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Mixed Happenings

  • June 4th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

garibaldi.jpgRisorgimento revisited in Rome; old Cold War adversaries playing hot war games together; the EU in gathering pressure on Syria.


Much parading in the streets of Rome on Thursday, military feathers and finery on a par with the swashbuckling 19th Century legions that brought off the Risorgimento (Resurgence) – the unification of Italy 150 years ago to the day.

Giuseppe Garibaldi himself (picture), leader of the “redshirts”, horsemen for Italy, certainly would have revelled in the crowd of celebrities from 80 countries, in town for the spectacle.

Australia’s Governor General, Quentin Bryce, was one, escorted by four members of the all-service Federation Guard; she also visited Pope Benedict XVI.

The Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, made sure to make it to the party, taking time off from some very trying politics, in the immediate wake of a drubbing that he got at local elections, earlier in the week.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Brussels announced (1.6.11) it would run a cooperative security exercise with the old adversary, Russia, next week (6-10.6.11).

russia-air-force.jpgIt said Russian and NATO fighter aircraft would take part in the  counter-terrorism exercise called  “Vigilant Skies 2011”,  designed to prevent terrorist attacks that might use civilian aircraft, such as the “nine eleven” attack in 2001.

The two sides will be sharing information on movements in each other’s airspace, and will coordinate interceptions of “renegade aircraft”.

A Polish aircraft, and later a Turkish are to play the renegade roles.

NATO said a shared NATO-Russia radar picture of air traffic was being set up to permit early warning of  suspicious air activities, and the exercise next week, the first such counter-terrorism exercise held between the two powers, would be “a major milestone for reaching operational capability” of the new security system.

The European Union has underlined its suspension of development cooperation with Syria, slapping a notice over the top of online pages that detailed projects on education, technology or aid with business development.

It said: “As part of the ongoing review of all aspects of its cooperation with Syria, the EU has decided to suspend the preparations of bilateral cooperation programs and to suspend ongoing bilateral programs.”

It is backing a proposed condemnation of Syria, with sanctions, by the United Nations Security Council, in the face of bloody suppression of community dissent by “security forces” in that country.

syria-boy.jpgThose forces released the tortured and severely mutilated body of a thirteen year-old child to his family, as apparently a cruel “warning” to the public.

The boy, Hamza al-Khateeb (picture) had gone out to follow a demonstration.

Encroaching world anger unsettled long-time friends of the Syrian regime in Russia, with campaigns in the “civil society” there, e.g. the Writers Union, against a perceived hovering-around by western interests, presumably waiting to fill a power vacuum.

Likewise the government of China expressed worries about Syria’s sovereignty, and security of the region, and opined that intervention by the Security Council might not help the situation.

rudd_portrait_thumbresize.jpgIn Canberra, the Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd (picture), following the disclosure of the outrage against the young prisoner, announced unilateral sanctions by Australia: an extension of travel and financial bans on Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian President, and members of his entourage.

The Minister said he had also proposed to the United Nations that Assad be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.


AP, NY, “Italy marks 150 years of unity with flair”, 2.6.11., (3.6.11).

SANA, Damascus, “Russian Figures Condemn Western Interference in Syria …”, 1.6.11., (3.6.11).

Reuters, London, “EU draft U.N. resolution on Syria could hurt stability: China”, 31.5.11., (3.6.11).

European Union, Brussels, “Delegation in Syria”., (3.6.11).

Euronews, Lyon, “Italy hosts world leaders”, (video), 2.6.11., (3.6.11).

NATO, Brussels, “NATO and Russia to exercise together against air terrorism”, media release (2011) 067, 1.6.11.

Pictures  Russian Air Force,