Britain and America’s support for the removal of long-established dictatorships in Egypt and Libya only served to create a dangerous political vacuum in North Africa that is being actively exploited by Islamist groups hostile to the West. And it is the dawning realisation that a similar fate could befall the kingdoms of the Gulf that has persuaded Britain to adopt a more nuanced approach. Indeed, according to senior Bahraini officials who travelled with the royal party this week, one of the main items on the Downing Street agenda was Bahrain’s desire to sign a billion-pound arms deal with Britain to supply 12 state-of-the-art Typhoon fighters.
Iraq’s Kurdistan region has started to export crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly approved a second route for crude through Iran after Turkey, although a KRG official denies any crude was going through Iran yet. Iraq’s Kurdistan region is exporting crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington.
Egypt and her strategic waterways are the heart of the Arab economy. Wars have been waged in the past based upon these important straits. If Egypt falls to militarism or radical Islam like its neighbors Sudan and Libya, numerous Arab and western nations will suffer massive economic loss. You can have unlimited oil and LNG on hand but you need safe shipping routes in which to transport it. With this understanding Egypt is not truly sovereign and that is why it is in a constant state of flux. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and other actors and countries are in the midst of a covert battle royal to influence Egyptian affairs.
Saudi Arabia has offered Russia economic incentives including a major arms deal and a pledge not to challenge Russian gas sales if Moscow scales back support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Middle East sources and Western diplomats said on Wednesday.
The proposed deal between two of the leading power brokers in Syria’s devastating civil war was set out by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week, they said.
South and East Asia have become the world’s major oil consumers, but they lack the supply. Energy security thus lies at the heart of Asia’s economic transformation, prosperity and development. Jean-Pierre Lehmann and Suddha Chakravartti explain how China, India and their smaller neighboring economies are scrambling to find ways to secure and deliver enough oil from suppliers to consumers. The vastness and heterogeneity of Asia contrast with the relative compactness and homogeneity of Europe. Nevertheless, Asia does exist as a geopolitical, geo-economic and analytical entity.
Vladimir Putin, now in power for over 13 years, has a history with the United States, his one-time opponent on the global chessboard. He began by mending ties with NATO, broken during the Kosovo conflict, and then actually applying for membership in the alliance that once faced off against the Red Army. In the wake of Sept. 11, Putin not only called George W. Bush, but also gave practical and substantive support to U.S. operations in Afghanistan—and tolerated a large U.S. military presence in former Soviet Central Asia.
From Washington’s perspective, Bandar’s appointment is important news. Sure, his wife was investigated by Congress a decade ago about her connections to Al-Qaida activists. But Bandar is considered the CIA’s man in Riyadh. When there was a need to transfer money to the Nicaraguan rebels in the 1980s, Bandar dealt with the Saudi “grants” requested by the White House. He also arranged things when Saudi Arabia was asked to help fund the mujahideen’s battles in Afghanistan against the Soviets.
The gas from Myanmar, pumped from offshore fields in the Bay of Bengal, is not expected to reach China via the new pipeline until next month or September. But at full capacity, it will deliver 12 billion cubic meters each year of additional supply to China. This is nearly 30 percent of current annual imports and one-twelfth of the country’s 2012 gas consumption. Beijing fears its maritime oil and gas imports could be targeted in a selective blockade of the straits led by the U.S. Chinese leaders call this potential vulnerability their “Malacca Dilemma.”
China’s oil security is tightly linked to economic and foreign policies. Rapid economic growth requires resources, and the Chinese are prowling international markets for gas, oil, minerals, and timber. Beijing has worked relentlessly to establish ever-new supply relationships on every continent. China’s quest to confidently secure foreign oil supplies support the dominant rationales behind its energy security policy largely because the country’s increasing dependence on foreign oil is perceived by Beijing as a weak spot—a strategic vulnerability.
By opening its doors to India, Iran and Pakistan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will increase its legitimacy and effectiveness among regional and international powers, and enhance its power posture in the international scene. An observation of the map of the Eurasian region, which includes the members as well as observers of the group, clearly shows the interconnectedness of the whole region. The famed Silk Road stands witness to this connectivity and places like Kashgar, Samarkand and Bukhara in the region were once centres of this Silk Road trade.
Britain has issued export licenses worth £$12 billion for the sale of military equipment to states deemed possible rights violators including Syria, Iran and China, lawmakers said. A report by a group of parliamentary panels said 3,000 licenses for arms and other equipment had been issued to those on the Foreign Office’s list of 27 countries of human rights concerns. The countries include Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Belarus and Zimbawe, the Committees on Arms Export Controls of parliament’s lower House of Commons said.
