Turkey Drifts Away from the West

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Turkey has lost its soft power attractiveness due to its leadership’s increasing absolutism and failed foreign policy priorities. Antonia Dimou ModernDiplomacy The “zero problems with neighbors” concept that unraveled almost at the time of the Arab Spring has given its place to “nothing but problems with every single neighbor”. Key dimensions of Turkish foreign policy, namely relations with the United States (US), NATO, the European Union and MENA countries face growing challenges. Despite that Turkish-NATO relations are still valued and ... Read More »

Syria’s war at home is giving way to dangerous proxy conflicts

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As Syrian government forces crush the country’s largest remaining rebel strongholds and with Bashar al-Assad apparently here to stay, Syria is turning into an arena for three new proxy conflicts. Moritz Pieper The Conversation In the south, Israel is facing off against Iran; in the northern region of Afrin, Turkey is fighting the Kurds. Meanwhile, in the eastern provinces, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are pitted against the Russian-backed Syrian armed forces. If and when the Syrian conflict proper comes to ... Read More »

Putin’s Foreign Policy: Nuclear Blackmail Of The West

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“You didn’t listen to our country then… Listen to us now.” Vladimir Putin, announcing that Russia has developed and is testing a new line of strategic nuclear-capable weapons Gary Cartwright EU Today Looking to bolster his image with the electorate prior to Russia’s impending Presidential elections, Vladimir Putin’s has chosen the tried and tested route for such leaders – create an enemy for the people to worry about, and to focus their minds. Putin has very little to offer the ... Read More »

Turkey has invested $35 bln in defense industry in 15 years: PM Yıldırım

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State investment in the defense industry has exceeded $35 billion in the past 15 years, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said. Hurriyet “We have made investments worth $35 billion over 15 years and we are now an exporter country in the field of the defense industry. The volume of our exports is over $2 billion,” Yıldırım said in an address at the National Defense University on March 2. “Our state continues to provide all sorts of technological opportunities for the ... Read More »

We need to talk about peace again

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We’re in an age when ambition is called for. And it just may come in the shape of a 32,000 tonne ocean liner Scott Ludlam * The Guardian A cruise liner is not the first place you’d go looking for conflict prevention, sustainability education, disarmament diplomacy and international collaborations on everything from disaster relief to low-carbon marine transport. From the outside, the Ocean Dream looks like any other 32,000 tonne ocean liner; a long, seafaring apartment block slung with lifeboats, ... Read More »

Germany’s arm forces full of flaws, parliamentary report says

20 February 2018, Germany, Berlin, Federal press conference: The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Federal Armed Forces, Hans-Peter Bartels presents the annual report 2017 of the parliamentary commissioner for the Armed Forces. Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa, Image: 363817465, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: GERMANY OUT, Model Release: no, Credit line: Profimedia, AFP

Hans-Peter Bartels, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, presented on 20 February a report on the German armed forces worrying poor shape. Martin Macq ESJ While Germany is committing to take on more responsibility in NATO, its armed forces have to still cope with serious equipment and personnel shortages, significantly reducing its readiness to fulfill its commitments and plans. Bartels points out that only a fraction of the crucial weapons system is operational while some 21,000 positions are vacant within ... Read More »

EU and Russia Vie for Influence in Volatile Balkans Region

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European Union promotes Balkans expansion to counter Russia’s push for influence in volatile, strategically significant region. By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press U.S.News BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — For years, Russia has worked to gain influence in Southeast Europe, using Serbia as a foothold to establish a friendly pocket on a hostile continent. The European Union finally is pushing back. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is embarking on a seven-nation Balkans tour Sunday to promote the EU’s new eastward expansion strategy. Russia ... Read More »

Europe Still Doesn’t Take Its Own Defense Seriously

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If candidate Donald Trump had one signature position, it was criticizing America’s populous, prosperous allies for leeching off the U.S. military. Doug Bandow The National Interest He even talked about charging them for the Pentagon’s services. But like many other issues, he proved to be more bark than bite. Whether reflecting a lack of belief or attention, he left European policy to his Europhile officials, who told European leaders to ignore the president. “There is a lot more support for ... Read More »

US military leader warns on China

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The head of US Pacific Command has issued a strong warning about China’s military buildup Admiral Harry Harris says China is trying to win dominance in the Indo-Pacific region as it issues a challenge globally. NHK He made the remarks at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday. Harris said he was most concerned about China’s activity in the South China Sea. That included the militarization of 7 outposts, despite a ruling by an Arbitral Tribunal under the Law ... Read More »

Pentagon seeks to invest $550 million for SDF

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The Pentagon on Feb. 12 requested $300 million to train and equip the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and wants nearly as much to build a “border security force” with them in Syria WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency Hurriyet The military’s budget proposal for 2019 also contains $850 million for train-and-equip activities in Iraq to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). “The training, equipment and operations support in this request will consolidate the gains achieved against [ISIL] and ... Read More »

China Reveals Its New Russian Jets Flying Over Secret Military Bases in Pacific

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China has for the first time revealed that its new fleet of advanced, Russia-built jets has flown over the South China Sea, where the U.S. has contested Beijing’s vast territorial claims and construction of artificial, militarized islands. By Tom O’Connor Newsweek The Chinese air force said in a statement Wednesday that it recently deployed Sukhoi Su-35s to carry out a joint patrol over the South China Sea. While the release did not include the size, date or location of the patrol, ... Read More »

Julian Assange loses challenge to UK arrest warrant, court to rule on new bid next week

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost one legal bid to have a UK arrest warrant against him quashed but immediately launched another, to have the British authorities halt any action against him on public interest grounds. ABC Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she would give her decision on February 13. A ruling in Mr Assange’s favour could pave the way for him to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been holed up for more than five years. Mr ... Read More »

Vietnam, US talk political, security, defence matters

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Hanoi (VNA) – Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc and the US’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow co-chaired the ninth Vietnam-US Political, Security and Defence Dialogue in Hanoi on January 30. VietnamPlus Both Ngoc and Kaidanow recognised positive developments in bilateral ties since Vietnam and the US set up their comprehensive partnership in 2013. They added that 2017 was a successful year of Vietnam-US relations, evidenced by the visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan ... Read More »

Federal Government accused of contributing to global arms race with defence exports push

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Aid groups have criticised the Federal Government’s plan to dramatically ramp up defence exports, accusing the Coalition of contributing to a global arms race. Stephen Dziedzic ABC The Government has declared it wants Australia to be one of the world’s top 10 exporters, unveiling a new loan scheme for defence companies which want to sell their products overseas. Australia’s defence exports are worth about $2 billion a year — but Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said he wants that figure ... Read More »

Syria war: Row over Turkey using German-made tanks

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The German government is facing calls to halt arms exports to Turkey after reports emerged that German-made Leopard tanks were being used in an offensive against the Kurdish YPG. BBC Some German politicians have requested that any moves to approve a tank upgrade deal be halted. Turkish-led forces began an assault in Syria’s north-west on Saturday. The row comes just weeks after the two countries’ foreign ministers vowed to improve bilateral ties. Relations between the two Nato members have soured ... Read More »

Taiwan’s Nightmare: China Seeks to Alter the Cross-Strait Status Quo

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It is in the national interest of the United States and other like-minded democracies to counter Beijing’s crude attempts to bully its neighbors Dennis P. Halpin The National Interest As East Asia and the world continue to turn their attention toward the escalating nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Beijing has taken advantage of the distraction to move forward its agenda of a “China Dream” of regional hegemony. This dream envisions a China restored to what is viewed as Beijing’s ... Read More »