Thursday, February 25, 2016

#IslamicSocietiesReview : As human rights organizations charge Saudi Arabia of war crimes, European Parliament calls for arms embargo

    Thursday, February 25, 2016   No comments
Saudi airstrikes on civilians in Yemen is a war crime
The European Parliament called on the European Union to impose an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia on Thursday, saying Britain, France and other EU governments should no longer sell weapons to a country accused of targeting civilians in Yemen.
EU lawmakers, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of an embargo, said Britain had licensed more than $3 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia since Saudi-led forces began military operations in Yemen in March last year.
Nearly 6,000 people have been killed since the coalition entered the conflict, almost half of them civilians, according to the United Nations, and the European Parliament said it was acting on humanitarian grounds.

"This is about Yemen. The human rights violations have reached a level

that means Europe is obliged to act and to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia," said Richard Howitt, a British center-left lawmaker who led efforts to hold the vote.
source: Reuters

Monday, February 22, 2016

#IslamicSocietiesReview : BBC report, al-Qaeda in Yemen on the same front as the Saudi Coalition

    Monday, February 22, 2016   No comments
BBC reported that it now has evidence that al-Qaeda in Yemen is fighting on the same front as the Saudi coalition.

The Saudi rulers launched a brutal war that killed tens of thousands of civilians in Yemen, has also created a foothold for al-Qaeda and ISIL in that country. For instance, when the Saudi coalition pushed the Yemeni army and their Houthi allies out of Aden, al-Qaeda and ISIL moved in and they are now in control of many neighborhoods  of that city.

Despite the Saudi rhetoric that they are committed to fighting terrorism, the kingdom's military did not attack, in any significant way, al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen or anywhere else. That makes their offer to send troops to fight ISIL in Syria highly suspicious. 

Saudi Arabian rulers are interested in staying in power, not fight terrorists who espouse Wahhabi-Salafism, which is deeply rooted in Saudi society.

Sources: BBC

Sunday, February 21, 2016

#IslamicSocietiesReview : Start Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom

    Sunday, February 21, 2016   No comments
Saudi Arabia is no state at all. It's an unstable business so corrupt to resemble a criminal organization and the U.S. should get ready for the day after.

For half a century, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the linchpin of U.S. Mideast policy. A guaranteed supply of oil has bought a guaranteed supply of security. Ignoring autocratic practices and the export of Wahhabi extremism, Washington stubbornly dubs its ally “moderate.” So tight is the trust that U.S. special operators dip into Saudi petrodollars as a counterterrorism slush fund without a second thought. In a sea of chaos, goes the refrain, the kingdom is one state that’s stable.
But is it?

In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all. There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or so corrupt as to resemble in its functioning a vertically and horizontally integrated criminal organization. Either way, it can’t last. It’s past time U.S. decision-makers began planning for the collapse of the Saudi kingdom.

In recent conversations with military and other government personnel, we were startled at how startled they seemed at this prospect. Here’s the analysis they should be working through.

Understood one way, the Saudi king is CEO of a family business that converts oil into payoffs that buy political loyalty. They take two forms: cash handouts or commercial concessions for the increasingly numerous scions of the royal clan, and a modicum of public goods and employment opportunities for commoners. The coercive “stick” is supplied by brutal internal security services lavishly equipped with American equipment.

source: Defense One

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Saudi Arabia is no state at all: Preparing for its Collapse

    Thursday, February 18, 2016   No comments
The Saudi ruling elite is operating something like a sophisticated criminal enterprise
For half a century, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the linchpin of U.S. Mideast policy. A guaranteed supply of oil has bought a guaranteed supply of security. Ignoring autocratic practices and the export of Wahhabi extremism, Washington stubbornly dubs its ally “moderate.” So tight is the trust that U.S. special operators dip into Saudi petrodollars as a counterterrorism slush fund without a second thought. In a sea of chaos, goes the refrain, the kingdom is one state that’s stable.

But is it?

In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all. There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or as an entity so corrupt as to resemble a vertically and horizontally integrated criminal organization. Either way, it can’t last. It’s past time U.S. decision-makers began planning for the collapse of the Saudi kingdom... read more, see


#IslamicSocietiesReview : Turkey blames Kurdish militants for Ankara bombing

    Thursday, February 18, 2016   No comments
As it has done in the past, whenever terrorists attack civilians inside Turkey, the Turkish government used the Ankara bombing to launch fresh strikes against Kurds. It has done so in the past even after instances when ISIL (Daesh) has carried out (and took credit for) the attacks. This time, too, AKP leaders were quick to blame the Kurds of Syria. Even before the investigation concluded, the Turkish government accused "Syrians" to justify its campaign against Kurds in Iraq and Syria. This practice could undercut support for their cause since the Turkish government could be perceived as leveraging terrorism for geopolitical aims. Turkey's reluctance to fight ISIL and shut down the flow of fighters and weapons into Syria adds to the volatility of the region and will add risks to Turkey's security.
Turkey blames Kurdish militants for Ankara bomb, vows response in Syria and Iraq

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed a Syrian Kurdish militia fighter working with Kurdish militants inside Turkey for a suicide car bombing that killed 28 people in the capital Ankara, and he vowed retaliation in both Syria and Iraq.

A car laden with explosives detonated next to military buses as they waited at traffic lights near Turkey's armed forces' headquarters, parliament and government buildings in the administrative heart of Ankara late on Wednesday.

Davutoglu said the attack was clear evidence that the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia that has been supported by the United States in the fight against Islamic State in northern Syria, was a terrorist organization and that Turkey, a NATO member, expected cooperation from its allies in combating the group. 

#IslamicSocietiesReview : Turkey sends 2000 rebels with heavy weapons into Syria

    Thursday, February 18, 2016   No comments
At least 2,000 Syrian rebel fighters have re-entered the country from Turkey over the last week to reinforce insurgents fending off an assault by Syrian Kurdish militias, rebel sources said on Thursday.

The rebel fighters, with weapons and vehicles, have been covertly escorted across the border by Turkish forces over several nights before heading into the embattled rebel stronghold of Azaz, the sources said.

"We have been allowed to move everything from light weapons to heavy equipment mortars and missiles and our tanks," Abu Issa, a commander in the Levant Front, the rebel group that runs the border crossing of Bab al-Salam, told Reuters, giving his alias and talking on condition of anonymity.

"There is tight security on the four-hour drive from one border crossing to the other," he added, saying rebels being transported excluded the hardline Jabhat al-Nusra Front fighters and other jihadist groups.

A Turkish security source confirmed fighters had crossed the border but put the numbers at 400-500 and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence across the war torn-country, also said hundreds had crossed.

On Sunday, the Syrian government had said Turkish forces were among 100 gunmen who had entered Syria accompanied by 12 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns in an ongoing supply operation to insurgents. The route across Turkey has become the only path for rebels to their north Aleppo enclave after recent Syrian army advances closed the main route into rebel territory. source

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

#ISR: World War 3 is now taking place in Syria, Turkey pushes for direct confrontation between nuclear powers--and that won't happen

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016   No comments
The siege of Aleppo is a humanitarian catastrophe on a dramatic scale -- and a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has seized on the Syrian civil war to expose an impotent West and show his own geopolitical muscle.

Aleppo has been a horrific place for some time now and few thought that it could get much worse. But things can always get worse -- that's the lesson currently being learned by those who have stayed behind in an effort to outlast this brutal conflict. People who have become used to dead bodies in the streets, hunger and living a life that can end at any moment.

"For the last two weeks, we've been living a nightmare that is worse than everything that has come before," says Hamza, a young doctor in an Aleppo hospital. At the beginning, in 2011, he was treating light wounds, stemming from tear gas or beatings from police batons. When the regime began dropping barrel bombs in 2012, the injuries got worse. But now, with the beginning of the Russian airstrikes, the doctors are facing an emergency. Every two or three hours, warplanes attack the city, aiming at everything that hasn't yet been destroyed, including apartment buildings, schools and clinics. Often, they use cluster bombs, which have been banned internationally.

