By late 2013, more than 90 percent of Syria’s cultural sites lay in regions affected by fighting and civil unrest, leaving them open to plunder. In addition, regions of Iraq now under the control of the Islamic State militant group and its allies include roughly 4,500 of Iraq’s 12,000 known archaeological sites.  UNESCO recently reported that the “armed extremists in Iraq” are targeting “cultural heritage, cultural and religious minorities, as well as the documents and written evidence of one of the oldest civilizations in human history” (al-Akhbar [Beirut], February 4). In addition to destroying the cultural heritage of Iraq and Syria, there is also evidence that such activities are providing an important revenue stream for the Islamic State. U.S. officials have estimated that up to $100 million worth of antiquities from Syria and Iraq are being sold off each year, a significant portion of which is likely to pass through the hands of the Islamic State (Wall Street Journal, February 10). Similarly, on February 13, a UK Conservative member of parliament, Tim Loughton, told the House of Commons that antique buyers in the West could be unwittingly “feeding insurgencies,” citing Iraqi intelligence claims that the Islamic State “had collected as much as $36 million from the sale of artifacts” (Daily Telegraph, February 13).
In late 2012, the Islamic State dramatically increased its financial income when it secured Syria’s eastern oilfields. However, due to the fall in oil prices and U.S.-led airstrikes on oil facilities in its territories, the antiquities trade has become an increasingly important source of Islamic State funds. In one recent media report, an Iraqi intelligence official was quoted as saying: “They [the Islamic State] had taken $36 million from al-Nabuk alone (an area in the Qalamoun Mountains west of Damascus). Read the rest of this entry »
Feroz Khan and Emily Burke believe that India and Pakistan need to cooperate more closely on countering the threat of nuclear terrorism. That means regular bilateral meetings between experts and leaders, exchanging radiation data, indefinitely extending all nuclear agreements, and more.
By Feroz Hassan Khan and Emily Burke for National Defense University Press
Since India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests in 1998, every danger associated with nuclear weapons – proliferation, instability, and terrorism – has been linked to the region. And despite nuclear deterrence and the modernization of nuclear forces, South Asia is a far cry from achieving stability. Indeed, the security situation in South Asia has deteriorated and violent extremism has surged to unprecedentedly high levels. In the past decades, both states have operationalized their nuclear deterrent forces, increased production of fissile material and nuclear delivery means, and developed plans to field a nuclear capable triad. Concurrently, both countries are expanding civilian nuclear facilities in their quests for a cleaner source of energy to combat current and future energy shortages. As tensions and violence in the region have increased, both states blame the other’s policy choices for the scourge of terrorism that has seized the region. New leadership in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan however, creates an opening to tackle the immediate scourge of violent extremist organizations and unresolved historic conflicts. Ironically the traditional stabilizing force in the region – the United States – is drawing down in Afghanistan and shifting its focus to the Asia-Pacific region and to Russia where new tensions have erupted. Within this security context, India and Pakistan will be left on their own to devise mechanisms to mitigate and eliminate the regional risk of terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »
A Europe-wide police operation has been launched in an effort to detect, detain and potentially deport tens of thousands of so-called “irregular” migrants; people living clandestinely, without official documentation permitting them to stay.
Coordinated by Italy, the 14-day Operation Mos Maiorum will see some 20,000 police officers from 25 countries stake out railway stations, bus depots and motorways throughout the continent.
Engineers found a truck with 10 corpses in the early hours of Wednesday, a Defense Ministry spokesman told Rossiya-24 television, which carried pictures of flames swirling high in the night sky and turning it red.
The blaze broke out on Tuesday at the depot near Bolshaya Tura village, some 6,200 km (3,852 miles) southeast of Moscow, caused by a wildfire raging nearby. More than 1,000 residents were evacuated, the local Emergencies Ministry said. Read the rest of this entry »
America’s security and intelligence agencies are teaming up with airline manufacturers to defend against a catastrophic cyberattack that could cripple the air traffic control system, interfere with the computer systems used by modern aircraft, and potentially even bring down a plane.
As part of a new program, which will be run from a federal facility outside Washington, U.S. government personnel will work alongside private-sector aviation employees to share information about computer security threats, government and corporate officials said. Their goal is to spot malicious hacker activity on computer networks and to improve the security of airline manufacturing, during which complex software programs that could create entry points for hackers are installed on passenger aircraft. Read the rest of this entry »
Location map of Qatar Equirectangular projection, N/S stretching 110 %. Geographic limits of the map: N: 26.3° N S: 24.4° N W: 50.3° E E: 52.5° E (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Published 20 March 2014
Qatar bribed FIFA officials so they would vote to award it the 2022 Soccer World Cup. In addition to the likely corruption investigation, FIFA is also grappling with the question of the temperature in Qatar in the summer. Several state football associations, and many medical specialists, said that the summer heat in Qatar is such that it would be dangerous for players to play for ninety minutes, and risky for spectators to sit in the stands during games. Now news has emerged that leading figures inthe Qatar World Cup committee are supporters of terrorism, contributing millions of dollars to al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
Despite its Crimea crime, Russia votes at the UN to honor Libya‘s sovereignty against rebel attempts to steal the country’s oil. The world order still needs that kind of Russia.
By the Monitor’s Editorial Board / March 20, 2014
The oil tanker Morning Glory is seen docked at the Es Sider oil export terminal in Libya in this March 8 photo. U.S. Navy SEALS seized the ship Monday after Libyan rebels arranged to take it to a foreign port.
Before Russia’s actions in Crimea lead people to rebrand it as the “evil empire” of Soviet days, it deserves some credit for a civilized move at the United Nations on Wednesday.
Moscow voted in favor of a Security Council resolution that stands up for Libya’s sovereignty. The resolution condemns any attempt to steal oil from the North African country, which holds the ninth largest proven oil reserves in the world. Earlier this month, a rebel group sailed off with a tanker full of Libyan oil in a brazen attempt to sell it to an unknown buyer. On Monday, US Navy SEALs retook the tanker in the Mediterranean at the request of Libya’s government. Read the rest of this entry »