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Opinion: The future of the China-US-Russia triangle after Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

Opinion: The future of the China-US-Russia triangle after Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

Since February 24, 2022, the international community's focus was concentrated entirely on the war in Ukraine and the growing Russia – West confrontation. It seemed that nothing could change the situation until the end of hostilities in Ukraine. However, on August 2 and 3, almost everyone’s attention shifted from Ukraine to Taiwan. As the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, stated her intention to visit Taiwan, up to half a million people were watching the trajectory of her plane on air flight tracking sites. The negative reaction of China, including the warning of President Xi during his conversation with President Biden that those who played with fire would be perished by it, created hype around this visit. Many were discussing the possibility of Chinese military jets closing the airspace over Taiwan and preventing Pelosi’s plane from landing in Taiwan, while some enthusiasts were even contemplating the possibility of a US-China direct military clash. As Pelosi landed in Taiwan and met with the Taiwanese President, the global social media was full of amateur assessments about the strategic victory of the US and the confirmation of the US global hegemony. However, as the dust settles down, and information noise and manipulation eventually decreases, a more serious assessment is needed to understand the real consequences of this visit.
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Iran seizes Israel-linked container ship in the Gulf of Hormuz

Iran seizes Israel-linked container ship in the Gulf of Hormuz

Amid heightened tension in the Middle East, and an expectation of some sort of Iranian attack on Israel, it was announced on Saturday (13 April) that Iranian Revolutionary Guards naval units had seized an Israeli linked container ship in the Straits of Hormuz. “A container ship named ‘MCS Aries’ was seized by the Sepah (Guards) Navy Special Forces by carrying out a heliborne operation,” IRNA, the Iranian state news agency reported, adding that the operation took place “near the Strait of Hormuz” and “this ship has now been directed toward the territorial waters” of Iran. Several media sources have aired a video that shows commandos raiding a ship near the Strait of Hormuz by helicopter. The video showed the attack earlier reported by the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations. It described the vessel as being “seized by regional authorities” in the Gulf of Oman off the Emirati port city of Fujairah, without elaborating. The vessel involved is likely the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime. Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group. Zodiac declined to comment and referred questions to MSC, which did not immediately respond. The MSC Aries had been last located off Dubai heading toward the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. The ship had turned off its tracking data, which has been common for Israeli-affiliated ships moving through the region. Regional media reported that 20 Filipinos were on board the ship.
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US sees Iran moving military equipment including drones and cruise missiles

US sees Iran moving military equipment including drones and cruise missiles

The US has observed Iran moving military equipment, including drones and cruise missiles, around the country, signalling that it may be preparing to attack Israeli targets from within its own territory, two intelligence officials told CNN reporters. However, it is not clear whether Iran is preparing to strike from its soil as part of an initial attack, or whether it is posturing to try to deter Israel or the US from a possible counterstrike on its territory.  One of the intelligence officials said the US had observed Iran preparing as many as 100 cruise missiles.
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Opinion: Historical versus real Armenia - Pashinyan's push for a new narrative

Opinion: Historical versus real Armenia - Pashinyan's push for a new narrative

Nikol Pashinyan is a populist. Whether on the domestic or international scene, it is difficult to consider him a statesman. Populism defines his words and permeates his actions. But in comparison with those leaders before him, he is also a rarity in Armenia’s post-independence history – he is a democratically elected leader.Nikol Pashinyan is a populist. Whether on the domestic or international scene, it is difficult to consider him a statesman. Populism defines his words and permeates his actions. But in comparison with those leaders before him, he is also a rarity in Armenia’s post-independence history – he is a democratically elected leader. Perhaps, if populism arguably contributed to the last war and the loss of Karabakh it could also be used to usher in a new era of peace and regional integration, coincidentally relegating nationalist narratives and mythologies of old to the annuls of history. It will also prove instrumental to maintaining Pashinyan's rule. In 2013 he already used the slogan of “Real Armenia” but at that time to rally for an Armenia without Serzh Sargsyan. In 2018 it succeeded.
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The carbon footprint created in the first 60 days of the war in Gaza alone surpassed the annual emissions of 20 small countries, according to a recent study

The carbon footprint created in the first 60 days of the war in Gaza alone surpassed the annual emissions of 20 small countries, according to a recent study

Whilst attention is at the moment rightly focused on the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza resulting from the Israeli assault on the territory ongoing since October, the heavy price for the environment is now also becoming obvious. Wars cause lasting damage to the environment in the form of emissions, pollutants, and the destruction of habitats. The war in Gaza has been no exception. Since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel, the Gaza Strip has come under intense Israeli bombardment, pulverizing buildings, demolishing sanitation services, lacing the earth with explosive remnants, and leaving the air thick with smoke and powdered concrete. Experts say the conflict has contributed to increased air and water pollution and the degradation of ecosystems, according to a report carried by the leading Gulf English language newspaper, Arab News. According to a study conducted by Queen Mary University of London, Lancaster University, and the Climate and Community Project, the carbon footprint created in the first 60 days of the war in Gaza alone surpassed the annual emissions of 20 small countries. Published by the Social Science Research Network on Jan. 9, the paper, titled “A multitemporal snapshot of greenhouse gas emissions from the Israel-Gaza conflict,” found the impact of the war was comparable to burning at least 150,000 tonnes of coal. Much of this was generated by Israeli fighter jets during bombing raids and by armored vehicles used in the ground invasion. Other contributors were the US military, flying supplies to Israel. Less than 1 percent of the emissions were caused by Hamas rockets.  Responding to the study’s findings, Rana Hajirasouli, founder and CEO of The Surpluss, a Dubai-based global climate tech platform, told Arab News, that “this does not include indirect emissions such as energy-intensive production of military equipment, infrastructure construction, and post-conflict reconstruction efforts.” 
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EU and US make a generous financial pledge to Armenia as they affirm their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience

EU and US make a generous financial pledge to Armenia as they affirm their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience

The European Union and the United States have made a generous financial pledge to Armenia and reaffirmed their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, EU High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony Blinken, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, met today, April 5, 2024 in Brussels to reaffirm support for Armenia's sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience. The statement concluded by saying that "A prosperous, sovereign, and democratic Armenia that develops its own partnerships and freely sets its own course will contribute to regional stability and prosperity."
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Blinken and Von der Leyen speak to Aliyev ahead of their meeting with Pashinyan

Blinken and Von der Leyen speak to Aliyev ahead of their meeting with Pashinyan

Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, is in Brussels, where he is expected to meet on Friday afternoon (5 April) with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. The unusual format of the tripartite meeting is being billed as "the joint EU-US-Armenia high-level meeting in support of Armenia’s resilience". There has been intense speculation about the purpose of the meeting, and the likely outcomes. Azerbaijan has seen it as an attempt to encourage Armenia to take a more hardline position in its dealings with it, including in the current negotiations of an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty. Russia has been vocal in criticising the meeting, seeing it as yet another western attempt at snatching Armenia away from the Russian orbit. Other countries, such as Turkey and Iran have also been critical of the three way meeting. Behind the scenes there have been a lot of work going on in order to calm down neves, especially in Baku, and ahead of the meeting, both Secretary of State Blinken and President von der Leyen, spoke to Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev.