The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Tuesday, June 16:
1“If heavy US military equipment, including tanks, artillery batteries and other equipment really does turn up in countries in eastern Europe and the Baltics, that will be the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and Nato since the Cold War, Russia will have no option but to build up its forces and resources on the Western strategic front” Russian defence ministry official General Yuri Yakubov said. Russia’s response could include delivering missiles to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania. It would also look to increase troop numbers in Belarus. Our hands are completely free to organise retaliatory steps to strengthen our Western frontiers,” Yakubov said.
2What is Iran’s game plan in Iraq? ”In Iraq today, there are reminders everywhere of how Iran’s influence has grown since Tehran moved in to join the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS).The seizure of Iraq’s second city, Mosul, by IS fighters one year ago was as much of a shock to Iran’s Shia leaders as it was to many Iraqis. The prospect that a friendly neighbour and ally, ruled by fellow Shia politicians, could be replaced by an extremist Sunni regime prompted Tehran into swift action. For Iran, Iraq was also home to Shia Islam’s holiest shrines and a land bridge to another key Arab ally, Syria” writes Kasra Naji for the BBC.
3The Islamic Republic of Iran is hosting a two-day conference titled Applied Conference on Trade with Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. By holding the conference, Iran tries to find ways to boost and streamline trade with the guest countries. The conference is attended by consultants to the minister of industry, mining and trade, related director generals from the Foreign Ministry, high-ranking officials from the Trade Development Organization, heads of the attending countries’ joint chambers of commerce with Iran, trade consultants, ambassadors, and tradesmen.
4All efforts for sustainable development and a stable future must involve a deep respect for human rights and the strengthening of rule of law, United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon affirmed today as he concluded his five-day tour of Central Asia with a visit to Turkmenistan. Speaking to a gathering of local officials and students at the University for Humanities and Development in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat earlier this morning, the Secretary- Generalapplauded Turkmenistan’s encouraging steps towards a climate- friendly future amid the approval of a National Climate Change Strategy and the Government’s declared intention to soon approve an action plan for moving toward a green economy. In a region marred by climate, water and other environmental issues, Mr. Ban said he welcomed Turkmenistan’s efforts to work with its neighbours in order to find lasting and peaceful solutions to two of the world’s most exacting problems: climate change and the growing need for sustainable development.
5“Arabs, Iran and Turkey need today more than ever a “comprehensive regional summit” that should last for weeks. Its goal is to recover the regional stance to co-exist and promote peace between countries and peoples, for fear of being dragged into the path of a fearsome war. This war trail is ready and sliding in it is easy and seductive, but no one knows its results. If we use the Iran-Iraq War as a scale, it will probably not be an exaggeration to say that the damned regional war that we are about to engage in may go on for a century” writes Dr Khaled Hroub for the Peninsula.
6A Kazakh delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister and Expo 2017 Commissioner Rapil Zhoshybayev visited Madrid on Monday to promote the first edition of the fair to be held in a Eurasian Union country. The commissioner began the day with a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo at Santa Cruz Palace. While at the Economy Ministry, the Kazakh delegation briefed Spanish business leaders about the economic opportunities the fair will offer. The exhibition will be built on 174 hectares (430 acres), with the spherically shaped Kazakhstan pavilion located in the center. Kazakhstan, a country rich in traditional energy sources, has dedicated its Expo 2017 pavilion to renewable energy.“We will show the world our country’s wealth and customs,” the Expo commissioner said. Kazakh authorities expect about 100 countries – including Spain – and 14 international bodies to take part in the fair.
7Trade between Russian and gas-rich Azerbaijan is expected to continue along an upward trajectory, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. Putin met during the weekend in Baku, with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev to discuss economic opportunities in the Caspian region. The Azeri president said trade relations between both sides remained strong, even as global economic growth struggles to emerge from recession. “I would like to note that despite the economic turbulence, trade between our countries has been growing,” Putin added. “Last year it went up by about 12 percent, I believe, while in the first quarter of this year [it went up] by almost 6 percent.”
8Russia’s United Aircraft wants a new wide-body aircraft it is developing with a Chinese company to be flying by 2025, as part of an ambitious project to take on Western plane makers Airbus and Boeing. Commercial Aircraft Corp of China and United Aircraft , both state-controlled firms, have been considering the joint development of a wide-body jet for a year, in what could set off old Cold War rivalries. United Aircraft Corporation’s new boss Yury Slyusar, who took the reins in January, said the Russian and Chinese governments would be in a position to decide on whether to proceed with the project after it is presented in September. The joint project could give both China and Russia a chance to compete in the wide-body segment which currently operates as an often state- subsidized duopoly under Europe’s Airbus and US rival Boeing.
