U.S.-NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council Military Buildup Against Iran – Global Research, Jan. 31, 2012 – The Israeli intelligence web site DEBKA reports (quoting Western military sources) that Obama has “secretly ordered US air, naval and marine forces to build up heavy concentrations on two strategic islands – Socotra, which is part of a Yemeni archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and the Omani island of Masirah at the southern exit of the Strait of Hormuz.”….Flying troops to the islands “almost daily” from the nearby U.S. naval base Diego Garcia, “by mid-February Washington will have some 100,000 military personnel on the spot and available for any contingency”, according to DEBKA’s sources.

Unasur members begin sharing information on defence expenditure – MercoPress, Jan. 31, 2012 – Six South American countries are sharing for the first time in history information on defence expenditure which is seen as a first concrete step to leave behind border disputes and ensure peace in the region, said delegates from Chile, Ecuador and Unasur, Union of South American Nations.

Saarc moves ahead for economic union – The Daily Star (Bangladesh), Jan. 31, 2012 – The objective of the Saarc finance ministers’ forum was to establish a full economic union. The Saarc finance ministers discussed many issues that include coordination in fiscal and monetary policies, joint monitoring of exchange rates and commodity prices and an increase in intraregional trade.

Karasin arrives to discuss common currency – Charter ’97, Jan. 31, 2012 – The issue of currency of the Common Economic Area was discussed at a meeting of State Secretary, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Grigory Karasin with Belarusian MFA representatives in Minsk on Monday. “The financial aspect was among the topics: the future of the ruble and if the new currency is needed for the Eurasian Economic Union,” Karasin told journalists, Interfax-Zapad news agency reports.

How to prevent a power contest in Southeast Asia – The Nation, Jan. 31, 2012 Currently Asean members tend to lean towards the US policy that attempts to mildly counterbalance Chinese power. Since Asean cannot provide a security umbrella and does not wish to create conflict with China, the United States thus becomes a fulcrum to rely on.

African Union vows to boost infrastructure development – Times of India, Jan. 31, 2012 – Africa will accelerate its infrastructure development and put in place related policies and laws to boost the integration process, said a document from the African Union (AU) at the end of its 18th summit here Tuesday.

African Union: Africa: trade with your neighbours – Financial Times, Jan. 30, 2012 (Google Link) – Citing the success of the EU, Asean, Nafta and Mercosur, the report points out that countries in the major continents of the world “are finding it prudent to pool their resources and markets together in order to become more competitive.”

Europe signs up to German-led fiscal pact – Reuters, Jan. 30, 2012 – Only Britain and the Czech Republic refused to sign a fiscal compact in March that will impose quasi-automatic sanctions on countries that breach European Union budget deficit limits and will enshrine balanced budget rules in national law….”It is the first step towards a fiscal union. It certainly will strengthen confidence in the euro area,” ECB President Mario Draghi said.

Bahrain lawmaker calls for Gulf confederation – GulfNews (Dubai), Jan. 30, 2012 – Bahrain should not wait for other member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and should proceed to form a confederation with Saudi Arabia as a first step towards a wider Gulf union, an influential Bahraini lawmaker has said.

PM stresses Saarc nations’ concerted action – The Daily Star (Bangladesh), Jan. 30, 2012 – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday stressed the need for united and concerted action by Saarc member states to deal with the problems caused by the global financial crisis….“We need to adjust our policies collectively…,” the PM said and added that trade cooperation and integration of the region is the ultimate objective of the Saarc….However, she said “it is also a fact that realisation of a South Asian Economic Union and eventual instilling of a sense of South Asian-ness in our thinking, approaches and actions, still remains a lofty goal.”

EAC urged to harmonise key market deal – The Citizen (Tanzania), Jan. 30, 2012 – With the implementation of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market lagging far behind, member states have been urged to harmonise their respective national laws to conform with the protocol….To implement the Common Market Protocol, it was decided that free movement of labour should be put into operation as well as the integration of the regional financial markets to allow for free movement of capital and completion of negotiations on the EAC Monetary Union (EAMU) Protocol. Other global priority interventions approved include cooperation in cross-border infrastructure…

African Union Summit Ends Monday – Voice of America, Jan. 30, 2012 – “Another very key decision they will be making today is to ensure that they fast track the East Africa [Community], the COMESA [The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] and the SADC [Southern African Development Community] tripartite agreement. [It’s] a combination of three regional economic communities to demonstrate …that you can open a free trade agreement within that particular community to be able to move on a bigger picture of the continent.”

Southeast Asia’s yuan dilemma – New Straits Times (Malaysia), Jan. 30, 2012 – China’s yuan is destined to be an international reserve currency….Governments need to consult more extensively with China to ensure that the rise of yuan usage is compatible with their and not just China’s interests. The building of these mechanisms, including through Asean Plus Three’s Chiang Mai Initiative, would seem to be the next step in the road ahead.

European Union: Davos elite see euro surviving, for now – Reuters, Jan. 29, 2012 – High-level private meetings over four days in Davos helped many appreciate that progress is being made in Europe. Davos 2012: Euro divisions set to continue during EU summit – London Telegraph, Jan. 29, 2012 – Merkel made a passionate plea for greater integration. “Do we dare more Europe? Are we ready to be more European? Yes, we are ready,” she said.

GCC, EU meet to boost ties – Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Jan. 28, 2012 – In a major move to boost relations between the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the European Union and to hold consultations on many regional and international issues, GCC Secretary-General Abdulatif Al-Zayani will begin a visit to Brussels on Sunday….The EU has also been committed to sharing its experiences of economic integration, particularly on monetary union, with the GCC, which is undergoing a similar process to that of the European Union.

GCC and Turkey stand united on Syria – The National (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Jan. 29, 2012 – Turkey and the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council yesterday urged the government in Syria to accept a plan by the Arab League that includes a demand for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to step aside. “As Turkey and as Gulf Cooperation Council, we unequivocally support the efforts by the Arab League on Syria,” Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters after meeting foreign ministers from the six countries of the GCC in Istanbul.

African Union: African countries need to reduce trading cost to boost intra-Africa trade: expert – Xinhua (China), Jan. 28, 2012 – “In face of Europe debt crisis, the imports of Europe taking from Africa are quickly reducing….That’s also why we need to increase intra-Africa trade,” Matlotleng Patrick Matlou, the chief executive officer of Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) told Xinhua in a telephonic interview on Thursday. Last June, leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) met in Johannesburg, South Africa to launch the negotiations of Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA). The decision involving 26 countries, 530 million inhabitants, and 630 billion U.S. dollars GDP, comes at a time of renewed commitment for achieving the African Common Market.

Saarc finance ministers meet in Dhaka Monday – The Daily Star (Bangladesh), Jan. 28, 2012 – Finance ministers from the Saarc nations will meet in Dhaka on Monday to further expand regional cooperation in economic and financial sectors.The daylong meeting also aims at setting out the benchmarks to establish a customs union and leading subsequently towards an economic union; and ensuring greater integration, harmonisation and standardisation of the financial systems….They will outline priority steps to be taken at each implementation phase of South Asian Economic Union….The Saarc, mooted in Dhaka in 1985, is comprised of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Eurasian Union: Russian experts comment on Kazakh President’s state-of-the-nation address – Caspionet (Kazakhstan), Jan. 28, 2012 – Kazakhstan is ready to support the aspiration of other CIS states to join the Eurasian integration….Observers have called the decision to create the equivalent of Interpol in the area of the [Single Economic Space] as a very timely one as the Eurasian police are expected to combat transnational crimes.

Falklands/Malvinas, From Rhetoric to Pressure – Inter Press Service, Jan. 27, 2012 – “There is a change in Argentina’s political stance that’s putting Britain on edge, but we don’t know what the costs and benefits of this strategy will be,” said Federico Merke, an Argentine international relations expert….”Unasur is key in that it leverages Argentina’s diplomatic efforts…”

African Union: Call for African Integration At Davos – allAfrica, Jan. 27, 2012 – Guinea President Alpha Condé advocated the establishment of several pan-African ministries to drive the process of continental integration….[Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi] cautioned that “we cannot wish a common African government into existence. It is a slow process of integration.” He pointed to the example of Europe, which integrated over the course of about 50 years, yet was still encountering problems. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said a common market in Africa could be achieved through the integration and merging of current regional trade groupings…

African Union to open Chinese-funded HQ in Ethiopia – BBC, Jan. 27. 2012 – The entire $200m (£127m) project was funded by China as a gift to the AU, as Beijing continues to strengthen its influence in Africa….While other rich nations impose conditions before aid is given, China’s relationship with African countries is strictly a business one, [BBC’s Will Ross] says.

