Author: Friends of The Fifth Column

Tehran to Construct New Naval Bases Amid Tensions With Washington

Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian Navy, announced Monday that Tehran will construct three bases and two large naval zones in the country’s southeastern region along the Makran coast, near the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.

Commander Sayyari noted that the naval initiatives were being undertaken to keep merchant vessels secure from pirate forces and to protect naval routes, especially after Somali pirates hijacked an Iranian cargo ship bound for Yemen in November 2008. He suggested that construction will also take place as tensions between Tehran and Washington escalate.

There were 23 encounters between Iranian and American vessels last year, with seven of Tehran’s fast attack watercraft approaching the USS Firebolt in September, nearly colliding with the coastal patrol ship.

Paris Agreement passes first stress test at COP22

In response to the close of COP22, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF International’s Climate & Energy Practice, issued the following statement:

“The UN climate talks continue to be filled with twists and turns, but they have delivered what they needed to this week – putting substance behind the promise of the Paris Agreement so it can be fully implemented. The Marrakech work has not been the most glamorous, but it’s a key step in the chain reaction needed to roll out the agreement.

EU Parliament Approves Resolution Equating Sputnik, RT to Daesh Propaganda

The European Parliament approved a draft resolution equating counteracting Sputnik news agency and RT TV channel with resistance to Daesh propaganda.

The EU Parliament adopted a draft resolution proposed by EU lawmaker from Poland Anna Elzbieta Fotyga on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against the bloc by third parties, which says that Russia is allegedly engaged in propaganda against the European Union.

A total of 691 lawmakers participated in the vote: 304 voted in favor of the resolution, 179 against it and 208 abstained from voting.

Authors of the document equate counteracting Russia with the resistance to Daesh terrorist group and call on EU member states to boost financing counter-propaganda projects.

Security Council Press Statement on the Ethnic Violence and the Situation in South Sudan

The members of the Security Council were briefed by the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ellen Løj, the United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, and the Chair of the South Sudan sanctions committee on the situation in South Sudan.

The members of the Security Council expressed deep alarm ‎over the escalation of ethnic violence in South Sudan reportedly carried out by the SPLA, the SPLA in Opposition, as well as militias, and unidentified armed groups.

Burma: New Wave of Destruction in Rohingya Villages

820 Newly Identified Destroyed Buildings; UN-Aided Investigation Urgently Needed

New satellite imagery of Burma’s Rakhine State shows 820 newly identified structures destroyed in five different ethnic Rohingya villages between November 10-18, 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. The Burmese government should without further delay invite the United Nations to assist in an impartial investigation of the widespread destruction of villages.

The latest images bring the total number of destroyed buildings documented by Human Rights Watch in northern Rakhine State through satellite imagery to 1,250. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, at a November 17 UN Security Council meeting on the deteriorating situation in Rakhine State, called for international observers to be allowed to investigate and for aid groups to have their access restored. After a short visit by diplomats to the area, Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Burma, said on November 18, “The security forces must not be given carte blanche to step up their operations under the smokescreen of having allowed access to an international delegation. Urgent action is needed to bring resolution to the situation.”

Violent Weekend in Southern Mexico Leaves 24 People Dead

At least 24 people, some bearing signs of torture, were killed in a series of incidents over the weekend in Mexico’s violence-plagued southern state of Guerrero, officials have said.

Faced with an uptick in bloodshed the state governor held an “urgent session” with army commanders and federal and state police in an effort to strengthen security in the region, the state’s security spokesman Roberto Alvarez told a Mexican television channel on Monday.

“The bodies of nine males with visible signs of torture” were discovered on Sunday night on a road between the towns of Tixtla and Atliaca, in Guerrero’s central region, the state’s secretary of security said in a statement on Monday.

Asian infrastructure boom could be end of the road for tigers

With massive infrastructure plans threatening all tiger landscapes and risking recent gains in tiger conservation, Asian governments must adopt a sustainable approach to infrastructure planning and construction or drive tigers toward extinction, according to a new analysis by WWF.

Released at the halfway point of an ambitious global effort to double the number of wild tigers between 2010 and 2022, The Road Ahead: Protecting Tigers from Asia’s Infrastructure Development Boom highlights the unprecedented threat posed by a vast network of planned infrastructure across the continent.

