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Archive | February, 2012

U.S. ‘info ops’ programs dubious, costly

Information operations work like most giant marketing campaigns, as they use a combination of radio and TV broadcasts, leaflets, newspapers and entertainment to drive home their message. Instead of selling soap or cereal, information operators are selling Iraqi or Afghan citizens on the virtues of their governments, the need to report roadside bombs or how to switch sides from the insurgency to the government.

U.S. military and government reports obtained by WikiLeaks show that information operations campaigns often work in coordination with intelligence operations. After improvised explosive device (IED) explosions or sniper attacks, reports show, information operators would flood an area with anti-insurgent messages while intelligence operatives would fan into neighborhoods to gather information.

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Russia’s Central Asian Bases Face Problems

Statements from Kyrgyz officials about U.S. forces vacating the Manas air base have made the news often in recent months, but in recent days Russia is facing problems over its use of bases in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan’s president brought the subject of Russia’s unpaid rent for use of a base in his country during a February 23-25 visit to Moscow. Now Tajikistan is bringing up the subject of rent for Russia’s use of bases on its territory.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Tajik Service on February 28, Tajik Ambassador to Russian Abdulmajid Dostiev said his country and Russia are preparing to extend Russia’s use of three bases in Tajikistan for another 49 years. Asked why there was a delay in signing, Dostiev indicated among the details still being negotiated was the matter of rent for use of the Tajik bases and said “no one in the world today intends to give up even a small plot of their land for nothing.”

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Taking Out Dictators: Our interventions follow certain patterns. Do Syria and Iran fit them?

In the past 40 years, the United States has intervened to go after autocrats in Afghanistan, Grenada, Haiti, Iraq, Libya, Panama, Somalia, and Serbia. We have attacked by air, by land, and by a combination of both. In the post-Vietnam, post–Cold War era, are there any rules to guide us about any action envisioned against Syria or Iran — patterns known equally to our enemies?

1. The target cannot have nuclear weapons. Strongmen in Pakistan and North Korea by virtue of their nukes are exempt from American reaction (unlike Syria or, at present, Iran) — unless they directly threaten our existence or that of our allies. With the end of the Cold War, many rogue states lost the Soviet nuclear umbrella and are still scrambling to acquire their own nuclear weapons to ensure them deterrence, especially against the United States, which has not yet invaded a nuclear nation.

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Social Unrest on the Rise in Southern Chile

The police have cracked down hard on demonstrators in the southern Chilean region of Aysén, who have been protesting the area’s isolation and high local prices of fuel and food for the past two weeks.

“We were being exploited,” Henry Angulo, leader of the artisanal fisherfolk of Puerto Aysén, told IPS, describing decades of absence of public policies that would reduce the high prices of food and fuel in the region.

Puerto Aysén, on the Aysén river, is one of several towns where protests are occurring in the region, which is 1,640 km from the capital. The region, which has a very cold climate, is far from areas producing food and fuel.

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Afghanistan Warlord Hekmatyar warns of civil war

In an ominous warning, Afghan warlord and Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has cautioned the Taliban against unilateral talks with “foreigners” as it may resurrect the “bitter past”.

The warning came amidst reports of exploratory talks between the Taliban and US officials in the Arabian Gulf state of Qatar.

Hekmatyar has been accused of spending more time fighting other mujahideen forces than confronting the Soviets and of wantonly killing Afghans during the civil war in the 1990s following the withdrawal of Soviet troops. But he seems keen in ensuring that there is no repeat.

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China’s advances in space unnerve US military leaders

The rise of China’s space program may pose a potentially serious military threat to the United States down the road, top American intelligence officials contend.

China continues to develop technology designed to destroy or disable satellites, which makes the United States and other nations with considerable on-orbit assets nervous. Even Beijing’s ambitious human spaceflight plans are cause for some concern, since most space-technology advances could have military applications, officials say.

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U.S. Teaming With New Yemen Government on Strategy to Combat Al Qaeda

The Obama administration is embarking on an ambitious and potentially risky plan to help the new government in Yemen overhaul its military to combat the Qaeda franchise that has exploited the political turmoil there to seize control of large swaths of the country’s south.

The plan’s two-pronged strategy calls for the United States and Yemen to work together to kill or capture about two dozen of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous operatives, who are focused on attacking America and its interests.

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Confessions of a KGB spy

It is the perfect place to meet a man from the KGB. Boris Karpichkov – former KGB operative and double agent – suggests we meet under the shadow of Marble Arch in central London. I am late. But he is easy to spot: a gaunt, thin, pale figure with the slightly haunted look of someone who has spent their career in the twilight world of espionage.

Since fleeing to Britain in the late 1990s Karpichkov has preferred to keep a low profile – unlike another, better known Moscow agent who fled to London, one Alexander Litvinenko. Now, with the KGB’s most famous graduate, Vladimir Putin, about to get his old Kremlin job back, can Karpichkov shed light on the murky world of Russian spying?

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Eurasian Geopolitical Summary: From February 26-28

CSTO military exercises to take place in Armenia
Organizational activities of CSTO ‘Cooperation 2012’ take place in Yerevan. As the press service of Armenia’s Defense Ministry informs, in order to finalize the plan of military exercises, military-staff session will take place in Yerevan on February 28 and March 1, 2012.

New commander of the Russian military base in Armenia appointed
Under the Russian President’s decree, Colonel Oleg Smiryonov is appointed the new commander of the Russian military base in Armenia.The press service of the Southern Military District reports (SMD) that he was introduced to his personal staff by the Deputy Commander of SMD troops, Major General Andrey Kartapolov.

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US drones circle over the Philippines

A United States-supported airstrike that destroyed with causalities an Abu Sayyaf hideout on the remote island of Jolo in the southern Philippines represented the first known use of the unmanned aerial assault craft in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counter-insurgency operations against terrorism-linked rebel groups.

The drone attack early this month reportedly killed 15 Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah operatives, including three most-wanted terrorist leaders – Zulkifli bin Hir (alias Marwan), Gumbahali Jumdail (alias Doc Abu), and Mumanda Ali (alias Muawayah) – and raised the level of US-Philippine military cooperation.

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US making ‘strategic bet’ on India in Asia, says scholar

India gets a key place in the US pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region because Washington is making “a strategic bet” that India will promote peace and security in the long term, according to a US scholar.

The unexpected attention given to India in Pentagon’s new strategic guidance “raises interesting questions about how India fits into the United States’ vision for security in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Amer Latif in a commentary.