Along with the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf near Iran and Oman, the Strait of Malacca is the world’s most important shipping chokepoint. Linking the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean, the Malacca Strait is by far the shortest maritime route connecting Persian Gulf energy producers to their largest consumers in countries like China, Japan, and South Korea. 50,000 merchant ships carrying 40 percent of all world trade pass through the 900-km long (550 miles) strait each year. It’s particularly strategic for regional energy supplies.
Tens of thousands of Russian troops have been placed on alert after a suspected Israeli airstrike destroyed advanced, Russian missiles recently delivered to Syria. In a July 13 report from ITAR-TASS, The Russian Defense Ministry has announced what is being described as “the most ambitious [check alert] in the history of post-Soviet test readiness.” The alert, according to the ITAR-TASS report, involves more than 80,000 troops, around a thousand tanks and armored personnel carriers, some 130 aircraft and 70 naval vessels.
The Commander of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet addressed a recent report Thursday at the Pentagon that outlines a growing Chinese intercontinental ballistic threat that estimates that the Chinese could have over 100 ICBMs able to reach the U.S. in 15 years.
The report in question, called the 2013 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Assessment from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, called China’s ballistic missile development program the “most active and diverse” in the world.
Those who wanted to believe Bouteflika dead were disappointed, those who plotted against him in the interim shelved their plans, those who longed for a huge succession fight realized they’d wasted their time, and those who dreamed of a new day for their country would have to dream of something else instead. And just you wait, Bouteflika will punish them all. He will go after everyone who declined to come out and mourn for him, who failed to organize fervent processions, to sacrifice sheep, to make offerings like in the days of the sultans.
Images analysed by experts at IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review has revealed a hitherto undisclosed surface-to-surface missile base deep in the Saudi desert, with capabilities for hitting both countries. Analysts who examined the photos spotted two launch pads with markings pointing north-west towards Tel Aviv and north-east towards Tehran. They are designed for Saudi Arabia’s arsenal of lorry-launched DF 3 missiles, which have a range of 1,500-2,500 miles and can carry a two-ton payload. The base, believed to have been built within the last five years, gives an insight into Saudi strategic thinking at a time of heightened tensions in the Gulf.
U.S. and Western weapons have been reaching Iranian-backed Shiite militias fighting to keep Bashar Assad’s forces in power in Syria. Analysts say it’s unclear if the weapons were captured, stolen or bought on the black market in Syria, Turkey, Iraq or Libya. Propaganda photographs from Shiite militias posted on dozens of websites and Facebook pages show the weapons were acquired in new condition, said Phillip Smyth, an analyst for Jihadology.net, a site affiliated with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
On a dusty field in Israel’ s southern desert, the military is gearing up for the next battle against a familiar foe: Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. As the Syrian civil war intensifies, military planners are growing increasingly jittery that the fighting could spill over into Israel, potentially dragging the Islamic militant group that is allied with President Bashar Assad into the fray. After battling Hezbollah to a stalemate in 2006, the Israeli military says it has learned key lessons and is prepared to inflict heavy damage on the group if fighting begins again.
In intellectual terms, Air-Sea Battle is the biggest of the military’s big ideas for its post-Afghanistan future. But what is it, really? It’s a constantly evolving concept for high-tech, high-intensity conflict that touches on everything from cyberwar to nuclear escalation to the rise of China. In practical terms, the beating heart of AirSea Battle is eleven overworked officers working in windowless Pentagon meeting rooms, and the issues they can’t get to are at least as important as the ones they can.
In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say. The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny.
The Indian Ocean Rim countries boast of two-thirds of global oil reserves and one-third of gas reserves. Despite these huge reserves, the region has not achieved its full potential.
The two-day Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) Economic and Business Conference here noted that energy security is vital to ensure smooth running of the other component of economies.
The US Navy has deployed three additional coastal patrol ships to its Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, bolstering America’s presence in the strategic Gulf, officials said Wednesday. The USS Tempest, the USS Squall and the USS Thunderbolt arrived Wednesday at the port of Manama, bringing the total number of patrol craft to eight, the Navy said.The small, speedy 52 meter-long (79-foot) ships, which can be armed with 25 mm cannons and .50 caliber machine guns, are seen as a counterweight to Iran’s fast boats that operate in shallow waters around the Strait of Hormuz.
Russia’s ultimate geo-strategic goal is to re-frame a continental block against the Atlantic powers, by making use of the vast strategic and demographic potential of the Eurasian continent. Following this approach, Russia should adopt a multi-dimensional foreign policy waiving close relations with the EU, China and the regional powers, such as Iran and Turkey. The Post-Soviet Space stresses the historical and cultural affinities with the Slavic communities and represents a pivotal area for Moscow’s external projection. Energy links are the key tools of political leverage for Russia’s power projection.
On blogs and social media, agitated Vietnamese are bypassing their authoritarian government’s monopoly on mass communication, reporting on its failings and galvanizing discontent with its rule.
