Sunday, November 29, 2015

Erdogan's Mistake: Russia May Now Initiate Own 'No-Fly Zone' Over Syria

    Sunday, November 29, 2015   No comments
President Erdogan's mistake in shooting down the Russian Su-24 bomber 'has waived the green light' for Russia to initiate a 'no-fly zone' by deploying additional fighter power and air defense systems in Syria, US columnist Jim W. Dean notes.
The US-led coalition's recent provocation against the Russo-Syrian counter terrorism campaign has "put nothing but torpedoes into its own sinking international credibility," according to US columnist and managing editor for Veterans Today Jim W. Dean.

Dean stresses that the destruction of the ISIL oil tanker fleet, which NATO had been "somehow" unable to detect for over a year, has predictably prompted outrage from those who have long been benefiting from the illicit oil trade.

"We suspected the tanker-crushing move would make the people who had been marketing ISIL's oil, the Kurds and Turkey, unhappy enough to be provoked into a blunder themselves. We did not have to wait long, with the militarily-senseless shooting down of the Russian SU-24 bomber by the Turkish F-16s," Dean narrates in his recent article for New Eastern Outlook.

The US columnist emphasizes that it is obvious that Turkey would never dare to carry out such a provocation "without clearing it with the US and NATO, as they would be dragged into anyway."

Turkish reports that they knew nothing about the origin of the Su-24 bomber jet sound completely unconvincing.

"Did they expect us to believe that their radar was not working, nor the US-coalition drones or spy satellites that monitor the Syria-Iraqi battlefield 24/7?" Dean asks with a trace of irony.

However, NATO with Secretary General Stoltenberg has supported Turkey. Still, there were a number of NATO envoys who expressed their concerns regarding the matter. They pointed to the fact that Turkey did not make attempts to escort the Russian bomber out of its airspace.


Turkey's changing explanation for shooting down Russian jet harming its standing, exposing its double standard, and strengthening Syrian government

    Sunday, November 29, 2015   No comments
Iraqi Vice President Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday accused Erdoğan of pushing the world to the brink of a global conflict after it downed the Russian warplane, according to a report by French news agency the AFP. "Erdoğan claims the Russian aircraft entered Turkey's airspace for a few seconds, forgetting that its own planes violate Iraqi and Syrian airspace every day," he said in a statement. Turkish fighter jets have, in recent months, carried out a series of deadly strikes against rebels of the Kurdistan
Workers' Party (PKK) in their bases in the north of Iraq. "Erdoğan's double standards and aggressive policies are threatening a new world war," said the vice president.

Putin on Thursday dismissed as "rubbish" Turkey's claim that it did not know the jets were Russian. "They [our planes] have insignias and these are well visible," Putin said. "Instead of [...] ensuring this never happens again, we are hearing unintelligible explanations and statements that there is nothing to apologize about."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

UK could be prosecuted for war crimes over missiles sold to Saudi Arabia that were used to kill civilians in Yemen

    Saturday, November 28, 2015   No comments
Advisers to the Foreign Secretary step up legal warnings that the missile sales may breach international humanitarian law

Britain is at risk of being prosecuted for war crimes because of growing evidence that missiles sold to Saudi Arabia have been used against civilian targets in Yemen’s brutal civil war, Foreign Office lawyers and diplomats have warned.

Advisers to Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, have stepped up legal warnings that the sale of specialist missiles to the Saudis, deployed throughout nine months of almost daily bombing raids in west Yemen against Houthi rebels, may breach international humanitarian law.

Since March this year, bombing raids and a blockade of ports imposed by the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Gulf states have crippled much of Yemen. Although the political aim is to dislodge Houthi Shia rebels and restore the exiled President, Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed, with schools, hospitals and non-military infrastructure hit. Fuel and food shortages, according to the United Nations, have brought near famine to many parts of the country.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other NGOs, claim there is no doubt that weapons supplied by the UK and the United States have hit Yemeni civilian targets. One senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) legal adviser told The Independent: “The Foreign Secretary has acknowledged that some weapons supplied by the UK have been used by the Saudis in Yemen. Are our reassurances correct – that such sales are within international arms treaty rules? The answer is, sadly, not at all clear.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict

    Thursday, November 26, 2015   No comments
The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.

