UNASUR: South America United is a Global Force – Venezuelanalysis, May 30, 2012 – The general secretary of the Union of Southern Nations (UNASUR), Maria Emma Meija, stressed that integration between the countries of Latin America will allow the continent to consolidate its strong position in the world.
UNASUR will develop its own military aircraft primary training – Lainformacion (Spain), May 30, 2012 (Google Translation link) – The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) began working on the design and production of the first primary trainer military aircraft basic South American, said the Argentine Ministry of Defense. The development of this aircraft, which will be renamed the “UNASUR I” was agreed at the special meeting of the South American Defense Council, held last November in Lima.

EUROPEAN UNION: Europe ponders ‘banking union’ to avert further euro crises – Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2012 – Ambitious steps to accelerate and deepen financial integration may be needed,” the European Commission, the regulatory body of the 27-nation European Union, said in a report urging central regulation of the entire Eurozone banking sector. “
No banking union without fiscal union – Reuters, May 31, 2012 – Far better, then, to make banking union, which is almost certainly a necessary reform, go alongside fiscal union. That would imply central control of all of the levers of spending, allowing for a gentle path of fiscal reform and the re-capitalization of banks without huge moral hazard.

ASEAN: Asean trading link to be launched in June – The Sun Daily (Malaysia), May 31, 2012 – It will allow intra-Asean cross-border trading through one single access point and is expected to attract more international funds into Asean countries. Ranjit said over 3,600 companies were listed on the Asean exchanges last year and their total market capitalisation was US$1.8 trillion (RM5.69 trillion). He said the harmonisation of rules was intended to create an environment for common disclosure standards for cross listing.
ASEAN to harmonize electrical, electronic device standards – ASEAN-China Center, May 30, 2012 – Officials from the ten-member ASEAN gathered here on Wednesday to discuss ways to harmonize standards, conformity assessment procedures and technical regulations in the electrical and electronic equipment sector.

ARAB LEAGUE: Election not living up to revolution, says Arab League chief – Egypt Independent, May 31, 2012 – “As an Egyptian citizen I am in a state of sadness because I did not expect the great revolution, which the whole world talked about, to end up with two uncomfortable options: either a theocratic state or an improved copy of the former regime,” said [Arab League secretary general] Nabil al-Araby…

EURASIAN UNION: Putin Heads To Belarus, EU Partners In First Official Visit – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, May 31, 2012 – Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan agreed late last year to create a Eurasian economic union, an EU-style project championed by Putin to bring together former Soviet republics. A Kremlin spokesman said Putin and Lukashenka are also expected to discuss further economic aid for Belarus, which is battling a severe economic crisis. Belarus’s economic troubles have been intensified by asset freezes and other sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States…

NORTH AMERICA: Who do Canadians want to vote for? Barack Obama – Globe and Mail (Canada), May 31, 2012 – Mr. Obama’s popularity up here made it possible for the Canadian and American governments to agree on creating a continental security perimeter that would have been met, one suspects, with fierce resistance had a Republican been in the White House. “Canadians are not very comfortable with Republican presidents,” Mr. Canseco observes.

ASEAN: ASEAN mulls energy path – Bangkok Post, May 30, 2012 – Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] is being urged to speed up construction of gas pipelines and power grids to enhance energy security….Asean has an energy cooperation plan, with its first phase running from 2010-15 in terms of a regional plan to build trans-Asean pipelines and power grids connecting countries for the purpose of trade.

GULF UNION: Gulf union to benefit citizens – Oman Daily Observer, May 30, 2012 – The meeting also discussed the youth strategy and strengthening citizenship spirit, studying non-communicable diseases in GCC countries, in addition to studying Gulf Confederation in light of the GCC Basic Law, as well as the establishment of a GCC unified civil aviation authority and recruitment strategy in the GCC government and private sectors.
Is it Time for an Arab Gulf Union? – Middle East Online, May 29, 2012 – Prompted by the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the six member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council are considering establishing closer ties. A project on the agenda is the possibility of advancing from a mere regional bloc, which the GCC has been since its foundation in May 1981, to some form of confederation or political union….What is driving the GCC to consider closer ties?

SOUTH PACIFIC: PNG statesman says political solution may need outside help – Radio Australia, May 30, 2012 – Sir Noel, a former Papua New Guinea politician, diplomat and head of the Pacific Islands Forum says he doesn’t think next month’s election will be enough of a circuit breaker to allow a healing of the differences between the three arms of government. He says Prime Minister nominated Peter O’Neill has raised the possibility of outside help from the Commonwealth but another solution would be for the Forum to a send an Eminent Persons Group to Papua New Guinea, to recommend a way forward.

NORTH AMERICA: Latest perimeter talks touch on business travel – Embassy (Canada), May 30, 2012 – Another round of talks between big business and government on the Canada-United States perimeter security plan has occurred in Toronto and Washington, focused on greasing the wheels of business travel.

EUROPEAN UNION: EU proposes cross-border bank rescues: draft – Reuters, May 29, 2012 – European Union countries could be obliged to bail out one another’s struggling banks, according to a draft EU law that marks a big step towards greater EU financial integration likely to upset some members, particularly Germany.
European Union, Euro Can Survive Greek Exit – BBVA Chairman – Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2012 – The chairman of Spanish financial group Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA, BBVA.MC), Spain’s second-largest bank by market value, expressed certainty Tuesday that the European Union and the euro can survive a potential Greek exit….”Europe has survived numerous crises, from which it has emerged stronger,” Gonzalez said.

REGION-BUILDING – AFGHANISTAN & SAARC: New Silk Road: stabilizing Afghanistan post-2014 – Open Democracy, May 29, 2012 – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced the ‘New Silk Route’ initiative with her counterpart, the Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul. This New Silk Road would once again create trade routes between Asia and the West, facilitated by the establishment of modern highways, rail links and energy pipelines. Certainly, such an initiative is part of the wider transition program envisioned by the US, which has already shifted its focus from stabilisation projects to investment in Afghanistan. It is also arguably a process intended on assisting the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, by creating a viable environment ultimately giving way to “spurring growth, and integrating Afghanistan into the economy of South and Central Asia.”

UNASUR: Correa Praises Work of Mejia in UNASUR – Prensa Latina, May 29, 2012 – That same day, Venezuelan Ali Rodriguez will take office as secretary general of the regional body….According to the Andes public agency, Ali Rodriguez said that during his term of office UNASUR will promote the creation of mega transnational companies to make the most of natural resources in the region.

EURASIAN UNION: Putin wants to discuss the creation of the Parliament of EurAsEC – Charter ’97 (Belarus), May 29, 2012 – The parliament will be formed at the Eurasian Economic Union and then the Eurasian Union.
Congress, Russia’s ruling party to exchange experiences – New York Daily News, May 28, 2012 – [India’s Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi], who spoke at an international round-table on “Eurasian Union – New integration project”, said India was following the economic integration process in Eurasian region. He said Russian economy, along with economy of other BRICS countries, had emerged as an engine of global growth.

AFRICAN UNION: Pan-African parliament choses new president – Press TV, May 29, 2012 – So far, the Pan-African parliament has only enjoyed consultative and advisory powers….The new president admits the step to achieve legislative powers is one of his biggest challenges….The Pan-African Parliament is hopeful a tangible step in this direction will be taken at the African Union Heads of State meeting in Malawi in July.
Integration of economic blocs into a global player – Leadership Magazine (South Africa), May 29, 2012 – Plans to create an African free trade area (FTA) by integrating three existing African trade blocs consisting of 26 countries by July 2014 are gaining momentum. The aim is to create a free market of 525 million people with an output of US$1 trillion making it a global player. Involved in the initiative are the governments of the countries presently organised in the existing East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Arab revolutions: Economic crisis quenching hopes – ANSAmed (Italy-Mediterranean), May 28, 2012 – The Italian Foreign Ministry’s Special Envoy for the Mediterranean and the Arab Spring, Maurizio Massari, outlined two models for multilateral Euro-Mediterranean integration. One would accompany the EU’s neighbourhood policy with a further involvement by countries on the Southern Shore on a partnership level, but with conditions written in such as respect for human rights. The other model sees a network being created between the EU, NATO and organisations such as the OCSE [Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe] on the one hand, and the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Maghreb Union on the other.

Jakarta to develop ‘ASEAN diplomatic zone’ – Jakarta Post, May 29, 2012 – “….We realize that a specific area for diplomatic matters is needed, thus, with the presence of the ASEAN Secretariat here [in Kebayoran Baru], we think that this area should be developed,” Izhar Chaidir, the head of spatial planning for the Jakarta Development Planning Agency, said on Monday. Jakarta has long been considered the informal capital of ASEAN, a geopolitical and economic organization of 10 nations in the Southeast Asian region…

A closer look at Japan’s aid to the Pacific Islands – Radio Australia, May 29, 2012 – Pacific leaders met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Japan over the weekend, where he pledged $500 million US in aid to the region over the next three years….And another interesting thing coming out was the call for emerging donors to comply with international aid cooperation agreements, and we’re talking about the Paris Declaration or the Cairns Compact which covers the Pacific Islands Forum countries. A lot of this is being read as direct reaction to China’s growing significance in the Pacific and Japan’s reaction to that. So whilst not named directly in the outcomes declaration it is evident that this renewed political and development cooperation measures are aimed at China’s growing influence, and particularly interesting coming out of this is the defence cooperation on the maritime security issues.

EUROPEAN UNION: Euro crisis: Leaders debate the F-word – Global Post, May 28, 2012 – Europe’s single currency needs to be underpinned by an independent central bank that can issue a single bond for the whole euro area. It needs a single fiscal policy. Most important, it needs a single democratically elected government to oversee the economy the euro serves. There’s a word for this arrangement among states. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher knew it well: “Federalism.”
From the Archives:
Eurozone crisis: Will it create a United States of Europe?

Swaminathan S A Aiyar, Times of India, Feb. 19, 2012 – This thesis runs as follows…. “The crafty way forward is to force the pace of European integration faster than the public wants. This will, of course, lead to crises. But every crisis will force voters to choose between greater unification and the huge costs of de-integration. Hopefully they will repeatedly opt for greater unification. In the process, they will give up facet after facet of their national identity and culture….
Our solution was Machiavellian….”

UNASUR: UNASUR Plans to Boost Large National Companies in Latin America – People’s Daily (China), May 28, 2012
Google Translation link – The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will seek the creation of large national companies to take full advantage of the natural resources of Latin America, today raised the Venezuelan Ali Rodriguez, who on June 11 will assume the general secretariat of the regional bloc.

EUROPEAN UNION: London will continue to maintain status as global financial centre: Wootton – The Nation (Thailand), May 28, 2012 – London has been the world’s largest financial centre for decades and it will remain so despite chaos in the euro zone, says Lord Mayor of London David Wootton….Despite chaos in the euro zone following its monetary integration, he did not see that as a cause of fear for Asean countries. He does not write off Europe, which “will remain the best part of the world”. Moreover, he foresees more similar groupings in other parts of the world. There would be more groups of countries than individuals in the next 50 years, like what happened in the past 20 years.
Irish Supporters of EU Fiscal Treaty Keep Lead as Voting Begins – Irish supporters of the European Union’s fiscal treaty maintained their lead as voting began in some parts of the country. Four polls over the weekend gave the “yes” campaign an average lead of 17.5 percentage points, when undecideds are excluded.
European Stocks Rise on Greek Opinion Polls; Rio Tinto Rallies – San Francisco Chronicle, May 28, 2012 – European stocks gained, extending last week’s advance, after Greek opinion polls eased concern that the country will leave the euro currency union. U.S. index futures and Asian shares also rose.

AFRICAN UNION: In sight of the Holy Grail – Southern Times, May 28, 2012 – The 26-member tripartite free trade area (T-FTA) has started negotiations for integrating SADC, COMESA and the East African Community (EAC) into a single economic bloc….The grandiose plan is anchored around collapsing the three regional economic communities (RECs) – with a combined population of 590 million and a GDP of US$1 trillion – into a single trading entity….It is an ambitious plan whose ultimate aim is laying the cornerstone for continent-wide integration.

ASEAN: World Economic Forum kicking off – Bangkok Post, May 28, 2012 – Hundreds of the world’s business leaders and policymakers will arrive in Thailand this week to attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2012. Organised by the Swiss-based non-profit World Economic Forum, the three-day conference carries the theme “Shaping the Region’s Future through Connectivity”, looking ahead to the creation of a single regional market under the Asean Economic Community in 2015.

SOUTH PACIFIC: Checkbook diplomacy aimed at reining China – China Daily, May 28, 2012 – Japan is boosting financial aid and urging cooperation in maritime security with Pacific island countries to curb China’s increasing presence in the region, analysts said….The Pacific Islands Forum, which started in 1997, groups Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Fiji did not attend this year.

NORTH AMERICA: Foreign Agents Creep into U.S. & Canada Under Integration Scheme – The New American, May 26, 2012 – When questioned in Canadian Parliamentary hearings about a proposed law legalizing and expanding cross-border police integration in North America, senior RCMP officials promised to take it slowly. But if anti-national sovereignty zealots get their way, American FBI and DEA agents may soon have permission to arrest Canadians in Canada, while RCMP officials would purportedly acquire the power to arrest U.S. citizens on American soil. U.S. officials might even be able to conduct aerial surveillance over Canada, according to reports.

GULF UNION: Creating single Gulf currency needs more than political will – Gulf News, May 27, 2012 – As a research paper (The Monetary Union of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Structural Changes, May 2012) published this month by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, Qatar identifies, the essential condition upon which to forge monetary union is clarity as to the advantages and disadvantages, so as to warrant abandoning a national currency….With potentially a ‘new world order’, featuring the emergence of the BRIC countries, “the Gulf would be a strong economic force if [it] were to enable a single economic bloc,” the author contends.

EUROPEAN UNION: Circling unity: A history of postwar Europe – Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 26, 2012 – To stop the system unraveling with who knows what consequences, the EU may have to take the strides toward deeper union that Germany has been resisting since this crisis exploded: joint guarantees of sovereign debt and unlimited intervention by the ECB [European Central Bank]….Can there be fiscal union of that sort without political union? And do Europe’s divided nations — the bossy Germans, idle Italians, arrogant Brits and vain French — actually want to be one country? Back in Maastricht in 1992, the Treaty of European Union arranged things so that those questions would one day have to be answered.
This vote in the dark will rob us of fiscal sovereignty – Irish Independent, May 27, 2012 – We’re in a bailout programme because the markets looked at our decision to put the debts of private banks onto our national balance sheet and said to themselves “you can’t afford to pay that back”. It’s that simple.You don’t need to be an economist, a genius, or a politician to understand that. We owe more than we can afford to repay, and what we owe is not money that the Irish Government ever borrowed to begin with….Finally, remember this, transferring fiscal sovereignty away from Ireland, to people and institutions you can never hold accountable, is a repudiation of all the values and principles that our country was founded upon.
Greek pro-bailout conservatives regain lead: Polls – Moneycontrol (India), May 27, 2012 – Greece was forced to call repeat elections for June 17 after a May 6 vote left parliament divided evenly between groups of parties that support and oppose the austerity conditions attached to a 130 billion euro bailout agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund in March.