Faced with economic trouble, infighting and unprecedented public criticism, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party is cracking down on dissent. Forty-six bloggers or activists have been sentenced to jail so far this year, surpassing the total of 40 in the whole of 2012.
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.
As the West begins to gear up for the centenary of the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Middle East is being convulsed as never before by the legacy of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Look no farther than Syria, where one part of that legacy – the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Middle East into British and French spheres of influence even while the Great War still raged – is coming to a brutally violent end. Likewise, the current turmoil in Turkey is, at least in part, a consequence of “neo-Ottoman” overreach by Erdogan’s government.
UK defence companies would benefit from a more energetic UK-UAE bilateral relationship, especially since the UAE is keen to replace its ageing Mirage fighter jets with the BAE Systems Typhoon in a deal worth $10 billion (c. £8bn), according to a new paper from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). The British military is developing a smart presence in the region post-Afghanistan and the UAE is seeking to enhance and refresh a historical relationship as it works to contain Iran and address a myriad of geopolitical hazards and risks.
Despite massive spending on Western weapons, the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf are “unable to secure themselves from any external threat” — meaning Iran — and are running up huge public and foreign debt, a Gulf think tank says.
The GCC states — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman — have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons and military equipment from the United States and Europe over the last three decades.
A mortar attack on an Iranian dissident camp killed three people in Baghdad on Saturday, police sources said, and the Mujahidin-e-Khalq (MEK) group said Iran was probably to blame, with Iraqi complicity.
MEK said two of the camp’s residents were killed and 40 wounded in the attack. An Iraqi died when a stray mortar round hit a residential complex for Baghdad airport employees nearby. A similar attack on the camp in February killed at least five members of the MEK, which was removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organisations last year.
The United States said on Saturday it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman’s request, and Russia bristled at the possibility they could be used to enforce a no-fly zone inside Syria.
Washington, which has long called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, pledged military support to Syrian rebels this week, citing what it said was the Syrian military’s use of chemical weapons – an allegation Damascus has denied.
Tamir Pardo, director of Israeli national intelligence agency Mossad, has covertly met with Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan in Turkey to discuss the situation in Syria and the ongoing anti-government protests in Turkey, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.
According to reports, Pardo, who is of Turkish and Serbian origin, traveled to Turkey in a private airplane to see Fidan. They reportedly discussed the latest situation in Syria, which has been in turmoil for more than two years, and the impact of Iran on the situation.
Nations are eccentric. But they also have threads of repeated history through which we can discern what comes next. Now we present 14 rules governing geopolitical events. These rules do not divine the future. Rather they allow you, generally speaking, to separate yourself from the unruly, conjectural maw of global opinion-makers and decipher for yourself what is going on, and the probable scenario or scenarios to unfold next. One of the instruments for doing so is history, as discussed. But there also is a perceptible universal trend to events that cuts across borders.
Forty-six years after the 1967 war, we are facing a dangerous increase in the number of “failed states” across the Arab region. There are projects, some of which are already underway, to partition and divide countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen and Libya. Other countries are not immune to internal tensions resulting from a discourse of partition and fragmentation similar to the one which has disrupted the very concept of the “state” as we knew it, thus giving rise to the so-called “failed states.”
The Iranian people will choose the man to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 24 June 2013. The country’s complex and unique political system has always raised questions about the extent of power, the president has as the highest publicly elected official and the second in command of the country.
The Iranian political system is a combination of unelected powerful institutions, controlled by the Supreme Leader, and elected officials such as the president and members of parliament. Despite efforts by the Supreme Leader, the rift between those elected and unelected institutions have sometimes surfaced over the past two decades.
The Revolutionary Guards, a military force over 100,000 strong which also controls swathes of Iran’s economy, is widely assumed to have fixed the vote last time around, silenced those who protested and to be preparing to anoint a favoured candidate this year, having already narrowed down the field.
In an interview with ISNA news agency in January, Ali Saeedi, the Supreme Leader’s representative to the Revolutionary Guards, created an uproar when he said that it was the duty of the Guards to “engineer reasonable and logical elections”.
A highly-placed Israeli source informed me that the location of the secret base was Sdot Micha (also known as Tal Shahar), which already houses Israel’s Jericho 3 nuclear missiles. It is located near Beit Shemesh, 15 miles from Jerusalem. The source also informed me that the new facility was to be hardened and underground to withstand a nuclear attack. This means that Israel expects the site to be attacked by Iranian missiles once that country has nuclear capability.
A Chinese think-tank has warned that China may get involved in a military conflict with Japan over the disputed Diaoyu Islands, as “big powers” have intensified their efforts for geopolitical and military dominance in the strategic Asia-Pacific region.
An annual report released Tuesday by the Centre for National Defence Policy (CNDP), a part of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has stated that big powers have intensified their efforts for regional dominance and United States has accelerated its eastward shift of its strategic focus.