Saudi Arabia, the GCC, and Defining Moments – The US and its allies in the region strengthen ties – Majalla Magazine, Jan. 27, 2012 – Caught off guard by a series of political events that have eradicated many of the familiar faces driving US foreign policy in the Middle East, America has learned to work with some of its oldest allies—Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council…Largely unnoticed by casual political observers, and often underplayed by policy experts, the GCC has been coordinating diplomatic breakthroughs…

Oil industry sees China winning, West losing from Iran sanctions – Reuters, Jan. 27, 2012 – As the European Union prepares to ban Iranian oil and the United States turns the screw on payments, oil executives and policymakers say China and Russia stand to gain the most and Western oil firms and consumers may emerge the biggest losers….”What we say is that oil is fungible. Iranian oil will still find its way into the market, to Asian markets, China and possibly at a lower price,” a top Saudi source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Asean Expected To Integrate Power Grids By 2020 – Bernama (Malaysia) Jan. 27, 2012 – A Thai energy expert has foreseen that 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), including Thailand, will integrate their electricity grids by 2020 for regional power security.

U.S. and Philippines eye stronger defense ties – Reuters, Jan. 26, 2012 – A commander in the western Philippine naval forces said a greater U.S. presence in the region, especially in the disputed waters of South China, would boost security…China claims the entire South China Sea, while the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have conflicting claims over the disputed area believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas. The United States has backed the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) call for a multilateral solution to the dispute…

Beyond the Prism: The Arab League should sanction Iran – Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2012 – The Arab League should now adopt sanctions against non-member Iran, since its destabilizing efforts in countries with Shi’ite populations constitute the greatest threat to the Sunni regimes….Instead of waiting for the United States or for Israel to take care of the dirty work for them, the time has come for the Arab League to adopt sanctions against Iran.

Iran May Cut Europe Oil Exports Early – Fox Business, Jan. 26, 2012 – The Iranian parliament is set to debate a plan to abruptly halt Tehran’s oil exports to the European Union, a top lawmaker said Thursday, in a bid to pre-empt a phased European Union embargo. The EU Monday agreed to ban Iranian oil imports from July 1…But the Iranian lawmakers are seeking an abrupt interruption that would not allow a smooth transition to other crudes and potentially push prices up.

China says EU ban on Iran oil not “constructive” – Reuters, Jan. 26, 2012 – China on Thursday criticized the European Union for banning oil imports from Iran, Beijing’s third biggest crude supplier and a major trading partner….During a tour to Arab states earlier this month, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao also made a strong statement opposing Iran developing and possessing nuclear weapons, but defended China’s right to buy Iranian crude oil as normal trade activity.

North America: Defence agreements signed with U.S. – CBC (Canada), Jan. 25, 2012 – “This has already been done to a certain degree, but there is still room for more integrated collaboration — domestically and bi-nationally,” MacKay said. “I think that we need to begin to consider partnerships from the ground up – from the local first responders to international organizations.”
Security linked to economy,MacKay tells bilateral defence meeting – iPolitics (Canada), Jan. 24, 2012 – The future military mindset for Canada and the U.S. must consider the links between security and economy, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Tuesday evening….MacKay says the increasing integration of Canadian and U.S. economies has been key to prosperity and security in both countries….The two countries also aim to sign off on the Civil Assistance Plan and the Information Sharing Memorandum of Understanding…
Canada, U.S. set ground rules for responding to armed attack – Montreal Gazette, Jan. 24, 2012 – The Combined Defence Plan has been under discussion for several years and would further integrate cross-border military co-operation….Canada and the U.S. also will extend the Civil Assistance Plan, which allows for the deployment of troops and equipment from one country to the other in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Unlike with the Combined Defence Plan, this would be to assist civilian agencies.

Arab spring: ‘Western-backed exported Islamist revolution’ – RT, Jan. 26, 2012 – The string of uprisings in the Arab world boils down to Saudi Arabia and Qatar using money and influence to hijack public dissent and bring Sunni Islamists to power, says John R. Bradley, British author and expert on the Middle East….“What we’re seeing is a Sunni-Shiite divide reemerge in the Middle East with Washington clearly backing the Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia, a close American ally. And Saudi Arabia in turn along with Qatar has taken control of the revolutions elsewhere.

EAC team learns workings of eurozone’s monetary union – The Citizen (Tanzania), Jan. 26, 2012 – Negotiations for the creation of the Monetary Union in the East African Community are at an advanced stage and the region is determined to learn from lessons from other regions to make the envisaged arrangement a success. But as an EAC mission, dispatched on a study tour to the embattled Eurozone two weeks ago, is about to come back, the region must do its homework before it plunges into a monetary union arrangement, analysts who spoke to BusinessWeek said.

Merkel Becomes Master of Markets With Euro Austerity Mollifying Investors – Bloomberg, Jan. 25, 2012 – Merkel’s convergence with the European Central Bank and her attempt to bury the hatchet with financial markets came as concerns of an imminent euro break-up ease….She and French President Nicolas Sarkozy last month reversed a year of policy and dropped the idea of requiring private-investor losses under the European Union’s permanent rescue fund, which investors, economists and European officials blamed for worsening the market turmoil in 2011.Requiring bondholder losses “had a very negative effect on debt markets,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said Dec. 9 after the last summit. Merkel also signaled that her push to make investors accept losses on Greek sovereign bonds won’t be repeated in other euro countries.

Comment: No, they won’t make private banksters and their politicians pay for their economic dereliction and international loan-sharking. They’ll just make populations pay through austerity, higher taxes and loss of sovereignty, as per the following article:
European Union turns screws on Greece, Spain, as recession looms – Economic Times, Jan. 24, 2012

Arab League, European Nations Push to End Assad’s Rule – Voice of America, Jan. 25, 2012 – The Arab League says the withdrawal of monitors from Gulf Arab states will not hinder its work in Syria as France, Britain and Germany joined efforts at the United Nations to end President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. A league official, Adnan al-Khudeir said Wednesday a new group of observers is set to replace the 55 monitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council who left Syria Wednesday….But Russia says it will not support international action on Syria that may include sanctions or military intervention.

Palestinian president says dialogue with Israel has ended, will consult with Arab League – Washington Post, Jan. 25, 2012 – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would discuss the prospects with the Arab League next week, Israel wants to keep talking, and Abbas is under mounting international pressure not to walk away.

Iran says EU oil embargo will be ineffective – Boston Globe|Associated Press, Jan. 24, 2012 – Tehran has shrugged off a new European Union ban on the purchase of Iranian oil, with officials declaring that the country can find new markets for its oil….Some in Iran said the country should stop selling oil to Europe now, instead of July, to punish the bloc before it can find suppliers to replace Iranian crude oil in the midst of winter.

India to pay gold instead of dollars for Iranian oil. Oil and gold markets stunned – DEBKAfile, Jan. 23, 2012 – India is the first buyer of Iranian oil to agree to pay for its purchases in gold instead of the US dollar, DEBKAfile’s intelligence and Iranian sources report exclusively. Those sources expect China to follow suit….The vast sums involved in these transactions are expected, furthermore, to boost the price of gold and depress the value of the dollar on world markets.

Arab League asks for meeting with UN chief on Syria – Daily Star (Lebanon), Jan. 24, 2012 – The Arab League has formally requested a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon in New York to discuss its plan for resolving the Syria crisis and to ask for the Security Council’s support, a senior League official said Tuesday.

Gulf to pull monitors, press Russia on Syria – AFP|NOW Lebanon, Jan. 24, 2012 – The Arab states of the Gulf intend to follow the Saudi lead by withdrawing their observers from Syria…The Gulf Cooperation Council states will also take part in a high-level Arab delegation that will visit Russia to press Moscow to end its support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime…

East African Community: Museveni to push for faster political federation as EA parliament opens Daily Monitor (Uganda), Jan. 24, 2012 – President Museveni is expected during his address [to] the East African Legislative Assembly- the Regional Parliament- sitting in Kampala this afternoon to renew his effort for a united East Africa. His quest for East African economic integration and political federation is expected to form the highlight of his speech coming at time when the five nations in the bloc are facing serious economic challenges.

EU Seeks Bondholder Concessions on Greece – Bloomberg, Jan. 24, 2012 – Euro governments sought to fill a deeper-than-expected hole in Greece’s finances by saddling investors with a lower interest rate on exchanged bonds, setting up a confrontation in the runup to a Jan. 30 European Union summit.

India calls for new credit system to boost SAARC trade – South Asian News Agency, Jan. 24, 2012 – Reduction of non-tariff barriers, building a regional chain of production built on factor advantage, institutional linkages with the SAARC and changes in the policy measures to facilitate enabling environment to the interest of each other will help a great deal to take the economic and political interaction forward, [Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai] said.

