game of chicken The heat is on in the West's proxy war with Moscow – Quartz

No one knows where the brinksmanship between Russia and the West is going or will end. Brutal combat in Ukraine is the latest trigger-point, with increasing military, financial and diplomatic threats on both sides. Both Russia and the West seem cognizant that, like the edgiest moments of the Cold War, miscalculation is the greatest peril—the danger that one side will inadvertently escalate the crisis, triggering a spiral of reprisals. Yet they are pushing nonetheless.

Russian president Vladimir Putin resembles the reluctant pugilist pleading for someone to save society from himself—urging Kyiv to stop resisting Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine and instead to let these regions become all-but independent. He keeps making menacing off-mic remarks that his aides then walk back—telling Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the EU, that if he really wants to invade Ukraine, he will capture Kiev in two weeks; and insisting on talks on statehood for eastern Ukraine.

The conflicted West seems increasingly determined to push back, fearing that a lack of response will be the greatest miscalculation of all, emboldening Putin to threaten NATO members. Unlike earlier skirmishes since the Ukraine crisis began five months ago, the West will probably approve limited military action against Russia this week. In a meeting in Wales, NATO seems likely to create a rapid-speed combat force numbering 4,000 troops to react in case of a Russian threat to eastern European NATO members.

It’s a step short of the bolder move urged by senior US and European statesmen: to arm Ukraine. In a note today to clients, Eurasia Group’s Mujtaba Rahman said that Germany and France will probably block a direct flow of NATO weapons to Ukraine. “German history and public opinion make an intervention of this type on Europe’s doorstep unthinkable,” Rahman wrote.

Yet step-by-step, Europe—and in particular Germany—is less and less hesitant about taking on Putin. That’s partly because of the Russian military’s brazen and bloody direct intervention, including last week’s massacre—reportedly by separatists backed by Russian troops and armor—of retreating Ukrainian forces outside the town of Illovaisk. This resulted in an unhappy response today from Moscow, which said that NATO is “aggravating tensions with Russia” and that Russia will respond.

More oil penalties are next

The West is unlikely—at this stage at least—to cut off Russia from the SWIFT international payments system, the action that many think brought Iran to the negotiating table. The reason appears again to be the danger of unintended consequences—that Russia and perhaps others such as China might simply co-conspire and create an alternative to SWIFT.

Oil is arguably as potent a weapon as SWIFT when it comes to Russia. As a key step this week, the US and possibly also Europe appear poised to aim new sanctions at Russia’s next-generation (paywall) oil- and gas-production ambitions. The idea is to further restrict the export of equipment critical for difficult oil wells and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, moves that would hobble production that Moscow hopes to bring on line after 2020, when Putin may still be serving. Oil and gas exports pay for half the Russian state budget.

Russia claims that if it cannot obtain oilfield equipment from the West, it will simply buy it from China or South Korea. Oil super-majors fear punishment by Putin if he continues to feel pressured about oil. In an age when large oil reserves are harder than ever to find, it’s a danger about which super-majors have been urgently warning Western governments as they consider more sanctions. But as of now, the US makes the most advanced technology for shale, deepwater and LNG development, giving the West the advantage in terms of oil leverage.

For now, ExxonMobil, which is carrying out some of the most crucial work in the Russian Arctic and the Bazhenov onshore field, seems inoculated from penalties because its contracts pre-date the sanctions. It’s the next stages of work that some analysts suspect will complicate Putin’s Ukraine strategy. In response to a query from Quartz, ExxonMobil said, “We are continuing to assess the sanctions and will comply.”

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

Iranian playwright travels the world by proxy through his play White Rabbit … – ABC Local (blog)

Posted: Monday, 1 September 2014 at 9:46am

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour is a far cry from what theatre goers would consider a regular theatre experience. Soleimanpour, who refused to take part in Iran’s compulsory military service, is unable to leave the country. So he has constructed a play that can travel without the usual trappings of a theatre production.

There are no rehearsals. No director. No script rewrites. There is only one actor each night. They don’t know the script until they walk on stage and sneak peeks are unavailable because no one is allowed to film the play.

“It’s an astonishingly brilliant piece of work really, it kind of sat me down the first time I read it and I felt really compelled to do it,” says Melissa Cantwell, Artistic Director Perth Theatre Company.

