A new two-state strategy for peace

After the failure of the Palestinian-Israeli talks led by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the Palestinian Authority has focused on the United Nations and international organizations to achieve its goals. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah sat down in his Ramallah office with The Post’s Lally Weymouth to discuss the authority’s strategy. Excerpts:Read full article >>


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry breaks femur in bicycle crash, cancels rest of European trip

GENEVA — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a bicycle crash Sunday, apparently after hitting a curb, and scrapped the rest of a four-nation trip that included an international conference on combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Kerry was in stable condition and in good spirits as he prepared to return to Boston for further treatment with the doctor who previously operated on his hip, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said. He said X-rays at a Swiss hospital confirmed that Kerry fractured his right femur.

“The secretary is stable and never lost consciousness, his injury is not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery,” Kirby said in a statement.

Kerry was taken by helicopter to Geneva’s main medical centre, HUG, after apparently hitting a curb with his bike near Scionzier, France, about 40 kilometres southeast of the Swiss border.

LUKE FRAZZA / AFP / Getty Images

LUKE FRAZZA / AFP / Getty ImagesJohn Kerry rides his bicycle in Boston when he was Democratic presidential candidate in the 2004 election.

Paramedics and a physician were on the scene with his motorcade at the time and provided him immediate attention. They quickly decided to order the 10-minute-long helicopter transport.

Kerry’s cycling rides have become a regular occurrence on his trips. He often takes his bike with him on the plane and was riding that bicycle Sunday.

During discussions in late March and early April between world powers and Iran, he took several bike trips during breaks. Those talks were in Lausanne, Switzerland, and led to a framework agreement.

Kerry had been in Geneva for six hours of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday as the sides now work to seal a comprehensive accord by June 30.

Kerry regrets not being able to make the rest of his scheduled stops, Kirby said. The top U.S. diplomat had planned to travel later Sunday to Madrid for meetings with Spain’s king and prime minister, before spending two days in Paris for an international gathering to combat IS.

He will participate in the Paris conference remotely, Kirby said.

Kerry’s decision to seek treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital was made because the fracture is near the site of his prior hip surgery, Kirby said.


Saudi FM warns Tehran: We won’t stand still over Iran’s intervention in region

On visit to Egypt, Adel Al-Jubeir calls on Iran to “stop supporting terrorism.”


Iraq to stay out of Iran-Saudi conflicts: PM

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sought to reassure Saudi Arabia Sunday that Iraq is not a ‘gateway for Iran’ and will not take part in regional conflicts between the two countries


ISIS could obtain nuclear weapon from Pakistan, warns India

ISIS nuclear weaponThe Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group could obtain a nuclear weapon from “states like Pakistan”, India’s defense Rao Inderjit singh has said.

According to Bloomberg, Singh made the comments on the sidelines of Shangri-La regional security conference in Singapore.

He said “With the rise of Isis in West Asia, one is afraid to an extent that perhaps they might get access to a nuclear arsenal from states like Pakistan.”

This comes as the terror group claimed it is closer to buy a nuclear from Pakistan and smuggling it into the United States.

The latest claim by the terror group is seen as yet another propaganda which was published in terror group’s magazine – Dabiq.

The article titled “The Perfect Storm” is attributed to the British hostage John Cantlie who been held captive for more than two years, has appeared in multiple propaganda videos and articles for the extremist group.

Photojournalist Cantlie is regularly used in the terror group’s propaganda and has appeared in a number of videos, including a YouTube series called “Lend Me Your Ears”. He has been held a hostage by Isis for more than two years.

It claimed ISIS has billions of dollars in the bank and describes a ‘hypothetical operation’ which involves it buying a nuclear bomb ‘through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials’ in Pakistan.

The article also described militant Islamist groups such as Boko Haram, which recently pledged allegiance to Isis, uniting across the Middle East, Africa and Asia to create one global movement.


