China to build on disputed Scarborough Shoal this year: Report

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Chinese surveillance ships are seen off Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea

 

Beijing will start construction this year on a South China Sea islet within the Philippines’ claimed exclusive economic zone as it seeks to project its power in the disputed waters, Hong Kong media reported Monday.

China will establish an outpost on Scarborough Shoal, 230 kilometres (143 miles) off the Philippine coast, the South China Morning Post newspaper cited an unnamed source close to the People’s Liberation Army as saying.

Beijing claims nearly all the strategically vital sea, despite competing claims from several Southeast Asian neighbors, and in recent months it has developed contested reefs into artificial islands, some topped with airstrips. Continue reading

Iraq warns terror ‘spillover’ will affect entire world

At Jordan summit, Mideast leaders appeal for international assistance against terror, say air strikes on IS not working

SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan (AP) — Mideast-weary though it may be, the international community has a duty and an interest in helping the countries of the region both rebuff violent extremists and fix the refugee crisis that in part has resulted from the fight with them — that was the message coming from the regional World Economic Forum Saturday.

“In Iraq and the region as a whole, the biggest challenge we face is extremism and terrorism, but this has repercussions at the international level,” said Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi.

“Terrorism is not plaguing Iraq alone but is spilling over,” agreed Saleh Muhammed Al Mutlaq, Iraq’s deputy prime minister. “If it does, it will affect the stability and security of the whole world. We cannot expect that any Arab country can fight terrorism without the help of the international community.” Continue reading

China’s Influence Set to Climb as U.S. Thwarted on New Bank

Power VisionChinese President Xi Jinping’s vision of achieving the same great-power status enjoyed by the U.S. received a major boost this month when the U.K., Germany, France and Italy signed on to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The AIIB will have authorized capital of $100 billion and starting funds of about $50 billion.

Canada is considering joining, which would leave the U.S. and Japan as the only Group of Seven holdouts as they question the institution’s governance and environmental standards. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s cabinet approved negotiations to join too, according to a government official who asked not to be identified as the decision hasn’t been made public. Continue reading

Proposed Deal with Iran Not Legal; Iranian Nukes in South America

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) forbids any of its signatories to have nuclear weapons. Full stop.

Why is the international community not simply enforcing the current NPT? Continue reading

Security confab focuses on ‘collapse of global order’

BERLIN — The Ukraine conflict, Islamic State group jihadists and the wider “collapse of the global order” will occupy the world’s security community at an annual meeting in Germany from Friday.

Also on the agenda of the three-day Munich Security Conference (MSC) will be Iran’s nuclear talks, the Syrian war and mass refugee crisis, West Africa’s Ebola outbreak and cyber-terrorism.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among 20 heads of government and state on the guest list, along with 60-odd foreign and defense ministers including US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov. Continue reading

US officials: Even if Israel doesn’t like it, Palestinians will get state

Members of Kerry’s team slam Netanyahu, empathize with Abbas, warn Palestine will rise ‘whether through violence or via int’l organizations’

American officials directly involved in the failed Israeli-Palestinian peace process over the last nine months gave a leading Israeli columnist a withering assessment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the negotiations, indicated that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has completely given up on the prospect of a negotiated solution, and warned Israel that the Palestinians will achieve statehood come what may — either via international organizations or through violence.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to Nahum Barnea, a prominent columnist from Israel’s best-selling daily Yedioth Aharonoth, the officials highlighted Netanyahu’s ongoing settlement construction as the issue “largely to blame” for the failure of Secretary of State John Kerry’s July 2013-April 2014 effort to broker a permanent peace accord.

They made plain that US President Barack Obama had been prepared to release spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard to salvage the talks. And they warned that “the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation.” Continue reading

U.S. rejects Crimea referendum, warns Russia of imminent sanctions

(Reuters) – The United States warned Russia on Sunday that Western sanctions were imminent and Moscow would pay an increasing price for its military intervention in Ukraine as the White House rejected a referendum in the Crimea region that it was powerless to stop.

