transforming its Arctic coastline into a commercially viable alternative to the Suez Canal. In 2011, President Vladimir Putin said: “I want to stress the importance of theNorthern Sea Route as an international transport artery that will rival traditional trade lanes in service fees, security and quality.” Russia uses icebreakers to escort commercial vessels, and charges fees for the service. In 2007, it launched the Fifty Years of Victory, a nuclear-powered behemoth able to break 2.5 metres of ice at speed.

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China plans cross-strait highways without approval from Taiwan

Beijing drafts plan for symbolic bridge, but lacks approval from Taiwanese authorities. The mainland government has recently approved a national road project that includes two cross-strait highways linking both sides of the Taiwan Strait. If completed, the project would be a literal and figurative bridge between the mainland and Taiwan and would mark a major milestone in cross-strait relations. However, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the island’s top cross-strait policy planning body, said the project had been “unilaterally worked out by mainland authorities”.

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Nicaragua Buying Gunboats For Its Waters

The purchase of six gunboats that Nicaragua is negotiating with Russia is quite a concern to the Government of Costa Rica as they would be used to patrol its seas and exclusive economic zone. When you take a money amker out of the hands of the Costa Rican government they get angry. According to a publication of the New Journal of Nicaragua, the new frigates for the Nicaraguan Navy will be prepared in the Fair-Nevsky Shipyard inSt. Petersburg, and have a strong ability to attack in case of conflicts.

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Philippines to move air force, navy camps for faster access to disputed South China Sea areas

The Philippines plans to relocate major air force and navy camps to a former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila to gain faster access to waters being contested by China in the South China Sea, according to the country’s defense chief and a confidential government report. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Sunday that as soon as relocation funds are available the government plans to transfer air force and naval forces and their fleets of aircraft and warships to Subic Bay, which has become a busy free port since the 1992 departure of the U.S. Navy.

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Stringing The Pearls: Chinese firm to build $1.4 bln Sri Lankan Port City

Sri Lanka has signed a deal with a Chinese company to build a $1.4 billion city complex on reclaimed land near the harbour of the capital Colombo, an official said Wednesday. The state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) will reclaim 230 hectares (568 acres) next to the new Colombo South port, said SLPA chairman Priyath Bandu Wickrama. He said the SLPA finalised a deal under which China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) will invest $1.43 billion to build a “Port City” that will change the coastline in the capital.

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Ten reasons why Egypt is vital to US economy and security

How many bargains you get when shopping depends on Egypt’s Suez Canal being open for business. Between 8% and 12% of all international trade goes through Egypt’s Suez Canal, which cuts thousands of miles off ship journeys from Asia to Europe and to the North American East Coast. We can call it 10% of world trade on a rolling average (trade is still down after the 2008 crash). But note that if the Suez Canal were to be closed by the country’s turbulence, it wouldn’t just affect that ten percent– the impact on prices of many commodities would be across the board.

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China Finds a Gap in Japan’s Maritime Chokepoints

A flotilla of Chinese warships transited an important ocean strait off Japan’s northernmost island for the first time this week, passing within clear sight of observers onshore. The PLA Navy vessels had just completed a major training exercise with Russian warships nearby and were using the Soya Strait to head into the far Pacific. It was just the latest Chinese excursion through narrow and potentially-strategic transit points in and around Japan’s home islands, and another example of China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

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The militarization of the world’s oceans

The Konrad Adenauer Foundation expressed in a current position paper for new “military capacity building” in the German Kriegsmarine. Germany is economically heavily dependent on the sea. This is not just on maritime activities in the strict sense because that at least work it out to 3% of the GDP, but also the export industry to transport large parts of their exports by ship. With the steady growth of world trade, to take the “risks of global maritime value chain”; new “vulnerabilities” of the “maritime transport network” – such as West Africa – where also Germany must show in the future presence, caused much like today in the Horn of Africa.

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Gwadar to Kashgar: Implications of new ‘Silk Route’

The much-publicised agreement to speed work on developing a 2,000-km trade corridor linking Gwadar Port on Pakistan’s Makran Coast to Kashgar in China’s Xingjian province has been called a “game changer” by Sharif. While credit must be given to the Pakistan premier for his plans to speed up this ambitious project — perceived as pivotal to the country’s economic prosperity — there are several underlying factors, especially security and political differences within Balochistan, that will have to be incorporated in policy formulation for the corridor’s implementation.

