Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Transcript: President Obama's Full NPR Interview

    Tuesday, December 30, 2014   No comments
NPR's wide-ranging interview with President Obama covers recent executive actions on Cuba and immigration, race relations in the U.S., health care, the midterm elections and extending democracy in the Middle East.

STEVE INSKEEP: Since your party's defeat in the election, you have made two major executive actions — one on immigration, one on Cuba. One of those might have been difficult to do before the election; the other surely would've been difficult to do before the election, which makes me wonder: Is there some way in which that election just passed has liberated you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I don't think it's been liberating. Keep in mind that all these issues are ones that we've been working on for some time.

It took about a year to arrive at the Cuba policy that was announced yesterday, including extensive negotiations with the Cuban government, meetings with the Vatican, making sure that we had looked at all the policy ramifications. And I was persuaded that ultimately this would be good for the Cuban people and more likely to lead to a loosening up of the restrictions or oppression that exists there.

With respect to immigration reform, obviously I'd been working on that for six years. And the truth ...
But this was the moment when you could do those things?
Yeah. Well, I do — here's what I do think is true: that I have spent six years now in this office. We have dealt with the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression. We have dealt with international turmoil that we haven't seen in a lot of years.

And I said at the beginning of this year that 2014 would be a breakthrough year, and it was a bumpy path.

But at the end of 2014, I could look back and say we are as well-positioned today as we have been in quite some time economically, that American leadership is more needed around the world than ever before — and that is liberating in the sense that a lot of the work that we've done is now beginning to bear fruit. And it gives me an opportunity then to start focusing on some of the other hard challenges that I didn't always have the time or the capacity to get to earlier in my presidency.

Can I think of you as shifting from things you had to do to things you more want to do?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Over 60% of Tunisians able to vote voted; 56% of them voted for Beji Caid Essebsi, 44% voted for Mohamed Moncef Marzouki

    Monday, December 22, 2014   No comments
Over 60% of Tunisians able to vote voted; 56% of them voted for Beji Caid Essebsi, 44% voted for Mohammed Mouncef Marzouki. 

Essebsi, 88, appeared before 2,000 supporters who gathered outside his campaign headquarters in the capital Tunis shouting “Long live Tunisia!” and thanked the voters.

“Tunisia needs all its children. We must work hand in hand,” he said as supporters cheered.

Marzouki dismissed the declaration as unfounded and refused to concede defeat. His camp said the result was too close to call and accused the Essebsi of election “violations”.

It is the first time Tunisians have freely elected their president since independence from France in 1956.

Authorities had urged a big turnout to consolidate democracy following a chaotic four-year transition. Election organisers said turnout was at 59.04%.

Just hours before polling began on Sunday morning, troops guarding ballot papers in the central region of Kairouan came under attack and shot dead one assailant and captured three, the defence ministry said.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The bodies of more than 230 people believed to have been killed by Islamic State (IS) have been found in a mass grave in eastern Syria

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014   No comments
From archives: ISIL committed similar crimes in Iraq in 2014
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they were thought to be members of a tribe that fought the jihadist group in Deir al-Zour province in the summer.

The mass grave was discovered after the Sheitat were allowed to return to their homes by IS leaders, it added.

Last month, the UN said it had received reports of a massacre there in August.

Investigators said it appeared to have been perpetrated by IS in a struggle for control of oil resources near the town of Mohassan.

One survivor described seeing "many heads hanging on walls while I and my family escaped", while locals saw several freshly-dug mass graves.

Video published online also indicated that IS fighters had conducted a mass execution of fighting-age Sheitat tribesmen.

In early November, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reportedly issued a statement granting members of the tribe permission to return to their homes upon the condition that they did not assemble. They were also told to surrender all weapons and inform on all "apostates" to the group.

All "traitors" would be killed, Baghdadi's statement warned.

Qatar and Terror Finance

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014   No comments
Qatar’s performance in the fight against terror finance tests the notion that it is a reliable friend and ally. Despite its tiny size, Doha is now being described by some U.S. officials  as the region’s  biggest source of private donations to radical groups in Syria and Iraq.

Qatar’s  historical legacy of negligence against terror finance stretches back over two decades. Doha mishandled al-Qaeda’s  old guard in  the lead-up to 9/11, making those events more rather than less likely. In recent months, there has been considerable focus on Abdulrahman al-Nuaymi, a Qatari national who has been blacklisted by the  United  States, United Nations, and European Union on charges of financing al-Qaeda. Reports indicate that Nuaymi is still a free man in Qatar, presumably because of his extensive ties to Doha’s ruling elite. This report reveals new details about several other major Qatar-based terror finance cases over the past decade in which Doha’s  policies fell considerably short of full enforcement, allowing suspected terror financiers to continue their activities after coming under initial scrutiny. This report also explains why Qatar’s mishandling of these cases cannot be attributed to a lack of institutional capacity or societal opposition but instead must be understood as willful negligence on the part of Qatari authorities.

Because of the sheer volume of material on Qatar’s terror finance challenges, FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance will release two additional documents after this one. Part Two takes a recent list of U.S. terror finance designations from September as a jumping off point for demonstrating how private terror finance networks linked to Qatar still appear to be intact. Part Three explains why it is up to Washington to change Doha’s  strategic calculus and reveals how sustained, high-level terror finance networks with links to Qatari territory have benefitted al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups in Syria, Gaza, Somalia, Yemen, Egypt, South Asia, and Iraq. The international community cannot successfully defeat terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, the Khorasan Group, and other manifestations of al-Qaeda’s malevolent ideology until private terror finance of this sort is significantly curtailed.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

ISIL origins roots are in U.S. prisons in Iraq

    Thursday, December 11, 2014   No comments
In the summer of 2004, a young jihadist in shackles and chains was walked by his captors slowly into the Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq. He was nervous as two American soldiers led him through three brightly-lit buildings and then a maze of wire corridors, into an open yard, where men with middle-distance stares, wearing brightly-coloured prison uniforms, stood back warily, watching him.

