Saturday, August 31, 2013

Putin: it would be "utter nonsense" for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons when it was winning its war with rebels

    Saturday, August 31, 2013   No comments
Putin told journalists that if Obama had evidence Assad's forces had the chemical weapons and launched the attack, Washington should present it to the U.N. weapons inspectors and the Security Council.

"I am convinced that it (the chemical attack) is nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict, and who want to win the support of powerful members of the international arena, especially the United States," Putin said.

The Russian president said Obama, as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, should remember the impact any U.S. attack would have on Syrian civilians.

Friday, August 30, 2013

U.S. intelligence assessment of August 21 suspected chemical-weapons attack near Damascus cites

    Friday, August 30, 2013   No comments
A U.S. intelligence assessment of last week’s suspected chemical-
weapons attack near Damascus cites intercepted communications that allegedly showed Syrian government officials making preparations to use chemical weapons three days before the attack and then launching efforts afterward to cover it up. While it did not present evidence showing complicity by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle, it asserts “with high confidence” that government forces were behind the attack.

Representative Adam Smith: Simply lashing out with military force under the banner of 'doing something' will not secure our interests in Syria

    Friday, August 30, 2013   No comments
What seemed inevitable just 48 hours ago – an imminent U.S. missile attack on Syrian targets in response to an alleged chemical attack that reportedly killed hundreds of Syrian citizens – stalled Thursday as the justification for military action faced increasing questioning both here and abroad.

Growing calls by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for consultations with, if not formal authorisation by, Congress before Obama takes any military action have raised the potential political costs on Capitol Hill if Obama proceeds on his own.

While the administration continues to express certainty that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged Aug. 21 attack, the Associated Press, quoting U.S. intelligence officials, reported Thursday that such a case fell short of a “slam dunk” – a reference to then-CIA director George Tenet’s mistaken declaration that President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the run-up to the Iraq War.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation

    Thursday, August 29, 2013   No comments
In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe.

The administration’s reversal, which came within hours of the deal reached between Syria and the U.N., was reported by the Wall Street Journal Monday and effectively confirmed by a State Department spokesperson later that day.

In his press appearance Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who intervened with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to call off the investigation, dismissed the U.N. investigation as coming too late to obtain valid evidence on the attack that Syrian opposition sources claimed killed as many 1,300 people.

We should have been traumatised into action by this war in 2011. And 2012. But now?

    Thursday, August 29, 2013   No comments
Before the stupidest Western war in the history of the modern world begins – I am, of course, referring to the attack on Syria that we all now have to swallow – it might be as well to say that the Cruise missiles which we confidently expect to sweep onto one of mankind’s oldest cities have absolutely nothing to do with Syria.

They are intended to harm Iran. They are intended to strike at the Islamic Republic now that it has a new and vibrant president – as opposed to the crackpot Mahmoud Ahmedinejad – and when it just might be a little more stable.  Iran is Israel’s enemy.  Iran is therefore, naturally, America’s enemy.  So there is nothing pleasant about the regime in Damascus.  Nor do these comments let the regime off the hook when it comes to mass gassing.  But I am old enough to remember that when Iraq – then America’s ally – used gas against the Kurds of Hallabjah in 1988, we did not assault Baghdad.  Indeed, that attack would have to wait until 2003, when Saddam no longer had any gas or any of the other weapons we nightmared over.  And I also happen to remember that the CIA put it about in 1988 that Iran was responsible for the Hallabjah gassings, a palpable lie that focused on America’s enemy whom Saddam was then fighting on our behalf.  And thousands – not hundreds – died in Hallabjah.  But there you go.  Different days, different standards.

read more >>

A Pilgrimage to a Person

    Thursday, August 29, 2013   No comments

When you are not with close friends,
you are not in the presence.

It is sad to leave the people you travel with.
How much more so those who remind you of God.
Hurry back to the ones protecting you.

On every trip, have only one objective,
to meet those who are friends
inside the presence.

If you stay home, keep the same purpose,
to meet the innermost presence
as it lives in people.

Be a pilgrim to the Ka`ba inside a human being,
and Mecca will rise into view on its own.


__________
A Rumi's poem, translated by Coleman Barks

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

YPG Commander: Kurds Are Bulwark Against Islamic Extremism in Syria

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013   No comments
Sipan Hemo, commander of the controversial People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Syria, is adamant: “We are not a military wing of any party,” he says in an interview with Rudaw. Hemo denies that the militia is part of the dominant Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has taken control of Syria’s Kurdish areas and has friendly ties with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PYD has been accused by some of shady ties with the Damascus regime, and of heavy-handed rule over the Kurdish regions. Hemo, whose fighters have been recently involved in deadly clashes with the radical Islamic Jabhat al-Nusra, says that Turkey has nothing to fear from the YPG units. “We see radical Islam as a threat not only to ourselves, but also to the Turkish people and the world as well,” he insists. Here is his interview:
read interview >>

Doctors without Borders: Evidence Syrian rebels used sarin, nerve gas, in the Damascus suburb attack

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013   No comments
French charity Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) reported that 355 people died in the attack.  However, evidence from witnesses indicates Syrian rebels used a chemical weapon in last week’s attack, not regime forces, a senior UN official has said.

