Friday, 27 November 2020
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United Nations

The French are grabbing the headlines with up to 20 sorties, but despite appearing to hang back, the US is doing the heavy lifting in the enforcement of the UN no-fly zone over Libya.

Their Odyssey Dawn operation  launched 110-112 Tomahawk land attack missiles at over 20 air defence systems; communications and SA-5 surface to air missile sites. F-18s supported by C-17s and a C-130 arrived at Aviano in Italy.

 No bomb damage assessment will be possible until it is light over Libya. No Reaper or Predator unmanned planes are currently deployed.

The naval task force in the Mediterrranean consists of 11 US ships (of which 3 are submarines) 11 Italian, 3 UK (one submarine which also launched Tomahawks, HMS Cumberland and HMS Westminster), and one each from France and Canada. But the French carrier Charles de Gaulle isalso  reported to be on her way.

French aircraft - believed to be Rafales - were in the first wave. There is an unconfirmed Gaddafi regime claim to have shot down a French plane.  As part of Op Ellamy British Tornado GR4 bombers from RAF Marham flew overnight direct to lauch Storm Shadow stand off missiles and up to 18 Typhoon fighters from RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars. Antique 3 VC-10 refueling planes are being positioned at the sovereign base of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. 2 Nimrod R1s, destined for the scrap heap as recently as a fortnight ago, and 3 Sentry AWACS have also been deployed from there by the RAF.

Denmark and Norway are both sending six F-16 fighters, probably to the US base of Sigonella in Sicily, , and Spanish F-18 Hornets are also expected to be in operation, as are the Dutch. 6 Canadian CF-18s were refuelled in Scotland en route south. No info yet on the specifics of Arab involvement.

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Afghan News Roundup, 24 December 2012: Part One compiled by Elayne Jude, Great North News Service

Cruel Winter on the way

Life in winter in Afghan's internal refugee camps is a struggle to survive. Last winter, at least 42 people died of exposure or starvation in makeshift camps on Kabul's perimeters, according to the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations. The French aid group Solidarites International estimates more than 100 children died.

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By Laurent Rathborn, UK Defence Forum Researcher

The moral question over how Europe and America should respond to Gaddafi's attack on civilians has been at least partially answered; aircraft from multiple nations are attempting to keep the peace, and so far seem to be succeeding. What happens next, however, depends on a number of factors and the response that NATO forces will adopt in the face of ongoing violence. Unlike Iraq in the mid-90s, this no-fly-zone (NFZ) has been set up right in the middle of a civil war. Legitimised by its bid to throw off a tyrant who, like Saddam Hussein, has little compunction about murdering his own citizens, this is almost a textbook example of an uphill struggle for democratic freedom, supported by a regional body – the Arab League - which asked for outside help in restoring sanity.

Unlike Iraq, where the no-fly zone was imposed after the brunt of the fighting had stopped, this conflict is still hot. Several ways forwards for NATO forces are now possible, but will depend on Gaddafi's next moves. In the immediate term, there must be an active effort to prevent what happened at the end of the first Gulf War; a deliberate punishment of civilians by Saddam's helicopter corps. Whereas all reports indicate that Gaddafi's air forces are now no longer a factor, it will take constant monitoring to ensure that revenge attacks are not perpetrated by ground forces in the future for what NATO is doing in the present.

Libyan government forces have thousands of square miles of desert to hide in, and the language used in Resolution 1973 explicitly forbids foreign occupation. However, as noted by UK government ministers, in strict legal terms, a ground force does not have to be an occupation force. The situation as it exists at the moment is very fluid, and all efforts will be concentrated on stopping government forces punishing civilians and disabling the infrastructure that enables them to do so. Strikes to this effect have already been carried out, but NATO forces will eventually run out of military targets. Once they do, several options may present themselves. The following are listed in order of aggression:

Actively target the Libyan leadership by military means. Emplace a NATO-backed, UN-approved government;Actively target the Libyan leadership in order to place them before the International Criminal Court, which is investigating multiple human rights abuses by the regime;Quarantine the east of the country from government forces via heavy NFZ activity or troop emplacement while seeking a political settlement that may end in partition or the creation of a transitional rebel-led government. Allow the internal prosecution of former regime elements;Continue to quarantine the air and wait for the rebels to win;Retreat, and let affairs come to their own conclusion.