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Why the Sahel Is Crucial to Europe’s Neighborhood — and Its Security Strategy

The first step should therefore be to redefine the scope of Europe’s neighborhood strategy in order to include the Sahel area as a whole. For obvious historical reasons, France will continue to be more involved in the stability of this part of Africa than other countries, but the development of new safe havens for terrorism and transnational crime in the region should be considered a threat to all European national interests, just as instability in the Caucasus should concern Western European countries. At this point, France has neither the political will nor the capacity to assert sole leadership in a vast region stretching from Senegal to the Horn of Africa.

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Does Neutrality Provide Security?: Unclear geopolitical directions of Armenia

Yerevan is trying to make a choice between the European Union and the Russia-led Customs Union. Despite all the assurances of some Armenian experts that the West and Russia do not put pressure on Yerevan, there is quite different evidence. Between the West and Moscow there is an “undercover” struggle for greater influence in the South Caucasus. Russia, jealously relating to the position of its former satellites from the former Soviet Union, is trying to keep Armenia in its orbit of influence. The U.S. and EU also do not intend to give up their positions.

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Abe ups the ante, calls China’s gas field development a ‘clear violation’

With his party comfortably ahead in opinion polls, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is showing more confidence in taking a tougher stance against China. For the first time, Abe referred to a new Chinese project in the East China Sea as “a clear violation” of a 2008 agreement between Japan and China for joint development of gas fields. Abe’s harsher comment, made on a TV program on July 5, could potentially turn the gas field development issue into a contentious one similar to the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands.

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Egypt Crisis Has Marines In Italy And Spain On High Alert

As Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi digs in his heels despite calls for him to step down, roughly 500 U.S. Marines deployed to Italy and Spain are poised to react if their presence is needed to calm the brewing violence in the North African country, according to Stars and Stripes. Pentagon spokesman told reporters the Marines were ready, if needed, to respond to a crisis in the region: “We have taken steps to ensure our military is ready to respond to a range of contingencies.” CNN reports that 200 of the Marines in Italy and Spain are poised to be airborne within an hour of getting orders to deploy to Egypt

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Diplomatic Channels And Chess Pieces: Kremlin’s Strategic Interests In Romania

A number of recent developments have raised several important questions related to Romania’s position geostrategic game involved: Traian Basescu decided to thaw relations with Russia? If so, our initiative or movement suggested by the United States?If not, then what looked to Bucharest Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council? How will this visit extremely important main issues of contention: Moldova, missile shield, imported high gas prices? We change some parameters of our strategic partnership with the U.S.?

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U.S. has no ‘plan B’ for Bahrain naval base: officer

The US military has failed to prepare a realistic “plan B” if political turmoil forces the closure of a vital naval base in Bahrain, a naval officer argues in a report released Monday.

The Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain is the most US important maritime base in the Middle East but senior officers have become complacent about its future, Commander Richard McDaniel asserts. “Surprisingly, military leaders have no ‘Plan B’ if strategic access in Bahrain is jeopardized,” McDaniel wrote, in a paper published by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

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Pakistan raises 25,000-strong force to protect nuclear arsenal

Paki­stan has raised a 25,000-strong special force and put in place extensive measures to protect and manage its strategic assets, including its nuclear arsenal, finance minister Ishaq Dar said on Saturday. “A special security force of 25,000 personnel, who have been specially trained and provided sophisticated weapons, has been deplo­yed to protect (the nuclear assets),” Pakistan has raised a special response force, a special escort force and a marine force to protect and guard its strategic assets, he said without giving details.

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Is Sri Lanka Becoming A Key Player In China’s String Of Pearls?

China has offered Sri Lanka new loans for infrastructure projects, worth US$ 2.2 billion dollars. In a reply to a question, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mr. Hong Lei told the news media that in addition to infrastructure loans, both countries agreed to further deepen defence cooperation and maintain exchanges between two defence ministries, whilst they continue to carry out in cooperating defence technology, personal training and other fields. Yet, the spokesperson did not reveal further details regarding the nature of the new strategic cooperation.