It is the first combat deployment for a foreign army that the Emirates has quietly built in the desert over the past five years, according to several people currently or formerly involved with the project. The program was once managed by a private company connected to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide, but the people involved in the effort said that his role ended several years ago and that it has since been run by the Emirati military.

The arrival in Yemen of 450 Latin American troops — among them are also Panamanian, Salvadoran and Chilean soldiers — adds to the chaotic stew of government armies, armed tribes, terrorist networks and Yemeni militias currently at war in the country. Earlier this year, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia, including the United States, began a military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels who have pushed the Yemeni government out of the capital, Sana. source

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Turkey gave no warning" before shooting down the Russia plane

    Wednesday, November 25, 2015   No comments
Capt Konstantin Murakhtin told Russian television there was "no way" the jet could have violated Turkish airspace, as Turkey said it did.

Russia said Capt Murakhtin was rescued in a 12-hour operation involving special forces.

Turkey insists the pilots were warned 10 times before the plane was shot down.

It is not clear what happened to the body of his co-pilot, who was killed by gunfire as he parachuted from the burning plane.

Capt Murakhtin was speaking from the Hmeymim airbase, where Russia's aircraft have been based in its Syrian campaign, and where he was taken after being rescued.

He said he knew the region he had been flying in "very well" and that the jet had not been in Turkish airspace "even for a second".

He added he wanted to go back to duty and stay at the airbase, saying "someone has to pay" for the death of the other pilot, Lt Col Oleg Peshkov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Lt Col Peshkov would be posthumously awarded the Star of the Hero of Russia.

There are also to be state awards too for Capt Murakhtin and the marine who died during his rescue, Alexander Pozynich.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Turkish government uses Syrian Turkmens to try again for a buffer zone inside Syria, Turkmen leader says Syrian government is not a threat, Terrorists are

    Monday, November 23, 2015   No comments
Turkey has called for a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighboring Syria, according to Prime Ministry sources, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu saying his government will “not hesitate” to take the required measures on Syrian soil to protect the Turkmen people.

“We will also take the required measures diplomatically for the protection of our brothers and sisters in the place where they are located and for the protection of their human rights in the face of any threat,” he also stated.
However, prominent Syrian Turkmen figure Ali Türkmani challenged Ankara’s claims that Syria’s Turkmen community was being targeted in attacks.

“There is a perception operation that is being waged over the Turkmens,” Türkmani told daily BirGün on Nov. 22. “The regime will of course attempt to maintain its territorial integrity. As such, threats from al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are being targeted [by Russian air strikes]. It’s not correct to say the Turkmens are being targeted,” he added.

The Turkmens are a Turkic-language-speaking ethnic minority who live alongside Arab and Kurdish populations and have traditionally had uneasy relations with the Syrian regimes of Bashar al-Assad and his late father, Hafez al-Assad.

The Turkmens have for decades tried to maintain their language and culture in Syria, resisting Arab assimilation policies of the Damascus government, which in turn has frequently regarded them as a fifth column working in favor of Ankara. They maintain close ties to Turkey, which sees the minority as allies in its push to oust al-Assad from power.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

ISIL assembling chemical weapons team, preparing for attacks with chemical weapons

    Sunday, November 22, 2015   No comments
The Islamic State is putting together a team of scientists to produce chemical weapons, raising concerns that they could be used against the West like last week's deadly attacks in Paris, according to a published report.

The new branch of the terrorist group will consist of scientists from the region, including Iraq and Syria, and will conduct research and experiments to develop chemical weapons, U.S. and Iraqi intelligence officials said. Some of those working on the team once worked for Saddam Hussein's former Military Industrialization Authority.

The team also includes foreign experts from Chechnya and southeast Asia, according to the Associated Press.

Also, Kuwait official news agencies reported (11/22/2015) that interrogation of members of an ISIL cell revealed that ISIL, also known as Daesh, is buying chemical protective gear, which might suggest that ISIL is preparing for chemical attacks in Syria and Iraq.


Friday, November 20, 2015

‘Rabid’ dogs and closing mosques: Anti-Islam rhetoric grows in GOP

    Friday, November 20, 2015   No comments
Carson:  Not all Muslims are like rabid dogs, just one might be.
One of the front-runners in the Republican presidential race said Thursday he would “absolutely” want a database of Muslims in the country and wouldn’t rule out giving them special ID cards that noted their religion.

