Tuesday, 28 February 2017
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The Maya are, in many ways, "the Kurds" of Central America. Like the Kurds of the Middle East who have had their homeland partitioned among four states – Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, the Maya of Central America have had their homeland partitioned among five states – Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. Both peoples have preserved their traditional cultures in the face of religious, ethnic, linguistic, and political persecution; and both peoples have repeatedly engaged in armed rebellions to regain their political independence, writes Joseph E Fallon.

What is generally not known is in 1847 the Maya of the Yucatan succeeded in regaining their freedom. As a result of the "Caste War", the Maya established several independent states. The largest of these, Chan Santa Cruz, which ruled most of the present-day Mexican State of Quintana Roo and portions of the adjacent States of Yucatan and Campeche, was recognized in the 1850s as a de facto independent country by the British Government.

It was not until 1915 that Mexico officially declared "victory" and the end of the "Caste War". But the war erupted again in the 1920s and 1930s. The last official battle in the "Caste War" is said to have occurred in April 1933 when the Mexican Army attacked the Maya village of Dzula.

Nick Watts was at the launch of The Military Balance 2017

There has been much discussion of late in defence circles, concerning the level of defence expenditure, particularly compared to the US. This discussion was fuelled at the launch of the 2017 Military Balance published by the London base International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). By their calculation, the UK's expenditure as a percentage of GDP fell below the critical 2% level pledged by members of the NATO Alliance to 1.98% in 2016. This is explained by IISS as due to the UK's economy expanding faster than its defence expenditure.

We mark the passing of those who served this country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome

Kissz13Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who met President Trump before the Inauguration, has said that he could go down as one of the most consequential presidents in history due to the radical shift he represents from the established world order.
"I believe he has the possibility of going down in history as a very considerable president," Mr. Kissinger said in an interview shown on CBS's "Face the Nation." last month.
He said the power vacuum left by America's withdrawal from the international stage under President Obama gives Mr. Trump the chance to craft a lasting foreign policy that breaks significantly from the status quo.
"Here is a new president who is asking a lot of unfamiliar questions, and because of the combination of the partial vacuum and the new questions, one could imagine that something remarkable and new emerges out of it," Mr. Kissinger said. "I'm not saying it will; I'm saying it's an extraordinary opportunity."
Mr. Kissinger, who met with Mr. Trump in New York shortly after the election, said the president-elect's foreign policy will rely more on instinct than theory.
On the next page we reproduce a review, first published in New Eastern European and reproduced by kind permision of the editor, a 2015 review by staffer Alex Jeffers of World Order by Henry Kissinger. Publisher: Penguin Press, New York 2014.

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.


Part of the Speaker’s Lecture series, delivered by Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP in Speaker’s House, Palace of Westminster, 16th 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.

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