They used to get around 10 serious injuries per day, but that number has now risen to 50, says Hamza, adding that most of their time is spent sorting body parts so they can turn them over to family members for burial. Russian missiles, he says, tear everyone apart who is within 35 meters of the impact.

"On one day, we had 22 dead civilians. The day before that, it was 20 injured children. A seven-year-old died and an eight-year-old lost his left leg." The Russians attacked in the morning, he says, as the children were on their way to school. "We are going to need years of therapy in order to be able to cope with all this."

There are seven doctors still working in the hospital. "Since the Russians began bombing the city, even more doctors have fled," Hamza says. There are only about 30 medical professionals left in all of Aleppo, he adds. His hospital too is under fire and Hamza's voice can be heard trembling over the phone. The regime, he says, has targeted the hospital five times in the past several years, but always missed. "The Russian bombardment, though, is very accurate." One recent bomb, he says, just barely missed them.

A Nightmare Worse than Sarajevo 



#ISR: Weaponry delivered to Syria's FSA by the U.S.-led coalition have fallen into the hands of Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016   No comments
The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the recognized armed opposition group against the Bashar al-Assad in Syria, has ceased its resistance in Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city, withdrawing its 14,000 militia from the city, a ranking Turkish security source told the Hürriyet Daily News on Nov. 17.

“Its leader Jamal Marouf has fled to Turkey,” confirmed the source, who asked not to be named. “He is currently being hosted and protected by the Turkish state.”

The source did not give an exact date of the escape but said it was within the last two weeks, that is, the first half of November. The source declined to give Marouf’s whereabouts in Turkey.

As a result, the FSA has lost control over the Bab al-Hawa border gate (opposite from Turkey’s Cilvegözü in Reyhanlı), which is now being held by a weak coalition of smaller groups led by Ahrar al-Sham.

The source said some of the weaponry delivered to the FSA by the U.S.-led coalition in its fight against both Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria might have fallen into the hands of Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra, the Syria branch of al-Qaeda.

The news about the FSA evacuation came as claims in the Western media intensified about a rapprochement between al-Nusra and ISIL, which is denied by Turkish government sources.

One source talking on the condition of anonymity gave details about talks between al-Nusra and ISIL last week – information that was not possible to corroborate based on another source. According to field reports in Ankara, Abu Mohammad al-Gulani of al-Nusra has asked the leader of another Jihadist group (Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar - Army of Emigrants and Supporters) in Syria, Salahaddin al-Shishani (The Chechen), to intermediate for a cease-fire between his organization and ISIL. source

Monday, February 15, 2016

#ISR: Chemical weapons had been used by ISIL (#daesh) fighters

    Monday, February 15, 2016   No comments
Islamic State militants attacked Kurdish forces in Iraq with mustard gas last year, the first known use of chemical weapons in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a diplomat said, based on tests by the global chemical weapons watchdog.

A source at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that laboratory tests had come back positive for the sulfur mustard, after around 35 Kurdish troops were sickened on the battlefield last August.

The OPCW will not identify who used the chemical agent. But the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the findings have not yet been released, said the result confirmed that chemical weapons had been used by Islamic State fighters.

The samples were taken after the soldiers became ill during fighting against Islamic State militants southwest of Erbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

The OPCW already concluded in October that mustard gas was used last year in neighboring Syria. Islamic State has declared a "caliphate" in territory it controls in both Iraq and Syria and does not recognize the frontier.