This mysterious production has been performed around the world and is due to open in Perth on September 2. The play will be performed by nine actors and in an unusual twist Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlum will also take the stage.

“I don’t even know what I’m going to be doing let alone how it’s going to be received,” says actor Sam Longley who will perform opening night.

- Produced by Brendan Hutchens

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit runs 2 – 13 September 2014 at Perth Theatre Company

Related Content
Watch>> Belvoir Theatre’s 20 Questions gets to the heart of Indigenous Australia
Read>> Sex workers and theatre community remain at odds over Ugly Mugs

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

Libya Dawn takes upper hand in civil war, as regional powers intervene – Middle East Eye

Revelations that the UAE and Egypt have carried out air strikes in Tripoli indicate the forces of Libya Dawn are gaining the upper hand over Khalifa Haftar and his supporters, according to analysts who have said what was a regional proxy war has now become a hot conflict.

Four American officials said mysterious air strikes that killed at least 17 Libyans in Tripoli on 17 and 23 August, targeting Misratan and Islamist fighters battling for the capital’s airport, were carried out by UAE warplanes launched from airbases in Egypt.

“We don’t see this as constructive at all,” one of the unnamed officials told the New York Times.

The Egyptians have dismissed the reports as false while the Emiratis said they have “no reaction” to the allegations. Libya’s ambassador to the UN Ibrahim Dabbashi told Reuters on Monday he doesn’t believe the claims of foreign intervention. The US State Department refused to publicly comment on the leaked report.

The leak, however, has confirmed rumours of Emirati and Egyptian intervention for many and led commentators to brand their air strikes a failure.

“Militarily speaking these strikes were another failure,” said Mattia Toaldo, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The bombings happened on Saturday [23 August] and by the evening the Misratan militias had captured the airport.”

“The rationale behind the strikes was likely that the airport was the main lifeline for the Zintanis in terms of armaments and refilling their arsenals. By taking the airport the Misratans have eliminated one of the main weapons supply hubs for their opponents.”

Others have gone further and suggested that the UAE acted in desperation to try and prop up their clients in Libya who appear to be losing the battle for control of the country.

“Recent events suggest the Libyan Shield, which seems to be fighting to protect Libya’s independence, is winning on the ground,” said Christopher Davidson, reader in Middle East politics and author of After the Sheikhs: the Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies. “This is perhaps why the Emirates has lashed out in this way. When more evidence is made available it will likely show huge amounts of Emirati cash has been supplied to the Zintanis.”

“The counter-counterrevolution seems to be winning and that would explain this desperate act by the UAE.”

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, oppose what they view as the dangerous rise of political Islam since revolutions swept across the Middle East in 2011. Others, including Davidson, view their attempts to roll back the changes of the past three years as a ploy to entrench authoritarianism in the region.

On the other side of what has been labelled a proxy war, Qatar and Turkey have overtly supported groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, controversially projecting themselves as seeking to support the democratic aspirations rooted among the uprisings.

Fighting to protect the 2011 revolution?

In Libya, battles across the country have pitched the forces of Libya Dawn versus those of Khalifa Haftar. Many have characterised it as a war between Islamists and nationalists, however, revelations of foreign intervention have fuelled a narrative that Libya Dawn is in fact fighting to protect the 2011 revolution.

“This leak has confirmed the Misratan militia’s narrative,” said Toaldo. “It feeds into the idea that the Misratan and Islamist side is not so much fighting in the name of Islamism, but rather it is battling in the name of the revolution against the allies of the former Gaddafi regime and foreign intervention in Libya.”

“There will no doubt be the perception that the Emiratis have carried out these attacks because there are former members of the regime based in the UAE.”

While the Libya Dawn forces now control the capital, as well as Benghazi in the east, the recently elected House of Representatives have sent their foreign minister to Cairo to seek help. Talks regarding regional intervention are continuing on Tuesday, after the old parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), announced it would be reconvening in Tripoli to “save the country”.

Although battle lines are being drawn by Libya Dawn, seeking to project the conflict as a war between revolutionaries and authoritarianism, some commentators have suggested the reality is quite different and rooted in personal interests.

