Politics

Vietnam, Yielding to Beijing, Backs Off South China Sea Drilling

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HONG KONG — Vietnam appears to have retreated in a high-stakes maritime gambit against China, suspending a gas-drilling project that it had approved in the South China Sea but that was said to have irritated Beijing. Mike Ives The New York Times The drilling, by a subsidiary of the Spanish energy company Repsol, had started in June off the southern Vietnamese coast, analysts said. The offshore block where the drilling was occurring straddles the border of Vietnam’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic ... Read More »

Trump’s Base of Support Is Collapsing

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The president never had a proper mandate, but the resistance is no longer a voice of opposition. It now speaks for the great American majority. John Nichols The Nation Donald Trump did not win the presidency by the standard measures of democracy. Fifty-four percent of the Americans who cast ballots on November 8, 2016 favored someone else, and Hillary Clinton won almost 3 million more votes than Trump. Only an antiquated remnant of an 18th-century instinct toward oligarchy—an Electoral College designed by Trump’s Base ... Read More »

Isis: UN study finds foreign fighters in Syria ‘lack basic understanding of Islam’

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Research shows economic factors and ‘lack of meaning’ in life makes warzone attractive Lizzie Dearden Independent Young men who leave their homes to fight for terrorist groups in Syria mainly come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have low levels of education and “lack any basic understanding of the true meaning of jihad or even the Islamic faith”, according to a new report. A study for the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism found that despite claiming to protect Muslims, most of the returned fighters were “novices” ... Read More »

The leaked transcript of Turnbull’s call with Trump shows him at his worst

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Turnbull’s government has called refugees “illegal” and treats them as criminals. It is a lie on which the Coalition has made itself popular. Julian Burnside * The Guardian * Julian Burnside is an Australian barrister and refugee advocate About a week after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States, he had a phone conversation with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. The call focused on the deal earlier done with the Obama administration, under which the US would take a ... Read More »

China set for easy ride from ASEAN on disputed South China Sea

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MANILA (Reuters) – Southeast Asian ministers meeting this week are set to avoid tackling the subject of Beijing’s arming and building of manmade South China Sea islands, preparing to endorse a framework for a code of conduct that is neither binding nor enforceable. Manuel Mogato Reuters The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has omitted references to China’s most controversial activities in its joint communique, a draft reviewed by Reuters shows. In addition, a leaked blueprint for establishing an ... Read More »

Unemployment in Europe has fallen to its lowest level since 2009

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Unemployment in the Eurozone has now fallen to its lowest level since early 2009, as the single-currency area continues along a road of economic recovery one year after the Brexit vote rattled confidence in the bloc’s future. Robin Bowman World Economic Forum In June this year, euro-area unemployment dropped to 9.1%, down from 9.2% the previous month, and from 10.1% in the same month in 2016. This pattern reflects a trend seen across the EU as a whole, where the ... Read More »

GOP clash looms over raising the debt ceiling

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Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are planning to push for a hike without accompanying spending cuts — a position at odds with GOP orthodoxy. SEUNG MIN KIM and RACHAEL BADE Politico Republican congressional leaders are quietly preparing to pass a “clean” debt ceiling increase, according to multiple senior GOP sources — setting the stage for a high-risk showdown with rank-and-file Republicans this… Trump administration officials, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are imploring Congress to raise the $19.8 trillion debt limit with ... Read More »

Imagining Russia post-Putin

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On July 21, Vladimir Putin was asked at an audience with schoolchildren what he will do when he retires. He replied, “I haven’t decided yet if I will leave the presidency.” Peter Rutland The Conversation While everyone is obsessed with following the twists and turns of the ties between Putin and President Trump, it is important to bear in mind that the relationship between the two countries will long outlast these two men. Putin will run again in the March ... Read More »

It’s time to stop kowtowing to Turkey

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Israel’s great relationship with Turkey is over, here’s what’s needed. The break in relations between Israel and Turkey is often identified as happening in May 2010, when the Israel Navy took control of the Mavi Marmara protest ship that was on its way to Gaza. YAIR LAPID JPost Nine protesters were killed during the operation, all Turkish citizens. The response was harsh. Turkey announced it was suspending all joint military exercises with Israel, the families of Israel’s diplomats were returned home. ... Read More »

Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump Is a Complete Idiot

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The transcript of Donald Trump’s discussion with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull obtained by the Washington Post reveals many things, but the most significant may be that Trump in his private negotiations is every bit as mentally limited as… Jonathan Chait New York At issue in the conversation is a deal to settle 1,250 refugees who have been detained by Australia in the United States. I did not pay any attention to the details of this agreement before reading the transcript. By the ... Read More »

Venezuela’s Last Flickers of Democracy

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Venezuela’s political crisis took another fateful turn on Sunday 30 July with the rigged election of an all-powerful assembly mandated to rewrite the constitution. Phil Gunson ICG In this Q&A, Senior Analyst for the Andes Phil Gunson says Sunday’s vote represents the end of what little democratic space still existed and takes the country on the path to dictatorship. Can you explain what Sunday’s vote was about? On Sunday, the chavista government led by President Nicolás Maduro held a one-sided “election” to ... Read More »

A Dangerous Gulf in the Horn: How the Inter-Arab Crisis is Fuelling Regional Tensions

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The Gulf crisis and the scramble for military outposts in the Horn of Africa are exacerbating regional tensions that risk triggering a conflict. Rashid Abdi ICG In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project Director Rashid Abdi untangles the complex web of relations that tie the Horn and the Gulf. How has the Gulf crisis affected security and stability in the Horn? The Gulf and the Horn are intricately intertwined regions that face common threats and vulnerabilities: armed conflict, ... Read More »

Can Boris Johnson deliver on his colossal naval expectations?

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Boris Johnson’s ebullient pronouncements last week on a future Royal Navy freedom of navigation ‘operation’ in the Indo-Pacific region have attracted attention, but also criticism. Euan Graham Interpreter At the press conference following the “2+2” meeting of Australian/UK defence and foreign ministers (AUKMIN), on 27 July, Mr Johnson initially said this: ‘One of the first things we will do with the two new colossal aircraft carriers that we have just built is send them on a freedom of navigation operation ... Read More »

Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis at the Crossroads

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Since October 2016, protests and strikes related to sectoral demands have escalated into a crisis over the economic and political marginalisation of Cameroon’s Anglophone minority. ICG Although the government has made some concessions, it must rebuild mutual trust with Anglophone actors in order to avoid instability ahead of the 2018 general elections. Executive Summary The Anglophones of Cameroon, 20 per cent of the population, feel marginalised. Their frustrations surfaced dramatically at the end of 2016 when a series of sectoral ... Read More »

‘Joint venture with China on South China Sea violates Charter’

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MANILA, Philippines – A joint venture with China in the West Philippine Sea is a violation of the Constitution, according to a senior magistrate of the Supreme Court (SC). The Philippine Star “The language of the Constitution is explicit, that the exclusive economic zone is part of the national territory and that it should be for the enjoyment and exploitation exclusively of Filipinos… We cannot enter into joint development within the EEZ,” Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said in a ... Read More »

Dunkirk, the War and the Amnesia of the Empire

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OXFORD, England — Two and a half million soldiers drawn from Britain’s empire in South Asia fought in World War II. YASMIN KHAN The New York Times But they are missing from many British commemorations and accounts of the war — an absence reinforced by Christopher Nolan’s new film “Dunkirk,” which does not feature any of the Indian soldiers who were present at the battle. The Indian soldiers at Dunkirk were mainly Muslims from areas of British India that later ... Read More »