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Eight lessons for David Cameron from Syriza
Different context, different countries, asking for different things. But â irrespective of whoâs right and wrong â in terms of negotiating change in Europe off the back of a democratic vote, here are eight lessons for David Cameron from Syrizaâs, so far, rather poor performance.
Posted: Good news for forests!
Today, 3Mâ the company behind the iconic yellow Post-It Notesâ announced a new sustainable paper buying policy. This comes after years of campaigning by our friends at ForestEthics with recent support from Greenpeace.
The policy, which applies to all of its products around the world, includes a lot of good elements. Here are the top five things to take note of:
2. Suppliers must ensure the Free, Prior and Informed Consent from indigenous peoples and local communities before logging can occur.
3. Sources must respect the rights and safety of workers, including no forced or child labor, no employment discrimination, and the freedom to associate (unionize).
4. 3M will increase its use of recycled and tree-free paper, and take steps to reduce the pulp and paper it uses.
5. Regular reporting on its performance implementing the new policies will be shared publicly (with help from The Forest Trust) so we can see how they are doing, and hold the company to its promises over time.
3M has shown it is serious by already putting the new standards into practice. The company has cut ties with a subsidiary of the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) Group due to its association with Indonesia rainforest-destroyer APRIL. Greenpeace has repeatedly documented APRIL razing rainforests, including the forest homes of endangered Sumatran tigers and orangutans, for its pulpwood plantations. APRIL/RGE has also been linked to serious social conflict and the wrecking of carbon-rich peatlands.
In addition, 3M has notified controversial logging giant Resolute Forest Products that it will need to comply with its new sourcing standards or lose business. Among other things, Resolute will have to show that it is not degrading High Conservation Value Forests or endangered caribou habitat, and that it has resolved conflicts with indigenous First Nations in Canada.
More and more companies are listening when their customers say they don’t want to buy products tied to forest destruction. When companies like 3M take action, we take one step closer to a world without deforestation.
Rolf Skar is the Forest Campaign Director at Greenpeace US.
Security Council extends mandate for UN political mission in Libya through March 2015
Having determined that the situation in Libya remains a threat to international peace and security and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Security Council adopted unanimously today a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Gaza: UN humanitarian arm warns that blockade âunderminingâ living standards
The living conditions of nearly 2 million Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip have been undermined by the enduring blockade against the enclave, the United Nations humanitarian office reported today.
Reforming Greece easier said than done: The never-ending case of the land registry
Sweeping to office after their landslide victory in Januaryâs Greek elections, Syriza has promised to shakeup how the system operates in a major way. Former Dutch MEP Derk Jan Eppink warns, however, that change is hard to come by, examining Greek attempts to create a land registry â ongoing since 1994, for which it has received â¬141.6m of EU funds.
The post Reforming Greece easier said than done: The never-ending case of the land registry appeared first on Open Europe.
UN health agency announces start of Ebola vaccine testing in worst-affected areas of Guinea
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that it will begin conducting Ebola vaccination trials in Guinea this week, which if found effective, could be the âgame-changer to finally end the epidemicâ that has affected nearly 24,000 people, mostly in West Africa.
UN agencies step up aid deliveries to displaced people in conflict-torn areas of northern Iraq
Several United Nations agencies are working closely with humanitarian partners to deliver life-saving assistance to thousands of families in the Salah al-Din Governorate of Iraq amid heavy fighting between Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has caused the displacement of thousands of people.
Berlinâs Juncker hangover is getting worse
Following yesterday’s meeting in Brussels between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the German press reports that relations between the two are increasingly fraught due to the Commission’s economic policy. We warned as much could happen.
Eradicating sexual violence in Colombia requires investment in communities â UN envoy
In eradicating sexual violence related to Colombiaâs internal armed conflict, the main challenge now is translating resolve into tangible solutions in communities where the crime continues to occur, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence said at the conclusion of her trip to the Latin American country.
The battle for Tikrit - a harbinger of things to come?
|Iraqi artillery shelling ISIS positions|
Recent news reports claim that “Iraqi forces” have entered portions of the city and environs of Tikrit and are in the process of clearing the city - the Iraqis say they will be in full control in a few days. Tikrit has been occupied by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since the organization’s fighter swept out of Syria, seized Mosul and began a march down the Tigris River valley on the way to Baghdad.