“If it is the case that the House of Representatives is siding with Zintan and Haftar’s forces, calling the Misratan fighters terrorists, then this will simply exacerbate divisions,” Anas El Gomati, founder and director of the Sadeq Institute, Libya’s first public policy think tank based in Tripoli. “The GNC sides with the Misratan militias, as it feels they can get protection from them.”

“Both sides appear to be in the control of militias and neither are serving the needs and democratic aspirations of the Libyan people.”

Gomati explained that as the Libya Dawn forces are projecting themselves as protecting the revolution from Haftar’s Operation Dignity, they must be held to high moral standards.

“The Misratans are claiming to be fighting in the name of the revolution and that means they have higher moral aspirations than Haftar, who is well known as being pro-Gaddafi,” he said. “In that sense they require a heightened amount of scrutiny.”

“Libya Dawn, which is a reactionary military force, has to come up to speed on some basic principles. Most Libyans want to see an advancement of their democratic aspirations underpinned by the principle of participation in government and civil oversight of the military and security forces.”

The opportunity is certainly there for Libya Dawn, who now not only hold military power, but are also winning support among the Libyan public.

“Support for Libya Dawn has swelled after the parliament in Tobruk voted in favour of foreign intervention, as many felt this would undermine the 2011 revolution,” said the ECFR’s Toaldo. “We will see more cities and more tribes tilting towards them after news of the UAE and Egyptian strikes, as it feeds into that narrative of opposing foreign meddling in Libya.”

“The trend in the past month has been more cities and towns siding with Libya Dawn. The tide has turned against Haftar.”

Proxy war turned hot conflict

While there appears to be an opportunity for Libya Dawn to gain ground both militarily and politically, the emerging civil war is now clearly not just a matter for Libyans. Rumours of a proxy war pitching Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt against Qatar and Turkey have now become a hot conflict, at least for Abu Dhabi and Cairo.

The Qataris and Turks have long been accused of supporting Libya Dawn with weapons and money, although there has been no hard evidence given to support these allegations. It has been claimed Doha founded the powerful February 17 brigade, which is now fighting Haftar’s forces in Benghazi, and provided jets for the 2011 Nato intervention that brought about the fall of Gaddafi.

Some have speculated about whether Qatar will now enter the conflict directly, as the UAE appears to have done, although Gulf experts have been swift to dismiss the idea.

“Qatar is aware of the risk of engaging directly in a hot conflict, as a small wealthy state,” said Durham University’s Davidson. “I don’t think they will make the same kind of gamble that Abu Dhabi has made.”

“Getting involved in a hot conflict will disturb the protection umbrella these states enjoy from the US and it also exposes them to potentially grave blowback.”

Davidson explained that for the UAE, being involved in directly attacking another country marks a watershed moment in its short history since independence in 1971.

“This is incredibly significant, as it is the first hard evidence of the UAE shifting from proxy to engaging in a hot conflict for the first time in its history,” he said. “There is now a leadership in place that has abandoned the UAE’s historic foreign policy pillars, which under Sheikh Zayed [the country’s first president] involved being carefully realistic about the small wealthy country’s position in the regional system.”

As for Libyans, their country has become a battleground for a war between wealthy regional powers seeking to pursue wildly conflicting agendas. The consequences continue to prove deadly. Since Libya Dawn forces seized control of much of the capital on Saturday nearly 150 houses have been reported burnt in Tripoli as well as the premises of a local television channel.

Divisions rack a country lacking effective institutions but that now possesses two parliaments. The UN Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss the crisis and many Libyans, analysts said, will be hoping a prospective resolution can provide an implementable plan that will lead to reconciliation and put an end to an emerging civil war.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

Libya's Proxy Apocalypse – Daily Beast

Secretive air raids on Tripoli expose the widening outside interference in the midst of Libya’s chaos

The mystery warplanes that thundered in on Islamist militias fighting for control of the Libyan capital this week are harbingers of a widening regional conflict. The Libyan chaos following the U.S.-backed ouster of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has opened the way to a proxy war among regional and global powers that Washington appears utterly unable to contain – even as it wades once again into the carnage of Iraq and possibly Syria.

This week U.S. officials publicly confirmed that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates carried out airstrikes against the Islamist militias in Tripoli on August 18 and 22, but said they had not given the green light for the raids.