Arab League Gets New Sense of Purpose With Syria Pressure: View – Bloomberg, Jan. 23, 2012 – One effect of the Arab Awakening has been to spotlight the lack of regional cooperation in the Middle East. As the tyrants fall, the remaining states would be well served to focus on building the diplomatic architecture that has enabled other regions — Asia, for example, through ASEAN, APEC and other entities — to address not just security issues but also economic revitalization….Certainly the growing threat posed by Iran demands a strong collective response. Perhaps, after 67 forgetful years of existence, the Arab League can grow into that unifying role.

Putin warns ethnic tensions risk tearing Russia apart – Reuters, Jan. 23, 2012 – In the article, he plugged his plan for a Eurasian Union linking Russia with other ex-Soviet republics including those in Central Asia — the source of millions of labor migrants in Russia — saying closer ties would help curb migration by helping to develop their economies.

Oil Climbs as European Union Agrees on Sanctions Against Iran – Bloomberg, Jan. 23, 2012 – Oil rose as the European Union announced a phased-in embargo of Iranian crude in an effort to contain the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program…..“As of July 1, we have a ban on the import of oil and oil products from Iran,” the Dutch Foreign Minister said, adding that ministers will see how to “limit the damage” to Greece from the measure.

Sheikhs fall in love with renminbi – Asia Times, Jan. 23, 2012 – The short point is, the renminbi, the “people’s currency” also known as the yuan, is appearing in Doha. The China-United Arab Emirates (UAE) currency swap deal which was signed during Wen’s visit to Abu Dhabi last week already brings the yuan to the Emirates….China is quite comfortable with both Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and doesn’t see the security paradigm in the Persian Gulf in quite those zero-sum terms.

When the Lieutenant General speaks – Al-Arabiya News, Jan. 23, 2012 – In a speech at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) National and Regional Security Conference held in the Bahraini capital of Manama, [Chief of the Dubai Police Force, Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan] claimed that Iraq’s subordination to Iran threatens the security of the Gulf and that Iran’s nuclear program, even if peacefully orientated, is also a threat….He said that “The US is endorsing the Muslim Brotherhood and here I will say openly that the (Brotherhood) does not wish to see our Sheikhs as rulers in the Gulf.”

What’s up with the Arab League? – Financial Times (London), Jan. 23, 2012 (Google link) – The Arab League seems to have had a testosterone rush. This was an organisation that used to be a byword for caution and hypocrisy….Yet, suddenly, here we have the League calling for regime change in Syria, followed by a peaceful transition to democracy….Perhaps what we are seeing is the emergence of the “responsibility to protect” as a genuine international doctrine. The idea that a world community has the right to intervene inside countries that are committing mass atrocities (known colloquially as R2P) has been formally adopted by the UN.

The road to Washington runs through Mexico – By Robert Pastor, Toronto Star, Jan. 22, 2012 – Canada has the reputation of a multilateralist, except in the one region that matters most — North America. Why? Some suggest Canadians fear being tainted by association with Mexico’s violence. Others believe its “special relationship” with the United States gives it an advantage that it would lose if it allied with Mexico….Instead of competing against each other to gain access to Asian markets, our three countries should focus on continental competitiveness and approach China together on issues related to currency, unfair trade practices and climate change.

‘Argentina not looking to organize a blockade of the Malvinas’, says Timerman – MercoPress, Jan. 22, 2012 – Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Hector Timerman said that Argentina “is not looking to organize a blockade of the Malvinas” but only wants “to counter British interests” based on the Unasur and Mercosur decisions to bar Falklands’ flagged vessels from having access to regional ports.

Pak industrial delegation leaves for India – IBNLive, Jan. 21, 2012 – A 100-member industrial delegation of Pakistan left for New Delhi today to participate in an event that will mark India taking over the presidency of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Rights group calls on West to end ‘Arab exception’ – Associated Press, Jan. 22, 2012 – Popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world exposed biases by Western governments that supported Arab autocratic rulers for the sake of “stability” while turning a blind eye to their repressive policies, Human Rights Watch said Sunday.

Argentine celebrates US recognition of ‘de facto UK administration of Malvinas’ – MercoPress, Jan. 21, 2012 – “The non recognition by the US State Department of the British sovereignty pretension over the Islands shows it is necessary for the UK to sit at the negotiation table with our country as promoted by the UN resolutions calling for a bilateral dialogue”, added Timerman….The dispute has escalated since the oil exploration round started in Falklands’ waters which was followed by Unasur and Mercosur declarations attempting to limit shipping to the Islands and barring Falklands’ flagged vessels from docking in regional ports.

It’s time for ASEAN to ‘move beyond awareness promotion – Jakarta Post, Jan. 21, 2012 – Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa called on Friday for a new level of measures to promote the integration of ASEAN into the regional community….The ASEAN Foundation introduced in the Friday forum a new initiative called “Friends of ASEAN”, which is part of the foundation’s moves to promote ASEAN awareness and the ASEAN Community, set to be established in 2015, according to foundation executive director Makarim Wibisono.

The US-GCC fatal attraction – By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times (Hong Kong), Jan. 20, 2012 – GCC stands for Gulf Cooperation Council, the club of six wealthy Persian Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – UAE), founded in 1981 and which in no time configured as the prime strategic US backyard for the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, for the long-drawn battle in the New Great Game in Eurasia, and also as the headquarters for “containing” Iran. ….Cueing to Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, the Rosebud inside the GCC is that the House of Saud sells its oil only in US dollars – thus the pre-eminence of the petrodollar – and in exchange benefits from massive, unconditional US military and political support. Moreover the Saudis prevent the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – after all they’re the world’s largest oil producer – to price and sell oil in a basket of currencies. These rivers of petrodollars then flow into US equities and Treasury bonds. ….Why Iran? Half-jokingly, because Iran is not part of the GCC – that is, a pliable US satrapy, just like in those jolly good times under the shah.
Ecuador Expects to Join Mercosur in First Half of 2012 – Prensa Latina, Jan. 20, 2012 – Ecuador could join the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) in the first half of 2012, once the parties negotiate the terms of integration, Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas confirmed in this capital….The deputy foreign minister noted that the strengthened Mercosur could become an economic, commercial integration hub for UNASUR, with consolidation in various fields.

UN chief heads to Davos forum and African Union summit next week – UN News Centre, Jan. 20, 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel next week to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum, and then to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to participate in the summit of the African Union (AU).

Greece presses EU to ease Iran oil sanctions – Financial Times (London), Jan. 20, 2012 (Google link) – Greece is pressing its European Union partners to make last-minute concessions over a forthcoming EU embargo on Iranian oil, complicating the bloc’s efforts to unveil a sweeping package of sanctions against Tehran on Monday.

Exclusive: New U.S. Commando Team Operating Near Iran – Wired News, Jan. 19, 2012 – The primary, day-to-day mission of the team, known as Joint Special Operations Task Force-Gulf Cooperation Council, is to mentor military units belonging to the U.S.’ oil-rich Arab allies, who collectively are known as the Gulf Cooperation Council. Those Arab states consider Iran to be their primary foreign threat….The special operations forces of those nations have shown a notable improvement over the past year. Qatari commandos quietly traveled to Libya ahead of Moammar Gadhafi’s downfall to prepare Libyan rebels for the successful capture of Tripoli.

Commitment to stability – China Dailly, Jan. 20, 2012 – Premier Wen Jiabao’s six-day trip to the Arabian Peninsula has brought China’s bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to a new level. It has also enhanced China’s cooperation with regional organizations including the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Ireland copes with EU-mandated austerity measures – San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 20, 2012 – Ireland is testing the limits for how much European Union-ordered austerity one country can take. Its four-year struggle to save its banks and tame a runaway deficit has already meant slashing thousands from the annual budgets of most households – and many Irish say they’re close to the breaking point.

The myth of an “isolated’ Iran – By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, Jan. 19, 2012 – Though few in the US have noticed, Iran is not exactly “isolated”….On that crucial Eurasian chessboard, Pipelineistan, the Iran-Pakistan (IP) natural gas pipeline – much to Washington’s distress – is now a go….A key member of the BRICS, the club of top emerging economies, Brasilia is completely opposed to the US sanctions/embargo strategy….Moreover, three BRICS members (Russia, India and China) allied with Iran are major holders (and producers) of gold….Follow the money….In this context, it’s worth remembering that in September 2000 Saddam Hussein abandoned the petrodollar as the currency of payment for Iraq’s oil, and moved to the euro….Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi proposed a gold dinar both as Africa’s common currency and as the currency of payment for his country’s energy resources.

Prediction: Russia builds a new Soviet Union – CanadianBusiness, Jan. 19, 2012 – Putin sees the so-called Eurasian Union of former republics as a way to counter U.S. influence….The talk in the Kremlin is about an economic club, but if the plans extend to common security, that would bring it much closer to recreating the Soviet Union. “If that happens,”…“we have a whole new beast on our hands.”