Economist tells SADC to follow EU model – Angola Press, May 27, 2012 – The Angolan Economist, Carlos Rosado de Carvalho, Friday in Luanda suggested that the Southern Africa Ddevelopment Community (SADC) should adopt the model of functioning of the European Union with a view to a major and better regional integration as it is an experience of true success….Carlos Rosado also stated that after the economic integration, in order for things to work, there must be a stronger political integration which, he admitted, is actually on the agenda.

EURASIAN UNION: The future of the Eurasian Union – The Voice of Russia, May 25, 2012 – First of all, we should understand that although the idea of the partial reintegration of the former Soviet Union appeals to the majority of people in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, it is also popular in other ex-Soviet states: in Central Asia, Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, the same is not true of the elites of these states because they were the main beneficiaries of the breakup of the Soviet Union….It is clear that if the idea of a Eurasian Union gains momentum and begins to be put into practice, the elites will fiercely oppose it…

EUROPEAN UNION: Don’t Throw Emerging Europe Out With Euro Crises Trash – Forbes, May 25, 2012 – Many of the countries in Emerging Europe have become tightly integrated into the economy of the euro zone. Poland, the largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe, is quite dependent on a healthy Europe for its strong economy. Poland joined the European Union (EU) in 2004 and has served as a large base of skilled workers for manufacturing companies in Europe, specifically Germany, ever since.
‘Yes’ side to EU treaty holds lead in Irish poll – Atlanta Journal Constitution | Associated Press, May 26, 2012 – A majority of voters plan to say “yes” next week to the European Union fiscal treaty, a new poll suggested Saturday, but the prime minister warned pro-treaty voters not to be complacent because he expects the gap to narrow in the final days of campaigning. The poll published in The Irish Times newspaper found 39 percent of registered voters plan to support the EU’s deficit-fighting treaty in a referendum Thursday, while 30 percent planned to reject it and the remaining 31 percent weren’t sure or didn’t plan to vote.

AFRICAN UNION: Libya, Africa and Africom – CounterPunch, May 25, 2012 – It is no coincidence that barely a month after the fall of Tripoli – and in the same month Gaddafi was murdered (October 2011) – the US announced it was sending troops to no less than four more African countries….None of this would have been possible whilst Gaddafi was still in power. As founder of the African Union [AU], its biggest donor, and its one-time elected Chairman, he wielded serious influence on the continent.
Africa: It’s Time the Continent Reverts to Its Founding Principles – AllAfrica, May 25, 2012 – We have noted the disinterest by member states in funding the AU’s budgetary requirements, with the exception of the late Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Imperialists have exploited this void, and today, one of the major funders of the AU is the European Union.

Follow the money – The Nation (Thailand), May 26, 2012 – Financial services chief Manoj Pulohit says that communications technology is enabling banks to target potential customers much more effectively. Manoj Pulohit, head of financial services at Cisco Systems, a major US-based IT network company, says banking services any time, anywhere will soon become the new benchmark for competition in the 10-country Asean Economic Community (AEC).

GCC (GULF UNION): Leading Kuwaiti legislator affirms significance of inter-GCC cooperation – Kuwait News Agency, May 26, 2012 – The chairman of the external affairs of Kuwait’s National Assembly, MP Mohammad Al-Sager, affirmed necessity of supporting all forms of cooperation among member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council at the foreign and defense levels. External and defense policies of the GCC states should be unified, said Al-Sager…

UNASUR: A CRIMINAL COURT FOR UNASUR – Radio Netherlands Worldwide – Latin America (Google Translation), May 25, 2012 –
Steps [are being taken] to accelerate the creation of an International Criminal Court in the field of UNASUR [Union of South American Nations]. This is demonstrated by various actions taken by the representatives of the bloc countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

REGION BUILDING AND THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATO “NATO should help other regions help themselves through training, assistance, exercises, and exchanges. Some of most important security institutions of the 21st century are likely to be regional ones – such as the Gulf Cooperation Council, the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asia States, and the Union of South American Nations. NATO should be investing in the efficacy of these regional bodies. In pursuit of this objective, NATO should intensify and expand the numerous programs it already maintains to advance these goals…”
Prepared statement by Charles A. Kupchan, before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate Hearing, NATO: Chicago and Beyond, May 10, 2012.
Charles A. Kupchan is a Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Professor of International Relations, Georgetown University.
[Globalist officials in the U.S, through the financing of NATO, foreign aid and the World Bank, will continue to aid in the “efficacy” of the world’s geopolitical regions as economic and political competition. They will then point to these competitive threats as reasons for the economic and political integration of North America.]

GCC: (GULF UNION): GCC Chief Sees Union a Reality – Eurasia Review | Arab News, May 25, 2012 – A number of steps were realized in the area of GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] citizenship, such as equal opportunities in pre-university education, health services, free treatment in government hospitals, medical insurance coverage, property ownership, removal of customs duties, GCC railways project, GCC inter-electricity network, GCC common market, in addition to a series of systems in the area of education, heath, commerce, industry and investment.
GCC Chief: Gulf Union Has been the Main Goal of the GCC – Bahrain News Agency, May 25, 2012 – He also asserted that King Abdulla’s initiative is in line with the basic objectives of the Gulf Cooperation Council whose ultimate goal has always been unity between the member states, adding that the landmark achievements attained over the past three decades lay the solid basis for the establishment of the Gulf Union.

ASEAN: World Bank’s Sri Mulyani Says Asean Is Resilient to Europe Woes – Bloomberg, May 24, 2012 – Economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are “resilient” to Europe’s sovereign debt woes, with governments having room for monetary and fiscal policy changes, World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.

EUROPEAN UNION: THE CRISIS OF EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY – Today (Singapore), May 24, 2012 (from the New York Times) – Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Europe’s current malaise is the replacement of democratic commitments by financial dictates — from leaders of the European Union and the European Central Bank, and indirectly from credit-rating agencies, whose judgments have been notoriously unsound.

SAARC: An idea whose time is long overdue – Kuensel (Bhutan), May 24, 2012 – Saman Fernando, an electrical engineer from the SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] energy centre, said the main idea was to have some kind of an energy ring among SAARC nations, so that energy can be exported from a surplus country to a deficient country. “This will ensure energy security in the region,” he said.

NORTH AMERICA: Criticism by Conservative MP shows depth of unease over omnibus budget bill – National Post (Canada), May 23, 2012 – To give just two examples: the bill grants U.S. law enforcement agents the same power to enforce Canadian Acts of Parliament as members of the RCMP….The government is aware the prospect of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arresting Canadians on their native soil is controversial….

GCC (GULF UNION): Bahrain: Gulf Army needs to leave, opposition leader – ANSAmed (Italy-Mediterranean), May 23, 2012 – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) army – the Peninsula Shield Force – must leave Bahrain, said Khalil Ebrahim Al-Marzooq, one of the leaders of the main Bahraini opposition group Al Wefaq. ”The GCC Army is being used against the population of Bahrain and is seen as oppressive, not defensive,” Al-Marzooq said.

EURASIAN UNION: ‘Complementary’ maneuver: Armenia trying to get security from Russia, while economically integrating with Europe – Armenia Now, May 23, 2012 – Immediately after the May 6 parliamentary elections President Serzh Sargsyan left for Moscow where he attended the summits of the CIS and the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)….Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan simultaneously published an article in one of Russia’s leading periodicals, arguing that while joining the Eurasian Union would give Armenia some benefit, a qualitative change for the nation’s economy was only possible with European integration.
Kazakhstan warns on social sites – The National (Abu Dhabi, UAE), May 24, 2012 – Kazakhstan already has a customs union with Russia and Belarus, and Mr Nazarbayev said he would like to see the creation of a Eurasian economic union by 2015.

ASEAN: Philippines Looks to US Treaty in China Dispute – Voice of America, May 23, 2012 – Bolton says Washington should encourage the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to work out their own maritime territorial disputes so they can create a united stance to demonstrate, along with the United States, that Chinese attempts to take control of international waters will not be tolerated.

SOUTH PACIFIC: Japan, Pacific island leaders to discuss disaster countermeasures – Mainichi Daily News (Japan), May 24, 2012 – At the sixth Japan-Pacific Islands Forum summit to be attended by 16 nations and a territory from Friday in Okinawa’s Nago city, maritime issues will be taken up on the agenda for the first time as China steps up its involvement in the region in military, political and economical aspects, they said….Dan Clune, principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of State, will represent the United States as the country seeks to strengthen its leadership position in the Asia-Pacific region.

AFRICAN UNION: US commerce official promotes trade in EAC region – African Manager, May 25, 2012 – The proposed regional trade package between the US and the EAC [East African Community] includes a regional investment treaty, a trade facilitation agreement and a commercial dialogue.
ICC denies court is picking on Africans – Daily News (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), May 24, 2012 – Most African leaders complain that since its inception in 2002 the ICC has only targeted African leaders. At a 2009 summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Union (AU) passed a resolution calling on the United Nations Security Council to defer an ICC indictment against Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir.
AU chairman to meet Hollande – Independent News (South Africa), May 23, 2012 – Benin’s president and the current African Union chairman Thomas Bonyi Yayi will travel to Paris next week for talks with French President Francoise Hollande, a spokesman said Wednesday…. Benin, a republic on the Gulf of Guinea, was previously a French colony named Dahomey…
ECOWAS Integration bearing fruits – GhanaWeb, May 23, 2012 – Alhaji Mumuni said the liberation of trade within the sub-region has gone beyond agricultural produce to include industrial products with the adoption of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] Protocols which concerns the origin of products.

ASEAN: TO WHAT END, ASEAN? – Jakarta Post, May 23, 2012 – While it is arguably easier to put up and sustain the UN, putting up ASEAN, just like putting up the EU, is a more realistic path in creating institutions from the bottom up if our dream is to create wider, more prosperous and peaceful international communities.                                                          “The hope for the foreseeable future lies, not in building up a few ambitious central institutions of universal membership [like the UN] and general jurisdiction as was envisaged at the end of the last war, but rather in the much more decentralized, disorderly and pragmatic process of inventing or adapting institutions of limited jurisdiction and selected membership to deal with specific problems on a case-by-case basis….In short, the ‘house of world order’ will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down. It will look like a great ‘booming, buzzing confusion,’ to use William James’ famous description of reality, but an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old-fashioned frontal assault.”              
Richard N. Gardner, The Hard Road to World Order,’ Foreign Affairs Journal (Council on Foreign Relations), April 1974, p. 558

SOUTH PACIFIC: Pacific Countries Stress Asia Economic Integration – CRIEnglish (China Radio International) | Xinhua, May 23, 2012 – Pacific countries cannot be left isolated from regional economic integration initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region. This was the message delivered by Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade at the 68th session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)….

GULF UNION: The Kingdoms United? – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 22, 2012 – And as the uprising in Bahrain continues to paralyze the tiny Gulf kingdom, reports abound that Saudi Arabia has decided to take matters into its own hands and play a more direct role in the domestic affairs of Bahrain via “union” with Manama—a merger that might set the foundation of a “GCC Arabian Union.” The details are still very murky, and no specifics were released at the GCC meeting in Riyadh on May 14. We will probably have to wait until the annual CGG summit in December, although some reports suggest it may be earlier.

AFRICAN UNION: Africa’s Layered Approach to Regional Crisis Management – World Politics Review, May 22, 2012 – Ten years ago in Durban, South Africa, the African Union (AU) was formed to spearhead security, stability and prosperity in Africa….Equally significant, the AU has co-existed with multiple subregional organizations, called Regional Economic Communities (RECs), such as the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC)….RECs have evolved subregional conflict-resolutions mechanisms that seek to complement the AU. The strength of these subregional mechanisms have hinged primarily on the presence of a regional anchor state, such as Nigeria in ECOWAS and South Africa in SADC.

ARAB LEAGUE: The Arab League: First Steps Toward New Norms – World Politics Review, May 22, 2012 – With member states now actively, but selectively, employing the machinery of the Arab League in the service of conflict resolution and intervention, previous conceptions of the role of the Arab League need to be revised. What remains lacking, however, is the institutional capacity to spearhead serious mediation and postconflict efforts at the level of the Arab League.

UNASUR: Minister Benn represents Guyana at UNASUR Energy Council meeting – NCN Guyana, May 22, 2012 – The Energy Council agreed to ratify the instruction to the GEE to continue working with the advisory of OLADE (Latin American Energy Organization) to carry out activities which boost energy integration in the region.As such, the GEE was ordered to continue working on the 15 points of the South American energy strategy, the Grand National enterprise and the dialog OPEC-UNASUR [Union of South American Nations].

SAARC: ‘TAPI GAS PIPELINE TO FOSTER REGIONAL COOPERATION – Daily Times (Pakistan), May 22, 2012 – The Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline offers benefit to all four participating countries and has the potential to enhance regional cooperation, said SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) President Vikramjit Sahney…
BANGLADESH EYES $400MILLION LOAN FROM INDIAN CENTRAL BANK – Reuters|Dawn (Pakistan), May 21, 2012 – Bangladesh is likely to borrow $400 million from the Reserve Bank of India to ease balance of payment problems, the Governor of Bangladesh central bank, Atiur Rahman, said on Monday. The RBI recently created the $2 billion fund for countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

EUROPEAN UNION: Russia is on Pace to Outgrow Every European Union Economy in 2012 – Forbes, May 21, 2012 – However, as the Economist itself noted, Poland is currently the European Union’s fastest growing economy, it’s best performer. To even be having an argument over whether Russia is outperforming every single EU country is remarkable.
Iranian Oil Deadline Looms as Sanctions on Tankers Curb Supply – Bloomberg, May 22, 2012 – The European Union’s ban on Iranian oil shipments that takes full effect July 1 is curbing ship charters now because of the time it takes the vessels to deploy, load and deliver cargoes, the fleet’s biggest re-insurer said.

AFRICAN UNION: Free trade bloc planned for Africa – The New Age (Zambia), May 21, 2012 – Plans to create a 26-nation free trade area by integrating three existing African trade blocs by July 2014 are on track and the only major sticking point is likely to be harmonising rules of origin, the three blocs said on Friday. United, the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) aim to create a free market of 525 million people with an output of $1trillion.
Boosting Regional Cooperation in Africa – Nigeria Intel, May 22, 2012 – Reports in the past week suggest that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are contemplating a closer union in addition to strengthening economic ties. Similarly, former bitter enemies and rivals, China, Japan and South Korea are now seeking a trading pact. Nuclear armed rivals India and Pakistan are also exploring the potential of stronger economic ties. Across the world, countries are coming together to promote economic and political interests.
African States Assisted by UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in Preparation for Arms Trade Treaty Conference – Defpro (Defense Professionals), May 21, 2012 – On 21 and 22 May, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, through its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, is holding the African Regional Consultations on the Arms Trade Treaty at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting is organized jointly with the International Action Network on Small Arms, in cooperation with the African Union Commission, and is made possible with the financial support of the Government of Australia.