GMD interceptor had fatal flaw, some had two

All 33 of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptors had a serious defect that could render it useless in combat, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has warned.

BV-Plus BVT-5
By USAF [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, ten of those interceptors and eight waiting for delivery had another defect as well.

The most serious flaw is with the divert thruster, designed to maneuver the kill vehicle to hit its target in space, the GAO found that the original thruster did not live up to expectations. Plans to switch to an alternative thruster had hit a roadblock. All current and future interceptors had to rely on the current thruster while waiting for a new thruster to come online.

A second serious problem is with the wiring harnesses that powers the kill vehicle. A subcontractor had used unsuitable soldering material to assemble the harnesses. Over time, the harnesses could fail during flight.


3 Lethal Russian Weapons of War China Needs to Buy

Kyle Mizokami

Security, Asia

China’s defense industry has come a long way, but it could still use a little help from its friend.

Times have changed. Russia, China’s exclusive arms supplier for more than twenty years, is now rumored to be interested in Chinese arms. The visitation of a Chinese naval task force to the Black Sea, including a modern Type 054A frigate, has sparked rumors Russia may buy a batch of the frigates to stave off a ship shortfall.

Such a sale, even if it does come off, may turn out to be a fluke of history. For all of China’s extensive efforts to build an all-encompassing domestic arms industry, there are still blind spots in her weapons production capabilities.

Mother Russia’s industry and design bureaus still crank out plenty of weapons China desires. From tanks to submarines, Russia is still a leader in weapons technology… and still the only one that will sell to China.

The sale of Russian weapons to China has always been a win-win for the two countries. China receives some of the newest and most advanced weapons systems in the world, without the cost and hassle of research and development. Russia in turn gets much-needed hard currency. As long as Russia has something to sell, this relationship won’t change any time soon.

Here’s three weapons China should purchase from Russia.

Armata class of heavy combat vehicles

For perhaps the first time in history, China has secure land borders. Large ground forces, backed up by air and naval forces, effectively deter virtually every other state in the world from picking a fight with the People’s Liberation Army.

Ironically, this has meant the PLA — compared to the other armed services — has benefitted the least from Chinese research and development. China’s main battle tank, the Type 99, is still a derivative of the old Soviet T-72 main battle tank, with a design that stretches back to the mid-1980s.

The adoption of the Armata family of heavy combat vehicles would transform the PLA. The T-14 Armata main battle tank is a clean break from the T-72/80/90 series of main battle tanks, using a new, longer hull. Incorporating a 125-millimeter main gun and remotely operated 7.62-millimeter machine gun, the unmanned turret is controlled by a three man crew. Active and passive protection systems, as well as a new modular armor system, incorporates the latest Russian technology.

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Russian aircraft head off US warship in Black Sea, news agency says

According to Russia’s state news agency a US destroyer was moving along the edge of territorial waters in yet another encounter with western militaries

Russian military aircraft were scrambled to head off a US warship that was acting “aggressively” in the Black Sea, the state news agency RIA reported on Saturday, citing an anonymous source in Russia’s armed forces in Crimea.

The source was quoted as saying that the US destroyer Ross was moving along the edge of Russia’s territorial waters and heading in their direction.

Continue reading…


The Shocking Reason America Can’t Stop China in the South China Sea

Andrew Davies

Security, Asia

Simply stated: China cares much more and is willing to risk much more–and the same can be said of Russia in Ukraine. 

Hanoi is one of the best settings in which to contemplate the limits of American power. The Vietnam War showed that a determined adversary (with substantial help from two major powers) can resist even a massive deployment of hard power by a more technologically able and much richer foe.

I was in Vietnam last week, and it provided an interesting perspective on current debates about the growing strategic competition between the United States and China, and about the role of American power in the world more broadly.

