International cooperation

  • U.S., Japan reject China’s unilateral East China Sea claims

    The Chinese government this past weekend has declared the country’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), effective immediately. The zone covers an area in the East China Sea — two-thirds the size of the United Kingdom – which includes islands claimed by both China and Japan. China calls them the Diaoyou islands, while Japan calls them the Senkaku islands. The United States and Japan said they would not abide by China’s unilateral decision, and on Tuesday the United States sent two B-52s long-range bombers to conduct “routine training mission” through the airspace China declared as its own, and did so without following China’s instructions about how aircraft should conduct themselves in that space.

  • The interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran: the details

    The P5+1 countries (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European Union) have been engaged in negotiations with Iran in an effort to reach a verifiable diplomatic resolution which would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. On Sunday, the P5+1 and Iran reached a set of initial understandings which halts, at least temporarily, the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects. In return, for Iran’s concessions, and as part of this initial step, the P5+1 will provide what the agreement describes as “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible” relief to Iran.

  • Off-shore barges considered for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons

    After failing to find a country willing to allow its territory to be used for disposing of Syria’s chemical weapons, the United States is exploring other options. Two options being seriously considered involve the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons off shore, rather than on land. Both proposals call for removing the chemical weapons from Syria and placing them on a large barge at sea, where they would be dissolved or incinerated.

  • Sahel-Sahara countries to build joint security training center in Rabat

    At a meeting on common security challenges in north and west Africa, government officials from nineteen Sahel, Sahara, and Maghreb countries agreed to build a joint security training center in Rabat, Morocco, to increase the competency of the region’s security forces to deal with growing terrorist and jihadist threats. The nineteen countries will also increase information sharing and harmonize the legal means they use to fight security threats. The ministers said that one of the first steps toward improving security in west and north Africa would be to improve monitoring of border and increase border security.

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  • U.S. to intensify campaign against brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

    U.S. Special Forces continue to act on their commitment to capture Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA), a band of brutal rebels who have been kidnapping and killing villagers across central Africa for some years now. For the last two years, American military advisers have been assisting troops in four African nations — Uganda, South Sudan, Congo, and Central African Republic – in their war against the elusive LRA. Recently, the Pentagon has asked the White House for permission to expand the mission by using the Air Force’s CV-22 Osprey aircraft in Uganda, allowing troops to advance the assault on Kony.

  • France to offer counter-terrorism support to Libya

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has confirmed that France is considering providing Libya additional aid in counter-terrorism and police training. Since the NATO-supported revolt removed Muammar Gaddafi from office two years ago, Libya has not had an effective central government, and the country has turned into a battleground for rival militias and al Qaeda-linked militants.

  • U.S. designates Nigeria’s Boko Haram a foreign terrorist group

    The State Department on Wednesday designated the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization. The designation makes it possible for the United States to freeze the assets of the organization and its leaders and members, impose travel bans on members of the group, and prohibit Americans from offering material support to the organization. The department also designated Ansaru, a Boko Haram splinter faction, as a foreign terrorist organization. The United States says the designation would help the Nigerian government in fighting the growing threat of domestic Islamist terrorism.

  • Illegal population flows and African security

    FOI, the Swedish research institute, brought together scientists and experts from a number of countries to take part in a one-day conference at Medelhavsmuseet in Stockholm on illegal population flows and their consequences in Africa.

  • Kenya, Somalia to create joint anti-terrorism task force

    Al-Shabaab’s attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last month has prompted security officials in Kenya and Somalia to consider the creation of a joint task force which will share intelligence, monitor activity, and track finances relating to terrorist groups operating in East Africa. Also under discussion is the establishment of a joint East African paramilitary force with jurisdiction throughout the region.

  • The irreducible elements of a Freeze Plus interim agreement with Iran

    Iran and the P5+1 are set to resume talks on Iran’s nuclear program tomorrow, Thursday, 7 November in Geneva.The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) has developed a list of what it calls “irreducible elements” which a negotiated interim agreement should aim to achieve. These four elements are: Stopping the advance of Iran’s centrifuge and Arak reactor programs; extending breakout times; capping the Iranian centrifuge program and ensuring that it will not expand beyond this cap (in terms of enrichment output) during the next 5-15 years; and increasing the chance of finding a secret centrifuge or plutonium separation plant.

  • Nigeria, Israel cooperate in fighting terrorism

    Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan last week led a large Nigerian delegation to an official visit in Israel to discuss cooperation in fighting terrorism. “There is no doubt that Israel has had decades of experience in combating terrorism. Nigeria can benefit tremendously from your experience in this area,” Jonathan told President Shimon Peres. The two countries have also seen an expansion of trade relationship between them, with more the fifty Israeli companies operating in Nigeria.

  • Best way to stop a killer asteroid? Form a committee

    The United Nations (UN) has adopted several recommendations of a new asteroid defense plan, the first steps in preventing Earth from being struck by an asteroid. The recommendations were a response to an asteroid strike earlier this year in Chelyabinsk, Russia. This object injured thousands and was around seventeen meters across. We have only found 1 percent of these “killer” asteroids, meaning there are hundreds of times more out there than we know of. One of them, sooner or later, will have our name written on it. For a global threat we need a global response, as well as a global share of the blame if it goes wrong.

  • White House to curb NSA monitoring of some allies' leaders

    It appears that President Obama will soon instruct the NSA to stop eavesdropping on leaders of close U.S. allies. It now emerges that both the president and Congress’s intelligence committees were kept in the dark about this aspect of the NSA surveillance program. Yesterday’s indication by the White House that it moving toward banning the NSA from eavesdropping on some foreign leaders is a historic change in the practices of an agency which has enjoyed unlimited and unfettered – and, it now appears, unsupervised – freedom of action outside the borders of the United States. The move is similar to, if more complicated than, the limits imposed on the CIA in the mid-1970s. Security experts note, though, that prohibiting the NSA from eavesdropping on some foreign leaders would be more complicated and potentially more damaging to U.S. interests than the prohibitions imposed on the CIA more than three decades ago.

  • Russia to improve image by developing patriotic video games

    The Russian government has complained that the videogame is “Company of Heroes,” which is popular among Russian teenagers, distorts history by depicting a Second World War Russian soldier as a criminal and arsonist. The government is considering banning the game – and has also launched its own videogame project to produce games which contribute to “patriotic education.” In the meantime, a Belgian videogame developer is set to release a mobile game, titled “You Don’t Mess with Putin,” which depicts Russian president Vladimir Putin and a fictional sidekick, an alcoholic American named Mike, battling zombies who attack a Putin news conference.

  • Experts question ambitious Syria chemical weapons agreement

    The announcements in Geneva by Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were bold: President Bashar al-Assad has a week to provide detailed, accurate, and comprehensive information about Syria’s entire chemical weapons program: research labs, production facilities, test sites, chemical storage depots, and munitions kept by every military unit. Experts say that the tight timetable the agreement requires for disclosure of stockpile, destruction of production facilities, and the destruction of the chemical weapons themselves, would not only set a speed record, but that that it cannot be accomplished even with Syria’s full cooperation.