Israel tracks every heavy missile fired in the Syrian civil war, keen to study Damascus’s combat doctrines and deployments and ready to fend off a feared first attack on its turf, a senior Israeli military officer said on Thursday.
Colonel Zvika Haimovich of the air defense corps said southward launches against Syrian insurgents by President Bashar Assad’s forces gave Israel mere seconds in which to determine it was not the true target – a distinction that could prove crucial for warding off an unprecedented regional conflagration.
For almost 100 years, the countries of Central Asia were kept out of the arena of world politics as they were part of the former Soviet Union. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, they became independent nations: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. These countries have become the focus of the economic superpowers because of their strategic location between the East and the West and their wealth as a result of large reserves of oil and natural gas which have been discovered in large quantities under the Caspian Sea.
Iran has extended two lines of credit worth a total of $4 billion to Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad and hopes to open a third to prop up the war-torn nation’s oil industry in the face of international sanctions, according to a local news report.
Syrian Central Bank Gov. Adib Mayaleh said the “soft loan” from Iran, a long-standing supporter of the Assad regime, will “finance the needs of Syrian oil and oil derivatives,” Tishreen, a government-run daily in Damascus, reported on Monday.
On May 19, spokesman Abbas Araqchi of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran said his country “is ready to transparently help resolve the crisis in Bahrain through fair solutions.” Such assistance from Tehran would only take place “in response to a request by Bahraini King,” an official statement said.
The tensions have moved a rung over the last few days, after Iran officially condemned “a raid by Bahraini forces on the house of prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim.” The Iranian government denounced the raid as continued and deliberate violence on behalf of the Bahraini government against the Shia community.
Recent incidents in the Golan Heights continue to cast a shadow on the attitudes of Israeli leaders amid reports that Israel plans to carry out new strikes in Syria. These future attacks would be in fulfillment of Israel’s declared policy of preventing strategic weapons from being transferred through Syria to Hizbullah.
The Israeli leadership is trying to predict Syria’s reaction to any upcoming strikes, though Israeli circles purport that if the state were to carry out any attack, it would certainly be met with a Syrian response. Press reports pointed out that this comes in the context of the current tensions in the occupied Golan Heights, after the Syrian army opened fire at an Israeli patrol in the area.
Turkmenistan plans to begin production at Galkynysh, the world’s second largest gas field, by June 30, which will allow it boost exports to Asia and help Europe lessen its dependence on Russian gas.
Turkmenistan, a post-Soviet Central Asian country of 5.5 million which borders Afghanistan and Iran, holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas riches after Russia, Iran and Qatar. British auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates has estimated the reserves of Galkynysh, named after the Turkmen word for “renaissance,” at 13.1 trillion to 21.2 trillion cubic metres.
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.
The current political rapport between Riyadh and Ankara is an exciting development. If harmonized, it could completely result in the two countries achieving significant influence at regional and international levels.
The economies of the two countries stand at $ 5.1 trillion, with high growth rates. This will surely make their collective voice heard loud and clear.
In addition, the special status of Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world, together with its political and economic weight, when combined with the newly transformed modern Turkey, will give the two countries a powerful political role in the region.
Gulf sultanate of Oman is set to buy a $2.1 billion missile system built by the U.S. Raytheon Co. as part of a U.S. drive to install a coordinated air-defense system linking the region’s Arab monarchies to counter Iran.
Details of the contract, including the type of system involved, have not been disclosed, but Oman has been in the market for a medium-range surface-to-air missile system for some time.U.S. officials traveling with Kerry say the deal will enhance the air-defense systems the United States has sold to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other allies in the gulf.
For a relatively small drilling operation, China National Petroleum Corporation’s (CNPC) project in Afghanistan’s Sar-e-Pul province has a large footprint. These efforts are part of a rapid change in Chinese strategy. Until two years ago, Chinese strategists regarded Afghanistan as solely an American concern: Washington broke it, and Washington should have to put it back together. Now, Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are the largest investors in Afghanistan’s extractive sector and Afghan officials speak of Chinese investment as central to ensuring that the national government in Kabul will remain in power after 2014.
The quicksands of the Arabian Desert are notorious for swallowing up anyone trying to control the area. Historically, that’s what happened to Turkey, Britain, France, Russia and the US. Sooner or later, all discovered that instead of dominating the Middle East, they ended up being dominated by the region’s never-ending problems. And that may also be the fate of China, the latest power to be lured by the idea that it has to engage in Middle-Eastern diplomacy.
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.
Israel’s activity and presence in Azerbaijan on the northern border of Iran is aimed at exerting pressure on Iran and conducting security and intelligence activity against it and at getting prepared for the delusion of bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities….Because of its strategic location, Azerbaijan offers Israel a springboard for espionage, military activity, and assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists. The paper also refers to the military contracts signed between the two states, amounting to “$1.6 billion in defensive missiles and UAVs.”
