World View: Russian Warships Dock in Cuba for 'Friendly Visit'

World View: Russian Warships Dock in Cuba for 'Friendly Visit'

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russian warships dock in Cuba for ‘friendly visit’
  • Russia sides with Vietnam in the South China Sea dispute
  • U.S. Embassy closures extended to Saturday, August 10
  • Islamic ‘Peace Mobile’ smartphone ready for launch

Russian warships dock in Cuba for ‘friendly visit’

A 1950s U.S. car passes Cubans waving at the Russian 'Moskva' missile cruiser in Havana on Saturday (AFP)
A 1950s U.S. car passes Cubans waving at the Russian ‘Moskva’ missile cruiser in Havana on Saturday (AFP)

A surface combatant squadron of the Russian Navy arrived in Cuba onSaturday for the first time in four years. The Cuban governmentannounced the fleet was there for a “friendly visit.” The unitconsists of the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, missile cruiser’Moscow’, the large anti-submarine ship ‘Vice Admiral Kulakov’ of theNorthern Fleet and a number of supply and service ships. The squadronvisited the port of Havana to replenish supplies. The ships weregreeted by an artillery salute, a naval band and a few hundredonlookers as they arrived in the Bay of Havana.

Cuba’s economy was supported by the Soviet Union until it collapsed in1991. After that, Venezuela took over. With the death of HugoChávez, perhaps Russia will be taking over again. Russia Today

Russia sides with Vietnam in the South China Sea dispute

During a recent visit to Hanoi, Russia’s defense ministerGeneral Sergei Shoigu sided with Vietnam and the United Statesin the dispute with China over control of the South ChinaSea:

“Russia, like other maritime powers, has a stake infreedom of navigation. Russia will react to any challenge to thisfreedom in the same way that the United States, Japan, and Indiahave done by asserting Russian rights under internationallaw.”

Shoigu is responding to China’s claim of “indisputable” sovereigntyover the entire South China Sea, including many regions that havehistorically belonged to other countries, including the Philippines,Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. All these nations, exceptBrunei, have troops stationed on various islands in the SpratlyIslands to assert their respective claims. China is demanding thateach of these nations avoid trouble by simply giving up their claims,and turning the entire region over to Chinese sovereignty. China andits neighbors are all becoming increasingly nationalistic over theseconflicting claims, and the dispute has become intractable.

Russia is backing up its statements with money. Russia is helping torevamp Vietnam’s centrally situated Cam Ranh port, near key shippinglanes in the South China Sea, and close to the oil-rich Truong Sa(Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos. Russia has also agreedto supply Vietnam with six Kilo-class diesel submarines. This isbeing described as “a credible asymmetric counter-poise to China’sgrowing naval might in the South China Sea.” Eurasia Review

U.S. Embassy closures extended to Saturday, August 10

The U.S. State Department is extending 19 of Sunday’s 22 embassyclosures to Saturday, August 10. In addition, the State Department’sworldwide travel alert is continuing to the end of August, warning ofplanned attacks by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in theMiddle East, North Africa, and South Asia. According to one Housemember, “This threat was so specific as to how enormous it was goingto be and also certain dates were given. It could be in Europe, itcould be in the United States.” One reason for the additional days ofclosure is that Ramadan ends on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Muslimweekend is Friday and Saturday, so the embassies can reopen on Sundaywhen, presumably, all the excitement will be over. In the meantime,many parts of the Mideast are bracing for an attack, and Americans arebeing strongly discouraged from traveling to the region.

Interpol has issued a global alert related to the recent rash of jailbreaks in Pakistan, Iraq and Libya that we’ve reported on. Analystsare mixed in opining whether or not these jailbreaks are connected toone another, but few believe they’re related to the U.S. StateDept. travel warning. Bloomberg and State Department and CNN

Islamic ‘Peace Mobile’ smartphone ready for launch

Ad for 'Peace Mobile'
Ad for ‘Peace Mobile’

A new Android smartphone targeting Muslims is going to be launchedwithin the next week. Called the “Peace Mobile,” its purpose will beto reconcile the Quran with modern science, and will come loadedauthentic Islamic apps and software and helps practicing Muslims stayconnected with the Islamic world. According to a press release:

“People will be able to experience the difference, ascommunicating through technology will make life easy andconvenient par excellence while fostering an intimate relationshipwith the Creator.”

The phone will include 50 Islamic applications, 80 hours of video,hundreds of Islamic wallpaper, 200 Islamic ringtones, and books onIslam and comparative religion. Advance sales of the smartphone aresaid to be huge. Arab News

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