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New geopolitical rivalry between Europe and Russia

In November 2013 Vilnius will host the summit of Eastern Partnership, the EU program on closer cooperation with the post-Soviet countries which is operating since May 2009. Spreading of political and economic Western influence on the former Soviet republics concerns the Russian Federation, especially in the context of development of the Eurasian Economic Union project. According to the chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs Alexei Pushkov, the European Union recognizes Eurasian integration as a factor of European politics.

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Building on ties: New premier indicates plan to link Gwadar with China

Newly-elected Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, in his maiden speech, revealed that Islamabad and Beijing have expressed a keen desire to implement the Gwadar-Khunjerab-Kashgar rail network.

The successful implementation of the Gwadar-Khunjerab-Kashgar rail network will help China secure oil supply and commercial routes on the Indian Ocean, furthering its plans to secure yet another strategic energy and trade corridor. Besides, the project is expected to provide a major boost to Pakistan’s sinking economy.

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Syrian Civil War Turns Proxy War With Military Mobilization

Russia primarily seeks to secure their portion of Syria, their people and their interests. Only secondarily does it support the Syrian government by more overt and covert measures. After they establish a more secure beachhead in the chaos, once safe from Western threats to bases and interests, they will then be in a better position to funnel supplies through those ports uninhibited. The warships carry with them supplies and marines and they are a lot more than a show of the flag. They are a tangible, genuine, military build-up on Syrian waters.

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Imperial Overreach: America by Proxy?

The demise of the Roman Empire resulted from a combination of strategic overreach and excessive delegation of security responsibilities to newcomers. Without making undue comparisons, the question for the United States today is whether it can remain the world’s leading power while delegating to others or to technological tools the task of protecting its global influence. Drones and allies – non-human weapons and non-American soldiers – have become central to America’s military doctrine.

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Intelligent hawk eyes to keep strict vigil over Indian Ocean region

India’s long-range maritime snooping and anti-submarine warfare capabilities will get a huge boost when the first of the eight contracted Poseidon-8I aircraft touches down at theArakkonam naval air station in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

Armed with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, these sensor and radar-packed aircraft will be the country’s “intelligent hawk eyes” over theIndian Ocean Region (IOR) that is increasingly getting militarized.

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Oil Routes & Choke Points: How oil travels around the world, in one map

The map comes from this recent reporting project on U.S. energy security by nine student journalists at the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative. The reporters explored all aspects of energy security, from presidential rhetoric on the subject to the oil markets themselves to a breakdown of U.S. military operations to stabilize the oil supply. And the site has plenty of charts and graphs. To accompany the map above, Dana Ballout has a piece looking in more detail at all the potential oil choke points.

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India to give up Chumar post for Chinese withdrawal?

Although the government maintained on Monday that no concessions were offered to the Chinese to end the face off in east Ladakh, India forces appear to have agreed to the removal of bunkers built by the army in Chumar close to the line of actual control (LAC) to facilitate an agreement.

Sources in the security establishment familiar with the negotiations and the local topography told TOI that the 21-day confrontation on Ladakh’s desolate Depsang plains ended only after the Indian Army agreed to demolish bunkers it had built in the region of Chumar near the LAC.

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In a $100 million move to counter China, India to upgrade Iran’s Chabahar port

In a strategically significant move to counter China’s presence in the region, India has announced that it will upgrade Iran’s crucial Chabahar port that gives a transit route to land-locked Afghanistan.

India’s decision was conveyed by Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid in Tehran today during his meeting with his counterpart. An expert team from India will visit Iran to assess investment needed for the upgradation of the port on the Iran-Pakistan border facing the Arabian Sea.

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Myanmar morphs to US-China proxy battlefield

A new reality is emerging amid all the hype about Myanmar’s democratization process and moves to liberalize its political landscape. Myanmar’s drift away from a tight relationship with China towards closer links with the West is signaling the emergence of a new focal point of confrontation in Asia, one where the interests of Washington and Beijing are beginning to collide.

Rather than being on a path to democracy, Myanmar may find itself instead in the middle of a dangerous and potentially volatile superpower rivalry. That means the traditionally powerful military may not be in the mood to give up its dominant role in politics and society any time soon.

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Israel’s geostrategic benefit requires collapse of Assad regime

A rebel victory in Syria’s civil war would be the most positive outcome for Israel despite fears of instability and a stronger jihadist presence on the Golan should the regime collapse, analysts say. The Syrian conflict has increasingly affected Israel, as alarm mounts over the deployment of President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal and the potential for it to fall into the hands of non-state militant groups. But experts believe a rebel victory would have the best geostrategic implications for Israel.