The last of these is unlikely, but is included for the sake of completeness in the light of complaints by the Arab League that the intervention goes too far and was not what it had envisaged when it asked for international help. There are feelings amongst some commentators that those expressing legitimate revolutionary sentiments in Libya have now been disenfranchised by NATO's actions. They miss the more immediate point that people expressing revolutionary sentiments would have been overrun by now without intervention. Whether the democratic protests and rebel action can still be called legitimate is a talking point for political philosophers; what matters now is what NATO, the democratic rebels, and the Arab League can achieve.

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By Yusuf Yerkel,

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed the fourth round of sanctions on Iran on June 9, 2010. Since then there has been no indication that Iran has become more cooperative and willing to open up its nuclear facility. In fact, economic sanctions against Iran have not prevented the pursuit  of uranium enrichment activities at all. Nowadays the propaganda of waging war against Iran as a resolution has been speculated around various administrations, in particular in the US and Israel. Whether such speculations will materialize remains to be seen. However "appealing" waging war against Iran is for some neo-cons, Turkey's paradigm stands as a potential conciliatory approach for conflict resolution not only in the case of Iran but also in other regional crisis.

The security culture of 'zero problems' with its neighbours is the primary reference point within which Turkey's stance on Iran should be analyzed. Rather than implementing hard power policy, the soft power approach has become the fundamental instrument in resolving regional problems. As the Turkish foreign minster Davutoglu pronounced, Turkey has adopted a new language in regional and international politics that prioritises civil-economic power.

Turkey's new security culture puts more emphasis on economic integration, cultural and political dialogue and room for diplomacy in conflict resolutions. According to Turkey, pursuing merely political engagement among regional actors would render the relationship very fragile in the light of crisis, whereas deepening ties by various non-political mechanisms offers the opportunity to overcome crises. In fact, Turkish President Abdullah Gul in his recent speech at Chatham House raised this point by arguing that boosting economic cooperation, which will in turn translate into prosperity, has the potential to prevent political problems from arising in zones of conflict in various regions.

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By Dr Robert Crowcroft

If there is one observation that everyone thinks to be true, it is that the United Nations is a humanitarian vehicle for doing good around the world. Perhaps. But certainly not in the sense that is usually presented to Western publics. The UN Charter was shaped by the wartime 'Big Three' (America, Britain, and the Soviet Union) and ratified on 24 October 1945; yet this document was decidedly not a vehicle for Utopianism and delusion. Instead, it constituted a thoroughly conventional framework for a 'Concert' of the major powers, through which these states would impose stability on the rest of the world. The difficulty is that in contemporary public debate there exists deep misunderstanding as to what the United Nations is for. At a time when financial stringency is likely to further diminish the West's standing, parliamentarians and other opinion-formers need to be far more aware of how the UN was actually conceived.

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by Brett D. Schaefer

On September 23, President Barack Obama will give his first address to the United Nations General Assembly. Recent statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice may offer several clues as to the content of the President's speech. Both laid out a wide-ranging agenda that, together, would have the U.S. seeking U.N. action on nuclear proliferation and disarmament, global warming, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, development, women's rights, and a number of other issues.

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By Leila Ouardani

"UN Security Council Reform will not be taken up until the Council's membership is so at odds with the modern world that the point is reached where this dysfunction undermines the legitimacy of the Council's decisions."

- Peter Wilenski, Australia's Permanent Representative to the UN, 1991

Peter Wilenski's analysis of the future of UN Security Council reform was made at the time when it had only just begun fulfilling its role as envisaged by its founders. The Cold War had resulted in the virtual paralysis of the Council, with vetoes

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