Noting that Washington and New Delhi have been actively building their defence relations through defence sales, exercises, and high-level military engagements, he said: “Despite the impressive progress in recent years, questions still remain about India’s commitment and ability to be a security provider in Asia.”

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Insight – Conflict looms in South China Sea oil rush

When Lieutenant-General Juancho Sabban received an urgent phone call from an oil company saying two Chinese vessels were threatening to ram their survey ship, the Philippine commander’s message was clear: don’t move, we will come to the rescue.

Within hours, a Philippine surveillance plane, patrol ships and light attack aircraft arrived in the disputed area of Reed Bank in the South China Sea. By then the Chinese boats had left after chasing away the survey ship, Veritas Voyager, hired by U.K.-based Forum Energy Plc.

But the tension had become so great Forum Energy chief Ray Apostol wanted to halt two months of work in the area.

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India plans war games near Pakistan border

An official on Monday said the Indian military is to conduct one of its largest mock war drills – involving 20,000 troops – close to Pakistan’s border.
Army spokesman Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya told AFP that the manoeuvres, named Shoorveer or Brave Warrior, which will also involve 200 Russian-made tanks, are due to begin in the deserts of India’s state of Rajasthan next month.

“The exercise will be one of the largest manoeuvres conducted so far,” he said, adding that latest warplanes will also be used in the drills, which are scheduled to end in May.
In a separate statement the military said tanks, frontline combat vehicles, artillery, helicopters, fighter jets, drones, air-defence weapons and military radars will all be part of the exercise.

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Kyrgyzstan fears Iranian attack over US facilities

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, who is in Russia on a two-day working visit, said on Saturday that if there was a possible conflict between the United States and Iran, Tehran could deliver a missile strike at American facilities in Kyrgyzstan.
However, the Kyrgyz president said the US airbase in Kyrgyzstan could not be used against Iran. He stressed that the US base at Bishkek’s airport “cannot go beyond the mandate” which “allows support to an operation only if it is carried out in Afghanistan”.

“I have said many times that there must be no military facilities at a civilian airport,” the president pointed out. He noted that the American military should leave Bishkek’s airport by 2014.

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OBL was in contact with members of Pakistan’s spy agency: Report

Osama bin Laden was in routine contact with several senior figures from the Pakistan’s military and its intelligence arm while hiding in the country, British newspaper The Telegraph reported on Tuesday.

Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks had published five million e-mails and secret intelligence files from US security think tank Stratfor on Monday after being obtained by hacktivist group Anonymous.

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Russian Expert: Azerbaijan~Rs Territory May Be Used For Striking Iran

Azerbaijan’s Milli Mejlis held debates on amending the Constitution and renaming the country into the Republic of Northern Azerbaijan, a Russian expert says. “Supporters of this idea insist that today’s Azerbaijan is just a part of the Azerbaijani state that used to exist before and was divided by Russia and Iran in the 19th century; they claim two thirds of this state still remain within Iran’s territory, and this is historic injustice,” said Alexander Krylov,

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Britain accused of Somali oil grab

Britain is engaged in a secret oil grab in Somalia under the guise of humanitarian aid and security assistance, a Sunday newspaper alleged today.

Suspicions have long been held that – as with previous interventions in Iraq and elsewhere – Somalia’s mineral reserves may be the main reason that Western powers have begun to focus so sharply on the situation in the war-torn east African country.

PM David Cameron hosted an international summit in London last week pledging more aid and the use of greater measures to tackle terrorism.

But the Observer said yesterday it had evidence that behind-the-scenes talks were proceeding between British and Somalian officials over the country’s oil.

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Mercenary Outfit Saracen International Emerges In Somalia

Eight months after SA-linked private military company Saracen International was fingered in a UN Security Council as the “most egregious threat” to peace and security in the failed state of Somalia, Saracen continues to run and train a private army in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Saracen, one of a cluster of shadowy private military contractors born from the ashes of the SA/British mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes, after nearly 18 months of military activity in the region, has yet to secure permission to operate as a security provider in a region so volatile Somalia has not had a functioning central government for upwards of 20 years.

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Baku(Azerbaijan) to improve ties with NATO

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev recently met Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels at NATO headquarters and addressed the North Atlantic Council, news agencies reported.

Rasmussen said he is pleased to welcome President Aliyev at NATO Headquarters. He highly appreciated Azerbaijani-NATO partnership and congratulated the Azerbaijani leader on the election of Azerbaijan as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Rasmussen also praised Azerbaijan’s involvement in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force

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Israel inks $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan

JERUSALEM – (AP) — Israeli defense officials on Sunday confirmed $1.6 billion in deals to sell drones as well as anti-aircraft and missile defense systems to Azerbaijan, bringing sophisticated Israeli technology to the doorstep of archenemyIran.

The sales by state-run Israel Aerospace Industries come at a delicate time. Israel has been laboring hard to form diplomatic alliances in a region that seems to be growing increasingly hostile to the Jewish state.

Its most pressing concern is Iran’s nuclear program, and Israeli leaders have hinted broadly that they would be prepared to attack Iranian nuclear facilities if they see no other way to keep Tehran from building bombs.

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Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan most brutal police forces globally

Mexico, Pakistan and Egypt topped a recent list of the world’s most brutal police forces. The blog Top Criminal Justice Schools, which details criminal justice programs across the world, listed Egypt ahead of Russia, North Korea and Iran as being more brutal.

“People on the right side of the legal system aren’t safe either: even human rights lawyers have reportedly been attacked and beaten up while attempting to visit their clients. The causes of such brutality are deeply rooted: before the Arab Spring the police were an instrument of repression for the old regime, and many officers have evidently found it difficult to shake off old habits,” wrote the site on Egypt’s police violence.

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From Baghdad To Bogota, The Gray Zones And Global Reach Of Modern Mercenaries

The Iraqi resistance nicknamed him “Al-Shaitan” (the devil) and put a hefty bounty on his head. In the United States, he has been decorated as a hero. Newspapers there call him the “deadliest sniper in U.S. history.” During his various missions as a Navy SEAL he officially killed 150 people. The Texan himself counts his kills at 255.

These days, however, 37-year-old Chris Kyle is too busy running his own business to add to his “legendary” kill count. In 2009, after completing his military service – with full honors – he founded Craft International, a company that offers private military and security services and specializes in training sharpshooters.

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Beyond the Fall of the Syrian Regime

Syrians are approaching the one-year anniversary of what has become the most tragic, far-reaching and uncertain episode of the Arab uprisings. Since protesters first took to the streets in towns and villages across the country in March 2011, they have paid an exorbitant price in a domestic crisis that has become intertwined with a strategic struggle over the future of Syria.

