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Britain To Increase Nuclear Weapons, Review Relations With Russia, China

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Britain's Unemployment Rate Falls

An increase of its nuclear arsenal and the clarification of relations with some nations formed Britain’s recent repositioning of itself in the world. The conclusions of the integrated review which is the most extensive since the end of the Cold War will include recommendations on how best to deal with new and emerging threats, including from Russia and China.

It will also notably announce an increase to the country’s nuclear arsenal, according to reports which have enraged disarmament campaigners.
The Guardian and The Sun newspapers said Britain was looking to raise the number of warheads from 180 to 260 by the middle of the decade.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab refused to comment directly but said the stockpile was the “ultimate insurance policy” against threats from hostile states.

Britain had “always maintained our commitment to the minimum credible deterrence on the nuclear front”, he told BBC radio.

“Over time, as the circumstances change and the threats change, we need to maintain a minimum credible level of deterrence,” he added.

The review also reportedly states clearly that Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, poses an “active threat” to Britain.

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But it recommends closer economic ties with China, despite it posing the “biggest strate-based threat” to Britain, The Times said, in a move likely to infuriate those pushing a tougher line with Beijing.

London has increasingly locked horns with both Moscow and Beijing in recent years, on issues ranging from espionage and cyber-attacks to human rights.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote in an opinion piece in The Times that the review was guided by “enlightened self-interest” and was an opportunity to reset after Brexit.

Britain would work to “co-ordinate with like-minded democracies in the US, in Europe and around the world to protect and advance those ideas and beliefs against those who oppose them”, he added.

Immediate attention will likely be on nuclear weapons, given repeated calls for Britain’s Trident programme to be scrapped given global moves towards disarmament after the Cold War.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) both condemned the move.
ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn accused Britain of “pushing for a dangerous new nuclear arms race”.

She said it was “irresponsible, dangerous and violates international law”, adding: “This is toxic masculinity on display.”

Johnson’s Downing Street office billed the 100-page review as the government’s “most comprehensive articulation of a foreign policy and national security approach” in decades.

Britain is repositioning itself as “Global Britain”, eyeing new trade and investment opportunities as it strikes out on its own.
Included will be a strategic “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific region because of its increasing importance in global geopolitics.

Britain has already applied for partner status at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), while Johnson is due to make his first post-EU visit to India in April.

Other key areas the review will address include plans for the military to adopt cutting-edge technologies such as drones and artificial intelligence.

There will also be a new focus on space and cyber, as well as a revamp of Britain’s ability to respond to security threats with the creation of a White House-style situation room.

A new Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre is also proposed.

The review is said to be a response to a changing world in which Britain “cannot rely solely on an increasingly outdated international system”.
It will stress the continuing importance of alliances, including with NATO, but set out a new foreign policy of “increased international activism… to shape a more open international order in which democracies flourish.”

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ECOWAS Gives Guinea Military Deadline To Restore Democracy

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ECOWAS Gives Guinea Military Deadline To Restore Democracy

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ordered the Guinean military to restore democracy in the country after its coup against the civilian government.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this yesterday while representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS member-states on the political situation in the Republics of Guinea and Mali, which held in Accra, Ghana.

According to the communique issued at the end of the extraordinary summit, ECOWAS leaders have resolved to freeze the financial assets of members of the military junta, place a travel ban on them, while also demanding that the junta return Guinea to constitutional rule within six months.

READ ALSO: ECOWAS Suspends Guinea Over Military Coup

At the last summit of ECOWAS leaders which held virtually on September 8, Nigeria, also represented by VP Osinbajo, condemned the coup de‘tat in Guinea, calling for an unconditional release of President Alpha Conde, and for stringent measures on Guinea’s military junta.

At the Accra summit, Prof. Osinbajo restated Nigeria’s position, urging the unconditional release of President Condé and calling for more pressure to be put on the country’s military leaders to return the nation to democratic rule.

The vice president said : “It is also important that ECOWAS should simply insist that there should be an immediate return to civil rule.”
Calling for more stringent measures to be taken by the sub-regional body, Prof. Osinbajo said “we must make sure that sanctions by ECOWAS achieve the intended objectives.”

The vice president restated the call to engage global bodies and Africa’s development partners in taking steps to prevent such unconstitutional change of government in countries on the continent.

He said: “In this connection, I think we should engage all well-meaning stakeholders including the Africa Union, European Union, United Nations, developmental partners, and financial institutions to join in taking more stringent measures by imposing travel bans and freezing of offshore financial assets of the coupists and their collaborators to ensure that they do return the country to democracy immediately.”

 

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UN Asks Taliban Leaders Not To Intimidate Aid Workers

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UN Asks Taliban Leaders Not To Intimidate Aid Workers

Deborah Lyons, the head of the United Nations envoy has met Afghanistan’s new interior minister who was for years one of the world’s most wanted Islamist militants.

On Thursday, Lyons, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan met Sirajuddin Haqqani to fashion ways for the country to head off soaring humanitarian crisis.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, disclosed this in a statement on Twitter.

“(Haqqani) stressed that UN personnel can conduct their work without any hurdle and deliver vital aid to the Afghan people,” he said.
Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last month.