Another top candidate likened Syrian refugees — who are largely Muslim — to dogs. Some of them might be rabid, he said, which was reason to keep them all out.

And a third stood up in the Senate on Thursday and called for banning refugees from five Middle Eastern countries. He was explicit that the point was to keep Muslim refugees out while letting Christians from the same places in.

A week after terrorists tied to the Islamic State terrorist group killed 129 people in Paris, some Republican politicians have responded with the kind of rhetoric that another Republican — George W. Bush — explicitly avoided after the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In the angry aftermath, Bush said that “Islam is peace” and that all Muslims should not be judged for the deeds of a few radicals.

But in this election — already defined by a suspicion of government and anger about immigration — the rhetoric on Muslims has become a dominant feature of the Republican response to the attacks. It also comes as 47 House Democrats joined with 242 Republicans on Thursday to pass a bill placing new security constraints on President Obama’s pledge to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees, most of whom would be Muslim.


Ivy League universities and the legacy of racism

    Friday, November 20, 2015   No comments
A 32-hour protest about the racial climate at Princeton ended Thursday night when the president and students reached an agreement that included consideration of the idea of renaming the university’s storied Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Soon afterward, the university announced an anonymous threat of violence that referenced the protest.

The debate came in the midst of a national escalation of the topic of race on campus, with students at dozens of colleges confronting administrators and other students and presenting demands — and anonymous threats surfacing, as well.

The Black Justice League at Princeton had demanded that the president acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and remove his name from buildings on campus, mandate “cultural competency” courses for all faculty and staff, and provide cultural space for black students on campus.

President Christopher Eisgruber immediately agreed to the idea of a cultural space Wednesday night, but declined to sign the demands and promised to continue talking with students about the other ideas.


Wilson, an alumnus and president of the university who went on to become the 28th president of the United States, advocated for separation of races and opposed efforts by civil rights leaders to combat discrimination against black people. Students asked that his name be removed from a residential college, the university’s school of public and international affairs, and that a mural of him be removed from a dining hall.

Eisgruber agreed that in his opinion the mural should not be there, and the process began to consider its ultimate removal.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

US Republican Senator for the State of Virginia Richard Black sent letter to Syrian president praising his 'dramatic strides against terrorists'

    Thursday, November 19, 2015   No comments

US Republican Senator for the State of Virginia Richard Black sent a letter Tuesday to President Bashar al-Assad praising the Syrian leader and his army, while criticizing the US.

“I was pleased by the Russians’ intervention against the armies invading Syria," Black wrote. "With their support, the Syrian Army has made dramatic strides against the terrorists.”

Blacks letter came as Russian and French raids struck arms depots, barracks and other areas in Raqa city, the bastion of the Islamic State terrorist group in northern Syria.

Moscow began an air war in Syria, in coordination with embattled President Bashar al-Assad, on September 30. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed his military to work with France "as allies," and agreed in a phone call with French President Francois Hollande on "closer contact and coordination" of operations in Syria.

The US and France have been firm backers of Syria's uprising, while Russia and Iran have remained staunch allies of Assad.

Last week, Syrian government forces broke a siege by Islamic State of the Kuwairis airbase, east of Aleppo.

“I was delighted by Syria’s resounding victory over ISIS at the Kuwairis Airfield. My compliments to those who heroically rescued 1,000 brave Syrian soldiers from certain death. I am convinced that many such victories lie ahead,” Black said in his letter.

Black said that the war on Syria was not caused by domestic unrest, saying “It was an unlawful war of aggression by foreign powers determined to force a puppet regime on Syria. General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, revealed that by 2001, Western powers had developed plans to overthrow Syria. Yet after fifteen years, of military subversion, NATO, Saudi Arabia and Qatar still cannot identify a single leader who enjoys popular support among the Syrian people.”

“Foreign powers have no right to overturn legitimate elections and impose their will on the Syrian people. Syrians alone must determine their destiny, free of foreign intervention. I am disappointed that the UN has turned a blind eye to the unlawful interference in Syria’s internal affairs,” the Senator wrote in his letter to Assad.