The regime of Bashar al-Asad has fought its citizens in an unsuccessful attempt to put down any serious challenge to its four-decade rule, leaving several thousand dead. Many more languish in jail. The regime has polarized the population, rallying its supporters by decrying the protesters as saboteurs, Islamists and part of a foreign conspiracy.

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Russian Bombers over Black Sea Alert Bulgarian, Turkish Air Forces

Five Russian strategic bombers have raised alert with the Bulgarian and Turkish Air Forces after flying close by over the Black Sea on Wednesday.

The five Russian Tu-22 bombers were detected right off Bulgaria’s coast, on the fringes of the Bulgarian air space, the Standart daily reported Thursday, saying that the information has been confirmed by sources from the Bulgarian Defense Ministry.

The Bulgarian military has explained, however, that the Russian bombers never entered Bulgaria’s air space, even though they reached within 40 km of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, apparently bound south, towards Africa.

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US ‘using UK spy base to subvert democracy’

The US government was accused of using a controversial spy station in Yorkshire to “subvert and destroy democracy” in a new report funded by the Joseph Rowntree foundation.

The report, based on an investigation led by Dr Steve Schofield into the Menwith Hill base near Harrogate, revealed for the first time the station’s integral role in military offensives – potentially including drone strikes – and corporate snooping.

The investigation found that the cost to the British taxpayer of hosting the base has been grossly downplayed while the alleged benefits to the local and national economies have been hugely exaggerated.

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‘Ankara can play key role in military intervention in Syria’

Adel Iskandar, a Canadian media studies lecturer at Georgetown University and a Middle East specialist, has said that in the event of a military intervention to stop the bloodshed at the hands of the current regime in Syria, Turkey should play the lead role, it being a credible actor that has gained the support of the people of the Middle East as well as being in possession of the only army in the region that can take on Assad’s.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday’s Zaman last week, İskandar claimed Turkey is seen as an “honest interlocutor” in the region.

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Caucasus Cataclysm: World War 3 Begins in Spring Says Russian Presidential Candidate

The Russian presidential candidate, the LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovski stated that in summer World War III will start. “As soon as they crush Syria, Iran will be the next. Azerbaijan will take advantage and try to recapture Karabakh. Armenia will counteract. Turkey will support Azerbaijan. Here’s how our country can be drawn into a war in the summer of 2012,” he said.

Besides, there are already opinions of experts, mainly from Armenia and Russia, stating that the U.S. “agreed” with Azerbaijan to “give” it Karabakh in return for support to action on Iraq.

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In secret deal, ISI allows U.S. drone war to resume

New waves of strikes target jihadists in Pakistan’s north-west, after CIA and ISI chiefs met to hammer out agreement

Pakistan’s military has agreed to the resumption of the United States’ drone strikes against terrorist groups operating on its soil, highly-placed diplomatic sources told The Hindu.

The agreement, the sources said, was hammered out by Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lieutenant-General Shuja Ahmad Pasha and Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus at a secret meeting in Doha last month.

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US targeted at destabilizing situation in South Caucasus

Destabilization of the South Caucasus is within the U.S. plans and will be realized through the American Greater Middle East project, Polish expert Mateusz Piskorski told Armenian News-NEWS.am. According to him, it will be more real if the ruling regime in Syria falls.

“After the regime falls, a real war will be launched. Syria is the key partner of Iran in the region and Iran’s position will weaken if Syria’s authorities fall. Furthermore, the events will reflect into the South Caucasus,” the expert said.

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Middle East risks becoming a ‘giant failed state’

With EU countries crafting plans on how to shape events in Syria, David Hirst, a noted British writer on the Middle East, has warned that the Arab uprisings are a kind of “constructive chaos” completely out of Western control.

“What we’re now witnessing is the greatest transformation of the region since the end of the first world war,” he told EUobserver in an interview in his home in Beirut on Saturday (18 February).

“The order which the world powers imposed on the region after 1918 was an unnatural one. These uprisings have set in motion separatist forces which no one can really foresee. But it is not far-fetched to see it leading to the disappearance of whole states and the creation of new ones … The Lebanisation of the whole region is not within the bounds of impossibility,” he said.

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Clinton warns Somali ‘peace spoilers’

American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday threatened sanctions on anyone blocking reforms intended to end Somalia’s “hopeless, bloody conflict” and counter militant and pirate groups seen as a growing menace to world security.

Addressing a conference aimed at energising attempts to end more than 20 years of anarchy, Clinton also demanded greater efforts to cut funding for al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants fighting Somalia’s weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Al-Shabaab is the most powerful of an array of militias spawned by the conflict in Somalia, where armed groups have a history of wrecking attempted political settlements and perpetuating war, instability and famine.

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Black Drone Down: Western Powers In Place To Secure Somalia’s Resources

All of these countries are on the Indian Ocean side of Africa, which is very likely the last great non-frozen, land-based pool of hydrocarbons on earth.

The global oil major ENI found $800 billion worth of natural gas off the coast of Mozambique last month.

BG Group (BG) found 4 trillion cubic feet of gas there as well. That’s more natural gas than is in Norway.

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With eye on Iran, US pressing Pak for bases in Balochistan

The US has been pushing Pakistan for permission to establish bases in Balochistan for intelligence operations against bordering Iran, according to a media report on Monday.

The “outburst in America for Balochistan”, including a resolution introduced in the US Congress seeking the recognition of the Baloch people’s right to self-determination , is part ofthe move to set up intelligence bases close to the Iranian border, an Pakistani unnamed official was quoted as saying by ‘The Express Tribune’ newspaper.

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US troops now in 4 African countries to fight LRA

U.S. troops helping in the fight against a brutal rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army are now deployed in four Central African countries, the top U.S. special operations commander for Africa said Wednesday.

The U.S. announced in October it was sending about 100 U.S. troops – mostly special operations forces – to Central Africa to advise in the fight against the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony, a bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, the top U.S. special operations commander for Africa, said the U.S. troops are now stationed in bases in Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic.

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Mali clashes force 120 000 from homes

Some 120 000 people have been forced from their homes in Mali since Tuareg-led rebels launched an independence bid last month in the country’s desert north, United Nations figures showed.

The conflict, which has seen rebels bolstered by fighters and weapons from Libya’s conflict launch a wave of attacks on military outposts, comes as the Sahel region grapples with a food crisis that aid agencies say will leave more than 10 million hungry this year.