“I knew some of them straight away,” he told me last month. “I had feared Bucca all the way down on the plane. But when I got there, it was much better than I thought. In every way.”

The jihadist, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed, entered Camp Bucca as a young man a decade ago, and is now a senior official within Islamic State (Isis) – having risen through its ranks with many of the men who served time alongside him in prison. Like him, the other detainees had been snatched by US soldiers from Iraq’s towns and cities and flown to a place that had already become infamous: a foreboding desert fortress that would shape the legacy of the US presence in Iraq.

The other prisoners did not take long to warm to him, Abu Ahmed recalled. They had also been terrified of Bucca, but quickly realised that far from their worst fears, the US-run prison provided an extraordinary opportunity. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” he told me. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”

It was at Camp Bucca that Abu Ahmed first met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of Isis who is now frequently described as the world’s most dangerous terrorist leader. From the beginning, Abu Ahmed said, others in the camp seemed to defer to him. “Even then, he was Abu Bakr. But none of us knew he would ever end up as leader.”


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Jordanian King Abdullah II: Muslim Brotherhood hijacked Arab Spring

    Sunday, December 07, 2014   No comments
Jordanian King says Brotherhood hijacked Arab Spring
Jordanian King Abdullah II on Saturday said that the Muslim Brotherhood was an organized entity that had hijacked the series of popular uprisings that swept through the Arab world and came later to be called the "Arab Spring."
In an interview with U.S. interviewer and broadcast journalist Charlie Rose, King Abdullah said the Brotherhood was an official organization in his country.
He said his government had asked the Brotherhood to be part of Jordan's political process at the beginning of the Arab Spring.
He added that the Brotherhood was the first political party he had talked to at the beginning of the spring.

King Abdullah said the Brotherhood had called for changing the Jordanian constitution, the creation of a constitutional court and a national dialogue committee, noting that most of the group's demands were met.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Erdoğan: You cannot bring women and men into an equal position; this is against nature

    Monday, November 24, 2014   No comments
Erdoğan: Gender equality against nature  

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday took issue with gender equality, saying that women and men cannot be equal because they have different “natures and bodies.”

“You cannot bring women and men into an equal position; this is against nature,” Erdoğan said while addressing a meeting of an association promoting women rights in Ankara. “You cannot subject a pregnant woman to the same working conditions as a man. You cannot make a mother who has to breastfeed her child equal to a man. You cannot make women do everything men do like the communist regimes did… This is against her delicate nature.”

Erdoğan instead promoted the notion of "equivalence" and equality of women before the justice system.

"They talk about equality between men and women. The correct thing is equality among women and equality among men. But what is particularly essential is women's equality before the justice [system]," he said. "What women need is to be equivalent, rather than equal; that is, justice."

The president then went on to explain that Islam exalts women as “mothers” and said that when he was a child he used to kiss his mother's feet, referring to a hadith of Prophet Muhammad that says “Heaven lies at the foot of your mother.”

“My mother would be shy, but I used to say, ‘Mother, don't pull your feet away, because the scent of heaven is there.' Sometimes, she would cry [when I would say that],” Erdoğan said.

He also slammed feminists, saying they “don't accept the concept of motherhood.”

“But those who do understand are enough for us. We'll continue down this path with them,” he said.

Participant forced out of conference hall

A conference attendee was forcefully taken from the hall when she interrupted a speech by Family and Social Policies Minister Ayşenur İslam and said she wanted to ask a question.

The participant raised her hand while İslam was delivering her speech, but the minister said she would take her question afterward. When the participant insisted, security guards grabbed her, covered her mouth and took her out of the conference hall.

Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/anasayfa_erdogan-you-cannot-make-men-and-women-equal_365182.html; November 24, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

In birthplace of Arab Spring, Tunisia’s Islamists get sobering lesson in governing

    Saturday, November 22, 2014   No comments
TUNIS — On a recent warm evening, hundreds of men and women were mingling outside the offices of Tunisia’s Islamist party. They were singing and cheering. They were waving little red-and-white Tunisian flags. It looked as if they had just won an election.

In fact, they had just lost control of parliament. But in a strife-torn Arab world, this young democracy had pulled off a rare feat: a clean, peaceful election.

“What are we celebrating today?” the Islamists’ leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, a 73-year-old scholar, cried into a microphone as fireworks popped overhead. “We are celebrating freedom! We are celebrating Tunisia! We are celebrating democracy!”

Nearly three years after the Arab Spring, the hopes unleashed by the mass uprisings have largely given way to despair. Egypt suffered a coup; Libya is lurching toward civil war; Syria has experienced a bloodbath. Tunisia is the only country to overthrow a dictator and build a democracy. On Sunday, Tunisians will cast ballots in the second round of national elections, choosing a president after the Oct. 26 parliamentary vote.

Still, the Islamists’ defeat in the first round reflects the clear discontent with what democracy has yielded. Ghannouchi was symbolic of Islamists in the region who surged to power after the uprisings and hoped to transform countries ruled by secular autocrats. But Tunisia’s government has struggled to contain terrorism, revive the economy and win over a deeply secular society.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Saudi state and the religious establishment have for decades fueled sectarian animosities across the region

    Thursday, November 20, 2014   No comments
Public beheadings in Saudi Arabia inspire ISILand like-minded groups
Saudi state and the religious establishment have for decades fueled sectarian animosities across the region. Saudi recruits for al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are often motivated by a desire to contain Shiism and stem Iranian influence in the region – strategic objectives that Saudi media perpetuates ad infinitum. Anti-Shiite (and anti-Christian and anti-Jewish) incitement is spread across the region by Saudi-based television channels. It was encouraging that immediately after the attacks the long-standing Saudi Minister of Information Abdel Aziz Khoja announced the closure of perhaps the worst of those TV stations, Wisal. But in a sign that factions within the Saudi regime are divided over how to deal with the Shiites and with Sunni extremism in the kingdom, the minister was dismissed the next day, and Wisal, which retains some popularity in Saudi Arabia and the wider region, is still up and running.