9“During a visit by Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh to Azrbaijan (in 2014), Zanganeh and Azerbaijani Minister of Industry and Energy Natig Aliyev talked over a plan to have Azerbaijani tradesmen export goods to Turkmenistan while Iran would fund projects in Azerbaijan, out of debts Iran owes Turkmenistan, said Mohammad Taghi Amanpour, Consultant & Special Representative to The Iranian Minister of Petroleum for Exporting Goods & Technical and Engineering Services. This would come with the condition that the Azerbaijani tradesmen would export Iranian goods to Azerbaijan or any other country.“We can take on any project in Azerbaijan out of the money Turkmenistan demands from us. Then, Azerbaijan has oil and other goods which it can give to Turkmenistan. This is I think a very good opportunity which I recommend Azerbaijani tradesmen and producers use to the full. Iran wants its bilateral trade and cooperation with Turkmenistan to turn into tri or multi-lateral relations. The reason for that is that there is a special vibe to Turkmenistan. There are trade companies with long records and familiarity doing business in Turkmenistan,” Amanpour stated.
10Russia’s economy has stumbled on the back of dual strains from sanctions imposed in response to the crises in Ukraine and the low price of crude oil. For natural gas, British energy company BP said in an annual review that Russian production declined 4.3 percent from last year which, in terms of volume, was among the largest drops in the world. Gazprom Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev said last week the European economy will be about 1.7 trillion cubic feet short of what it needs to keep the economy moving by 2025. He added that Russian gas sent through Ukraine will stop moving to European markets after 2019. Russian meets about a quarter of Europe’s natural gas needs, though most of that runs that the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine. BP said pipeline shipments declined 6.2 percent globally for the largest decline on record, with Russian deliveries down 11.8 percent.
War games will take place off Durban between South Africa, China and Russia
South Africa’s government has finally shown its colours by inviting Russia and China for war games next month, London’s ‘Daily Mail’ writes with indignation and indignation.
SA President Cyril Ramaphosa has ditched his supposed ‘neutrality’ to the war by hosting the naval drills off the country’s east coast near Durban and Richards Bay from February 17 to 27. The move is the strongest indication yet of the strengthening relationship between South Africa, and the anti-West authoritarian regimes of China and Russia.
The drills will take place around the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and bring more focus on the refusal of South Africa – a leading voice on its continent – to side with the West and condemn Russia’s actions. The South African government said last year it had adopted a neutral stance over Ukraine and called for dialogue and diplomacy.
But the upcoming naval drills have led the country’s main opposition party to accuse the government of effectively siding with Russia.
But the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), which incorporates all of its armed forces, said next month’s naval exercise would ‘strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China’. The aim of the drills was ‘sharing operational skills and knowledge’, the SANDF said.
The three countries also conducted a similar naval exercise in 2019 in Cape Town, while Russia and China held joint naval drills in the East China Sea last month.
The United States and European Union had hoped South Africa would support the international condemnation of Russia and act as a leader for other nations in Africa. But, South Africa appealed to be one of several African countries to ‘abstain’ in a United Nations vote last year condemning Russia’s special military operation.
South Africa and Russia share a long history, after the Soviet Union gave support to the ANC in its fight to bring down apartheid, the regime of repression against the country’s black majority, writes London newspaper. (And we should remember, how the British destroyed the Boers’ Transvaal and the Orange Republic of the at the beginning of the 20th century, and planted the apartheid regime here).
Apartheid ended in 1994 when the ANC won the first democratic elections in South Africa and Nelson Mandela became president.
South Africa is also a member of BRICS, a bloc of emerging economies, alongside Brazil, Russia, India and China.
South Africa’s obligations with respect to sanctions relate only to those that are specifically adopted by the United Nations. Currently, there are no UN-imposed sanctions on the particular individual, they say in Pretoria.
Will South Korea build nuclear weapons?
Washington’s attempt to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are at a dead end. The nation is a nuclear state. Its arsenal is growing in both size and sophistication. Although Pyongyang will never be capable of staging a preemptive strike against the United States, it soon may be able to retaliate against Washington for defending South Korea, writes “Foreign Policy”.
The shifting balance has sparked a serious debate within the United States and South Korea over nuclear policy. The first question is whether it makes sense to pursue denuclearization — the famed CVID (complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement) — when the North already has the bomb. Although official Washington policy resolutely refuses to acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear state, reality may eventually force a policy retreat.
Even more significant, the South’s establishment wants to get its hands on, or at least close to, American nuclear weapons. Or, suggested South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Seoul might develop its own. He suggested in a press conference last week that South Korea might develop its own nuclear weapon.
There has been a rolling debate in South Korea for about a year on its potential nuclearization. But that has been mostly limited to extra-governmental voices in think-tanks and academia. So it is genuinely surprising that this has already reached the presidential office.
Indeed, it speaks to just how threatening North Korea’s nuclear weapons are perceived in South Korea – and how unhelpful China has been in restraining Pyongyang – that no less than its president is now discussing this.
The South Korean fear is similar: in a spiraling crisis with North Korea, would its nuclear ICBMs compel the US to ‘slow-roll’ assistance for fear of crossing some retaliation threshold with North Korea? The answer is almost certainly ‘yes’, the author of the military portal ‘19fortyfive.com’ is convinced.
