Tuesday, 24 January 2017
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downstream oil theft 2The illicit trade in crude oil and refined products is a malign influence on the good governnace and stability of many nations, as well as a danger to orderly world trade. During the Global Energy Conference in Ab Dhabi in January, an important report was released about theft, smuggling and piracy which costs oil producers billions of dollars each year. Nehad Ismail, who was there, highlights some key points.

The 112 report authored by Dr. Ian M. Ralby and titled "Downstream Oil Theft" is published by the Atlantic Council includes case studies, trends and recommendations. Parts I and II of the report focused on the problems associated with the illicit hydrocarbon trade. Part III concentrates on who has an interest in reducing downstream hydrocarbons crime.

JLewisPart of the Speaker's Lecture series delivered by Dr Julian Lewis MP in Speaker's House, Palace of Westminster​ – 16 January 2017

Most of what I believe about Britain’s Armed Forces and their role – past, present and future – can be summed up in just three concepts and about half-a-dozen words. They are: "Deterrence", "Containment" and the "Unpredictability of Future Conflicts".

Trying to encapsulate the third of these notions, many years ago, for a thesis on Defence planning, I came across the following wise words:

“Dictators, bent on aggression … are masters of their own timetable. They are free to decide when to strike, where to strike, and how to strike, and to arrange their armament programmes accordingly … Their potential victims, the democracies, with their inherent hatred of war … do not know when or where the blow will fall or what manner of blow it will be.”

That was Lord Ismay, first Secretary General of NATO, writing in 1960, just two years before the Cuban Missile Crisis at the height of the Cold War. Since then, one crisis after another has reinforced the point that wars break out, more often than not, entirely unexpectedly. The Yom Kippur War in 1973 took even hyper-sensitive Israel by surprise. The Falklands War, nine years later, took Britain by surprise. The invasion of Kuwait in 1990 took everyone by surprise. And the attacks of 9/11 took the world’s only superpower by surprise. Such examples can easily be multiplied.

So to our friends across Europe, let me say this - Prime Minister Theresa May on the Government's approach to defence and security after Brexit

Our vote to leave the European Union was no rejection of the values we share. The decision to leave the EU represents no desire to become more distant to you, our friends and neighbours. It was no attempt to do harm to the EU itself or to any of its remaining member states. We do not want to turn the clock back to the days when Europe was less peaceful, less secure and less able to trade freely. It was a vote to restore, as we see it, our parliamentary democracy, national self-determination, and to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit.

We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends. We want to buy your goods and services, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.

You will still be welcome in this country as we hope our citizens will be welcome in yours. At a time when together we face a serious threat from our enemies, Britain's unique intelligence capabilities will continue to help to keep people in Europe safe from terrorism. And at a time when there is growing concern about European security, Britain's servicemen and women, based in European countries including Estonia, Poland and Romania, will continue to do their duty.

A Global Britain will continue to cooperate with its European partners in important areas such as crime, terrorism and foreign affairs.

All of us in Europe face the challenge of cross-border crime, a deadly terrorist threat, and the dangers presented by hostile states. All of us
share interests and values in common, values we want to see projected around the world.

With the threats to our common security becoming more serious, our response cannot be to cooperate with one another less, but to work together more. I therefore want our future relationship with the European Union to include practical arrangements on matters of law enforcement and the sharing of intelligence material with our EU allies.

I am proud of the role Britain has played and will continue to play in promoting Europe's security. Britain has led Europe on the measures needed to keep our continent secure – whether it is implementing sanctions against Russia following its action in Crimea, working for peace and stability in the Balkans, or securing Europe's external border. We will continue to work closely with our European allies in foreign and defence policy even as we leave the EU itself.

UPDATE : Field Marshall Haftar has had meetings with the Russian government , which is considering providing him weapons and possible recognition as Libya's future leader. To do this, Moscow would have to abandon its support of the UN arms embargo and the UN supported GNA government in Tripoli. In return Russia would be seeking influence on Haftar's government. Moscow is only doing in public what the West has been doing surreptitiously.

If the West wishes to prevent Libya becoming a potential "client state" of Russia, it needs to do three things.

1) end all military assistance to Haftar,

2) take military action against Haftar and return the oil ports to the control of the GNA,

and 3) initiate legal steps to have Haftar brought before an International Tribunal for war crimes.

If Haftar were removed. Russia would have no significant supporter in Libya. The GNA as the sole government would not be any friend of Russia.

Marking the passing of those who have served their country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome.

As the UK government appoints a new ambassador to lead Brexit negotiations from Brussels, a RUSI briefing paper just published maps out the threats and opportunities to British foreign and security policy as talks proceed.

The Briefing Paper:

• Urges government to ensure foreign and security policy is not overlooked as Brexit negotiations over trade and other pressing areas are pursued.

• Calls for a new post-Brexit 'special relationship' with the EU on foreign and security policy, which could be especially important if uncertainty over the approach of the Trump Presidency increases the need for strong European defence cooperation.

• Argues that the UK's position as Europe's strongest military and intelligence power — its 'security surplus' — should not be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

• Points out that the UK's position within the NATO command structure could be affected, with the post of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander (DSACEUR), traditionally held by the UK, possibly being transferred to a European member state that is remaining in the EU.

• Suggests that the UK may increasingly 'find itself faced with a European fait accompli on key issues', and that it will have to work hard to ensure that its interests and views are not an afterthought to the results of US/EU dialogue.

Download paper: https://rusi.org/Brexit-Briefing-100117

More on next page

Before the New Year, Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper aircraft conducted airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria, reports the UK Defence Journal. According to an MoD press release:

"A precision guided Paveway IV weapon was used to destroy a Islamic State artillery position and weapons cache on the outskirts of Mosul. Concealed amongst trees under dense foliage, the Tornado was able to locate and score a hit against the Islamic State target.

A further weapons stockpile was targeted, this time in Mosul, by a Tornado-launched Brimstone weapon. The terrorist weapons were successful destroyed by a direct hit. The same Tornado formation was then tasked to a target in Syria, two kilometres north of Palmyra.

A Brimstone weapon was used in a precision attack to destroy a Islamic State artillery weapon which was mounted on a truck. Tornado aircraft conducted thorough checks before each strike to ensure that no civilians were put at risk.

Typhoon aircraft were also performing close air support duties over Iraq, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker. Reaper remotely piloted aircraft struck three targets in Mosul, assisting Iraqi troops on the ground. Three Hellfire missiles were launched against three separate Islamic State targets, including a mortar team hidden under a tree line."

114 service personne and 38 civilians in defence honoured by Her Majesty The Queen in the annual New Year Honours List
For details see next page

The Democrats, and related parties in Europe, need to recognise that while Donald Trump deserved to lose the US presidential election, Hillary Clinton did not deserve to win. That she could not achieve a smashing victory over an opponent as personally compromised and politically empty as him is a condemnation not only of the condition of the country and its working classes, but on the candidate herself, her programme and the party leadership that she represented, says Professor Anatol Lieven

Clinton has attributed her loss to the FBI statement on her emails in late October. But its main cause was likely the millions of working-class Americans who voted Democrat in 2012 but who this time voted for Trump or stayed at home. And there are wider issues. Twice now in the past 16 years the candidate who won the popular vote has lost the election. The distribution of Senate seats favours a tiny proportion of the population and for a generation, the results of the elections for the House of Representatives have had less and less to do with the national popular vote. In other words, parts of a constitution drawn up by late 18th century patricians and slave-owning landowners may not be appropriate to a 21st century democracy and may indeed not be democratic at all. This is an issue of critical concern for the future of the US political system, to which I willl return below.

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