Nimr’s political role is rooted in a long tradition of Shiite activism, which goes back to the foundation of the Saudi kingdom, and which has led to the establishment of Shiite Islamist movements since the 1970s. He hails from a prominent family from Awamiya, a relatively poor Shiite village surrounded by date farms outside of Qatif, the largest Shiite city in Saudi Arabia. Awamiya has a long history of resistance to the Saudi monarchy. Indeed, Nimr’s grandfather led an armed revolt in 1929-1930 against Saudi tax collectors and Wahhabi missionaries, who were sent to the Eastern Province after the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz bin Saud, conquered it in 1913.

Awamiya was also one of the centers of the Shiite uprising in 1979 that was inspired by the Iranian Revolution. Nimr became politicized during these events and joined the Shirazi movement, which had started the uprising. The Shirazi movement was a transnational Shiite political organization led by the Iraqi-Iranian cleric Muhammad Mahdi al-Shirazi, but the bulk of its supporters were Shiite Muslims from the Persian Gulf states (mainly Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia). Nimr enrolled in the movement’s religious school (hawza) in Iran and then became a teacher in the movement’s hawza in Sayyida Zeinab, the suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus that became a key transnational hub for Shiite pilgrims, students and activists.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Obama says no change in Syria policy, removing Assad still not priority

    Monday, November 17, 2014   No comments
Despite Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's recent remarks claiming that the US administration is signaling a change of policy over Syria and saying that both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the radical Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) must go, US President Barack Obama has said his administration hasn't changed its Syria policy and is not actively working on plans to remove Assad from power.

During a press conference in Brisbane, where the G-20 Leaders' Summit is being held, Obama on Sunday was asked whether the US is recalibrating its Syria policy and making the removal of Assad part of its strategy, even though the removal of Assad initially had not been a priority.

“Certainly, no changes have taken place with respect to our attitude towards Bashar al-Assad,” said Obama.

Stressing once again that Assad has lost legitimacy in the eyes of his own people, Obama explained further why removing Assad from power is not a priority at this point:

“For us to then make common cause with him against ISIL would only turn more Sunnis in Syria in the direction of supporting ISIL, and would weaken our coalition that sends a message around the region this is not a fight against Sunni Islam, this is a fight against extremists of any stripe who are willing to behead innocent people or kill children, or mow down political prisoners with the kind of wanton cruelty that I think we've very rarely seen in the modern age.”


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bodyguard of Syrian rebel who defected to Isil reveals secrets of the jihadist leadership

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014   No comments
Saddam Jamal held the mother and father at gunpoint and forced them to watch as his jihadist comrade murdered their children, one by one.

The Isil commander felt no remorse for killing this Syrian family, his bodyguard said, nor did he believe he was fulfilling a God-given creed: for him being a member of the extremist group was a matter of business, not religion.

"Starting with a thirteen-year-old boy, they lined up the sons according to their height and beheaded them in that order," said the bodyguard, who called himself Abu Abdullah and who has now defected.

"Afterwards, they hung the boys' heads on the door of the school the family had been hiding in."

Before joining Isil, Jamal had been a drug dealer, then a commander in the western-backed Free Syrian Army, claiming contacts in the CIA.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "White Palace" is more than 1/2 billion US dollars and his jet is $185 million

    Tuesday, November 04, 2014   No comments
Ak Saray (white palace), which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will use as his new presidential building, cost more than TL 1 billion, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek has announced.

Responding to questions by opposition lawmakers during budget talks in Parliament late on Monday, Şimşek said the new building cost TL 1.37 billion ($615 million). Stating that TL 964 million has already been spent on Ak Saray, Şimşek said the government allocated TL 300 million for the building from the 2015 budget.

Constructed inside the Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ) on an area of 300,000 square meters in Ankara, Ak Saray has been at the center of strong criticism for being oversized for the presidential post, which is symbolic in Turkey.

Ak Saray may even be touted as the world's largest residential palace. The Guinness World Records currently lists the Istana Nurul Iman palace of the sultan of Brunei, in Bandar Seri Begawan, as the world's largest residential palace with 200,000 square meters of floor space. Completed in 1984, the Brunei sultan's palace cost 300 million pounds, which was equivalent to $422 million at the time, or $970 million today.

The word “Ak” in the name Ak Saray also refers to the name of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Şimşek also announced the cost of the new presidential jet, an Airbus A330-200 Prestige, during the budget talks, saying the jet cost $185 million. Noting that the government has not yet paid for the jet, which was purchased by Turkish Airlines (THY), Şimşek said the Prime Ministry will pay THY this year.
Erdoğan's discretionary fund 20.5 times higher than last 3 PMs'


Monday, November 03, 2014

Moderate rebels in Syria that the US have armed and trained to fight jihadists have joined al-Qaeda

    Monday, November 03, 2014   No comments
Two of the main rebel groups receiving weapons from the United States to fight both the regime and jihadist groups in Syria have surrendered to al-Qaeda.

The US and its allies were relying on Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front to become part of a ground force that would attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been receiving heavy weapons from the US-led coalition, including GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles.

But on Saturday night Harakat Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled in northern Idlib province.

The development came a day after Jabhat al-Nusra dealt a final blow to the SRF, storming and capturing Deir Sinbal, home town of the group's leader Jamal Marouf.

 The attack caused the group, which had already lost its territory in Hama to al-Qaeda, to surrender.

"As a movement, the SRF is effectively finished," said Aymen al-Tammimi, a Syria analyst. "Nusra has driven them out of their strongholds of Idlib and Hama."

The collapse of the SRF and attacks on Harakat Hazm have dramatically weakened the presence of moderate rebel fighting groups in Syria, which, after almost four years of conflict is increasingly becoming a battle ground between the Syrian regime and jihadist organisations.

For the United States, the weapons they supplied falling into the hands of al-Qaeda is a realisation of a nightmare.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

U.S. officials calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "chickenshit"

    Thursday, October 30, 2014   No comments
The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here

The Obama administration's anger is "red-hot" over Israel's settlement policies, and the Netanyahu government openly expresses contempt for Obama's understanding of the Middle East. Profound changes in the relationship may be coming.