But this does not square with what members of the recently elected Libyan House of Representatives are saying in Tobruk, where they are holed up because Tripoli is too dangerous. They say Obama officials were aware that air strikes by the U.A.E. were to be launched, even though they did not endorse them. It appears Washington also withheld approval for further planned interventions involving not only the U.A.E. and Egypt but Algeria as well.

In any case, the raids mounted by U.A.E. warplanes using Egyptian air bases proved ineffectual in stopping renegade Islamists from securing Tripoli’s mostly destroyed international airport.

The United States and its European allies fear outside interference will only exacerbate deep political divisions and will draw Libya deeper into regional disputes, turning the country into a proxy battleground for outside powers. But the Americans and the British have closed their embassies because of the growing threat to their personnel. And once again Washington, Brussels, Paris and London seem to be behind the curve figuring out what’s happening on the ground.

 Advisers to Libya’s latest interim prime minister, Abdullah al-Thinni, accuse Western powers of “lacking realism” about the perilous situation that already exists.

In fact, Libya is now caught between warring Islamist militias in an alliance called Libyan Dawn, which is widely believed to have the support of Qatar, and their opponents, some of whom are backed by the U.A.E. and Egypt. One of the strongest of the anti-Islamists is a renegade general, Khalifa Haftar, who is fighting in the east.

“The Obama administration is kidding itself about what is happening here,” Hassan Tatanaki, a Libyan philanthropist, businessman and government advisor. “This is already a proxy war. Washington is making a mistake in not embracing this as a regional problem. And U.S. officials are too accommodating of the Islamists and too ready to draw distinctions between various militants: jihadist, Islamist, they are all part of the same movement and they have a plan.”

Tatanaki dismisses the argument that the fighting in Libya is a civil war, saying it is a battle between Islamists and non-Islamists. “Look at how they have spread. These groups are integrated. There is a serious plan here. Washington needs to look at the bigger picture. Underestimating these groups is a mistake.”

But not all members of the “Tobruk” government foreign intervention against the Islamists is the right move. Six ministers in al-Thinni’s government resigned Wednesday after accusing the government of taking sides in the escalating battles between rival militias. (Further complicating the situation: Libya is set to have two governments after the outgoing Islamist-dominated parliament in Tripoli named a rival prime minister on Monday.)

Other lawmakers and government advisers embrace the involvement of regional powers such as Libya’s neighbor Egypt and the U.A.E. but warn against the West becoming involved militarily, fearing that would provoke a widespread jihad and bond Libyan Islamists with foreign jihadists. “That would be a disaster,” Tatanaki said in a phone interview.  “The minute you start putting in Western forces even some Libyans who hate the militants will join forces with them.”

“The Obama administration is kidding itself about what is happening here”

Divisions within al-Thinni’s government are not assisting Western powers to develop a policy to cope with the chaos in Libya. On Monday, European Union countries condemned the air strikes and called for a ceasefire and “constructive dialogue.” Some in al-Thinni’s government say the time for “dialogue” is over – hence the turn to Egypt and the Gulf for help.

“Someone has to try to take the situation in hand,” says another Libyan government adviser, who suggests U.S. diplomats were not informed in detail about the planned Emirati air strikes but were kept in the loop about discussions with the Egyptians, Emiratis and Algerians. 

Libya’s collapse into all-out militia warfare and the increasing presence of jihadists is terrifying the country’s neighbors. They fear also a refugee crisis. Diplomats from Egypt, Chad, Tunisia, Algeria and Sudan have met in Cairo to discuss how to halt the violence in Libya. They have argued that further escalation will require full-scale foreign intervention and that if Libya is allowed to continue as a failed state al Qaeda and other jihadist groups will turn it into a safe haven and pose a threat just a short boat ride from the southern shores of Europe.

More than 3,000 people have fled their homes near Tripoli’s international airport, which has seen heavy clashes for weeks between Islamist militias from the town of Misrata and fighters from an alliance led by commanders from the western mountain town of Zintan who are backing renegade general Khalifa Haftar, a one-time C.I.A. asset.

Contingents from the general’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army have been engaged in fierce battles in Benghazi with Ansar al-Sharia, one of the jihadist-inspired groups blamed for the 2012 razing of the U.S. diplomatic compound where Ambassador Christopher Stevens died.

