International cooperation

  • UN includes Iran in drafting treaty aiming to stop arms proliferation to terrorists, rogue states

    The UN Conference of the Arms Trade Treaty is tasked with drafting an international treaty aimed at stopping arms proliferation to terrorist groups and rogue states; the UN appoints Iran to be one of the vice presidents of the committee; the UN Watch watchdog groups says that appointing Iran to oversee the drafting of a treaty dealing with sending arms to terrorists “is like choosing Bernie Madoff to police fraud on the stock market”

  • U.S., Canada issue a joint statement of privacy principles

    The United States and Canada issue a joint statement about the two countries’ perimeter security approach; the statement aims to reassure Canadians that their privacy rights would not be sacrificed to satisfy the U.S. security demands

  • Mali crisis deepens as Islamists tighten grip over breakaway Azawad

    The al Qaeda-affiliate Ansar Dine extended its control of Azawad, the Mali break-away region, by wresting control of the city of Gao from rival Tuareg forces; Mali’s neighbors announce that they have troop commitments from three west African countries for a military operation against Azawad Islamists; an advance party of European military and civilian security advisors is already operating in northern Niger in preparation for the military campaign, and behind-the-scenes discussions at the Security Council will soon yield a UN resolution authorizing the African Union to sent military forces to Azawad to oust the Islamists and reunify Mali

  • Morsi faces tough decisions

    On Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, was declared the winner in Egypt’s first free elections, defeating General (Ret.) Ahmed Shafiq, who served as Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister; Morsi faces many issues and problems on the domestic front and about Egypt’s regional relations – among them: the role of the military in Egypt’s life, the degree of Islamization in Egypt, the deteriorating the security situation in the Sinai, and Egypt’s regional role

  • Countdown begins to attack on Iran

    On Tuesday in Moscow, the third round of talks between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program ended with the gap between the two sides as wide as ever; there are no plans for more  meetings; this means that on 1 July, a new, crippling round of sanctions will be imposed on Iran; the previous round of sanctions de-linked Iranian banks and companies from the international banking system; the coming round of sanctions – which includes, among other things, the removal of insurance from tankers carrying Iranian oil – will bring an end to nearly all of Iran’s oil sales, sales which account for nearly 80 percent of Iran foreign revenues; planning, in both Israel and the United States, for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities has now shifted to a higher gear; Congress holds hearings on Israel’s Iran-specific military equipment needs

  • Mali’s neighbors ready military operation to oust Azawad Islamists, unify Mali

    Mali’s neighbors, increasingly anxious about break-away Azawad turning into a haven for Islamic militants, worried about waves of refugees fleeing the strict Sharia law imposed in the territory by the fundamentalist Ansar Dine group, and unconvinced of the ability of the fractured and weak Mali government to tackle the situation anytime soon, are planning to seek a UN Security Council resolution authorizing a military campaign by a coalition of west African countries to oust the Islamists and help reunify Mali; the coalition, led by Niger, is seeking French and U.S. logistical and operational support for the campaign

  • Israel not invited to a counter-terror forum in Turkey

    The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), established by the Obama administration in September 2011, held its first day of discussions in Ankara, Turkey, last Friday; twenty-nine countries have been invited to join the forum, ten of which are Arab or Muslim countries – but Turkey vetoed the invitation of Israel, and the United States accepted Turkey’s position

  • U.S. drones take out al Qaeda’s second in command

    In another impressive coup for the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda, missiles launched from a CIA drone Monday morning killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, al Qaeda’s second in command; the killing of al-Libbi closes a circle: following bin Laden’s death, five high-level al Qaeda operatives were considered as potential successors; since last August, the United States has taken out four of them — Ilyas Kashmiri, Abdul Rahman Atiya, Anwar al Awlaki; and now al-Libi; the killing of al-Libi is but the latest manifestation of how the Obama administration has intensified and expanded the campaign against al Qaeda and its affiliates

  • Break-away Mali region now under al Qaeda-affiliate control

    Following a March 2012 military coup in Mali, Tuareg secessionists in northeast Mali have seized two-thirds of that country — an area larger than France — and proclaimed the Independent State of Azawad; things have not gone as planned: three months after secession, an al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist fundamentalist movement, Ansar Dine, is in control of the vast territory; the Financial Times observes: “[W]hat initially appeared to be a quest for a secular homeland has turned into something much more dangerous, for Mali and far beyond: the possibility of an Islamist-aligned mini-state that could offer a base to the jihadist groups and criminal gangs that roam the Sahara”

  • Talks with Iran: window for peaceful resolution closing

    The second round of talks between the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and Iran over the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program opened yesterday in Baghdad; the time frame for the talks between the six powers and Iran is tacitly accepted by all sides: if the current round of talks fails, and the harsher sanctions on Iran, which go into effect on 1 July, do not persuade Iran, by the end of the year, to cease and desist its nuclear weapons activities, then the path will be clear for a military attack on Iran – by Israel, the United States, or both – sometime during the first three or four months of 2013

  • Sinai Peninsula lawlessness worries terrorism experts

    The other day, Egyptian forces seized a large quantity of weapons near the Libyan border; Egypt says the large weapon shipment was bound for the Sinai Peninsula further to destabilize the area and stir up trouble ahead of upcoming presidential elections

  • Detecting a North Korea nuclear test

    The monitoring tools that scientists have available to them to detect a nuclear test have improved in quality and quantity since North Korea last tested a nuclear weapon in 2009; the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has a total of 287 detection facilities available, consisting of 157 seismic monitoring stations, forty-five infrasound stations, sixty-five radionuclide stations, and ten hydroacoustic stations

  • Study challenges Russian investigation of Smolensk plane crash

    A new study by a team of experts of the 10 April 2010 plane crash near Smolensk, Russia, in which the Polish president, his wife, nine NATO generals and others were killed, raises pointed questions about the conclusions of the official Russian investigation into the incident, and points to contradictions and discrepancies in the report

  • First U.S. drone attack in Pakistan in a month kills four terrorists

    Yesterday, Sunday, missiles launched from a CIA drone missiles hit military targets in Pakistan for the first time in a month. The attack killed four al Qaeda members, but further heightening tensions between the United States and Pakistan. Back in November 2011, U.S. airstrikes, called in by Pakistani commanders n the ground, killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers. In response, Pakistan said that unless the United States apologized for the incident, no more U.S. drone attack would be allowed against terror targets inside Pakistan. The United States expressed regrets over the death of the soldiers, but refused to apologize, saying the accident was the result of mistakes and miscommunication on both sides. Since November, the United States has reduced considerably the number of drone attacks inside Pakistan, but has refused to end such attacks altogether. The U.S. refusal has led to Pakistani parliament, on three different occasions, to pass resolutions calling upon the United States to cease and desist.

  • Threat of imminent Israeli, U.S. attack on Iran appears to recede

    The New York Times reports today that analysts inside and outside the Obama administration believe that there is less likelihood now – relative to how things looked in the winter — that either Israel or the United States would launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The reasons: the economic sanctions on Iran are slowing the Iranian economy, with more draconian sanctions coming in July; the mood in the first round of talks between Iranian and Western representative, who met in Ankara two weeks ago, was positive, and there is some optimism that the next round, to be held in Baghdad in a month time, may yield Iranian concessions on the issue of uranium enrichment; also, there is a growing schism in Israel between, on one side, political leaders – namely, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – and, on the other side, both former and current military and intelligence officials about the wisdom of attacking Iran now, before diplomacy and tough sanctions have been given a chance.