Carla del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said there were "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof," that rebels had used sarin nerve gas in the Damascus suburb attack.

She added that even so, more investigation was needed, as she had not yet seen evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013   No comments
If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida.
Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted “All for one and one for all” each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if – or when – the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad.

The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.

Military strikes on Syria 'as early as Thursday,' US officials say

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013   No comments
By Jim Miklaszewski, Catherine Chomiak and Erin McClam, NBC News
The United States could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to the Syrian regime than to cripple its military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.
The disclosure added to a growing drumbeat around the world for military action against Syria, believed to have used chemical weapons in recent days against scores of civilians and rebels who have been fighting the government for two years.
In three days of strikes, the Pentagon could assess the effectiveness of the first wave and target what was missed in further rounds, the officials said.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
.

The Egyptian military uses religion to keep troops from deserting or disobeying orders

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013   No comments
The Egyptian military uses religion to keep troops from deserting or disobeying orders:

'A Slow Death': How the War Is Destroying Syria's Economy

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013   No comments
Food is scarce in Syria, the currency is collapsing and entire industries have come to a standstill. But not even economic suffering brought on by the civil war will likely help end it.

It's a sector that ought to be booming. Businessman Wissam* works in hospital supplies. He sells bandages, needles and disinfectants -- all products for which there is a great need in the increasingly bloody Syrian civil war. But unfortunately, Wissam has little opportunity to sell his wares.

"More than 50 percent of the Syrian healthcare system's infrastructure has been destroyed," says the man in his mid 40s. Of the 75 state-run hospitals, just 30 remain in operation. In the embattled city of Homs, just one of 20 hospitals remains open. The Al-Kindi Hospital in Aleppo, once the largest and most modern medical facility in the country, is now a pile of ash.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gulf Islamists irked as monarchs back Egypt's generals

    Monday, August 26, 2013   No comments
A scuffle broke the reflective atmosphere of Friday prayers in Riyadh's al-Ferdous mosque after the imam deplored the recent bloody crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters by the military in nearby Egypt.

The fight between members of the congregation, recorded on a widely circulated Youtube clip and reported by the daily al-Hayat newspaper, demonstrated how high feelings are running in the devoutly Muslim kingdom.

While they have been careful to express only muted dissent in public, Islamists and some other conservative Gulf Muslims are quietly seething at Saudi Arabia's whole-hearted backing of Egyptian army chief General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tension between Gulf countries and Turkey may harm economic relations

    Sunday, August 25, 2013   No comments
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's critical remarks about some Gulf countries that have offered support for the coup in Egypt may harm Turkey's business ties with the Gulf region, analysts believe.
Criticizing Erdoğan's bitingly disapproving rhetoric of their foreign policy, Hüseyin Bağcı, head of international relations at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara (ODTÜ), underlined that if Turkey maintains its current stance against the Gulf countries, economic relations may face challenges. 

“If Erdoğan insists on his ‘conflict with everyone' discourse, Turkey will head toward political instability, which may frighten Arab investors,” Bağcı said, adding that the main question now is whether or not Turkey will experience political instability.

Erdoğan says history will curse Al-Azhar Sheikh for endorsing coup

    Sunday, August 25, 2013   No comments
Turkey's prime minister has slammed Egypt's leading Islamic cleric for endorsing the military coup in Egypt, saying that history will curse scholars like him.
Ahmet al-Tayed, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, backed an army-sponsored roadmap on July 3 which removed former President Mohammed Morsi, suspended the constitution and called for early presidential and parliamentary elections.

The leader of Cairo's ancient seat of Sunni Muslim learning made a brief statement following an announcement by the head of the armed forces that deposed the elected president, endorsing the military coup. 

A senior Turkish diplomat has strictly denied a news report that cited a Syrian rebel operative as saying that 400 tons of arms have been sent into Syria from Turkey

    Sunday, August 25, 2013   No comments
“As has been the case with similar news reports in the past, this claim is definitely not true,” the diplomat, speaking under condition of anonymity, told the Hürriyet Daily news on Aug. 25, recalling Ankara’s earlier statements that Turkey was not involved in alleged arms deliveries to the Syrian rebels.

Earlier, opposition sources had claimed that 400 tons of arms had been sent into Syria from Turkey to boost insurgent capabilities against Syrian government forces, after a suspected chemical weapons strike on rebellious suburbs of Damascus.

