TAIWAN AIR FORCE STAGES DRILL AMID TENSIONS WITH BEIJING - The Daily Guardian
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TAIWAN AIR FORCE STAGES DRILL AMID TENSIONS WITH BEIJING

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Taiwan screamed its fighter jets into the sky along the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday in a drill simulating a war scenario, to show its combat capabilities and readiness in view of increasing tensions with Beijing.

Fighter jets of Taiwan’s Air force took off from the southern city of Chiayi which is also the home to U.S. made F-16 fighter jets that are frequently scrambled to intercept Chinese warplanes. As per the local media reports, the exercises are part of a three-day drill to show Taiwan’s preparedness ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of this month. Since the last few months, tensions across the sensitive Taiwan Strait had increased, with Taiwan protesting against repeated Chinese incursion of its airspace. Talking to the reporters, Major Yen Hsiang-sheng of Taiwan’s Air force, who leads the group which regularly intercept Chinese fighter jets said, “With the very high frequency of Communist planes entering our Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), pilots from our wing are very experienced and have dealt with almost all types of their aircraft,”. Taiwan has termed China’s activities as “grey zone” warfare, designed to both wear out Taiwan’s forces by making them repeatedly scramble, and also to test its responses.

Experts believe that the recent developments along the Taiwan Strait are significant as it comes just days after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen had warned China that military confrontation would be a miscalculation and stressed on the need for both countries to work hard to take care of people’s livelihoods and calm the hearts of the people in order to find peaceful solutions to the long-standing disputes and problems. The issue of Taiwan which is also called as ‘Taiwan Strait Issue’, is a result of the Chinese Civil War and the subsequent split of China into the two present-day self-governing entities of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (ROC; commonly known as Taiwan). Taiwan claims that it is an independent country and has repeatedly vowed to defend its freedom and democracy while Beijing claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has increased military and diplomatic pressure in the past two years to assert its sovereignty claims. In recent times China has also not ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.

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UAE bans drones after attack by Houthi rebels

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE), had banned the use of drones for a period of one month, days after Yemen based Houthi rebels launched a deadly drone and missile attack on its capital Abu Dhabi that resulted in the death of three civilians.

Local media reports quoted a Ministry of Interior press release which reads, “the Ministry of Interior is currently stopping all flying operations for owners, practitioners and enthusiasts of drones, including drones and light sports aircraft for a month.” The government also cautioned people that anyone flying it will be subject to legal liabilities. It adds, “anyone performing these activities during that period and disregarding guidelines will be subject to legal liabilities. Those who need to fly drones for work must ask the authorities for the necessary exceptions and permits.”

The Ministry of Interior affairs did not exclusively mention the recent deadly attack, but added that the decision has been made after “misuse spotted recently” where users were “trespassing into areas where these types of activities are prohibited.”

Last Monday, Houthi rebels did a drone and missile attack that hit the oil facilities and the airport in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, killing three people and injuring half a dozen.

The Houthi rebels have carried out repeated cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia, but 17 January was the first attack carried out and acknowledged by the UAE inside its borders and claimed by the Yemeni insurgents. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a part of a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition that supports Yemen’s government while the Houthis are supported by Iran.

After the attacks which exploded fuel tanks at the airport the Crude prices soared to seven-year highs as chances of escalation had increased with the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition promising to retaliate in a major way. 

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BRITAIN CALLS FOR UNITY AGAINST CHINA AND RUSSIA

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Britain had cautioned Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Western world stands united to fight for democracy against dictatorships which it said were more emboldened than at any time since the Cold War.

Speaking at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, “The West must respond together to global threats, deepen ties with democracies in the Indo-Pacific and face global aggressors. Global aggressors are emboldened in a way we haven’t seen since the Cold War.” The Foreign Secretary highlighted that the 21st Century will be the century of struggle between democracies and rivals such as China and Russia who are challenging the post-Cold War consensus through all means be it militarily, economically and technologically.

She added, “They seek to export dictatorship as a service around the world. That is why regimes like Belarus, North Korea and Myanmar find their closest allies in Moscow and Beijing.”

She emphasised on the need to work with allies like India, Japan, Australia, Israel and Indonesia to face down global aggressors and threats to the world order.

In her speech, Liz Truss, called Russia a dictatorial model which is governed by a mercurial elite that had been involved in irresponsible escapades such as the 2014 annexation of Crimea, attempts to meddle in US and European elections, and a series of high-profile espionage and assassination attempts abroad. Truss further cautioned Moscow to desist and step back from Ukraine before it makes a massive strategic mistake and added that “Kremlin has not learned the lessons of history that invasion will only lead to a terrible quagmire and loss of life, as we know from the Soviet-Afghan war and conflict in Chechnya.”

In the last few months, tensions in the West on one hand, and China and Russia on the other hand, had increased in multiple theaters across the globe.

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US WILL RESPOND IF RUSSIAN MILITARY FORCES MOVE ACROSS UKRAINIAN BORDER: JEN PSAKI

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Amid the brewing tensions over Russia’s military buildup near the Ukrainian border, white house press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday, “President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: if any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies.”

Russia has put more than 100,000 troops and war-making machinery on Ukraine’s borders. Which has sent alarms through the west – and apprehensions that Moscow is ready to invade Ukraine. But Russian commanders have said, they have no plans to invade.

The EU had earlier warned the Kremlin of “extreme consequences” if it takes any military action in neighboring Ukraine.