GCC (GULF UNION): West now has proof of Iran’s interference – Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), May 22, 2012 – Given the fact that Iran aims at remaining a Gulf hegemonic power, with the interest to influence, if not dominate the affairs of Arab Gulf countries, the proposed formation of the Gulf union becomes a stumbling block shattering that dream.
Foreign Policy: The Persian Gulf Needs Its Own NATO – NPR, May 21, 2012 – Just as NATO needed the United States to overcome Europe’s history of mistrust and rivalry, the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] needs the United States in order to convince the smaller Sunni countries to finally work with Saudi Arabia. As a member of the GCC, the United States would reprise the roles it has played in NATO and Asia — the dominant outsider, with no claims in the region, and a player the rest of the teammates can trust.

ASEAN: UN: Facing Eurozone Risks, Asia-Pacific Must Hasten Integration – Voice of America, May 21, 2012 – “Take, for example, the 10 ASEAN economies [that] cannot compete [individually] with China or India,” he said. “But when we integrate into one, we are 600-million interconnected citizens with a very considerable GDP of $1.8 trillion — we are in a better position to compete with India and China.”
US aiming to boost partnership with ASEAN – Business World (Philippines), May 21, 2012 – The United States is looking to enhance cooperation with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to boost its economy amid a downturn, a US diplomat said yesterday.
US wants legally binding code of conduct in West Philippine Sea row – GMA (Philippines), May 22, 2012 – The United States on Tuesday renewed its call for the crafting of a legally-binding code of conduct in the disputed West Philippine Sea (also called South China Sea) amid the ongoing naval standoff between the Philippines and China at the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Joseph Yousang Yun, State Department Principal Deputy Assistant on Security for East Asia and the Pacific, said this was conveyed by the US to senior officials of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila…

NORTH AMERICA: A CANADIAN PRIMER TO THE CHICAGO NATO SUMMIT – iPolitics (Canada), May 20, 2012 – In recent years, NATO has also provided support to African Union peacekeeping missions in the Sudan and Somalia. Most recently, NATO led the UN-sanctioned Libyan campaign, maintaining a no-fly zone and conducting air strikes against the Gaddafi regime….The United States shoulders three quarters of the alliance’s operating budget. The balance used to be half Europe and Canada, and half the United States.

TRANSFORMING NATO INTO A GLOBAL BODY – By Anne-Marie Slaughter – Gulf Times (Qatar), May 20, 2012 – This world is no longer unipolar, bipolar, or even multipolar, because the actors that matter are not single states but groups of states that are more or less densely connected. It is a multi-hub security network, in which the hubs are regional organisations of different sizes and strengths….Even skeptics of Nato expansion and operations like the intervention in Libya now recognize that joint operations by member countries, operating under a UN mandate and in conjunction with regional partners, is likely to be a model for the future. As General Brent Scowcroft, National Security Adviser for President George H.W. Bush, observed recently, the UN Charter originally envisioned a standing military force to enforce Security Council resolutions – a vision that the Nato partner model might ultimately realize.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning in the US State Department (2009-2011), is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University.
“Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order….A world where the United Nations, freed from cold war stalemate, is poised to fulfill the historic vision of its founders…The gulf war put this new world to its, its first test. And my fellow Americans, we passed that test.”                                                          President George H.W. Bush, before a joint session of Congress, March 6, 1991

SOUTH PACIFIC: IS A TRANS-TASMAN CURRENCY UNION ON THE MONEY? – The Conversation (Australia), May 21, 2012 – The idea of a shared currency has been discussed for over 20 years. In 1991, the Reserve Bank Bulletin provided a preliminary examination of the real economic impacts of a currency union between Australia and New Zealand….New Zealand participated in the discussions about federation of the British colonies during the 1890s. New Zealand did not join, but the Australian Constitution contained a provision describing the terms under which New Zealand could join for 100 years after Federation. This expired in 2001.
Consultations on planned withdrawal of RAMSI’s military component for 2013 – Solomon Star, May 21, 2012 – The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Mr Tuiloma Neroni Slade acknowledged the work undertaken by RAMSI [Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands] over the past nine years has seen significant successes, particularly in the rebuilding of the economic infrastructure, policing and correctional services…

EUROPEAN UNION: Ken Clarke attacks ‘nationalist’ eurosceptic Tories – London Telegraph, May 21, 2012 – MPs who want a referendum on membership of the European Union are “right-wing nationalists” who would bring “disaster” to Britain, Kenneth Clarke has said. The Justice Secretary, who is regarded as the most “europhile” Conservative Cabinet minister, said calls to consider withdrawing from the EU were “a dangerous irrelevance” to the economic crisis. Backbench Tories retaliated and warned that most of the party’s MPs were in favour of an “in-out” referendum.

EURASIAN UNION: Putin reaffirms focus on neighbors – China Daily, May 21, 2012 – Strengthening ties with the former Soviet republics and accelerating regional integration is the priority of Putin’s foreign policy, said Pang Dapeng, an expert on Russian politics with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “The Eurasian economic union is seen as the only way for Moscow to achieve Russian revival,” he said. “If successful, the union will have an impact on world structure.”
‘US-Russia ties currently in a bit of flux’ – Zee News (India), May 20, 2012 – That Putin chose Belarus for his first visit signals that Moscow will likely devote more time to Putin’s Eurasian Union project, which seeks closer integration in the post-Soviet space – along much the same lines as European Union integration.

AFRICAN UNION: ECOWAS team meets visiting UN Security Council delegation Monday – Pan-African News Agency, May 21, 2012 – An ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] delegation comprising Foreign Ministers of seven member states was billed to meet Monday (21May) with the UN Security Council team currently on a visit to West Africa, an ECOWAS Commission statement made available to PANA here said….Benin, which chairs the African Union (AU), will also be represented in the delegation for the meeting…
South Africa: SA, Nigeria meet to strengthen relations – 7thSpace Interactive (press release), May 21, 2012 – Motlanthe and Sambo will also use the occasion to exchange views in respect of developments at regional level, both with regard to the Economic Community of West African States and the Southern African Development Community, as well as discuss broad issues affecting the continent within the context of the African Union. They will also discuss enhanced cooperation on multilateral issues such as reform of global institutions of governance such as the UN Security Council and the Bretton Woods Institutions.

GCC (GULF UNION): Kuwait speaker calls for more reforms before GCC union – Oman Tribune, May 20, 2012 – Gulf monarchies must respect human rights, freedom of expression and allow for popular participation before turning the six-nation council into a union, Kuwait’s parliament speaker said on Thursday. “It is inevitable that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states will have no choice but to improve their relations to an advanced form of a union,” Ahmad Al Saadun said on his Twitter account.
Iran summons Bahrain envoy over union row – Dawn (Pakistan), May 20, 2012 – Iran summoned Bahrain’s ambassador in Tehran after his foreign minister told the Islamic republic to stop interfering in his nation’s internal affairs, state media reported on Friday….The planned union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the first part of a broader union of the Gulf’s six Arab monarchies, has triggered a war of words between Shia-dominated Iran and the Sunni rulers of Shia-majority Bahrain.
Shura Council Foreign Affairs Committee Backs Gulf Union Project – Bahrain News Agency, May 20, 2012 – Head of the Shura Council’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Committee Dr. Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa stressed the strategic importance of the Gulf union for the GCC countries. He and the committee members praised the GCC leaders’ wisdom in adopting the comprehensive project initiated by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, emphasising the role the Gulf union will play in boosting the GCC countries’ economic, social and military status.
Dawn of a new Mideast – Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), May 20, 2012- “If we look at the other side, it will help foreign workers’ mobility in the member states, who can work freely like citizens in a bigger market,” said Dr Al Jowder. She said a GCC union similar to the European Union and the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) would help peace and stability in these blocs.

ASEAN: ASEAN, US talk security amid China standoff – ABS-CBN (Philippines) | AFP, May 20, 2012 – The US and Southeast Asian nations embarked on three days of talks Sunday that would include security cooperation, shortly after a Pentagon report raised concerns about China’s military build-up. The Philippines, hosts of the discussions and an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member, is engaged in a month-long maritime stand-off with China over a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
ASEAN-United States Eminent Persons Group to Meet in Manila –, May 20, 2012 – The U.S.-ASEAN partnership will take another step forward on May 20-21 when the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) holds its inaugural meeting to add their collective wisdom and lessons to the growing cooperation between governments in this dynamic region. The U.S.-ASEAN Eminent Persons Group, composed of prominent individuals from all ASEAN member states and the United States…..will discuss strategies in areas such as improving development and cooperation in regional integration of ASEAN….

SAARC: ‘CHINA’S FULL MEMBERSHIP WILL PROVIDE SAARC EXTRA BARGAINING POWER’ – Financial Express (Bangladesh), May 20, 2012 – China has shown its active interest in becoming a full member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), in place of its current status as an observer, reliable sources in Dhaka said on Saturday.
China & SAARC: Possibility of economic integration – The Frontier Post (Pakistan), May 19, 2012 – China wants that its status in the SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] as observer should be raised to its full membership….With two major powers (India and China) being members of the SAARC, political atmosphere will become congenial and China will be able to assist in resolving mutual South Asian disputes, including Kashmir issue. SAARC forum will also help in improvement of China-India and Pakistan-India relations. This will also help in removing the existing apprehensions in the minds of smaller South Asian countries that as a big power India is trying to dominate the region.
From the Archives: Chinese invasion of SAARC, India feels the competition – Newstrack India, April 4, 2007 – After Southeast Asia and Africa, it is now the turn of SAARC countries for China to create an influence in the region by using its observer status. Following the enthusiastic bidding for Beijing’s membership in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), by Kathmandu, and former proactive role, New Delhi is wary of this proactive approach on part of a country viewed not as a friend. SAARC members at this point are reluctant about the increasing clout of Beijing within the region.

GULF UNION: FAST-TRACK GCC UNION SAY IMAMS – Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), May 19, 2012 – GCC union has now become a pressing demand with the exposure of foreign agendas, imams across Bahrain said yesterday in their Friday sermons. They called for its announcement to be fast-tracked, describing the union as a dream of any loyal Arab Gulf national. “Gulf union is a God’s call in the first place and anyone opposing it must be either ignorant or criminal who doesn’t seek the good of the country,” they pointed out.
Thousands protest Gulf union plan – Independent Online (South Africa), May 18, 2012 – Tens of thousands of mainly Shi’ite protesters rallied in Bahrain on Friday against proposals for closer ties with other Gulf Arab countries….Arab heads of state met in Riyadh on Monday to discuss a call by Saudi King Abdullah to unite the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but failed to agree on further integration. Talks are due to resume later this year.

UNASUR: South American Development Bank To Be Operational 2H12 – Argentina Govt – Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2012 – South American development bank, Banco del Sur, should be operational during the second half of this year, a top Argentine government official said Friday. Adrian Cosentino, finance secretary at Argentina’s Economy Ministry, said the bank will formally open its doors after a meeting of the finance ministers of the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, to be held next month or July in Venezuela. “This project aspires to become the financing arm of Unasur….,” Cosentino told reporters.
South American Energy Council Meets in Caracas – Prensa Latina, May 19, 2012 – The event is chaired by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, and the Oil and Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez, both from Venezuela, and the secretary general of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Colombian Maria Emma Mejia….According to the note of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, the meeting aims to move towards regional security in that area, with the sustainable use of natural resources, particularly energetic, conceived as an instrument for sustainable economic progress and social development equity.

Jacob Zuma Clears Controversies Over African Union Elections – Leadership Newspapers (Nigeria), May 18, 2012 – President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has cleared the controversies surrounding the deadlock that followed the last African Union elections….Saying that South Africa had no intention of dominating the continent or to bully any country or structure, the President noted that his country would serve, if elected, as a humble, loyal and disciplined member of the African Union.
Africa: Past and Future Challenges of the AU – AllAfrica, May 18, 2012 – After the independence of Ghana in 1957, they prioritized their actions and focused on achieving political independence first. But structures were put on paper for the AU [African Union] government. There was a difference on approaches, fighting for total independence for Africa and creation of a union to be carried out concurrently. But to be effective, they prioritized. Therefore, after the Namibian independence and the freedom of South Africa in 1994, the attention of economic integration and creating practical institutions with practical meaning to help us move to eventual creation of union government, was created.” [Namibian Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Tuliameni Kalomoh]

US Senator John McCain Wants Bilateral Investment Treaty With India – South Asian Link, May 19, 2012 – “We should also move more aggressively on a multilateral track…. ‘ The US, he said, he said either needs to bring all of the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries into the Trans-Pacific Partnership or push for a formal US-ASEAN free trade agreement.

NORTH AMERICA: CANADIAN, U.S. OFFICERS COULD SOON CROSS BORDERS TO PURSUE SUSPECTS – Vancouver Sun, May 17, 2012 – Shared waterways along the Canada-U.S. border soon could be patrolled by vessels staffed with armed Canadian and American officers who have the authority to freely cross into each other’s territories in pursuit of suspected criminals….Some, however, are concerned about issues of sovereignty and due process, especially as authorities are looking eventually to create a land-based version of the program.

Eurasian Parliament might be created in near future – TVR (Belarus), May 18, 2012 – So far there are two options – either it will be the Eurasian Assembly consisting of already elected MPs of the three countries, or an institution similar to the European Parliament with direct elections and fairly broad powers…. The Belarusian speaker Vladimir Andreichenko confirmed that today the attendees discussed the “parliamentary dimension.” According to him, the Eurasian Union will be formed in 2015.

S. Africa won’t bully way to AU top job – Angola Press, May 18, 2012 – South African President Jacob Zuma said Thursday his country would not “bully” its way into the top job at the African Union….””South Africa has no intention of dominating the continent….We stand ready to respect whatever outcome emerges from the AU summit in Malawi,” he said, according to a transcript.

New Zealand looks for integrated market with ASEAN – The Star (Malaysia), May 18, 2012 – The New Zealand government on Friday said it welcomed the second forum between the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia and New Zealand as a progress in the integration of their markets, China’s Xinhua news agency reported….New Zealand and Australia had been working towards a single economic market across the Tasman for more than 30 years through their Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement.

SAARC important in promoting regional trade, says Gilani – Daily Times (Pakistan), May 18, 2012 – Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Thursday said….the SAARC summits had provided excellent opportunities to the prime ministers of Pakistan and India to hold meetings on the sidelines for the resumption of dialogue. The Prime Minister said the progress made so far in the normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India largely owned to such meetings.

GCC (GULF UNION): 3-+- – Reuters UK, May 18, 2012 – Saudi Arabia’s thrust for a Gulf Union, driven by fear of Arab Spring contagion and spreading Iranian influence, has stumbled on misgivings among smaller neighbors about a loss of sovereignty and increasing domination by Riyadh…..”The UAE will not accept a single country taking over a union, so that issue has to be clear,” a UAE official told Reuters….Asked if he thought the union would eventually happen, the official added: “Let’s just say it will take more time.”
Common visa likely for cruise passengers in GCC countries – Business Standard (India), May 18, 2012 – Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are planning to introduce a single visa system for cruise passengers which is likely to be in place by September.

