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US leads upward trend in arms exports, Asian and Gulf states arms imports up, SIPRI

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The United States has taken a firm lead as the major arms exporter globally, according to new data on international arms transfers published today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Overall, the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons grew by 16 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14. The volume of US exports of major weapons rose by 23 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14. The US A’s share of the volume of international arms exports was 31 per cent in 2010–14, compared with 27 per cent for Russia.

Features | Alan Brown | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 16

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Nigeria: A close and toxic presidential contest

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In Nigeria, the ruling party will not risk facing the electorate unless victory is certain, writes Franklin Adesegha This time, the campaign has been different and there is talk that the cycle may be broken as the outcome of this year’s presidential looks highly unpredictable. The campaigns have been toxic with both the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) hurling abuse at each other, a reflection of the deep regional and religious divisions in the country. The APC is led by Gen Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim northerner and exmilitary ruler on a fourth presidential bid, while incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP is a Christian southerner seeking a

Features | Franklin Adesegha | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 14

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Sudan: The prospects for “national dialogue”

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Prospects for an inclusive national dialogue President Omar al-Bashir promised in January 2014 are fading, making a softlanding end to Sudan’s crises more doubtful. Sceptics who warned that the ruling party was unwilling and unable to make needed concessions, have been vindicated. Peacemaking in Darfur and the Two Areas (Blue Nile and South Kordofan) and potential merging of these negotiations with the national dialogue were dealt a blow with suspension of African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUH IP)-mediated “parallel” talks in Addis Ababa in December.

Features | Crisis Group | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 17

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Time for UNASUR to defuse crisis in Venezuela

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If Venezuela is not to continue sliding toward violent confrontation, the international community - in particular the members of the Union of South American Nations (UN ASUR ) (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay, in addition to Venezuela) - must urgently devise measures that contribute to resolution of the grave political and economic crisis. That crisis continues to deepen, with no solution in sight. The recent visit by three foreign ministers (Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil) and the UN ASUR secretary general “opened up avenues for political dialogue that had remained closed for over a year”, according to the regional organisation,

Features | Crisis Group | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 15

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Terrorist attacks will not derail Tunisia’s democratic process

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Terrorist attacks will not derail Tunisia’s democratic process World leaders, including French President Francois Hollande, joined tens of thousands of Tunisians on 29 March to march in solidarity against Islamist militants. “The Tunisian people will not bow,” President Beji Caid Essebsi said in a speech after the march. “We will stay united against terrorism until we wipe out this phenomenon.” One of the most secular countries in the Arab world, Tunisia has mostly avoided violence in the four years since the toppling of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. In contrast with Libya, Yemen and Syria which have plunged into war and chaos,

Features | Ali Bahaijoub | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 15

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Netanyahu’s brazen audacity for re-election

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Confronting a tougher political battle than anticipated, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a number of last-minute moves in his election campaign which call into question his credibility eligibility to form a new government, writes Franklin Adesegha Netanyahu’s outright rejection of a Palestinian state and his racist rant against Israeli Arab voters turned the tide in his favour but angered the Obama adminstration concerned that Netanyahu’s pre-election statements were an impediment to a two-state solution.

Features | Franklin Adesegha | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 19

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Defeating the Iraqi Islamic State

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What progress is being made against jihadi insurgents occupying large swathes of northwestern Iraq is simultaneously undermining what is left of a state whose frailty and malfunctions created the environment in which jihadism was able to surge in the first place. This is particularly apparent in the battle for Tikrit, where much of the fighting is by Shiite militias under the guidance of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders. For residual central authorities in Baghdad to make a comeback at this late stage and rebuild the state, they must reclaim a role in the immediate aftermath of tactical victories in places such as Tikrit by re-empowering local elites, providing services and establishing legitimate local security forces.

Features | Crisis Group | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 18

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Netanyahu: A victory that spells disaster

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The apparently endless and unstoppable nature of the Middle East conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours since 1948 has resulted in the gradual destruction of the Palestine state. Ever since the Six Day War of 1967 Israel, in defiance of the United Nations, has pursued a policy of creeping imperialism as it has added one illegal settlement to another in order to prevent the creation of an independent Palestine.