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Fiji choose Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence to overhaul its port operations

Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence PLC has been chosen by the Fijian government to overhaul the operation of the country’s two biggest ports, namely Suva and Lautoka, a media report said. Accordingly, the Aitken Spence has formed a Private Public Partnership agreement with Fiji Ports Corporation, where both parties will operate under the newly established joint venture Fiji Ports Terminal Limited. Aitken Spence is delighted to have forged this agreement with FPCL and the Government of the Republic of Fiji. We see immense opportunities for the private sector to spearhead Fiji’s vision to exploit its strategic geographic location and skilled human resources to become the premier regional maritime hub,

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Are UK forces reestablishing a strategic military presence in the Middle East?

Is Britain quietly re-establishing a permanent, strategic military presence in the Middle East, reversing a 1960s decision to withdraw UK forces from “east of Suez”? It is a question posed and addressed in a detailed report published on Monday by Whitehall think tank the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi).
“It may not yet be declared government policy,” says Rusi director Prof Michael Clarke, in the foreword. “But the UK appears to be approaching a decision point where a significant strategic reorientation of its defence and security towards the Gulf is both plausible and logical.” In practice this has already begun.

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Chinese Signaling for Conflict: A Predictive Pattern

A new report released in April by the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University looks at the history of Chinese threat and retaliation signaling. It offers up a future signaling scenario involving the South China Sea that should be required reading for the US Pacific Command and the US National Security Council.

The core of the scenario is based on the proposition that China perceives closer military ties among the US, Philippines, and Vietnam as a “threatening strategic trend” as it did with the 1978 Hanoi-Moscow security treaty. China perceived the treaty as collusion to establish a “regional hegemony” over Vietnam’s neighbors.

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US seeks military presence in Maldives

The intriguing ‘leak’ of a draft Status of Forces Agreement [SOFA] between the United States and the Maldivian government has led to reluctant confirmation by both countries that they are indeed involved in discussion with each other to conclude such an agreement.

The draft agreement “incorporates the principal provisions and necessary authorisations for the temporary presence and activities of United States forces in the Republic of Maldives and, in the specific situations indicated herein, the presence and activities of United States contractors in the Republic of Maldives.”

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US looks to allies to secure Arabian Gulf

“It is our hope that the Gulf Cooperation Council, the GCC, can play an important role in the future providing security for this region,” he told an audience at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies Research. Across the board, he said, Washington is urging allies to build local capacity. “That’s what we’re doing for the UAE and that’s what we’re doing with other countries. Yes, we give them the help they need, we give them assistance, but the fact is that they have to help provide for their security.” For months, many commentators from Riyadh to Doha to Manama have sensed and relayed this shift in US policy.

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Sri Lanka is emerging as South Asia’s Maritime Hub

A new shift in the maritime industry is taking place from north to south, with Sri Lanka emerging as the Indian Ocean’s new maritime hub, according to the organizer of the Sri Lanka Ports, Trade & Logistics Conference and Exhibition this year.

Seatrade Communications Ltd. announcing the event said the Government of Sri Lanka is rapidly positioning itself as a dynamic part of a ‘Southern Maritime zone’ following the rise of Singapore and Dubai.

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Taiwan stages live-fire drill in contested Spratlys

Taiwan’s coastguards said Monday that Taipei had staged a live-fire drill within a hotly-contested island chain in the South China Sea, in a move that risks stoking regional tensions.

More than 2,000 rounds of ammunition were fired by garrison forces on Taiwan-administered Taiping, the largest of the Spratly Islands, Wang Chin-wang, chief of the Coast Guard Administration, told parliament. It was Taipei’s first live-fire drill in the Spratlys — claimed in whole or part by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei — since long-range mortars and artillery were shifted to Taiping Island in August last year.

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The Arctic Silk Road: As the U.S. Pivots East, Russia Pivots North

The Arctic Ocean is deceptively vast, spanning 5.4 million square miles. In comparison, Russia in its entirety spans 6.6 million square miles. While most of the Arctic Ocean remains inaccessible, the shrinking of permanent sea ice has roused global economic interest for two reasons. First, the Northern Sea Route runs from the Bering Strait to the Barents Sea, and condenses the traditional “Royal Road” route by about 2500 nautical miles (approximately 10 days’ travel). If viable, the opening of this route would radically alter the transport of goods from Asian industrial hubs to Western consumer markets.