White House touts War-Tested Global NATO Force – Media Monitors Network, May 17, 2012 – President Barack Obama and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met at the White House on May 9 to discuss the military bloc’s summit in Obama’s political home base of Chicago on May 20 and 21….The brief White House release stated:
“NATO is now a hub for a global network of security partners which have served alongside NATO forces in Afghanistan, Libya, and Kosovo. Recognizing the important contributions provided by partner nations, the President and Secretary General welcomed the recent decision by allies to invite a group of thirteen partner nations to Chicago for an unprecedented meeting to discuss ways to further broaden and deepen NATO’s cooperation with partner nations.”
….Partners across the globe, as its very name suggests, is a mechanism that NATO can employ to foster bilateral and regional partnerships with any of the 126 countries that are not already NATO members or partners. Or groups of nations like the Arab League, the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
[Comment: All the BRICS nations, with the exception of non-aligned China, are the economic and political anchors of their respective geopolitical regions: UNASUR (Brazil), the Eurasian Union (Russia), SAARC (India), and the African Union (South Africa). Other geopolitical regions and their main anchors are: the European Union (Germany), the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia), North America (U.S.A.), ASEAN (Indonesia), and the Pacific Islands Forum (Australia). The Arab League overlaps both the African Union and the oil-rich GCC, which may absorb other Arab nations over time.]

SOUTH PACIFIC: RAMSI CAN BE A MODEL FOR THE WORLD, SAYS MARLES – Solomon Star, May 17, 2012 – Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign and Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, says the RAMSI [Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands] mission in Solomon Islands can be used as a global model for foreign interventions….Troops from Australia, New Zealand, PNG and Tonga have been in the Solomons since 2003 when the Pacific Islands Forum sanctioned a regional assistance mission amid rising violence.

EURASIAN UNION: UNCERTAIN WORLD: RUSSIA LAYS SIEGE TO UKRAINE – RIA Novosti (Russia), May 17, 2012 – Ukraine’s economy is in shambles and it badly needs a partner who can help. But Moscow has taken a wait-and-see approach, believing that at this rate Kiev will eventually have nowhere else to turn but Russia….With Ukraine on board, the Customs Union would eventually become the Eurasian Union, a powerful structure with a huge internal market and diversified economy.
Ukraine PM warns of ‘foreign plot’ against Kyiv – EurActiv, May 16, 2012 – Russian President Vladimir Putin attaches great importance to his project for a Eurasian Union, comprising former Soviet republics. Analysts see Ukraine as key for the project to fly. It is widely believed that Russia is doing its utmost to get Ukraine on board by severing its ties with Brussels.
Due West: Putin Signals Foreign Policy Shift – RIA Novosti, May 16, 2012 – Moreover, the Eurasian Union, which he first mentioned in a 2011 op-ed for Izvestia, will be central to the Russian president’s efforts….It means that he sees Russia’s integration with Kazakhstan, Belarus and possibly Kyrgyzstan as a viable alternative to building closer ties with the EU (of which Putin is inherently suspicious) or becoming China’s junior partner.

GULF UNION: Gulf union summit to be held before December: Media advisor – Gulfnews (Dubai, UAE), May 17, 2012 – The extraordinary summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to sign the transition to the Gulf union will be held ahead of an annual meeting in December in Manama, a senior Bahraini official has said. “The Gulf union has been approved and it will be a reality very soon,” Nabeel Al Hamer, media advisor to King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa, said on his Twitter account.

SAARC: Khar suggests initiation of SAARC visa for nationals of member states – Associated Press of India, may 16, 2012 – Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday said that initiation of a SAARC visa for the nationals of SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] member states would not only make travel within the region easy for them but would also increase their ownership of the region.
Look Around policy key to SAARC’s future – Oneindia, May 16, 2012 – Inclusion of Afghanistan in the SAARC in 2005 as its eighth member has undoubtedly complicated the equation for SAARC. With the entry of Afghanistan, terrorism and politics related to it won’t be far away from the SAARC and there will be necessary a consensus among all other members to ensure that they deal with any outside influence sternly. This is easier said than done for taking a common stance on terrorism by India and Pakistan is yet to be made possible. The only hope is that the deteriorating US-Pakistan relations over a range of issues could see the latter forging a strategic alliance with India, hence benefiting the cause of south Asia.

ASEAN, World Bank Monitor Progress To AEC – Tax-news, May 17, 2012 – The Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East Asia and Pacific Region of the World Bank have signed an agreement for the World Bank to provide advisory services to ASEAN to strengthen its capacity to monitor progress towards achieving the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). ASEAN, consisting of its ten member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), is driving regional integration in South east Asia by its goal to establish the AEC by 2015. It is expected that ASEAN countries will then form a single market in which there will be a free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and capital investment.
Shared regional area – Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 17, 2012 – China, Taiwan and four member-countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are contesting certain parts of [the South China Sea] for these same reasons….For a start, the Asean must immediately propose that the area already be declared a “Shared Regional Area of Essential Commons” or SRAEC…. Because it is clearly located within an area bounded by at least seven littoral Southeast Asian states all belonging to the Asean, it should instead be renamed as the “Southeast Asian Sea.”

EUROPEAN UNION: Turkey to renew talks over European Union membership – London Guardian, May 17, 2012 – With key opponent of Turkey’s membership, [Former French President] Nicolas Sarkozy, no longer in office, EU commissioner to visit Ankara over policies

‘Baby steps’ to US agents on Canadian soil: RCMP – Embassy (Canada), May 16, 2012 – The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] is planning to ease Canadians into the idea of United States law enforcement agents pursuing suspects across the land border and onto Canadian soil through “baby steps,” say two top Mounties. “We recognized early that this approach would raise concerns about sovereignty, of privacy, and civil liberties of Canadians,” RCMP Chief Superintendent Joe Oliver, the Mounties’ director general for border integrity, told the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on May 14.
Atamanenko Concerned About Proposed Changes to Meat Inspection Regulations – Boundary Sentinel, May 16, 2012 – “This happened because of a lack of meat processing regulations and already-dead and crippled animal meat was entering the food supply. It’s staggering that the government would ever considering going down this road” Atamanenko suspects that these changes are arising out of meetings between the US Department of Agriculture, industry reps and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) officials, to further the aims of the Regulatory Cooperation Council to harmonize regulations between the US and Canada.

AFRICAN UNION: AFRICA: THE HAGUE COURT – TIME CONTINENT STANDS UP TO EUROPE – AllAfrica, May 15, 2012 – There is also a strong perception that the ICC was set to deal with “errant” Africans whose existence threatened the hegemonic influence of the superpowers in their scramble for African resources….In the same way that the African Union refused to recognise the arrest warrant issued for Sudanese President al-Bashir, the African continent must refuse to recognise such a kangaroo court whose agenda is simply to dehumanise Africans in the same manner that slavery did to our fore fathers. The most plausible way forward is for the African Union to actualise its African court as stipulated in its Constitutive Act.
Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) – African Union Peace and Security Commission, May 16, 2012 – In order to promote and improve relations between the AU [African Union] and the Regional Mechanisms [RMs] for conflict prevention, resolution and management, Article 16(1) of the PSC [African Union Peace and Security Commission] Protocol requires the PSC and the Chairperson of the Commission to harmonize and coordinate the activities of RMs in the field of peace, security and stability and to ensure that these activities are consistent with the objectives and principles of the Union….The signatories to the MoU are the AU, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Community of Sahel Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the East African Community (EAC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Eastern Africa Standby Force Coordinating Mechanism (EASFCOM) and the North Africa Regional Capability (NARC).

NORTH AMERICA: Gillibrand calls on USDA to maintain border re-inspections of Canadian beef – AgraNet, May 15, 2012 – Looking for ways to ease trade between the U.S. and Canada should not come at the expense of food safety, says Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a one-page letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today. Gillibrand is concerned about a proposal to allow meat products coming into the U.S. from Canada to skip re-inspection because the two countries have similar food safety programs in place. Late last year, President Obama and Canadian Premiere Stephen Harper announced the creation of the Regulatory Cooperation Council Action (RCC) and the Beyond the Border Action Plan (BTB), two initiatives that would make it easier for Canada and the United States to send products between the two countries.

EURASIAN UNION: Back in the USSR?: Putin reiterates Russian ambitions in post-Soviet space – Armenia Now, May 16, 2012 – Vladimir Putin, who was sworn in as Russia’s president last week, voiced the priorities of Russia’s foreign policy among which the first were the integration of the former Soviet space as part of the CIS and the CSTO and the prospect of establishing a Eurasian Union. Putin does not hide that this union is an attempt to recreate the Soviet Union.
Putin praised by leaders of ex-Soviet states – Chicago Tribune, May 15, 2012 – A decree issued hours after his swearing-in called for closer integration of the ex-Soviet space a “key foreign policy direction” and reiterated plans for a Eurasian Economic Union, based on a Customs Union with Kazakhstan and Belarus. The real prize for Putin would be Ukraine, which has sought to balance relations between Moscow and the European Union.
Kick Russia Out of the G-8 – Charter 97 (Belarus), May 16, 2012 – Over the last four years, President Dmitry Medvedev improved Russia’s relations with virtually everybody, while Prime Minister Putin ruled at home….But now Putin is back. A few hours after his May 7 inauguration, he decreed that a Eurasian Union of Belarus and Kazakhstan would be his top foreign-policy priority — a sign of insecurity and isolation.

GULF UNION: Enthusiasm for Gulf union remains strong – Gulfnews (Dubai, UAE), May 15, 2012 – The decision by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to delay the expected announcement of a Gulf union did not seem to dampen enthusiasm for the proposal put forward by the Saudi monarch in December. However, analysts in Bahrain said that the move should be given full and prompt attention to ensure it is not delayed.
Single GCC visa for cruise tourists may be in place by September – eTN Global Travel Industry News, May 15, 2012 – The plan for a single visa system for the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries for cruise passengers, which has been under discussion for almost four years, is finally expected to be in place by September, according to a senior Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing official.
Political will key to robust GCC union – Gulfnews, May 16, 2012 – The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have endorsed an agreement aimed at promoting collective security among the six member states, but a decision on the much-talked about Gulf union is being delayed….These changes are bound to come from economic union, but the driving force for success is unified political will. A combined force of six nations, controlling almost 45 per cent of the world’s oil reserves, standing united on socio, economic and political fronts, can also send quite a strong message to anti-establishment forces who seek to destabilise the region for their own gains.

Arab writer admits to real APARTHEID in all Arab Muslim countries – Liberty News, May 15, 2012 – “We were racists, admiring Nazism, reading its books and the source …” Minorities such as Coptic Christians, Berbers, Jews and others, felt immediately the wrath of the racist movement. The Arab league has been accused of being racist to all non-Arabs. No wonder some have branded the Arab League as a kind of KKK.

European Union breaks deadlock on bank rules – Reuters, May 15, 2012 – Britain, which had demanded concessions on the capital rules to protect London’s autonomy in controlling its financial sector, won leeway to set stricter standards than the EU norm, but will need permission from Brussels above certain levels. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called the agreement a “significant” step in reforming finance.
Germany and China: Too Close for Some – International Herald Tribune (NYTimes), May 16, 2012 – On a deeper level, business, along with frustration at the European Union’s lack of coordinated policies, is driving the relationship, Mr. Kundnani and Jonas Parello-Plesner, analysts at the European Council on Foreign Relations, say in their report, “China and Germany: Why the Emerging Special Relationship Matters for Europe.”

ASEAN: China, Japan, South Korea to сhallenge USA – Voice of Russia, May 15, 2012 – “China, Japan and South Korea are conducting an active dialogue about free trade with the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries. In this dialogue the focus is being put on broadening this zone. Therefore, there is no doubt that Americans will keep up with the developments in this field and will offer their alternatives that would be able to neutralize potential threats.”

WE Say: MSG, engine of growth for the Pacific – Islands Business, May 15, 2012 – This speaks volumes of the unity among the leaders of the Melanesian quartet and their willingness to collectively stand their ground against the official position of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Commonwealth, New Zealand and Australia regarding Fiji.

RBI offers $2 bn swap arrangement to SAARC countries – Hindu Business Line, May 16, 2012 – The SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] Swap Arrangement will have a corpus of US$ 2 billion. India will contribute the entire fund. The swap amount available to various member central banks has been arrived at broadly based on two months import cover subject to a floor of US$ 100 million and a maximum of US$ 400 million per country.

EU ponders ‘losing Ukraine to Russia’ – EurActiv, May 15, 2012 – EU ministers held an animated discussion in Brussels yesterday (14 May), evaluating the risks of “losing Ukraine to Russia”….Diplomatic sources said ministers spoke openly about the risk that a tough line on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich would push the country closer to Russia, eager to put flesh to its plans for a “Eurasian Union” comprising former Soviet states.

GULF UNION: GULF STATES DELAY DECISIONS ON CLOSER TIES – Albany Times Union | Associated Press, May 14, 2012 – The move came as a surprise. The meeting was widely expected to endorse what has already happened on the ground: an effective “union” between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain whose embattled monarchy has been aided by Saudi troops and money. “The aim of postponing the announcement of the union between the six countries is to bring onboard all the members and not only two,” said the Saudi foreign minister….Without doubt, however, the upheavals of the Arab Spring have forced stronger collective action from the wealthy Gulf states…
GCC Union Needs `Common Understanding’ to Confront Iran – Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 14, 2012 – “All members need to agree to unity, not just Bahrain and Saudi Arabia,” the kingdom’s foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, said after a summit meeting yesterday in Riyadh. The GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] is in “full cooperation” to form a union, he said….The world’s largest petroleum-exporting bloc has accused Shiite Muslim-led Iran of seeking to foment unrest among the Shiite communities in the region, including Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia and other members sent troops to help put down an uprising last year.

AFRICAN UNION: U.S. Trains Ugandans for Somalia Mission – TIME | Associated Press, May 14, 2012 – About 3,500 Ugandan troops are currently undergoing training at Singo under the State Department’s Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, which also trains soldiers from Burundi and several other African nations. The training should allow the soldiers from different countries to operate with each other more smoothly after they’re deployed to Somalia. The contractors have been training African Union forces since 2007.
West Africa: Ecowas to Deploy 600 Military, Police Contingent to Guinea Bissau – Commissioner – AllAfrica, May 14, 2012 – The ECOWAS [Economic Community Of West African States] says it will deploy 600 military and police contingent to Guinea Bissau to address the political crisis in the country….”The United Nations, African Union and all other international players are positively supporting ECOWAS in achieving this….”
EAC states to pay more as bloc unveils $123.7m budget – The Monitor (Uganda), May15, 2012 – The East African Community has unveiled its $123,789,199 budget for the 2012/2013 fiscal year….The EAC institutions include the secretariat, Lake Victoria Basin Commission, East African Court of Justice, East African Legislative Assembly, Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency among others.

NORTH AMERICA: Towards a North American Police State and Security Perimeter: US-Canada “Beyond the Border Agreement” –, May 14, 2012 – Through the Beyond the Border agreement released in December 2011, the U.S. and Canada are quietly implementing initiatives that are working towards establishing a North American security perimeter….As the U.S.-Canada action plan implementation process continues, there still remains many concerns with the further integration and militarization of the northern border. This includes the loss of sovereignty and risks to privacy rights related to more cross-border sharing of personal information. While there have been online consultations surrounding the perimeter security agreement, there has yet to be any open public hearings or congressional and parliamentary debates.

