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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Environment: Nile, Ganges to flood more as planet warms

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 11, 2013

imagesClimate change is likely to worsen floods on rivers such as the Ganges, the Nile and the Amazon this century while a few, including the now-inundated Danube, may become less prone, a Japanese-led scientific study said on Sunday.

The findings will go some way to help countries prepare for deluges that have killed thousands of people worldwide and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage every year in the past decade, experts wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Given enough warning, governments can bring in flood barriers, building bans on flood plains, more flood-resistant crops and other measures to limit damage.

Overall, a “large increase” in flood frequency is expected in south-east Asia, central Africa and much of South America this century, the experts in Japan and Britain wrote.

Severe floods would happen more often on most of the 29 rivers reviewed in detail, including the Yangtze, Mekong and Ganges in Asia, the Niger, the Congo and the Nile in Africa, the Amazon and the Parana in Latin America and the Rhine in Europe.

Flooding would become less frequent in a handful of river basins including the Mississippi in the United States, the Euphrates in the Middle East and the Danube in Europe.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Syria Facing a Yugoslavia-style Breakup?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 19, 2012

Even if the regime loses its grip on growing swathes of territory, the civil war’s sectarian dimension could see it opt to retreat into enclaves controlled by its base of Alawite, Christian and non-Sunni support.
AP

AP
Smoke billows over Damascus, Syria, July 18, 2012

“This is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday, following the Damascus bombing that lacerated the inner circle of Syria’s President Bashar Assad. “And for that reason it’s extremely important that the international community […has] to bring maximum pressure on Assad to do what’s right — to step down and to allow for that peaceful transition.” Panetta’s concern is understandable, because the escalating civil war means that Syria is not only no longer under the effective control of the Assad regime, but that its outcome is increasingly beyond the control of the U.S. and its allies or any other international powers. Needless to say, Panetta’s prescription for maximum international pressure on Assad to step down appears to be wishful thinking. The same may be true for the Obama Administration’s idea of a “managed transition” in which the opposition cooperates with a regime that remains intact after Assad has been removed.

Russia remains firm in its opposition to Western efforts to press for Assad’s ouster. “If we are talking about a revolution, the U.N. has no business here,” said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, according to Businessweek. “Assad won’t quit and our Western partners don’t know what to do.” Indeed, the latest violence in the capital renders even more remote the soft landing envisaged by Panetta and by the best-case peace scenario of U.N. Special Envoy Kofi Annan. The denouement of the Assad regime is likely to be nasty, brutish and not especially short. Read the rest of this entry »

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Middle East UFO: Mysterious Light Over Israel, Syria, Confirmed To Be Russian Missile Test (VIDEOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 9, 2012

By Craig Kanalley

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‘Flame’ Virus explained: How it works and who’s behind it

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 30, 2012

‘Flame’ Virus: How it works and who’s behind it

                                                                                      ‘Flame’ Virus: How it works and who’s behind it

Flame may be the most powerful computer virus in history, and a nation-state is most likely to blame for unleashing it on the World Wide Web.Kaspersky’s chief malware expert Vitaly Kamlyuk shared with RT the ins and outs of Stuxnet on steroids.

Iran appears to be the primary target of the data-snatching virus that has swept through the Middle East, though other countries have also been affected.The sheer complexity of the virus and its targets has led Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab to believe a state is behind the attack.

Kaspersky first spotted the virus in 2010, though it may have been wrecking havoc on computer systems for many years.Vitaly Kamlyuk told RT how his company discovered it, just what makes Flame so significant, features of the virus that could point towards its creator, and why we all lose out in this intensifying cyber-war.

RT: So, how did you spot the malware, was it a planned investigation, or did it come by surprise?