Experts believe that the sulfur mustard either originated from an undeclared Syrian chemical stockpile, or that militants have gained the basic know how to develop and conduct a crude chemical attack with rockets or mortars. source

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Turkey at odds with Russia and now the US on Syria: Turkey strikes Syrian airport when it fell under the control of US supported rebels, but did not bomb it when it was under the control of al-Nusra

    Sunday, February 14, 2016   No comments

Kurdish leader: Turkey strikes Syrian airport when it fell under the control of US supported rebels, but did not bomb it when it was under the control of al-Nusra. Do they want the Nusra Front to stay there, or for the regime to come and occupy it?
Turkey's faulty foreign policy choices in Syria since the beginning of the conflict, including supporting Sunnis in the sectarian strife, working for the removal of the Syrian regime from power, undermining the Syrian Kurds and downing a Russian jet, have dragged the country to such a point that today, it is at odds with not only Russia but its close ally the US as well.

After trying to impose its policies on other actors in the region for some time, it seems that Ankara will have no word in the future of Syria ahead of the Geneva peace talks, which have been postponed to Feb. 25.

After downing a Russian jet at the Syrian border over an airspace violation on Nov. 24 of last year, a first for NATO in 50 years, Turkish-Russian relations have been significantly derailed. Russia has demanded an apology and compensation for the damages, but Turkey has refused, saying that it will not apologize for defending its airspace.

Following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks calling on the US to choose between its ally Turkey and “the terrorists in Kobani,” a reference to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey strongly opposes due to its links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Ankara is now not on good terms with the US.

Sunday's Zaman has learned that US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass has asked Turkish officials not to publicly bring up the differences between the US and Turkey concerning the PYD. Bass said the US position on the PYD is clear and will not change. The US sees the PYD as one of the leading forces on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and despite the fact that the PKK is classified as a terrorist organization under US law, the PYD is not considered terrorist. In spite of their differences on Syria, the US and Turkey had previously mostly managed to maintain a balance in their relationship.

Ignoring the remarks of Ambassador Bass, Erdoğan has challenged the US position on the PYD, and following Erdoğan's remarks US officials in Washington have expressed their position in a stronger tone, underscoring that their support for the PYD will continue. US Department State Spokesperson John Kirby said last week that even close friends do not have to agree on everything, while stressing that Turkey and the US are still close allies.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Kerry says Russia should stop targeting "legitimate opposition" in Syria

    Saturday, February 13, 2016   No comments
Who decides "which group is a "legitimate opposition"? The answer to that question may hold the key to ending the bloody conflict in Syria. 

The U.S. and its Gulf allies and Turkey say that there are "moderate" opposition groups in Syria, but they refuse to identify them by name. Russia has asked, since 2015, who is Syria’s legitimate opposition? That question goes unanswered. But it is certain is that none of those governments who claim that there is a "legitimate opposition", do not and will not tolerate any armed groups to be operating within their countries' borders. In fact, Turkey is bombing a U.S.-vetted moderate, legitimate opposition group, the Kurdish Popular Protection Units, in Syria. 

Major powers could help stop the cycle of violence in Syria by defining terrorism, identifying terrorist groups by name, and push for an end to the fighting. Instead, each actor is protecting its interests by continuing to support armed groups, yet claim at the same time that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis.

Russia must stop targeting Syria's legitimate opposition as part of an air campaign in support of the Assad regime before a truce can be implemented next week, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.

"To date, the vast majority of Russia's attacks have been against legitimate opposition groups," Kerry said at the Munich Security Conference. "To adhere to the agreement it made, Russia's targeting must change."


Friday, February 12, 2016

The rulers of Saudi Arabia insist that they will remove #Assad by any means necessary

    Friday, February 12, 2016   No comments
Saudi Arabia is arguing one point of view in one country and negating it by arguing against the same logic in another.
The Saudi minister of foreign affairs justified his regime's bombardment of Yemen by arguing the following point:
"Our intervention in Yemen came in response to a request from the Yemeni government to prevent its collapse... to reinstall the legitimate government that was removed by militias supported by Iran and Hezbollah."
Contrast that logic to the logic used by Russia and Iran to justify their intervention in Syria:

"The legitimate Syrian government requested Russia's assistance to combat terrorist groups supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey."
The problem with the Saudi point of view is that it arbitrarily defines one government legitimate and another illegitimate. The rulers of the Wahhabi kingdom think that regimes like that of Mubarak, Ben Ali, and Mansur Hadi are legitimate. But they declared the Syrian government illegitimate the day the peaceful protest broke out in 2011. 

