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Mexico publishes first monthly natural gas price index after moving to competitive market

August 30, 2017 Today in Energy 0

Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) released their first monthly price report on August 18, 2017. As part of its ongoing series of energy reforms that reduce government market controls, the Mexican government converted to a liberalized natural gas market on July 1, 2017.

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Jerusalem’s Waqf: Israeli municipality is ‘hostile’ to us

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

The Jerusalem Municipality is “hostile” towards the Jerusalem Waqf Department and its property, the unit said in a complaint to the city’s mayor. According to the Anadolu Agency, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday that the legal advisor of the department, Khalid Toma, sent a letter to the Israeli Jewish mayor of the municipality Nir Barakat outlining the “harassment” the Waqf has been subjected to at the hands of the municipality. Toma wrote that the Israeli municipality had developed a “hostile” policy against the Islamic Waqf, citing a number of unilateral illegal measures taken by the municipality, warning the retention of such measures would lead to undesirable confrontations. “As everyone knows, the Waqf Department is a branch of Jordan’s Endowment Ministry,” […]

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Israel conference: Jordan is only country for Palestinians

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Right-wing organisation the International Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Centre is hosting a conference entitled “The Jordan Option: The only way to peace” aiming to highlight the issue that Jordan is the alternative country for Palestinians, Arabs48.com reported yesterday. Due to take place on 17 October, the conference will reveal a shadow government headed by the Jordanian opposition figure Mudar Zahran, who is referred to in the invitation as the secretary-general of the Jordanian Opposition Coalition. The announcement of this government is an introduction for the establishment of the Palestinian state in Jordan. Scores of Jordanian, Jewish and Israeli figures are due to attend the conference, according to the invitation, including the extremist right wing Israeli MK Yehuda Glick who is planned to […]

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Gaza exports shipment of ready-made clothes to Israel

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

A Palestinian sewing company in Gaza has exported a shipment of ready-made clothes to Israel for the first time in ten years, Quds Press reported yesterday. Director of Media and Public Relations in the Palestinian Borders and Crossings Department, Hisham Adwan, said: “One shipment of ready-made clothes and two shipments of vegetables crossed the commercial Karm Abu-Salem crossing on Monday heading to Israel.” Head of UniPal 2000, Bashir Al-Bawwab, told Quds Press that this is the first time he has been able to export clothes to Israel since 2007. “The shipment included 3,500 pieces of different kinds and sizes that meet the international quality standard,” he said, noting that they were produced by “skilful” Palestinian workers. Al-Bawwab noted that this […]

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US Warship Shoots Down Test Ballistic Missile Off Hawaii

August 30, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

One day after the latest North Korean missile launch, which was followed by a warning in the state-owned KCNA that more Pacific launches would follow, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Pacific shot down a medium-range ballistic missile during a test off Hawai on Wednesday.

Destroyer USS John Paul Jones intercepts the target with an SM-6 missile.
(Missile Defense Agency photo)

In the “complex missile defense flight test,” the USS John Paul Jones detected and tracked a test ballistic missile that had been launched from Kaui, Hawaii, then fired one of its onboard SM-6 missiles to intercept the target in its terminal phase, the Missile Defense Agency said in a release. It said it marked the second time an SM-6 missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile in a test.

Quoted by USA Today, MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said the test marked a “key milestone.”

“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” said Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”

According to the WashExaminer, in a similar drill last December, John Paul Jones fired two SM-6 missiles against a test medium-range ballistic missile (made by Raytheon). In a release on Wednesday morning, the company said it rushed enhanced software for the missile based on a request from the government. The SM-6, which is part of the Standard Missile family, is the only sea-based missile that can knock down ballistic missiles in their terminal phase, while also handling air and surface threats.

“Earlier this year, our customer requested an enhanced capability to deal with a sophisticated medium-range ballistic missile threat,” said Mike Campisi, Raytheon’s SM-6 senior program director. “We did all this — the analysis, coding and testing — in seven months; a process that normally takes one to two years.”

The Pentagon on Tuesday confirmed that North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile near Sunan Air Base, which then flew over northern Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean 500 nautical miles east of Japan. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later threatened further action.

“The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the KPA in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” Kim said, according to state-run media outlet KCNA.

On Tuesday, the White House responded to the North Korean launch on Tuesday, saying “all options are on the table.”