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Geostrategic Developments: US preoccupation with Sri Lanka

US preoccupation with Sri Lanka’s internal affairs is a cause for concern. Every incident has prompted a comment from the US. If the office of a newspaper is attacked, it is an attack on the independence of the media despite the fact that any number of possibilities not connected with media freedom exists for such attacks.

The compelling reason for US preoccupation with Sri Lanka is attributed to Sri Lanka’s extended engagement with China. The need to counter or balance China’s engagement in Sri Lanka has been recognized by the US and India. While India’s concern has both national and geostrategic ramifications, to the US it is primarily geostrategic.

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Disputed Spratlys, 4,400 other islands covered in new China surveillance system

China has established a national island surveillance and monitoring system and completed airborne remote-sensing surveillance of its 4,406 islands, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR).

The national system is mainly built on aerial surveillance, with satellites, unmanned planes and cruisers as auxiliary instruments, the MLR said in its annual land resources report issued Saturday.

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Nimitz Strike Group Departs for Western Pacific Deployment

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 and Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 departed Naval Air Station North Island April 19 and will join up with San Diego-based guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) for a scheduled Western Pacific deployment, the U.S. Navy said.

Nimitz left its homeport of Naval Station Everett, Wash., March 29 to join Princeton and CVW 11 for a Sustainment Exercise (SUSTEX) in preparation for their deployment. The Commander, U.S. Third Fleet-led exercise ensured the deployment readiness of key operational components of the strike group after a delay in deployment as a result of an emergent maintenance requirement.

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Evolving strategic competition in the Indian Ocean

The Indian ocean once regarded as a ‘neglected ocean’ has, today, become the hub of political, strategic and economic activities because of the presence of conventional and nuclear vessels of the major powers in the area and because of its own economic and strategic significance. The ocean contains several important minerals: 80.7% of world extraction of gold, 56.6 % of Tin, 28.5 % of manganese, 25.2 % nickel and 77.3% natural rubber. Highest tonnage of the world goods, 65% of world oil, and 35% of the gas, located in the littoral states, passes through it. The region today is an arena of contemporary geopolitics.

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The Estonia-Russia Border Treaty: Which Scenario Will Prevail?

After years of animosity between Tallinn and Moscow about such delicate issues as the position of the Russian-speaking minority, Estonia’s NATO ambitions and the dramatic course of 20th century history, some sunshine is coming through in Estonian-Russian relations – the countries’ prime ministers met in St. Petersburg late last week and border treaty negotiations are now taking place this week. Historian Jeroen Bult has been following the weather patterns.

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China’s Take: Truth behind frequent U.S. military exercises in Asia-Pacific region

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”.

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Analysis – In bitter irony for China, North Korea helps further U.S. strategic goals

“We understand what kind of regime North Korea is, but we also understand that North Korea is playing games,” said Sun Zhe, director of the Center for U.S-China Relations at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.

“Most importantly, we are complaining that the United States is using military drills as an excuse to continue to do this (rebalancing), putting up B-2s and other advanced weapons systems,” he said. B-2 and B-52 bombers, radar-evading F-22s and anti-missile system vessels like the USS John S. McCain represented the initial U.S. response to North Korea

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China’s Tug of War in Burma

The changing Burma has not been the best news for China’s strategic landscape on the global stage either. The dissolution of Burma’s international isolation and the country’s rapidly improving relations with the West have undermined Beijing’s original blueprint regarding the strategic utilities of Burma at regional forums to defend China’s unpopular positions and in the Indian Ocean to advance China’s strategic presence and national interests.
As Burma develops close ties with the West, China has seen rising competition with other powers inside the country for economic opportunities and strategic influence.

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‘China occupying parts of Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan’

A Kashmiri leader has revealed that China is in occupation of parts of Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Aksai Chin, despite not being a party to any of these land ownership disputes. In an interview, Dr Shabir Choudhry, Head of Diplomatic Committee and senior leader of the Kashmir National Party (KNP), said: “China also occupies part of Jammu and Kashmir state, some part of the Aksai Chin area and some areas of Gilgit Baltistan.”