President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in Syria are gaining ground. British Middle East reporter Robert Fisk met some of them when he visited the front lines earlier this month, and told DW about he saw. What role is Iran playing in this conflict? The war is not about Syria, it’s about Iran. And the intention of the West is to effectively destroy Iran’s only Arab ally. And for the Iranians it’s about keeping their only Arab ally. We know that the Iranian government has given advice, but these are very, very small token forces, compared to the propaganda.
Armenian Defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan has said that the armed forces have begun a large-scale upgrade of their hardware. He said that the military will receive new military hardware and types of weapons, and the existing hardware will be upgraded: “We are regularly making renewals in the army. Now we plan more-large scale efforts in this direction. These projects will also be conducted within the framework of establishing joint ventures with Russia and Poland.”
Ahead of its President’s visit here from May 20, Afghanistan on Thursday said it was looking for enhanced defence cooperation with India, from where it was expecting supply of lethal and non-lethal military equipment.
The two sides will discuss a range of issues of mutual concern and interest and will discuss cooperation at a “critical time” for Afghanistan, which is witnessing the withdrawal of NATO combat troops, the envoy said.
While Yemen is undergoing drastic social, political and economic changes, Saudi Arabia, the region’ super-power is ever increasingly looking nervously as its southern border, fearing that its unruly neighbor’s crises might spill over onto its territories and thus undermine the security of the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has now announced it will resume the construction of its border-fence barrier, which will run across the entire 1,800 Km of the Yemen-Saudi border demarkation line. This titan project aims essentially to cage out Yemen, preventing not only groups from infiltrating Saudi Arabia but also foiling any factions’ hopes to reignite a decades’ old border dispute with al-Saud.
Hizbullah fighters have been advancing swiftly into southern Syria and have reached the flashpoint southern town of Daraa near the border with Jordan, media reports said on Tuesday.
The source pointed out that Hizbullah fighters are not just groups backing the army regime but comprehensive fighting units that includes a full logistic team. It said that Hizbullah’s military leadership is organizing the transfer of the units and providing them with weapons.
The Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari voiced Iran’s enthusiasm for stronger naval cooperation with Sudan and announced that his forces are prepared to train Sudanese naval forces.
Sudanese naval officials wave as the Iranian Navy helicopter-carrier Kharg docks at Port Sudan in October 2012 (photo Press TV)
The Iranian military official made these statements on Thursday after a meeting with the commander of Sudanese Navy, General Dalil al-Daw Mohamed Fadal-Allah who is on a visit to Teheran.
The United States, which is trying to bring Syrian rebels and the Syrian government to the negotiating table, is now increasingly worried that Russia plans to sell a sophisticated air defense system to Syria, American officials said Wednesday.
Russia has a long history of selling arms to the Syrians and has a naval base in the country. But the delivery of the Russian S-300 missile batteries would represent a major qualitative advancement in Syria’s air defenses. The system is regarded as highly effective and would limit the ability of the United States and other nations to operate over Syrian airspace or impose a no-fly zone.
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.
In spite of all obstacles, a major breakthrough is required to end the current nuclear deadlock in the region, where Israel is the only atomic power, though the Iranian nuclear programme continues to draw attention – and sanctions – in Western countries. Should such a breakthrough not happen, Egypt and Arab countries may withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which they were pushed to join in 1995 in exchange of U.S. promises to free the Middle East from atomic warheads, Israeli nuclear arsenal included.
Iran is ready to help “train” the Syrian army if Damascus seeks such assistance, the commander of the Islamic republic’s army ground forces, General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, was quoted as saying on Sunday.
“As a Muslim nation, we back Syria, and if there is need for training we will provide them with the training, but won’t have any active involvement in the operations,” he said in remarks reported by the official IRNA news agency.
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.
The future of ground forces, the study argues, lies somewhere in the “messy middle,” between long-range, high-tech air- and cyber-strikes against a hostile nation-state — the “AirSea Battle” vision of the Navy and Air Force — and low-profile, low-cost Special Operations and drone raids against scattered terrorists. The study, entitled Beyond the Last War, lays out a score of scenarios, half in the Pacific and half in the Middle East, where the problem will be too big for Special Ops alone but too deeply dug in to excise surgically from afar.
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.
Analyzing Beijing’s foreign policy is a relatively simple exercise. That’s because, unlike the United States and other Western nations, China doesn’t even pretend to operate on any other principle except naked self-interest. On one hand, China has courted Israel as a partner in developing Mediterranean gas fields — but it also has been happy to do business with Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran, and has sold weapons that ended up in Hezbollah’s arsenal. In South Asia, meanwhile, China has cynically helped Pakistan check India’s regional role, even as China’s state-controlled press has warned Pakistan that Beijing may “intervene militarily” in South Asia if Pakistani-origin jihadis continue to infiltrate Muslim areas of Western China.