It is inconceivable now, in a nuclearized environment, that the US alliance commitment to South Korea is as automatic as it was in a conventional environment. Any US president will flinch at a course of action which might realistically incur a nuclear strike on US cities.
This new reality, since North Korea’s successful 2017 ICBM test, is only just sinking in. For a few years, it looked like former US President Donald Trump and former South President Moon Jae In might strike a deal with North Korea. That was always pretty far-fetched, but once it definitely fell apart by 2020, a South Korean nuclear debate was likely inevitable.
The debate on nuclearization in South Korea itself is culminating. South Korea public opinion is supportive. Nongovernmental opinion is tilting toward it. The country’s main conservative party has said South Korea should withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty if North Korea tests another, seventh, nuclear weapon. And now the South Korean president has broached the issue too.
The big hurdle then is the Americans. The US is South Korea’s only treaty ally and its core foreign relationship. Without American defense guarantees, South Korea’s defense spending would double or triple. So South Korean governments have traditionally given American preferences wide berth.
And indeed, the American response was to play down Yoon’s comments.
In fact, the North Korean nuclear and missile threat will only worsen as the regime tests more and more, and they certainly are not going to stop. The more North Korea can threaten US cities with massive destruction, the less credible US alliance guarantees will be.
Luckily, this problem is not new. America’s European allies faced it during the Cold War because the USSR could strike the US homeland, and a variety of responses, including nuclear sharing and indigenous nuclearization, were tried with reasonable success. The US has also adapted to Israeli, Indian, and Pakistani nuclearization without a massive crisis.
So South Korean nuclearization need not lead to an alliance rupture unless the US insists on it.
Jacinda Ardern resigned as New Zealand’s PM or was forcibly ousted from power?
Jacinda Ardern (photo) has insisted her decision to resign as New Zealand’s Prime Minister is because she ‘doesn’t have enough in the tank’ – but there is speculation as to whether she is actually running scared of an election mauling following a public outcry over her draconian Covid lockdowns.
Ms Ardern, 42, choked back tears as she announced she will step down after just over five years in power. She insisted her decision to step down had nothing to do with the fact her Labour Party is trailing in the polls behind its conservative rivals from the National Party ahead of the upcoming election in October.
Her policies sparked nationwide protests – one protest against vaccine mandates that began on Parliament’s grounds last year lasted for more than three weeks and ended with protesters hurling rocks at police and setting fires to tents and mattresses as they were forced to leave.
As a result of the public anger over Ms Ardern’s response to Covid – which included a border closure that lasted more than two years – and her domestic policies, she was facing tough reelection prospects. This has prompted speculation that the real reason she decided to quit was because she didn’t want to face a humiliating defeat in the elections.
Ms Ardern continued: ‘I am not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election but because I believe we can and will. But we need a fresh set of shoulders for the challenges of both this year and the next three.’
Ms Ardern’s ratings have also dropped in recent months due to a worsening housing crisis, rising living costs and mortgage rates, and growing concerns about crime.
This has meant that the Labour Party, which has been in power since 2017, lost its consistent lead in the polls early last year.
Ms Ardern was elected just over five years ago on October 26, 2017, and at 37, was New Zealand’s youngest ever PM. Before that, she was the youngest sitting MP in 2008, elected aged 28.
During her resignation speech, Ms Ardern announced the next New Zealand general election will be held on October 14, 2023.
Serbia must reject the ultimatum regarding Kosovo
The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic on January 20th had a meeting with the Western negotiating team about the solution...
A turning moment in Ukraine Crisis
Germany’s decision to send tanks to Ukraine is a major moment in the Ukraine Crisis. It will have a far-reaching...
Free-Market Capitalism and Climate Crisis
Free market capitalism is an economic system that has brought about tremendous economic growth and prosperity in many countries around...
The Dilemma of Science Diplomacy: Between Advancement of Humanity and The Source of Rivalry
In the past decades, science and technology have gained more ground in foreign affairs decision making processes. The emergence of...
Context and Practice of International Politics: Experience in 2022 and Expectations from 2023
The dramatic events of 2022, centred on the military-political conflict between Russia and the West over the Ukrainian issue, are...
Blue Economy Offers Opportunities for Sustainable Growth in Tunisia
With support from the World Bank, in June 2022, Tunisia launched its first report on the status of the blue...
Global growth forecast to slow to 1.9% in 2023
Senior UN economists warned on Wednesday that intersecting crises are likely to add further damage to the global economy, with...
International Law4 days ago
Undemocratic United Nations and Global Peace
East Asia4 days ago
Nepal-China Relations and Belt and Road Initiative
Eastern Europe3 days ago
Why there is New Escalation in Ukraine War?
World News4 days ago
High-level CIA visit to Kyiv comes at critical juncture in war
Finance4 days ago
Everything you Need to Know about Military Strength and Conditioning Specialist Jobs
Africa3 days ago
Sergey Lavrov Embarks on Geopolitical Lecturing Tour to Africa
World News4 days ago
Washington draws Israel and South Korea into Ukraine conflict
Finance4 days ago
Potanin: Russia should not respond to sanctions by confiscating Western assets