“Despite that occupation, China is not a party in any dispute. Pakistan and pro-Pakistani Kashmiris are trying to make Beijing a party in these disputes. This will be totally disastrous,” he warned.

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China, Russia compete for interests in Central Asia

Raw materials and energy reserves in Central Asia make the region of particular interest to both China and Russia. The two countries share interests in region but are also each others biggest competitors.

The countries enjoy what experts have often called a strategic partnership, but that does not mean relations are without problems. The energy sector often crops up as a bone of contention between the nations as both look to increase their power and influence in Central Asia.

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America’s AirSea Battle, Arctic Style

Call them American strategy’s Odd Couple. Working together, the U.S. Coast Guard and Air Force could be the best defenders of U.S. policy in the Arctic Ocean, a theater that will expand and contract each year and where threats will — cross your fingers — remain modest in scope. Think about it. One partner is an aviation force, the other a sea service. One operates under Pentagon jurisdiction, the other under the Department of Homeland Security. One is a combat arm designed to break things and kill people, the other a constabulary agency meant primarily to execute U.S. law in offshore waters and skies and render aid and comfort following natural disasters.

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Burma Becomes China-U.S. Chessboard

In Kachin State, China is waving a carrot to the government in Naypyidaw by putting pressure on the KIA and allowing Burmese troops to detour through Chinese territory. China is waving a big stick as well. According to Jane’s Intelligence Review on Dec. 21, China has supplied Burma’s most powerful ethnic militia, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), with large quantities of military hardware. Chinese-made armored personnel carriers with machine guns have been spotted in the UWSA’s Panghsang headquarters in Burma across the Yunnan frontier.

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The Role of MI6, ISI, CIA and Iran in Afghanistan and region crisis

Afghanistan is considered to have a highly strategic value during the 21st century in southern and central Asian regions, owed to its geopolitical situation and untapped mineral resources. The country has proven to be a key inhibitor for the newly formed republics in central Asia besides having a high influence and pressure on China, Russia and Iran. Geographical and geopolitical situation of a nation has a direct impact over the internal, external and economical policies of a nation. However, policies implemented by ISI, CIA and MI6 in Afghanistan and the region during the past five decades have had different motives

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Control of the South China Sea A Necessity For China

Rich reservoirs of oil, natural gas and industrial minerals believed to lie under the China Sea may merely be door prizes in the contests for control of East Asia’s great inland sea.

Beijing claims some 300 million square kilometers (or 80 percent) of the East and South China Sea and the Yellow Sea that separates the Korean Peninsula from China’s east coast. Conventional analyses of China’s aggressive claims focus on rivalries among the coastal states over the underwater resources the China Sea is believed to contain.

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Japan, Sri Lanka to beef up maritime security alliance with eye on China

Japan plans to strengthen its maritime security alliance with Sri Lanka to curb China’s growing influence on countries with Indian Ocean coastlines. A joint statement on maritime security cooperation will be issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 14, sources said.

China, which replaced Japan as the largest aid provider to Sri Lanka in 2009, has been helping with construction of a number of port facilities in countries around India in a strategy known as the “String of Pearls.” A government source said tightening ties with Sri Lanka is “a step toward driving a wedge into the String of Pearls.”

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Strategic dynamics of gwadar and shifting geopolitical alignments

The US and its allies must be viewing this convergence of Chinese, Pakistani and Iranian strategic and economic interests in Gwadar and Balochistan with extreme trepidation. In one fell swoop, the Straits of Hormuz and the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) to and from the Persian Gulf have come under Chinese oversight.

Furthermore, regional economies are getting integrated “independent” of Western influence and domination. The prospects of a network of oil and gas pipelines (IP, even TAPI) flowing from the Middle East (ME) and CARs to Pakistan and China are that much brighter now.

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Japanese PM prepares for war: Links Falklands conflict with Senkaku

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is in conflict with China over islets in the East China Sea, cited former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s reflections on the 1982 Falkland Islands war to stress the importance of the rule of law at sea. The Japanese Prime Minister, who took office in December, quoted Thatcher’s memoirs reflecting the Falkland Islands war, in which she said Britain was defending the fundamental principle that international law should prevail over the use of force, according to Reuters.