Tripoli is barely functioning: food shops are running low and fuel is hard to find. Militiamen from the western mountain town of Zintan are furious at the loss of the international airport, which they have controlled since the ouster of Gaddafi. They are vowing that the war has only just begun.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

ConMed Gets Mixed Messages on Proxy Fight From Advisory Firms – TheStreet.com

Ronald Orol

08/29/14 – 10:32 AM EDT

NEW YORK (The Deal) — Two proxy advisory firms sent a split message to surgical device maker ConMed (CNMD)  shareholders about whether they should back a three-person dissident slate of candidates activist fund Voce Capital Management LLC has put up for the company’s eight-person board.

Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis recommended that ConMed shareholders support two of three nominees put forward by the dissident, Voce said in a statement Friday.

However, Institutional Shareholder Services, the other major proxy advisory firm, told investors to support all of the surgical device maker’s incumbent slate. It noted in a report obtained by The Deal that the company’s board “has already made significant changes in the past year both to its own composition and to the senior executive ranks and the dissidents have not made a compelling case that additional change at the board level is necessary.”

Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that a settlement will be reached prior to ConMed’s scheduled annual meeting set for Sept. 10. ConMed already had pushed back the meeting from May 22.

The two Voce nominees Glass Lewis supported are James Green, president and CEO of Analogic Corp. and Joshua Levine, CEO of Accuray Inc. Both come from companies that have medical technology businesses. The proxy advisory firm didn’t support Voce Capital’s founder and managing partner Daniel Plants, the third dissident nominee for the board.

ISS in its report argued that Voce didn’t make any substantive argument that the incumbent nominees are responsible for any history of poor operating performance. It added that Voce also did not make a good case that the targeted incumbent directors themselves performed poorly as “steward of public shareholders.”

A key change came in July, when ConMed restructured its leadership, which included CEO Joseph Corasanti stepping down. Corasanti is the son of founder Eugene Corasanti, who started up ConMed in the 1970s and previously served as chairman – he retired from that position in February.

In its recommendation, ISS noted that in an “unusual twist” the board has substantially remade itself since the last annual meeting by eliminating the founder and his son and replacing five other incumbents with new directors.

Plants, in February, launched a proxy contest to install five directors on the company’s board. However, recognizing that the company has made substantial changes since he launched his campaign, the hedge fund manager subsequently dropped his slate to three candidates, saying that the company has made some positive moves, including personnel adjustments, leading him to think it no longer needed a change of control.

ConMed also announced in July that it had concluded a review of its strategic alternatives, including a sale and that “various strategic alternatives available” at the time did not “adequately reflect the intrinsic value of the company or its future growth prospects.” The stock price dropped following that announcement and has never really recovered since, closing Thursday at $38.14 a share.

However, people familiar with Plants’ thinking on the matter said that he wonders whether the company really conducted a thorough auction process.

The new interim CEO is Curt Hartman, a dissident nominee that another activist fund, Coppersmith Capital Management LLC, put up for the company’s board. Coppersmith eventually settled with ConMed to get Hartman on the board in February. However, according to ISS Voce has expressed concern abut the board’s decision to appoint Hartman interim CEO, contending this makes him “the presumptive nominee” for the permanent CEO role and arguing that his “experience may not be well matched with the company’s needs.”

ConMed’s press release upon bringing him in as interim CEO notes that Hartman had a 22-year career at medical device maker Stryker Corp. from 1990 through the beginning of 2013, serving as interim CEO for several months in 2012. “There may be reasons Hartman is not the right choice for permanent CEO at ConMed – there were, apparently, reasons the Stryker board previously felt he wasn’t the right choice there,” ISS said.

The advisory firm recommendations also come after Voce on Monday offered to settle for two seats on the board of the Utica, N.Y.-based company. He later withdrew the offer, citing a lack of response. However, that decision set off an exchange of strongly worded e-mails between ConMed’s chairman Mark Tryniski and Voce’s Plants.

Tryniski fired off an email (released Tuesday in a securities filing) raising concerns about whether Plants had given him enough time to respond to the Voce settlement offer. “I was surprised to see your press release cross the wire this morning at 9:00am ET. In your email to me at 9:30am ET yesterday you asked for a response within 24 hours,” Tryniski said.