Vitaly Kamlyuk: It was by surprise. We were initially searching for a [different form of] malware. We were aware of the malware that had spread throughout the Middle East, attacked hundreds of computers and wiped their hard drives, making the systems unbootable after that. It was actually after an inquiry from the International Telecommunications Union, which is a part of the United Nations, who actually asked us to start conducting research. When we started looking for this mysterious malware in the Middle East, we discovered this suspicious application that turned out to be even more interesting than the initial target of our search. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Lies? Beneath the Mysterious History of an Iranian Nuclear Site

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 23, 2012

On the northwestern edge of Tehran, a wooded hill rises abruptly out of the gray low-rise cityscape. The roads meandering to the top are lined with grills and picnic tables, and from the north slope it was once possible to peer through the trees and make out where the of the Physics Research Center used to stand. The vacant lot looked just like it did on the satellite photos.

The day I visited, in June 2004,  it was also possible to wind back down the hill and pitch up at the site itself, still surrounded by a 20-foot wall. Inspectors for the IAEA had not been there yet but Iranian demolition crews certainly had: All the topsoil had been trucked away, along with every building except a guard shack. The man inside it came out and lied to us.

“It was a municipal sports complex,” he said, speaking without losing the ash on his cigarette. “It wasn’t big enough so they demolished it. And they want to build a bigger one.”

But there are lies and there are lies. And as the Iranians apparently prepare to sign a pact promising to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate suspected military components of its nuclear program, the question is how in heaven’s name the mullahs will manage to save face for their fibs of the past. A case in point is embedded in the mysterious history of that vacant lot at the base of Lavizan Park – a trapezoid of ground that once held nearly as much interest to U.N. inspectors as the Parchin military base the IAEA is keen to revisit now, in search of evidence of nuclear triggering experiments. Read the rest of this entry »

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Must-Reads From Around the World: April 26, 2012

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 26, 2012

PETER DEJONG/AFP/GettyImages/Pool

PETER DEJONG/AFP/GETTYIMAGES/POOL
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor takes notes at the start of the judgement hearing of his trial on charge of arming Sierra Leone’s rebels who paid him in “blood diamonds,” on April 26, 2012 at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, based in Leidschendam outside The Hague

Life For Death? – The five-year trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, accused of 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other offenses, is finally coming to a close in The Hague on Thursday, with a possible life sentence for the ousted leader. The Guardian, live-blogging the verdict from the tribunal, noted that Taylor is “clearly listening with care,” as it is read out. And judges found Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war.

New Front in Drone War – The White House expanded the authority of the Pentagon and CIA to carry out drone strikes in Yemen, which is widely believed to be a safe haven for al-Qaeda operatives, the New York Times reports. U.S. Defense Secretary LeonPanetta has defended the strategy, the Guardian says, but international legal experts argue that drone strikes amount to execution of suspects before trial, making them illegal – especially when carried out in Yemen where the U.S. is not engaged in war.

Questioning Misogyny – Following the fierce debate over its cover story, “Why Do They Hate Us?“ which casts Arab societies as deeply misogynistic, Foreign Policy shares critiques and commentary from six Muslim observers, including the senior editor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English-language website. Also chiming in is The Atlantic’s Max Fisher, who argues that while misogyny is a problem in Arab countries, it’s not a distinctively Arab problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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Global ‘water war’ threat by 2030 – US intelligence

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 23, 2012

The Mekong river. One of the predicted sources of international conflict and site for controversial dam. (Reuters / Samrang Pring)

The Mekong river. One of the predicted sources of international conflict and site for controversial dam. (Reuters / Samrang Pring)

Nations will cut off rivers to prevent their enemies having access to water downstream, terrorists will blow up dams, and states that cannot provide water for their citizens will collapse. This is the future – as painted by a top US security report.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the organization that oversees US intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI, was commissioned by President Barack Obama to examine the impact of water scarcity worldwide on US security.

