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Jul 11, 2012

In modern scandal, an e-mail is forever

LONDON (Reuters) – When ousted Barclays CEO Bob Diamond says he felt “physically ill” reading e-mails of his traders crowing over interest rate manipulation, he is almost certainly telling the truth.

The veteran banker says it was the first he knew that employees had worked to artificially inflate the London interbank rate LIBOR. Whatever the reality, he must have realized that the saved messages – with employees glorying in their activities and promising each other champagne – could only add to the damage.

Jul 6, 2012

Gulf sabers rattle as Iran sanctions bite

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.

Jul 2, 2012

Diplomacy failing, West faces tough Syria choices

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.

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

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.

    • About Peter

      "Peter Apps is Reuters global defence correspondent, currently on sabbatical as executive director of the Project for Study of the 21st Century (PS21):"
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