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it's ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)  But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency. (President Obama, in interviews with me, has alluded to Netanyahu’s lack of political courage.)

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Davutoglu: Turkey will help in Kobane when the anti-ISIL coalition arm FSA to overthrow the Syrian Government

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014   No comments

 In a recent interview on the BBC, Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, again, equated the Syrian government to ISIL. He insisted that Turkey will help save Kobane when the anti-ISIL coalition commits to a strategy that leads to the overthrow of the Syrian government. He contended that ISIL is strong because the West failed to arm the Free Syrian Army.
Davutoglu expressed surprise about Western countries criticism of his government for not doing enough to fight ISIL. To support his government's strategy of fighting both the Syrian government and ISIL at the same time, he argued that the Syrian government killed 300,000 people and that ISIL was able to fill the gap because the West failed to arm the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Both claims are false. 

The 210,000 people (not 300,000), were killed by both the government and the various armed groups, including the Free Syrian Army. Human rights organization estimated that 65,000 people are Alawites, the community to which Assad belongs. More than 90,000 are from Sunni, Christian, Druze, and Kurdish communities who did not side with ISIL and other rebel groups.
ISIL is strong and well armed thanks to the weapons and training provided to the FSA during the first 18 months of the war in Syria. Most of ISIL fighters were initially FSA fighters. Even former Iraqi military officers joined ISIL. Arming the so-called "moderate" groups ultimately leads to arming ISIL fighters because FSA fighters voluntarily join ISIL or are defeated by ISIL. 
It appears that the Turkish government is determined to pursue a personal and/or partisan obsession focused on overthrowing the Syrian government no matter what the cost and even if that would mean siding with ISIL.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has rejected claims that it is not doing enough to help Syrian fighters defeat Islamic State (IS) in Kobane. He told the BBC it would only take part…

Turkey PM Ahmet Davutoglu: 'We will help coalition forces'

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nidaa Tounes wins 38% of the seats in the Tunisian parliament

    Monday, October 27, 2014   No comments
Tunisia's Ennahda party, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 "Arab Spring" revolts, conceded defeat on Monday in elections that are set to make its main secular rival the strongest force in parliament.
Official results from Sunday's elections - the second parliamentary vote since Tunisians set off uprisings across much of the Arab World by overthrowing autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali - were still to be announced.

But a senior official at Ennahda, which ruled in a coalition until it was forced to make way for a caretaker government during a political crisis at the start of this year, acknowledged defeat by the secular Nidaa Tounes party.

"We have accepted this result, and congratulate the winner Nidaa Tounes," the official, Lotfi Zitoun, told Reuters. However, he repeated the party's call for a new coalition including Ennahda. "We are calling once again for the formation of a unity government in the interest of the country."


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Diplomacy for Erdoğan is very personal for, his closest friends are very small and embattled: Hamas and Qatar; and of course Massoud Barzani

    Sunday, October 26, 2014   No comments
Even though Turkey tried to win a seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this month by presenting itself as a regional power in the Middle East, it lost the contest, and according to this week's guest for Monday Talk, it was a litmus test on how unpopular Turkish foreign policy is in contrast to 2008 when Turkey was able to secure many more than the required two-thirds of the votes.

“Erdoğan destroyed his positive foreign policy legacy. If you look at Turkey's relations with major players, for example Egypt, it is troubled,” said Michael Thumann, diplomacy correspondent at the Berlin office of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, regarding the policies of Turkey's former prime minister and current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“I strongly criticize the coup d'état in Egypt as a reporter and journalist who was there at the time, but still, it got very personal for Erdoğan even though it is about relations between the states. The closest friends are very small and embattled: Hamas and Qatar; and of course Massoud Barzani,” added Thumann, who used to be the Middle East bureau chief for Die Zeit in İstanbul between September 2007 and October 2013.

European countries have been especially critical of Turkey as they say Ankara did not crack down on foreign fighters who have traveled through Turkey to join extremist groups in Syria.

Thumann said Turkey needs to be clear about the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) threat: “In decisive moments you need to be clear; and regarding Kobani, Turkey needs to be clear. It does not have to send tanks but [it can] help by all means -- open borders, open routes and help the free movement of Kurds. Turkey needs to at least treat Kurds equally to the other opposition groups to the [Bashar al-Assad] regime.”

Thumann, who answered our questions in Berlin during an event organized by the Friedrich Neumann Foundation on the German media system, elaborated on the issue.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ISIL Using Banned Chemical Weapons in Kobani

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014   No comments

Redur Khalil, spokesman of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s Kurdistan region, disclosed that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Takfiri terrorists have been using banned weapons in their recent attacks on the town of Kobani.
“The terrorists have used banned weapons in their recent attacks,” Khalil told FNA on Tuesday.

He noted that the scars on the dead bodies of the YPG forces who have been killed in the warfronts with the ISIL militants indicate that the terrorists have used unconventional weapons to break the resistance of Kobani defenders.

“We need heavy weapons for driving the terrorists out of the region, we do not need dispatch of forces because we have our own fighters who can change the balance of war against the terrorists in the region if they have weapons,” Khalil said.

The YPG spokesman pointed to the recent stances of the Turkish government on regional developments, and said, “The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has so far adopted a dual-approach policy towards regional developments and Ankara’s stances on ISIL terrorists are not transparent and all the forces who have come from abroad and joined the ranks of ISIL terrorists have entered Syria through Turkey.”

The YPG spokesman further asked for the formation of a regional front against ISIL, and said these are the regional nations who should form a coalition against the terrorist group, and not those states that are from outside the region.

Battle for Kobani: Turkey's actions have revealed that it is pursuing its own contradictory political agenda

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014   No comments
Just a few kilometers away from the Turkish border, the war is raging. In the Kurdish city of Kobani, US jets bomb Islamic State positions while the town's last defenders, equipped with more grit than guns, fight the jihadists on the ground .

