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Showing posts from October 8, 2014

Talks stall, fighting resumes in Myanmar

By Larry Jagan

YANGON - Peace talks between the Myanmar government and leaders of an array of ethnic rebel groups have stalled after a period of progress, raising doubts that President Thein Sein will be able to achieve the national ceasefire his quasi-civilian government has prioritized as part of an internationally lauded democratic reform program.

After a protracted week of talks ended on September 26, negotiations are now at an impasse, according to sources familiar with the situation. As new fighting erupts in many ethnic areas, including deadly battles in Kachin, Karen, and Shan States, the risk is rising that the foreign-backed peace process could unravel altogether as the rainy season yields to the cool season when military offensives are traditionally launched.

During a national address on October 1, Thein Sein said the conclusion of a national ceasefire was necessary for holding "successful" elections in 2015. It represented the first time Thein Sein had linked the…

In Iran Nuclear Talks, 'No Deal' Is Worse Than Status Quo

If reaching a permanent agreement by next month’s deadline proves impossible, the West must lock in the status-quo.

By Jofi Joseph

Negotiations last month in New York between the P5+1 and Iran on a permanent agreement to limit Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief did not appear to achieve much progress, despite the presence of foreign ministers and heads of states attending the United Nations General Assembly proceedings. Instead, both sides appeared more focused on assigning blame to each other. For that reason, it is not too early to begin thinking through what happens if talks fail to produce a final agreement by the November 24 deadline. Another extension of the interim agreement negotiated almost a year ago should be at the top of the agenda for all involved, given the clear benefits already delivered and the strategic vacuum that would result if it withers away.

In announcing this past July the temporary extension of the interim agreement, both sides were emph…

The Panic Over Traveling Terrorists Could Ruin Your Vacation

In a new Islamic State video, a bearded fighter speaking fluent, British-accented English describes U.K. prime minister David Cameron as “despicable swine” and calls for terrorist attacks against the West. Calculated to inspire fear in Western audiences, messages like these seem to lend credence to weeks of grave warnings from U.S. government officials about the danger of jihadists traveling between their home countries and distant battlefields.

But the domestic security threat posed by so-called foreign fighters is overblown — while the danger of a panicked overreaction, to Western morale and civil liberties, seems greatly underappreciated, except perhaps by the Islamic State itself. The extremist group’s strategy of getting Western countries to undermine themselves is paying dividends.

Late last month, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution aimed at proscribing the ability of foreign fighters to travel and mobilize. The resolution won approval amid condemnation of the…

Kiev continues to violate international humanitarian law - UN report

A firefighter after extinguishing a fire in a residential building caused by a projectile hit during an artillery shelling by the Ukrainian military in Donetsk.(RIA Novosti / Igor Maslov)

The UN in its report urges the Ukrainian authorities to exercise greater control over their own army and groups of armed volunteers, as since the beginning of the so-called “anti-terrorist” operation on August 25 according to the Ukrainian Security Service, over 1,000 people have been detained on suspicion of being “militants and subversives.”

The report also highlights that the civilian population is suffering, in particular, because of the bombing of densely populated neighborhoods with heavy artillery. “Some of the reported cases of disproportionate use of fire in residential areas are committed by Ukrainian armed forces,” stated the document.

“After the announcement of the ceasefire on September 5, the scope and intensity of military operations decreased sharply, but not completely,” the document s…