ASEAN: Countries Eye Trade Agreement – China Daily, May 15, 2012 – After Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul announced plans on Sunday to start talking about a trilateral free trade agreement this year, a joint declaration released on Monday said the three countries also have set their sights on reaching a trade pact that will apply to all of East Asia….The three nations have long said they are willing to reach a trade pact with ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations].

SAARC: Op-Ed: Delivering on the Objectives of Afghanistan Conferences – Diplomatic Courier, May 14, 2012 – And for the long-term institutionalization of peace and governance in Afghanistan, they extended their full support for transition to the Afghan responsibility under the holistic, “whole of government” approach of the “Kabul Process.” In effect, they identified and committed to utilization of the “Kabul Process” as a coordination mechanism through which to implement their commitments….Those regional mechanisms, most of which remain under-utilized due to a lack of political will, include the Organization for Islamic Countries, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)…
Research report outlines scope for Saarc power trading – Energy Risk, May 15, 2012 – A report published by GBI Research forecasts a surge of activity within the power markets of member countries from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) over the next decade as a variety of infrastructure projects interconnecting regions come to fruition, while installed capacity continues to increase.

EUROPEAN UNION: Euro-Area Economy Avoids Second Recession on German GDP – Bloomberg BusinessWeek, May 15, 2012 – Germany helped the euro area avoid its second recession in three years as growth in the region’s largest economy offset contractions in peripheral countries…. the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today.
Israel putting any two-state peace deal at risk, says EU – London Guardian, May 14, 2012 – The European Union has warned that the prospect of a peaceful and viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, involving two states side by side, is in jeopardy because of Israeli actions….It reiterated that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law, saying that the EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders without both parties’ agreement. Jerusalem must be the future capital of both states…

SOUTH PACIFIC: Tonga hosts workshops on Anti-money Laundering and to Combat Terrorist Financing – Matangi Tonga, May 14, 2012 – Both workshops are being facilitated by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre AUSTRAC, Australian Customs and Borders Protection Service, United Nations Counter Terrorism Directorate, Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering APG, Pacific Islands Forum, New Zealand Customs Service and the New Zealand Financial Intelligence Unit. Other organizations participating include the Australian Federal Police and Oceania Customs Organization.
Closer Aus-NZ economic ties sought – Lloyd’s List Australia, May 15, 2012 – Research is underway into preparing a report on the viability of closer economic ties between Australia and New Zealand. A draft report is expected to be prepared by September and a final report by December 1, with a view to an announcement early next year, in time for the 30-year anniversary of the Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement.

ARAB LEAGUE:  Is Algeria immune to the ‘Arab Spring’? – Aljazeera, May 14, 2012 – Western countries and international monitors have largely praised the vote as a step in the right direction. Hanafi Wajih, the head of the Arab League’s observer mission, said: “The election was free and transparent and the Algerian people have expressed their choice without coercion.”

UNASUR: Ramonet: Latin America Lives Best Time in Political History – Radio Cadena Agramonet, May 14, 2012 – In an interview with the official El Ciudadano online newspaper, the writer, journalist and academic highlighted that there was never so much interest in regional integration. In particular, he mentioned the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) and the Commonwealth of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC), as important mechanisms to seek development.

Gulf leaders to discuss EU-style union – CNN International, May 14, 2012 – The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council will hold a meeting Monday in Saudi Arabia to discuss transforming their six nations into a union, similar to the European Union….The GCC is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

ASEAN: BETRAYING HUMAN RIGHTS, ASEAN STYLE – The Nation (Thailand). May 14, 2012 – The ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Human Rights Declaration is supposed to serve as the “road-map for regional human rights development” in ASEAN for years to come – according to ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan. Has ASEAN finally transformed itself from the so-called “club of dictators” famous for its closed-door meetings to a rights-respecting grouping? Shouldn’t this be cause for a celebration? Sorry – not so fast – think again.
Philippines-China spat tests ASEAN solidarity – Japan Times, May 14, 2012 – So far, the U.S. has been very cautious and the Philippines has been disappointed — some say politically “orphaned” — and its leaders embarrassed by the lack of strong U.S. and ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] support. The Philippines is belatedly discovering that the U.S. and ASEAN have their own interests regarding China — both political and economic — and that these take priority.
ASEAN, Japan eye 10-year road map to double trade – Business World (Philippines), May 13, 2012 – The road map will focus on five priority areas, namely: trade and investment liberalization, facilitation and promotion; system harmonization; improvement of logistics and distribution networks; narrowing development gaps; and promoting advanced industrial development….ASEAN and Japan officials also said they hope to launch talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by yearend.
Reforms suggested ahead of AEC – Bangkok Post, May 13, 2012 – The Trade Negotiations Department insists Thailand and other Asean members must adjust domestic laws to meet commitments outlined in the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. The AEC Blueprint is a master plan for the development of the single market and establishes targets and timelines for member states.

Marshalls president wants trade talks ‘intensified’ – Marianas Variety, May 14, 2012 – The meeting has brought together trade ministers from more than a dozen countries in the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand for discussions that will feed recommendations to Pacific Islands Forum heads of state when they meet later in the year. Forum Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade reminded trade ministers of the importance of giving a voice to private sector interests as negotiations on regional and international free trade agreements move forward.

In Bahrain, the spark behind Pearl Revolution still glows – Hometown Life (USAToday), May 13, 2012 – While other Arab nations are engaging in elections and self-rule after the removal of dictators, Bahrain remains solidly in the control of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and his family. After negotiations with protesters broke down, Khalifa called in the troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council, a union of Gulf states dominated by Saudi Arabia, and its troops forced demonstrators from the streets.

John Kerry Endorses NATO Airstrikes in Syria – Breitbart, May 13, 2012 – “I’m talking about Gulf States and the Arab League engaging and leading on this with NATO perhaps as a support structure behind the scenes to back it up,” he said. When asked if he favors U.S. or NATO led airstrikes in support of the effort he said, “Sure.”

Kenya seeks more members in regional transit system – Business Daily (Kenya), May 13, 2012 – The scheme by Comesa [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] facilitates rapid movement of transit goods within the trading bloc under a secure system and single bond. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) senior deputy commissioner for southern region, Mr Julius Musyoki, said that the scheme has reduced freight costs and accelerated regional economic development since it simplifies and harmonises custom procedures.

Hollande’s camp sharpens tone before Merkel meet – Chicago Tribune | Reuters, May 13, 2012 – French Socialists said on Sunday that austerity was pushing the European Union toward economic ruin and warned Germany to accept changes to a budgetary treaty, raising tensions days before president-elect Francois Hollande takes a maiden trip to Berlin.

WHY THE GULF UNION? WHY NOW? – Arab News (Saudi Arabia), May 13, 2012 – When the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] was established in 1981, its Charter explicitly stated that unity was one of its main goals, but many outsiders believed that unity was a farfetched dream….Keep in mind that there were no models to emulate at that time for such a union, as the European Union was still an idea. Keep in mind also that in those days, most GCC countries had only recently gained their full independence after British withdrawal from the region.

China, South Korea and Japan say they seek to ease tensions with North Korea together – Fox News | Associated Press, May 13, 2012 – The three largest East Asian economies also took steps toward deepening their economic ties by laying the groundwork for a regional free trade area. “The establishment of (a free trade area) will unleash the economic vitality of our region and give a strong boost to economic integration in East Asia,” [Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao] said.

Domestic manufacturers concerned over reduction in tariffs – International Times (Pakistan), May 13, 2012 – After thaw in ties with India the government of Pakistan has indicated that the SAFTA deal on trade between SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] countries would be fully implemented, he said, adding that under that agreement the maximum tariff on imports from SAFTA member countries would be reduced to five percent only.
Gulf leaders to discuss EU-style union – CNN International, May 14, 2012 – The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council will hold a meeting Monday in Saudi Arabia to discuss transforming their six nations into a union, similar to the European Union….The GCC is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

ASEAN: BETRAYING HUMAN RIGHTS, ASEAN STYLE – The Nation (Thailand). May 14, 2012 – The ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Human Rights Declaration is supposed to serve as the “road-map for regional human rights development” in ASEAN for years to come – according to ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan. Has ASEAN finally transformed itself from the so-called “club of dictators” famous for its closed-door meetings to a rights-respecting grouping? Shouldn’t this be cause for a celebration? Sorry – not so fast – think again.
Philippines-China spat tests ASEAN solidarity – Japan Times, May 14, 2012 – So far, the U.S. has been very cautious and the Philippines has been disappointed — some say politically “orphaned” — and its leaders embarrassed by the lack of strong U.S. and ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] support. The Philippines is belatedly discovering that the U.S. and ASEAN have their own interests regarding China — both political and economic — and that these take priority.
ASEAN, Japan eye 10-year road map to double trade – Business World (Philippines), May 13, 2012 – The road map will focus on five priority areas, namely: trade and investment liberalization, facilitation and promotion; system harmonization; improvement of logistics and distribution networks; narrowing development gaps; and promoting advanced industrial development….ASEAN and Japan officials also said they hope to launch talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by yearend.
Reforms suggested ahead of AEC – Bangkok Post, May 13, 2012 – The Trade Negotiations Department insists Thailand and other Asean members must adjust domestic laws to meet commitments outlined in the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. The AEC Blueprint is a master plan for the development of the single market and establishes targets and timelines for member states.

Marshalls president wants trade talks ‘intensified’ – Marianas Variety, May 14, 2012 – The meeting has brought together trade ministers from more than a dozen countries in the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand for discussions that will feed recommendations to Pacific Islands Forum heads of state when they meet later in the year. Forum Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade reminded trade ministers of the importance of giving a voice to private sector interests as negotiations on regional and international free trade agreements move forward.

In Bahrain, the spark behind Pearl Revolution still glows – Hometown Life (USAToday), May 13, 2012 – While other Arab nations are engaging in elections and self-rule after the removal of dictators, Bahrain remains solidly in the control of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and his family. After negotiations with protesters broke down, Khalifa called in the troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council, a union of Gulf states dominated by Saudi Arabia, and its troops forced demonstrators from the streets.

John Kerry Endorses NATO Airstrikes in Syria – Breitbart, May 13, 2012 – “I’m talking about Gulf States and the Arab League engaging and leading on this with NATO perhaps as a support structure behind the scenes to back it up,” he said. When asked if he favors U.S. or NATO led airstrikes in support of the effort he said, “Sure.”

Kenya seeks more members in regional transit system – Business Daily (Kenya), May 13, 2012 – The scheme by Comesa [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] facilitates rapid movement of transit goods within the trading bloc under a secure system and single bond. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) senior deputy commissioner for southern region, Mr Julius Musyoki, said that the scheme has reduced freight costs and accelerated regional economic development since it simplifies and harmonises custom procedures.

Hollande’s camp sharpens tone before Merkel meet – Chicago Tribune | Reuters, May 13, 2012 – French Socialists said on Sunday that austerity was pushing the European Union toward economic ruin and warned Germany to accept changes to a budgetary treaty, raising tensions days before president-elect Francois Hollande takes a maiden trip to Berlin.

WHY THE GULF UNION? WHY NOW? – Arab News (Saudi Arabia), May 13, 2012 – When the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] was established in 1981, its Charter explicitly stated that unity was one of its main goals, but many outsiders believed that unity was a farfetched dream….Keep in mind that there were no models to emulate at that time for such a union, as the European Union was still an idea. Keep in mind also that in those days, most GCC countries had only recently gained their full independence after British withdrawal from the region.

China, South Korea and Japan say they seek to ease tensions with North Korea together – Fox News | Associated Press, May 13, 2012 – The three largest East Asian economies also took steps toward deepening their economic ties by laying the groundwork for a regional free trade area. “The establishment of (a free trade area) will unleash the economic vitality of our region and give a strong boost to economic integration in East Asia,” [Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao] said.

Domestic manufacturers concerned over reduction in tariffs – International Times (Pakistan), May 13, 2012 – After thaw in ties with India the government of Pakistan has indicated that the SAFTA deal on trade between SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] countries would be fully implemented, he said, adding that under that agreement the maximum tariff on imports from SAFTA member countries would be reduced to five percent only.

EURASIAN UNION: Putin sets priorities in foreign policy – Voice of Russia, May 12, 2012 – Another key direction of Russian foreign policy is economic integration with CIS countries. In this regard, we can highlight the ratification of the CIS Free Trade Zone Agreement, and the framework for the Union State, a coalition between Belarus and Russia. In addition, the development of the Customs Union and the Uniform Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan with the goal of creating the Eurasian Economic Union by January 1, 2015. These new multilateral economic structures are to gradually replace the CIS structures.
Beyond the Reset: Reverse “Nixon Goes to China” – Atlantic Sentinel, May 12, 2012 – Nixon and Kissinger sought the “dragon” to balance against the stronger “bear,” the United States must consider the reverse….The United States should also encourage President Putin’s push for a “Eurasian Union.” This would entail the United States no longer hectoring Russia over the slow pace of political reform.

Lord’s Resistance Army on the Run – Official – Scoop (New Zealand), May 13, 2012 – The United Nations-backed military initiative launched recently by the African Union against the terror group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has kept its members constantly on the move and unable to settle down in any one place for long, according to a UN envoy. [Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), Abou Moussa] said that the RTF is receiving training and intelligence assistance from a group of United States military advisers deployed in the region.
East Africa: Aviation Chiefs Push for Single Regional Tourist Visa – AllAfrica, May 11, 2012 – Civil aviation authorities from East African Community (EAC) member states want the bloc to expedite the introduction and implementation of a common passport to reduce barriers that still exist at the entry points…..According to the civil aviation authorities, issuance of a single EAC visa and EAC passport would ease movement across the EAC region without need for a national visa, an initiative they say would greatly boost regional integration and tourism sector.
East Africa: Mukaruliza Warns Against Rushed EPAs – AllAfrica, May 11, 2012 – Among the sticking issues is EU’s insistence that EAC should not enter other trade/economic deals with any other community, without its consent, after the finalisation of the negotiations. EAC is also concerned that an unconstrained agreement could expose the local industry to stiff competition from European firms, which would stunt private sector development in EAC.

China should be in SAARC – Pakistan Observer, May 12, 2012 – ….China is wishing to raise its status from an observer in the SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] to its full membership….SAARC forum will also help in improvement of China-India and Pakistan-India relations….Both major powers being the SAARC members will also be able to positively contribute towards building peace in Afghanistan.

EEU – the moment of truth for President – Vestnik Kavkaza (Russia), May 12, 2012 – If EurAsEC stopped its existence on March 19th and the Eurasian Economic Union established, establishment of the Eurasian Interparliamentary Assembly would take place. It is a supernational structure, precursor of the future Eurasian Parliament which will be established when the Eurasian Economic Union will be founded, just like the EU and the European Parliament.”

