Diplomacy

Tillerson’s Turkey visit: Will it help mend ties?

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Turkey twice during his first year in office, but his third trip due next week may well be the most important. Rosiland Jordan Al Jazeera Turkish-US relations were strained during former President Barack Obama‘s tenure. Some observers say they’ve only become worse during President Donald Trump‘s administration – and they fear the NATO allies could clash militarily in Syria. Tillerson’s mission is to reduce the tensions. Like Obama before him, Trump is backing ... Read More »

Report: Lebanon Defends Oil Rights, Turns to UNCLOS

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Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry is taking steps to refute Israel’s claim about Block 9 oil field reaching to the international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday. by Naharnet Newsdesk “The ministry has issued a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in March, 2017 announcing that Block 9 is located within Lebanese territorial waters and that Lebanon affirms its right to launch the process of contracting, exploration and ... Read More »

Averting Disaster in Syria’s Idlib Province

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An imminent military showdown in Idlib with disastrous human costs can be avoided only if Turkey strikes a deal between Russia, on one hand, and militants, on the other, and deploys its forces along the front lines to deter an escalation. ICG What happened? The de-escalation zone in north-western Syria is on the brink of collapse. Boosted by Russian air support, Syrian regime troops are advancing toward the Idlib region. Amid obstruction by the Syrian regime and Iran-backed militias, Turkish ... Read More »

Winter Olympics 2018: Who is winning the propaganda battle?

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Two unusual guests marked the beginning of the Winter Olympics in South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister and the father of a US student who died after being jailed in North Korea. BBC Kim Yo-jong and Fred Warmbier are the faces of their respective countries’ propaganda efforts amid tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. On a day that was supposed to be about sport, their presence was one of many diplomatic subtexts. Pence skips dinner US ... Read More »

The Quiet Diplomacy to Save the Olympics in a Nuclear Standoff

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BEIJING — In late December, a group of teenagers from North Korea traveled to the Chinese city of Kunming to play in an obscure under-15 soccer tournament. By JANE PERLEZ, CHOE SANG-HUN and REBECCA R. RUIZ The New York Times On the field, under a wintry sun, they faced teams from China and South Korea. Off the field, there was an unusual spectator: Choi Moon-soon, the governor of the province in South Korea hosting the Winter Olympics. Mr. Choi had flown more than 1,000 ... Read More »

Sports Diplomacy in the Korean Peninsula

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The opening of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games represents an opportunity for diplomacy to help reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula Christopher Green ICG North Korea’s decision to dispatch Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Yo-jong to South Korea (Republic of Korea, ROK) as part of a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has opened up the possibility for the past month of sports diplomacy to garner something more substantive and… With all parties to the Korean peninsula conflict sending senior delegations ... Read More »

Brexit: ‘no deal would cut Scottish GDP by 9%’

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A ‘no deal’ Brexit would cut Scottish economic output by 9%, according to leaked UK Government analysis. Russell Jackson  The Scotsman The predicted hit to Scotland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal has been detailed in regional breakdowns that emerged on Wednesday. The figure is worse than the 8.5 per cent cut to GDP predicted by a Scottish Government study last month. At the time, the Scottish Government figure was described as “completely over-the-top scaremongering” by the ... Read More »

The Cost of Escalating Violence in Afghanistan

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Taliban attacks in Kabul in late January 2017 are part of an escalation in violence in Afghanistan, where the civilian population is bearing the brunt of a particularly intense winter of fighting. Borhan Osman ICG Over one week, as many as 130 people, the overwhelming majority civilians, were killed in twin attacks claimed by the Taliban in Kabul. On 20 January, five Taliban suicide bombers attacked the Intercontinental Hotel, killing at least 22 people, mostly foreigners, after breaching the security of ... Read More »

Israel, Hizbollah and Iran: Preventing Another War in Syria

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Facts on the ground in Syria are defining the contours of the country’s political future and also the geography of a looming clash between Israel, Hizbollah and other Iran-allied militias. ICG Russia should broker understandings to prevent a new front from opening What’s new? A new phase in Syria’s war augurs escalation with Israel As the Assad regime gains the upper hand, Hizbollah probes the south west and Iran seeks to augment its partners’ military capacities, Israel has grown fearful ... Read More »

Rohingya abuses could spark regional conflict: UN rights chief

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The U.N. human rights chief warned Monday that possible acts of “genocide and ethnic cleansing” against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority could fuel a religious-based conflict that spreads beyond the country’s borders. Hurriyet “Myanmar faces a very serious crisis – with a potentially severe impact on the security of the region,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said during a speech in Jakarta. His remarks follow the publication of a report last week about mass graves of ... Read More »

‘Give Scotland seat at Brexit talks or risk indyref2’

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Calls have been made for Scotland to get a seat at the table in post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union and other countries to avoid “awkward” legal disputes over implementation of agreements. Paris Gourtsoyiannis The Scotsman David Martin, a Scottish Labour MEP who sits on the European Parliament international trade committee, warned that deals touching on devolved responsibilities would have “room for interpretation” and should have devolved… And a Canadian trade expert who was involved in the CETA deal ... Read More »

Brexit attacks on civil service ‘are worthy of 1930s Germany’

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Ex-cabinet secretary attacks tactics of leading Brexiters who have accused Whitehall of sabotaging UK’s exit from EU Michael Savage The Guardian Leading Brexiters who accuse civil servants of sabotaging Britain’s exit from the EU are adopting dangerous tactics similar to those of rightwing German nationalists between the two world wars, a former head of the civil service has warned. In a stark assessment of the acute tensions developing over the issue, Andrew Turnbull, who led the civil service under Tony ... Read More »

Will Brexit Split the Tory Party?

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The Brexit process has hit yet another snag today, as prominent Tory MPs who backed remaining in the EU during last year’s referendum are joining forces with a handful of Labour MPs to propose amendments to two important pieces of Brexit legislation. Sunny Rogers Currency Solutions If agreed by MPs, these amendments would keep the UK in the customs union after the UK has withdrawn itself from the bloc. Anna Soubry and Ken Clark, who made the amendments, have the ... Read More »

Lebanon blasts Israel over oil and gas exploration near border

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In December, the Lebanese Cabinet approved licenses for three international companies to carry out exploratory drilling off the Lebanese coast. ET EnergyWorld AP BEIRUT: Lebanon‘s energy minister vowed Thursday that Beirut will go ahead with oil and gas exploration near its maritime border with Israel, despite Israeli claims to the field that provoked wide condemnation in the tiny Arab country. Cesar Abi Khalil’s comments to The Associated Press came a day after Israel’s defense minister described as “very provocative” Lebanon’s ... Read More »

The State Department Just Lost Its Most Experienced Leader

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Tom Shannon’s departure leaves just one career ambassador at the beleaguered agency. Krishnadev Calamur The Atlantic Tom Shannon is an increasingly rare kind of public servant in Washington—a career diplomat who served administrations of both parties, starting with the Reagan administration, and one of only two people currently at the State Department to have achieved the title of “career ambassador.” (There were five when Obama left office.) “I have had the honor of serving under six presidents and ten secretaries ... Read More »

South Sudan: US bans arms sales and urges others to follow

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The United States has banned the export of weapons to South Sudan and has urged other nations and the UN to adopt a global arms embargo BBC It is a largely symbolic move, as the US does not export arms to South Sudan. But the move prevents any US company or citizen from offering defence services to the country. The US has expressed frustration with the failure of South Sudanese leaders to put an end to the country’s four-year civil ... Read More »