The plight of the Afghan people has been aggravated with the disruption of aid, with the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers chiefly instigating the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing “perhaps their most perilous hour”.

The UN mission in Afghanistan said that in the Wednesday meeting Lyons had stressed the “absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for Afghan people”.

The Taliban repeatedly targeted the United Nations during the two-decades-long U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan that ended last month with the rout of the Western-backed government by the Taliban.

READ ALSO: Voters’ Bid To Recall Californian Governor Over COVID-19 Fails

In one of the bloodiest incidents, Taliban militants killed five members of UN foreign staff in an attack on a guest-house in Kabul in 2009.

More recently, gunmen attacked a UN compound in the city of Herat in July with rocket-propelled grenades killing a guard, while protesters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2011 killed seven UN members of staff.

The Haqqani network, a faction within the Taliban and for years based on the border with Pakistan, was held responsible for some of the worst militant attacks in Afghanistan during the Taliban insurgency.

The United States designated the group a terrorist organisation in 2012.

Mr Haqqani, head of the eponymous network founded by his father, is one of the FBI’s most wanted men with a reward of $10 million for information leading to his arrest.

U.S. officials and members of the old U.S.-backed Afghan government for years said the Haqqani network maintained ties with al Qaeda.

The Taliban have promised not to let Afghanistan be used for militant attacks on other countries.

(Reuters/NAN)

 

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Voters’ Bid To Recall Californian Governor Over COVID-19 Fails

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Voters' Bid To Recall Californian Governor Over COVID-19 Fails

An attempt by angry voters to unseat a Californian governor through a recall over his stand on COVID-19, masks and lockdowns failed on Tuesday.

Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, handily survived a confidence vote that could have seen him replaced by a Republican with only minority support in one of the most liberal parts of the United States.

With more than 60 percent of the votes tallied, NBC, CNN and Fox News said Newsom was set to prevail, with two thirds voting against the effort.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” a triumphant Newsom said moments after the race was called.

“I want to focus on what we said yes to, as a state. We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic.”

Newsom acted quickly as the pandemic took hold of California, ordering people to stay home and shuttering schools, in moves praised by scientists.

But entrepreneurs blamed him for suffocating their businesses, and parents chaffed at keeping their children home.

The vote had been eagerly watched by politicians across the deeply-divided country as a possible indicator of how incumbents who listened to doctors — instead of angry constituents — would fare at the ballot box.

Newsom’s main opponent was Larry Elder, 69, a right-wing talk radio star who has spoken proudly of his support for ex-president Donald Trump.

Before polls even closed, Elder took a page out of Trump’s 2020 election playbook, launching a website alleging voter fraud and demanding state officials “investigate and ameliorate the twisted results” of the election.

But at what he had previously billed as a “Victory Party”, he urged his supporters to be “gracious in defeat”.
“We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war,” he told an audience sprinkled with red “Make America Great Again” hats.

Tuesday’s ballot was in two parts, with the first asking if 53-year-old Newsom should stay in office.

The second, which only came into play if a majority wanted him out, asked which of 46 candidates should take his place.

Traditional politicians vied with a YouTube star, a “Billboard Queen” and Caitlyn Jenner for the spoils.

The recall initiative, which has cost the state some $280 million, is one of 55 such efforts to depose a governor in state history.

Mostly they have gone nowhere, but pandemic measures Newsom imposed gave this attempt legs.

READ ALSO: China Supports Taliban Govt In Afghanistan

The petition to remove him gathered pace after he was snapped having dinner at a swanky restaurant, seemingly in breach of his own Covid-19 rules, fueling a perception he was an out-of-touch hypocrite.

Mary Beth, a 63-year-old business owner who cast her ballot Tuesday in Los Angeles, said she voted to “get rid of Newsom” because “the virus created chaos in our economy but he made it even worse with his lockdowns.”

“There were other ways to handle that and he should have made businesses the priority,” she said.

Another pro-recall voter told AFP he wanted someone who would not impose vaccine mandates — a hot button issue throughout the divided United States.

“I feel very strongly that we need to get rid of our governor because I think he’s just a corrupt Democrat, like the people we have in the federal government and we need them out,” said Farid Efraim.

“We need somebody who really represents the people.”

Democrats complain the Republican-led recall was an attempt to hijack the state’s government: seizing power in extraordinary circumstances when they could never do it in a regular ballot.

A poll by Spectrum News and IPSOS published before results were announced found two-thirds of registered voters viewed the recall as a political power grab.

California’s electoral rules set the recall bar low.

Malcontents need only gather signatures equivalent to 12 percent of the number of people who voted in the last election — in this case, 1.5 million.

California’s population is around 40 million.

READ ALSO: Woman Pleads Guilty To Plan To Kill US VP Harris

“This whole recall is ridiculous,” said Jake, a 38-year-old tech industry worker, who preferred not to give his last name.

“I did the math and even if every registered voter turns out, it would cost more than $12 per vote,” he said.

“A lot of people could have had a breakfast with that this morning.”

The only successful California recall brought bodybuilder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to office in 2003.

“The Governator,” who ended up running the state for more than seven years, was California’s last Republican chief executive.

AFP

 

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