African Union legal experts meet to review relationship with ICC – The Star (Kenya), May 12, 2012 – The bid by African states to block ICC from handling cases from the continent moved a notch higher. A team of legal experts has now been set up to recommend expanding the jurisdiction to the continental court of justice to deal with international crimes. The experts will also recommend a common position to be taken by the African Union towards The Hague-based court. The AU has accused the ICC of bias by only targeting Africans.

Unasur Nations Reveal Military Spending, Deepen Cooperation – Venezuelanalysis, May 11, 2012 – Defence ministers from Union of South American Nations (Unasur) member states met yesterday for the release of a report detailing each country’s military spending. Ministers and diplomats from the twelve nation regional bloc also pledged further military integration, proposing the creation of a Citizen Security Council.

Gulf Arab states face obstacles to unity push – Chicago Tribune, May 11, 2012 – Some members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, worry that convergence might spell dominance by the group’s largest member, Saudi Arabia. They also view dimly reports that Saudi Arabia will merge initially with Bahrain, where majority Shi’ite Muslims have rebelled against a monarchy that like the other GCC dynasties is Sunni Muslim and is allied with the United States against Iran.

PACER-Plus talks gains momentum at meeting in Marshall Islands – Radio New Zealand International, May 11, 2012 – The Australian Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific, Richard Marles, at a press conference, said they are well on the way to developing the text for PACER Plus. Mr Marles was referring to the free trade pact under negotiation known as the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations. Both he and Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade said PACER Plus is not a conventional free trade treaty, and will take into account unique aspects of small Pacific island economies.

Commentary: Where is the Arab Spring? – Jewish United Fund News, May 11, 2012 – Only six of 22 Arab League states have experienced the full force of the upheaval, and only two, Tunisia and Libya, have seen the regime overthrown. In Egypt and Yemen the leader was ousted, but the regime has basically been preserved. Meanwhile in Syria the killing continues and in Bahrain the protests have so far been contained.

India’s prescription to improve trade with Afganisthan – Rediff Business (India), May 10, 2012 – Vikramjit Singh Sahney, President, SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] Chamber of Commerce and Industry….mentioned that the key constraints for bilateral economic cooperation are difficult law and order situation, the lack of trade infrastructure, non-availability of skilled man power in Afghanistan. “We are committed to work jointly with you for improving this scenario” he declared. Sahney urged Afghanistan to engage more actively in the SAARC and SAFTA process to enable the country to take its rightful place in the region.
[This “region building” is the real purpose for U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.]

Trains Heading from Montreal to NYC Likely to be Prescreened in Montreal –, May 11, 2012 – Canadian and U.S. authorities need to finalize the legal agreements that will allow U.S. border agents to work in the Canadian facility under the Beyond the Borders agreement announced last year before prescreening can begin.

Former TSJ justice reveals ties between the military and drug trafficking – El Universal (Caracas, Venezuela), May 10, 2012 – Luis Velásquez Alvaray, the former Justice of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), who is in exile in Costa Rica since 2006, reported on Wednesday that top Venezuelan Executive Office and Judiciary officials are allegedly involved in drug trafficking and operations in Venezuela of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), a guerrilla group….Velásquez stressed said that General Hugo Carvajal, a former director of the Military Intelligence Directorate, of being involved in FARC operations…and current Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), Alí Rodríguez Araque, who -according to Velásquez- is “the main liaison of the guerrilla” in Venezuela.

Forum trade ministers discuss free trade in Majuro – Radio New Zealand International, May 11, 2012 – The seventh Forum Trade Ministers’ Meeting has opened in Majuro with the Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak calling for speedier negotiations on free trade deals with Australia, New Zealand and the European Union….The meeting has brought together trade ministers from more than a dozen Pacific countries for discussions that will feed recommendations to Pacific Islands Forum heads of state when they meet later in the year.

European Countries Seek Easing of Provision Included in Iranian Oil Embargo – New York Times (Google News Link), May 10, 2012 – Britain said Thursday that it was in talks with other European Union members about possibly easing a provision of their Iran oil embargo, set to begin in less than two months, that could cause harmful and unintended side effects because it bans Europe-based insurers from covering any ships that carry Iranian oil anywhere in the world.

Obama will not visit Russki Island – Vestnik Kavkaza(Russia), May 10, 2012 – Putin does not want to make his first visit to the US. He plans to visit China first in June….Putin may make a stop at Astana when returning from Beijing, as a symbol of friendship and devotion to forming the Eurasian Union.

Long live ‘our’ Gulf bastards – Asia Times (Hong Kong), May 11, 2012 – Life is a golden gift from Allah if you’re a certified member of the Gulf Counter-Revolution Club (GCC), also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council; Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can torture, kill, repress and demonize their own subjects – in full confidence the “master” will let you get away with it….Is there any Arab Spring-related repression and killing going in Bahrain? According to Clinton, of course not; these are only “internal issues” – in her own words.

China, Philippines Intensify War of Words Over S. China Sea – Voice of America, May 10, 2012 – To ease tensions, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has for more than a decade been negotiating details on a code of conduct in the South China Sea. The regional grouping has set a deadline for reaching an agreement in July, when Thailand will become the ASEAN-China coordinator.

Unasur members open their defence budgets and spending to peers – MercoPress, May 10, 2012 – The twelve countries members of the Union of South American nations, Unasur have for the first time opened to their peers defence budgets and how much they spend on the military, helping confidence building, according to reports from the group’s Secretary General Office….“We are working for an integrated defence, for cooperation in defence for the whole of our South America.”

EURASIAN UNION: Ukraine Reiterates Commitment to ‘European Values’ – RIA Novosti (Russia), May 9, 2012 – The Ukrainian authorities have said European integration is the nation’s main foreign policy priority. Moscow has invited Kiev to join the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union, promising preferential energy prices as an incentive. However, Kiev is so far only ready to cooperate within the “3+1” format.
Putin’s Eurasian Union: Just another Union? – Global Policy Journal, May 9, 2012 – Yet the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) and its envisaged development into a political and economic Eurasian Union (EAU) is met with scepticism in the West….This could turn out to be a dangerous underestimation. The ECU is on a qualitatively different level than previous integration projects. It is explicitly modelled on the EU and has a strong institutional framework which includes a governing commission, directly binding legal agreements, and a court to enforce these.

AFRICAN UNION: African Union meets over relations with ICC – Africa Review, May 9, 2012 – The African Union legal experts are meeting in Addis Ababa to adopt a common position on the International Criminal Court….A statement from the AU said: “The purpose of this meeting is to expand the jurisdiction of the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights so that it can deal with international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as well as trafficking in hazardous wastes, illegal exploitation of natural resources and corruption.”
AU Commissioner urges continent to implement PIDA – StarAfrica, May 9, 2012 – The African Union Commission has called for the implementation of energy related projects, in particular those related to the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). This is because PIDA, through its institutional architecture, will develop efficient, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly infrastructure for the physical integration of the continent…
Africa: A Quick Reaction Force Moulded By Africa’s Circumstances – AllAfrica, May 9, 2012 – Africa’s crises are both honing and stalling the formation of the African Standby Force (ASF) of the African Union (AU) – a quick reaction force that could eventually number about 30,000 troops to be deployed in a range of scenarios, from peacekeeping to direct military intervention….Once up and running, the ASF will be based on five regional blocs each supplying about 5,000 troops: the Southern African Development Community (SADC) force (SADCBRIG), the Eastern Africa Standby force (EASBRIG), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) force (ECOBRIG), the North African Regional Capability (NARC), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) force (ECCASBRIG), also known as the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC).
East Africa: U.S. Army Africa Commander Engages Leaders in Djibouti, Ethiopia – AllAfrica, May 9, 2012 – During a whirlwind trip to East Africa, Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, commander, U.S. Army Africa, and a small group of advisers visited U.S. Army troops at Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa in Djibouti and attended meetings with African Union mission leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 24-27….”Senior leader engagements are important tools to establish relationships and begin partnerships with our African Land Force partners,” Hogg said.

ASEAN: ASEAN, European Union envoy meet to improve relations and cooperation – Philippine Information Agency, May 10, 2012 – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretary general has met with European Union (EU) ambassadors in Jakarta to improve relations and further cooperation among their countries, according to a press release by the ASEAN.
Compelling reasons for US to continue engaging Asia – Channel News Asia, May 10, 2012 – The US can play a constructive role in its engagement with regional organisations and vehicles, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)….[Singapore’s Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong] said it would be a mistake to focus only on the US military presence in East Asia to the exclusion of other dimensions of US policy. He cited ASEAN as an example of how countries can build a more peaceful world, based on fostering understanding and constructive co-operation, much like what the European Union did earlier.

EUROPEAN UNION: Europe May Need More Power to Deal With Bank Crisis – New York Times (Google News link), May 9, 20 12 – But the growing clamor for action has raised a familiar issue: are national governments ready to surrender more power to the European Union or its agencies to salvage the euro?
Hollande meets Van Rompuy to discuss euro, growth – Reuters, May 9, 2012 – European Union officials said they have high hopes for the new French leader and his ability to build a working relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that could revive blocked efforts to overcome the euro zone’s debt crisis.

NORTH AMERICA: The United States and Canada Announce Plans to Increase NEXUS Benefits – Immigration Daily, May 8, 2012 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced today they are delivering on key commitments under the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness—increasing benefits to NEXUS members, streamlining the NEXUS membership renewal process and launching a plan to increase NEXUS membership….The NEXUS program allows pre-screened travelers expedited processing by United States and Canadian officials across the U.S.-Canada border at designated air, land and marine locations.

Law Enforcement Agencies Strengthen Information Management and Sharing – Solomon Times, May 8, 2012 – In country groups, the participants…discussed how to best develop, utilise and strengthen domestic inter-agency structures such as Transnational Crime Units (TCUs), Combined Law Agency Groups (CLAGS) and Targeting Units; and strategised on how to better integrate their activities with fisheries colleagues at the national and regional level. The workshop is part of ongoing efforts by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s Law Enforcement Unit to support activities of the Working Group for Strengthening Information Management (WGSIM) established by the Forum Regional Security Committee (FRSC) in 2010.

Venezuela Calls for Regional Mechanisms to Guarantee Human Rights – Venezuelanalysis, May 8, 2012 – Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nicolás Maduro, called on countries in the region to create institutions to defend human rights within organizations like the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)….Maduro, who attended a UNASUR ministerial meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, highlighted the need to dismantle the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its court because they are subdued to U.S. interests, reported the Spanish news agency EFE.

Argentinean Expert to Present Regional Defense in Ecuador – Prensa Latina, May 8, 2012 – Alfredo Forti, head of the South American Center for Strategic Defense Studies, will travel today to Quito to present for the first time the defense budgets of the UNASUR member countries….n a working meeting held in this capital in April, Forti for the first time highlighted that the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will unravel costs associated with defense.

Africa: Continent Calls for Harmonised Policies on Submarine Cables – AllAfrica, May 9, 2012 – Officials in charge of ICT from all over Africa have called for harmonised guidelines on how to access submarine cables that are anchored in various countries….The guidelines were developed by several organisations in conjunction with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Union. The forum organised by ITU, African Union Commission and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), brings together delegates from over 35 African countries and beyond….The undersea cables connected to African countries include the East Africa Submarine Cable System…

Obama invites four Africa leaders to Camp David – Africa Review, May 8, 2012 – US President Barack Obama has invited four African Leaders to Camp David for a G-8 Summit to be held on May 19….Chairperson of the African Union and President of Benin Yayi Boni, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete and Ghana’s President Atta Mills will be attending the Group of Eight (G8) Summit in the US.

Bahrain “to get tougher” on protest as talks stop – Chicago Tribune, May 8, 2012 – Bahraini media have reported a new security plan to “restore order” to the Sunni-ruled Gulf monarchy and, in recent days, authorities have detained a leading activist and warned a top Shi’ite cleric to stop alleged incitement to violence. The moves coincide with a Saudi push for a Gulf union, likely to be discussed at a May 14 summit of Gulf leaders in Riyadh.

Asean Banks Vie for Rank in Region – Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2012 – Not every bank is targeting all of the Asean bloc all at once, analysts say. CIMB wants a presence in most Asean markets so it can become the favorite local investment banker of the region, while DBS and Singapore’s UOB are targeting only the top Asean markets of Indonesia and Malaysia, analysts say.

Southeast Asia’s road to democracy is long and bleak – The Nation (Thailand), May 8, 2012 – Asean has not been successful in bringing about a uniform shift toward democracy as it currently had only two member countries that could claim to be democracies: Indonesia and the Philippines….Asean is not the only regional organisation facing such issues. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), for example, has never discussed democracy in its meetings. “Strangely enough, we have never talked about democracy even though one of our members is India, the largest democracy in the world,” said Saarc’s secretary-general, Ahmad Saleem…

ASEAN: ASEAN human rights commission ‘toothless’: NGOs – Jakarta Post, May 8, 2012 – The ASEAN rights commission body has little to show for its more than two years of supposedly protecting and promoting human rights in the region, NGOs say.
Asean urged to defer single currency plans – Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 8, 2012 – [Asian Development Bank’s chief economist Changyong Rhee] said it would be unwise for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to begin serious talk about having a single currency when the euro zone countries are still struggling with serious debt and economic problems. For now, Rhee said, it would be best for Asean members to focus on strengthening their economic ties. He said the concrete plans laid out in the economic integration of Asean by 2015 would suffice for now.

UNASUR: South American Union Seeks Regional Law Enforcement – The New American, May 7, 2012 – As Latin American governments continue marching toward ever-closer “integration” under transnational bodies like the socialist-dominated Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), regional leaders are now calling for what essentially amounts to a continental police force. The authoritarian regime ruling Venezuela, meanwhile, is attempting to erect a new hemispheric “human rights commission” that excludes the U.S. government.

EURASIAN UNION: Opposition deputies: Russia policy towards Ukraine to be tougher after Putin’s election – Kyiv Post, May 7, 2012 – “Obviously, there is a peculiar mission for him to restore post-Soviet space in a new format – either in the format of the Eurasian Union, as auxiliary, or in the format of the Customs Union, as the resumption of the Russian world,”…
Russia prioritizes CIS integration processes – Putin – Gazeta (Kazakhstan), May 8, 2012 – “It is necessary to create the Eurasian economic union by January 1, 2015 due to the openness of these processes and allow other states of the Eurasian Economic Community and the Commonwealth of Independent States to join it.”
Is EAEC not to repeat EU mistakes? – Voice of Russia, May 7, 2012 – The EU should treat the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC) as a partner, rather than a competitor, the head of Rossotrudnichestvo (the Russian Cooperation Agency) Konstantin Kosachev has declared in Paris.

GULF UNION: Cabinet lauds king’s handling of Egypt crisis – Arab News (Saudi Arabia), May 8, 2012 – The Cabinet noted the resolutions taken by the GCC interior ministers meeting in Riyadh, which backed King Abdullah’s call for transforming the Gulf Cooperation Council into a Gulf union. The ministers have given preliminary approval to the updated version of the GCC security agreement.