This logic that is conveniently applied to one country and not another proves that powerful governments are using civilians for geopolitical aims.  The Saudi rulers refuse to define "terrorism" and identify "terrorist" groups because they fear that they will be exposed as sponsors and supporters of many groups that would qualify as terrorists. There is no question that the rulers of Saudi Arabia are using sectarian fighters to achieve one goal: overthrow the Syrian government. To that end, they don't care if overthrowing Assad's government will result in more instability and more deaths.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that foreign governments have supplied Syrian fighters with new weapons:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's foreign enemies have sent rebels new supplies of ground-to-ground missiles to confront a Russian-backed offensive by the government near Aleppo, stepping up support in response to the attack, two rebel commanders said.

The commanders told Reuters the missiles with a range of 20 km (12 miles) had been provided in "excellent quantities" in response to the attack that has cut rebel supply lines from the Turkish border to opposition-held parts of the city of Aleppo.

Facing one of the biggest defeats of the five-year-long war, rebels have been complaining that foreign states such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey have let them down by not providing them with more powerful weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles.

"It is excellent additional fire power for us," said one of the commanders, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. The second rebel commander said the missiles were being used to hit army positions beyond the front line. "They give the factions longer reach," he said.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Erdogan traded Syrian refugees for money, visa-free travel to Europe, the inclusion of Turkish officials in EU summits, and a re-invigoration of Turkey's EU accession process

    Monday, February 08, 2016   No comments
Erdoğan used Syrians for economic and political gains: Report reveals that Erdogan, essentially, traded Syrian refugees for money, visa-free travel to Europe, the inclusion of Turkish officials in EU summits, and a re-invigoration of Turkey's EU accession process

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to send buses full of refugees to Greece if the EU did not finalize an agreement with Turkey over the action plan to stem the flow of refugees to Europe, according to the leaked transcript of a meeting between Erdoğan and leaders of the EU.

The transcript, published by the Greek-based online news portal, claims to be the minutes of a meeting of Erdoğan, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker.

According to the transcript Erdoğan pushes the EU leaders for 3 billion euros per year, for two years, instead of 3 billion euros over two years, which the EU proposed. According to the leak, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was present at the meeting, showed Juncker an internal document belonging to the EC, which stated 3 billion euros per year.

Erdoğan also asks whether the proposal would be for 3 billion or 6 billion euros. When Juncker confirmed 3 billion, Erdoğan said Turkey did not need the EU's money.

“We [Turkey] can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria any time, and we can put the refugees on buses,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying.

The meeting was held in Antalya in the run-up to the EU-Turkey summit on Nov. 29, 2015, in which the action plan that envisages Turkey stemming the flow of Syrian refugees to Europe was signed.

In return for keeping the refugees, the EU promised Turkey 3 billion euros, visa-free travel to Europe, the inclusion of Turkish officials in EU summits and a re-invigoration of Turkey's EU accession process -- starting with the opening of the 15th chapter of the negotiation acquis.

All 28 EU countries recently signed off on the proposal to allocate the funds to Turkey at a meeting in Brussels. The funds will be given to Ankara in return for Turkey culling the flow of immigrants to Europe. source

Sunday, February 07, 2016

#ISR , #HumanRights; Department of Defense released 198 photos relating to prisoner abuse by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan

    Sunday, February 07, 2016   No comments
The photos were released in response to an ACLU lawsuit that we have been litigating for almost 12 years. You can see a few of them in the slideshow to the right. The photos mostly show close-ups of body parts, including arms, legs, and heads, many with injuries. There are also wider shots of prisoners, most of them bound or blindfolded. But what they don’t show is a much bigger story, and the government’s selective release of these photos could mislead the public about the true scope of what happened.

