International cooperation

  • Israeli legal expert urges development of ethics code for cyberwarfare

    Col. Sharon Afek, former deputy military advocate general, says that countries would benefit from developing an ethics code to govern cyber warfare operations. He notes that existing law already prohibits cyber operations which would directly lead to loss of life, injury, or property damage, such as causing a train to derail or undermining a dam. “Israel faces a complex and challenging period in which we can expect both a cyber arms race with the participation of state and non-state entities, and a massive battle between East and West over the character of the future legal regime,” he writes. He acknowledges, though, that only a catastrophic event like “Pearl Harbor or Twin Towers attack in cyberspace” would accelerate developments in this area.

  • Most of Libya’s chemical weapons destroyed

    When Libya joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in December 2003, it reported to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that it was operating three chemical-weapons production facilities, and that it had produced a total of twenty-five tons of sulfur mustard gas, 3,563 bombs with warfare agents, and 1,390 tons of precursor materials. Over the next eight years, these chemical weapons stock were systematically destroyed under international supervision. The work was halted between February and November 2011 – the beginning of the rebellion against Qaddafi and his departure from power – and resumed in early 2012. OPCW announced than on 26 January 2014, work on destroying Libya’s mustard gas has been completed. The question is whether the Qaddafi regime was truthful in its 2003 declaration – or whether there are still stocks of chemical agents stashed somewhere in desert caches.

  • "Envy-free” algorithm may help in settling disputes

    Whether it is season tickets to Green Bay Packers’ games or silver place settings, divorce and inheritance have bred protracted disputes over the assignment of belongings. Now, a trio of researchers has found a method for resolving such conflicts in an envy-free way. The envy-free algorithm may be used by negotiators in intractable political or territorial disputes. “The problem of fairly dividing a divisible good, such as cake or land, between two people probably goes back to the dawn of civilization,” write the authors.

  • Report: 60 percent increase in terrorism in “arc of instability” across North Africa, Sahel

    North Africa and the Sahel region have witnessed an alarming increase in terrorist activities – a 60 percent increase in 2013 over the previous year. Extremist formations and their associates, such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, Ansaru, Ansar Dine, Ansar Al-Sharia, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), al-Mourabitoun, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MLNA), Al-Shabaab, and militant recruits from the Polisario-run refugee camps and other displaced persons have been active in Libya, Algeria, Mali, and Tunisia, but also in countries neighboring on the region, from Kenya and Somalia in the east, through Chad and the Central African Republic, to Niger, Nigeria, and Mauritania in the west.

  • U.S. weapons shipped to moderate Syrian rebels after secret congressional approval

    U.S. and European sources have confirmed that U.S.-manufactured light arm have been flowing to moderate Syrian rebels in the south of Syria, and that Congress has approved funding to continue the shipments for the next few months. The weapons, which are being delivered to the rebels through Jordan, include both light arms and heavier weapons such as anti-tank rockets. The shipments, however, do not include shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

  • Value of list of state sponsors of terrorism questioned

    The U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, created in 1979, originally included Libya, Iraq, South Yemen, and Syria. Cuba was added in 1982, Iran in 1984, North Korea in 1988, and Sudan in 1993. The list currently contains four countries — Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Experts question the value of the list, since the four countries listed are not the only countries that currently support, engage in, or ignore acts of terrorism, according to news reports from the State Department, and the inclusion of Cuba has more to do with U.S. domestic politics than Cuba’s current policies, as the State Department’s 2012 Country Report on Terrorismconcluded that “There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.”

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  • U.S. refuses a bilateral no-spy agreement with Germany

    The United States has refused to enter into a bilateral no-spy agreement with Germany, and has refused to rule out eavesdropping on calls of German political leaders in the immediate future, according to reports in the German press. It now appears that hopes in Germany that the United States would agree to a bilateral non-spying pact — similar to agreements between the United States and Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — have been dashed.

