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Showing posts from February 4, 2013

Europe Compass: Balancing Bulls and Bears



Our Europe Compass weekly email presents analytical insights on the events of the past week and an assessment of likely developments within the region. If you're not already subscribed, sign up for free.

Our Europe team also produces the Oxford Analytica Europe Daily Brief and engages in a range of advisory projects for our clients. On our website now, you can listen to our recent client conference call The United Kingdom and the EU: Parting of the Ways? and download our briefing book Today's European Crisis, produced for a breakfast roundtable in London.

Balancing Bulls and Bears

The main theme of news reporting on the euro-area economy is that the worst of the crisis has passed. This theme has been fuelled by a series of data released last week:

Unemployment is still high and large numbers of firms are continuing to go bankrupt (the illustration here is for Belgium and is only available in Dutch, but the pattern holds elsewhere a…

How the US is Preparing for Cyber Warfare

Every government conscious of strategic importance of cyber security and of the investments of other countries in cyber warfare capability is improving its effort. Last week I wrote about Russian government and the Putin's request to reinforce the garrison of the fifth domain, the cyber space, through a series of investment to secure national critical infrastructures from cyber attacks, in the previous months we have spoken of Iran, China and North Korea, all those governments are moving the battlefield in the digital world.

The US and Israel are considered in cyber warfare context most advanced countries, according international specialized press they have been involved in the creation of the first worldwide recognized cyber weapon, Stuxnet, and of many other related spy tool kits such as Flame.

According US officials the government is “is constantly looking to recruit, train and retain world class cyber personnel,”

Both governments, US and Israeli ones, are improving their cyber ca…

Has Britain’s lost king been found?


Monday 4 February 2013

Last Update 4 February 2013 3:03 am

LONDON: Today, scientists will announce the results of tests conducted to determine whether a battle-scarred skeleton found under a municipal parking lot in central England belongs to 15th-century King Richard III, the last British monarch to die in combat.
The University of Leicester, which is leading the search, refuses to speculate on what the announcement will say. But archaeologists, historians and local tourism officials are all hoping for confirmation that the monarch’s long-lost remains have been located.
So are the king’s fans in the Richard III Society, set up to re-evaluate the reputation of a reviled monarch. Richard was immortalized in a play by William Shakespeare as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies — including those of his two young nephews, murdered in the Tower of London — on his way to the throne.
“It will be a whole new era for Richard III,” the society’s Lynda Pidgeon said. “I…

Mali targets hit after Hollande visit

TIMBUKTU, Mali: France said it carried out major airstrikes yesterday near Kidal, the last bastion of armed extremists chased from Mali’s desert north in a lightning French-led offensive, after a whirlwind visit by President Francois Hollande.
An army spokesman said 30 warplanes had bombed training and logistics centers run by extremists overnight in the Tessalit area north of Kidal, where French troops took the airport on Wednesday and have been working to secure the town itself.
Residents said French and Chadian soldiers had patrolled the town for the first time Saturday as the rest of the country feted Hollande on his tour.
The French-led forces have met little resistance in their campaign, with officials saying many rebels have likely fled to the mountainous terrain around Kidal.
After taking Kidal’s airport, French troops were delayed by a sandstorm and a delicate situation on the ground, as officials said seven French hostages were believed to be in the area and the rebels splintere…

Taleban attack in Pakistan kills 35

ISLAMABAD: Militants attacked an army base in northwest Pakistan in a coordinated assault that resulted in an hours long gun battle that left at least 35 people dead on Saturday, intelligence and security officials said.
At least 13 security personnel, 10 civilians and 12 militants were killed in the early morning attack on the base that included housing for Pakistani military personnel and their families near the town of Serai Naurang in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the officials said.

The raid followed a suicide bombing at a Shiite Muslim mosque elsewhere in the northwest on Friday that killed 24 people, police said. The blast was the latest in a rising number of sectarian attacks in the country.