As the Turkish army impassively watches the deadly battle from its side of the boundary with Syria, it has opened its own mini-front on the outskirts of Suruç, a Turkish border city. A young policeman, his finger on the trigger of his automatic weapon, stands in front of the town's sports club, a second officer next to him holding a grenade launcher for tear-gas cartridges. Behind them are two dozen soldiers and policemen, and armored vehicles bearing mounted machine guns and crates of ammunition.

Since Oct. 6, the jittery unit has been detaining a number of Kurdish civilians who fled across the border from Kobani. In the beginning, they numbered 160 -- most of them were young men, though there were also women and children. The guards in front of the gate are not allowed to say why the civilians are being held and they point their weapons at everyone who approaches.

Suddenly, a group of boys from a local team appears. A boy of about 10 explains that they're arriving for weekly soccer practice, held on the field next to the gymnasium. A man in uniform searches through their gym bags, one after the other, while the others look on nervously.

The scene is prosaic and absurd. But it is, for that very reason, symbolic of what is taking place on the Turkish side of the border these days. The fight for Kobani -- which, thanks to its proximity to the border, is being filmed and watched around the world in real time -- is no longer exclusively about control of the city. The desperate defense mounted by the Kurds embodies their decades-long struggle for an independent country.

Kobani was a city where a Kurdish government sprouted and flourished, a fulfillment of dreams in miniature. Now that the city is being threatened with destruction by Islamic State Ankara is doing nothing to prevent it, and thus putting the future of Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation in danger -- and domestic peace along with it.

Incomparable Triumph


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From al-Qaeda affiliate to ISIL to "The Islamic State"

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014   No comments

The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.

The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it's not just the group's military victories that have garnered attention — it's also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.

Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State's expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.

VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.

Friday, October 17, 2014

ISIL fighters training to fly Syria warplanes

    Friday, October 17, 2014   No comments
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) jihadists are being trained by Saddam Hussein's former pilots to fly three fighter jets captured from the Syrian military, a monitoring group said Oct. 16.
The planes, which are believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 jets, are capable of flying although it is unclear if they are equipped with missiles, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.       

The jets were seized from Syrian military airports now under ISıL control in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Raqa, according to the Britain-based group, which has a wide network of sources inside the war-torn country.

It said that former Iraqi army officers who once served under Saddam were supervising the training at the military airport of Jarrah, east of the city of Aleppo.
Witnesses have reported seeing planes flying at a low altitude to avoid detection by radar after taking off from Jarrah.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ISIL, through its new flagship magazine called Dabiq, calls Erdogan Apostate and explains its slaughter of Kurds

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014   No comments
ISIL released the second issue of its flagship magazine, Dabiq. In it, it tried to provide its own narrative to set itself apart from all other Islamist groups, encourage Muslims to migrate to the "Islamic State", and providing some behind the scenes reporting about its military and security operations in Syrian and Iraq. It also tried to explain why the group's forces are attacking Kurdish towns and, in a warning to Turkish leaders, calls Erdogan apostate.The following is a sample of the articles appearing in the magazine of the genocidal group.

The Fight against the PKK

Comprising territory that spans from eastern Turkey, through northeastern Syria and northern Iraq, all the way to northwestern Iran, the area commonly referred to as Kurdistan is a region that is mostly home to a Sunni Kurdish population.

In the 1970s, a group of students led by Abdullah Ocalan founded a communist political organization
called the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, with the goal of establishing an independent marxist state. Thirty years ago, the PKK began an armed conflict against Turkey in an effort to advance their goals. The conflict continued on and off with occasional ceasefires until 2013, when the PKK announced the end of hostilities after lengthy negotiations between the apostates Erdogan and Ocalan.

Approximately ten years ago in neighbouring Shām, the marxist Kurds in the north founded a political opposition party called the PYD (Democratic Union Party), which shares the kufri ideology
of Ocalan and is seen as being a Syrian front for the PKK. During the course of the jihad in Shām, the PYD’s armed wing, the YPG, became increasingly involved in clashes with the mujahidīn as they attempted to control a number of towns and cities in the north with significant Kurdish populations.
The Islamic State did not hesitate to wage war against the communist murtaddīn of the PKK/YPG, while simultaneously continuing their fight against the nusayrī regime and the sahwāt.

There are presently a number of fronts in the Islamic State being defended against the Kurdish communists in both Iraq and Shām. The month of Ramadān saw numerous operations taking place against the PKK and their Iraqi counterparts, the Peshmerga. The following is an account of some of the operations carried out by the mujahidīn.

On the 3rd of Ramadān, the soldiers of the Islamic State made preparations to strike the PKK in the village of Zūr Maghār, near Jarāblus. The  of Jarāblus. Numerous weapons were captured as ghanīmah, including assault rifles, PKC machine guns, RPG launchers and rounds, a sniper rifle and a night vision scope. During the course of the battle there was one shahīd and a number of light injuries. This battle was just one of a number of successful advances made against the PKK on numerous fronts, including the capture of the village of Kindār and a number of other villages adjacent to it on the western front of Tal Abyad on the 11th of Ramadān, with the advance continuing towards ‘Ayn Al-’Arab. This was in addition to a number of operations against the PKK within their main strongholds, including istishhādi operations carried out against the PKK/Peshmerga murtaddīn in both Iraq and Shām, as well as a number of PKK vehicles blown up by the Islamic State’s undercover cells in Wilāyat Al-Barakah, all leading to many of their apostate soldiers being killed.
May Allah continue to humiliate the secularist murtaddīn in all their colors and stripes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Turkey accused of denying Kurds medical help after preventing Syrian Kurds from returning to Kobane to fight ISIL

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014   No comments
Kurdish mother mourns her son killed by ISIL October 10
With medical supplies depleted in the war-ravaged north Syrian town of Kobane, Kurdish activist Blesa Omar rushed three comrades wounded in battle against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) straight to the border to dispatch them to a Turkish hospital.

He spent the next four hours watching them die, one by one, from what he believes were treatable shrapnel wounds, while Turkish border guards refused to let them through the frontier.

"To me it is clear they died because they waited so long. If they had received help, even up to one hour before their deaths, they could have lived," said Omar, 34, an ethnic Kurd originally from Iraq who holds Swedish nationality.