And while the prospect of “water wars” has been touted for decades, it may start to become reality within a decade. The ODNI predicts that by 2040 water demand will outstrip current supply by 40 per cent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Must-Reads from Around the World: March 20, 2012

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 20, 2012

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaking during a Ramadan Iftar banquet in honor of Muslim clergymen, in Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2011. (Photo: SANA / EPA)

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR ASSAD SPEAKING DURING A RAMADAN IFTAR BANQUET IN HONOR OF MUSLIM CLERGYMEN, IN DAMASCUS, SYRIA, 24 AUGUST 2011. (PHOTO: SANA / EPA)

More Syria Leaks – Al Jazeera reveals details from confidential Syrian intelligence and security documents handed over by one of the government’s most trusted officials who recently fled to Turkey. The trove shows President Bashar Assad’s strategy to suppress anti-government protests, including orders to stop protesters from getting into Damascus and detailed security plans for crushing protests in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib, as well as warnings about countries trying to influence Syrian diplomats to defect and indications the government spied on last year’s Arab League monitoring mission in Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iranian ultimatum: Yield now or be attacked by year’s end

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 14, 2012

The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brooks B. Patton Jr./Released)

The US wants Russia to deliver a message to Iran: Tehran has one last chance for talks. If it is wasted, an attack will happen in a matter of months, according to Russian diplomatic sources.

The threat was voiced by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a meeting with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in New York on Monday, a diplomatic insider told Kommersant daily.

“The invasion will happen before year’s end. The Israelis are de facto blackmailing Obama. They’ve put him in this interesting position – either he supports the war or looses the support of the Jewish lobby,” the diplomat told the Russian newspaper.

The source said Washington has given Tehran one last chance to solve the conflict peacefully and wants Moscow to deliver the message. Iran has to make progress with the P5+1 group, which consists of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

The group is to negotiate Iran’s controversial nuclear program with Iranian officials sometime in April. The exact timing and place of the talks are still under consideration. The negotiators want clarity from Iran over the potential militarization of its nuclear program.  They also demand access for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to a suspected nuclear site in Parchin.

Such an inspection took place in 2005 and nothing suspicious was found. But now the nuclear watchdog believes Iran is using the military complex to test technology needed to trigger a nuclear device. IAEA monitors were barred form visiting part of the facility during their latest visit, prompting accusations that Iran may be trying to cover-up evidence of wrong-doing. Tehran dismissed the allegations and promised to let inspectors in. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. Soldier Opens Fire On Civilians In Afghanistan

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 11, 2012

(Adds eyewitness quotes, Taliban statement, U.S. embassy statement)

By Ahmad Nadem

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, March 11 (Reuters) – Western forces shot dead 16 civilians including nine children in southern Kandahar province on Sunday, Afghan officials said, in a rampage that witnesses said was carried out by American soldiers who were laughing and appeared drunk.

One Afghan father who said his children were killed in the shooting spree accused soldiers of later burning the bodies.

Witnesses told Reuters they saw a group of U.S. soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district at around 2 am, enter homes and open fire.

The incident, one of the worst of its kind since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, is likely to deepen the divide between Washington and Kabul.

The U.S. embassy in Kabul said an American soldier had been detained over the shooting. It added that anti-U.S. reprisals were possible following the killings, which come just weeks after U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Koran at a NATO base, triggering widespread anti-Western protests.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the rampage as “intentional murders” and demanded an explanation from the United States. His office said the dead included nine children and three women. Read the rest of this entry »

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Israel will strike Iran without warning US – intelligence source

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 28, 2012

An Israeli F-15 fighterjet (AFP Photo / Jack Guez)

An Israeli F-15 fighterjet (AFP Photo / Jack Guez) 

Israeli officials say if they decide to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, they will do so without the prior consent or knowledge of the US, according to an AP report citing leaked US intelligence.

The message was conveyed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to a number of senior US officials visiting the country, the news agency said, citing a US intelligence source. The official spoke about the sensitive strategic negotiations on condition of anonymity. Both the US and Israel declined to make any official comment.

Tel Aviv insists its strategy is necessary in order to protect Washington from being blamed for failing to stop an Israeli attack, should it take place. But it may also signify Israeli frustration over America’s position on the conflict.