It is not a secret that in recent years, Beijing increased its political activities across several hot spots in the region. China is now one of the largest GCC countries trade partner, the largest exporter to the Middle East, the biggest importer of Iranian oil, and the largest player in the Iraqi oil game. Meanwhile, the GCC countries are eager to diversify their economy and foreign policy; subsequently they welcome the Chinese involvement and investments, but also view such presence as vital toward the creation of balance in international relations and energy markets. From the Arab perspective, there is little concern that China’s increasing status as a world power will constitute a security threat.
This may be a template for a possible plot for “The Expendables 3” but it is a truly bad real-world military operation. Creating limited protection zones for what are now millions of potential refugees would commit the United States to unstable half-measures – and the open-ended use of force to defend them – with the risks of either a continuing civil war or an unplanned process of escalation without allied commitments or support and the reality that the people in such zones would need massive amounts of emergency relief. As Libya showed, “no fly” zones are not enough to end a civil war or halt ground movements and escalation in the use of artillery, missiles, and carefully managed atrocities by competing ground forces.
The chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, Benny Gantz, recently pushed back against the idea that it was too late for Israel to act alone against Iran’s He felt comfortable making it because he knew that in a few days he would be welcoming a friend bearing gifts. And the gifts? Well, they are gifts the Iranian regime would prefer Israel didn’t possess: advanced radar packages that extend Israel’s ability to see east (and west, north and south, but east is what matters most at the moment), KC-135 refuelling tankers and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft. The tankers will extend the range of Israel’s bombers, and the Ospreys are particularly useful for inserting commandos into enemy territory.
“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.
When National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror arrives in Turkey on Sunday to discuss compensation for flotilla victims, he will also be seeking to lay the groundwork for the stationing of Israeli fighter jets in an airbase near Ankara, ahead of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Sunday Times reported.
“Until the recent crisis, Turkey was our biggest aircraft carrier,” an Israeli military source told the London-based publication. “Using the Turkish airbases could make the difference between success and failure once a showdown with Iran gets underway.”
A company staffed with former operatives of Israel’s top intelligence agencies and founded with the help of the former head of the Mossad is being used by hedge funds looking for an edge in the financial markets. Kela Israeli Intelligence has increasingly become a popular service on Wall Street. The firm employs about 40 former intelligence operatives and analysts, most of them ex-members of the Israeli army’s secretive 8200 unit, which is often described as Israel’s equivalent to the National Security Agency and believed to be behind the Stuxnet computer worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities.
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.
History is being written in the East. As the U.S. stays distracted with stone age warriors in Central Asia and the Middle East, the last platform of the American economic foundation, the U.S. Dollar’s currency reserve status, is being underminded by their trade partners in Asia. Both Australia and Japan are set to start direct-trading in Chinese currency and they are not the only ones. There are almost 20 countries whom have currency swaps in place with China all in order to side-step the U.S. Dollar in global trade.
For half a century, geopolitical theory was effectively banned. In the USSR, this branch of science was described as “bourgeois.” In the West, it was considered politically incorrect, and was largely the preserve of provincial professors with no hope of entering the establishment. The situation began to change with the advent of the new century, and now geopolitics is back in ordinary usage and quickly regaining its political correctness and legitimacy. There is no single definition of geopolitics. But in the most general terms, it can be described as the science of investigating the relationship between foreign policy, international relations, and geographical and natural surroundings.
The Enemy Industrial Complex: How to turn a world lacking in enemies into the most threatening place in the universe
Without an enemy of commensurate size and threat, so much that was done in Washington in these years might have been unattainable. The vast national security building and spending spree — stretching from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, where the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency erected its new $1.8 billion headquarters, to Bluffdale, Utah, where the National Security Agency is still constructing a $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center for storing the world’s intercepted communications — would have been unlikely.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left for Benin on Sunday for his first stop on a three-nation West African tour that will also take him to Ghana and Niger, the world’s fourth-largest uranium producer.
Energy will be high on Ahmadinejad’s agenda during the trip and Benin said talks with President Thomas Boni Yayi would also focus on education and agriculture. According to the World Nuclear Association industry group, uranium from landlocked Niger is trucked to ports in neighbouring Benin for export, with most of it sent to Areva subsidiary Comurhex in France.
A group of Iranian lawmakers has begun drafting a bill on reattaching Azerbaijan to Iran by updating the terms and conditions of a 19th century treaty that ceded part of modern-day Azerbaijan and most of Armenia to Russian control.
The 1828 Turkmenchay Treaty ended the last war between Russia and Persia and paved the way for St. Petersburg to establish suzerainty over the South Caucasus. (Tehran already had given up its claims on Georgia in the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan.) But the Iranians now argue that there was a critical detail in the fine print.
