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Showing posts from December 17, 2013

Report: Turkey Shipped Arms to Syria Rebels

Turkey has shipped 47 tonnes of weapons to Syrian rebels since June despite repeated government denials, a local newspaper reported on Monday.
The Hurriyet Daily News, citing U.N. and Turkish Statistics Institute records, said 29 tonnes of military equipment were sent to opposition fighters in September alone.
The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vociferous opponent of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has openly supported the rebels but has always denied arming them.
"Turkey does not supply arms to any group" in Syria, a Turkish diplomat told Agence France Presse when asked to comment on the report.
He said the U.N. and Turkish records cited by Hurriyet were "guns without military uses". Hundreds of Turks have crossed the border into Syria to fight with al-Qaida linked jihadists against the Damascus regime, according to an interior ministry report published last month.
Ankara has been accused of turning a blind eye to the fighters crossing its bo…

Federal Judge Says NSA Program Appears to Violate Constitution

A federal judge rules that the National Security Agency's program of gathering data on all telephone calls made in the US is unconstitutional. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

By Pete Williams, NBC News justice correspondent

December 16, 2013 - "NBC" - A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency’s gathering of data on all telephone calls made in the United States appears to violate the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches.

The judge, Richard Leon of U.S. District Court in Washington, said that the NSA relied on “almost-Orwellian technology” that would have been unimaginable a generation ago, at the time of a landmark Supreme Court decision on phone records.

Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled in favor of two Americans who challenged the NSA program and wanted their data removed from NSA records. The judge found that the two were likely to prevail under the Fourth Amendment, the Constitution’s protection against unreason…

Fallout From China's New Air Defense Zone

On Dec. 12, the United States reassured Japan that Washington does not officially recognize China's controversial new air defense identification zone, or ADIZ. The message came only a few days after South Korea expanded its own ADIZ for the first time since the 1950s in response to China's declared ADIZ. China's ADIZ overlaps with those of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The unsolicited expansion has generated controversy, especially with Japan because China's ADIZ also extends over the disputed Japanese-controlled Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, over which China claims sovereignty. For its part, South Korea's ADIZ expansion captures Ieodo Reef (known as Suyan Rock in Chinese, a small partially submerged rock in South Korea's exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea. Though not in Korean territorial waters, South Korea operates an oceanic research station and helipad on the rock, which has been the subject of prior disputes with China over exclusive economic zones …

The Evolution of Central Europe

With the European Union and Russia both undergoing significant internal changes, Central European countries are re-evaluating their strategic positions. Over the past century, the six countries that occupy Central Europe -- Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria -- have had similar relationships with regard to these two powers. Throughout the Cold War, they were collectively aligned with Russia, but after the conflict ended they opted to align with Europe and the United States instead.

Analysis


Geographically, the countries of Central Europe are located in an area that has been a source of contention and competition for several powers throughout history. Among others, the Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires have all vied for influence and control over the land and people of Central Europe. The region served as a major battleground during World War I and World War II as the competition between external powers and the nations within the regi…

Iraq's Limited Risk of Civil War

An Iraqi policeman guards a wrecked vehicle following an explosion in Aziziyah, Iraq, in July. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The tempo of deadly attacks has quickened in Iraq, with coordinated bombings and other assaults occurring almost daily since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. On Aug. 28, for example, some 12 devices reportedly detonated simultaneously in mostly Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing 30 people and wounding another 160. Casualties over the past four months have reached their highest levels since the sectarian conflict that raged from 2006 to 2008 during U.S. Operation Iraqi Freedom. Near-daily attacks seem likely to continue, but the dramatic rise in violence in Iraq does not portend a return to total instability.

A close look at the tactics, target sets and geographical locations of recent operations indicates that there has not been a marked increase in militant capabilities, despite the high casualty counts. Moreover, militants h…

Chinese Policy in the Wake of a New Corruption Investigation

Zhou Yongkang (2R) and other Chinese leaders at the start of the 18th Party Congress in Beijing in November 2012. (GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The almost certain existence of a corruption investigation of former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang could portend larger changes ahead for China's oil industry and internal security system. After months of speculation, a collection of reports in international mainstream media citing a wide range of high-level sources has confirmed that President Xi Jinping authorized an official inquiry into Zhou's alleged disciplinary infractions sometime in early December. This follows Xi's move in October to establish a separate disciplinary organ reporting directly to himself.

Zhou is perhaps the ultimate "tiger" in Xi's ongoing campaign to root out bureaucratic corruption at both the highest and lowest levels (the "tigers" and "flies"). Zhou served as China's chief of internal s…