Saudi nukes on Chinese rockets?

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declared in a ’60 Minutes’ interview that Saudi Arabia would quickly acquire a nuclear bomb if Iran develops a nuclear weapon first Uwe Parpat Asia Times When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS for short) meets US President Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday (March 20), nuclear weapons will be high on the agenda. MBS made sure of that when he said in a CBS “60 minutes” interview aired on Sunday, but in part released three days ... Read More »

Developing countries at risk from US rate rise, debt charity warns

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Jubilee Debt Campaign says 126 nations spend more than 10% of revenues on interest Larry Elliott The Guardian The expected rise in US interest rates will increase financial pressures on developing countries already struggling with a 60% jump in their debt repayments since 2014, a leading charity has warned. The Jubilee Debt Campaign said a study of 126 developing nations showed that they were devoting more than 10% of their revenues on average to paying the interest on money borrowed – the ... Read More »

China throws sinking Brunei a lifeline

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Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah looks to Beijing for succor as his nation’s oil and gas reserves run dry Nile Bowie Asia Times Brunei’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, is in a race against time as his nation’s once deep stores of oil and gas rapidly run dry. While other foreign investors up stakes, China is giving the Southeast Asian sultanate a new lease on economic life. International banks such as HSBC and Citibank have recently ceased operations in Brunei in sight of ... Read More »

Why Pompeo may not be good news for Ankara

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The diplomatic reshuffle in Washington may be the harbinger of a new era of further confrontation with Ankara. Yavuz Baydar The Arab Weekly Regardless of the rosy expectations of some, US-Turkey relations may enter a critical phase if CIA Director Mike Pompeo takes over the US State Department from Rex Tillerson. Pompeo and Tillerson have very little in common. Tillerson represented a “softer” American approach to issues and the notion that Washington needs to take its allies into account. Pompeo ... Read More »

Philippines’ Duterte urges other nations to quit ICC

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday urged other nations to follow his move to quit the International Criminal Court, which is examining his deadly drug war. Journal du Cameroun Duterte lashed out at the war crimes tribunal days after his government notified the United Nations of his decision to withdraw the Philippines from the Rome Statute which set up the court. “I said withdraw simply because to announce to the world, and I will convince everybody now who (is) under ... Read More »

Turkey Slams Europe Over Calls to End Syria Offensive

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ISTANBUL — Turkey has reacted furiously to the European Parliament’s motion calling for an end to Ankara’s military offensive in Syria’s Afrin enclave against a Kurdish militia. Dorian Jones VoA The motion cited concerns for the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in Afrin city under siege by Turkish forces for almost two months. But beyond the diplomatic haranguing, both the European Union and Ankara appear anxious to continue to work to rebuild relations. Speaking at his presidential palace, Turkish President ... Read More »

Aung San Suu Kyi: lawyers seek prosecution for crimes against humanity

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Australian lawyers file private case against Myanmar leader over treatment of Rohingya while she attends summit in Sydney Ben Doherty The Guardian Lawyers in Melbourne have filed a private prosecution application against Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is in Australia, on charges of crimes against humanity. The private prosecution application faces significant barriers to proceeding – a universal jurisdiction prosecution in Australia requires the consent of the attorney general. Aung San Suu Kyi, who is state counsellor and ... Read More »

Lebanon-Israel maritime dispute: Rules of (diplomatic) engagement

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Thus far attempts to resolve the dispute have been unsuccessful, but while the challenge is clearly a difficult one, the situation is far from irretrievable if the parties practice restraint and resolve to settle their differences via diplomacy and dialogue. Roudi Barouti Annahar BEIRUT: Tensions between Lebanon and Israel are flaring once again, this time over the demarcation of their maritime border and, therefore, the rightful ownership of offshore oil and gas deposits. Thus far attempts to resolve the dispute ... Read More »

Syria war: Thousands flee twin offensives in Afrin and Ghouta

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As many as 50,000 people have fled separate offensives against rebel forces in northern and southern Syria in recent days, activists say. BBC About 30,000 have left the northern town of Afrin as Turkish forces and their allies stepped up a siege. In the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, some 20,000 have left areas targeted by Syrian government forces. The mass movements come seven years into a war which has driven nearly 12 million people from their homes. At least ... Read More »

The hellish situation of the Rohingya in Bangladesh is like nothing on earth. Aung San Suu Kyi should be ashamed

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These are people who have literally seen their children thrown on fires. Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi wouldn’t even let our representatives into her country. What sort of freedom fighting is that? Pauline Latham The Independent They have escaped genocide but now they face being swept away by floods – for the tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, life is heartbreakingly cheap. And even if they survive the monsoons and cyclones, women, whose husbands have already been slaughtered, will be preparing ... Read More »

After the Rohingya crisis, Aung San Suu Kyi will come to the ASEAN summit with her reputation tarnished

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Two years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy (NLD) into government in Myanmar amid a global outpouring of support and goodwill. Authors.. The Conversation When she arrives in Australia for this weekend’s ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, the welcome will be cooler, tempered by her government’s limited progress on a range of political and economic issues. In particular, concerns will be raised over the Myanmar military’s appalling treatment of the Muslim Rohingya, and Suu Kyi’s refusal to ... Read More »

Saudi Crown Prince Likens Iran’s Supreme Leader to Hitler

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince has compared the supreme leader of Iran to Adolf Hitler, and said that his country would acquire a nuclear bomb “as soon as possible” if Iran developed nuclear weapons. Ben Hubbard The New York Times The comments by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ratcheted up the rhetoric in the increasingly volatile rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has fueled sectarianism and war across the Middle East. His statements were in an ... Read More »

The Fatal Flaw in China’s Plan for Dominating the World Economy

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Dependence is baked into China’s industrial plans—and will likely fail. Chinese premier Li Keqiang recently delivered a remarkably revealing speech. Milton Ezrati The National Interest Addressing the National People’s Congress for two full hours early in March, he stressed the county’s determination to rely on broad industrial policies as a means to development. The objective, to use Li’s words, is to “speed up work to build China into a leader in manufacturing.” Li doubtless wanted his audience and the world ... Read More »

End the Weaponisation of Water in Central Asia

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Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At times these disputes have seemed to threaten war. The forthcoming presidential summit in Astana can help banish that spectre. Alina Dalbaeva ICG On 15-16 March there is a landmark opportunity to promote peace and prosperity in Central Asia when the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan meet in the Kazakh capital of Astana. It ... Read More »

Rivals for Authority in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan

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The prevailing calm in Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan’s remote east does not rule out the prospect of a clash between local powerbrokers and Dushanbe authorities. ICG To mitigate the risks of a local flare-up and regional power rivalry, China and Russia should communicate with each other and nudge President Rahmon toward a smooth transition of power. What’s new? The Tajik government’s control of its eastern territory, Gorno-Badakhshan, is tenuous at best. Irregulars loyal to local powerbrokers known as the Authorities have ... Read More »

The 2018 Turkey Regress Report

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The European Commission is due to publish its next progress report on Turkey in April 2018. Marc Pierini Carnegie Europe This standard procedure is meant to outline how candidate countries have advanced in aligning with the EU’s political and technical criteria for accession and to chart their paths forward. Yet, in Turkey’s case, a massive deterioration of the rule of law makes it impossible to acknowledge any progress. Instead, the commission’s forthcoming report is bound to illustrate a substantial regression. ... Read More »