Countering the US-NATO Alliance: Moscow’s Eurasian Union Project and Russia’s Geostrategic Stability – Global Research, Jan. 19, 2012 – Zbigniew Brzeziński had a point when he wrote in The Grand Chessboard….”if Moscow regains control over Ukraine,…Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.” ….Russian premier Vladimir Putin’s opinion piece published in Izvestia in 2011 ..where he puts forward a case for building a Eurasian union in the post-Soviet space, simply had to come under fire in the West….EU captains are ready to pen an association deal with the country, dispense Eurointegration promises to its leadership or even – in a distant future – actually admit Ukraine to the EU just to make sure that the unification processes within the community of the East-Slavic nations (and, potentially, further across the post-Soviet space) come to a grinding halt.

Nepal urges SAARC members to open up their markets – Republica, Jan. 19, 2012 – During the meeting, India and Pakistan pushed the SAARC member countries to open almost all service sectors, a demand which goes beyond the commitments made under World Trade Organization (WTO).

Oman Ctrl Bk Head: IMF Has Asked GCC States To Boost Contributions – Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2012 – The oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, states have been approached by the International Monetary Fund to increase their financial contributions as the fund seeks to boost its resource base by an extra $500 billion to $600 billion to help battle the euro-zone debt crisis, Oman’s central bank governor said Thursday.

Lukashenko: New Single Currency should Operate within CES – (Belarus), Jan. 19, 2012 – President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko believes that some new currency like the euro should be created in case of single currency introduction within the Common Economic Space of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. “The Russians, Kazakhs and we, Belarusians, agree on the fact that it’s quite a normal practice,” said the President in an interview with the Chinese media on January 17….The Head of State also notes that the progress made in November 2011 is far not the last stage of integration, so the CES countries will seek closer cooperation within the Eurasian Union.

Indonesia promotes unified visa system for ASEAN – People’s Daily (China), Jan. 19, 2012 – Indonesia is also considering negotiating with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to accelerate the implementation of a unified visa system for all ASEAN members. Once all ASEAN countries join the system, Chinese tourists will only need one visa to visit the entire region.

Govt committed to constructive, sustained engagement with India: Gilani – Pakistan Associated Press, Jan. 19, 2012 – [Pakistan] Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said his government is committed to a constructive, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement with India.He said that Pakistan wanted a just, peaceful and negotiated settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.The Prime Minister expressed these views while addressing the Indian Parliamentary delegation, which called on him at Prime Minister House here….He said he had excellent interactions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, most recently in Maldives on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit.

Ki-moon Canvasses Stronger African Union-UN Partnership – THIS DAY (Nigeria), Jan. 19, 2012 – The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, has revealed that the collective efforts by the UN and the African Union (AU) in peace and security matters are having an important impact on the continent. He disclosed this to the UN Security Council in New York, USA while stressing the need to further strengthen this vital partnership, according to a release by the global body.

Mind the U.N.-A.U. Gap – International Herald Tribune, Jan. 18, 2012 – President Jacob Zuma of South Africa gave an unusual speech at the U.N. Security Council last week….Even when Zuma criticized the African Union for failing, in the first instance, to tackle a geopolitical challenge in its own backyard, he qualified the point by suggesting that the West’s continued “interference in Africa” contributes to “the hesitance of [African] countries to take whatever decisions are needed [for] the A.U. to function.” The implication was that somehow the West is partly to blame for the African Union’s shortcomings.

Brazil and Colombia will enter into a border agreement to combat organized crime –, Jan. 18, 2012 – Consolidation of the South America defense industry and the theme of combating organizations that practice trans-national crimes will also be taken up by the Ministers at the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

Brazil Defends Argentine Sovereignty over Falkland Islands – Prensa Latina, Jan. 18, 2012 – Brazil supports the decisions of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Latin American and Caribbean Community of States (Celac), recently created in Caracas, Venezuela, backing Argentine’s sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.

ECB, Gulf Countries To Discuss Europe – NASDAQ, Jan. 18, 2012 – European central bankers will discuss the crisis in Europe with their Gulf counterparts Thursday, and will review the lessons the Gulf countries have drawn from the global financial crisis, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said….Draghi reiterated that European leaders achieved a “breakthrough” in tackling the debt crisis with December’s agreement to create a “fiscal compact” and boost economic policy coordination….Oman’s central bank governor Hamood Al Zadjali confirmed Thursday that the oil rich Gulf Cooperation Council states are among the nations that have been approached by the IMF to increase their contributions in line with their IMF quotas.

A League of their Own – Majalla Magazine, Jan. 18, 2012 – Even the current secretary-general, Nabil al-Araby, has described the [Arab League] as “impotent”, perhaps in light of the fact that there is nothing in the League’s charter which forces members to comply with its pronouncements. In spite of all of this, over the past year things appear to have changed. Many commentators have noted how the Arab Spring marked a watershed for the League. Beginning with Libya in the spring of last year, when members gave the nod to a Nato bombing campaign, the organisation has developed an increasingly confident strut.

Iran … your future dark – By: Ahmed Al-Jarallah, Arab Times (Kuwait), Jan. 18, 2012 WITH all insolence and arrogance, the mullahs’ regime in Iran is threatening the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and is demanding them not to raise the ceiling of oil production in case international sanctions are applied on Iranian oil….The solution lies in compliance with word of the international community, abandoning arrogance and empty threats and learning lessons from the regimes of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.

AU wants to turn the page with Libya post-Kadhafi – AFP, Jan. 17, 2012 – The “king of the kings of Africa,” as Kadhafi liked to be called, was behind the creation of the African Union and led an aggressive campaign for the formation of a United States of Africa, which he dreamed of leading….”Sometimes Kadhafi’s Libya held back its contribution and did not pay,” [AU commission chairman Jean Ping] said, adding that Tripoli has not provided its share for 2010 and 2011, but only as a way to press for certain projects.

The Distinguishing Features of Latin America’s New Left in Power: The Governments of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa – Venezuelanalysis, Jan. 17, 2012 – Similarly, the presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador define themselves as anti-capitalist and have often clashed with Washington but also act in unison with moderate governments, such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay….Latin American unity has brought the “radical” and moderate presidents together with centrist ones around common pursuits, such as the creation of UNASUR and its broader based successor, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

EurAsEC court to start in one month – chairman – RAPSI (Russian Legal Information Agency), Jan. 17, 2012 – The Court of the Eurasian Economic Community may commence working in one month, Chairman Evgeny Smirnov said at a Tuesday press conference in Minsk….Governments, private companies and businessmen will be able to appeal to the court in discrimination, competition law and equal business cases.

Eurasian Union: Stratfor: “Russia lays the groundwork for the eventual formation of the Eurasian Union which it is hoping to start around 2015” – APA, Jan. 17, 2012 – “Russia will continue building its influence in its former Soviet periphery in 2012, particularly by institutionalizing its relationships with many former Soviet states,” says US Stratfor Global Analytical Company’s Annual Forecast 2012, APA reports.

Syria: UN to train Arab League observers – London Telegraph, Jan. 17, 2012 – The United Nations is to start training Arab League observers monitoring the crackdown in Syria within days.

East Africans step up plans for their own “euro” – GlobalPost, Jan. 16, 2012 – The euro zone as role model? Seems unlikely after currency bloc’s two years of woe. But viewed from East Africa it seems like the euro may not be so bad. “The study tour will help the group to better understand … the transitional arrangements to a monetary union and finally discuss the current euro crisis and lessons to be learnt.” The EAC [East African Union] brings together Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda under the slogan of “one people one destiny.”

Ban calls for more cross-border cooperation in Central Africa to target new threats – UN News Centre, Jan. 16, 2012 – …which include piracy, human trafficking and the proliferation of light weapons along major roadways linking countries. In a message to a meeting of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) yesterday in N’Djamena, Chad, Mr. Ban said….“These threats require regional and cross-border responses,” Mr. Ban said. “The need for regional and cross-border responses raises the new challenge of coordination of our efforts.”

ASEAN tourism forum highlights region’s push for further integration – Phnom Penh Post, Jan. 16, 2012 – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations yesterday concluded its annual Tourism Forum in Manado, Indonesia, furthering plans to facilitate intra-regional travel for both ASEAN nationals and foreign tourists, officials said.

History Suggests Europe’s Iran Oil Ban Could Fail – Wall Street Journal (blog), Jan. 16, 2012 – U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague reportedly confirmed over the weekend that the European Union will slam an oil embargo on Iran when it meets later this month. But in a freshly released report, Chatham House, the U.K.’s most authoritative foreign affairs think-tank, begs to differ. “Oil embargoes simply do not work,” it said….“History is littered with failed oil embargoes ranging from Cuba, Rhodesia and South Africa to the Arab oil embargo and the embargo against Iraq after 1990,” Chatham House said.

Saudi Arabia, China Ink Nuke Cooperation Deal – RTT News, Jan. 16, 2012 – The world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with China for cooperation in the development and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, which will help to meet the Kingdom’s increasing demand for energy and cut its growing dependence on depleting oil resources.