"Once the soldiers realised they were dead, they said, 'Now you can cross with the bodies.' I cannot forget that. It was total chaos, it was a catastrophe," he said, choking back tears.

Deaths of wounded fighters held up at the border have become another emotive charge in a litany of Kurdish grievances against Ankara, which Kurds accuse of turning its back on their kin fighting across the frontier against ISIL.

The anger has brought violence to Turkey itself: Turkey's 15 million-strong Kurdish minority rose up last week in riots in which at least 35 people were killed. On Oct. 14, there were reports that Turkish war planes had bombed Kurdish militants for the first time in two years.

Turkey says it has been generous to Kurds, taking in 200,000 refugees from the Kobane area since Islamic State fighters launched their offensive four weeks ago.

But as the United Nations warns of a potential massacre in Kobane in full view of Turkish tanks that have done nothing to help protect the town, Kurdish anger threatens to unravel a peace process to end a decades-long insurgency in Turkey itself.

Friday, October 10, 2014

UN's Staffan de Mistura urged Turkey to allow in volunteers to Syria to defend the town from Islamic State militants

    Friday, October 10, 2014   No comments
There are reports that IS has taken control of the Kurdish headquarters in the town, but this has been denied by a Syrian Kurdish official there.

Kobane has been a major battleground for IS and the Kurds for three weeks.

The fighting has forced hundreds of thousands of Syrians, mainly Kurds, to flee into neighbouring Turkey, which has so far ruled out any ground operation on its own against IS.

Kurdish forces, who are being helped by US-led coalition strikes against IS, say they urgently need more weapons and ammunition to push back the militants' advance in the town.

The US Central Command (Centcom) said that US fighter jets alongside UAE and Saudi Arabian military aircraft carried out airstrikes on Thursday and Friday around the southeast of Kobane and in Deir al-Zour, in eastern Syria, destroying several IS vehicles and training facilities.
'No Srebrenica'
Except for one narrow entry and exit point, Mr de Mistura said Kobane was "literally surrounded" by IS, with hundreds of mainly elderly civilians still inside the city centre and another 10-13,000 gathered nearby, AFP reports.

He said the civilians would "most likely massacred'' if the town fell to IS, warning that the UN did not want to see another Srebrenica - where thousands of Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 during the Bosnian conflict.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Isil hostage Peter Kassig: The point is that Isil is killing Muslims every day. Most of the victims of Isil are Muslims

    Thursday, October 09, 2014   No comments
Isil hostage Peter Kassig 'is now devout Muslim who prays five times a day', says ex-captive
Nicolas Henin, a former cellmate of Peter Kassig and John Cantlie, reveals intimate details of their lives as hostages of Islamic State

 The jihadists however, murdered him regardless.

"For other captors, I had the feeling that [the conversions] made no difference, and even it was explained to us, that since you converted after capture, it was up to God to judge the sincerity of your faith, but we cannot take it into account.

"The point is that Isil is killing Muslims every day," said Mr Henin, referring to the group's wider action in the conflict. "Most of the victims of Isil are Muslims."


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Turkey's Erdogan blackmails anti-ISIL coalition and kills 19 Turkish citizens

    Wednesday, October 08, 2014   No comments
Turkey's Erdogan is blackmailing anti-ISIL coalition. His security forces just killed 19 Turkish citizens protesting his role in facilitating ISIL takeover of Kobane. Erdogan is a callous politician who is pursuing the overthrow of Assad by allowing the flow of fighters and weapons to ISIL. He wishes that Kobane falls quickly and that civilians are slaughtered on the hands of ISIL so that he gets his buffer zone inside Syria to facilitate the training and transfer of more weapons to anti-Assad forces, including ISIL. He has no respect for institutions, international law, and human life because he personalizes his politics. He is playing with fire: it is only a a matter of time before ISIL
threatens his country.

While Turkish troops watched the fighting in Kobani through a chicken-wire fence, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that the town was about to fall and Kurdish fighters warned of an impending blood bath if they were not reinforced — fears the United States shares.

But Mr. Erdogan said Tuesday that Turkey would not get more deeply involved in the conflict with the Islamic State unless the United States agreed to give greater support to rebels trying to unseat the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. That has deepened tensions with President Obama, who would like Turkey to take stronger action against the Islamic State and to leave the fight against Mr. Assad out of it.

read article >>

Pro-ISIS radicals with machetes, knives attack Kurds in Germany

    Wednesday, October 08, 2014   No comments
Peaceful protests against IS in Syria and Iraq organized by Kurdish nationals in several German cities ended with serious clashes with pro-jihadist Muslims in Hamburg and Celle. Police had to request reinforcements to restore order. 

Police in Hamburg, a port city of 1.8 million people, used water cannons, batons and pepper spray late Tuesday to disperse crowds of warring Kurds and pro-jihadist Muslims, armed with knives and brass-knuckles, following a protest against Islamic State militants who are attacking the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria near the Turkish border. 


AKP prefers ISIL over PKK and Assad government

    Wednesday, October 08, 2014   No comments
Following an avalanche of criticism on social media, a prominent member of Parliament from Turkey’s ruling party has deleted a controversial tweet that favored jihadists over the supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“What did the young man whose head was crushed do wrong? The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] can’t beat those who did it to him. ISIL kills, but at least they don’t torture,” Emrullah İşler, a member of Parliament from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a former deputy prime minister, tweeted on Oct. 7.

A young member of the Free Cause Party (Hüda-Par) was reportedly among the people who were killed, numbering at least 18, during the violent protests against ISIL in Turkey.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Ben Affleck angered over the negative, "incomplete" image that Maher and fellow guest, author Sam Harris, were painting of Muslims

    Sunday, October 05, 2014   No comments
The Gone Girl star, 42, appeared as a guest on Real Time With Bill Maher last week, but became angered over the negative, "incomplete" image that Maher and fellow guest, author Sam Harris, were painting of Muslims.

"We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people," Harris said. "It's intellectually ridiculous."

