What first sounded like something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel is turning out to be Moscow’s first serious test of Western resolve since the invasion of Crimea earlier this year. While details are patchy and the situation is still unfolding, three separate credible eyewitness accounts and a photo showing a dark structure descending into the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea seem to confirm the presence of a foreign submarine or mini-sub some 30 miles from Stockholm. If so, this would be a major escalation of tensions in the Baltic Sea region. Continue reading →
ROME — Through a shake-up of its bases, the Italian Air Force is streamlining its special operations and rescue operations, trimming costs as new aircraft come into service, and reflecting what officials describe as a shift in the type of mission they are handling in the 21st century.
On Sept. 22, the Air Force’s 1st Brigade for Special Operations moved into new premises at Cervia Air Base on Italy’s Adriatic coast, part of an enlargement of the brigade that saw it take command of the 15th Wing already based at Cervia, which undertakes combat search-and-rescue missions.
Three wings already grouped under the brigade’s command, which are spread around Italy, are set to partly shift personnel and machinery to Cervia. Continue reading →
Ms Brasseur met with President Aliyev and also held meetings with leaders of political parties in the parliament, members of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE and the Prosecutor General. She also met human rights activists to discuss the issue of journalists and others held in detention. Afterwards, Ms Brasseur commented on her visit, saying that: more progress was needed in Azerbaijan regarding freedom of expression, freedom of association, and judicial independence.
And, speaking about the recent arrests of civil society activists, the President said it was a source of “grave concern”. She went on to say that the detentions highlighted the need to address systemic deficiencies in the operation of justice in Azerbaijan as noted in the findings of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of the pre-trial detention of Ilgar Mammadov.
NEWS IN BRIEF
A Council of Europe international conference in the Spanish city of Málaga has been discussing ways of tackling recruitment to terror and organised crime groups. The conference, made-up of judges, prosecutors, policy makers and other terrorism experts, has also been addressing a range of issues, including radicalisation and recruitment in prisons and ways of stopping the funding of terror campaigns. Continue reading →
The Balkan peninsula as defined by the Soča-Krka-Sava border in the north. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: The Western Balkans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Anthee Carassava
Greece intelligence on ‘heightened state of vigilance’ in search for suspected Islamist militants
Greek surveillance alert comes amid concern that Islamist State fighters might hit back for U.S. airstrike
Greece’s National Intelligence Service said Tuesday that it was at “a heightened state of vigilance” for suspected militants, keeping close tabs on radical Muslims, and had detected at least six foreign fighters with the terrorist group Islamic State transiting through the country in recent months.
The surveillance operation comes amid concern that the militant group, formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, will retaliate for increased U.S airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.
At present, according to the latest intelligence in Rome, some fifty Italians are fighting with the Islamic State (IS — get my assessment of that dangerous group here), of whom a shocking eighty percent are converts, not immigrants or born Muslims. Many go abroad to wage holy war after a surprisingly brief period of conversion and radicalization. They are very young and come mostly from northern Italy. The Salafi jihadist scene in Italy is fragmented regionally and a key role is played by what Italian intelligence terms “liaison officers,” the individuals who facilitate the recruitment of new holy warriors and get them to the war zone. Continue reading →
(Reuters) – Germany’s national security council declined two-thirds of applications for arms export licenses at its most recent sitting three weeks ago, German news weekly Spiegel said on Saturday.
The ministry had prevented a license to export to Saudi Arabia 500 million euros worth of sight devices for armored personnel carrier guns from even being discussed in the council, it said.
Spiegel said the sights were made by a unit of Airbus. A spokesman for Airbus said: “We have no information about any government decision. We hope however for a swift and positive decision.”
Such a move by the economy ministry could place Berlin on a direct collision course with Airbus Group after its chief executive Tom Enders warned of increased job cuts and factory closures over arms export curbs in an interview with Reuters on Friday. Continue reading →
English: Map showing the maximum territorial extent of countries under the direct influence of the Soviet Union — between the Cuban Revolution/21st Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union/Sino-Soviet split. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine reflects neither strategic wisdom nor military strength. In fact, it reflects just the opposite. Putin invested over $50 billion and significant personal capital in the Sochi Olympics and the upcoming G8 Summit. That has now been squandered. It was clearly humiliating for Putin to watch as the Ukrainian president he had strongly supported, if not hand-picked, was forced to flee Kiev. This was particularly true, given that President Yanukovych fled in response to a popular uprising driven by opposition to his efforts to establish closer Ukrainian relations with Russia at the expense of closer ties to Europe.
Putin assuaged this humiliation with a military invasion of Crimea on March 1. On March 20, the Russian Parliament overwhelmingly approved a treaty presented by Putin to formally annex the Black Sea peninsula. At this juncture, it seems impossible to envision Moscow backing down, withdrawing its forces, and returning Crimea to Ukrainian control. President Obama, as well as Western European leaders, have acknowledged this reality. The so-called “post-Cold War era” has now come to a close, and the West must now confront a new European security environment. What is the nature of the new threat? What is the general outline of a new strategy for the United States and its NATO allies?
It is important to realize that the longer-term threat posed by this new era does not herald a return to the Cold War. That “twilight struggle” had an ideological underpinning. It pitted Marxist-Leninist ideology against democracy and market economies. When Nikita Khrushchev made his famous threat, “We will bury you!” in 1956, he was not necessarily predicting imminent war so much as a belief that history was on the side of Communism. He believed that it was Communism, with its focus on a command oriented economy rather than the Soviet military, that would ultimately triumph. Continue reading →