Fighting in three of Mali’s eight provinces also threatens the holding of an election due in April.

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U.S. Troops to Start Training for ‘Hybrid’ War

U.S. soldiers will be spending less time honing their combat skills in simulated Afghan villages as the Army begins a new training regimen that seeks to prepare troops to fight “hybrid” enemies.

Hybrid is Pentagon-speak for adversaries who combine guerilla tactics with high-tech weaponry, such as the Hezbollah fighters who held off Israel’s armored forces with rockets and missiles in the 2006 war.

“In the future, the hybrid threat is what I see,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters Feb. 21. He described it as a combination of conventional and nontraditional warfare to counter terrorists, insurgencies and criminal groups, Odierno said. “It’s a complex environment.”

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CIA carving out new role in Balochistan

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), led by David Petraeus the former Commander, US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), has a strategic, multidimensional interest in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province. In March 2011, The Peninsula, Qatar’s leading English language daily, revealed that the “CIA is indulging in heavy recruitment of local people as agents (each being paid $500 a month) in Balochistan to locate members of the Quetta Shura, a term used by the Americans for Mullah Omar-led Taliban commanders.”

Over the long term, the CIA has an interest in keeping the strategically important Port of Gwadar out of China’s influence. Over the short to medium term, the CIA also has an interest in supporting Jundallah, also known as People’s Resistance Movement of Iran (PRMI), a violent organization that claims to be “fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in Iran.”

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South Asia’s Unravelling Internal Conflicts

From the armed coup that recently ousted the Maldives’ first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, to the Pakistani Supreme Court’s current effort to undermine a toothless but elected government by indicting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on contempt charges, South Asia’s democratic advances appear to be shifting into reverse.

Nasheed’s forced resignation at gunpoint has made the Maldives the third country in the region, after Nepal and Sri Lanka, where a democratic transition has been derailed. The Maldives, a group of strategically located islands in the Indian Ocean, now seems set for prolonged instability.

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Clashes Between Salafists and Police in Northwestern City of Tunisia

Tensions are running high in Jendouba, a city located in the Northwest of Tunisia, after violent confrontations between the police and a group of men, described by witnesses as salafists.

The troubles began on Monday at the opening of a branch of the mobile operator “Orange,” where two women promoting the opening of the store were reportedly assaulted by a group of men. According to Achref, a resident of Jendouba who witnessed the incident, “the salafists were angry at the women, who were wearing skirts, because they were inappropriate”.

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FAR EAST FOCUS: China’s growing military presence has Russia on edge

In Moscow, China is increasingly seen as a threat. Aleksandr Khramchikhin, deputy director at the Institute for Political and Military Analysis in Moscow, and other defense analysts say that Russia, given its current military strength, cannot counter NATO on its west and China on its east.

The strength of the Russian military significantly weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the social and economic turmoil that followed.

In contrast, China, drawing on its rapid economic growth, has successfully pursued military expansion.

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Russia says U.S. might use Kyrgyz airbase in Iran strike

Russia on Wednesday said it could not rule out that the United States would use the U.S. Manas airbase in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan for an eventual strike on Iran over its contested nuclear program.

“It cannot be excluded that this site could be used in a potential conflict with Iran,” foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters. “We hope that such an apocalyptic scenario will not be realised.”

Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev in December said it was “very dangerous” for the state to host the U.S. Manas military airbase and has threatened the Americans with eviction when the current lease expires in 2014.

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USA Tries to Involve South Caucasian Countries into War against Iran

Director General of the Institute for Caspian Cooperation Sergey Mikheyev is sure that the USA tries to involve the South Caucasian countries into the war against Iran. He expressed such views in an interview with News Azerbaijan Agency.

Specifically, Mikheyev stated that Americans, jointly with allies, would draw into the war on their side the northern neighbors of Iran – Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, maybe, Armenia and for sure – Georgia.

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Russia To Deploy 1st Arctic Brigade In 2015

The first motorized rifle arctic brigade will
be deployed in 2015, Russian Ground Forces Chief Col Gen Alexander
Postnikov said on Tuesday, February 21, RIA Novosti reported.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in July 2011 that two
arctic brigades would be established in “Murmansk or Arkhangelsk or
some other place.”

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Russia’s Encroachment: Moldova will bring down Russian planes and defend airspace with NATO

Under the bill, Chisinau intends to buy from NATO countries for 240 million dollars, airplanes and helicopters to control your sky. The purpose of undertaking – a supremacy over the army of the Moldovan Transnistrian army, the leader of political movement “Equality”, Valery Klimenko.

In turn, the head of the KGB, Vladislav Finagin Transnistria considers that the plan is aimed at Chisinau oust Russia from the region: “This is certainly the pressure on the peace process, to Russia.”

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Disturbing ‘Gattacan’ Actions: Can You Be Fired for Your Genes?

The number of complaints about genetic discrimination are on the rise

In 2010, Pamela Fink, an employee of a Connecticut energy company, made a new kind of discrimination claim: she charged that she had been fired because she carries genes that predispose her to cancer. Fink quickly became the public face for the cutting edge of civil rights: genetic discrimination.

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Vantage Point Interview: James Corbett[Independent Journalist]

About James:
James Corbett is an independent journalist who has been living and working in Japan since 2004. He has been writing and producing The Corbett Report, an online multi-media news and information source, since 2007. His forthcoming book, Reportage: Essays on the New World Order, will be available for purchase later this year.

Michael Vail and James Corbett discuss geopolitical flashpoints, the psychology of defeatism, and terrorism. We dissect the political discourse and break down the media narratives and false paradigms. We run the gamet in this hour long commercial free interview.

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‘South Stream is something of spoiler to Nabucco’

The implementation of Russian South Stream project will not affect the future Caspian gas supplies to Europe, European energy expert Neil Melvin believes.

Russian Gazprom’s Management Committee chairman Alexey Miller approved the South Stream Construction Charter this week. The South Stream project is implemented to diversify the routes of natural gas supplies to the European consumers and envisages the construction of a gas pipeline across the Black Sea to the South and Central Europe.

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China Reaps Rewards of Central Asian Investment

For the Central Asian states, the importance of the pipeline goes beyond energy revenues. The first major pipeline from the region that bypasses Russia, it brings a much sought-after diversification of export routes. It secures China as a long-term buyer of Central Asian gas, and one that, unlike European countries, is a growing economy. It also opens up the prospect of sales to Japan and South Korea.