America has told its Middle Eastern ally that it will neither take military action against Iran nor back unilateral action on the part of Israel. Washington favors sanctions over brute force as a means to stop Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Read the rest of this entry »

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Isreal ‘Unwise’ To Launch Military Strike On Iran, Says William Hague

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 19, 2012

William Hauge has said it would be a mistake for Israel to launch a military strike against Iran in an attempt to destroy its alleged nuclear weapons programme.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marrr programme on Sunday morning, the foreign secretary said Israel should put its efforts into making sure there were effective sanctions against Tehran.

“I don’t think the wise thing for Israel to do is launch a military attack,” he said.

There are growing fears that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not be deterred by sanctions, the preferred route of the US and Britain to pressure the regime into abandoning its nuclear weapons programme.

Israel is rumoured to be planning military strikes within months. Ahmadinejad claimed this week that Iran had loaded its first domestically-made fuel rod into a nuclear reactor.

Hague said that Israel had not shown the British government any plans for an attack on Iran but acknowledged there had been some discussion by Israeli politicians in public about the possibility of a strike. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nuclear Iran Could Lead To ‘New Cold War’, Says William Hague

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 18, 2012


Does this mean that world leaders are going to prove this video true? http://ram­kshrestha.­wordpress.­com/2012/0­2/13/this-­video-expl­ains-the-e­nd-of-the-­wolrd-in-2­012/:

Iran’s nuclear ambitions could plunge the world into “a new Cold War” with the Middle East, William Hague has warned.

The Foreign Secretary predicted a nuclear arms race among rival Middle Eastern states that would carry the dangers without the safety mechanisms of the old rivalry between the West and the USSR.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he insisted Britain did not back military action against the Islamic republic – as Israel is thought to be planning.

But he said there was a “crisis coming down the tracks” that could result in “disaster” for world affairs.

“(The Iranians) are clearly continuing their nuclear weapons programme,” Hague said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria: President Bashar Assad Sets Referendum On New Draft Constitution

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 15, 2012

BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered a referendum for later this month on a new constitution that would allow political parties other than his ruling Baath Party, the centerpiece of reforms he has promised to ease the crisis, even as the Syrian military on Wednesday besieged rebellious areas.

The opposition quickly rejected the move, saying that the regime was stalling and that Syrians in the uprising would accept nothing less than Assad’s ouster. The referendum call also raises the question of how a nationwide vote could be held at a time when many areas see daily battles between Syrian troops and rebel soldiers.

Amendments to the constitution once were a key demand by the opposition at the start of Syria’s uprising, when protesters first launched demonstrations calling for change. But after 11 months of a fearsome crackdown on dissent that has left thousands dead and turned some cities into war zones, the opposition says Assad and his regime must go.

“The people in the street today have demands, and one of these demands is the departure of this regime,” said Khalaf Dahowd, a member of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, an umbrella for several opposition groups in Syria and in exile. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iran Unveils Nuclear Fuel As Accusations Fly Over Its Links To Bangkok Bombers

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 15, 2012

For the first time, Iran has loaded nuclear fuel rods made on Iranian soil into a research reactor at a ceremony attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The enriched uranium fuel was placed into the Tehran Research Reactor on Wednesday.

Broadcast on state TV, the footage shows the Iranian leader being shown around the facility in a white coat, flanked by what appear to be senior scientists of the regime.

A rod is then lowered into the cooling pool with Ahmadinejad looking on, a move that could be interpreted as a message of defiance to the west and the sanctions imposed following last year’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report that concluded that Iran was fixated on producing a nuclear bomb.

“We began enriching uranium to 20% in order to make fuel rods because Western countries are not ready to help us,” said deputy head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Baqeri, according to a student news agency and Reuters.

“For the first time, fuel rods produced by Iranian scientists will be installed in the presence of the Islamic Republic’s president in Tehran’s research reactor.”

Iran says it has made the 20% enriched uranium because it wanted to make isotopes to treat cancer. Read the rest of this entry »

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