What Turkey's S-400 missile deal with Russia means for Nato

  • 13 June 2019
  • From the section Europe
Russian S-400s in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. Photo: November 2018 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Turkey's decision to buy Russia's S-400 missile system has strained ties with Nato allies

The US and Turkey - one of Washington's key Nato allies - appear to be on a collision course this summer.

Turkey insists it will go ahead with the purchase of an advanced Russian S-400 air defence system. The first missiles and their associated radars could start to be delivered in July.

The US is urging Ankara to re-consider. It is warning that if the deal goes ahead then Turkey will be cut out of the F-35 warplane programme - the advanced US aircraft that will equip many Nato air forces over the coming decade.

So this is a controversy that has security, strategic and industrial dimensions. It raises questions about Turkey's reliability as a Nato partner and the diplomatic course that it is pursuing. And given its key geographical location on the alliance's southern flank - not to mention its role in the Syrian crisis - Turkey is not a country that Nato can turn its back on.

Washington's concerns about Turkey's purchase of the S-400 stem from both practical and security considerations.

Read full article What Turkey's S-400 missile deal with Russia means for Nato

What the Huawei battle tells us about US-China relations

A man stands in front of a Huawei display of security cameras Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The US has argued that Huawei poses a risk to national security

The US insists that its opposition to Huawei technology being used in key information systems stems entirely from security concerns: the fear of "back-doors" in the software or the relationship between the Chinese State and its major high-tech companies.

Of course, there may be a good dose of old-fashioned commercial rivalry as well. These are the technologies after all that will shape the world's economic future.

Read full article What the Huawei battle tells us about US-China relations

Is the United States heading for war with Iran?

Handout picture released by the US Navy on 8 May 2019 shows the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln being replenished at sea by the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 9) Image copyright AFP
Image caption The US has deployed the aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf

There are two competing narratives.

The first, which is favoured by US President Donald Trump's administration, is that Iran is up to no good. Preparations are said to have been seen for a potential attack on US targets, though few details have been revealed publicly.

Read full article Is the United States heading for war with Iran?

Battle for the fate of the Iran nuclear deal begins

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (2nd L) listening to head of Iran's nuclear technology organisation Ali Akbar Salehi (R) during the "nuclear technology day" in Tehran on 9 April. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, stressed that it was not pulling out of the nuclear deal

The real battle for the fate of the Iran nuclear deal has begun.

For a year now since the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the agreement, a kind of "phoney diplomatic war" has been under way.

Read full article Battle for the fate of the Iran nuclear deal begins

Is Sudan a new regional battleground?

Sudanese protesters march under an national flag outside the defense ministry compound in Khartoum, Sudan, on 29 April 2019. Image copyright Reuters

Ever since the upsurge of popular unrest - the so-called "Arab Spring" - erupted in the Middle East just over eight years ago, the region has undergone profound change.

In many cases authoritarian rule was never seriously challenged. In other places it was restored quickly, as in the case of Egypt, or more slowly and only partially, as in the case of Syria.

Read full article Is Sudan a new regional battleground?

China-Taiwan tensions grow after warplane incursion

  • 2 April 2019
  • From the section China
Taiwanese troops on US-made tanks during a military exercise, January 2019 Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Could the US really help defend Taiwan against China?

Is a new crisis between China and Taiwan looming?

How do these growing tensions relate to the deepening differences between Washington and Beijing?

Read full article China-Taiwan tensions grow after warplane incursion

Could an ancient Greek have predicted a US-China conflict?

  • 25 March 2019
  • From the section World
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Media captionUS v China: What can we learn from an ancient Greek?

Not so long ago, China's rise was seen as essentially benign. A growing economy, it was thought, would go hand-in-hand with a liberalising political system. China was, to use the phrase favoured by US experts, becoming a responsible global stakeholder.

But today China is increasingly viewed as a threat. Indeed, many fear that rivalry between China and the US could ultimately even lead to war, a conflict with global ramifications.

Read full article Could an ancient Greek have predicted a US-China conflict?

Are the rules which have stopped nuclear war broken?

  • 14 March 2019
  • From the section World
Former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Image copyright Getty Images

"We are moving in a minefield, and we don't know from where the explosion will come."

A warning from former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov delivered at this week's influential Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington DC.

Read full article Are the rules which have stopped nuclear war broken?

Warsaw summit: Why Iran is the elephant in the room

Member of staff removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of Unites States, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at Austria International Centre in Vienna, Austria on 14 July 2015. Image copyright AFP

The US decision to host a Middle East conference in Warsaw looks set to be a curious diplomatic occasion. But why is this gathering of mainly Western and Arab governments being held in the Polish capital? Poland, which is co-hosting the conference, is not known for its deep involvement in the Middle East's myriad problems.

But it is an active member of the Nato alliance, and its dark history at the hands of Russia gives it good reason to cosy up to Washington. Poland is hosting one of the US anti-ballistic missile sites in Europe.

Read full article Warsaw summit: Why Iran is the elephant in the room

US defence review: Is Trump risking a new arms race?

Undated image of THAAD anti-missile defence rocket system Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The US military has missile defence systems around the world

Inevitably, with its desire for new space-based sensors to detect ballistic missile launches and even the possibility of space-based interceptors to destroy attacking warheads, this review of the US missile defence strategy is bound to raise comparison with President Ronald Reagan's abortive "Star Wars" programme of the early 1980s.

Indeed at one point in his presentation, Donald Trump seemed to be echoing his predecessor, when he spoke of a missile defence programme that might "shield every city in the United States".

Read full article US defence review: Is Trump risking a new arms race?