Turkey Pursues a Reset with Uzbekistan

The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, arrived for a two-day visit to Uzbekistan on November 17 in a diplomatic overture that aims to undo more than a decade of frostiness.

Erdogan was due to open his trip with a visit to Samarkand, where he planned to visit the grave of the late Uzbek leader, Islam Karimov. But observers’ attention will be fixed mainly on his meeting with Acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for what Uzbek media have said will be an exchange of views on regional and international issues.

Hitting New Highs: North Pole Experiencing Record Heat Wave

As polar night has covered the Arctic, it is supposed to be extremely cold there. But on the contrary, it is super-hot by polar standards, with temperatures hitting new highs.

“Today’s latest #Arctic mean temperature continues to move the wrong direction. . . up. Quite an anomalous spike!” said Zack Labe, a PhD student at the University of California at Irvine who studies the Arctic, on Twitter.

As temperature has increased to about 36 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual, the extent of sea ice has decreased.

My Son the Jihadi

How did a perfectly normal British teenager end up fighting in Somalia as a recruit for the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Al Shabaab?

Peter Beard’s documentary “My Son the Jihadi” follows the life of traumatized mother Sally as she struggles to come to terms with her estranged son’s transformation from a ‘normal teenage lad’ to Abdul Hakim, the violent Islamic extremist. Through this lens, we see a mother who is torn between the love for her child and a disgust at his actions in a faraway land. She admits, “I’m ashamed of him, but he’s still my son”.

Iranian MP Urges Readiness to Retaliate US Breach of JCPOA

An Iranian lawmaker described the likely presidential endorsement of two anti-Iran bills, now under discussion in US Congress, as a flagrant violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), calling on Iran’s administration to get ready for taking retaliatory measures.

In an interview with Tasnim on Saturday, chairman of parliament’s nuclear commission, Mojtaba Zolnoor, took a swipe at the US for continuing to breach the JCPOA, a nuclear agreement between Tehran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) that came into force in January.

JAPANESE TROOPS EXPECT TO FIGHT OVERSEAS FOR FIRST TIME SINCE WWII

Japanese Defense Forces landed in South Sudan on Monday in an effort to aid UN peacekeepers and ultimately protect developing infrastructure in a country devastated by civil war. The 350 troops will replace a previous contingent of Japanese troops which did not have the constitutional authority to engage in combat.

Prior to 2015, the anti-war Japanese constitution did not allow for troops to engage in fighting overseas. But last year, lawmakers expanded the constitution to allow for some combat fighting overseas in certain situations. The troops deployed to South Sudan aren’t allowed to use force against an opposing army per se, but rather to protect civilians, UN members, and of course themselves. They will also be guarding UN bases which are reportedly frequent targets for attacks.

Energy transition in Latin America

Latin America is increasingly exploiting its renewable energy potential. New wind and solar projects are under construction across the region thanks to partnerships with Chinese energy companies.

Thanks to Chinese energy companies, Latin America is increasingly exploiting its renewable energy potential as historic laggards like Argentina get on board with the region’s energy transition. New wind and solar projects are under construction across the region as partnerships with Chinese deliver affordable finance and materials to local governments and businesses.

The Iran-Russia-China Strategic Triangle

The developing economic, political and military links binding Iran, China and Russia in what I see as an emerging Golden Triangle in Eurasia, are continuing to deepen insignificant areas. This, while it seems to be US geopolitical strategy in a prospective Trump Administration to distance Washington from both Iran and from China, while dangling the carrot of lessened confrontation between Washington and Moscow–classic Halford Mackinder or Kissinger geopolitics of avoiding a two-front war that was colossally backfiring on Washington by trying to shift the power balance. At present, the dynamic of the past several years of closer cooperation by the three pivotal states of the Eurasian Heartland is gaining strategic momentum. The latest is the visit of China’s Minister of Defense and of Russian senior officials to Teheran.

On November 14-15 in Teheran, during a high-level visit of the Chinese Defense Minister, General Chang Wanquan, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, the two major Eurasian nations signed a deal to enhance military cooperation. The agreement calls for intensification of bilateral military training and closer cooperation on what the Iran sees as regional security issues, with terrorism and Syria at the top of the list. Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, said Iran is ready to share with China its experiences in fighting against the terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Dehghan added that the agreement represents an “upgrade in long-term military and defense cooperation with China.”