Six months before media organizations published the notorious Abu Ghraib photos, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records, including photos, relating to the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. detention centers overseas. Since we sued to enforce our request in 2004, the legal battle has focused in part on a set of some 2,000 pictures relating to detainee maltreatment. The photos released today are part of that set, and they are the first photos the government has released to us in all these years of litigation. (The court hearing our lawsuit ordered the government to release the Abu Ghraib photos in 2004, but the photos were leaked, and posted online by Salon, while the government was appealing the decision.)

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is furious over a senior U.S. official’s visit to northern Syria

    Sunday, February 07, 2016   No comments
Erdoğan protested in Ecuador: Erdoğan loves ISIS
ISR comment: The Turkish president, who has resisted pressure to take actual actions against ISIL, is now furious that the U.S. has made contact with a Syrian group that has fought and defeated ISIL. Erdoğan, instead, insists that Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party is a terrorist organization, but his government still refuses to legally classify ISIL (also known as ISIS, Daesh) as a terrorist organization. His insistence on denying the Syrian Kurdish people any level of autonomy within their country is unrealistic and is a direct interference in the affairs of other countries. 
It is likely that the new Syria will be decentralized and that the Kurdish people will have autonomy there with or without the consent of the post-civil war Syrian government. The only thing Erdoğan can do to stop that from happening is to invade northern Syria. He may do that with the help of his sectarian backers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and local allies such as Daesh, al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Fath, and Jaysh al-Islam. If the U.S. allows that to happen, the Middle East will be further destabilized and more states will fail, creating the perfect environment for ISIL and al-Qaeda.

Erdoğan has said Turkey would not “make the same mistake it did in Iraq in 2003 vis-à-vis the creation of a de facto situation” in neighboring Syria, voicing his country’s readiness in order to protect its national interests in case of all kinds of developing scenarios in Syria.

Meanwhile, he also reiterated Turkey’s stance on the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People’s Defense Units (YPG). Turkey considers the party and its affiliates in the same category as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“We will take this issue to all international organizations. Each moment that we haven’t taken it there is a loss for us. If steps are not taken for their [classification] as a terrorist organization, we would be delayed. Look, [U.S. Vice President Joe] Biden arrived with an assistant. He is a national security official whose name has earlier ben cited with Mr. Obama too. Just during the meetings in Geneva, he travels to Kobane. He receives a plaque from a so-called general in Kobane. How will we trust? Am I your partner or are the terrorists in Kobane?” Erdoğan asked, while speaking with reporters en route from Dakar to Istanbul as he wrapped up a Latin America tour that covered Chile, Peru and Ecuador.

The U.S. envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Brett McGurk, confirmed on Feb. 1 that he visited Kurdish-controlled northern Syria the previous weekend. McGurk said his trip aimed to review the fight against the jihadist group that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq.

He also said that it was long-planned and not “in any way” related to Syria peace talks in Geneva.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Latin American Protesters: "As you can see there can be disrespectful people"

    Friday, February 05, 2016   No comments
Erdogan protested in Ecuador
The Turkish president, who is not not known for tolerating dissent at home lashes out at protesters in South America. Erdoğan, who uses state institutions to punish dissenters, accusing them of "insulting the president" accused Latin American protesters of being "disrespectful" and his body guards were accused of assaulting the protester and a lawmaker who tried to protect her.

During his visit to Ecuador, demonstrators protesting Erdoğan's policies on the Kurdish issue and his stance towards the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gathered in front of the National Higher Studies Institute where he was due to give a speech on Thursday. Scuffles erupted when some of the protesters managed to enter the conference room and interrupted Erdoğan's speech by chanting slogans.

Video footage circulated on social media showed security guards, reportedly Erdoğan's, forcing the protesters out of the conference room.

An Ecuadorian lawmaker was also reportedly injured during a scuffle with Erdoğan's bodyguards while trying to protect the protesters. The lawmaker, Diego Vintimilla, posted photos on his Twitter account, showing himself with a bloody nose, hands and a bruise on his arm.

Gabriela Rivadeneira, the president of the National Assembly of Ecuador, condemned the attack on Vintimilla in her Twitter account.