Mayer supporting him, describing Islam as "the only religion that acts like the mafia" and will "f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book".

Cue much anger from Affleck, who called Harris' picture of Islam as "the motherhood of bad ideas" over-generalised and "ugly".

"Hold on – are you the person who officially understands the codified doctrine of Islam?" Affleck responded, branding the pair's remarks "gross" and "racist" and arguing that they were akin to saying "Oh, you shifty Jew".

"Your argument is, 'You know, black people, they shoot each other,'" he said.

Watch video

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Qataris who financed 9/11 mastermind now funding terrorists in Syria and Iraq

    Saturday, October 04, 2014   No comments
An al-Qaeda financier jailed for his role in funding the mastermind behind 9/11 is once again raising money for Islamist terrorists after being freed by the Qatari authorities, The Telegraph can disclose.

Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy - a Qatari citizen who was said to have provided 'financial support' for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - was jailed for terrorist offences in 2008 but released after only six months.

He is now accused of funding Islamist terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq.

New documents released by the US Treasury disclose links between Al-Subaiy and a terror financier accused of bankrolling an al-Qaeda offshoot that plotted to blow up airliners using toothpaste tube bombs.

The American military thwarted the plot in an air strike on the group’s headquarters in Syria just over a week ago.
 The case highlights growing concern over the apparent failure of Qatar, one of the richest nations in the world, to crack down on financial terrorist networks in the country.

Qatar has developed a close relationship with Britain in recent years, investing billions of pounds in the UK, including buying Harrods and building the Shard, the tallest building in Europe. The Gulf State has also secured in controversial circumstances the World Cup in 2022.

But prominent critics are now calling for greater scrutiny of Qatar’s connections to global terrorism with the threat of sanctions if it fails to tackle the problem.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, has warned that Qatar “must choose their friends or live with the consequences” while Professor Anthony Glees, director of the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, said: “The time has come to draw the line under funding by the Gulf States coming into the UK. It is well known that to find the terrorists you have to follow the money and at the moment it seems to be coming from Qatar.”

Friday, October 03, 2014

U.S. VP Joe Biden: Our biggest problem is our allies. Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria

    Friday, October 03, 2014   No comments
U.S. VP Joe Biden has said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted mistakes that paved the way for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"President Erdoğan told me, he is an old friend, said you were right, we let too many people through, now we are trying to seal the border," Biden said during a speech on foreign policy at Harvard Kennedy School on Oct. 2.

While speaking to the students for nearly an hour and a half, Biden defended the U.S. foreign policy, stressing that the White House was not late to move against the rise of the ISIL. He said that the regional allies of the U.S, determined to take down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, "poured hundreds of millions dollars, and tens thousands of tones of weapons into anyone who would fight against al-Assad, accepted the people who would be in supply for Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and extremist elements of jihadists coming from other parts of the world."
"Our biggest problem is our allies. Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks, we’re great friends and I have a great relationship with Erdoğan that I spent  a lot of time with. The Saudis, The Emiratis etc... What were they doing?" Biden asked.

"So now what is happening, all of sudden everybody is awakened," Biden added, claiming that like Turkey admitted its mistakes, Saudi Arabia and Qatar stopped the funding of jihadists.

See also these reports: Liveleaks and  RT report 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Qatar has pumped tens of millions of dollars through obscure funding networks to hard-line Syrian rebels and extremist Salafists

    Thursday, October 02, 2014   No comments
The Case Against Qatar

The tiny, gas-rich emirate has pumped tens of millions of dollars through obscure funding networks to hard-line Syrian rebels and extremist Salafists, building a foreign policy that punches above its weight. After years of acquiescing -- even taking advantage of its ally's meddling -- Washington may finally be punching back. 
Behind a glittering mall near Doha's city center sits the quiet restaurant where Hossam used to run his Syrian rebel brigade. At the battalion's peak in 2012 and 2013, he had 13,000 men under his control near the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. "Part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), they are loyal to me," he said over sweet tea and sugary pastries this spring. "I had a good team to fight."

Hossam, a middle-aged Syrian expat, owns several restaurants throughout Doha, Qatar, catering mostly to the country's upper crust. The food is excellent, and at night the tables are packed with well-dressed Qataris, Westerners, and Arabs. Some of his revenue still goes toward supporting brigades and civilians with humanitarian goods -- blankets, food, even cigarettes.

He insists that he has stopped sending money to the battle, for now. His brigade's funds came, at least in part, from Qatar, he says, under the discretion of then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah. But the injection of cash was ad hoc: Dozens of other brigades like his received initial start-up funding, and only some continued to receive Qatari support as the months wore on. When the funds ran out in mid-2013, his fighters sought support elsewhere. "Money plays a big role in the FSA, and on that front, we didn't have," he explained.

Hossam is a peripheral figure in a vast Qatari network of Islamist-leaning proxies that spans former Syrian generals, Taliban insurgents, Somali Islamists, and Sudanese rebels. He left home in 1996 after more than a decade under pressure from the Syrian regime for his sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood. Many of his friends were killed in a massacre of the group in Hama province in 1982 by then President Hafez al-Assad. He finally found refuge here in Qatar and built his business and contacts slowly. Mostly, he laid low; Doha used to be quite welcoming to the young President Bashar al-Assad and his elegant wife, who were often spotted in the high-end fashion boutiques before the revolt broke out in 2011.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


    Tuesday, September 30, 2014   No comments

Summary CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ, President of Argentina, said
most of the problems facing the world today resulted from a lack of democratic multilateralism. In that context, she welcomed the vote by the Assembly on resolution 68/304, to restructure the foreign debts of all countries. That had long been before the Assembly, which had called for reform of the international financial system and the Security Council. Argentina had previously experienced the kind of economic and financial crisis that had spread throughout the world in 2008, when, in 2001, it had been forced to default on its sovereign debt. Contributing to that collapse were the creditors’ terms that had been forced upon the country. As a result, there had not only been economic collapse, but a social and political implosion as well. Argentina owed 162 per cent of its GDP. Its creditors, having contributed to that, were obligated to shoulder some of the burden.