In response to Tryniski’s public release of his e-mail, Plants made a string of e-mails going back to July 25 between him and ConMed’s chairman public through his own regulatory filing. Pointing out that an extra 25 minutes wouldn’t have made any difference, Plants wrote, “If you mean to suggest that the extra 25 minutes you believe you had remaining would have resulted in a substantive response (I notice your email didn’t contain one), why don’t you go ahead and make it now?”

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

Libya air strikes: escalation of proxy war? – Aljazeera.com

The political turmoil in Libya is exposing a growing gulf between rival Arab states. It is also defining a proxy war over the threat to the region’s old order since the start of the Arab Spring.

The United Arab Emirates is accused of carrying out air strikes on militias in Libya with support from Egypt. Two bombings in eight days are said to have caught the US completely by surprise.

The UAE has dismissed the claims as a “diversion”, while Egyp’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has denied any involvement.

The Arab uprisings and the events that followed have upset the established state system in the Arab world and seen the emergence of new alliances. 

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are viewed as having a common goal in trying to contain or eradicate political Islam, while Qatar and Turkey are seen as more sympathetic to these causes.

So is a simmering proxy war in the region spilling over to direct involvement? Who is backing whom? And what is the role of the US?

Presenter: Laura Kyle

Guests:

Rami Khouri – director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.

Ali Khedery – CEO of the strategic consultancy Dragoman Partners, and a former special assistant to five US ambassadors in Iraq.

Julien Barnes-Dacey – a senior policy fellow in the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Middle East and North Africa Programme.

240

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

Proxy War Feared in Libya as UN Envoy Warns Against Foreign Intervention – VICE News

The incoming United Nations envoy for Libya warned against foreign intervention today, as the country plunges deeper into civil conflict. On Monday, US officials accused the United Arab Emirates and Egypt of secretly conducting air strikes on Islamist militias who have seized control of Tripoli airport.

Washington has expressed alarm over aerial attacks last week on positions around the airport, claiming that they were carried out by Emirati jets using Egyptian bases. US officials reportedly said they were not consulted over the strikes, which threaten to turn the already disintegrating country into a battleground for a regional proxy war.

Then today, Bernadino Leon, the UN’s newly appointed special representative for Libya, said in Cairo that he did not believe that foreign intervention could halt Libya’s slide into turmoil. Leon, speaking on his last trip as EU envoy for the region, said the country needed international support to back “Libyans who want to fight chaos… through a political process.”

Libya’s years-long power struggle has intensified in recent weeks as an alliance of fighters — including some Islamist groups — from Misrata and other cities wrested Tripoli’s airport from the rival Zintan militia, loosely allied with the rogue General Khalifa Hifter, that controlled it since 2011.

Hundreds of people have died in a month of worsening violence that has reduced the airport to a burned-out shell. The controversial air strikes failed to halt the advance of the Misrata militias, who were seen dancing on the wings of airplanes in images after the fall of the airport on Saturday.

The Misrata alliance — operating under the banner Libya Dawn — is now said to be in de facto control of the entire capital after their opponents abandoned their positions. Tripoli has been left largely paralyzed with businesses closed and many residents scared to venture on to the streets. One government official said thousands had fled the city, while armed men reportedly raided and burned homes of government supporters

Mysterious airstrikes targeting Islamist Militia kill 15 in Tripoli. Read more here.

“They have now started burning houses and property belonging to people from Zintan, Warshafana, Warhafal and the east,” one resident tweeted. “Street fighting in different places, not safe.”

Libya has also been torn between two rival governments, after the previous Islamist-dominated parliament refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new assembly elected in June. The old General National Congress reconvened in Tripoli on Monday following calls from the Misrata alliance and voted to disband Libya’s interim government, while the new House of Representatives, based in Tobruk, has branded those in control of the capital “terrorist groups and outlaws”.

On Monday, US officials told the New York Times that the UAE had provided the military aircraft and crews for two sets of air strikes: the first on August 18 on a weapons depot and other militia positions, and the second on Saturday, targeting rocket launchers, vehicles, and a warehouse controlled by the Misrata alliance.

The officials told the newspaper that the attacks had been conducted by the two US allies without the knowledge of the US. “We don’t see this as constructive at all,” one senior official said.

The US, UK, France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement condemning “outside interference” in Libya, which they said “exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition.”

