International cooperation

  • Egypt: The Gaullist option (update)

    On Sunday, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was sworn in as Egypt’s president. On 3 July 2013, Sissi, then the commander of the Egyptian army, ousted President Mohammed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s experience with former generals as heads of state is not reassuring. Sissi’s predecessors — Gamal Abdel Nasser (1956-70), Anwar Sadat (1970-81), and Hosni Mubarak (1981-2011) – did little to modernize Egypt and make it economically self-sufficient and politically stable. In 1958, when General Charles de Gaulle was called back to lead France, he conditioned his return on deep structural reforms, reforms which replaced the inherently ungovernable Fourth Republic with the stable and effective Fifth Republic. The United States should encourage President Sisi to consider de Gaulle’s example and use his authority and broad powers in ways that Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak did not – to modernize Egypt and put it on a path leading to economic prosperity, political stability, and social cohesion.

  • With massive presence of foreign fighters, Syrian conflict resembles 1980s Afghanistan war

    A new report by the Soufan Groupestimates that in just three years, 12,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Syria to support various rebel groups fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. U.S. and Israeli intelligence previously estimated that there were 7,000 foreign fighters in Syria at the start of 2014. Security experts are comparing the situation to the influx of foreign fighters into 1980s Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, which saw 10,000 foreign fighters battle the Soviets in the decade-long conflict that spawned al-Qaeda.

  • Canada donates Biosafety Level 3 modular laboratory to Caribbean health authorities

    The Biological Security program of Canada’s Global Partnership Program(GPP) has officially transferred a new biological containment laboratory to the Caribbean Public Health Agency(CARPHA). The Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) modular laboratory facility, a first in the Caribbean and located in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, improves diagnostic capabilities for human and veterinary pathogens with high epidemic potential.

  • Court dismisses case against U.S. charities supporting West Bank settlers

    U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman has ruled that plaintiffs describing themselves as residents of “Occupied Palestine” cannot proceed with claims that five U.S.-based organizations have funded attacks against Palestinians. The thirteen men and women — two Americans, ten Palestinians, and one Greek — argued that a portion of the territory where they reside is “within the internationally recognized borders of the future Palestinian state.”Furman deemed the allegation “entirely conclusory.”

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  • U.S. officials say Israel softening position on nuclear deal with Iran

    Israel’s official position on any agreement reached between the world powers and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program is “zero, zero, zero,” that is, Israel insists that the agreement should clearly stipulate that Iran should have no centrifuges to enrich uranium, no centrifuge production capability, and no heavy-water reactor and the means to extract weapon-grade plutonium from it. American officials say, however, that informally there has been a softening of Israel’s position, and that it now appears clear that Israel no longer regards the zero- zero, zero option as realistic and achievable.

  • Access of Russian surveillance craft to U.S. airspace questioned

    Under the Treaty on Open Skies (OS), signed in 1992 and ratified in 2002, thirty-four nations allow the protected passage over their territory of surveillance aircraft from other OS signatory member states, aircraft featuring advanced sensory equipment that allow for the monitoring of arms controls compliance and troop movements. With rising U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine, and with information emerging about a new Russian surveillance aircraft model equipped with the most advanced surveillance capabilities, U.S. government officials and lawmakers question whether OS-related Russian surveillance flights over the United States should continue.

  • Al Qaeda's chief bomb maker killed in U.S.-backed attack in Yemen

    Ibrahim al-Asiri, 32, al-Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker, is said to have been killed in a U.S.-supported, 2-day attack on al-Qaeda operation base in south Yemen on Sunday and Monday. The attack on the base included ground attacks by Yemeni special forces ferried to the theater in Russian-made helicopters piloted by U.S. Special Forces pilots, and drone strikes. Yemeni special forces, using intelligence provided by the United States, set up an ambush for al-Asiri and opened fire on a 4x4 vehicle believed to be carrying him. Samples were taken from the body believed to be that of al-Asiri, and DNA tests are now being conducted.

  • Nuclear cooperation with non-NPT member states debated

    The United States, Britain, and the Czech Republic have all backed a Dutch paper tied to the meeting last week of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which urges closer ties with nuclear-capable countries outside of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), including Israel, Pakistan, and India. Opponents of the Dutch proposal say it would legitimize the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while supporters say the proposal merely recognizes reality.

  • European, American jihadists training in Syria are the next major threat to the West

    Islamic militants who travel back and forth between their home countries and Syria may be the next major threat to the West. Some al-Qaeda leaders have been leaving their posts in Pakistan and Afghanistan to go to Syria, with plans to help train the next generation of jihadis. During the 1990s, al-Qaeda used unstable regions in Afghanistan as a training ground for Islamist militants. Getting into Afghanistan was difficult, however, while gaining entry into Syria and then joining a rebel camp is easy due to Syria’s porous borders with Turkey and Lebanon and the decentralized nature of Syrian opposition groups.

  • New consortium dedicated to developing nuclear arms control verification technologies

    A consortium of thirteen universities and eight national laboratories, led by the University of Michigan and including the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a partner, has been awarded a $25 million grant by the NNSA. The consortium is dedicated to the research and development (R&D) of nuclear arms control verification technologies, including nuclear safeguards effectiveness.

  • Hundreds of Britons are terror-training in Syria, making attack on U.K. “inevitable”

    Thousands of foreign fighters, including hundreds of Britons, are now in Syria, fighting with rebel forces against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Security experts say that the danger faced by Britain and other countries from jihadist fighters returning from Syria is “unprecedented,” and that a terror attack on British soil by one or more British Muslims returning from Syria is “inevitable.” “All the reports I have seen suggest that it is becoming increasingly acute,” said Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counterterrorism coordinator. “National budgets devoted to counter-terrorism are declining across the EU. Yet the threat that we face is becoming more diverse, more diffuse, and more unpredictable.”

  • Anti-immigrants backlash in Europe intensifies

    Anti-immigration groups and parties are enjoying a surge in many European countries, including Britain, France, and Austria, as many European economies face high unemployment and declining wages. The open-border policies of the European Union (EU), which allow citizens of EU member states to work and receive social welfare anywhere within the EU, have led many citizens to call for immigration limits and quotas.

  • France's new approach to preventing French Muslims from going to fight in Syria

    French authorities reported in January 2014 that roughly 700 French residents had traveled to Syria to join in the fight against Syrian forces. The travel of French pro-jihadists to Syria exceeds the number of Europeans who left to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. France will soon adopt preventative measures, currently practiced in Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands, to stop minority youths from pursuing jihad in Syria. The new approach will encourage local law enforcement, schools, and community leaders to help identify at-risk youths before radicalization begins and advances, then introduce the youths to local prevention centers.

  • House mulls Syria-related sanctions on Iran

    U.S. House legislators are considering new terrorism-related sanctions on Iran, targeting the country’s support for Hezbollah, after ceding to the Obama administration’s request to back off on sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program. The House Foreign Affairs Committee hopes the move will reflect their independence from the White House and also bring more focus to the Syrian crisis.Lawmakers say the bill would reflect the most effective ways to disrupt Iran’s financial support of Hezbollah.

  • Post-Qaddafi Libya needs more international support: study

    The international community’s limited approach to postwar Libya has left the nation struggling and on the brink of civil war, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation. Libya’s most serious problem since 2011 has been a lack of security, which has undermined efforts to build functioning political and administrative institutions, further constricted an already minimal international footprint, and facilitated the expansion of criminal and jihadist groups. The lack of security stems primarily from the failure of the effort to disarm and demobilize rebel militias after the war.