In China, the Central Asian countries have an investor that is willing to bankroll large-scale infrastructure projects – and not just in the energy sector – and that has proved effective in implementing them.

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China’s War Chest: China sets up fund to bankroll takeovers

Boasting $3.2 trillion in foreign currency reserves, China has created a new fund aimed at financing takeover bids abroad. The fund also seeks to boost China’s currency in global financial markets.

In its drive to step up overseas investment, the Chinese government has set up a new fund worth 12 billion yuan ($1.9 billion), Shanghai International Group said in a statement Friday.

Shanghai International said it was responsible for running the fund, describing it as China’s “biggest ever fund of its kind.”

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Vladimir Putin: “Be strong: guarantee of national security for Russia”

The world is changing. Going it processes global transformation fraught with risks of different, often unpredictable nature. In terms of global economic and other shocks is always a temptation to solve their problems at the expense of others, by the force of pressure. Not by chance that today there are voices that say, soon, “objective” will be a question that national sovereignty should not be subject to the resources of global importance.

That even such hypothetical possibilities with regard to Russia should not be. That means – we will not have to enter into the temptation of their weaknesses.

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Turkey pushed over Syria

Adel Iskandar, an Arab media scholar, says it is in the interest of a lot of countries to push Turkey to intervene in Syrian crisis, which rocks the country for nearly 1 year, a move that could be injurious to Turkey
Turkey is in a very difficult situation vis-à-vis Syria since many Western countries are pushing it to intervene in its southern neighbor, a prominent Arab media scholar has said, adding that such an attack would not benefit Ankara.

“A lot of countries are refraining from getting involved in Syria militarily, and it is in the interest of a lot of countries to push Turkey to intervene Syria. But the reality is, is that it might not be in Turkey’s best interest,” Adel Iskandar, a lecturer at Georgetown University, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

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South Caucasus nations fear Iran-Israel war

After two apparent assassination attempts against Israeli diplomats in the South Caucasus, many fear this fractured and strategically important region is being pulled into the rising tensions between the West and Iran.

All three countries that comprise the South Caucasus — Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia — maintain important relationships with both the West and Iran. Conflict between these two sides could destabilize the fragile, but strategically crucial peace in the region.

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US, Georgian nation to mull free trade deal

US President Barack Obama and his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday discussed the possibility of sealing a bilateral free trade agreement during their talks at the White House.

“What we’ve agreed to is a high-level dialogue between our two countries about how we can continue to strengthen trade relations between our two countries, including the possibility of a free trade agreement,” Obama said.

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Maoists luring villagers to grow poppy in Bihar

Maoists have been paying villagers at the rate of Rs.1 lakh per kattha (1,361 sq. feet) for the upkeep of poppy plantations. “This is more than 20 times what farmers earn from paddy, wheat and other cash crops,” a police official told IANS, speaking on condition he was not named.

“There are several undisclosed pockets in rural areas, where the Maoists run a parallel administration. These remain out of reach for police and poppy cultivation is believed to be thriving there,” said an official posted at the police headquarters here.

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Pakistan’s ISI backing insurgents: Assam CM

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is backing Maoists and insurgent outfits in Assam and other northeastern states to expand its activities, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said Sunday after meeting union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

The two met for a law and order review meet at the Raj Bhavan here.

“The home minister discussed mainly insurgency related issues. The militant outfits of the northeast have united now due to their reduced strength and the ISI is trying to back the militant outfits and Maoists in spreading their network and activity in Assam,” Gogoi said.

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Officials: US drones monitoring clashes in Syria

“A good number” of unmanned U.S. military and intelligence drones are operating in the skies over Syria, monitoring the Syrian military’s attacks against opposition forces and innocent civilians alike, U.S. defense officials tell NBC News’ Jim Miklaszewski.

The officials said this surveillance is not in preparation for U.S. military intervention. Rather, the Obama administration hopes to use the overhead visual evidence and intercepts of Syrian government and military communications in an effort to “make the case for a widespread international response,” the officials told Miklaszewski.

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Israel’s ex-spy chief sees opportunity in Syria crisis

You’ve called Syria the Achilles’ heel of Iran. What do you mean?

Iran has invested enormous efforts in trying to secure Syria as a major partner. The Alawite [Muslim] minority is very close to the Shiites in Iran. The Syrian army is mainly based on Alawite command and has units that are purely Alawite. This makes the Iranian investment all the more important.

Syria is also the conduit for Iran’s arming of the Hezbollah Shiite forces in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. If the regime falls in Syria and the Iranians are expelled, this is going to be a horrendous defeat for Iran….

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Microchip Implant Gives Medication On Command

For people who face frequent needle jabs to treat chronic conditions, a new technology is on the horizon that might make treatment a lot less painful.

Researchers report that a new wirelessly controlled microchip, implanted under the skin, can safely and reliably give osteoporosis patients the daily dose of a drug that they need for at least 20 days in a row. The findings were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Vancouver and published online Thursday in Science Translational Medicine.

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More Than Human? The Ethics of Biologically Enhancing Soldiers

Our ability to “upgrade” the bodies of soldiers through drugs, implants, and exoskeletons may be outstripping the ethical norms of war as we’ve understood them.

If we can engineer a soldier who can resist torture, would it still be wrong to torture this person with the usual methods? Starvation and sleep deprivation won’t affect a super-soldier who doesn’t need to sleep or eat. Beatings and electric shocks won’t break someone who can’t feel pain or fear like we do. This isn’t a comic-book story, but plausible scenarios based on actual military projects today.

In the next generation, our warfighters may be able toeat grass,communicate telepathically,resist stress, climb walls like a lizard, and much more. Impossible?

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Israel, Cyprus ink military deal to protect energy resources

Israel and Cyprus signed a military agreement Thursday, February 16 allowing the former to use the airspace and territorial waters around the eastern Mediterranean island to protect vital energy resources, M&C reported citing DPA.

The search and rescue agreement, signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, will allow the Israeli air force and navy to enter Cypriot space in the case of accidents or actions against oil rigs in their exclusive economic zones.

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Analysis: The system will provoke a revolution in Russia

There is already a number of factors that work to decay and disintegration of the system. First – it is the volatility of oil prices, which could undermine our stability at any time, as soon as the price of oil close to $ 70 dollars per barrel. The second – starting collapse of the Soviet industrial structure. Third – the very fact that raskochegarennye hope people, pensioners and working to improve the material status is not justified. reserve fund will be depleted by the end of 2012.

