Need To Foster Political Stabilization in Central African Republic

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By Misha Boutilier* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TORONTO (IDN) - The Central African Republic (CAR) is in the throes of an extreme political crisis that exploded in early December 2013 with mass killing in the streets of the capital Bangui. Despite a French military intervention under UN auspices, an increase in aid funding for the CAR, and the accession of a new president committed to national reconciliation, the situation is still dire.

UN officials warn that there is a “high risk of crimes against humanity and genocide,” and the French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud has emphasized that the 6,000 peacekeepers currently deployed are insufficient to quell violence between Muslim Seleka fighters and Christian anti-balaka militias.

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New Opportunities For India-Sri Lanka Relations

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By Gaurav Dixit* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) - India and Sri Lanka share a long historic relationship. The relation saw a new multi-faceted phase post Eelam War IV in 2009, after the complete elimination of the Sri Lankan rebel group LTTE. The new phase represented extensive economic and political cooperation for the comprehensive development of the Northern and Eastern provinces. India today is one of Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners and has been the first to make foreign direct investment.

Income from Indian tourists forms a large part of Sri Lanka’s tourism sector that is developing its economy. India plays an important role in developing the war torn provinces and has been assisting in reconstruction and rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs).

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What November Referendum in Catalonia Would Mean For Spain and Europe

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) - Last December, the Catalonian parliament adopted a resolution that a referendum be carried out in November 2014, to decide whether the region remains part of Spain, or proclaims its independency. To say that the resolution constitutes a major challenge for the central government in Madrid is a euphemism.

Because, on the one hand, the Spanish constitution does not envisage referendums; and on the other, given the present climate of animosity reigning in Catalonia against Madrid, it is likely that a majority of the Catalonian population follows the 'separatists' – I use that term for lack of a better one: Catalonians rallying for independency claim they are not nationalists, but that they simply don’t feel as Spaniards – among the political leaders and proclaims the region as a new independent state, and thus opens the way for other separatist movements in Spain, such as that of the Basque country. Finally, most Catalonians reject the monarchy and would prefer to ground a republic.

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The Significance of Coming Elections in India

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By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - The general elections for 543 seats in the 16th Lok Sabha (the Lower House of Parliament) in India are due in May 2014 and are of indisputable importance. It is also a gigantic electoral exercise with about 800 million voters, 150 million voting for the first time, in the world’s most populous democracy. Consequently, analyzing the trends and the likely outcome is of crucial importance globally.

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Crises Swamping Developing Economies

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By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) - Several developing countries are now being engulfed in new economic crises as their currency and stock markets are experiencing sharp falls, and the end is not yet in sight. The “sell-off” in emerging economies has also spilled over to the American and European stock markets, thus causing global turmoil.

Countries whose currencies were affected of late include Argentina, Turkey, Russia, Brazil and Chile. A hike in interest rates by Turkey and South Africa has so far failed to stem the depreciation of their currencies. An America market analyst termed it “emerging market flu” and several global media reports tend to focus on weaknesses in individual developing countries.

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Global Arms Sales Up By 29 Percent Since 2003

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By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - New data launched by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that sales of arms and military services by the world's largest arms-producing companies, which amounted to $395 billion in 2012, has increased by 29 per cent in real terms since 2003. But compared to 2011 the 2012 data represent a 4.2 per cent decrease in real terms and follow a 6.6 per cent cut in that year.

The report released at the Munich Security Conference on January 31, 2014 points out at the same time that the decrease in arms sales in 2012 was not uniform: "while sales by companies in the United States, Canada and most West European countries continued to fall, arms sales by Russian companies increased sharply, by 28 per cent in real terms".

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Good News On Latin America and the Caribbean

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By Daniela Estrada | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SANTIAGO DE CHILE (IDN) – Latin American and Caribbean countries registered an average global deficit of 2.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013, but their fiscal revenues rose and kept their public debt situation stable, giving them more room to increase investment and social spending, according to a new study by the UN Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

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Anbar Will Shape Syria's and Iraq's Future

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By Brian M. Downing* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TEHRAN (IDN) - The Iraqi province of Anbar, which lies to the west of Baghdad and leads to the border with Syria, has been the scene of momentous historical events over the last decade. It was the site of fierce resistance to US forces and later a short-lived alliance between the insurgents and the US. Today Anbar is the site of Sunni opposition to the Shia government in Baghdad and of al Qaeda organizations that are fighting Shia governments in both Syria and Iraq. Initial stages of the campaign for Anbar are underway in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, with broader operations to follow for weeks if not months to come.

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India-China Ties Need Fresh Initiatives

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By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) - Although he was frustrated in sealing a long-term India-US strategic partnership – with the nuclear deal not gaining India a seat in the N-technology regimes — keeping that priority at the centre of foreign policy enabled Singh to upscale and deepen India-China relations like never before.

This is no mean achievement considering that there is much wider support – among the public, media, policy-shaping elite, think tanks, industry and business, and powerful sections in the political, military and official establishment – for India embracing the US (and its interests) than engaging with China in India’s interests.

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China and Japan Hold The Key To Senkaku

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By Zachary Fillingham* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

TORONTO (IDN) - The East China Sea territorial dispute between China and Japan figured prominently in various geopolitical risk forecasts for 2014, and with good reason. Neither side shows any sign of standing down, and with every new military deployment near the contested area comes an increased risk of a small-scale military incident spiraling into war.

Anti-Japanese sentiment in China runs deep, fueled by memories of Japan’s brutal invasion and occupation during World War II. These feelings have been strengthened by the Chinese education system and state-controlled media, along with frequent examples over the years of half-hearted and waffling contrition on the part of the Japanese government. They have even been absorbed into the national narrative of China’s rise, such that China will only receive the official stamp of superpowerdom once Japan has been fully eclipsed in East Asia - politically, economically, and militarily.

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Danger Stalks Asia’s Coastal Megacities

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By Aditi Sen* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

WASHINGTON IDN | Yale Global) - Typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines in November was yet another devastating reminder of what climate-related extreme weather may mean for coastal communities. While the underlying causes and the full impact of the typhoon are yet to be known, this disaster was by no means an isolated occurrence.

Several studies indicate that coastal communities in Asia are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and among the hardest hit will be the region’s megacities. The sprawling cities by the sea – cities like Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta – face an increased risk of flooding thanks to the combined impacts of sea level rise, storm surge from intensified tropical cyclones and land subsidence.

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