Syria’s Disintegration: How Far Will it Spread? – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Flag of the United Arab Republic 1958-1961. Th...

Flag of the United Arab Republic 1958-1961. The flag is still the flag of Syria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It no longer matters whether what is happening in Syria is a revolution or a conspiracy that preempted a potential revolution — or even a conspiracy targeting the “non-aligned” countries. The substance of the matter is: Is it possible to save Syria from imminent disintegration?

Syria’s Disintegration: How Far Will it Spread? – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.


Insight: Brutality, anger fuel jihad in Russia’s Caucasus | Reuters


Little girls in hijabs peek out of tin-roof houses and boys play at “cops and insurgents” in the narrow dirt streets.


At one end of the village of Gimry men are building a new, red-brick madrassa, one of many religious schools springing up across Dagestan, a region in the high Caucasus mountains on Russia’s southern fringe, in the throes of an Islamic revival.


Insight: Brutality, anger fuel jihad in Russia’s Caucasus | Reuters.


Trends in U.S. Military Spending

U.S. Military Spending, $ BillionsMilitary budgets are only one gauge of military power. A given financial commitment may be adequate or inadequate depending on the number and capability of a nation’s adversaries, how well it spends its investment, and what it seeks to accomplish, among other factors. Nevertheless, trends in military spending do reveal something about a country’s capacity for coercion. The following charts present historical trends in U.S. military spending and analyze the forces that may drive it lower.

These charts draw on data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Both data sets include spending on overseas contingency operations as well as defense. This distinguishes them from data used in the U.S. budget, which separate defense spending from spending on overseas operations

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Light at the End of their Tunnels? Hamas & the Arab Uprisings – International Crisis Group


Hamas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hamas never has faced such large challenges and opportunities as presented by the Arab uprisings. It abandoned its headquarters in Damascus, at much cost to ties with its largest state supporter, Iran, while improving those with such U.S. allies as Egypt, Qatar and Turkey. Asked to pick sides in an escalating regional contest, it has sought to choose neither. Internal tensions are at new heights, centring on how to respond to regional changes in the short run. Leaders in the West Bank and exile tend to believe that with the rise to power of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in particular and the West’s rapprochement with Islamists in general, it is time for bolder steps toward Palestinian unity, thereby facilitating Hamas’s regional and wider international integration. The Gaza leadership by contrast is wary of large strategic steps amid a still uncertain regional future. These new dynamics – Islamists’ regional ascent; shifting U.S. and EU postures toward them; vacillation within their Palestinian offshoot – offer both Hamas and the West opportunities. But seizing them will take far greater pragmatism and realism than either has yet shown.

Complete Article :Light at the End of their Tunnels? Hamas & the Arab Uprisings – International Crisis Group.

A Regional Approach to WMD Nonproliferation in the Asia-Pacific | Carnegie

WMD world map

WMD world map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Asia-Pacific region epitomizes the type of proliferation challenges the international community faces. Globalization turned the region into one of the most important international trade hubs, the home to leading dual-use companies, and the anticipated site of the world’s most significant growth in nuclear energy. While those trends are beneficial, they also create new sources of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation.



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Who Will Replace Kofi Annan?

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the UN and the League of Arab States joint peace envoy to Syria, announced his resignation before his tenure expires on August 31. The decision raised the issue of replacement. It’s already clear Annan didn’t fully comply with the instructions from Washington, Brussels and their Arab allies. In particular, neither he nor the UN observers on spot in Syria resolved to submit a report on the “crimes” committed by Syrian leadership that could serve as a pretext for outside intervention. Besides Washington and London still cannot forgive Annan for defining the US-UK led intervention in Iraq in 2003 as an illegal act.

The traits of his personality hardly made him a successful international mediator no matter how hard one may wish him to be one. It’s enough to remember just some instances from his political career path.

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Contemplating a third nuclear test in North Korea | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

By Frank V. Pabian and Siegfried S. Hecker

Shortly after its failed April 13 rocket launch, North Korea was widely expected to conduct its third underground nuclear test. Such a test would have fit the pattern of the first two nuclear tests, both of which followed failed rocket launches and international condemnation. And Pyongyang has compelling technical, military, and political reasons to conduct a third nuclear test that would demonstrate it can miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit on a missile, making its nuclear arsenal more threatening.

We believe the first two North Korean tests used plutonium as the fissile material. Without at least one more successful plutonium test, it is unlikely that Pyongyang could have confidence in a miniaturized plutonium design. The country has a very small plutonium stockpile, sufficient for only four to eight bombs, but it may be willing to sacrifice some material to gain additional data to augment information already obtained from the previous two tests.

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