In the fray, Sweden has found itself threatened and has moved hundreds of its troops over the weekend to reinforce its borders and deny any fallout from the strategically important Gotland island – which lies in the Baltic Sea. Denmark has also strengthened its presence in the region a week back.

The rising tensions in the region have again re-ignited the debate in both Sweden and Finland as to whether they should now join Nato.

“If they actually do what they’re capable of doing with the force they’ve massed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia,” Biden told reporters.

“The cost of going into Ukraine in terms of physical loss of life, for the Russians… it’s going to be heavy,” he told reporters.

Despite the massive build-up of troops on the borders, Moscow has denied that it’s planning a military invasion. But it has issued Nato with a list of security demands blaming the alliance for “undermining regional security”, as NATO has regularly tried to make the former soviet members a part of the alliance which continues to infuriate Russia.

According to the reports, The Biden administration is weighing new options, to make the Putin administration rethink its invasion. The US wants to provide more arms to Ukraine that will help it resist Russian occupation, and also raise the costs for Russian President Vladimir Putin in case he decides to invade the country.

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ANTI-MILITARY PROTESTS WILL INTENSIFY IN SUDAN

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Anti-military protests are likely to intensify in Sudan after security forces killed seven protesters. As per the local media reports, seven people were killed and dozens injured as the security forces used gunshots and tear gas to stop lakhs of protesters who were marching towards the presidential palace in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

The groups who were leading the protest movement told the media that in the coming days a massive protest against the massacre committed by the military would be organised. Spokesperson of one protesting group named Committee of Sudanese Doctors said, “They also fired live ammunition and stun grenades, the security forces did a massacre today, what we demand is civilian rule and democracy,”.

Many countries condemned the violence and the United States’s Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee is heading to Sudan to assess the situation and has called the military to end violence and respect freedom of expression. Political parties in Sudan had announced two days of civil disobedience in protest against the current violence.

Huge crowds have regularly taken to the streets demanding a return to civilian rule since the military coup on October 25. The power grab by military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan more than two months ago dismantled a precarious power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilians established in the wake of the April 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan, a country located in Northeast Africa is the third-largest country by area in Africa and the Arab League had seen many coups in the past and the current military coup resulted in the capture of the civilian government, including former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The coup was led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan who subsequently declared a state of emergency. On November 21, Hamdok was reinstated as prime minister after a political agreement was signed by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to restore the transition to civilian rule. The 14-point deal called for the release of all political prisoners detained during the coup and stipulated that a 2019 constitutional declaration continued to be the basis for a political transition. On January 2, Hamdok announced his resignation from the position of Prime Minister which led to this current wave of protest.

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Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Donald Trump

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Twitter suspended an account related to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on which a video calling for revenge for Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani assassination against former United States president Donald Trump was posted.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Talking to the media, spokesperson of the social media company said, “The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,”. In the recent past also many accounts of the Iranian government and its leaders were suspended by Twitter over posts which called for the killing of the United States president and the top officials.

The account which had been suspended is @KhameneiSite, and an animated video titled “Revenge is Definite”, showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump was posted. The title “Revenge is Definite” was also posted on Khamenei’s official website.

Twitter had stated that its policies around abusive behavior is clear and it had taken action as per its policies. On January 3, which marks the second anniversary of the assassination, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also threatened the United States with revenge.

As head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRG), General Soleimani was the main strategist who handled the country’s proxies around the Middle Eastern countries and aimed to increase the influence of Tehran across the region. He was killed in a United States drone attack near the Baghdad International airport in January 2020. Iranian government and its leadership had repeatedly promised to avenge his death and teach the US harsh lessons.

Iran and the United States shares a bitter relationship and have had no formal diplomatic relation since April 7, 1980. Contacts are carried out through informal channels and the Iranian interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the US Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

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NORTH KOREA REACTS STRONGLY TO SANCTIONS BY U.S.

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Kim

North Korea had reacted sharply at the United States sanctions which is in response to its recent hypersonic missile tests this week and vowed a “stronger and certain reaction” to the Western world’s attempt to halt its weapons programs.

In a statement, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said, “The pursuit of the advanced hypersonic missiles system, which is designed to evade existing defenses, is North Korea’s legitimate right. Washington’s move to slap sanctions on North Koreans who advanced its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs was a dangerous escalation.” It added, “The United States is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s just activity to the UN Security Council. If the U.S. adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to take a stronger and certain reaction to it,”. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

The recent events have up the ante in the Korean peninsula while the United States is pushing North Korea to return to nuclear disarmament talks while the ruling regime in Pyongyang had stepped up its production of fissile material for nuclear bombs and tested new systems to deliver atomic warheads.

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang increased as North Korea tested two missiles within a week which are designed to deploy a hypersonic glide vehicle that can maneuver at high speeds during an unpowered flight to strike a target and Pyongyang claimed that they hit a target 1,000 kilometers away during the tests.

After the tests, Washington designated five North Koreans living overseas — one in Russia, and four in China — for aiding the country’s weapons programs and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “These designations convey our serious and ongoing concern about the DPRK’s continued proliferation activities and those who support it. We remain committed to seeking dialogue and diplomacy with the DPRK and call on the DPRK to engage in negotiations.”

North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),is a country in East Asia, a totalitarian dictatorship, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north and South Korea to the south at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. It holds elections, though they have been described by independent observers as sham elections as the country revolves around the personality of the Kim dynasty and their loyal elite club.

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