LONDON (Reuters) – Iran and the United States might be talking up their readiness for war in the Gulf but beneath the rhetoric, all sides are appear keen to avoid conflict and prevent accidental escalation – at least for now.
This week, a string of hawkish Iranian statements – including a renewed threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and destroy U.S. bases “within minutes” of an attack – helped push benchmark Brent crude oil prices above $100 for the first time since June.
LONDON (Reuters) – There are few signs diplomacy can stem Syria’s worsening conflict, leaving Western leaders – and even more so their Arab and Turkish allies – pushed ever further towards backing Bashar al-Assad’s ouster by force.
In Geneva on Saturday, world powers attempted a vague show of unity by committing to support for a transitional government. But diplomats led by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan failed to bridge differences between the West and Russia – backed by China – on whether or not that meant that Syria’s president must go.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.