With Washington and its European allies expected to unveil coordinated punitive measures against Moscow as early as Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russia must pull its forces in Crimea back to their bases. Continue reading

Germany’s Dramatic and Alarming Foreign Policy Pivot

2014 could be the year Germany replaces America as the world’s unilateral superpower.

Germany’s relationship with the international community in recent years has been one of unrequited affection. America and other world powers have been begging Germany to get more involved in world affairs and to exert more global leadership. But Berlin has responded slowly and coyly, with a reluctance many find curious and vexing.

That changed in January 2014. Continue reading

Nuclear accord ‘possible this week’, says Iran’s Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) told FRANCE 24 Tuesday that an agreement with the international community over the country’s nuclear programme could be reached at talks in Geneva later this week.

Zarif also said that Iran could use it its influence to encourage non-Syrian forces fighting in Syria to withdraw from the country. Continue reading

Israel’s Final Warning on Iran

With no military threat, Iran has no incentive to stop its nuclear progress. Iran might well conclude that the sanctions could disappear in the course of endless rounds of diplomacy. No one in Israel seeks war, but a central tenet of its own defense doctrine is that Israel cannot depend on any external power to deal with existential security threats.

The coming weeks probably represent the last opportunity for Iran and the international community to reach an enforceable deal that will dismantle Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, before Israel concludes that time has run out, that Iran has gotten too close to creating its first atomic bombs, and that the time for a military strike has arrived. Continue reading

Washington and Europe rush headlong towards accepting a nuclear Iran

The Iranian delegation arrived at the UN General Assembly in New York this week to an enthusiastic Western welcome led by the Obama administration, without having rescinded one iota of its aggressive policies or nuclear ambitions.

“We welcome an Iran ready to engage seriously through that (diplomatic) process given that it represents the international community’s commitment to hold Iran accountable, but also being open to a diplomatic resolution.”

This convoluted message was how Ben Rhodes, US Deputy National Security Adviser, referred Monday, Sept. 23, to the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s get-together with Iranian Mohammad Javad Zarif Thursday, along with foreign ministers of the five world powers. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia’s proxy wars

Saudi Arabia appears resolute: It wants Bashar Al-Assad out of Damascus. The Saudis view the fighting in Syria with the same intensity that they did the civil war in Yemen that raged in the 1960s—as a conflict with wide and serious repercussions that will shape the political trajectory of the Middle East for years to come.

The Syrian war presents the Saudis with a chance to hit three birds with one stone: Iran, its rival for regional dominance, Tehran’s ally Assad and his Hezbollah supporters. But Riyadh’s policy makers are wary. They know that once fully committed, it will be difficult to disengage. And so they are taking to heart the lessons of another regional war that flared on their border 50 years ago. Continue reading

Syria Crisis Ultimatum: Kerry Tells Assad Turn in Chemical Weapons within One Week [VIDEO]

US secretary of state John Kerry has given an ultimatum to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to avoid a military strike by turning over his entire chemical weapons arsenal to the international community within the next week.

At a joint press conference with UK foreign secretary William Hague, Kerry said that America was not going to war but would launch an “unbelievably small and limited effort” to punish the Assad regime for the 21 August chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and to deter it from doing it again. Continue reading

Israel said expecting US military response in Syria

Damascus warns ‘mass of flames will ignite Middle East’ if regime attacked; Assad’s chemical weapons use reportedly discussed in call between US and Israeli army chiefs

Israel believes that the United States will respond militarily to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, according to unnamed military sources quoted by the Hebrew website Ynet on Saturday night.

When proof surfaces that the Assad regime used chemical weapons last Wednesday, “the US will act even in the event that the UN Security Council does not take a decision to that effect,” the report claimed, citing estimations by Israeli officials. Continue reading

Australian military planners in Washington work on Syrian war plans

NEITHER Kevin Rudd nor Tony Abbott will talk of armed intervention in the Syrian crisis, but Australian officers are already working with US allies on a plan if one is needed.

No such plans are being made in Canberra, but concerns are growing in the wake of chemical weapons claims and strong words from the Prime Minister.

Asked on Channel 10’s The Project whether he supported Australian intervention in the country in the wake of reports up to 1300 were killed in a chemical massacre, the PM would not go that far, but left the door open. Continue reading