China, GCC agree to accelerate FTA negotiations – China Daily, Jan. 16, 2012 – Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdullatif al-Zayani agreed on Sunday to speed up negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two sides….The GCC and its members view relations with China from a strategic perspective and appreciate the important roles that China has played in regional and international affairs, according to al-Zayani.

Chinese President to Inaugurate New African Union Headquarters – Voice of America, Jan. 15, 2012 – Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to visit Addis Ababa this month to inaugurate a new African Union headquarters financed by China and built largely with Chinese labor. The project was launched when Moammar Gadhafi was maneuvering to move Africa’s diplomatic capital to Libya.

Merkel calls for faster implementation of fiscal compact – Xinhua (China), Jan. 15, 2012 – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday called for faster implementation of the European Union (EU) fiscal compact, one day after the U.S.-based ratings agency Standard & Poor’s decided to downgrade nine of 17 eurozone countries. “We are now challenged to implement the fiscal compact even quicker … and to do it resolutely.”

North America: Manufacturers wave maple leaf to marketing advantage – Globe and Mail (Canada), Jan. 16, 2012 – Isabelle Remy, founder of marketing and advertising agency Buy Canadian First , said that, in her experience, cosmetic companies often play down their status. “A lot of [companies] have had to adjust their pitch and call themselves ‘made in North America,’” she said.

Joint Arab action call – Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), Jan. 16, 2012 – Bahrain’s leaders have called for the need to activate joint Arab action and consolidate co-operation, especially in the political, economic and social fields. His Majesty King Hamad stressed the Arab League’s role in promoting Arab unity….He also hailed the royal initiative calling for the establishment of an Arab Human Rights Tribunal.

States Search for Monetary Union Criteria – AllAfrica, Jan. 16, 2012 – Expectation is that by December, this year, negotiations for the East African Community (EAC) monetary union protocol may be complete, ready for signing.

Central Africa: Regional Integration Promoted – Prensa Latina, Jan. 15, 2012 – Heads of State and Government of Central African countries are discussing on Sunday issues related to the free trade area and free movement of persons and goods in the region. They are also assessing an economic partnership agreement between the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the European Union, the elections at the heart of the commission of the African Union, and other issues.

A grim outlook for both intervention in Syria and sanctions on Iran – Haaretz, Jan. 15, 2012 – With no serious international measures in sight and with the Arab League still dawdling and in no hurry to ask the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, the Syrian military is operating completely freely….While the U.S. tries to garner support for more sanctions on Iran, it and its European [Union] allies know that even if they agree on more robust sanctions and circumvent the Security Council, they will still be short some key countries’ cooperation.

No plan to send Arab troops to Syria: League Source – Reuters, Jan 15, 2012 – The Arab League has not received any official request or suggestion that it send Arab troops to Syria, an Arab representative to the Cairo-based League told Reuters on Sunday.

PHL seeks ASEAN support for possible China meet on Spratly row – GMA News (Philippines), Jan. 15, 2012 – The Philippines called anew for the support of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in having a meeting with China to resolve the territorial row involving the Spratly Islands.

Regional multilateralism: The next paradigm in global affairs – CNN, Jan. 14, 2012 – For instance, in the Far East the U.S. and the EU both cooperate with ASEAN. China and Russia have extended their ties through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This however did not prevent Russia from establishing the Eurasian Union, in a way reclaiming its sphere of influence. The Middle East, on the other hand, is in dire need of broader – albeit imaginative – regional integration.

East African Community: East Africa may adopt single currency this year, says PS – Daily Nation (Kenya), Jan. 14, 2012 – “We are mandated to deliver the East African Common currency by the end of the year. The East African dollar or shilling, if I may call it, is set to eliminate the high costs of transactions across the region. We are currently dealing with many currencies that make business very difficult and expensive.”

European Union: Europe Needs Cohesion: Italy’s President -Xinhua – Wall Street Journal, Jan. 14, 2012 – The European Union must become more cohesive, Italian president Giorgio Napolitano said on Saturday following the country’s downgrade by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, the Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday….Accoring to ANSA reports, [Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti] urged a “stronger European Central Bank”, as the downgrade will have the effect of weakening the other European anti-crisis solutions.

US acts to hold Israel back from striking Iran. Their intel agencies at odds – DEBKAfile, Jan. 14, 2012 (Google link) – The bombing attack in Tehran which killed Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan last Wednesday, Jan. 11, generated an angry phone call from US President Barack Obama to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the next day, debkafile’s Washington and intelligence sources report.

Qatari emir favors sending Arab troops to Syria – Associated Press, Jan. 14, 2012 – Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s comments to CBS “60 Minutes,” which will be aired Sunday, are the first statements by an Arab leader calling for the deployment of troops inside Syria.

ASEAN-China meet hoping to reduce sea conflict – BusinessWorld, Jan. 14, 2012 – Senior officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have begun their three-day meeting here on Friday to discuss a rules-based conduct of activities in the South China Sea aimed at resolving tension over conflicting claims in the resource-rich region.

Why won’t the U.N. Security Council intervene in Syria? – CNN, Jan. 13, 2012 – Diplomats say the answer is simple: Russia….Though China joined Russia in its veto on Syria, and India, Brazil and South Africa abstained, diplomats say that it is Russia that has been taking the lead in opposition to action.

EU Leaders Defend Euro-Zone States After S&P Downgrades – Wall Street Journal Jan. 13, 2012 – European Union leaders lashed back against Standard & Poor’s Friday, after the rating agency downgraded nine of the economic bloc’s 17 member states. Eurogroup President Jean Claude Juncker….added that euro-zone states will explore options to maintain the triple-A rating of their bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility.

Indonesian VP calls for acceleration of ASEAN visa implementation – Philippine Star, Jan. 13, 2012 – Indonesian Vice President Boediono asks the ASEAN to speed up implementation of a joint visa for the region in order to boost the number of foreign tourist arrivals and services in the industry in the region amid the global economic crisis threat, a statement from the vice presidential office said here on Friday.

Zuma tells the UN: Listen to African Union – Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 13, 2012 – During a debate on how to improve relations between the UN and the African Union, Mr. Zuma said that the AU had a peace plan that could have worked, allowing a peaceful transfer of power from Muammar Qaddafi to a transitional government.

Why Gulf rail corridor? – Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Jan. 13, 2012 – The geopolitical lesson from the long-simmering strains between Iran and its Arab neighbors is clear. Alternatives must be found for the transport of oil and merchandise between the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and its trade partners. One of the most powerful is undoubtedly the 2,000-kilometer rail link that is planned to connect Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia to Oman and port facilities on the Arabia Sea.

Book Review: How Imperial Russia wooed Asia – Asia Times, Jan. 13, 2012 – Russia’s own Orient: The politics of identity and Oriental studies in the Imperial and early Soviet periods by Vera Tolz –
Moscow continues to flirt with Iran and China, while seeking a “Eurasian” union.

Human Rights: A regional human rights mechanism for the Pacific? – Island Business, Jan. 13, 2012 – The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, through the Pacific Plan, have committed Forum Islands states to working together to ratify and implement international human rights conventions and meet reporting requirements. They have agreed to explore possible means for pooling resources and integrating legal institutions and legislative services.

Turkey minister: EU ‘shooting itself in foot’ – CNN, Jan. 13, 2012 – The European Union is “shooting itself in the foot” by keeping Turkey at bay, the country’s Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek says.

EU Iran Oil Embargo Over Nuclear Work Said Likely to Be Delayed Six Months – Bloomberg, Jan. 12, 2012 – A European Union embargo on imports of Iranian (OPCRIRAN) oil will probably be delayed for six months to let countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain find alternative supplies, an EU official with knowledge of the talks said.

Asean Leaders Willing To Facilitate North Korea Talks – Voice of America, Jan. 12, 2012 – Cambodia’s foreign minister said Thursday Asean was ready to help six-party talks with North Korea during a regional forum in Phnom Penh later this year….Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters Thursday that Asean leaders could help ministers of North and South Korea meet on the sidelines of that forum.

Eurozone is Struggling While East Africa Insists on its Monetary Union – Technorati, Jan. 12, 2012 – The crisis in the eurozone does not bridle East African’s desire to create its monetary union. Despite recent and persistent problems of our single currency…the region of Eastern Africa (East African Community) continues its journey toward a monetary union.

Vital African Union-UN partnership can be strengthened further, Security Council told – UN News Centre, Jan. 12, 2012 – The collective efforts by the United Nations and the African Union in peace and security matters are having an important impact on the continent, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council today….Some examples of cooperation between the UN and the AU include the joint peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID), combined efforts to combat the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and UN support to the AU peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM).