There’s a popular narrative in conservative circles at the moment that says that the blame for recent setbacks lies squarely at the feet of the Obama Administration. Greg Sheridan made that argument pretty forcefully last week:

“…Obama is just presiding over a decline in U.S. influence. He leads a weak administration that is weak everywhere. This does not necessarily represent long-term American decline. It is the weakness of this one administration. … America’s enemies, and the forces generally of violence and disorder, are everywhere encouraged. The U.S. position is weak in eEastern Europe, and Vladimir Putin intensified his campaign in Ukraine after Obama ostentatiously drew a red line in Syria and then decided not to enforce it. Obama is losing influence all over the Middle East, and in Afghanistan and Central Asia.”

It’s hard to argue that the world isn’t trending in ways adverse to the interests of the United States (and Australia). But I’m not at all sure that it’s right to place all of the blame on President Obama. Instead, I think that the utility of power is often overestimated, which makes those wielding it look unreasonably ‘hawkish’ when it fails—as was the case for American administrations who oversaw the Vietnam War.

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Cuba Off Terror List, but Embargo Unlikely to Be Lifted Anytime Soon

The Cuban flag flies in front of the U.S. Interests Section (background), in Havana

© Enrique de la Osa / Reuters

By Rob Garver,The Fiscal Times

May 29, 2015

The Obama administration’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism became final on Friday, 45 days after it was announced, partly because Congress failed to move to block the change.

While removal from the list clears another hurdle to normalized diplomatic relations between the U.S. and its communist neighbor to the South, members of Congress have not had their final say on the issue. Congressional lawmakers still have some leverage to prevent much deeper rapprochement: Trade embargos against Cuba, solidified in the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, can’t be permanently lifted without an act of Congress.

Related: In Cuba, New York Governor Cuomo Seeks to Open Doors to Trade

Although the House of Representatives failed to take action to block the terror list change, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) assailed the move. He said the Obama administration had handed the Castro regime a political victory without extracting any concessions on human rights abuses in return. “Removing the regime from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror is just the latest example of this administration focusing more on befriending our enemies than helping our allies, but fortunately it will have little practical effect,” the Speaker said. “Most U.S. sanctions on the Cuban regime are contained in other laws — laws the U.S. House will ensure remain in place as we work to protect those fighting for freedom, and in many cases, simply their own survival.” 

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been a vocal opponent of easing relations with the nation from which both his parents emigrated, similarly criticized the administration. “President Obama and his administration continue to give the Cuban regime concession after concession, in exchange for nothing that even remotely resembles progress towards freedom and democracy for the Cuban people, or assurances that the regime will discontinue working against America’s national security interests,” he said.

Related: Rand Paul Unfiltered – Six Straight-from-the-Hip Quotes

Other observers, though, said that Cuba isn’t actually a state sponsor of terrorism anymore. “This is a nonevent,” said attorney Jose W. Fernandez, co-chair of the Latin America Practice Group at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. “Cuba has not supported revolutionary movements in the Americas for years — indeed, it is currently hosting the peace talks between Colombia and the FARC guerrillas.”

If taking Cuba off the list was really a big deal, Fernandez added, Congress ought to have acted to block it. “There was little appetite even among the traditional Castro-bashers in Congress to get in front of the terrorism-list-removal train,” he said.

Other steps in the process might play out much differently, though, and Rubio in particular will likely be a key player in how the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba develops in the near term. Just by virtue of being a member of the Senate, where a single member’s refusal to grant unanimous consent can cause enormous delays, Rubio can stand in the way of approving an ambassador for Cuba and can block funding of a U.S. embassy in Havana.

However, Rubio also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairs the panel’s subcommittee with explicit jurisdiction over the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. Should he choose to do so, Rubio could be an enormous drag on the normalization process, and in public remarks, he has indicated that is precisely what he intends to do — regardless of the consequences.

“This is not a political thing,” he said when normalization was first announced. “I don’t care if polls say 99 of the people support normalizing relations with Cuba.”

His objections extend to normalizing trade as well. “This Congress,” he promised, “is not going to lift the embargo.”

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