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Iran is focusing on exporting natural gas to India along a deep-sea route, the move coinciding with the cancellation of a $500-million loan to Islamabad to build the Pakistani section of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and the signing of the Geneva nuclear accord that could help relax sanctions against Iran.

Negotiations were held with three Indian companies for purchase of gas from Iran, and general agreements have been reached.

It is a multi-billion-dollar undersea pipeline, which could carry gas from Iran’s giant South Pars gas field to India’s west coast. Once operational, it could channel 31 million cubic meters of gas per day.

There were no technical hurdles to build the deep sea pipeline, and the project, which was financially viable, could be completed in 4-5 years, once the sanctions against Iran are lifted.

Courtesy – http://www1.american.edu/ted/images4/pipeline.gif (image)



Mind – Mapping:

  • What is the significance of the gas pipe-line to India?

  • How would this impact India, Iran, and Pakistan’s relationship?

  • India’s approach towards meeting its energy needs? Steps taken by the govt. in this regard.

SYRIA

India offers help to destroy Syrian chemical weapons

India, an aspirant to next month’s international conference on Syria, has offered the services of its experts to help in destruction of Damascus’ chemical weapons arsenal.

In addition, it has offered to contribute $1 million towards this effort by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

India had demonstrated its expertise a couple of years ago during an exercise in Tunisia.

The percentage of Indians in the OPCW inspection worldwide has always been high and Indian laboratories, especially the one at Gwalior.

The Indian offer of financial assistance is timely because a meeting of OPCW’s Conference of State Parties is underway at The Hague to consider measures to ensure compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and decide on the programme and the scale of financial contributions to be paid by its members.

While all production facilities in Syria have shut down, there is this unfinished business of destroying the chemical weapons stocks, and destruction.

India is offering its experts not only for destruction and verification, but to train personnel participating in the UN/OPCW mission as well. India is one of the founder signatories to the CWC and, as a chemical weapons possessor state, has fully completed destruction of its weapons in accordance with the Convention.



(To know more about OPCW, CWC refer our ‘Insights Current Event Analysis October, 2013)

Russia to give logistics support for Syria weapons transfer

Russia has decided to provide naval escorts to ships ferrying tonnes of material as part of a multinational exercise, involving the United States and its European allies as partners, to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

Russia, which has played a leading role in convincing Syria to shed chemical arms will render its assistance in two stages – Russia will provide material and technical support to first transport chemical agents on land to the Syrian port of Latakia. From the Syrian coast, the stockpile of around 500 tonnes will be moved along ships that are being mainly provided by the EU and then it will be transferred to U.S where the toxic agents would be destroyed in full compliance with all environmental requirements

According to the Pentagon, it would take 45-90 days to neutralise the chemical components used for making mustard gas and Sarin.

Russia had persuaded Syria to destroy its chemical weapons after it was accused in August, 2013 by U.S. and its allies of using Sarin gas against civilians on the outskirts of Damascus.

India may make fresh efforts to end Syrian crisis

India is poised again for a more active role in Syria, after having been involved in unsuccessful attempts to resolve the conflict in that country when it was a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for two years.

India would join international efforts to destroy chemical weapons at Geneva II, the U.N.-sponsored international conference on Syria, scheduled in January, 2014. The first meeting resulted in the Geneva communiqué that supported a political transition without insisting on President Bashar-al Assad’s exit and a transition plan. India was also an Observer in Friends of Syria, a grouping that tried to push through regime change.

Also there is a possibility that India might join international efforts to destroy Syria’s stockpile. The destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons involves multi-state participation. India was an early supporter of Russia’s proposal for keeping Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons in safe custody, even while opposing military intervention and moving towards a political settlement, possibly with Geneva-II.

India has also announced its contribution of $1 million to the OPCW. The percentage of Indians in OPCW inspections worldwide has always been high and Indian facilities.

Indian experts will help destroy the stockpile and train other personnel taking part in this mission. India is one of the founder-signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention and has destroyed its weapons in accordance with the Convention.



ISRAEL

Protests across Israel over Bedouin settlement

Thousands of Bedouin demonstrators and their supporters clashed with the police across Israel as they protested a government plan to regulate Bedouin settlement in the Negev desert. This reminded of the Palestinian uprisings in the West Bank.

Activists had called for the protests as part of an international ‘day of rage’ against the plan, known as the Prawer-Begin plan. A bill that would turn the plan into law is expected to be brought to a final vote during the next session of Parliament.

Since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, the land disputes between the Bedouins and the authorities remained. Hence in order to resolve the dispute, the plan proposes a mechanism to deal with land ownership claims and compensation. It also calls for the evacuation of 35 Bedouin villages that are not recognised by the state and the resettlement of the residents in existing or new towns.

The Human rights organisations opposing the plan say it will involve the forcible relocation of 30,000 to 40,000 Bedouins, dispossessing them of their historic land rights. The plan was created without sufficient input by the Bedouins, and that it discriminates between the Bedouin and Jewish residents of the Negev.

A third to half of the 170,000 or so Negev Bedouins live in unrecognised villages that are not connected to the state water or electricity networks.

It has been argued that, the Bedouin of the Negev, being equal citizens, deserve adequate housing, public services and a better future for their children.

Israel allows transfer of materials for U.N. projects

Under pressure from the United Nations (UN) amid a mounting economic and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, Israel has agreed to restart the transfer of construction materials to Gaza on after an eight-week hiatus.

