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Showing posts from May 16, 2013

WikiLeaks: A battle to 'carve up' the Arctic

Resource wars are possible as global warming melts polar ice - opening new areas to oil exploitation, cables indicate.

It is considered the final frontier for oil and gas exploitation, and secret US embassy cables published by WikiLeaks confirm that nations are battling to "carve up" the Arctic's vast resources.

"The twenty-first century will see a fight for resources," Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin was quoted as saying in a 2010 cable. "Russia should not be defeated in this fight."

Along with exposing an estimated 22 per cent of the world's oil, ice melting due to global warming will open new shipping lanes, the arteries of global commerce, which nations are competing to control. And Russia certainly is not the only country eyeing the frozen prize.

Per Stig Moller, then Danish foreign minister, mused in a 2009 cable that "new shipping routes and natural resource discoveries would eventually place the region at the centre of worl…

China angles for Arctic power as ice melts

Arctic nations are meeting for a key summit and China is aiming to expand its influence in the resource rich area.

Ice is melting away at a record-breaking rate in the Arctic, exposing valuable natural resources and opening up new shipping routes. Measurements taken last August found levels of Arctic sea ice were at their lowest levels since satellites began measuring the ice in 1979.

China doesn't own any Arctic territory - in fact, its northernmost point is more than 1,400km south of the Arctic Circle. But it's nevertheless taking a strong interest in the region, building a physical presence there and using diplomacy and trade ties to gain a foothold.

China’s actions in the region have paid off as it, along with five other non-Arctic states, have been granted permanent observer status to the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of eight countries with Arctic territory.

Gaining observer status does not allow China any voting rights on the Arctic Council. But it does give…

Mass evacuation as cyclone nears Bangladesh

Hundreds of thousands leave for safety in Bangladesh and Myanmar as Cyclone Mahasen starts crossing the low-lying coast.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh and neighbouring Myanmar have been evacuated, as Cyclone Mahasen approached one of the poorest countries in Asia with winds of around 100km per hour.

The United Nations said that more than 4.1 million people could be at risk from the cyclone, which started crossing the country's low-lying coast on Thursday.

Mahasen first hit Khepupara on on the southern coast and has started bearing down on the ports of Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.

Eyewitnesses told the Reuters news agency low-lying coastal areas were covered in waist-deep water as the storm crossed and trees were uprooted and houses damaged. Two people were reported killed, one crushed by a falling tree and another as he made his way to a shelter.

Bangladesh evacuated more than 700,000 people living in low-lying areas to thousands of cyclone shelters on Wednesday, w…

Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon

As the Syrian conflict increasingly implicates and spills over into Lebanon, a priority for its government and international partners must be to tackle the refugee crisis, lest it ignite domestic conflict that a weak state and volatile region can ill afford.

“Lebanon’s fate historically has been deeply intertwined with Syria's. As Syria heads even more steadily toward catastrophe, there is every reason for Lebanese of all persuasions to worry about their own country -- and to do something about it.”

Sahar Atrache, Crisis Group’s Middle East & North Africa Analyst

In its latest report, Too Close for Comfort: Syrians in Lebanon, the International Crisis Group examines the impact of Syria’s war on its most fragile neighbour. It focuses on the presence of over a million Syrians, half of them refugees – a figure that is a quarter as great as the state’s citizen population of four million. The influx of refugees aggravates state dysfunction, taxes Lebanon’s already limited resources an…

Kenya After the Elections


Kenyan democracy was severely tested in the lead-up to, during and after the 4 March 2013 elections. On 9 March, following a tense but relatively peaceful election, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Jubilee Coalition’s Uhuru Kenyatta president-elect. He garnered 50.07 per cent of the vote – barely passing the threshold for a first round victory. His closest opponent, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, challenged his victory in court, but despite allegations of irregularities and technical failures, the Supreme Court validated the election. Although Odinga accepted the ruling, his party and several civil society organisations questioned the election’s shortcomings and its impact on democracy. President Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, will have to restore confidence in the electoral process and show robust commitment to the implementation of the new constitution, in particular to devolution, land reform, the fight against corruption and …