Libya has been mired in chaos since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, which left a power vacuum that allowed rival militias to thrive. Its police and army are no match for such groups, while the country is awash with weapons from the arsenal of the late dictator.

The unrest has destabilized the region as a whole, sending arms and fighters flooding into much of West Africa and helping to fuel conflicts in countries such as Mali and Syria. The country’s lawlessness has also helped turn it into a launchpad for migrants heading for Europe by dangerous maritime routes operated by people smugglers. Over the past week, Libyan rescuers have pulled 170 bodies from a shipwreck off the coast near Tripoli, and such tragedies have become almost commonplace in Mediterranean waters.

Now, analysts fear Libya could become an arena for a battle between regional rivals, as countries such as the UAE and Egypt attempt to crush the threat from Islamist fighters backed by Qatar.

In Libya, the new bosses are just like the old boss. Read more here.

“It’s clear there is a proxy war in Libya between Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Algeria on one side and Qatar and Turkey on the other side,” Mohamed Eljarh of the Atlantic Council told the Middle East Eye.

Egypt has insisted it did not carry out the air strikes, though it stopped short of denying any type of involvement. The UAE has remained silent on the issue.

Doubts have also been cast on Washington’s insistence that it knew nothing of the attacks.

“With as many Aegis-class ships as the US Navy has in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean, there is no possible way the UAE could pull this off without the US knowing it,” Christopher Harmer, a former Navy officer and an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War, told Foreign Policy.

At a regional meeting on the crisis on Monday, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz said that the country needs “real engagement from the international community” to defeat the Islamist militias. He said he was not calling for foreign military intervention, but did not rule out the possibility of more direct action if the situation worsened.

Topics: middle east, war & conflict, libya, tripoli, tripoli airport, uae, egypt, misrata, proxy war, arms, us, united states, air strikes

Rosario - Violence, Drugs, and Football (Part 2)

Rosario - Violence, Drugs, and Football (Part 2)

VICE News Daily: Beyond The Headlines - August, 26 2014

VICE News Daily: Beyond The Headlines - August, 26 2014

Rosario - Violence, Drugs, and Football (Part 1)

Rosario - Violence, Drugs, and Football (Part 1)

State of Emergency - Ferguson, Missouri (Dispatch 6)

State of Emergency - Ferguson, Missouri (Dispatch 6)

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

Pow-wow on plan panel proxy – Calcutta Telegraph

Sinha: Points to ponder

New Delhi, Aug. 26: Top policy-makers today hunkered down to mould the shape of the entity to replace the Planning Commission, which had helmed the economy for more than six decades.

“We have discussed what could be the new avatar of the Plan panel and some brilliant suggestions came up, which will be given to the Prime Minister,” former finance minister Yashwant Sinha said after the high-level meeting at the Yojana Bhawan.

Sinha said the decision about the new body would be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “This is a work in progress, it’s not important to discuss upon the deliberations of today’s meeting, the outcome is important. And that decision will be taken by the Prime Minister. We also discussed upon how should the plan be allocated to states as well as upon the autonomy status to be granted to the new body,” Sinha said.

Sources indicated that experts had recommended state allocations through the Finance Commission; there were suggestions that the new body should have statutory powers and a mandate to execute projects. However, there was no clarity on how the new body would execute the projects.

The independent evaluation office (IEO) — an ombudsman attached to the commission — in May gave a 12-page report recommending “the Planning Commission be abolished and its staff returned to their parent cadres.”

The evaluation office had also proposed a template for the commission’s successor. It said the commission’s role should be split into three — the Finance Commission will allocate centrally collected funds between the states and Centre; funds between various central ministries will be distributed by a specially created department of planning within the finance ministry; while a think-tank will provide the government with policy guidance.

The meeting took place in two groups simultaneously, with the one headed by Sinha having previous members of the Planning Commission; while the second group consisted of economists including Rajiv Kumar and Pranab Sen.

“The old body is totally scrapped. The new body will come up and whatever body comes up, it will combine knowledge power along with some mandate for getting it executed,” said Kumar.

Big names

Those present in the meeting chaired by Sinha included former RBI governor Bimal Jalan, ex-finance secretary Vijay Kelkar, ex-Planning Commission members Saumitra Chaudhuri and Y. K. Alagh.

