Diplomacy

Iran’s Ahvaz Attack Worsens Gulf Tensions

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An attack on a military parade in Iran is raising tensions in an already volatile Gulf region. Four Crisis Group analysts give a 360-degree view of perspectives in Tehran, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Washington and warn that a single attack can trigger further escalation. ICG An attack on a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz on 22 September, which killed 29 people, dangerously raised tensions in an already volatile Gulf region. Iran accused a local insurgent group (which ... Read More »

Turkey Must Choose the Tough Option and Leave Syria

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Ankara doesn’t want to leave, but it doesn’t want armed conflict either. On September 17, Erdoğan reached an agreement with Putin at a meeting in Sochi to create buffer zones between government forces and those of the opposition confronting each other in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib in a… Mohammed Ayoob The National Interest This may have postponed the military showdown for the moment but is unlikely to lead to a lasting solution as the regime of President Bashar al-Assad ... Read More »

The United Nations has entered its darkest hour

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If the United Nations were a stock or an index fund, you might want to short it. Founded in 1945 to “maintain international peace and security,” the UN in recent years has been powerless to stop slaughter in Syria, Yemen and Myanmar. James Gibney Brisbane Times Bloomberg Civil conflicts are nearing post-Cold War highs. The number of displaced people has hit a new record. After decades of improvement, more of the… The gap between what the UN seeks and receives ... Read More »

Washington’s Farcical “Certifications” Enable the War Crimes of Allies

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And violate U.S. law. Ted Galen Carpenter The National Interest Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s certification that the Saudi-led military coalition in the Yemen war was taking adequate steps to avoid inflicting civilian casualties may have achieved a new low in U.S. foreign-policy ethics. There is abundant evidence of multiple atrocities that Riyadh and its United Arab Emirates (UAE) junior partner have committed and continue to commit. The coalition’s war strategy has created a famine as well as a cholera ... Read More »

James Ricketson’s family elated following Australian filmmaker’s royal pardon

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James Ricketson’s family has expressed joy and relief following the Australian filmmaker’s royal pardon after 15 months in a Cambodian prison on “outrageous” espionage charges. Fergus Hunter & Bevan Shields The Canberra Times Targeted by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s authoritarian government, Ricketson was sentenced in June to six years’ imprisonment. His relatives had feared the 69-year-old would not survive the harsh conditions. Ricketson has left his Phnom Penh jail and will soon be deported to Australia, possibly by Sunday. Fairfax ... Read More »

Major hurdles – and rewards – as China and Philippines try to forge deal to share South China Sea resources

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If the two sides manage to reach an agreement, an outcome that is far assured given the myriad political and legal complexities, it could radically alter the dynamics of a vexing geopolitical dispute. South China Morning Post Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s expected visit to Manila in November, the Philippines and China have taken a major step towards resolving their maritime disputes. Last month, the Philippine government announced the formation of a technical working group to iron out the legality ... Read More »

Ukraine’s two naval ships enter Russia’s exclusive economic zone off Crimea – FSB

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In line with norms of the international maritime legislation and in interests of security of the Russia, they are escorted by ships of the Coast Guard of the Federal Security Service’s Border Service. SIMFEROPOL, September 22 / TASS Two ships of the Ukrainian Navy have crossed into Russia’s exclusive economic zone off Crimea and are being escorted by ships of the Russian FSB Border Service’s Coast Guard, Crimea’s… “At the moment, two ships of Ukraine’s Navy – the Donbas command ... Read More »

Corbyn faces clash with Labour members over second EU referendum

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As the party gathers in Liverpool, is Corbyn’s promise to empower members coming back to haunt him? The Observer The Guardian Minutes after trouncing Owen Smith and winning his second Labour leadership contest in September 2016, Jeremy Corbyn promised to reward the mass membership that had backed him by giving them more power inside the party. “The participation is even higher, and my majority is bigger, and the mandate is very strong. So let’s use it to reach out,” he said. “With ... Read More »