* * *

North Korea on Wednesday released images of its intermediate-range ballistic missile launch over Japan a day before. The official Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday that the Hwasong-12, the first missile the nation has fired over Japan, was “guided” by leader Kim Jong Un and observed by senior officials.

“Involved in the drill were Hwasong artillery units…tasked with striking the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces located in the Pacific operational theater,” the KCNA reported.

It said the launch of the intermediate-range rocket was “part of the muscle-flexing” in reaction to ongoing military drills by the U.S. and South Korea, “in disregard” for Pyongyang’s “meaningful and crucial warning.” The North sees the military exercises as a preparation for war.

KCNA releases footage of the Hwasong-12 ballistic missile launch, NK’s response to ongoing US-ROK drills https://t.co/EdrAnuSssM pic.twitter.com/AdlBUVImGe

— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) August 30, 2017

Kim said “more ballistic missile rocket launching drills” are “necessary” to modernize his military’s strategic capabilities and that his country will continue to watch “U.S. demeanors” before it decides on future actions. The North Korean leader expressed “great satisfaction” with what he called a “meaningful prelude” to containing the U.S. territory of Guam, which he has threatened to fire four missiles toward.

* * *

Late on Tuesday the U.N. Security Council said it “strongly condemns” the missile test and the North’s launching of three ballistic missiles into the sea on Aug. 25. It demanded that Pyongyang “immediately cease all such actions” in a statement following an emergency meeting Tuesday. However, in a sign of de-escalation, it did not announce new sanctions.

Choo Mi-ae, the head of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party, urged Pyongyang to accept its offer of dialogue and said “such an act that threatens neighboring nations is unpardonable,” the South’s Yonhap news agency reported. “If North Korea trusts South Korea’s government and holds its hands, the door will open for its survival. Otherwise, it will face more serious isolation,” Choo said. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country will “fully and completely” abide by U.N. Security Council sanctions and would work with other council members on how best to react to the North’s latest action. “We will make a necessary response,” Wang said. China, North Korea’s most important ally, accounts for about 90% of the North’s foreign trade.

Early on Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May called on China to put more pressure on North Korea, as she arrived in Japan for a three-day visit Wednesday. “We think that China has a role to play and we’d encourage China to do everything it can to bring pressure on North Korea to stop this,” she said.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 10 companies and six individuals from mostly China and Russia who it says helped North Korea develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. They were the latest in a raft of blacklists issued in recent months to punish Chinese and Russian companies that try to evade international efforts to isolate North Korea.

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US admits using military base in UAE to strike Syria, Iraq

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

The United States military is using an air base in the United Arab Emirates to target sites in Iraq and Syria, military website DoD Buzz reported. The Al Dhafra Air Base, approximately 20 miles south of the capital Abu Dhabi, is being used to counter the threat from Daesh in Syria and Iraq. The US and UAE forces have created a special Air Combat Command unit at the base, known as the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. The unit functions its own intelligence analysis and control centre known as “Kingpin”. Military.com spoke to members of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing this summer with strict guidelines not to disclose sensitive information. Not much else is known about the United States functioning of […]

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Libya coastguard rescues nearly 500 off Tripoli

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Libya’s coastguard yesterday rescued nearly 500 refugees and migrants at sea west of the capital Tripoli, a spokesman said. The migrants included people from sub-Saharan countries, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. “Coastguards rescued early morning today 140 illegal migrants west of Tripoli and another group of 164 migrants were rescued off Sabratha including seven women and six children,” a spokesman for Libya’s naval forces told Reuters. Later another group of 150 were rescued off Tripoli. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have crossed the Libyan desert and taken to flimsy boats on the Mediterranean in the hope of reaching Europe in recent years. Read: Unofficial armed group stops migrants from leaving Libya for Europe A plan was agreed in Paris on […]

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Italy: Egypt is key to solving Libya crisis

August 30, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Egypt is a key player in find a solution to the Libyan crisis, Italian TV reported Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano saying yesterday. Alfano revealed that he is meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri in the middle of September. “Egypt is a key state in the solution of the Libyan crisis; therefore, I will hold a meeting with its foreign minister by the middle of September,” he said. He also said that he would reiterate the importance of the united efforts of the UN, mainly the efforts of the UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame during the conference planned to be held in London next month about Libya. The meeting between Alfano and his Egyptian counterpart would be the first […]

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