Others to participate include BJP spokesperson M.J. Akbar, former chief economic advisor Shankar N Acharya, senior journalist T.N. Ninan, Icrier director Rajat Kathuria, noted economist Surjit Bhalla and former finance secretary Sumit Bose.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

10 million installs later, BitTorrent Sync gets new interface, sharing via … – The Next Web

BitTorrent today released BitTorrent Sync version 1.4, adding a slew of new features to its file synchronization tool. You can download the new version now for Windows, OS X, and Linux from bittorrent.com/sync while the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone apps will roll out later during the day on their respective stores.

The company today also announced that BitTorrent Sync has now passed 10 million installations since the open alpha launch in April 2013. In total, usefrs have now transferred over 80 petabytes of data, which is exactly 10 times the 8 petabytes they had synced when the public beta arrived in July 2013. BitTorrent has also now distributed over 4,300 keys to developers interested in building on top of Sync, the API for which debuted in November 2013.

BitTorrent Sync 1.4 on Desktop 2 520x323 10 million installs later, BitTorrent Sync gets new interface, sharing via links, and proxy server support

Version 1.4 is designed to fundamentally change the way users interact with the app by simplifying the sharing process. In that vein, Sync for Windows and OS X have a redesigned user interface to make it easier for sharing via a new workflow and customizable folder list for folders.

You can now right-click on a folder, select “Share with BitTorrent Sync” and then choose either Email (a preformatted message will show up and you’ll need to input the email addresses), Copy (the link will be put in your clipboard), or QR code (for mobile scanning).

BitTorrent Sync 1.4 on Desktop 3 520x311 10 million installs later, BitTorrent Sync gets new interface, sharing via links, and proxy server support

That’s for the sender. On the receiving end, a browser page opens to convert the link from the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) to the BitTorrent and hands it off to Sync. Your browser should prompt you to ensure you want to launch Sync, but BitTorrent assures us that nothing about the content being shared, aside from the folder name and size, is transmitted. The actual data is transferred entirely through Sync.

The sender can set a given link to expire after a number of days or after a certain number of times it is used, and can also require confirmation to ensure that only the receiver can sync the data in question (this is on by default but can be turned off for less important transfers). If the receiver doesn’t have Sync version 1.4, the webpage will prompt them to install it.

BitTorrent Sync 1 4 9 520x435 10 million installs later, BitTorrent Sync gets new interface, sharing via links, and proxy server support

This is all possible because BitTorrent has introduced links for directly sharing content between users, none of whom need to register an account. This sharing method sits on top of the Secrets system, which is still available but has been renamed to Keys as users found the previous name confusing, according to Erik Pounds, BitTorrent Sync’s VP of Product Management.

Last but not least, Sync has gained support for configuring the use of a proxy server, a feature useful for businesses that want to use the tool internally. The official changelog also promises the usual “product enhancements and optimizations” to improve both performance and stability.

Despite all these additions and improvements, however, Sync is still in beta. Pounds told TNW the company hopes to have a stable release (presumably version 2.0) available at the latest by Q1 2015.

Image credit: Thomas Boulvin

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source

Libya: The escalation of a proxy war? – Aljazeera.com

The political turmoil in Libya is exposing a growing gulf between rival Arab states. It is also defining a proxy war over the threat to the region’s old order since the start of the Arab Spring.

The United Arab Emirates is accused of carrying out air strikes on militias in Libya with support from Egypt. Two bombings in eight days are said to have caught the US completely by surprise.

The UAE has dismissed the claims as a “diversion”, while Egyp’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has denied any involvement.

The Arab uprisings and the events that followed have upset the established state system in the Arab world and seen the emergence of new alliances. 

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are viewed as having a common goal in trying to contain or eradicate political Islam, while Qatar and Turkey are seen as more sympathetic to these causes.

So is a simmering proxy war in the region spilling over to direct involvement? Who is backing whom? And what is the role of the US?

Presenter: Laura Kyle

Guests:

Rami Khouri – director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.

Ali Khedery – CEO of the strategic consultancy Dragoman Partners, and a former special assistant to five US ambassadors in Iraq.

Julien Barnes-Dacey – a senior policy fellow in the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Middle East and North Africa Programme.

240

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Source