After successful demonstrations of UAV shootdowns by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, the Navy looks to put laser systems to the test in the real world, installing a laser defense system on the U.S.S. Ponce. The U.S.S. Ponce is an amphibious transport dock class vessel used in joint land-sea operations with the U.S. Marines. The vessel was originally commissioned in 1971, built by Lockheed’s Lockheed Shipbuilding unit (which closed prior to Lockheed’s merger to become Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)).
Saudi authorities have called in several influential Shiite Muslim clerics and intellectuals for questioning, as last month’s arrest of 16 people on charges of spying for Iran threatens to raise tensions between leaders of the religious minority and the government in the oil-rich kingdom.
The trigger for the summons was the Shiite community’s angry reaction to last month’s arrest of 16 Saudi Shiites, who are accused of providing information and documents to Iran, allegations that Iran denies.
The Navy is going to sea for the first time with a laser attack weapon that has been shown in tests to disable patrol boats and blind or destroy surveillance drones. A prototype shipboard laser will be deployed on a converted amphibious transport and docking ship in the Persian Gulf, where Iranian fast-attack boats have harassed American warships and where the government in Tehran is building remotely piloted aircraft carrying surveillance pods. The laser is designed to carry out a graduated scale of missions, from burning through a fast-attack boat or a drone to producing a nonlethal burst to “dazzle” an adversary’s sensors and render them useless, without causing any other physical damage.
The U.S. military’s much-discussed AirSea Battle will remain a priority in light of rising tensions with North Korea, ongoing military strategy assessments and continued budget constraints, Pentagon officials said.
“Air-Sea Battle is a set of agreed-upon ideas and actions to create the joint force needed for operations in contested and denied environments and what that force needs to be able to do. Having smaller budget authority does not change the validity of [Air-Sea Battle’s] ideas and actions for force development, although it may slow [Air-Sea Battle’s] implementation,” according to a statement from the Air-Sea Battle office.
Cheap drones made in China could end up arming potential U.S. foes such as North Korea, Iran and terrorist organizations. China already makes drones that don’t quite match up to U.S. military drones, but for a fraction of the cost. The Chinese military envisions such unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) scouting out battlefield targets, guiding missile and artillery strikes, and swarming potential adversaries, such as U.S. carrier battle groups. “In whatever future conflict scenario we’re in five or 10 years from now, the proliferation of UAVs is going to complicate things for the U.S. military,” said Ian Easton, a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute.
In order to further strengthen the defence of Gwadar Port and to enhance the security of vital PN assets and installations along the western coasts, Pakistan Navy has achieved a significant milestone by commissioning the 3rd Pak Marines Battalion. The commissioning ceremony was held today at Gwadar. Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Muhammad Shafiq was the chief guest on the occasion. Addressing the ceremony, the chief guest said that at present the country is faced with internal and external threats, which makes security today’s main concern.
Israel is getting increasingly jumpy as Syrian rebels, particularly the increasingly effective Islamists, steadily throttle the beleaguered Damascus regime. Unusually heavy air force activity over Lebanon in recent days is raising suspicions Israel’s preparing for airstrikes to ensure the Jewish state’s security as Islamists advance into southern Syria close to the occupied zone in the Golan Heights.The marked increase in the number of aircraft involved, including unmanned spy drones, and their flight patterns over Hezbollah strongholds and suspected missile sites in recent days suggest Israel may be preparing for sizable offensive air operations against Hezbollah or Syria, or both.
Only too aware of the threat of east Mediterranean supply if Europe is able to diversify away from Russian gas dependency, Moscow has been steadily feting Israel to buy into a piece of the action.Moscow has already advanced a $3.5 billion loan and attempted to gain more leverage over Cyprus’ economic and energy assets during the recent bitter negotiations in the banking crisis.
The Kremlin is playing a much bigger game. Gazprom is already eyeing a role in the development of Israel’s gigantic Leviathan gas field. With its estimated 25 tcf of gas Leviathan is due to come on-stream by 2016. And the eastern Mediterranean bonanza is potentially huge. The US Geological Survey estimates the eastern Mediterranean Levant Basin contains around 123 tcf of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.
China and Pakistan reached a formal agreement last month to construct a third nuclear reactor at Chashma that the Obama administration says will violate Beijing’s promises under an international anti-nuclear weapons accord.
The reactor deal had been in the works for several years and prompted high-level U.S. government efforts to block the sale because of concerns it will boost Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.
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
A lot of people in Europe, especially the French, cheered heedlessly when the Arab Spring took off in 2011. But then came the 70,000 dead from the Syrian war; the proliferation of terrorism in Libya and Mali; the assassination of the main Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid in a country where there is actually less freedom than before; and of course, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, knee deep in economic and social chaos.
The Arab Spring of these secular republics wasn’t as positive and peaceful as many had expected.
A U.S. B-52 bomber will fly over the Korean peninsula today for the second time this month as part of the Pentagon’s effort to send a signal to North Korea after it threatened preemptive nuclear strikes.
