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Showing posts from December 20, 2013

Israel’s ‘Demographic Time Bomb’ Is a Dud:

Sorry, but the real number of Arab Israelis isn't an existential threat to the Jewish state.

BY Uri Sadot

December 19, 2013 - "FP" - If you listen to some top American and Israeli officials, Israel's "demographic time bomb" is ticking -- and it's set to explode any day now. Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Dec. 7 that Israel's demographic dynamics represented an "existential threat ... that makes it impossible for Israel to preserve its future as a democratic, Jewish state." Some officials in Jerusalem agree with him: Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog and senior Cabinet member Yair Lapid last week echoed similar concerns that demographic trends would turn Israel into a "bi-national state." On all three occasions, demography was cited as an urgent reason to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The argument, in a nutshell, goes like this: The birth rate among Arab families in Israel and Palestine is higher than it i…

Taiwan grounds Apaches over transmission failure risk

Taiwan's first six Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters arrived in Kaohsiung Port on 4 November. Source: Republic of China Army

Taiwan has grounded six recently delivered AH-64E Apache attack helicopters due to the risk of main transmission failure, the country's Ministry of National Defence (MND) revealed on 18 December.

Defense Minister Yen Ming said the United States had told Taiwan that the malfunction was affecting US Army AH-64Es and as a result Taipei had suspended all AH-64E operations for safety checks. Taiwan is the first foreign operator of the AH-64E, which entered US Army service in late 2011.

Speaking during a meeting of the legislative Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, Lieutenant General Hao Yii-jy, Chief of Staff of the Army, said the US had told the MND on 17 December. The MND said it has suspended all Apache training operations "pending a full investigation being carried out by the United States into the cause of the malfunction".


Japan's Response to China's New Air Defense Zone

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China's declaration of a new air defense identification zone has added a new dimension to regional tensions over territorial and international space that seems likely to remain in place. The general risk of an incident, air collision or crash has significantly increased due to the disagreement over the legitimacy of China's zone, uncertainty over its enforcement, and the underlying fears over future administrative control and sovereignty. Japan fears that whatever it does, China will take further steps to build its presence in the disputed territories and whittle away the status quo of Japanese control. For that reason, Japan is also likely to continue to monitor its air defense zone energetically. The rising trend of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force jets scrambling to intercept aircraft breaching its zone looks set to continue. This trend has been mirrored by China, with the rising prominence of Japanese interceptions of Chinese aircraft overtaking those of Rus…

U.S. Naval Update Map: Dec. 19, 2013

The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups, based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance of the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier, which projects U.S. naval and air power and supports a Carrier Air Wing, or CVW. The CSG includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked. An MEU is built around a heavily reinforced and mobile battalion of Marines.
Carrier Strike Groups

The USS Harry S. Truman CSG with CVW 3 embarked is underway in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting maritime security operations and conducting theater security cooperation efforts.
The USS George H.W. Bush is underway in the Atlantic Ocean for routine training.
Amphibious Ready Gro…

Detainees as a Bargaining Chip in U.S.-Iranian Negotiations

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Geneva on Nov. 24. (ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images


The resurfacing in Iranian and U.S. media of the case of missing U.S. citizen Robert Levinson offers a small but revealing snapshot of the ongoing thaw of ties between Washington and Tehran. In a news conference Dec. 17, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham reiterated Iran's claim that Levinson is no longer in the country. Afkham went on to mention Iran's concern over Iranian detainees in the United States -- a sign that Tehran may be pursuing a prisoner swap with Washington as part of broader negotiations.

Iran holds the United States responsible for the detainment of several Iranians, some of whom could be exchanged for Levinson. As the United States and Iran continue negotiations toward a conclusive deal on Iran's nuclear program, both sides will bring tangential issues such as this to the table, attempting to exact as many concessions from the oth…