Black said that before the war began, Syria had the greatest religious freedom and women’s equality of any Arab people.

"Many Americans are surprised to learn that the Syrian Constitution provides for free elections, religious freedom, women’s rights, and the Rule of Law," he wrote. "Before criticizing Syria, the US might first insist that our allies – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait – grant similar freedoms to their own people.”

This is not the first time Black has written to Assad. In April 2014 Black sent an official letter to the Syrian president thanking "the Syrian Arab Army for its heroic rescue of Christians in the Qalamoun Mountain Range." He also praised Assad for "treating with respect all Christians and the small community of Jews in Damascus".


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What about Beirut? Is there a double standard in Western media?

    Wednesday, November 18, 2015   No comments
Terrorists attack Beirut
The terrorist attacks in Paris have incited global support. But that has left some Lebanese, who suffered their own terror attack last week, asking: What about us?
The deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night happened one day after similar terrorist attacks in Beirut, prompting some to see a double standard in the media's coverage of the two events.

Forty-three people died and dozens were injured in the Beirut attack on Thursday. In Paris, at least 129 people died and more than 350 were injured.

Lebanon's capital is no stranger to terror. While Thursday’s twin bomb blasts were the deadliest in Beirut since 1990, the country has long been a terror target, with 14 bombings between July 2013 and June 2014 that killed almost 100.

But the Lebanese may have reason to feel slighted. #PrayforParis was mentioned about 6.6 million times on Twitter, compared to 273,000 mentions of #Beirut and #PrayforBeirut combined. Facebook activated Safety Check after a terrorist attack for the first time after the Paris attacks, with no similar feature activated the day before for Beirut, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Lebanese critics complained that the West values Arab lives less than European lives, and that their country is depicted as a place where such violence is the norm.

“When my people died, no country bothered to lit up its landmarks in the colors of their flag,” Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor, wrote on his blog A Separate State of Mind. “When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”


Monday, November 16, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin: 40 countries, including those among the G-20, finance ISIL

    Monday, November 16, 2015   No comments
Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed some 40 countries, including those among the Group of 20 nations, for financing Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, Russia Today reported Nov. 16.

“I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State [ISIL] units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries, and there are some of the G-20 members among them,” Putin told the journalists during a briefing on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Turkey’s Mediterranean city of Antalya.

“I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” the Russian leader was quoted as saying.

“The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon,” Putin said, comparing the convoy to gas and oil pipeline systems.

“I can confirm that we have established contacts with... Syrian opposition on the battlefield which asked us to conduct air strikes,” Putin also said.

The Russian leader’s harsh criticism came one day after his brief meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, on the sidelines of the summit.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Saudi King Salman makes extravagant entrance to Antalya, Turkey, to attend G-20 Summit: Some 400 luxury cars and 546 rooms

    Friday, November 13, 2015   No comments
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was welcomed by a convoy of luxury cars on Nov. 12 to attend the G-20 Summit on Nov. 15-16 in Antalya, where 546 rooms have been booked for him.

Saudi Prince El Velid Bin Telal, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, and Antalya’s leading civil authorities, were waiting to welcome the king to Turkey’s Mediterranean resort city, where he will stay at the exclusive Mardan Palace Hotel.

During his trip to the hotel, special security forces and local police forces took intense security measures to guard his convoy.

Some 400 luxury cars have also been reserved for King Salman, who is expected to stay in Antalya for over two weeks after the G-20 Summit.

One week before the Summit, the personal belongings of the Saudi king and the Saudi prince were transferred to the hotel in 16 trucks. A total of 65 armored Mercedes cars were also brought to the city for King Salman and his special guards.

A total of 546 rooms at the Mardan Palace Hotel have been reserved for the Saudi delegation headed by King Salman, at a cost of between 800 euros and 15,000 euros per night.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Saudi execution toll highest in two decades, according to Amnesty International report

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015   No comments
Saudi Arabia has executed at least 151 people so far this year, the highest number since 1995. Rights group Amnesty International says it ranks after China and Iran for the number of executions carried out. 

 According to an Amnesty International report released on Monday Saudi Arabia is one of the top five countries for executing people. It ranked third in the world in 2014, after China and Iran and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to Amnesty International figures.