Tikrit is well-known as the home city of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Husayn - a mostly Sunni city about 80 miles north of Baghdad. It is also the location of a major air base and military training center, as well as many of the few oilfields in the Sunni area of Iraq. Retaking the city with a population of about 275,000 people is an important test of the reconstituted Iraqi army and security forces.
This will be the third major attempt (some analysts claim that this might actually be the sixth) to recapture the city from ISIS since its fall in 2014 - the earlier attempts were dismal failures as the Iraqi army was just not up to the task. To be fair, they were thrown into the fray much too soon after the army’s collapse in Mosul. ISIS fighters were much more committed and fought the attackers to a standstill each time.
I believe the current military operation - named “Here I am, Messenger of God” - to retake Tikrit is a precursor, a rehearsal of sorts, for the impending and absolutely necessary campaign to eject ISIS forces from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Not only is Mosul a huge city of two million people, it is a major economic and psychological symbol for both ISIS and the Iraqi government. Reasserting Iraqi governmental control over Mosul is essential to a national recovery from the specter of the impotence of the government in Baghdad and the abject failure of the Iraqi armed forces.
The current assault on Tikrit may be different than previous attempts, and have a better chance of success. The primary reason is not comforting, but it cannot be ignored - it is the deep involvement of the Iranians on a variety of levels.
The “Iraqi forces” that are engaged in the assault on Tikrit are in reality a mix of Iraqi army forces, Iraqi Shi’a militias sponsored by Iran, supported by a small number of members of the capable Qods Force, the special operations arm of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The commander of the Qods Force, Major General Qasim Soleimani, is himself on the scene and providing “support” - according to the Iraqi media.
General Soleimani has years of experience fighting in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. It is commonly accepted that he is actually giving the orders, albeit via an Iraqi commander, as he has in previous battles in Iraq against ISIS involving the Qods Force and Iraqi Shi’a militias. One indication that the Iranians are involved in this planning and execution of this battle is the unique tactic of using armored bulldozers to build berms to protect advancing forces every evening - classic Iranian military doctrine.
According to U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, fully two-thirds of the force seeking to retake Tikrit are Iranian-based Shi’ite militia fighters, outnumbering by twice the number of Iraqi army troops. They are supported by airpower - not from the U.S.-led coalition, but what the Iraqi media calls “Iraqi jets.” While this is technically correct, it is misleading.
In July of 2014, Iran gave the Iraqi Air Force seven Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO: FROGFOOT) ground attack fighter aircraft. Despite the claim that they were delivered from Russia (complete with the theatrics of an aerial delivery of some antiquated unserviceable aircraft), that fiction was quickly and easily disproved. The flag on the tail may now be Iraqi, but the aircraft - and pilots - are Iranian. (See my earlier article, Is Iran delivering fighter aircraft to the Iraqi Air Force?)
The Iraqis have marshaled an estimated 30,000 troops to retake Tikrit. The number of ISIS fighters defending Tikrit is estimated to be about 13,000 - although accurate numbers are difficult to obtain. While that sounds like a lot of troops to attack the city, conventional wisdom is that, all things being equal, the attacking force should be three times the number of the defenders. That can be mitigated with force multipliers, such as airpower, artillery, intelligence and surveillance capabilities, etc. It remains to be seen if the operation to retake Tikrit will be successful. If it is, it will give the Iraqi army a much-need boost in confidence.
We cannot overlook the increasing level of Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs, as we see in this major military operation. I must admit to being surprised at General Dempsey’s reaction, saying, “If it is a path that ties [Iraq and Iran] more closely together economically or even politically, as long as the Iraqi government remains committed to inclusivity of all the various groups inside the country, then I think Iranian influence will be positive.” Perhaps this conciliatory message - uncharacteristic of the general - is part of the Administration’s attempt to move forward on a the Iranian nuclear deal. I hope not.
If this operation is successful, it may become the blueprint for the expected attempt to retake Mosul later this year. That will be a much larger, complicated operation. It is doubtful that the Iraqis - even with Iranian assistance - will be able to do this without American/coalition force multipliers. They would be foolish to try, despite the bravado of some of the Shi’a militia commanders who claim they neither want nor need American assistance.
ISIS is a formidable foe, and they have had over eight months to construct their defenses in Tikrit and Mosul. It the Iraqi forces cannot retake Tikrit, if they fail again this time, the outlook for a successful attack on Mosul anytime soon is grim.