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Cold Response 2012: NATO tests its forces in Arctic

NATO war exercises will take place between the 12th and the 21st of March aiming at promoting cooperation between the navy, the air force, special mission units and marines in the Arctic conditions. According to the official reports the focus is on practicing actions combining diplomatic overtures with military response at high risk of a conflict. Another aim of the exercises is to establish military cooperation between different countries. The exercises have been prepared for many months. A helicopter carrier Illustrious of the British Navy left Portsmouth last week taking course towards the area of the exercises. It carries a company of the 42 Commando Royal Marines, naval helicopters Sea King and Lynx, and military helicopters Apache. NATO’s activities will not be limited to the exercises in the Norwegian waters.

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Is Greece Being Forced to Default?

We’ve known, or at least some of us have asserted, for some time now that the best thing for Greece would be a default and exit from the euro. The country simply cannot pay its current debt burden so default of some kind is the only option. And my view has been that growth won’t return until they are outside the euro and thus able to depreciate the currency.

However, we’ve all also been assuming that the powers that be (the IMF, the ECB, the EU itself) want to keep Greece inside the euro. And it may be that that assumption either has been wrong or is becoming so. For there’s an increasing suspicion that the negotiations are being manipulated to makeGreece default and leave rather than prevent it from doing so.

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U.S. intelligence chief sees limited benefit in an attack on Iran

An Israeli bombing attack might set back Iran’s nuclear development program by one to two years, America’s top intelligence official told a Senate committee Thursday, indicating that viable military options are far more limited than Israeli leaders have suggested.

James R. Clapper, director of National Intelligence, said he does not believe that Israel has decided to attack Iran’s uranium enrichment and other nuclear facilities. Clapper said the U.S. intelligence community believes that Iran’s leaders have not decided to build nuclear weapons but are pursuing technology that might allow them to do so.

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Resource Rapture: Syria’s Untapped Assets Desired By Allies And Enemies Alike

The numbers and the facts don’t lie. Western Governments aren’t in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan because the falafel and couscous is good. This is a global economic hostile takeover using bombs and bullets. The bean counters and administrators come in later and begin the due diligence process.

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US AFRICOM Reborn in Djibouti

The visit to Djibouti by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in late 2011 seems to be an omen foretelling the rebirth of the US African Command’s (AFRICOM) base in the Horn of Africa.

The USA has little choice really, now that the Bahraini peoples resistance to the western backed Hamad regime has become firmly established and the USA’s continued use of their naval base in Bahrain becomes problematic.

The USA has already been expelled from Iraq, and with the Shia belt and its critical Saudi oil fields increasingly unstable, the USA has to take what it can get as close as possible to the Persian Gulf oil fields and that leaves tiny, drought blighted Djibouti as the fall back position for the US military in the region.

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Bahrain protests an ‘NGO coup plot’, defence chief says

The incidents that have hit Bahrain are a coup attempt supported by foreign forces, the Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF), Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, said on the anniversary of anti-government protests that swept the country last year.
In an interview with local Arabic daily Al Ayam, Shaikh Khalifa said that 22 NGOs have been plotting against Bahrain.

“Nineteen of them are based in the US and three in a Gulf country,” he said, without naming the Gulf state.

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UAVs Need To Adapt For Contested Airspace

In conducting operations over Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mexico, Iran and wherever else the U.S. has been flying its unmanned aircraft over the past decade, one thing U.S. forces mostly have not had to worry about is being shot down, hijacked or having their electronics jammed.

As with all good things, this era of uncontested American dominance in the skies will end one day. So what are the Pentagon and the defense industry doing to plan for it? According to several industry and military sources, they are working on various scenarios, although the range of plans remains a closely guarded secret even as technologies and tactics continue to evolve.

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Is Putin’s reign at an end?

Russians mostly looked the other way in 2008 when Putin, facing a two-term limit as president, brought in Dmitry Medvedev to take the presidency while he became prime minister.

But something happened last September. When Putin and Medvedev announced they would swap jobs again, many Russians decided they had had enough of looking the other way.

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Opposition: Syrian war planes blow up oil pipeline in Homs

massive plume of thick, black smoke billowed from the city of Homs on Wednesday, punctuating the chaos that has plagued the opposition stronghold for months.

According to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist group, government war planes flew over Homs and blew up an oil pipeline.

The Syrian government did not immediately issue a statement on the situation in Homs.

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Breakdown: Turkish-Israeli battle over Cyprus pipeline

The government of the Republic of Cyprus plans to protest any exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the politically divided island.

“We are investigating the issue, and have already brought it to the attention of the UN representation in Cyprus,” said Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Markouli.

Supported by Turkey’s government, Turkish Cypriots are due to carry out drilling in the Famagusta region in eastern Cyprus, Markouli told local media.

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Noble Energy-Led Consortium Signs $680 Million Natural-Gas Deal in Israel

The U.S.-Israeli consortium developing the Tamar natural-gas field off Israel’s coast said on Sunday it had signed a 15-year deal to supply an Israeli power-plant operator with an estimated $680 million worth of gas.

Isramco Negev, a partner in the exploration group, said the deal was reached with Mashav Initiatives and Development, a subsidiary of Clal Industries that runs a power plant in central Israel.

The latest in a series of agreements the Tamar group has recently announced, the deal is for as many as 0.2 billion cubic meters of gas each year starting in the second half of 2013, when the offshore field is expected to begin production.

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USAID’s role in covert work questioned

It was part of John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier: a government agency to work with developing countries around the world and spread democracy in the process.

Fifty years later, the U.S. Agency for International Development faces skepticism from other countries about its true purpose and warnings from critics who say it has strayed too much into the world of clandestine operations.

The imprisonment in Cuba of USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, who secretly brought in communications equipment to the country, has raised questions whether the aid agency has endangered its workers, even those who operate in the open.

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NATO conducting several large scale military exercises as tensions with Iran and Syria on the rise

While tensions with Iran and Syria are rising on the international scene, NATO members are conducting (or will soon conduct) several large scale “joint” military maneuvers. These maneuvers have two roles: Send a strong message to the regimes and keep NATO armies, navies and air forces ready to work together should they intervene.

In February alone, no less than five such multi-nation exercises are planned, each being focused in a field that could well prove decisive or fundamental should a conflict erupt

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Tibet officials ‘prepare for war’

Officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region have been ordered to recognize the “grave situation” in maintaining stability and to ready themselves for “a war against secessionist sabotage,” months before a major plenary session of the Communist Party of China.