"So far in 2015, on average, one person has been executed every other day," the Amnesty report stated. The recent annual figure rarely exceeded 90 executions.

The latest execution to take place in the Gulf state was on Monday. It involved a Saudi national convicted of killing a policeman who had tried to arrest him for smuggling drugs, according to the interior ministry.

Out of the 151 people executed so far this year in Saudi Arabia, 71 were foreign nationals, Amnesty said. It added that foreigners, who are mostly guest workers from poor countries, are particularly vulnerable as they typically do not understand the Arabic language and are denied adequate translation in court.

"The use of the death penalty is abhorrent in any circumstance but it is especially alarming that the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to use it in violation of international human rights law and standards, on such a wide scale, and after trials which are grossly unfair and sometimes politically motivated," Amnesty's Middle East and Northern Africa region program deputy director, James Lynch said.

'Appalling abuse of power'


Thursday, November 05, 2015

Contrary to Erdogan wishes, 57% of Turkish citizens prefer parliamentary system

    Thursday, November 05, 2015   No comments
More than half of all Turkish citizens prefer Turkey’s current parliamentarian system instead of imposing a presidential system on the country, according to a survey conducted a day after the Nov. 1 snap elections by the Ipsos surveying company.

Some 57 percent of respondents said “Turkey should continue to have the current parliamentarian system,” while only 31 percent said “Turkey should introduce a presidential system.”

Twelve percent, however, said they had no idea or response to the question over the country’s administrative system. The survey was conducted among 1,614 respondents from 81 provinces who were eligible to cast votes in the Nov. 1 elections between Nov. 2 and 3.

The survey, which was conducted immediately after the elections, also revealed that a majority of respondents believe that the constitution should change.

Some 63 percent of respondents said political parties should come together to change the constitution. Only 28 percent said the country should continue with the current constitution. Nine percent said they had no idea or response to the question regarding the governing charter.

With the opposition parties’ share of the vote falling on Nov. 1 compared to the June 7 general elections, respondents were also asked whether they believed the leadership of the political parties should change.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's priorities: make me king

    Wednesday, November 04, 2015   No comments
ISR comment: Revealing the real reason for calling for snap elections after his party had failed to win the June 7 one, the Turkish president asked leaders of his party to start work immediately on amending the constitution. Simply put, he wants to be a president with sultan powers and he will do whatever is necessary to make that happen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has overtly presented the creation of a new constitution that would pave the way for a transition to a presidential system as the number-one item on the agenda of the newly elected legislature.

“Turkey’s need to solve the issue of a new constitution was one of the most important messages of Nov. 1. The nation is waiting for this,” Erdoğan said Nov. 4, during a group of neighborhood and village heads (muhtars) at the first of such regular meetings held at his presidential palace since the Nov. 1 snap elections.

Although Erdoğan this time did not directly referred to his long-held, naked ambition to create an executive presidential system, earlier in the same day, his presidential spokesperson, İbrahim Kalın, said Turkey was considering holding a referendum on changing from a parliamentary to a presidential system.

“I hope that they won’t fail to make contributions for preparations for a new constitution in the new period and sit down at the table and solve this issue,” Erdoğan said, calling on all political parties that will be represented in parliament after the Nov. 1 snap elections.

Erdoğan also noted that he had already discussed the issue at a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Nov. 3.


Monday, November 02, 2015

Kuwait Court Jails Five over ISIL Fundraising

    Monday, November 02, 2015   No comments
A lower court in Kuwait on Monday sentenced five men to 10 years in jail each for raising funds for the ISIL group.

Three of those convicted were Kuwaiti citizens, according to the court ruling.

The court ordered that the remaining two, who were foreigners, be deported after serving the jail term. Their nationalities were not immediately clear.

It also acquitted two others, AFP reported on Monday.

The men were charged with raising about 400,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($1.3 million) and transferring the funds to ISIL, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq and carried out attacks throughout the Middle East.

Over the past year, Kuwaiti courts have issued several rulings against ISIL supporters.

In September, a lower court sentenced seven people, including five in absentia, to death for helping a Saudi suicide bomber carry out an attack on a Shiite mosque in Kuwait that killed 26 worshipers and wounded hundreds.

 Dozens of Kuwaitis have fought alongside armed groups operating in Syria, and a number have been killed in the conflict.


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