“Just having the B-52 near the Korean peninsula and pass through means that the U.S. nuclear umbrella can be provided whenever necessary,” South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok told reporters in Seoul, declining to disclose the flight time.
Iran has significantly stepped up military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in recent months, solidifying its position alongside Russia as the government’s lifeline in an increasingly sectarian civil war, Western diplomats said.
Iran’s acceleration of support for Assad suggests the Syrian war is entering a new phase in which Iran may be trying to end the battlefield stalemate by redoubling its commitment to Assad and offering Syria’s increasingly isolated government a crucial lifeline, the envoys said.
Pakistan risks sparking US sanctions if it pursues its plans with Iran to build a $7.5 billion gas pipeline linking the two nations, a senior US official said in a renewed warning Monday.
“We have serious concerns, if this project actually goes forward, that the Iran Sanctions Act would be triggered,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “We’ve been straight up with the Pakistanis about these concerns.”
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.
President Shimon Peres met on Thursday with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The two discussed the importance of strengthening the strategic cooperation between Israel and NATO in the security and technology fields. According to a statement from Peres’s office, the President briefed the NATO Secretary General on the strategic threats is facing in the Middle East with a focus on the threat of a nuclear Iran and Hizbullah.
Inside Iraq, the forces of Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict had been unleashed by the U.S. invasion. That, in turn, was creating the conditions for a proxy war between the U.S. and Iran, similar to the growing proxy war between Israel and Iran inside Lebanon (where another destabilizing event, the U.S.-sanctioned Israeli invasion of 2006, followed in hand). None of this has ever ended. Today, in fact, that proxy war has simply found a fresh host, Syria, with multiple powers using “humanitarian aid” to push and shove their Sunni and Shia avatars around.
The Indian Ocean remains a tumultuous zone, where a lack of governance along its shores has spawned a series of security chasms offshore. This spillover effect has been most apparent off the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden, where rampant piracy has prompted a continuous rotation of multinational naval taskforces. Meanwhile, an upsurge in Islamic extremism in countries such as Pakistan and Somalia has heightened regional anxiety over maritime terrorism and seaborne infiltration.
Along the way the Kazakh government inked uranium supply deals with India,China, and Japan. Not even the U.S. has been immune to Kazakhstan’s uranium market expansion: in 2007, KazAtomProm, a state-owned company, bought out Toshiba’s share in nuclear power plant builder Westinghouse. U.S. politicians are in on the Kazakh uranium game as well.
If all this sounds odd, it’s only because Kazakhstan is more normally known — if people know of it at all — as an oil state. But Kazakhstan’s quest for it’s “World Bank for Uranium” always had a political element, part of a national narrative suggesting an inevitable future of progress and growth.
Saudi Arabia has financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia and quietly funneled them to antigovernment fighters in Syria in a drive to break the bloody stalemate that has allowed President Bashar al-Assad to cling to power, according to American and Western officials familiar with the purchases.
The arms transfers appeared to signal a shift among several governments to a more activist approach to assisting Syria’s armed opposition, in part as an effort to counter shipments of weapons from Iran to Mr. Assad’s forces.
Israel has long been keen to establish a foothold in parts of Africa, for strategic as well as economic reasons. The vast continent offers relatively accessible (and increasingly fought-over) sources of energy and water, as well as emerging markets. While Israel has been able to establish diplomatic relationships with most non-Muslim African countries, nations such as Mali and Niger have so far refused to formally recognise it. Clearly, Israel would like to convert these nations of the Sahel into friends and a potential rear guard against hostile Arab nations in the north.
The balance of power in the world is changing, with many new power players emerging — in some cases re-emerging — with growing militaries that challenges U.S. interests in the world and highlight the increasing security challenges of the 21st century.
While the U.S. ponders cutting its military spending, her competitors and allies are ramping up their military strength to advance their interests in their part of the world and beyond. In Asia, China, Japan, and India stand as the leaders in military spending with an emphasis in quantity for the purpose of improving their standing and to uphold their national pride.
Pakistan’s Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources, Dr. Asim Hussain, said that Iran with the cooperation of Pakistan’s State Oil (PSO) will set up an oil refinery in the Southwestern city of Gwadar. Talking to reporters after holding a meeting with Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi, he said that the refinery would refine 400,000 barrels of oil per day. He added that President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari would soon visit Iran to finalize the agreement on establishment of oil refinery.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Turkey was seriously considering becoming a member of the SCO instead of continuing its efforts to join the EU.
‘The European Union needs to stop stalling us,’ Erdogan said. ‘We have a strong economy. I told [Putin], “You should include us in the Shanghai Five [the former name of the SCO] and we will say farewell to the European Union.” The Shanghai Five is much better off economic-wise. It is much more powerful. We told them, “If you say come, we will”.’