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Jun 29, 2012

Analysis: West struggles to understand Russia’s Syria stance

LONDON (Reuters) – Western states trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are increasingly struggling to deal with, or even understand, Russia’s dogged support for him.

Arms deals, Russia’s naval base in Tartus and fear of Islamist militancy in a post-Assad Syria are all held up as potential explanations. But Russian officials and some others say that misses the wider point.

Jun 27, 2012

Analysis: Syria’s Assad faces growing rebel, foreign threat

LONDON, June x (Reuters) – With a high profile attack on a government TV station, escalating fighting around Damascus and talk of increasing covert foreign support, Syria’s rebels are bringing the fight ever closer to Bashar Al Assad.

In a speech on Tuesday night, Assad said the country was now “at war” and that all sectors of the government and country must devote their energies to the war effort. A string of recent military defections suggest even some of his supporters may have had enough, but most analysts and foreign officials believe his government could cling on well into 2013.

Jun 24, 2012

Jet incident shows Syria’s defences capable, jumpy

LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) – While the exact circumstances
remain far from clear, the shooting down of a Turkish warplane
shows Syria’s military to be capable, extremely jumpy and
increasingly drawn into confrontation with its most powerful
neighbour.

That could prove a major deterrent for Western powers in
particular, who want President Bashar al-Assad gone but are
unwilling to risk troops or aircraft in a military intervention.
Equally, they are wary of triggering a wider regional war.

Jun 22, 2012

Somali piracy death toll rises as violence worsens

LONDON (Reuters) – Somali pirates seizing Indian Ocean ships were responsible for at least 35 hostage deaths in 2011, a report showed on Friday, with levels of violence rising.

The number of prisoners taken by pirates fell to 555, at least, in 2011 from 645 in 2010, the report by the U.S.-based One Earth Future foundation and International Maritime Bureau said.

Jun 21, 2012

Cameron G20 missteps point to wider UK problems

LONDON (Reuters) – Accused of irritating France and Russia, frustrating the United States and falling into a testy exchange with Argentina over the Falklands, David Cameron’s G20 summit didn’t go well.

As he returns from Mexico, the British prime minister is probably hoping to put the series of apparent diplomatic missteps behind him, but it may not be that easy.

Jun 16, 2012

Whatever euro’s fate, Europe’s reputation savaged

LONDON (Reuters) – Whether the euro lives or dies, the chaotic way Europe has tackled the crisis could undermine the region’s geopolitical clout for years to come and leave it at a distinct disadvantage in a rapidly changing world.

With an apparently never-ending series of last-minute summits and telephone calls, Europe’s leaders and finance ministers have held the bloc together in the face of growing strains between states, a rising political backlash and market alarm.

Jun 13, 2012

Syria becoming wider global, regional proxy war

LONDON (Reuters) – With the United States accusing Russia of providing attack helicopters and ethnic violence spiraling out of control, Syria’s conflict is pulling world and regional powers into a mounting proxy confrontation.

While Washington, Moscow and Beijing as well as European and Middle Eastern capitals have all endorsed Kofi Annan’s peace plan, analysts say it has become increasingly obvious that they have also been taking sides.

Jun 12, 2012

Despite Syria, world more peaceful in 2012: survey

LONDON (Reuters) – Despite an escalating conflict in Syria and mounting civil unrest in Europe, the world became a more peaceful place in the last year, a study showed on Tuesday, highlighting particular improvement in Africa.

The Global Peace Index, produced by the Australia and U.S.-based Institute for Economics and Peace, showed its first improvement in two years. For the first time, sub-Saharan Africa was no longer the world’s least peaceful region, losing that dubious distinction to the Middle East and North Africa in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring”.

Jun 1, 2012

As violence rises, U.S. and allies pulled into Yemen

LONDON (Reuters)- U.S. policymakers might talk down “boots on the ground” in Yemen but with an estimated several hundred military advisers already deployed, Washington and its allies are already being drawn ever deeper into the country.

Western security and intelligence officials have long seen Yemen as central to their fight against Islamist militancy, viewing local franchise Al Qaeda on the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP) as the most dangerous single foreign group plotting attacks against the West. U.S. officials say the group was behind a thwarted airline attack plot last month, the latest of several such schemes.

May 23, 2012

Iran face-off drives new naval small ship focus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For decades, Western navies have built ever larger, more expensive warships. Those vessels now look increasingly vulnerable to thousands of small, fast Iranian attack boats that could dominate the Gulf in the event conflict there.

In response, the U.S. Navy has sent almost its entire fleet of small patrol boats and minesweepers to the region, hastily refitting some to dramatically increase their firepower

    • About Peter

      "Peter Apps is political risk correspondent for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, covering a range of stories on the interplay between politics, economics and markets. Previously, he was emerging markets correspondent based in London after postings in southern Africa and Sri Lanka. His neck was broken in a vehicle smash on assignment in Sri Lanka in 2006, leaving him largely paralysed from the shoulders down."
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