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Showing posts from February 17, 2014

'Unprecedented Increase In Opium Production'

Yuri Fedotov, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, tells DW that Afghanistan is now producing record amounts of opium poppy which is destined to become heroin in "new markets."

By Deutsche Welle

 - "Deutsche Welle" - - -- - DW: There is concern in the United States and Europe of a flood of heroin on to their markets - where is that heroin coming from?

Yuri Fedotov: There are different sources of heroin and basically if we take Europe it comes mostly from Afghanistan - which produces almost 80 percent of all opium and heroin in the world - and unfortunately the latest reports of the UNDCP show there is an unprecedented increase both in cultivation and production of opium - especially in cultivation. There is a record figure that has reached 200,000 hectares.

They never had such an area of opium poppy cultivation even in the peak of production in 2007 and 2008. So it means that producers and drug dealers, they are guided by the well-known principles…

Syria’s War Must End

By Stephen Hawking

 - "Washington Post" - The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the universe had existed forever. The reason humanity was not more developed, he believed, was that floods or other natural disasters repeatedly set civilization back to the beginning.

Today, humans are developing ever faster. Our knowledge is growing exponentially and with it, our technology. But humans still have the instincts, and in particular the aggressive impulses, that we had in caveman days. Aggression has had definite advantages for survival, but when modern technology meets ancient aggression the entire human race and much of the rest of life on Earth is at risk.

Today in Syria we see modern technology in the form of bombs, chemicals and other weapons being used to further so-called intelligent political ends.

But it does not feel intelligent to watch as more than 100,000 people are killed or while children are targeted. It feels downright stupid, and worse, to prevent humanitari…

Chinese Assistance for a Myanmar Insurgent Group

New information from Myanmar suggests increasing military ties between China and Myanmar's largest ethnic insurgency, the United Wa State Army. The Chinese government will provide "aviation training" for 30 UWSA militants in China, according to an Irrawaddy newspaper source. This follows an IHS Jane's report from April 2013 that said China sent Mil Mi-17 helicopters to the UWSA. If true, this could suggest a beefing up of UWSA military capabilities and a renewal of Beijing's push to establish an ethnic buffer against Myanmar. Naypyidaw is trying to control its numerous ethnic insurgencies and the UWSA wants to use Chinese support as leverage for continued concessions.

Based in Myanmar's northeastern Shan state, the ethnic Wa fighters who comprise the UWSA were the rank-and-file of the Chinese proxy insurgent group the Communist Party of Burma. Following that group's collapse in 1989, the Wa formed the UWSA and signed a cease-fire with Naypyidaw, giving the…

A Chronology of Russia's Relationship with Former Soviet States


Editor's Note: As global attention turns to Russia during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi -- with questions about security and culture at the fore -- Stratfor is publishing collections of analyses that illuminate the geopolitical context of the region. Part one looks at Russia's resurgence. Part two examines militancy in the Russian Caucasus. The following is the third installment of this series.

While the 1990s were a time of chaos and the turn of the 21st century was a time of rebuilding for Russia, by the mid-2000s political and security developments in the former Soviet space challenged Russia and led the Kremlin to take a more proactive role in the region. Though Russia has made much headway in expanding its influence and shaping political life in the former Soviet states over the past decade, it still faces many constraints such as potential NATO and EU expansion in its neighborhood.

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NATO expands into the former Soviet space

April 2, 2004: In the…

Egypt and Russia Strengthen Ties to Raise U.S. Concerns

Egyptian Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Feb. 13. MIKHAIL METZEL/AFP/Getty Images


Russia and Egypt are nearing a $3 billion arms purchase agreement that will be financed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Russian daily Vedomosti reported Feb. 14. While Egypt is not completely breaking with the United States, its move to enhance its ties with Moscow shows that Cairo feels it should no longer depend on Washington as its sole powerful ally. This shift in Egypt's strategic foreign policy stems from the internal disagreement in Washington on how to manage Cairo following the July 3, 2013, coup that has degraded the political and security situation in the world's largest Arab state. Egypt's efforts to enhance ties with Russia could enable the Kremlin to make minor gains in extending its geopolitical influence in the Middle East, but the region'…