Iran Mulls Over Eurasian Security Organization

By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) – Although President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to participate in next month’s summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, the whole Iranian approach toward this regional, part economic, part security, organization is now under review in Tehran, as part and parcel of a “new foreign policy” promised by Rouhani and his foreign policy team headed by Javad Zarif.

Inducted as observer, along with India, Pakistan and Mongolia, since 2005, Iran has in fact sought full membership in the SCO since 2008, only to be rebuffed by the legalistic argument that the organization’s rules disallow membership by any country that is under the UN sanctions. Clearly, that is giving the UN sanctions too much importance and if China and Russia, the two leading SCO powers, really wanted they could come up with a creative solution, such as a “conditional acceptance” of Iran that would hinge on Iran’s resolution of its current problems with the UN atomic agency, the IAEA.

Poland Braces For UN Climate Conference

By Anna Rutkowski | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

WARSAW (IDN) – “We need to be prepared for nine billion people on this planet, as we all deserve a decent and secure life. By being creative, the world can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs, promoting economic growth and ensuring better living standards. Where there is a will, there is a way!” says Marcin Korolec, the Polish Minister of the Environment, who will chair a landmark UN climate change conference from November 11 to 22, 2013 in Warsaw.

A lawyer, career civil servant and negotiator, Korolec wants the global conference to agree on a balance between the needs of the environment and the economy, “in order to seamlessly unite environmental protection and economic growth”. Environmental protection, he says, is an interdisciplinary field that directly influences many other policy areas and is strongly influenced by international arrangements and standards.

Turkey Tip Toes To Improve Ties with Iran

By Siamak Kakaei* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) – Turkey is currently grappling in its domestic politics with widespread popular protests in a number of Turkish cities. Also, on a regional level, Ankara is dealing with the aftermath of another crisis in its southern neighbour, Syria, and is also looking for ways to give a proper response to the demands of its own Kurdish population. The question is: Will these domestic and regional developments have any important effect on the foreign policy of (Turkey’s Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan? Will Ankara’s foreign policy, which has been known in recent years as the new regional and Middle Eastern policy of Turkey, undergo changes as a result of the aforesaid developments?

Uncertainty Looms Over Terrestrial Ecosystems

By Jutta Wolf | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – The doomsday clock has not yet struck zero hour but it is now beyond scientific doubt that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the greenhouses gases responsible for climate change, have reached levels that are higher than any time during the past one million years.

As Markus Reichstein, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) in Jena points out, increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases do not only lead to gradual ‘global warming’, but also to changed patterns of rain and snowfall (precipitation), more weather extremes such as heat waves, longer dry spells, variability of growing season length, recurrent heavy rainfall, and storms. And, there is general concern that climate change will have fundamental impacts on our natural environment, our economic activities and life.

Iran and P5+1 Talk About New Nuclear Talks

By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – Preparations are afoot for a new, and perhaps a promising, round of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) over Tehran’s nuclear energy program. According to Press TV, Kazakhstan is willing to host the negotiations for the third time in succession this year.

Undeterred by continued impasse at the talks in Almaty on April 6-7 and earlier on February 26-27, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov made the announcement during a phone conversation with new Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi on August 18.

China Not the Global Engine of Economic Growth

By Michael Pettis* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BEIJING (IDN | Yale Global) – Imagine having predicted in 1990 that the Japanese economy, then widely expected to overtake the US within a decade or two, would grow on average by less than 1 percent a year for the next 20 years. In the unlikely case that anyone believed you, he would probably have drawn two worrisome conclusions.

First, Japan at that time was considered the world’s growth engine, and so a collapse in Japanese growth would likely throw the world into a tailspin. Second, if after several decades of robust expansion Japanese growth were suddenly to drop so dramatically, there was sure to be social and political upheaval in Japan.

Egypt A Hard Nut To Crack, Not Only For Obama

By J. C. Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

TORNTO (IDN) – President Barack Obama is coming under growing pressure at home to order “an immediate suspension” of military aid to Egypt and work with the United Nations, the African Union and other international institutions as well as Europe and Arab countries to put concerted pressure on the Egyptian military government to reverse its current policies.

Such persistent appeals are coming at a point in time when analysts stress that since the military took control in July and ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in the aftermath of popular demand, the Gulf sheikdoms have stepped in with more than $12 billion of concessionary loans and critical energy deliveries with a view to backing General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s hard line. “The United States’ leverage pales in comparison: a mere $1.5 billion in annual assistance, $1.3 billion of which goes to the military,” says Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Revived Nalanda Should Include Buddhists

By Shenali D Waduge* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

COLOMBO (IDN) – In 1193 A.D. Nalanda, the world’s oldest Buddhist university was ransacked and destroyed by foreign invaders led by the Turkish Bakhityar Khiliji because the 14 acre “giver of knowledge” was a strong pillar of Buddhism and attracted students from all over the world, including countries such as Turkey and Persia. The invaders burnt to ruins the magnificent library and other architectural masterpieces of the Nalanda University.

In 2006, it was announced that Nalanda University was to be revived with the efforts and contributions of numerous countries. However, the issue is that old Nalanda was essentially a Buddhist place of learning promoting Buddhist beliefs and philosophy – the new architects are ironing out a creation of ancient Nalanda with a modern twist to include subjects that are taught in general universities thereby denying the Buddhist niche that Nalanda epitomized.

Another Step Towards Halting Desertification

By Ramesh Jaura | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – When representatives of 194 States and the European Union, which are parties to one of the landmark global conventions, meet in the Namibian capital Windhoek from September 16 to 27, they will focus on intensifying efforts for ushering in a world free of poverty generating DLLD – desertification, land degradation and drought.

The significance of this herculean task lies in the fact that unlike flood disasters and tsunamis, whose catastrophic impact is easily brought into drawing rooms around the world, land degradation befalls soil like creeping cancer and its appalling dimensions often elude the eye of a camera.

Egypt: Supporting Democracy the American Way

By Jeremy R. Hammond* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TAIPEI (IDN) – When the Obama administration announced on July 25 that it was free to violate U.S. law by continuing to finance the Egyptian military to the tune of $1.5 billion annually, even though it was responsible for overthrowing the democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup d’tat on July 3, the message was understood loud and clear in Cairo. Two days later, the Egyptian military massacred over 70 demonstrators who were protesting Morsi’s ouster.

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