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Showing posts from October 22, 2013

Geopolitical Calendar: Week of Oct. 21, 2013


Oct. 21: The European Parliament holds its plenary session in Strasbourg until Oct. 24.
Oct. 21: EU foreign ministers will meet in Luxembourg.
Oct. 22: The European Commission will present its priorities for 2014 when Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso presents the Work Program for 2014 to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Oct. 23: In Hungary, the Civil Union Forum is expected to hold a pro-government demonstration.
Oct. 24-25: EU leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss different aspects of the European crisis, among other things.
Oct. 24: Greenland's parliament is expected to vote on whether radioactive material can be extracted on the island.
Oct. 25: The Czech Republic will hold parliamentary elections.

Oct. 21: The 14th India-Russia annual summit will be held in Moscow. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will arrive in the Russian capital to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on bilateral, regional and international issues.

France, Mexico Seek Answers on 'Shocking' US Spy Claims


October 21, 2013 - "AFP"- Paris (AFP) - France and Mexico have angrily demanded prompt explanations from Washington following fresh, "shocking" spying allegations leaked by former US security contractor Edward Snowden.

The reports in French daily Le Monde and German weekly Der Spiegel revealed that the National Security Agency secretly recorded tens of millions of phone calls in France and hacked into former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's email account.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls described the revelations in Le Monde newspaper as "shocking", in an interview Monday with Europe 1 radio.

The spy agency taped 70.3 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period between December 10 and January 8 this year, Le Monde reported in its online version, citing documents from Snowden.

According to the paper, the NSA automatically picked up communications from certain phone numbers in France and recorded text messages under a programme code-nam…

U.S. military investing heavily in Africa

Increased U.S. spending, especially at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, reflects Africa's growing importance to counter-terrorism efforts.

By Shashank Bengali

October 21, 2013 - "LA Times"- WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has begun a burst of spending in Africa, expanding its main base on the continent and investing in air facilities, flight services, telecommunications and electrical upgrades as the U.S. military deepens its footprint in a region with a rising threat of Islamist terrorism.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures, detailed in unclassified federal documents, demonstrate Africa's increasing importance to U.S. military and counter-terrorism operations as the war in Iraq has ended and American troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

By far the most significant expansion is occurring at Camp Lemonnier in the deeply impoverished nation of Djibouti, a sleepy backwater on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, just north of Somalia. The sprawling base, built out of a onetime out…

Brazil: An Inauspicious Start to Pre-Salt Auctions

More than five years after Brazil discovered massive oil reserves thousands of meters underneath the sea floor, the country's prospects of imminently becoming an economic and energy power are fading. On Monday, Brazil hosted its first auction of one of these fields, now known as pre-salt fields, but the event was met with skepticism and unrest. The inauspicious beginning shows how Brazil's geopolitical constraints have tempered once-promising expectations and how the country will have to focus on its domestic affairs.

Back in 2007, Brazil was in a state of euphoria. A consortium led by state-controlled Petrobras discovered the Tupi field in the pre-salt layer, a geological formation off the continental shelf of Brazil's coast that holds significant hydrocarbon resources. The Brazilian economy was growing by more than 6 percent per year, and there was a widespread feeling that Brazil would become a global energy and economic power. The country's largest companies were ra…

A Conflict Over Statehood in India

Protesters upset with the prospect of Telanganan statehood, including local utility employees, have forced periodic outages for power and other services to some parts of Andhra Pradesh for more than a week, much to the detriment of the city of Hyderabad, one of India's most vibrant local economies and a center of the country's information technology sector. India's ruling Congress Party supported Telangana's bid for statehood July 30 despite the controversy surrounding the issue. The government hoped the backing would earn it some votes in the May 2014 elections and that it would dispel long-held notions that it was feckless and corrupt. According to the government's decision, Hyderabad will serve as a joint capital for 10 years before transitioning to a union territory. The city will lie outside a future Telanganan state and the future Seemandhra state, which will be composed of the remnant Rayalaseema and Andhra districts of Andhra Pradesh. In theory, the Telanga…

Saudi Arabia's New Strategic Paradigm


The divergence in U.S. and Saudi interests that began with the events of 9/11 has reached a critical stage with the launching of the U.S.-Iranian diplomatic engagement. Saudi Arabia cannot accept a new regional landscape in which its archenemy, Iran, has more room to project power, so Riyadh is undergoing a doctrinal shift in its foreign policy behavior. As the world's largest exporter of crude oil, Saudi Arabia has always been a major global player, but it is only now assuming a foreign policy posture independent of Washington. Still, there are limits to how far the Saudis can go.


On Oct. 18, Saudi Arabia announced that it was rejecting its invitation for the two-year, non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council it had been elected to a day earlier. In a statement, the kingdom's Foreign Ministry said it could not fulfill its obligations as a member because the global security body is beset with double standards. The Saudis accused the U.N. Security Council…