Going Ballistic: A Key Missile Treaty Between Russia and America Is Dying a Slow Death

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The INF treaty has nonetheless saved the United States and Russia millions of dollars of military spending in the last three decades on developing redundant nuclear-apocalypse generating weapons. Sebastien Roblin The National Interest Though the treaty is obviously endangered by a rising tide of violations and loophole exploiting, one should hope its total collapse can be avoided so to spare everybody yet another expensive form of nuclear-arms… One of the arms-control treaties that is little understood is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear ... Read More »

Al-Shabaab Five Years after Westgate: Still a Menace in East Africa

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Al-Shabaab remains focused on recapturing power in Somalia, but it continues to plot attacks in Kenya and Tanzania – and perhaps in Uganda as well. ICG To counter the movement, East African states should eschew heavy-handed crackdowns and work instead to reduce its appeal to potential recruits. Executive Summary What’s happening? Five years after an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, Al-Shabaab appears committed to striking targets across East Africa. Security crackdowns have blunted its capacity to stage regular assaults, but ... Read More »

US imposes sanctions on China for buying Russian weapons

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The US has imposed sanctions on the Chinese military over its purchasing of Russian military jets and surface-to-air missiles. BBC It says such purchases contravene US sanctions on Moscow introduced over Russian actions in Ukraine and alleged interference in US politics. China recently bought 10 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missiles. Beijing has not joined in the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the US and its Western allies since 2014. Relations between the US and Russia deteriorated rapidly ... Read More »

Yemen’s Hodeida Offensive: Once Avoidable, Now Imminent

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When the plan for consultations between Yemen’s warring parties, scheduled to begin in Geneva on 8 September, collapsed, the frozen battle for the Red Sea port of Hodeida resumed. Peter Salisbury ICG It could prove fatal for many of the millions already on the brink of starvation. Over the last two weeks, the latest attempt to set Yemen on the path to peace has collapsed, triggering what could become the bloodiest battle of a war approaching its fourth anniversary. In ... Read More »

Who Putin Is Not

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Falsely demonizing Russia’s leader has made the new Cold War even more dangerous. Stephen F. Cohen The Nation Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at Princeton and NYU, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fifth year, are at TheNation.com.) This post is different. The conversation was… “Putin is an evil man, and he is intent on evil deeds.” —Senator John McCain “[Putin] was ... Read More »

Jeremy Corbyn: Labour could grant second independence referendum

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Jeremy Corbyn has refused to rule out granting permission for a second Scottish independence referendum if he became Prime Minister. Paris Gourtsoyiannis The Scotsman The Labour leader said he would “decide at the time” whether to allow a new independence vote to take place if a request was made by the Scottish Government. Mr Corbyn said he is against a second referendum, and was “very clear on why we don’t think it’s a good idea”. Before the last Holyrood election, ... Read More »

Turkey’s Erdogan to open Cologne mosque in controversial state visit

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The Turkish president’s hopes of addressing the German-Turkish community are closer to becoming reality. His upcoming state visit was described as a “betrayal” by journalist Deniz Yücel, who was imprisoned in Turkey. DW Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will officially open a new central mosque in the western German city of Cologne, the Turkish-Islamic organization DITIB confirmed on Tuesday evening. Erdogan will open the mosque at a ceremony at the end of his state visit to Germany, which is set ... Read More »

The Australian war film Jirga is a lesson in Afghan forgiveness

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It is cathartic when a war movie takes us far beyond the horror of bullets, bomb and blood into the other side of the battlefield — the emotional impact on individuals. Ehsan Azari Stanizai The Conversation The Australian production Jirga mines the depth of the heartache and guilt experienced by an Australian ex-soldier whose conscience has caught up with his participation in a night raid on a… In doing so, it moves away from run-of-the-mill cinematic depictions of this war, ... Read More »