The fight against the Dalai Lama clique is a “long-term, complicated and sometimes even acute” one, Chen Quanguo, regional Party chief of Tibet, was quoted by the Tibet Daily Thursday as saying.

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Setting The Precedent: NATO may use R2P to intervene in Syria

If the Syrian regime’s violent crackdown on the civilian protest movement triggers a massive humanitarian crisis, forcing millions of refugees to flee to Turkey’s southern border, some analysts claim this would potentially constitute an Article V situation, which could lead Ankara to call for a NATO collective defense initiative.
The failed resolution on Syria at the UN Security Council, which was rejected after Russia and China vetoed the proposals, has led some to speculate that Turkey, along with its NATO allies, may intervene in Syria to check the growing crisis. Experts suggest that the political will of the NATO allies is a decisive factor in whether or not Article V is invoked, which is a distinct possibility if Turkey finds itself facing a refugee crisis that cannot be handled alone.

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Is China Ripe for a Revolution?

ONE HUNDRED years ago, on Feb. 12, 1912, the 6-year-old child emperor of the Qing Dynasty abdicated, ending more than 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. But this watershed moment for modern China will not be widely celebrated in the People’s Republic. The political climate in Beijing is tense as the ruling Communist Party prepares for a secretive transition to the next generation of leaders, with the untested vice president, Xi Jinping, expected to become president. Reminders of past regime change and the end of dynasties are not welcome.

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US admiral says forces prepared to confront Iran

The top U.S. Navy official in the Persian Gulf said Sunday he takes Iran’s military capabilities seriously but insists his forces are prepared to confront any Iranian aggression in the region.

Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of the 5th Fleet, told reporters at the naval force’s Bahrain headquarters that the Navy has “built a wide range of potential options to give the president” and is “ready today” to confront any hostile action by Tehran.

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Israel’s Mossad is using Azerbaijan to spy on Iran: reports

Israel is using Azerbaijan, a former soviet republic bordering Iran, as a base to spy on the regime in Tehran, the London Times reported Saturday.

The newspaper cited testimony from an anonymous Mossad agent, referred
to only as Shimon.

“This is ground zero for intelligence work,” Shimon told The Times. “Our presence here is quiet, but substantial. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it gets us very close to Iran. This is a wonderfully porous country.”

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Syrian army general assassinated in Damascus

Gunmen assassinated an army general in Damascus Saturday in the first killing of a high ranking military officer in the Syrian capital since the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March, the country’s state-run news agency said.

The attack could be a sign that armed members of the opposition, who have carried out attacks on the military elsewhere in the country, are trying to step up action in the tightly controlled capital, which has been relatively quiet compared to other cities.

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Turmoil Erupts in a Kremlin-Protected Enclave

The opposition movement leader in the mountainous enclave of South Ossetia had planned to be inaugurated as its rightful president on Friday in an unauthorized ceremony. Instead, she lay unconscious in a hospital with a possible rifle-butt blow to the head, her aides were under arrest and her organization was in disarray, crushed by police officers apparently acting on the Kremlin’s orders.

The crushing of the movement led by the would-be president, Alla A. Dzhioeva, on Thursday, came at a delicate moment as Russia has struggled to install its favored leaders in South Ossetia as well as in other former Soviet separatist regions that are its de facto protectorates.

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Hi-tech defences: India ‘successfully tests’ missile shield

India successfully tested on Friday an interceptor defence shield developed to detect and destroy incoming ballistic missiles, a government official said.

Officials from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said an indigenously developed interceptor missile locked on to the targets, two nuclear-capable missiles, and destroyed them in a test in eastern India.

DRDO spokesman Ravi Gupta said radars following the two destroyed missiles detected fragments falling into the Bay of Bengal off the state of Orissa.

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Aggressive Military Drill: Pakistan’s Strategic Command successfully completes exercise Codename ‘Ababeel’

Sources said that as previously reported, the Pakistan Army again charted new horizons during special weapons testing in Balochistan by employing the ‘multi-target cruise offense’ strategy. In this regard, an undisclosed number of fighter jets of the Pakistan Air Force were also employed to revamp aerial maneuverability using this effective strategy. The make of jets used were not disclosed. Modified variants of indigenous cruise missiles including the Babur were mock-tested from the jets.

The fundamental objectives of this exercise were:

Preparations for pinpoint attacks on specific US military bases in the close radius which include Afghanistan, Qatar and two undisclosed Gulf states as part of the ‘direct take-out’ doctrine (this does not include all bases, only the most threatening ones; the first of its kind exercise by the Pakistan Air Force for possible overseas assault).

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Interview with Thomas P.M. Barnett: Military Strategist and Best Selling Author

Thomas P.M. Barnett is a strategic planner who has worked in national security affairs since the end of the Cold War. In 2010, Tom became Chief Analyst for the New York/Tel Aviv/Sidney online consultancy, Wikistrat. He has also operated his own consulting practice (Barnett Consulting LLC) since 1998.

A New York Times-bestselling author and a nationally-known public speaker who’s been profiled on the front-page of the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Barnett is in high demand within government circles as a forecaster of global conflict and an expert of globalization, as well as within corporate circles as a management consultant and conference presenter.

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U.S. Losing The Information War Abroad

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency in charge of critical U.S. information programs to countries such as Iran, China and Russia, can only be described as a failed enterprise in need of emergency surgery.

Just as the new Voice of America (VOA) director,David Ensor, was praising the VOA Russian Service as a model of innovation during a speech to mark the broadcast’s 70th anniversary, theRussian Service was posting an apology to Alexei Navalny, a famous Russian anti-corruption lawyer, opposition leader and blogger, for publishing an online interview with him, which he described as “100 percent fake.”

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Iran turns to barter for food as sanctions cripple imports

Iran is turning to barter – offering gold bullion in overseas vaults or tankerloads of oil – in return for food as new financial sanctions have hurt its ability to import basic staples for its 74 million people, commodities traders said Thursday.

Difficulty paying for urgent import needs has contributed to sharp rises in the prices of basic foodstuffs, causing hardship for Iranians with just weeks to go before an election seen as a referendum on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic policies.

New sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to punish Iran for its nuclear program do not bar firms from selling Iran food but they make it difficult to carry out the international financial transactions needed to pay for it.

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Syria: Iran’s elite Quds force ‘advising Assad regime’

Members of the opposition Syrian National Council said they had reliable intelligence that Qassem Suleimani was intimately involved with President Bashar al-Assad and his ruling coterie.

“It is his second visit at least,” said Radwan Ziahdeh, an executive member of the council. “The Quds force is working mainly with training, helping militias and snipers.”