The country had been able to formulate agreements with 92.4 per cent of its creditors, enabling it to improve the condition of its people, she said. Today the IMF recognized that the economic growth rate achieved by Argentina between 2004 and 2011 was the third largest in the world. In fact, Argentina now had the best growth in Latin America, which had been possible because $193 billion in debt had been restructured. Today, it carried one of the lowest debt loads in the world.
However, she added, there were “vulture funds” of individuals who would not participate in the restructuring, but instead turned to the countries indebted to them and chose to go through the court systems. Some reaped more than 1,600 per cent profit over a five-year period. Those “vulture funds” amounted to economic terrorism, creating poverty, misery and hunger through the sin of speculation. For that reason, she called for a convention on multilateralism.
Highlighting the attack on the Israeli Embassy, she said that Argentina had also experienced political terrorism. The country had sought to bring the perpetrators to justice, including through a memorandum negotiated with Iran, enabling the accused Iranian citizens to make statements in Argentina’s courts. Dialogue was essential, and in that context, she recognized the need for a two-State solution in the Middle East. She called on the Assembly to recognize Palestine as a State and full Member of the Assembly, noting that Israel must also be secure within its borders. “In a time of economic vultures and hawks of war, we need more doves of peace,” she said.
Turning to the Security Council, she said that as long as the votes of the five permanent members counted more than those of other countries, nothing would ever be resolved. There would be a real beginning to a solution when the Assembly, where each member had one vote, became the sovereign body of the Organization. As a non-permanent member of the Council, she had questions about who had armed the “bad guys”, some of whom were now starting to cooperate. But one group had led to another, and now there was ISIS. “Where does this come from?” she asked. Some might be able to answer such questions, she said. In closing, she expressed thanks to all who had supported resolution 68/304 in the face of pressure not to do so.

Also available on via youtube, below


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U.S. senior official: The Syria policy people are so focused on taking down Assad, they were blind to this [ISIL] problem

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014   No comments
U.S. senior official. “The Syria policy people are so focused on taking down Assad, they were blind to this problem.”

By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq.
But the reports, they said, generated little attention in a White House consumed with multiple brush fires and reluctant to be drawn back into Iraq. “Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.”

The White House denies that, but the threat certainly has its attention now as American warplanes pound the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State in hopes of reversing its lightning-swift seizing of territory in Iraq and Syria. Still, even as bombs fall from the sky thousands of miles away, the question of how it failed to anticipate the rise of a militant force that in the space of a few months has redrawn the map of the Middle East resonates inside and outside the Obama administration.


The United States use of drones strikes under President Obama

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014   No comments

The United States has launched a huge number of drone strikes under President Obama. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Obama says US 'underestimated' rise of ISIS, admits 'contradictory' Syria policy

    Monday, September 29, 2014   No comments
The following is a script of "President Obama" which aired on Sept. 28, 2014. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. L. Franklin Devine, Maria Gavrilovic and Michael Radutzky, producers.

Last week was a long and momentous one in the presidency of Barack Obama. On Monday, he began a bombing campaign with members of an international coalition against ISIS and other terrorist targets in Syria, while continuing airstrikes in northern Iraq. On Wednesday, he addressed the United Nations and laid out his case in the strongest terms for international action against Muslim extremists. By Thursday, his anti-ISIS coalition had grown to more than 60 members, ranging from the Saudis, Jordanians, Emiratis and Europeans who flew missions, to the Irish and Swedes who wrote checks, to the Bulgarians and Egyptians who wished us well.

On Friday, he was back in the White House where he met us in the Diplomatic Reception Room for a conversation that ranged from terror networks to the American economy.

Steve Kroft: A lot of things going on in the world right now. A lot of them bad. You run into people on the street and they say the world is falling apart. You got Syria. You've got Iraq. You've got Ukraine. You've got Ebola. Is this the most difficult period of your presidency, the biggest challenge of your presidency, this period we're in right now?

President Obama: It's a significant period. But if you think about what I walked into when I came into office, we had not only two wars still active, but we also had a world financial system, which was becoming unraveled. And we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. So you know, we've had challenges before. And we've overcome them. That's not to downplay the serious challenges that we do face right now, mostly internationally.

read (watch) more >>

Saturday, September 27, 2014

69th regular session of the General Assembly

    Saturday, September 27, 2014   No comments
GENERAL DEBATE (24-30 September 2014)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"funding different groups... frankly, a [was] sloppy process" of ousting Assad and led to ISIL’s rise, Kerry says

    Thursday, September 25, 2014   No comments
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/images/news/201409/n_72151_1.jpgU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has placed the blame for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on those who resorted to any means to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, creating what he called a “sloppy process.”

“In the very beginning … when the efforts to oust al-Assad took place, there were people who made calculations that the important thing is to remove al-Assad. Yes, there are some bad apples there, but we want to get him out. And that, unfortunately, resulted in funding different groups, and it was, frankly, a sloppy process,” Kerry told CNN International’s Christiane Amanpour during an interview aired on Sept. 24.

Noting that attempts to oust al-Assad and “get rid of the bad apples” after was a bad idea at the time, Kerry spoke more positively about the situation’s current conditions. He stressed that now the anti-ISIL coalition members, including Arab states, “are all on board.”

“So since then, there’s been a real focus on this financing, and state-sponsored support of these groups, I believe, is over. It has ended. There are still individuals within certain countries who have been funneling money to these groups,” he said. “They realized it morphed into something more ominous, more threatening, and so I think people have really pulled back. There’s a sense of purpose now in this focus against ISIL.”

Kerry said Syria’s president lost legitimacy long ago. “This is not about al-Assad now,” he said.

“This is about ISIL. But we are continuing to train openly, equip and arm the moderate opposition. And over the years, we’ve gotten pretty good at vetting and understand – we’ve done 20 years of this now; we did it in Iraq, we’ve done it in Afghanistan – and our folks know how to separate people and begin to determine to the greatest extent possible who is really moderate and prepared to fight,” Kerry said.
read and watch CNN interview >>


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