The transfers would resume with a new “supervision and control mechanism” to ensure the materials would be used only for United Nations building projects. The building supplies will be allowed in only for U.N. projects, which employ a fraction of the thousands of construction workers who have been idled, and negotiations to resolve Gaza’s fuel shortage have not yielded significant results.

Gaza, home to 1.7 million Palestinians, has been struggling since the summer to cope with the current Egyptian government’s closing of hundreds of smuggling tunnels through which the strip received steel, gravel and cheap diesel fuel, as well as consumer products.

The situation worsened in November, 2013 when Hamas shut down Gaza’s lone power plant because of a shortage of electricity and cheap fuel from Egypt, stretching blackouts up to 18 hours a day and causing raw sewage to flood some streets because pumping stations could not operate.

Israel suspended delivery of construction materials in mid-October after discovering a 1.5-mile tunnel from Gaza into its territory that it feared would be used to kidnap or attack Israelis.

Gisha, an Israeli organisation that promotes access to Gaza, said Israel began allowing some construction materials in three years ago for international projects.

The international community is appropriately worried about Gaza’s humanitarian situation, but Gaza’s dependence on foreign aid stems in large part from Israeli restrictions on economic development. So it is said that, if people in Gaza were permitted to maintain and grow their economy, then they would need far less humanitarian assistance.



AFRICA

(As a ‘tribute’ to a Great Leader and Human Being we have included this article on Nelson Mandela !! )

The world has lost one of the greatest figures of the 20th century in the passing of Nelson Mandela, iconic revolutionary who ended apartheid in South Africa. Africa’s last great statesman, Mandela presided over a largely peaceful political transition and stepped aside after only one term in power.

He was the first black President of South Africa and under his aegis, the country dismantled the institutional legacy of apartheid and racism. He remained the country’s moral compass in the silence of his twilight in much the same way he served as the liberation movement’s rallying cry through 27 years of incarceration.

He appointed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that might have fallen short of conclusively addressing apartheid-era atrocities but saved the nation from a descent into bloodshed.

The former President is being mourned across the nation. His loss is most acutely felt at the headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC), the party he joined in 1943 and subsequently led to electoral victory in 1994. In a manner reminiscent of the Indian National Congress (INC) in post-Independence India, the ANC has long used Mandela’s name and liberation credentials to cement its position as the natural party of government. The prolonged and often bitter row between the government, his heirs and sections of the party about his hospitalisation, burial site and memorial foundation underscored his continued importance to the ANC’s project of political hegemony long after his retirement.

Mandela’s death comes at the time when the ANC is preparing for an election that may see its share of the vote fall below 60%, illustrating creeping voter discontent. Moving forward, the ANC’s greatest challenge is likely to be the “born frees”, a generation of South Africans born after the collapse of the hated colonial regime, who are less susceptible to the party’s emotive message of liberation.

For these young citizens, the most poignant reminder of oppression is the one that Mr. Mandela did not address — land, natural resources and the ownership of Africa’s richest economy. Rather than democratising the economy, Mr. Mandela’s successors have used so-called black empowerment programmes to enrich a tiny elite, creating space for a mass politics as espoused by Julius Malema, a firebrand former ANC Youth League leader who has launched his own political front, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Mr. Malema is himself facing charges of corruption, suggesting the EFF may not be the ANC’s most potent foe.

Statesmen are forged and ultimately limited by the circumstances of their struggles. By leading his country out of the horrors of racial segregation, Mr. Mandela has won his place in history. His successors must now seek their own. (Courtesy – Hindu Newspaper)

CONGO

U.N. launches drones in DR Congo

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has officially launched a surveillance drone in the strife-torn northeast in the first such move by the United Nations.

The U.N. mission in the DR Congo, MONUSCO, currently has two such drones.

The drones, which are unarmed and exclusively equipped for surveillance flights, are intended to help the U.N.to watch over North Kivu, a mineral-rich province prey to dozens of armed movements, which MONUSCO troops have been ordered to neutralise, including by force.

The aircraft will also be used to survey the porous borders between North Kivu and Rwanda and Uganda, in a bid to prevent these countries from providing support to groups inside DR Congo. However, Rwanda and Uganda have denied the charges of backing the M23.

The U.N. accused both neighbouring countries of backing a powerful rebel group, the M23, which surrendered in November, 2013 after a joint assault by the Congolese army and a new UN special intervention brigade.



More about MONUSCO – UNO Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

MONUSCO took over from an earlier UN peacekeeping operation – the United Nations Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) – on 1 July 2010.

The new mission was authorized to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate relating, among other things, to the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence and to support the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.

Future reconfigurations of MONUSCO would be determined as the situation evolved on the ground, including:  the completion of ongoing military operations in North and South Kivu as well as the Orientale provinces; improved government capacity to protect the population effectively; and the consolidation of state authority throughout the territory.

Courtesy – http://monusco.unmissions.org/

(To know more about disputes in Congo & M23 refer our ‘Insights Current Event Analysis October, 2013)

South Sudan flare-up

South Sudan is in turmoil once again- the reason behind is not because of the inter-ethnic contest for political supremacy, but a larger tussle for the control and diversion of South Sudan’s rich energy and mineral resources.



This has also resulted in death of three Indian UN peacekeepers.

More than 500 people have so far been killed amid fears that a civil war may be on the cards.

The fighting has coincided with attacks on certain oil companies, signalling that the brewing political struggle could mask a larger tussle for control over the country’s resources. Land-locked South Sudan exports around 220,000 barrels a day from reserves that are the third highest after Nigeria and Angola in sub-Saharan Africa.

Courtesy- http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/54145000/gif/_54145841_southsudan_map.gif (image)





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