“As Secretary-General, my remit is global. But I attach importance to the role of regional and subregional organizations, as recognized in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter….Over the last decade, the African Union and subregional organizations have significantly bolstered their own role in building an architecture for peace and security on the African continent. Together, our collective efforts in conflict prevention and mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding are making a real difference throughout the continent….
“Our regional offices, peacekeeping operations and special political missions are cooperating closely with the African Union and subregional organizations. Examples abound:….The United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), working closely with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has also been active in defusing tensions throughout the subregion. The newly established United Nations Office in Central Africa, in cooperation with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), can play a similar role.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Jan. 12, 2012 – Full Text of Speech

Getting ready for ‘free flow’ of opportunities in AEC – By Dr Prasarn Trairatvorakul, governor of the Bank of Thailand, Bangkok Post, Jan. 12, 2012 – Global citizenship also implies the shift from a domestic focus to a global focus, with the ultimate aim of attaining global standards in terms of operating environment and resource management. However, it is unrealistic to think about global citizenship without first attaining regional citizenship….Going forward, Thai and other Asean nationals need to put more emphasis on the growing Asean Economic Community or AEC, which will officially start in 2015.

New Global Strategy of the U.S. military – Pravda, Jan. 12, 2012 – They say that the overall strategy is Anglo-American. For the British there are two priority areas: the Middle East and the South Atlantic….Neither China nor Russia have been surprised by Obama’s remarks at the Pentagon, surrounded by epaulets. Nor UNASUR [Union of South American Nations] since the Conference of Defense Ministers, held in Lima on May 13 last year, took the first steps to create a military structure that supports the integration process that imperialism, until recently dominant in our region, is trying to stop by different ways.

China, Asean to meet over South China Sea – Straits Times (Singapore), Jan. 12, 2012 – The meeting in Beijing between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations begins on Friday.

PH prepares for one Asean market – Malaya, Jan. 12, 2012 – The [Philippines] domestic vehicle and parts manufacturing sector is calling for a strategic action plan that would expand the domestic market to achieve economies of scale and capture a significant share in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) when it becomes a single market starting 2015.

Team Putin launches campaign site – RT, Jan. 12, 2012 – Putin suggests continuing the work with the integration projects in the former Soviet space, such as the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and the future Eurasian Union – the multi-national bloc lying between Western Europe and the nations of the East.

Wen to Visit Arab Nations, Attend Energy Summit – China Radio|Xinhua, Jan. 12, 2012 – Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will pay an official visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar from Jan. 14 to 19, vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said on Wednesday….The visit is also significant for deepening the relationship between China and the three countries, pushing cooperation between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Tanzania: President Kikwete Upbeat On Africa’s Integration – AllAfrica, Jan. 11, 2012 – The President said the ongoing integration of the East African Community (EAC), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) would benefit the economies in the area….This is being achieved through various initiatives aimed at harmonising policies and programmes of the three regional economic communities….The move is a major step towards the realisation of the African Economic Community.

Obama Team Reveals Nuclear Trade, Nonproliferation Decision on Capitol Hill – National Journal, Jan. 11, 2012 – There was a chance that nations in the Middle East could be deemed eligible only for U.S. nuclear cooperation pacts with strict weapons-prevention terms, informed sources said….A member of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family recently suggested the kingdom was interested in building or acquiring atomic arms to counter Iran and Israel, a notion that has seriously rattled many in Washington officialdom (see GSN, Dec. 5, 2011)….Additionally, the Gulf Cooperation Council—comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—has expressed interest in developing its nuclear energy sector under international guidelines.

North America: Interests without borders – Chronicle Journal (Canada), Jan. 11, 2012 – Canadian and U.S. governments work every day to open the border to trade such that North America is increasingly a single economy. As the line between corporate interests blurs, many environmental and other lobby groups must also share resources to be able to monitor and participate in oversight of those massive continental concerns.

EAC monetary union negotiating team embarks on study tour of European Union – Star Africa, Jan. 11, 2012 – A 20-member delegation from the East African Community, will, Friday 13 January 2012 depart for Brussels, Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Berlin on a 12-day study tour of the European Union (EU) aimed at enhancing the region’s understanding of the EU’s economic and monetary union, including the relevant institutions necessary for a successful monetary union.

Assessing Obama’s Africa Policy, Looking at 2012 and Beyond – Voice of America, Jan. 11, 2012 – The Washington-based Brookings Institution said Africa, to benefit from development opportunities in 2012, must prioritize regional integration efforts and manage a growing youth population. The public policy organization said the continent will have to increase the profile of organizations, such as the African Union, to sustain advancements in public health and increase the African voice in global governance.

Zuma goes to New York – Independent Online, Jan. 11, 2012 – President Jacob Zuma arrived in New York on Tuesday ahead of South Africa’s officially assuming the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for January. SA will utilise its presidency to continue exploring concrete measures for strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and regional organisations, in particular the African Union,” spokesman Clayson Monyela said in a statement.

An alternative bloc – Frontline (India), Jan. 11, 2012 – The Caracas Declaration calls on all the member-countries to advance jointly “the political, economic, social and cultural integration” of the region….CELAC will develop mechanisms for coordination with “subregional integration mechanisms” such as the trading bloc Mercosur (Common Market of the South) and the South American regional grouping – UNASUR (Union of South American Nations).

Arab states ‘slow’ to implement rights laws – The National (UAE), Jan. 11, 2012 – Radwan bin Khadra, the adviser to the secretary general and head of the legal department at the Arab League, said the upheaval in the region had proved that some Arab states had no respect for human rights or international humanitarian law to which they have all agreed to adhere.

ASEAN Wavers On Rights – Radio Free Asia, Jan. 10, 2012 – Nearly two decades after Southeast Asian leaders first proposed a charter to protect human rights in the region, officials are still laboring on the first draft, reflecting the low level of priority given to a crucial agenda. What may be more disheartening is that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) panel tasked with drafting the charter is working in isolation by not sharing information with civil society groups striving to improve the region’s dismal human rights record.

Changing Geometrics of Asia-Pacific – World Press Review, Jan. 10, 2012 – This power struggle underpins the creation of major regional groupings, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to check against increasing Chinese domination, the smaller Southeast Asian states combined their strengths to form ASEAN and, through it, promote economic cooperation.

Gulf Common Currency Effort Critiqued – Knowledge@Wharton, Jan. 10, 2012 – “Without a higher degree of synchronization in business cycles, the cost of a monetary union may outweigh its benefits,” wrote IMF economist Serhan Cevik in a report on the region’s business cycles. “The [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries need to expand and deepen economic diversification and become more complementary in intra-regional trade and financial flows.”

European Union: Bailing out the European Union – Town Hall, Jan. 10, 2012 – But it’s over the top when Obama told the European Council president and the European Commission president that “the United States stands ready to do our part” to bail out Europe. Bailing out Europe is absolutely not any “part” of “our” duty; we’ve already bailed out Europe more times than it deserves.

How long will ‘awakening’ last? – Gulf News (Dubai), Jan. 9, 2012 – The neo-conservative Greater Middle East initiative of former US president George W. Bush is finally coming to fruition: Islamists believe in capitalism and the Americans can therefore rely on them….The picture emerging from the Arab Spring seems therefore well on track, except maybe on two issues — if the people dare. The first one, which is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, may be of very little interest to those who now talk loudly in Arab League conferences. Who indeed would care about a Palestinian cause which prevents many from doing lucrative business with a friendly Israel?….As for the Arab populations who have ‘awakened’, and having escaped the hands of secular betrayers, we must not let them fall into the hands of corrupt extremists…

Asean Should Grab Opportunities Arising From Sluggish Global Economy, Says MITI Sec- Gen – Bernama (Malaysia), Jan. 10, 2012 – “The benefits will just flow because of the Asean integration (in 2015), if Asean nations are not integrated, then there are no benefits. That’s how it works,” she added.

RI to fully implement free trade deal with OZ, NZ – Jakarta Post, Jan. 10, 2012 – Under the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia is set on Tuesday to fully implement a free trade agreement (FTA) with neighboring Australia and New Zealand.

Drafters of rights doc say ‘secrecy’ no issue – Phnom Penh Post, Jan. 10, 2012 – The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights yesterday denied accusations it was operating in secrecy and said that ASEAN matters were for ASEAN members only.

‘Arab Spring’ spurs social reforms in GCC – Emirates 24|7, Jan. 10, 2012 – The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which control over 40 per cent of the world’s recoverable oil deposits, have boosted public expenditure by up to 60 per cent since the 2008 global fiscal crisis while most of them have announced measures to raise salaries, provide more social aid, create jobs for citizens and build houses.

North America: U.S.-Canada Border Security Agreement – Americas Quarterly, Jan. 9, 2012 – Another headache is the implementation of the Shiprider Program that is currently being rolled out as a premier pilot program. Under this program, authorities are trained and allowed to enforce certain aspects of the law in the other country’s jurisdiction. For instance, Canadian federal officers will be able to operate on a U.S. coast guard vessel, pursue vessels from American into Canadian waters, board those vessels, and conduct arrests….But it becomes much more problematic if there’s a shoot-out on land…

Pipelinestan re-aligns as US-Pakistan relations unravel – Media Monitors Network, Jan. 9, 2012 – The former Soviet Republics — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — are the dreamy gas-rich bonanza that has prickled the thumbs of US energy men since the late Cold War….Prime Minister and soon to become President (again) Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB official who has publicly dreamed of reconsolidating Soviet glory in a “Eurasian Union” of former Soviet states, has energetically worked to bring back the breakaway states back in the Russian fold….However, the US is determined to accelerate the Eurasian estrangement of Russia, dispersing military hardware and dollars to the tin-pot despots like a fairy godmother of gunmetal.

U.S. companies key to gulf missile shield – UPI, Jan. 9, 2012 – “One factor holding back GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] defense integration has been Saudi Arabia’s unwillingness to sanction collective security arrangements that might weaken the GCC as a Saudi-led defense treaty. This factor appears to be receding, with Riyadh appearing confident that it remains the bloc’s military leader.”

Analysis: Selling arms to the Gulf – BBC, Jan. 9, 2012 – A huge new arms deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia may signal a push towards a unified military force in the Gulf….Such a move would underline both a growing anxiety over Iranian intentions and the ineffectiveness of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s own Peninsula Shield Force which was established in 1984.

A hopeful path for the Arab League? – The Daily Star (Lebanon), Jan. 9, 2012 – The critical link for why the Arab League’s approach to resolving the Syrian situation may be significant is its already expressed intention to refer the Syrian situation to the United Nations Security Council and other international organs…In other words, the Arab League seems to be repositioning itself as a link between indigenous Arab efforts to ensure peace and security and the available global mechanisms to do this.

Get ready: Asean economic community is coming in 2015 – AsiaOne, Jan. 9, 2012 – “We cannot escape the AEC [Asian Economic Community]. Even if we don’t want to work in other Asean [Association of South Asian Nations] countries, citizens from those countries will certainly come to work in Thailand.”

The time is now, The place is asean – Bangkok Post, Jan. 9, 2012 – Asean leaders have been fairly consistent in pushing for more regional cooperation. Successful implementation of the Asean Economic Community will improve the scale efficiencies, dynamism and competitiveness of Asean….These are vast and ambitious pursuits, and 2015 is just three years away. At the moment, the AEC Scorecard shows the region behind schedule, having achieved only 73.6% of Phase 1 goals. This is the low-hanging fruit _ the remaining issues, such as agriculture, non-tariff barriers, integration of the less-developed CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam) members, and financial integration, are more challenging. Come 2015, the AEC vision will likely be only partially implemented.

China’s new role in the making of Europe – Asia Times, Jan. 9, 2012 – The Chinese renaissance should be seen by Europe as a source of synergies. At the operational level, it is time for the European policymakers to build mechanisms to facilitate Chinese investment within the European Union.

PM Cameron discards any Falklands’ sovereignty negotiations with Argentina – Merco Press, Jan. 9, 2012 – [British] PM Cameron’s comments follow recent statements from Mercosur countries barring Falklands’ flagged vessels from regional ports.

East African Community: EAC Political Federation Draws Mixed Feelings – AllAfrica, Jan, 9, 2012 – The stage is the fourth step in the bloc’s integration process after the customs union, common market and monetary union, whose negotiations are equally still underway.

SAARC to act positively for lion’s share of global business – Daily Times (Pakistan), Jan. 8, 2012 – [Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Senator Haji Ghulam Ali] said the world has realised the importance of regional trade and SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] and Asian blocks should try to do trade in one currency with one visa.

Peru-Venezuela integration strengthens Unasur, LatAm – ANDINA, Jan. 7, 2012 – The integration between Peru and Venezuela strengthens the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) as well as the Latin American region, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala stated Saturday during his official visit to that country.

Joint initiatives sign of growing Asean collaboration – Malaysia Star, Jan. 7, 2012 – The range of initiatives announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong following their meeting on Thursday shows that Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] integration is growing apace despite the bumps that beset the regional grouping.

Qatar seeks active role for GCC – Gulf News (Dubai), Jan. 6, 2012 – Qatar’s Prime Minister said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries should be involved in addressing the latest issues between the West and Iran.

Russia’s ‘democracy package’ for Syria – Asia Times, Jan. 6, 2012 – Washington, apparently, and much of the European Union, have given the Russians carte blanche to come up with a solution for Syria, in coordination with the Arab League.

Cameron warns EU over tampering with single market – London Telegraph, Jan. 6, 2012 – David Cameron has warned he will not accept attempts to tamper with the European single market by any group other than the full 27 members of the European Union.

UK-Asean relations for the 21st century – Bangkok Post, Jan. 6, 2012 – The 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] are already more populous than the European Union or the Arab world, have a larger economy than India and absorb more UK exports than China. They hold substantial geopolitical significance, with important influence on neighbouring major powers China, India and Japan.

North America: Effects Of The New Canada-U.S. Border Deal – San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 5, 2012 – All this, of course, means that there would be greater information sharing between the two countries, which is turning out to be a cause of concern for many. There are concerns about the larger issue of safety of national sovereignty for both countries….In a global situation where co-operation among countries is becoming paramount, the making and implementing of this cross border deal, with greater information sharing, is only just the beginning of a long road.

The Failure of the “Russia Reset”: Next Steps for the United States and Europe – Heritage Foundation, Jan. 5, 2012 – Yet, if only for selfish economic reasons, the Yanukovych government—and most Ukrainian oligarchs who support him—do not want Ukraine to fall into the Russian sphere of influence, join Moscow’s proposed Customs Union, or be corralled into the Eurasian Union, if and when it materializes. Therefore, the EU must look for ways to counter Russian activism in Ukraine, and in the neighborhood more broadly.

African Union Adds Year to Mandate of Somalia Force – New York Times, Jan. 5, 2012 (Google Link) – The African Union’s Peace and Security Council urged the United Nations Security Council to endorse the expansion of the force “to take advantage of the unique opportunity created by the operations being conducted against Al Shabab in different parts of Somalia.”

European Union plans to embargo buying of Iran oil – The Australian, Jan. 5, 2012 – The European Union agreed in principle to enact an embargo on all purchases of Iranian oil, significantly increasing the West’s financial war on Tehran at a time of heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf…. Greece, Italy and Spain have been major buyers of Iranian oil in recent years, complicating the EU’s sanctions strategy. Under the tentative deal, Athens and Madrid would be granted a grace period during which they can unwind contracts with Tehran and seek other supplies of oil, said European diplomats.

Arab League seeks UN help in Syria – AFP, Jan 5, 2012 – The Arab League has turned to the United Nations for help after admitting “mistakes” in its Syria monitoring mission, which has come in for withering criticism for its failure to stem bloodletting…..”Soldiers wear police uniforms, drive repainted military vehicles and change the names of places, but this does not mean the army withdrew from cities and streets, or that the regime is applying the provisions of the Arab protocol,” the [Local Coordination Committees] said in a statement.

UN and Forum welcome Fiji promise to end emergency rule – Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 5, 2012 – The secretaries-general of the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum have welcomed the recent announcement that Fiji will lift its public emergency regulations.

Security Council to discuss closer ties between UN and regional blocs this month – United Nations News Centre, Jan. 4, 2012 – Some of the issues expected to emerge during the debate include cooperation between the UN and the African Union (AU) in Somalia and the work of a joint team examining the implications of last year’s conflict in Libya for countries in the Sahel region of West Africa.

Kenya to promote cultural integration – The Daily Monitor (Uganda), Jan. 4, 2012 – As East African states move towards the formalisation of the East African Community, Kenya has promised to champion the integration of the cultural heritage among communities whose traditional values stretch across its borders to increase unity between member states.

North America: Don’t put trade ahead of privacy – National Post (Canada), Jan. 4, 2012 – While most media reports (including several in this paper) have focused on the economic gains that will potentially result from the new Beyond the Border agreement recently signed by Canada and the United States, privacy concerns should be paramount in the minds of Canadians.

European Union: Diplomat: ‘Room for improvements’ in German-Ukrainian ties – EurActiv, Jan. 4, 2012 – Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Nataliya Zarudna, says her country is committed to European integration as a ‘civilisational choice’ and argues that German authorities should be more understanding of her nation’s difficulties….Diplomats told EurActiv that the country most opposed to any overtures to Ukraine is Germany, while many other countries, such as Poland, were lobbying for closer ties with Ukraine before Russia could try to pull it into Moscow’s vision for a Eurasian Union of former Soviet states.