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Kashmir: The Geopolitical Hotspot That Could Lead To A Thermonuclear War

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High in the Karakoram, the stubborn armies of India and Pakistan have faced off for 19 years on the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground and a flash point in the deadly dispute over Kashmir. In this exclusive report, an American writer and photographer spend two months inside the ultimate no-man’s-land, witnessing the human and environmental devastation of a conflict without end. Ten years ago, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Kashmir was emerging as the most likely place on earth for a nuclear war to break out.

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Gwadar integral to China’s maritime expansion

gwadar-pipeline

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.

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Iran to Build Navy Base Near China’s Strategic Gwadar Port In Pakistan

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Iran is to build a new naval base on its coast of the Gulf of Oman. The location is Pasabandar, near Iran’s border with Pakistan.

The Iranian Navy is establishing a new naval base at the country’s Southeastern borders along the coast of the Sea of Oman in a bid to strengthen the country’s line of defense, Iran’s top Navy commander said. “The naval base which is under-construction is located in our country’s far east coasts in the Gwatr Gulf along the borders with Pakistan,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said on Sunday.

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New South China Sea Analysis is Must Reading for Geo-Political Pundits

South China Sea dispute to dominate ASEAN forum

For starters the SCS’s geographical location dictates that it is one of the most important bodies of water in the world. Forget the Persian Gulf, because China calls the SCS the “Second Persian Gulf.”

The EIA reports begins: “Stretching from Singapore and the Strait of Malacca in the southwest to the Strait of Taiwan in the northeast, the South China Sea is one of the most important trade routes in the world. The sea is rich in resources and holds significant strategic and political importance.” More than half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Straits of Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok, with the majority continuing on to the SCS.

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At Pentagon, ‘pivot to Asia’ becomes ‘shift to Africa’

obama-pivots-to-africa

In his first term, President Obama instructed the Pentagon to pivot its forces and reorient its strategy toward fast-growing Asia. Instead, the U.S. military finds itself drawn into a string of messy wars in another, much poorer part of the world: Africa.

Over the past two years, the Pentagon has become embroiled in conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Mali and central Africa. Meantime, the Air Force is setting up a fourth African drone base, while Navy warships are increasing their missions along the coastlines of East and West Africa. In scope and expense, the U.S. military involvement in Africa still barely registers when compared with its presence in Asia, let alone the Middle East or Afghanistan.

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US agency sees huge oil, gas potential in disputed Spratlys

Japan Election

The disputed Reed Bank in the Spratly Islands is estimated to contain up to 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, according to a newly published report by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Quoting data from the US Geological Survey, the EIA estimates the disputed Spratly Islands territory may contain significant deposits of undiscovered hydrocarbons. “USGS assessments estimate anywhere between 0.8 and 5.4 (mean 2.5) billion barrels of oil and between 7.6 and 55.1 (mean 25.5) tcf of natural gas in undiscovered resources,” the EIA said in the Feb. 7 report.

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France’s Total joins Cyprus energy rush

france-total-cyprus-gas

Cyprus on Wednesday signed an agreement with French energy major Total to conduct exploratory drilling for gas and oil in two blocks off its southern shore. The deal comes as Cyprus aspires to become a regional energy hub with the prospect of oil as well as natural gas being tapped beneath the sea bed. Total signed a deal to exploit blocks 10 and 11 that are adjacent to a large natural gas find in block 12 and said it seeks to proceed in drilling for oil as well as gas reserves in the said blocks.

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China’s Return to Port Near Persian Gulf Sets Off Regional Alarm Bells

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In a decision raising fresh concern about China’s ambitions in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, Pakistan has agreed to hand over to Chinese control a deep-water port, strategically located near the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

The Pakistani cabinet decision to transfer management of Gwadar to a Chinese government-owned company closes a circle for Beijing, which put up most of the funding a decade ago to build the facility in the first place.

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India irked as China gets Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar port

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Pakistan’s cabinet formally agreed to hand over the operation of its strategically located Gwadar port to China on Wednesday. This puts in place China’s famed “string of pearls” strategy which may have significant implications for India.

On Wednesday, the Pakistan cabinet, in one of its last decisions, transferred the operations responsibility of the Gwadar port from Singapore’s PSA (Port of Singapore Authority) International to China’s Overseas Port Holdings. This had been agreed some time ago as PSA International and Pakistani navy fell out over land transfers, security issues and lack of infrastructure. PSA had asked to withdraw from the contract and Pakistan had agreed.

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