Addis Ababa hosts third “Africa: 54 Countries, One Union” Conference – StarAfrica, May 7, 2012 – “Think about the main priorities for Africa’s regional integration” is the aim of the Conference titled Africa: 54 Countries, One Union, that took place on May 3rdin the New Conference Center of the African Union….The “Africa: 54 countries, One Union” conference aims to establish how best to help and support the process towards the unity of the African continent….The conference was organized by the Foundation for World Wide Cooperation, in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU).
Africa: The AU Must Be Proactive – AllAfrica, May 7, 2012 – While every country will have their own national programmes for development, the African Union (AU)….must also work towards full economic integration and political unity. Economically strong countries must play a bigger role in assisting our continent and the African Union to make a bigger contribute to these programmes. We must ensure as called for by Selassie “an adequate (African Union) secretariat able to provide the necessary continuity between meetings of the permanent organs” so that the African Union secretariat is well resourced so it can do its work efficiently.
Ghana: Govt Committed to African Integration – AllAfrica, May 7, 2012 – Ghana has reassured the governments of Africa that it would remain committed to actualising and sustaining the integration of the continent in order to ensure that the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) realise their aims and objectives, says a Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
EU hosts dialogue on EAC integration today – IPP Media (Tanzania), May 8, 2012 – The European Union will today hold a round table discussion in Dar es Salaam to project the way through which the EAC regional integration will play a beneficial role amongst member states….Ambassador Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, the head of EU delegation to Tanzania, said the discussion will focus on Regional Integration and Trade: European Union and East African Community Perspectives….Currently the EAC is struggling to have a common currency.

European Union bids to surf Hollande growth wave – Times of India, May 8, 2012 – Surfing a wave favouring growth policies after Francois Hollande’s presidential victory, the European Commission refreshed its pitch today for a big increase in the EU budget.
IMF shows new flexibility on fiscal austerity – Chicago Tribune, May 7, 2012 – The International Monetary Fund showed some new flexibility on Monday over how quickly it would press deeply indebted countries to bring their budgets under control if economic growth weakens. Its shift in tone could prove important for Athens where chances have jumped that a new Greek government would seek to renegotiate its 130-billion-euro ($170-billion) bailout package with the IMF and the European Union, after Greek voters resoundingly rejected austerity measures in weekend elections.

EUROPEAN UNION: Backlash over austerity in Europe – Deseret News|McClatchy, May 6, 212 – French and Greek voters delivered a sharp rebuke to their governments in national elections Sunday, raising questions about the viability of the European Union’s austerity program intended to preserve the euro as Europe’s dominant currency.
EU, IMF Officials Warn Greece Must Stick With Austerity Program – Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2012 – Officials from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund said Sunday that Greece must adhere strictly to its austerity program–that includes taking new measures in June–signaling that there was little room for a new Greek government to renegotiate the country’s bailout terms.
EU Barroso: Have Common Goal With Hollande Of Reviving Growth – Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2012 – The European Union shares a “common goal” to revive jobs and growth with French President-elect Francois Hollande, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Sunday evening in a congratulatory message….Barroso said he had listened closely to Hollande’s presidential-campaign ideas and shared the president-elect’s support call for more investment spending, including through the use of the European Investment Bank and of EU budget funds even while maintaining a framework of “budgetary consolidation and debt reduction.”

AFRICAN UNION: East Africa: EAC Pushes for Single Customs Territory – AllAfrica, May 7, 2012 – Leaders of the East African Community (EAC) partner states have boosted the regional plans of establishing a single customs territory. The states have agreed to adopt a destination model of clearance of goods where assessment and collection of revenue is to be done at the first point of entry, according to a communiqué issued after the 10th extra ordinary summit in Arusha, Tanzania.
EA law society in final bid to move Hague cases – Business Daily (Kenya), May 6, 2012 – The East Africa Law Society (EALS) has opposed the East African Community (EAC) intention to take over Kenya’s post election violence cases….The East Africa Law Society also questioned the practicability of the resolution in the face of the latest draft of East African Community Protocol on extending the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice, in which all the EAC members agreed to exclude any reference to human rights jurisdiction of the court.
ECOWAS Hopeful Of UN Backing Over Guinea-Bissau – Voice of America, May 6, 2012 – A senior official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called for United Nations support as the Security Council deliberates on the situation in Guinea-Bissau Monday. ECOWAS political director Abdel-Fatau Musah said U.N. support is crucial because it will show a united international effort to restore constitutional rule in the West African nation. “We need the Security Council to support us, we need the African Union to support the ECOWAS position…” said Musah.
Investment Potential in Africa highlights need for sound public policy – Myjoy (Ghana), May 6, 2012 – The African Union ministers of trade that met in Rwanda in 2010 pointed at the significant progress towards regional free trade in 4 out of Africa’s 8 Regional Economic Communities namely: the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); East African Community (EAC); Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Time is ripe for Africa to consider sound public policy elements and involve investors in continental policy formulation.

EURASIAN UNION: Putin Walks Oil-Price Tightrope in Russian Presidency Return – He set out to build regional alliances, luring Kazakhstan and Belarus to join Russia in a customs union….The bloc, which plans further policy integration to become the Eurasian Union by 2015, is “the biggest geopolitical event in the post-Soviet area since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Putin said…

Iran accuses Google Maps of a treacherous and politically-motivated attack – The National (UAE), May 7, 2012 – Keeping the world’s most vital oil exporting waterway named “Persian” is a national touchstone and highly emotive issue for Iranians. So there was widespread anger in Iran in recent days after internet users spotted that Google Maps now has no name on the body of water that Iran insists must be called the Persian Gulf and nothing else…..The waterway also touches Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain – the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that call it the Arabian Gulf.

Sinophobia also gains ground – Asia Times, May 7, 2012 – Sinophobia is on the rise in the Philippines as perceptions gain currency that China is bullying its smaller Southeast Asian neighbors, particularly over contested territorial claims in the potentially energy resource rich South China Sea. Growing trade and investment linkages, however, will make it difficult for Philippine legislators to follow through on their boycott and tariff threats….A soon-to-be-implemented China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Agreement is expected to accelerate that integration trend.

NORTH AMERICA: North American Union Moves Closer After Trilateral Summit – Freedom Informant Network|The New American, May 5, 2012 – In keeping with past “North American” integration meetings, the words “security” and “prosperity” were repeated incessantly. According to a 2005 U.S. embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, both of those terms are seen by pro-integration officials as crucial public selling points to advance the further erosion of national sovereignty.

ASEAN, ADB launch biggest ever infrastructure fund – Philippine Information Agency, May 6, 2012 – The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) has launched its largest financing initiative….The ASEAN Infrastructure Fund will finance the development of road, rail, power, water and other critical infrastructure needs, which are estimated at about $60 billion a year. “This is a watershed moment for ASEAN nations working together to finance infrastructure projects that will boost trade, foster economic growth and create more job opportunities for the half a billion people who call ASEAN home,” said Rajat Nag, Managing Director General of ADB.

Experts give advice on EAC region federation – IPP Media, May 6, 2012 – East Africa’s political federation may not be realised if the five member states of the East African Community (EAC) do not fully implement the already agreed federation protocols, experts have cautioned…..“Economic integration is the foundation for political integration and political integration assists in the consolidation of economic integration, as such the two compliments each other”, Prof Khadiagala said, adding: “Economic and political integration happens only where the ultimate objectives of regionalism is to denude sovereignty and invest in strong regional institutions.”

William Hague must get post-colonial on Latin America. Fast – London Independent, May 6, 2012 – Broadly, [British Foreign Secretary] Hague should also weigh up whether, as an economy in double dip recession,…we hold credibility to advise healthily growing nations thousands of miles away on their own resource management or economic strategies? Step one to rectifying this would be the practical necessity for negotiations with Argentina over Malvinas/Falklands; it is babyish, jingoistic and poor strategy to pretend otherwise. This call for peaceful negotiations is backed by the major regional blocks including MERCOSUR, The Union of South American Countries (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Europe and Africa: Does the future lie in regional integration?

The New Federalist, May 3, 2012 – The European Union has a common currency, issues laws which apply to all its citizens and ensures its presence in most international organisations. The African Union, created in 2002, still has to set up many of its institutions, and must coexist with eight sub-regional institutions which have various ambitions and unequal successes.

Representatives from 30 African Nations Meet to Finalize Planning for Africa Endeavor 12 – U.S. Africa Command (, May 4, 2012 – “We very unfortunately live on a continent which…still continues to have so much instability and armed conflict that we cannot afford not to train and be ready to implement the collective decisions of our REGs, the African Union and the United Nations in their quest to neutralize, minimize, and solve the conflicts, using agreed mechanisms and which require muti-national armed intervention.

Indo-Pak bilateral trade may reach $10b in 3 years – Chicago Tribune, May 4, 2012 – Tariq Puri, chief executive of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan,….also presented a snapshot of Pakistan trade with major regions like NAFTA, Saarc, Asean, EU where tremendous opportunities exists for Pakistani businessmen.

EURASIAN UNION: Post-Soviet integration and the West – Voice of Russia, May 4, 2012 – Initially when the Soviet Union collapsed it was replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States. Currently we have the Eurasian Economic Community and by 2015 a treaty will be signed establishing the Eurasian Union. So within that there will be economic space, free trade agreement, close cooperation on infrastructure, sports and the collective security treaty.
Russia to Set Up Military Maintenance Centers in Kazakhstan – Novinite (Bulgaria), May 4, 2012 – Russia is planning to establish maintenance centers for Russian arms and military equipment in service with the Kazakh Armed Forces in Kazakhstan, the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said on Friday.

NORTH AMERICA: Mexico now actively participating in North American joint exercises – San Antonio Express, May 3, 2012 – NAFTA isn’t NATO, at least not yet. However, the North American defense ministers’ conference hosted by Canada the last week of March sent the low-key but categorically public message that Mexico has emerged as the U.S. and Canada’s regional security partner.

Harmonizing Regulations for Increased International Trade – Truth about Trade & Technology, May 3, 2012 – The Obama Administration received little media attention when it released an Executive Order on Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation in trade. It is an extension of the January 2011 Executive Order on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review that focused on domestic issues.
Executive Order 13609 of May 1, 2012 – Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation – Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 87 / Friday, May 4, 2012 / Presidential Documents – In some cases, the differences between the regulatory approaches of U.S. agencies and those of their foreign counterparts might not be necessary and might impair the ability of American businesses to export and compete internationally. In meeting shared challenges involving health, safety, labor, security, environmental, and other issues, international regulatory cooperation can identify approaches that are at least as protective as those that are or would be adopted in the absence of such cooperation. International regulatory cooperation can also reduce, eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements.
March perimeter security deadlines quietly pass – Embassy (Canada), May 3, 2012 – Another set of self-imposed deadlines in the Canada-United States perimeter security plan passed last month, with the Harper government providing few specifics about how the bureaucrats hammering out the plan are making out.

EUROPEAN UNION: EU Plot to Scrap Britain – Daily Express (Britain), May 4, 2012 – Senior Eurocrats are secretly plotting to create a super-powerful EU president to realise their dream of abolishing ­Britain and other nation states….The new bureaucrat, who would not be directly elected by voters, is set to get sweeping control over the entire EU and force member countries into ever-greater political and economic union.
Mandelson: Federal Europe Is Inevitable – Sky News, May 3, 2012 – Former senior Labour Minister Lord Mandelson believes a more federal European Union is inevitable, and he is urging David Cameron not to hold a referendum on Europe as a “panicky” response to a rise in support for Ukip [UK Independence Party].
VIDEO: Nigel Farage on the rise of UKIP – Sky News (22Apr 2012):

Exports could help EU resolve debt issue – China Daily, May 4, 2012 – The European Union should loosen its restrictions on high-tech exports to China as soon as possible, a move that could help the region resolve debt problems and create benefits for both sides, said Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday.
Ukraine and the European Union – The Economist, May 4, 2012 – Photographs of Yulia Tymoshenko, a jailed former Ukrainian prime minister (and, during the 2004 Orange revolution, one of Mr Yanukovych’s two bitter rivals) show her with bruises that she claims were inflicted by prison guards. She has now gone on hunger strike….The 20-year-old project of pulling Ukraine closer to Europe is in deep trouble.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Eurasian Union are waiting in the wings:
Tymoshenko, bombings and Euro 2012 – Pravda, May 3, 2012 – Ukraine is a rather special state, living a post-soviet existence. It is geographically divided into Eastern pro-Russian and Western pro-European factions. Thus, the two sides’ irreconcilability is off the scale. The angle that ex-President Yushchenko was going in, to integrate the European Commission, cost him his Presidential seat, which was probably not unaided by the Russian Intelligence Services.

EURASIAN UNION: Russia: Can the Kremlin Develop a Warm & Fuzzy Side? – EurasiaNet, May 3, 2012 – The appointment in March of veteran policymaker Konstantin Kosachev as the new head of Rossotrudnichestvo (the Federal Agency on the CIS Affairs, Compatriots, and International Humanitarian Cooperation), highlights a Kremlin desire to use soft-power to win support in Central Asia for the Eurasian Union.

UNASUR: South American nations to cooperate in fight against crime: UNASUR – Columbia Reports, May 3, 2012 – The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will work together to fight transnational crime, said organization Secretary Maria Emma Mejia, Radio W reported Thursday….According to Mejia, the member countries concluded they needed to “create a mechanism to discuss the problems of transnational crime.”

Asean integration to create new ‘growth force’, says ADB economist – Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 4, 2012 – Asean – established on Aug. 8, 1967 in Bangkok, by the five founding members composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand — aims at achieving full economic integration by 2015, creating a single market and production base that will allow the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and labor throughout the region.
Asean+3 ministers agree to double emergency reserve fund to $240b – Jakarta Post, May 4, 2012 – Asean and East Asian finance ministers Thursday agreed to double their emergency reserve pool to US$240 billion to better prepare for any economic crisis. “The credit line has been expanded to $240 billion from the previous agreement of $120 billion, with the lion’s share of contributions made by the three giant economies – China, Japan and South Korea,” Thai Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said.

AFRICAN UNION: ASEAN, African Union seek closer ties in various sectors – Philippine Star, May 3, 2012 – “ASEAN and the African Union can forge closer cooperation and have exchanges of experience and best practices on many areas of our respective strengths such as regional economic integration, political and security cooperation, and development cooperation and addressing challenges faced by each organization,” ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said….Deputy-Secretary- General of ASEAN, Nyan Lynn….said that ASEAN is keen to explore practical cooperation with the African Union as well as the sub-regional groupings in the continent.
East Africa: Region Protocol to Strengthen Defence Ties – AllAfrica, May 4, 2012 – The recently signed East African Community (EAC) protocol on defence co-operation by the bloc’s Heads of State, will cement the defence pact in the region, a top official in the EAC Ministry has said….Amb. George William Kayonga, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry….said the defence protocol is in line with article 17 of the EAC constitution which stipulates that partner states shall negotiate and conclude a mutual defence pact which is a new undertaking to intervene and be aware of sovereignty of the territorial integrity of the EAC bloc.

