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Showing posts from November 20, 2013

Afghanistan To Have US Troops Indefinitely? Security Agreement Draft Leaked

By The Inquisitr

- Afghanistan may not be seeing a full withdrawal of US troops soon, as many had expected. A newly obtained US-Afghanistan security agreement draft suggests that US forces will stay for much longer than originally expected, possibly indefinitely. The draft includes an agreement for US military outposts and bases to remain in Afghanistan through 2024. It also shows plans to fund and train a great number of Afghan security forces.

The security agreement draft was obtained by NBC News, as they reported Tuesday. The unsigned 25-page document is dated to July 25, 2013 and appears to be a working draft. Titled the “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between The United States of American and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” its details range from being very specific to rather unclear.

The draft is set for review and discussion between some 2,500 officials, academics, and village representatives in Kabul this week. While the panel, known as Loya Jirga, does not have…

Iranian Embassy Bombing in Lebanon

At least 23 people were killed and 146 wounded in the twin bombings Nov. 19 targeting the Iranian Embassy and ambassador's residence in Beirut's southern suburbs. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group in the Levant region, claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings. The first explosion reportedly occurred when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives outside the main gate at the Iranian Embassy. A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, using a Renault Rapid van as its delivery vehicle, was responsible for the second explosion, which was much larger and occurred a few meters from the initial blast.

Occurring at approximately 9:42 a.m. local time, around the time when embassy employees would be arriving, the blasts were intended to inflict maximum carnage. In attacks such as this, it is typical for a smaller explosive device to be used to draw in emergency responders before a second, larger device detonates to produce more casual…

China: Continued Growth Exacerbates Water Scarcity

Media Center, Video

Video Transcript:

Yu the Great controls the waters. This ancient Chinese idiom perhaps best captures the almost primordial relationship between political legitimacy and the ability to manage water in China. From the beginnings of state formation along the banks of the Yellow River -- the fabled days of semi-mythical kings like Yu, who according to legend built China's first dams -- right up to the present, water management has been a fundamental element of social and political control in China.

The Communist Party of China is no exception. Over the coming years, rising population and per capita food and energy demand will bring increased competition over this naturally scarce resource. Where water management in the old days consisted primarily of maintaining irrigation systems for agriculture, which employed virtually all of the country's population, water now plays a much more varied and complex role.

Agriculture is still the primary user of water in China,…

Taiwan Loses a Diplomatic Ally

Police attempt to stop reporters from photographing Gambian Ambassador to Taiwan Alhaji Ebrima N.H. Jarjou at the Foreign Ministry in Taipei on Nov. 15. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)


A diplomatic dispute between Gambia, a relatively insignificant country, and Taiwan, a country trying to gain international recognition, shows how difficult it is for Taiwanese leaders to craft a foreign policy. On Nov. 18, Taipei cut diplomatic ties with the West African nation three days after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh announced he would cut ties with Taiwan. His announcement appears to have been a calculated move meant to reconfigure Gambia's alliance structure and is widely perceived as an attempt to court diplomatic relations with mainland China. Beijing may have little interests in such overtures, however, because they could jeopardize relations with Taipei. Still, losing diplomatic allies poses a problem as Taipei seeks to maintain its international status.


Gambia is the first…

In Lebanon, Jihadists Lash Out at Iran and Hezbollah

People gather at the scene of the bombings Nov. 19 in southern Beirut. (-/AFP/Getty Images)


The twin bombings Nov. 19 in Beirut are likely the jihadists' response to heavy Hezbollah and Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war on the side of the al Assad regime. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group in the Levant region, claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings on the Iranian Embassy and ambassador's residence in Beirut. But rather than deter Hezbollah and Iran from reinforcing the Syrian regime, the attack will only strengthen their desire to regain control of Syria's strategic Qalamoun area, which borders Lebanon and overlooks the critical M5 highway.

Iran and Hezbollah's heightened offensive in Syria following the Beirut bombings will strain the ongoing dialogue between the United States and Iran and further divide Hezbollah and Lebanese Sunnis, who are already locked in trying negotiations to form a new government. However,…

Syria: Renewed Aggression Exposes Cracks in the Rebellion


The long anticipated Qalamoun offensive is believed to have begun, with forces loyal to Bashar al Assad making a decisive move on the strategic town of Qara. A withering artillery bombardment commenced Nov. 16 and was followed by a coordinated tank and infantry attack. Although Qara remains in rebel hands for now, loyalist forces hold a dominant position around the town.

The mountainous Qalamoun region, bordering Lebanon and overlooking the critical M5 highway, remains highly problematic for the regime as it attempts to sustain a continuous and secure supply line from Damascus to the north. With a steady buildup of rebel forces in the area, rumors have persisted for months that the regime, with massive Hezbollah involvement, would launch a new offensive to drive back opposition in the area, potentially causing the largest spillover of violence into Lebanon since the start of the Syrian civil war.

The Qalamoun operation is not the only offensive in which the regime is cu…