The Pakistani Taleban claimed responsibility for both attacks. The group has been waging a bloody insurgency against the government for years and also has sometimes targeted the country’s minority Shiites, whom the militants consider to be heretics.
The Taleban and allied militant groups ha…

US sniper who killed 150 in Iraq shot dead

Agence France Presse

Monday 4 February 2013

Last Update 4 February 2013 2:24 am

WASHINGTON: A former US Navy SEAL sniper credited with killing more than 150 insurgents in Iraq has been shot to death at a firing range in Texas.
The death of Chris Kyle, 38, was confirmed by FITCO Cares, a foundation he helped start that worked with returning soldiers to help them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kyle died Saturday at a firing range in Glen Rose, Texas, while helping a soldier recovering from the condition, an ABC affiliate in Dallas, WFAA-TV, reported. A neighbor of Kyle was also killed.
A suspect has been arrested, and was identified as 25-year-old Eddie Routh. WFAA-TV quoted investigators as saying Routh is a former Marine who is believed to suffer from PTSD.
Kyle served four tours of duty in Iraq from 1999 to 2009, and received numerous honors.
He wrote a best-selling book called “American Sniper.” In it, he says his record as a sniper prompted Iraqi insurgents to put a price on his…

British PM hosts Afghan, Pakistani leaders

LONDON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron Monday hosted a trilateral summit with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to help bolster their strategic partnership.

Both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, were accompanied by their respective military leaders, foreign ministers and intelligence chiefs for the London meeting with Cameron.

The trilateral meeting took place as Karzai works to move the peace process with the Taliban in his country forward and secure further cooperation from his Pakistani neighbor, which has already released several Taliban detainees from custody to show its cooperation.

The Voice of America quoted a British statement that it expects the Afghans and Pakistanis to make further progress on the outlines of a strategic partnership accord discussed last September.

The BBC said for the first time Afghan and Pakistani army and intelligence chiefs will also take part in the London meeting.

Progress in the p…

“Any Attack on Syria is an Attack on Iran.”

Just Back From The Mideast – And I’m Really Worried

By Eric Margolis

- The Mideast is stumbling into one of its most dangerous crisis in decades. I’m just back from the region – and as an old Mideast hand, I am very worried.

This region is always tense, but right now a series of separate conflicts are rapidly beginning to intersect. We see the Mideast, North Africa and the Sahara buffeted by revolutions and counter-revolutions. Old colonial powers France and Britain, and the US, are trying to reassert their domination in the region. The jihadist are back.

In a brazen act of war, Israel launched airstrikes on Syria last Wednesday in a clear attempt to worsen the crisis in that war-torn nation and challenge Syria’s ally, Iran. Israel’s forces are on high alert and may invade Syria, whose strategic Golan Heights were seized and annexed by Israel. Will more Syrian land follow?

Goaded by Israel, Iran thundered “any attack on Syria is an attack on Iran.” An Iranian general warned Tel Aviv might …

Israel Plans Attack To Create And Occupy 10 Mile "Buffer Zone" Inside Syria

A 10-mile strip filled with troops and tanks is being considered to fend off Islamists should Assad fall, writes Uzi Mahnaimi in Tel Aviv

By Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv

February 04, 2013 "The Times" -- February 03, 2013 - ISRAEL is considering creating a buffer zone reaching up to 10 miles inside Syria to protect itself from fundamentalist rebels on the other side of the border.

The proposal, which has been drawn up by the military and presented to Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, is intended to secure the 47-mile border against a growing Islamist threat if President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime loses control of the area.

The buffer would be modelled on the Lebanese security zone, in which the Israeli defence forces patrolled jointly with the South Lebanon army, a militia, up to 16 miles inside Lebanon from 1985 to 2000.

“We’ve presented the prime minister with a comprehensive plan to defend Israel’s border after, or perhaps before, the fall of Assad’s regime,” said a …