GULF UNION: Gulf union vital to meet threats: Crown prince – Arab News(Saudi Arabia), May 3, 2012 – Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, has highlighted the importance of the Gulf Union to confront challenges and foreign threats. He made these remarks as he chaired the consultative meeting of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) interior ministers yesterday.

Kiwi or not Kiwi, that is the question – The Interpreter (Australia), May 4, 2012 – The dynamic of Australia’s slow and successful integration with New Zealand is that the Kiwis retain veto rights. Any real change has to be embraced by the New Zealanders because they are the ones who have to make the big adjustments. This study by the Oz and Kiwi Productivity Commissions on the future of the relationship is really a set of questions for New Zealand about what further adjustments it is prepared to make to get closer to Australia’s economic strength. The study is an attempt to gaze out over the next 15 years towards a common currency and shared monetary and fiscal policies.

AFRICAN UNION: East Africa: Chief Roots for Political Federation – AllAfrica, May 3, 2012 – Political federation of the East African Community (EAC) is crucial for the region’s stability and integration, EAC Secretary-General Dr Richard Sezibera has said.
EA lawyers warn against bid to move Hague cases – Daily Nation (Kenya), May 2, 2012 – The East African Law Society has cautioned regional leaders against moving the trials of the Ocampo Four from The Hague….The East African Legislative Assembly recently requested the transfer of proceedings from the International Criminal Court to the East African Court of Justice.
ECOWAS Laying a New Apparatus for Democratic governance in the Sub-Region – Does the Gambia Stand to Benefit? – Foroyaa (Gambia), May 2, 2012 – It envisages the intensification of close cooperation between ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and other partners in collective efforts to maintain peace, security, democracy and constitutional order in West Africa on the basis of what it termed as the cardinal principle of subsidiarity. Many governments are emerging in West Africa whose very existence is as a consequence of sub-regional intervention. Consequently, the building of sub-regional political, diplomatic and military architecture to prevent or remedy crisis is becoming feasible. The apparatus which emerged from the summit to handle the crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau has political, diplomatic, military and judicial components.

GULF UNION:   GCC can learn much from the EU experience, says panel – The National (Abu Dhabi), May 3, 2012 – Despite some fundamental differences between the Gulf and Europe, the GCC can still learn a lot from the European Union, panellists agreed yesterday. European parliamentary representatives, political experts and academics at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi discussed how an Arab Gulf union could take advantage of the European experience.
Saudi Proposed Gulf Union More of a Threat to U.S. Than Iran’s Nuclear Program – Examiner, May 1, 2012 – Remember, all of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi citizens. Al Qiada was formed in Saudi Arabia in response to the the royal family’s tyranny. In fact, the Saudi royal family lives in fear of being toppled….If the U.S. gives its tacit approval to a Gulf Union, it is a certainty that Saudi Arabia and the other oil-producing states will tighten their grip on oil production…

UNASUR: UNASUR Holds Meeting on Security – Prensa Latina, May 3, 2012 – Cross-border crime and new ways of crime in the region are the main issues to be discussed in a meeting of the Union of South American Nations May 3-5 in Cartagena de Indias. According to the Colombian Foreign Ministry, on this occasion the three-day discussions are aimed at sharing experiences for a joint, coordinated action by 12-member UNASUR…
New Security Structures: A Healthy Trend? – ISN, May 3, 2012 – Nevertheless, in spite of regional anxiety generated by increased arms sales, organized crime and other cross-border issues, there are real signs that new security architectures are emerging within South America. With Brazil and Colombia at the helm, these include a new UNASUR-led initiative to share information on defense expenditures and building more transparent military alliances.

SAARC: India must downsize for region – In spite of SAARC and its offshoot SAFTA, the South Asian Free Trade Area, trade within the region is a pathetic 5 per cent of the total trade….Down-sizing would involve India taking into account the politics of neighbouring countries. It must accept that because of its size, stability, and federal nature it has more room for compromising on its interests than smaller and more fragile democracies have.
Thar coal reserves – The Nation (Pakistan), May 3, 2012 – During a Saarc Conference, speakers pointed out that Pakistan’s Thar coal reserves were sufficient to cater to the region’s need for electricity for 100 years….Initial estimates indicate that the Thar reserves have greater potential for generating electricity than the Middle East oil reserves.
Central bank to host ACU meet this month – The Himalayan, May 2, 2012 – The central banks of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are members of ACU. The ACU is a clearing house operating in various regions of the world. It allows member countries to settle payments for intra-regional transactions among the participating central banks on a multilateral basis….SAARCFINANCE Governors Symposium and Group Meeting has also been scheduled for May 16 during the event.

NORTH AMERICA: March perimeter security deadlines quietly pass – Embassy (Canada), May 3, 2012 – Another set of self-imposed deadlines in the Canada-United States perimeter security plan passed last month, with the Harper government providing few specifics about how the bureaucrats hammering out the plan are making out.

EurAsEC: Mazhilis approves amendments to Statutes of EurAsEC – CA-News (Kazakhstan), May 3, 2012 – Mazhilis (Kazakhstan lower chamber) of the Parliament has approved a bill “On ratification of protocol on amendments to the statutes of the Eurasian Economic Community as of July 5, 2010″, reported. The protocol provides treatment of business entities to the EurAsEC Court in accordance with the Treaty within the Customs Union…

ASEAN: East Asian nations expand, strengthen emergency programme – Reuters, May 3, 2012 – China, Japan, South Korea and 10….members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), met on the sidelines of the annual Asian Development Bank meetings and central bank chiefs joined them for the first time this year.
University course to build a regional identity for ASEAN youth – Philippine Information Agency, May 2, 2012 – “This is one the most important steps ASEAN can take, to both educate students on what ASEAN is and how it works, as well as to instill a sense of ASEAN citizenship and opportunities during these critical years of higher learning and career preparation,” said Ambassador David L. Carden, United States Ambassador to ASEAN. The development of the ASEAN Studies Course was funded by the U.S. Government through the ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility in collaboration with the AUN.

PACIFIC: Constitutional consultation will be inclusive, says AG – Fiji Times, May 3, 2012 – Mr Sayed-Khaiyum made the comment during a press conference following his meeting with the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group (MCG)….Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was not the first time Fiji’s constitution was being passed without a parliament. He said the 1970 Constitution was decided by a few men in Malborough House in London and brought to Fiji.

ARAB LEAGUE: Arab League conference on economic impact of the Arab Spring – Middle East Monitor, May 2, 2012 – The Arab League has announced that it is to hold a conference this month to discuss the economic impact of the Arab Spring…..There is also a need to review Arab-Arab cooperation in order to meet the aspirations of the societies across the region, it added, suggesting that an Arab Bank for Investment and Development be established to support such projects.

The Clash of Eurasian Grand Strategies

The National Interest, May 1, 2012 – While the United States is clearly eager for the entire region to be developed, later Clinton highlighted one of the U.S. key rationales for this approach: “An Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of a thriving South and Central Asia would be better able to attract new sources of foreign investment, connect to markets abroad and provide people with credible alternatives to insurgency.” In other words, it is a strategy focused on tying Afghanistan economically into its neighborhood, which will help facilitate American withdrawal.

Specifically, the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan is to integrate the country firmly into the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), as the following Eurasian Review article from December further illustrates:
What Can SAARC Offer To Afghanistan? – Analysis – Eurasian Review, Dec. 12, 2011 (Google Link) – It has already been five years since Afghanistan joined the SAARC but it has still not been possible to chart out concrete ways to help the country come out of the shackles of civil war….Following the American withdrawal, an idea of a South Asian peacekeeping contingent can also be mulled over but only after a certain degree of stability has been established and after receiving the mandate from the UN.

AFRICAN UNION: ICC concerns addressed with draft protocol – Legalbrief, May 2, 2012 – Ministers of Justice of the member states of the African Union (AU) will meet to discuss a draft protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, which confers upon the court international criminal jurisdiction.
Africa: ICC Plays Useful Role on Continent – AllAfrica, April 30, 2012 – The ICC [International Criminal Court] has now become a genuine deterrent against wrongdoing. That is why ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] is threatening Guinea Bissau with the spectre of the ICC. And whether or not the ICC has unfairly targeted the Ocampo Four, there will be a sword hanging over the head of anyone who tries to tamper with the Kenyan election next year.
East Africa eases flow of imports with new tax model – Business Daily (Kenya), May 1, 2012 – The East African Community (EAC) heads of state have endorsed a revenue management model where tax will only be collected at the point of entry and imported goods transported to the final destination without stopping at national border points for customs charges or inspection.
This is exactly the objective of the U.S.-Canada “Beyond the Border” agreement, and is a goal common to all of the world’s geopolitical regions.

NORTH AMERICA: Accountability questions arise in cross-border policing law – Embassy (Canada), May 2, 2012 – The Harper government’s plan to permanently legalize the ability of certain American agents to cross the border and enforce Canadian law in shared waterways will include aerial police surveillance over land, raising several questions over national jurisdiction and police accountability in the minds of opposition and academic observers.
Reducing Red Tape: Regulatory Reform Goes International – Cass Sunstein, The White House, May 1, 2012 – The United Statesand Canada released the United States-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Joint Action Plan last December. In February, we announced the United States-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council (HLRCC) Work Plan. I invite you to review both plans and provide your thoughts and ideas on how we can reduce red tape and unjustified costs by increasing regulatory cooperation, in North America and beyond.
NAFTA’s Evolving NATO? – Strategy Page, May 1, 2012 – NAFTA isn’t NATO, at least not yet. However, the North American defense ministers conference hosted by Canada the last week of March sent the low-key but categorically public message that Mexico has emerged as the U.S. and Canada’s regional security partner.

US Won’t Take Sides In PH-China Feud – Manilla Bulletin, May 1, 2012 – US Secretary Hillary Clinton….said the US government is firm in terms of taking a position toward a peaceful settlement, a multilateral approach, and the use of a rules-based regime in accordance with international law in resolving the territorial disputes….“As a resident Pacific power, the United States is committed to a rule-based regional order that promotes viable and vibrant trade and the freedom of navigation,” said [US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta] during the same news conference….Philippines is pursuing the ASEAN as a framework for a solution to this problem…
Asean+3 Members Agree On Doubling Chiang Mai Initiative To USD240 Bln – Draft Communique – Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2012 – Officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations joined by Japan, China and South Korea will agree on doubling a regional currency fund meant to help in a liquidity crisis to $240 billion, according to a draft of the joint statement seen Wednesday by Dow Jones Newswires.

Arab League backs Libya quest to try Gadhafi’s son – CBS News, May 1, 2012 – The Arab League is backing Libya’s intention to try a son of deposed ruler Moammar Gadhafi at home instead of turning him over to the International Criminal Court. The ICC has insisted that Libya hand over Seif al-Islam Gadhafi for trial

With Gulf Tensions High, GCC Naval Capabilities Remain Limited – World Politics Review (Google News link), May 1, 2012 – The Gulf Cooperation Council’s Joint Peninsula Shield regional security alliance held a joint naval exercise Sunday and Monday in the Persian Gulf, amid heightened tensions over the recent visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Abu Masa, one of three disputed islands in the Gulf claimed by both Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

China Says Has ‘Confidence’ in EU’s Crisis Measures – CNBC, May 2, 2012 – The European Union’s efforts in establishing a permanent rescue fund to prevent financial risks is ‘laudable’ and have boosted market confidence in the region, China’s Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said….Last year, China nearly doubled its investment in Europe and bought bonds issued by European nations, including Portugal, Greece and Hungary.

‘Eurasian Union has no future without solving conflicts’ – News.Az (Azerbaijan), May 2, 2012 – Incoming president of Russia Vladimir Putin has said that his initiative the Eurasian Union should take action as early as 2013. How could this new initiative be attractive to the post-Soviet countries?

SAARC nations to emulate India’s poll practices – The Hindu, May , 2012 – India’s success in holding elections through electronic systems including the use of EVMs, has caught the fancy of Pakistan and other SAARC countries, which have expressed the desire to emulate it in their respective areas.

UNASUR: A Post-American Hemisphere? – ISN, May 1, 2012 – The first of these was the Andean Community, established in 1969, which today unites the 100 million inhabitants of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru into a regional customs union. In 2006, Venezuela withdrew from this community in order to sign a membership agreement with Mercosur, the Southern Common Market, which is the southern counterpart of the Andean Community. At present it consists of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay….The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) represents the next logical step beyond the Andean Community and Mercosur. Its aim is to combine its predecessors into a locally adapted version of the European Union.

SAARC region has 200,000MW hydel power capacity: experts – Business Recorder (Pakistan), May 1, 2012 – The regional conference titled “climate Change, Energy and Water Management in South Asia,” was organised by SAARC Chamber of commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) in collaboration with Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung fur die Freiheit. Speaking on the occasion, Chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Zafar Iqbal Qadir….said that South Asian region has enormous energy potential which needed to be exploited through political and collective wisdom to make the region self-sufficient in energy sector.

AFRICAN UNION: European Union supports fight against climate change in Africa – Afrique en ligne, May 1, 2012 – The grant agreement was signed at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the commission’s Deputy Executive Secretary, Dr. Hamdok Abdalla, and Head of EU Delegation to the African Union, Mr. Gary Quince.

Britain encourages EU to invest more in ASEAN region – GMA (Philippines), May 1, 2012 – As the European Union continues to suffer from financial turmoil, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) moves toward a single-market economy by 2015, Britain is urging EU nations to increase their investments….By increasing trade and investments in the ASEAN market, one of the world’s largest with a population of 600 million, [ASEAN. British foreign secretary William Hague] aid the benefits would spread back to EU member countries and the UK.

Pacific delegation cites ‘positive’ steps in Fiji – The West Australian, May 1, 2012 – A Pacific delegation, including foreign ministers from Australia and New Zealand, on Tuesday reported Fiji’s military regime was making “positive progress” towards holding elections in 2014. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully, two of the harshest critics of Fiji’s military dictatorship, travelled to Suva as part of a Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) delegation.

AFRICAN UNION: EA insurers embark on harmonisation – The Star (Kenya), April 29, 2012 – Insurance regulatory bodies in the East African Community have hired a consultant to formulate a program for harmonization of insurance laws in the region to allow firms in this industry access a bigger market.
West Africa Enforces AML Rules – Taxation: News & Information, May 1, 2012 – At the annual session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held recently in Dakar, the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a specialized institution established by the ECOWAS, gave a report on its assessment of the current implementation of rules for anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing (AML/CTF) in the countries of West Africa.
Where there is a will… SADC accused of lacking political will for integration – Southern Times, April 30, 2012 – The failure to launch the Customs Union in 2010 as initially envisaged, the analysts say, points to an unclear relationship between SADC protocols and the RISDP….The analysts add that there is a mismatch between the political fundamentals of regional integration and individual states’ economic ambitions.

GCC Needs to Refinance $60 Billion of Debt in 2012, RBS Says – Bloomberg, April 30, 2012 – The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, needs to refinance $60 billion of debt between now and the end of the year, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said. “We don’t foresee any issues for refinancing” as these loans have “either been dealt with” or are being restructured or amortized, Jacco Keijzer, head of debt capital markets for the Middle East and Africa at RBS, said at a conference in Dubai today.

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