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Showing posts from May 5, 2014

An Attack in Urumqi Shows the Growing Security Challenge in Xinjiang

Chinese paramilitary officers in front of the Urumqi train station May 1.(Reuters) Summary At 7 p.m. on the evening of April 30, a bomb detonated in the midst of a crowd leaving the south train station in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Information on the incident is limited, but initial reports suggest three people were killed and some 79 were injured in the attack.
The attack was simple and conducted against a soft target. A number of actors could be responsible, from organized groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement to a lone wolf. Attacks such as this are nearly impossible to prevent if Uighur militants have the manpower and will to carry them out. Analysis While official reports have been scarce, photos from the scene published on various Internet sites allow us to draw some analytical conclusions. First, the photographs make it clear that the device was small and likely simple in construction. It looks like it may have…

Gulf States Consider Starting an 'Arab NATO'

Tanks participate in a joint Gulf Cooperation Council military exercise north of Kuwait City.(YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


In recent months, reports have circulated suggesting that the Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Saudi Arabia, wants to form an "Arab NATO" of sorts by establishing an expanded military alliance, principally between itself and the Arab kingdoms of Morocco and Jordan. With Iran and its allies ascendant and the United States pulling back its involvement in the region, there is no shortage of reasons for the Arab states to want to build out their military capabilities through an alliance. However, the widely varying interests of the individual states will make it difficult if not impossible for any potential defensive bloc to take collective action even if it is eventually formed.

Analysis


The Gulf monarchies have good cause to seek the added security of a defensive alliance. Since the Arab Spring began in 2011, the Arab world has become increasingl…

Ukraine Resumes Operations Against Separatists

Ukrainian separatists block the road between Kramatorsk and Slovyansk to prevent the Ukrainian National Guard from advancing May 2. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Military and diplomatic factors have created significant obstacles for Kiev in its attempts to regain control of eastern Ukraine, but domestic politics have pressured the government to restart operations and reject Russia's demands. Circumstances dictate that Ukrainian forces attempt to systematically clear occupied buildings in eastern cities, a proposition both difficult and costly in terms of time and human life. Meanwhile, the Russian government is warning that a political solution will no longer be possible if Kiev continues to press a military solution.

With presidential elections scheduled for May 25, the interim government -- dominated by the Fatherland party -- is under growing pressure to show that it can defend Ukraine's territorial integrity. Fatherland's presidential candidate, Yulia Timoshenk…

Assessing the Security of Brazil's World Cup 2014

Summary


Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup from June 12 to July 13 in a dozen of its cities, including Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Brazil hosted the World Cup in 1950 without any major incident, but since then the country has transformed in many ways, including becoming one of the world's largest economies. It still struggles with corruption, rampant crime and occasional bouts of social unrest, however, and criminal and subversive elements will no doubt exploit the opportunities created by the approaching World Cup. This global event will face the threats of crime against spectators, online attacks, transportation disruptions and civil unrest in the form of protests.

Analysis
Brazil's major security concerns are murder, drug trafficking, prostitution, protests and petty crime. Much of this occurs in its dangerous slums, known as favelas, but it can also affect foreigners visiting the country. With the influx of World Cup tourists and matches spread across 12 cities, …

Portugal's Economic Problems Will Linger as Bailout Ends

Demonstrators take part in the May Day rally in Lisbon on May 1.PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images

Summary


Portugal will make a clean exit from its bailout program, showing slightly improved macroeconomic indicators and benefitting from the calm in the financial markets. However, life will remain difficult for many Portuguese, as spending cuts and tax hikes will remain in place. In the short run, the main political and economic debate will revolve around wages in the country, including demands by unions for an increase in the national minimum wage. In the long run, Portugal will have to deal with the consequences of demographic change and high emigration.

Analysis


May 1 was a day marked by contradictions in Portugal. During a speech in Lisbon, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said that his country would not request additional assistance once its bailout program finishes in in two weeks. But Labor Day also saw protests in Portugal's main cities as unions criticized the austeri…