  • Scotland would face terrorist threats even after independence: U.K. cabinet minister

    One of the arguments the Scottish National Party (SNP) makes for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom is that the risk of al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism against Scotland would diminish if Scotland were no longer associated with U.K. foreign policy. A senior cabinet member dismissed these assertions, pointing out that Islamic extremists have attacked smaller states in Europe, including Nordic countries like Sweden and Denmark, which the SNP regularly suggest as a model for an independent Scotland. James Brokenshire, the U.K. security minister, said that while the risk of terrorism against Scotland would not diminish, Scottish independence would make it harder for Police Scotland to fight serious organized crime.

  • Russia’s most wanted terrorist eyes Olympic Games as target

    The Russian authorities are on high alert following the recent attacks in Volgograd. With the Winter Olympics in Sochi opening on 7 February, there are serious concerns that spectators and athletes will be targets of future attacks. Russia’s most wanted terrorist, Doku Umarov, recently declared that he is prepared to use “maximum force” to prevent the Olympics from occurring.

  • Volgograd attacks probes by terrorists in advance of larger Sochi attacks: Experts

    Counter-terrorism experts say that the two terror attacks in Volgograd, Russia on Sunday, 28 December and Monday, 29 December, are probes by terrorists in advance of larger attacks against the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Especially worrisome to Russian security services is the growing reliance by terrorist organizations on Russian Muslims, or Slavs who converted to Islam, to carry out suicide attacks, as they can move about in many parts of Russia without drawing attention.

  • Al-Qaeda-affiliated West African terrorist group threatens France over Mali intervention

    A terror group active in West Africa has threatened it would target the interests of “France and her allies” in retaliation for France’s military intervention in Mali last year. In November, the United States added the group — Groupe des Mourabitounes de l’Azawad (GMA) – to the list of foreign terrorist organizations. The Mourabitounes group was formed in August, when veteran terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar officially joined forces with the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest [MUJAO]), a radical al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group that once controlled part of northern Mali and has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in the Gao region since France intervened in Mali in early 2013.

  • Scottish terrorist appealing against extradition to Scotland

    A judge in Dublin has ordered Adam Busby, founder of the of the Scottish National Liberation Army (SNLA) – members of the SNLA are also known as the “Tartan terrorists” – extradited to Scotland for threatening to poison former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, himself a Scot, and contaminate the water supplies of English cities. Busby, who has been living in Ireland since 1980, argues that forcing him to stand trial in Scotland would constitute “abuse” because he would likely face a much higher penalty if tried in a U.K. court than if he were prosecuted in Ireland. He has now appealed to Ireland’s Supreme Court against the extradition.

  • U.S. concerned about Karzai’s plan to release dozens of militants

    Just a few months after American officials transferred control of all detention operations in Afghanistan to Afghan forces, President Hamid Karzai’s administration has decided to release dozens of prisoners, despite objection from American and Afghan officials.

  • Central African Republic, already mired in ethnic violence, faces another threat: famine

    Since last year, when they had to flee the intensifying violence across the Central African Republic, farming communities had to abandon their fields along the main roads to replant deep in the bush. This disruption led them to produce much less than in previous years, with a major impact on their food reserves, which will last till February instead of July. The success of the next planting season crucially hinges on the return of farming families to the fields. Families who are unable to plant in March will have to wait one whole year before they can hope to harvest again. Failure to plant in March will have dire consequences for the food security of the Central African Republic’s population.

  • Volgograd under lockdown as Winter Games security worries grow

    Volgograd has been placed under tight security after a Monday suicide bombing on trolleybus killed sixteen, one day after seventeen people were killed at a train station. For the Russian government, the attacks represent the worst possible scenario: an orchestrated bombing campaign during the run-up to the Winter Olympics – and during the games themselves — in a region too big, and with too many soft targets, to be secured effectively. Such a broad and well-coordinated terror campaign will overshadow – and might even seriously disrupt — the biggest international event on Russian soil since the 1980 Moscow Olympics.