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, meanwhile told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov of his grave concern that Russia continues to sell arms to the government.

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China Military Growth Spurs Asia Demand for Boeing, Lockheed

China’s surging defense budget, the world’s second-biggest, is helping spur military spending across Asia, offering U.S. and European suppliers a chance to offset slowing demand at home.

Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. fighters will be on display at next week’s Singapore Airshow as the two biggest U.S. defense contractors prepare to compete with Eurofighter and Saab AB for a $7 billion South Korean order. The contest follows similar competitions in Japan and India.

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India Upgrades Military to Match China

India has decided to buy 126 fighter jets from France, taken delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine from Russia and prepared for its first aircraft carrier in recent weeks as it modernizes its military to match China’s.

India and China have had tensions since a 1962 border war, and New Delhi has watched with dismay in recent years as Beijing has increased its influence in the Indian Ocean.

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Bold Alligator: Massive 11-Nation Military Drill Aimed At Fending Off Iran In The Straits of Hormuz

The scenario was part of Bold Alligator, an 11-nation training exercise involving upwards of 19,000 troops.

While the scenario may have been a fiction, the reality for all involved is a shifting military focus, as the US and other participating nations are increasingly watchful of coastal areas of the Middle East – in particular Iran – and countries like China and North Korea in the Pacific.

The Bold Alligator exercise involves scenarios of mine warfare, fighting in shallow water and fending off attacks from smaller boats; methods known to be familiar to the Iranian Navy.

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Hezbollah’s Nasrallah Admits Receiving Material Support from Iran

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has acknowledged for the first time that the Lebanese militant group receives financial and material support from Iran, a longtime ally.

He made the admission in a video-link speech to supporters in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. He said Hezbollah previously only confirmed receiving political and moral support from Iran to avoid embarrassing the Islamic state.

The United States considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization and has long accused Iran of arming the group by smuggling weapons through Syria, another Hezbollah supporter.

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NATO extends Baltic air patrols

NATO has decided to extend an operation to protect the airspace of Baltic members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with fighter jets, officials said Wednesday.

Carmen Romero, NATO’s deputy spokeswoman, said the decision “shows NATO’s commitment to air policing in the Baltic States as a long-term and sustainable mission.” NATO did not give an end date for the operation.

None of the three Baltic nations, which joined NATO in 2004, have had fighter planes since they seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991. As a result, larger member nations have taken turns policing their airspace.

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Is Jordan Next? MENA Civil Unrest

The Exclusive Analysis special report states that, “there is a low but increasing risk in the 6-12 month outlook, that in the face of unmanageable mass civil unrest, key elements of the security forces and the Hashemite family would be driven to depose King Abdullah II, in an attempt to appease protesters, while preserving the Hashemite monarchy. The Jordan civil unrest risk score has increased to 3.2 (severe risk) on Exclusive Analysis’s Foresight Country Risk online platform.

In October 2011, the Retired Military Veterans’ Movement, made up of East Bank tribes, criticised Prime Minister Khasawneh, appointed by King Abdullah, for not reforming electoral law and ‘not confronting threats to national identity’.

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More Sockpuppets!: Russia’s 30-Ruble Army Emerges Again

Last year, I wrote about Russia’s “human bots,”aka its 30-ruble army — online commentators who were paid to trawl the web and comment on articles critical of the Kremlin.

Much like China’s 50-cent party, these online commentators are paid a few hundred dollars to leave 70 comments a day from 50 different accounts. Hard to pin exactly on the Kremlin (it’s the type of shady public-private partnership the Kremlin excels at), but entirely consistent with the Russian authorities’ approach to the Internet: less filtering, more narrative-shaping.

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Oil war in South Atlantic: Great Britain vs. Latin America

At present a new escalation of tension between Argentina and Great Britain is being intensively discussed in the media. Does it mean that Las Malvinas (the Folkland Islands for Great Britain) may become the theater of war again? In the current situation a new war may become even fiercer – the reserves of the oil and gas fields which were discovered on the shelf of the archipelago are comparable with the reserves of the oil fields in the North Sea. The British experts, who estimate the reserves at 60 billion barrels, are probably lowering the real figure in order not to tease Argentine people.

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Who’s Pulling the Strings in the Middle East? Little Qatar, says Syria

The Syrian regime is in no doubt about who sits at the center of a web of international conspiracy seeking to undermine it: the rulers of the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar.

Like the regime of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and that of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s Libya before it, Syria has singled out Qatar as an éminence grise behind the unrest in its streets.

In a dispatch on Tuesday, the Syrian State news agency SANA claimed to have discovered a document showing Qatar was funding writers in Russia to fabricate news about Syria.

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‘Experts say’ drills stir up disputes

United States accused of seeking to isolate China by inviting neighbours to join annual Asia-Pacific military exercises:

Mainland analysts say Beijing should stay vigilant during US-led multinational military exercises in the Asia-Pacific and use a carrot-and-stick approach with neighbours involved in the drills.

Asian countries engaged in territorial disputes with China, including the Philippines, Vietnam and India, were all invited to take part in this year’s Cobra Gold drills. China has remained an observer since 2002.

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U.S. military beginning review of Syria options

Although the U.S. focus remains on exerting diplomatic and economic pressure on Syria, the Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command have begun a preliminary internal review of U.S. military capabilities, CNN has learned.

The options are being prepared in the event President Barack Obama were to call for them. Two senior administration officials who spoke about the review to CNN emphasized that U.S. policy for now remains the use of non-military options.

The focus on diplomatic options was underscored by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

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Maldives president quits after ‘coup’

The Maldives’ first freely elected president has resigned after what his party called a “coup d’etat” orchestrated by opposition leaders with the backing of security forces.

Within hours of Mohamed Nasheed stepping down on Tuesday, his deputy – who is from a different party – was sworn in to replace him, promising to uphold the “rule of law”.

“It will be better for the country in the current situation if I resign,” Nasheed had told a televised news conference. “I don’t want to run the country with an iron fist. I am resigning.”

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Maldives soldiers fire rubber bullets at police protesting government’s ‘illegal orders’

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed resigned Tuesday following weeks of public protests over his controversial order to arrest a senior judge, the military said.

Brig. Ahmed Shiyam told reporters that Nasheed has agreed to step down and hand over the presidency to his Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan. There was no immediate comment from Nasheed.

The resignation would come after weeks of protests in this Indian Ocean island nation known more for its lavish beach resorts than political turmoil.

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