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Jun 22, 2012

Iran talks: Across the table, a wary stalemate

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – The talk can be blunt and the rhetoric can be flowery, with invocations of deity and Persian poetry. Sometimes, it has been suggested, there is the sense of a well-worn cast acting out a script.

Iran’s negotiations with the West on its nuclear programme have developed their own rituals and etiquette bound up with the frustrations of a decade of fruitless talk. Sheltering from a Baghdad sandstorm or esconsed in a drab communist-era Moscow hotel, diplomats confront the same historic suspicions.

Jun 22, 2012

Insight: Iran talks: Across the table, a wary stalemate

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – The talk can be blunt and the rhetoric can be flowery, with invocations of deity and Persian poetry. Sometimes, it has been suggested, there is the sense of a well-worn cast acting out a script.

Iran’s negotiations with the West on its nuclear program have developed their own rituals and etiquette bound up with the frustrations of a decade of fruitless talk. Sheltering from a Baghdad sandstorm or ensconcedin a drab communist-era Moscow hotel, diplomats confront the same historic suspicions.

Jun 20, 2012

Iran impasse to stir sanctions pressure, tensions

MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) – Western diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program may not have breathed their last but the troubled process appears to be on life support after talks this week failed to resolve a row stirring regional tensions and unsettling oil markets.

Mindful of a possible Israel strike, both Iran and its negotiating partners are keen to pursue even a minimal level of contact to shore up the process despite the failure of the negotiations in Moscow on Monday and Tuesday.

Jun 8, 2012

Wounded Syria nears threshold of civil war – experts

LONDON (Reuters) – Whatever label the world gives it, Syria’s worsening conflict justifies a U.N. warning of imminent civil war following massacres that have heightened the risk of widespread sectarian violence.

Political analysts say several powerful factors are setting the stage for prolonged turmoil: the increasing brutality of the state and its proxies, better organised and armed rebel forces, devastating suicide attacks by shadowy armed groups, and growing interest by neighbouring countries in arming various parties to the violence.

May 30, 2012

Special Report: In Africa, a militant group’s growing appeal

GARISSA, Kenya (Reuters) – When Abdullahi slipped across the Kenya-Somali border to join the fighters of Islamist militant group al Shabaab in 2009, the livestock herder from northern Kenya found himself among recruits from around the globe.

There were ethnic Somalis who had grown up in Australia, Britain, France and the United States. But there was also a large number of fellow Kenyans in the group’s ranks. They included, unexpectedly, dozens of young men who did not share his Somali ancestry or language but came instead from the green, tropical heartland of Kenya where Christianity is the dominant religion.

May 16, 2012

Iran nuclear concession would test big power unity

LONDON/VIENNA (Reuters) – Facing an imminent toughening of sanctions, Iran is hinting at a readiness to give some ground in its long nuclear stand-off with world powers, but any flexibility could split their ranks and lead to protracted uncertainty about how to respond.

The stakes are high, for the longer the impasse goes on, the closer Iran will get to the technological threshold of capability to develop atomic bombs, raising the odds of last-ditch Israeli military strikes on its arch-foe and the risk of a new Middle East war a troubled global economy cannot afford.

May 11, 2012

Suicide bomb plot leak worries security experts

LONDON, May 11 (Reuters) – Counter-terrorism experts
expressed concern on Friday over U.S. leaks about an undercover
operation that foiled a suicide bomb plot, saying its exposure
may deter agents from volunteering for the risky job of
infiltrating al Qaeda’s network.

While electronic methods are increasingly used in espionage
operations of all kinds, human intelligence remains crucial
because al Qaeda’s best operatives try to avoid the use of any
electronic communications to minimise the chance of detection.

May 8, 2012

Qaeda bomber adept at breaching aviation security

LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) – A Saudi bombmaker believed behind
several failed but ingenious attempted attacks on the West is
the most likely creator of an improved “underwear bomb”
discovered in a plot foiled by U.S. and allied authorities,
security experts and officials say.

Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who once provided the bomb for a
suicide mission by his younger brother, a fellow militant, is
described by security officials as one of the most dangerous and
innovative explosives experts ever to serve al Qaeda.

May 1, 2012

UK plans Olympic security steps to tepid welcome

LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) – As Britain gears up for a big
Olympic security exercise between May 2 and 9, Londoners are
casting a cool eye at the multiple measures deemed necessary to
protect the hundreds of thousands of people expected to visit
Olympic venues.

While many are resigned to tougher security as just one more
inconvenience in a city handicapped by overcrowded, ageing
infrastructure, some have bristled, especially at a proposal to
put surface-to-air missiles on civilian buildings.

Apr 26, 2012

Crime, disorder are main Olympic risks – UK official

LONDON (Reuters) – Crime and disorder similar to Britain’s 2011 summer riots are the most likely serious threats to the London Olympics although Islamist militants and al Qaeda offshoot groups pose a growing challenge, a British official said on Wednesday.

Charles Farr, Director-General of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office (interior ministry), told a security conference that while al Qaeda’s south Asia-based core leadership had weakened following the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the clout of its offshoot groups was rising.