After the protesters were removed Erdoğan reportedly said, “As you can see there can be disrespectful people.” Erdoğan's visit to Ecuador is his last stop in the week-long tour of Latin America.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Riyadh-based opposition groups are not interested in lifting the siege on civilians, they are interested in leveraging humanitarian crises for military and political grains

    Thursday, February 04, 2016   No comments
Revealing their callousness towards Syrian civilians, Syrian opposition groups that are supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey insisted that the Syrian government stop its military campaign, provides aid to civilians under siege, and releases detained individuals as stated in UNSC Resolution 2254, before they take part in the indirect talks with the Syrian government. But when the Syrian government troops broke a three and half year long siege on two cities north of Aleppo, they accused the government of besieging Aleppo, not breaking a siege, and walked away from the talks. Carelessly, Western media took the same position: Instead of cheering the breaking of a siege that starved more than 60,000 civilians, they complained about Russia bombing "moderate" opposition groups and cutting supply lines to rebels inside Aleppo. It is disgusting that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and their allies did not care that residents of two cities were starved for more than three years because they were Shi`a and continue to claim that they are helping Syrian people. Riyadh-based opposition groups are not interested in lifting the siege on civilians, they are interested in leveraging humanitarian crises for military and political grains.

The  UNSC Resolution 2254 the opposition groups are using as leverage asks both parties, the Syrian government and the rebels, the following:

Demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such..

Calls on the parties to immediately allow humanitarian agencies rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Syria by most direct routes, allow immediate, humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need...
The Riyadh-based opposition groups had no intention to lift the siege they and their allies imposed on these cities. They wanted to use them as leverage instead and that is why they became furious when they lost that leverage. Moreover, it is not known if these opposition groups can in fact implement a ceasefire on the ground since most of the groups that are shelling civilians and denying aid organizations access are not represented in the talks.

Samples of the coverage and these events is below:

French French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused Damascus and Russia of "torpedoing the peace efforts" by launching an offensive near Aleppo, and said world powers would hold "in-depth consultations" on their actions at the conference.

The UN paused the fruitless peace negotiations on Wednesday as the Syrian government said it had cut a key supply route to Syria's second city from the Turkish border with the help of Russian air strikes.

It is one of several regime offensives since Moscow began bombing in September, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday he saw no reason to stop until the "terrorists" are defeated. source

Syrian army breaks siege of Shi'ite

The Syrian army and its allies have broken a rebel siege around two Shi’ite towns in north western Syria, state media and a TV station owned by Lebanon’s Hezbollah group said on Wednesday.

Al Manar TV station said the breakthrough came after the army opened a route from towns secured in a major offensive in northern Aleppo in the last few days.

The two towns of Nubul and Zahraa have been under rebel siege for around three years.

The Syrian army also confirmed the major breakthrough.

Alongside heavy Russian aerial support, the advances have been made possible by heavy reliance on ground troops from Lebanon's Hezbollah group and Iranian backed militias which support President Bashar al Assad's government.

The army has now been able to cut through main rebel supply route from Turkey into opposition-held parts of Aleppo city that stood between government-held parts of western Aleppo and the Shi'ite villages, which are loyal to Damascus. source

Syrian army and allies breaks rebel siege of Shi'ite towns: army

The Syrian army and its allies have broken a three-year rebel siege of two Shi’ite towns in northwest Syria, government and rebel groups said on Wednesday, cutting off a main insurgent route to nearby Turkey.

The two towns of Nubul and Zahraa, with an estimated 60,000 population, are connected to the border by areas under the control of Kurdish militias that provided them some access.

"Less than 3 km separate the regime from cutting all routes to opposition-held Aleppo," said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said. "It did in three days what it failed to do in 3-1/2 years."  source

Monday, February 01, 2016

Greek soccer players' tribute to the refugees

    Monday, February 01, 2016   No comments
Greek soccer players' tribute to refugees who have lost their lives trying to escape death and indignity.


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