Syria: A New Battlefield For Shias and Sunnis

By Manish Rai* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – Islam as a religion was divided between Shias and Sunnis after the death of Prophet Mohammad in 632 A.D. Shia followed Ali Mohammad’s son-in-law and Sunni went behind Abu Bakr, Father of Prophet Mohammad wife Aisha. This political divide between the Muslims turned into bloody sectarian clashes which claimed millions of human lives over a long period of time. This battle is still continuing in various countries of Middle East like Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

The Myth and Reality of Venezuela-Iran Ties

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

CARACAS (IDN | – Two events that defy hawk logic have taken place in the same month. First, on June 5 United States secretary of state John Kerry met with Venezuela’s foreign minister, Elias Jaua, and stated that he had agreed to pursue a more “positive relationship” with Venezuela. Then, just weeks later, Iranians voted in a president who has openly argued against nuclear proliferation.

What happened? Iran and Venezuela’s amiable relationship of the last decade was supposed to be the sum of all fears for Washington. Two “tyrants”, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez, were accused of co-sponsoring all sorts of wild, fantastical plots by Washington’s warmongers. But was the Iran-Venezuela relationship ever about crushing the “free world” by assembling an unholy alliance of druglords, Islamists and socialists, or is there a slightly saner explanation?

North Korea and a Nuclear Weapons Ban

By Frederick N. Mattis* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay

ANNAPOLIS, USA (IDN) – To abolish nuclear weapons, North Korea and all states would have to join the ban before its entry into force, for three reasons. First, the nuclear ban (or abolition) treaty, often called a Nuclear Weapons Convention, would not create true abolition unless all states are parties to it. Second, current nuclear powers in all likelihood would not join unless the ban when enacted is truly global. (There already exists the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which has been joined by all but nine states as “non-nuclear weapon” parties.) Third, unanimity of accession by states would give the ban unprecedented geopolitical force for ongoing compliance by states – desirable in itself, and a crucial incentive for today’s nuclear weapon possessors to actually renounce their arsenals.

An enacted nuclear ban treaty would bring the following benefits to all states and people: freedom from the threat of nuclear war or attack, freedom from possible “false-alarm” nuclear missile launch, and freedom from possible terrorist acquisition of a weapon from a state’s nuclear arsenal.

Afghanistan: Targeted Killing Victim’s Family Takes UK Govt. To Court

By Kate Clark, AAN* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

A case of civilian casualties originally researched by Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) has found its way to the High Court in London. A bank worker from rural Takhar, Habib Rahman, who lost five close relatives in a targeting killing during the 2010 Afghan election campaign, is challenging the legality of the alleged involvement of a British civilian police body in putting together the military’s targeted killing list, the so-called JPEL. AAN Senior Analyst Kate Clark, who conducted the original investigation, reports.

No Accord Yet on Marine Protected Areas

By Jutta Wolf | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

BREMERHAVEN, GERMANY (IDN) – A special meeting of the 25 Members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) concluded in Bremerhaven, Germany, on July 16, 2013 without achieving any agreement.

The reason, according to the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA), was the Russian delegation’s blocking of proposals for the two largest ocean sanctuaries in the world in pristine Antarctic waters. Subsequently, “an extraordinary opportunity to protect the global marine environment for future generations” had been lost, AOA’s Steve Campbell said.

US-Egypt: Walking A Tight Rope

By Suzane Mneimneh*

IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis | Geopolitical Monitor

DETROIT (IDN) – News outlets, think tanks, and politicians worldwide are discussing the huge dilemma now faced by Washington on the shape and structure of US-Egyptian relations after the Egyptian Army toppled the democratically elected government of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3. U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration must decide between supporting democracy or supporting the popular opposition against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt. This decision will have a major influence on future relations between the two countries, particularly on the issue of aid.

Tear Down Israeli-Built Wall

By Jean-Pierre Lehmann* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay

DEAD SEA, JORDAN (IDN | Yale Global) – While visiting the Berlin Wall in June 1963, two years after its construction, John F. Kennedy quoted from a Robert Frost poem: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” For decades the Berlin Wall stood as the symbol of a divided world, a barrier to dialogue and an indictment of humanity’s incapacity to cohabit in the global village. With great drama President Ronald Reagan called on the Russian president, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” To the jubilation of millions in November 1989, the Wall did come tumbling down.

Green Climate Fund Moves Ahead

By Meena Raman* | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

GENEVA (IDN) – The fourth meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board, which began on June 26 in Songdo, South Korea, concluded on June 28 with the selection of its Executive Director as well as the adoption of decisions on the ‘business model framework’, which includes the private sector facility.

A decision was taken to set up three new structures under the private sector facility, to determine the terms of engagement with the private sector, exert due diligence and manage risks, as well as to review investment proposals and instruments.

The GCF Board selected Hela Cheikhrouhou as the Fund Secretariat’s first Executive Director (ED), following a global recruitment process.

Kudos and Critique for France’s Aid Policy

By Richard Johnson | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

PARIS (IDN) – While commending France for its commitment to aid, its overall development strategy and its engagement at the global level to promote it, including innovative financing, an OECD review has urged the government “not to compromise its ability to help reduce poverty in poor and fragile countries.”

It also calls upon France “to do more to support civil society organisations and gender equality and to build stronger capacity for developing countries to manage their own futures.” The country could also do more to monitor the results of its development efforts, says the Review of the Development Co-operation Policies and Programmes of France, which is available only in French.

Out of Poverty with Aid for Trade

By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

GENEVA (IDN) – Development assistance alone will not suffice to lead the way out of poverty. It must be backed by Aid for Trade. Inspired by this belief, the powerful European Commission, the OECD and WTO, are making an impassioned plea for boosting Aid for Trade (AfT) flows, arguing that these result in lower trade costs and improved trade performance.

One in six people in the world today live on less than a dollar a day, argues the European Commission. These poor people need decent jobs, in order to make a living and provide for their families. At the same time, governments need tax revenue to invest in social services and encourage economic growth.

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