SADC licences out in April – Ntuthuko – Swazi Observer, Jan. 4, 2012 – THE much talked about SADC [Southern African Development Community] driver’s licences will hopefully be rolled out in April.
Minister of Public Works and Transport Ntuthuko Dlamini said according to their plan, the roll-out would be squeezed within the month.

Hope good terms with India will continue: Hina Rabbani Khar – IBNLive, Jan 3, 2012 – Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday expressed hope that the positive trends seen in Indo-Pak relations in 2011 would continue this year to boost the agenda of development and prosperity in the region….Khar recalled her meeting with her Indian counterpart SM Krishna in the Maldives on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit in November, where both sides had reviewed the progress made in the dialogue process that was resumed last year.

Greece Would Abide by Any Potential EU Ban on Iranian Oil – Bloomberg, Jan. 3. 2012 – Greece would adhere to any European Union decision to impose sanctions that restrict oil imports from Iran, an official at Greece’s environment, energy and climate ministry said….Greece got 14 percent of its oil imports from Iran in first six months of 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.

Joint African Union United Nations Mission to the countries affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – StarAfrica, Jan. 3, 2012 – In mid January, the AU [African Union], in cooperation with the United Nations, will send an assessment mission in Yambio, South Sudan, to prepare the ground for the effective implementation of the regional intervention force (IRF). This visit will be followed by a meeting of military experts of the member countries of the regional cooperation initiative against the LRA.

2012: A U.S. Referendum on Europe Wall Street Journal, Jan. 3, 2012 (Google Link) – What kicks off today in Iowa is America’s referendum on whether it wants to become an honorary member of the European Union….The problem for Mr. Romney is that he represents something of another European specialty: the dispassionate technocrat, data-driven, post-ideological, lacking in soul. GOP-leaning voters get that, too.

Russia’s Putin dreams of sweeping Eurasian Union – Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 3, 2012 – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has a vision for a Soviet Union-lite he hopes will become a new Moscow-led global powerhouse. But, his planned Eurasian Union won’t be grounded in ideology: This time it’s about trade.

Jordan hosts Israelis, Palestinians in rare meeting – AFP, Jan. 3, 2011 – Quartet envoy Tony Blair was also to attend the session in Amman, along with other officials of the grouping, made up of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.

Argentina renews claims over Malvinas in anniversary of British occupation – Buenos Aires Herald, Jan. 3, 2012 – It added that the “region has unanimously rejected the military presence of the British in the South Atlantic and has showed its concern over the unilateral activities by several announcements of the Mercosur Presidents and associated states, the South American Nations Union (UNASUR), Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Ibero-American.”

Arab League calls urgent meeting on Syria monitors – Associated Press, Jan. 3, 2012 – The Arab League on Tuesday called for an emergency meeting to discuss whether to withdraw the group’s monitors from Syria, where security forces are still killing protesters despite the observers’ presence, an Arab official said.

ASEAN welcomes US re-engagement in the region – Channel News Asia, Jan 2, 2012 – The US had recently reached an agreement with Australia to deploy forces in the country. But Chinese analysts have openly said that there’s no need for China to worry about the re-engagement of the US in the region….it does not have the economic means, given the sluggish American economy.

Common Economic Space Starts Work – (Belarus), Jan. 2, 2012 – According to President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, the parties will implement a project of the Eurasian Economic Union by 2015. At the same time his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko is convinced that the Eurasian union will be formed much earlier – by the end of 2013.

Sarkozy, Merkel to meet as Europe seeks crisis exit – Reuters, Jan. 2, 2012 – France’s Nicolas Sarkozy will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on January 9 for talks that are likely to centre on new rules to enforce budget discipline across the European Union.

Murder charges against doctors test Maryland abortion law – Reuters, Jan. 2, 2011 – A murder case against two doctors who allegedly completed late-term abortions in Maryland after starting them in New Jersey could be the first to test a state law tied to the “viability” of an unborn fetus.

Pakistan, US assume less cooperation in future – Boston Globe|Associated Press, Jan 2, 2012 – For Pakistan that means less cooperation with Washington and willingness, and in some cases eagerness, to swear off some of the American financial aid that often made Pakistan feel too dependent, and too pushed-around.

Caution urged over EAC monetary union – IPP Media, Jan 2, 2011 – As the East African Community (EAC) inches closer to a political federation – scheduled to become a reality by 2015 – the issue of the region’s monetary union continues to spur debate, with stakeholders urging caution over the move.

Myanmar, BD political reconciliation – Pakistan Observer, Jan 2, 2012 – After Hillary Clinton’s visit, resourceful Myanmar has become a potential investment hub for South and East Asia which can go a long way in fostering relationship between the SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] and the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations].

Indian police arrest 2 men for sacrificing child – Associated Press, Jan. 2, 2012 – Police arrested two men, both poor farmers, last week and they told police they killed the girl to appease their gods and get a better harvest, Das said….Human sacrifices are rare in India but get prominent attention every few years. A deep belief in traditional healers, or witch doctors, is common in mostly tribal Chhattisgarh.

Fiji military government to lift emergency laws – AFP, Jan. 2, 2012 – Australia’s parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs, Richard Marles, said Canberra wanted to see real improvements in the rights and freedoms of Fijians. “Australia hopes that this process will involve a genuine, inclusive political dialogue between all the stakeholders, without predetermined outcomes, as called for by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders,” he said.

Constraining Iran in the Strait – New York Times, Jan. 2, 2012 (Google Link) – The recent Gulf Cooperation Council summit meeting in Riyadh concluded with a communiqué from member states approving the creation of formal “union” — to include greater security cooperation and mutual defense against external threats (such as Iran). Helping Gulf nations translate that sentiment into a real architecture that constrains how the Iranian regime operates and exploits the strait should be a top priority for the United States.

Gulf states remain on waiting list for Arab Spring – Ahram, Jan. 1, 2012 – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by Saudi Arabia, played a clear role in shaping the uprisings in its neighbour countries like Yemen, Bahrain and Oman, either through military intervention or financial aid. Internally, most Gulf monarchies avoided using the security solution in facing down street protests, offering social and economic benefits to their citizens.

The European Union, the Economic Crisis and Democracy – Turkish Weekly, Jan. 1, 2012 – In the years since World War II the European Union has managed to bring into being the most comprehensive and the deepest experiment in regional integration ever, but it is now beset by a great crisis caused by its debts and economic stagnation and the Union thus finds itself at a turning point where it must make critically important decisions about its future.

European Union: ECB’s Noyer Says Euro May Become Leading Currency, JDD Reports – Bloomberg, Jan 1, 2012 – The euro may become the world’s leading currency in a decade, Christian Noyer, European Central Bank governing council member, said in an interview with the French weekly Journal du Dimanche….If countries in Europe apply the decisions made in Brussels in December, the zone will emerge stronger, Noyer said. European leaders predict 2012 will be worse than 2011 – London Guardian, Jan. 1, 2012 – The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has warned that the year ahead will “undoubtedly” be harder than 2011 in the starkest of a series of downbeat messages from European leaders dominated by fears over the economy. The Greek prime minister, Lucas Papademos, spelled out a continuation of harsh austerity measures, while the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, warned that sacrifices would have to be made if the country was to avoid “financial collapse”.

Insight: West in political crisis has echoes of 1930s – Reuters, Jan. 1, 2012 – The political malaise is also hastening the shift of world economic power toward developing countries led by China. At worst, it could cause a second global recession bringing with it political upheaval on a scale not seen since the 1930s.

GCC countries plan huge infrastructure investments – Al-Bawaba, Jan. 1, 2012 – The most ambitious project, valued at U.S. $ 30 billion, is the railroad that will connect all the countries of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], whose construction is scheduled to begin in 2012. For roads construction, investments are put at $ 18 billion.

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan Start ‘Eurasian’ Economic Space – Novinite, January 1, 2012 – The three former Soviet republics forming a customs union – Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan – have formed a common economic space as of . In November, the Russian, Belarusian and Kazakh presidents signed a declaration on Eurasian economic integration, a roadmap of integration processes aimed at creating the Eurasian Economic Union.

What Next for the African Union in 2012? – By Imad Mesdoua, Huffington Post UK, Dec. 31, 2011 – As we come ever closer to 2012, I thought I would examine Africa’s recent struggles on its path to unity and a more prosperous region.

Region awaits Kenya’s fateful election year – The East African, Jan. 1, 2012 – Other East African Community member countries are waiting with bated breath….There is no doubt that election-related chaos in Kenya, the biggest economy in the regional bloc, could spell doom for the regional economic and political integration process.

AU summit to declare fate of Libyan assets in East Africa – The East African, Jan. 1, 2012 – The fate of Libyan investments in East Africa and other African countries, frozen at the height of the revolution that toppled former leader Muamar Gaddafi, depends on the outcome of the African Union Heads of state Summit that convenes in Addis Abba, Ethiopia in January.

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