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Showing posts from January 31, 2014

North Korea's 'peace offensive': How should South Korea respond?

For the second year in a row, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un made mention of improving inter-Korean relations in his New Year's Address. Pyongyang followed by proposing a three-pronged approach to easing tense inter-Korean relations.

The document released by the North's National Defence Commission (NDC) called for both Koreas to halt all mutual criticism and slander starting from the Lunar New Year on January 30. Additionally, the proposal called for halting all provocative military acts between the two sides and suggested that authorities in Seoul scrap the scheduled US-South Korea joint military exercises that take place annually between February and April. Contrary to past rhetoric, the NDC highlighted how the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is a common goal, and suggested that practical measures be taken to avert a nuclear military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

Seoul responded coldly to the proposal, prompting the NDC to publish an open letter to the pe…

Thai army deploys 10,000 troops ahead of vote

Thousands of army troops are being deployed in Bangkok ahead of Sunday's election which the opposition plans to disrupt.



The government has pressed ahead with the Feb. 2 election, which protesters say they'll disrupt [EPA]


Thailand's army says it will increase the number of troops in the capital on standby to 10,000 ahead of Sunday's election that anti-government protesters say they will disrupt as part of their campaign to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The government's decision to press ahead with the February 2 election has inflamed tensions in the capital, Bangkok, where the protesters have blockaded main intersections and forced many ministries to close their doors this month.

"In addition to the 5,000 soldiers we have already deployed in and around Bangkok to help monitor security, we will be increasing troops around protest sites as there are people trying to instigate violence," army spokesman Winthai Suvaree told Reuters news agency.

A…

Central Asia's Troubled Waters: Resource Allocation Stokes Tensions

An undated file photo shows abandoned ships sitting on the sand, where the Aral Sea retreated, near the Kazakh city of Aralsk. AFP/VICTOR VASENIN/Getty Images

Summary


The decline of the Aral Sea over the past 50 years is one of the most dramatic examples of the consequences of water mismanagement. Although the Aral Sea is not likely to be restored to its former state, Kazakhstan's efforts over the past decade have gradually restored a small portion of the lake. Individually, Central Asian countries could incrementally improve water management, but regional cooperation, which is necessary for significant restoration of the Aral Sea, is unlikely, given historical tensions in the region regarding water rights. Growing populations and increasing demand will continue to intensify pressure on the region's already stressed water resources, causing the antipathy between neighboring nations to rise further.

Analysis
The Aral Sea, once one of the four largest lakes in the world, is locat…

U.S. Naval Update Map: Jan. 30, 2014

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 Carl Vinson with CVW 17 embarked is underway in the Pacific Ocean for a Tailored Ship's …

Unusual Social Unrest in Cuba

Fruit and vegetable vendors at a market in Havana in August 2013. (ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Two unusual instances of protests by private vendors in Cuba are a security concern for the island's leaders. The demonstrations likely occurred because Cuba began enforcing recently approved laws to regulate the island's nascent small businesses. The government cannot suppress these protests as easily as those instigated by political groups because the protesters seemingly do not have an organizational structure that authorities can simply infiltrate.

For now, it is unclear whether established political dissidents will be able to co-opt growing economic frustration. However, as the government continues to manage a complex campaign to slowly incorporate private economic activity into the economic system, there will continue to be pressure on the relationship between private entrepreneurs and the government. This natural tension will create further opportunities for publi…