Features | Guy Arnold | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 14

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Crucial agreement reached among warring factions

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The second phase of inter- Libyan dialogue that began in Morocco on 20 March had just concluded with important advances. A first round of talks had taken place between 5-7 March in Morocco with the participation of delegations representing the House of representatives in Tobruk, the National General Congress (CGN), and Mesrata MPs that were boycotting the Tobruk Parliament, in addition to representatives of civil society and women’s organisations.

Features | NorthSouth | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 16

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Libyan dialogue in Morocco for compromise solution

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Libya’s deteriorating internal conflict may be nearing a dramatic turning point if the ongoing dialogue reaches a compromise. Over six months of fighting between two parliaments, their respective governments and allied militias have led to the brink of all-out war. Negotiations between Libyan parties are entering a “decisive round” as continued fighting and

Features | Ali Bahaijoub | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 16

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Yemen Timeline

A chronology of key events: 1500s - Ottomans absorb part of Yemen into their empire but are expelled in the 1600s. 1839 - Aden comes under British rule, and when the Suez Canal opens in 1869 serves as a major refuelling port. 1849 - Ottomans return to north, but later face revolt. 1918 - Ottoman empire dissolves, North Yemen gains independence and is ruled by Imam Yahya. 1948 - Yahya assassinated, but his son Ahmad beats off opponents of feudal rule and succeeds his father. 1962 - Imam Ahmad dies, succeeded by his son but army officers seize power, set up the Yemen Arab Republic, sparking civil war between royalists supported by Saudi Arabia and republicans backed by Egypt. South Yemen formed 1967 - Formation of People’s Republic of Yemen, comprising Aden and former Protectorate of South Arabia.

Cover Stories | NorthSouth | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 19

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Yemen at War

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Yemen is at war. The country is now divided between the Huthi movement, which controls the north and is rapidly advancing south, and the anti-Huthi coalition backed by Western and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies that President Abdo Robo Mansour Hadi is cobbling together. On 25 March, the Huthis captured a strategic military base north of the port city of Aden and took the defence minister hostage. That evening Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign, in coordination with nine other, mostly Arab states, to stop the Huthi advance and restore his government. Hadi left for Riyadh and will attend an Arab League summit on 28 March.

Cover Stories | Crisis Group | 1 April 2015 | Hits: 19

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Yemen on brink of civil war

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Parts of Yemen’s third largest city Taiz have been seized by Shia militants and the city’s airport was among the areas seized by Houthi rebels. There has been mounting violence by rival armed groups in Yemen, including Houthi rebels, al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants. The US said it was withdrawing its troops from the country due to the worsening security situation. Houthi fighters dressed in military uniform could be seen arriving at the airport and patrolling parts of the city, eyewitnesses said.

Cover Stories | Ali Bahaijoub | 30 March 2015 | Hits: 20

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Houthis advances checked by coalition forces

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Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi drove Houthi fighters from two towns they had seized and checked an advance by the Shi’ite fighters towards his refuge in Aden. But other Houthi units apparently entered the Red Sea port of al-Mukha, according security officials and residents, placing the Iranian-backed fighters a short drive from the Bab al-Mandeb strait, a sea corridor vital to oil shipments. And in Taiz, soldiers and Houthi gunmen shot dead at least four people as demonstrators took to the streets to protest

Cover Stories | Alan Brown | 30 March 2015 | Hits: 20

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Yemen: A ticking time-bomb

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Like a ticking time-bomb, Yemen’s undeclared civil war has suddenly exploded into a regional crisis that will have far-reaching and unpredictable international consequences, writes Franklin Adesegha The conflict, spreading from the key southern battleground around Aden, pits Saudi Arabia, the leading Sunni Muslim power, and Yemen’s government against northern-based Houthi rebels, who are reportedly backed by Shia Muslim Iran.

Cover Stories | Franklin Adesegha | 30 March 2015 | Hits: 18

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Saudis lead air strikes against Houthi rebels

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Warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck Yemeni Houthi rebels fighting to oust Yemen’s legitimate President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a move by the world’s top oil exporter to check Iranian influence in its backyard without direct military backing from Washington. Riyadh’s regional rival Iran denounced the assault on the Houthi militia group, which it backs, and made clear the kingdom’s deployment of a Sunni coalition against Shi’ite enemies would complicate efforts to end a conflict likely to inflame the sectarian animosities fuelling wars around the Middle East.

Cover Stories | Ali Bahaijoub | 30 March 2015 | Hits: 21

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