Tunisia opposition starts week of protests calling for resignation of Islamist-led government

    Sunday, August 25, 2013   No comments
TUNIS, Tunisia — Thousands of Tunisians have demonstrated in front of the national assembly calling for the resignation of the Islamist-led government.
Saturday night's demonstration kicked off a planned week of protests by a coalition of opposition parties calling for the departure of the government because of what they say is its inability to guarantee security and the economy of the country.
The National Salvation Front includes right- and left-wing political parties demanding the current Islamist-led government be replaced by a technocratic cabinet to organize new elections.

Report: Syrian soldiers find chemical agents in rebel tunnels

    Sunday, August 25, 2013   No comments
According to Reuters, Syrian state television reported that some soldiers were overcome by fumes after coming across the chemical agents in the tunnels while patroling Jobar.

The soldiers were taken away by ambulance, and government forces were preparing to bomb the insurgent-held suburb, according to state TV.

Some called the claim a thinly-veiled attempt to strengthen the government's denials of responsibility for the reported nerve gas attack that killed hundreds earlier this week.

Obama and his security team met Saturday to discuss those reports and weigh possible military options.
read more >>

Polls: Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria's government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed

    Sunday, August 25, 2013   No comments
About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.

More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days - just as Syria's civil war has escalated and the images of hundreds of civilians allegedly killed by chemicals appeared on television screens and the Internet.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken August 19-23, found that 25 percent of Americans would support U.S. intervention if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces used chemicals to attack civilians, while 46 percent would oppose it. That represented a decline in backing for U.S. action since August 13, when Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls found that 30.2 percent of Americans supported intervention in Syria if chemicals had been used, while 41.6 percent did not.

read more >>

Saturday, August 24, 2013

POV | The Law in These Parts

    Saturday, August 24, 2013   No comments


Acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Ra'anan Alexandrowicz has pulled off a tour-de-force examination of the system of military administration used by Israel since the Six Day War of 1967 - featuring the system's leading creators. In a series of thoughtful and candid interviews, Israeli judges, prosecutors and legal advisers paint a complex picture of the Middle East conflict.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Saudis give Egypt ‘blank cheque’: Saudi Arabia and several conservative Gulf Emirates have pledged to support Egypt’s interim authorities as they continue their crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood

    Friday, August 23, 2013   No comments
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates – with the notable exception of Qatar – remain unfazed by last week’s bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, events that left around 1,000 people dead and many more wounded.

These conservative monarchies have voiced their support for the country’s army since it deposed the democratically-elected Islamist leader on July 3 and are maintaining their promise of financial support for the interim authorities despite severe international misgivings, especially in the West.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

When anti-terrorism laws are used to harass journalists (and/or their partners)

    Thursday, August 22, 2013   No comments
David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who broke the NSA sruvelance story in June, was detained by British intelligence authorities to pressure the Guardian into ceasing its reporting on British and American surveillance activities.  Miranda was interrogated under a law meant to aid the pursuit of terrorists.


The Guardian has been on the front lines of exposing vast surveillance undertaken by the US and the UK -- and has been targeted by the authorities as a result. In an interview, Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger talks about his confrontation with the government and why the scandal isn't making waves in Britain.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Israel was behind the military coup that ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013   No comments
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that Israel was behind the military coup that ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in early July, adding that the Turkish government has evidence to prove the Israeli hand in it.
“Israel is behind the coup in Egypt. We have evidence,” Erdoğan told members of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) at a meeting in Ankara on Tuesday.

10 biggest US Defense contracts involving direct military aid to Egypt from 2009 to 2011

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013   No comments
The irony is thick: Obama calls on Egypt’s interim government to stop its bloody crackdown on protesters, but continues to give it $1.3 billion a year in military aid.


For decades, Egypt has been one of the largest recipients of US foreign military aid, receiving everything from F-16s to teargas grenades.

So who are the companies reaping the benefits?

The list below were the 10 biggest US Defense contracts involving direct military aid to Egypt from 2009 to 2011, according to The Institute for Southern Studies.


See the table at the bottom of the page for full details of the contracts.

read more >>

PORTRAIT OF A CAIRO LIBERAL AS A MILITARY BACKER

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013   No comments
In Cairo Friday morning, before the midday call to prayer and an afternoon of protest marches that resolved in violence, chaos, and the overnight siege of a mosque, I jumped into a taxi and slipped across the Nile into the quiet, semi-suburban neighborhood of Dokki. I was there to meet with Mohammed Aboul-Ghar, a seventy-three-year-old academic and politician who has been a leading figure in Egypt’s liberal establishment, and now represents one of the most confounding elements of the country’s current crisis: the wholesale alignment of old-guard liberals with the military.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The CIA has publicly admitted for the first time that it was behind the notorious 1953 coup against Iran's democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq

    Monday, August 19, 2013   No comments
The CIA has publicly admitted for the first time that it was behind the notorious 1953 coup against Iran's democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, in documents that also show how the British government tried to block the release of information about its own involvement in his overthrow.
On the 60th anniversary of an event often invoked by Iranians as evidence of western meddling, the US national security archive at George Washington University published a series of declassified CIA documents.
"[T]he military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government," reads a previously excised section of an internal CIA history titled The Battle for Iran.
The documents, published on the archive's website under freedom of information laws, describe in detail how the US – with British help – engineered the coup, codenamed TPAJAX by the CIA and Operation Boot by Britain's MI6.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Egypt’s interim rulers of committing state terrorism and compared army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad

    Sunday, August 18, 2013   No comments
“The Al-Fath Mosque is under siege. People’s place of worship is innocent. They have burned, destroyed our mosques in Syria and in Egypt. Either Bashar or Sisi, there is no difference between them. There is no salvation with oppression,” Erdoğan said during a defiant speech in the northwestern province of Bursa Aug. 17 where he attended the launching ceremony of an urban renovation project.

Erdoğan also slammed Egyptian officials for describing supporters of toppled President Mohamed Morsi as “terrorists.”

“People are saying ‘we ask for our vote to be honored.’ But there are those calling them terrorists. But I am saying that state terrorism is currently underway in Egypt,” Erdoğan said.
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Propaganda Trap: Egyptian Elite Succumb to the Hate Virus

    Saturday, August 17, 2013   No comments
Just weeks ago, they decried police violence and the heavy-handed state apparatus. Now, after over 600 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were killed on Wednesday, the Egyptian elite is silent. Those who dare to voice empathy are given a hostile reception.

Egyptian Amir Salim has the classic profile of a revolutionary. As a politically engaged young lawyer, he specialized in human rights cases, a focus which earned him nine trips to jail under Hosni Mubarak. When the revolt against the aging despot gained traction in 2011, Salim quickly became one of its spokesmen. After Mubarak's fall, he founded an organization which promulgated the creation of a civilian state free from military meddling. In a book published in 2012, he dissected the structures of Mubarak's police state.

Now, the same police that Salim attacked so vehemently in his book, has responded to demonstrations in Cairo with shocking brutality. At least 623 people, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed in street battles earlier this week.
And what is Salim doing? Sitting in a popular café in the Cairo city center, he says things like this: "The Muslim Brothers are a sickness and the police have to eradicate them." And: "The police and the army were only defending themselves." He adds that "the problem will only have been solved when the last Muslim Brother who causes problems is locked away in prison." When asked about the obvious human rights violations perpetrated on the dead and wounded, he said: "And what about the rights of those who live near the protest camps? What about their right to be able to enjoy their apartment?"

Welcome to Egypt under General Abd al-Fattah al-Sissi. The country is so polarized that people are no longer able to feel any empathy whatsoever for others. It is a country in which the smartest and most critically thinking intellectuals are now spewing little more than propaganda, with people on both sides of the deep political divide displaying a penchant for simplification, vilification and agitation. Those who ask critical questions run the risk of being physically attacked, an experience that many foreign journalists have encountered in recent days

read more >>

On the streets of Cairo it's not just a fledgling democracy that lies in ruin. US policy too is in tatters - in the eyes of many - or at least America's reputation and credibility

    Saturday, August 17, 2013   No comments
Since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the US has struggled to strike a balance between support for the tenuous progress towards democracy and protection of its national security interests.

The White House has tried hard to work with whoever is in power in Egypt but has ended up with no friends and little influence in Cairo.

Washington's recent diplomatic efforts in Egypt have failed one after the other. Up until his removal from power, the US tried to counsel Mr Morsi to accept a compromise with the army and the protesters.

The US also appealed to the military not to remove Mr Morsi. After the coup, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns travelled to Cairo twice to help mediate between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. But even getting an audience in Cairo these days is a hard task for US officials.

The US refrained from calling Mr Morsi's removal a coup for fear of upsetting the country's generals and the millions who demanded Mr Morsi's departure.

read more >>

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has said that radical Sunni Islamists were likely behind a car bomb attack that killed dozens of people in the Lebanese group's stronghold in southern Beirut

    Saturday, August 17, 2013   No comments

The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah on Friday blamed Sunni extremists for a string of attacks targeting the group’s strongholds over the past few months, including a car bombing that killed 22 people and wounded more than 300 a day earlier.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said all preliminary investigations showed Takfiri groups - a term for Sunni radicals - were likely behind the bombing in a predominantly Shiite southern suburb of Beirut, as well as other recent attacks.

He also pledged to double the number of Hezbollah fighters in neighboring Syria, who have travelled there to support the regime of President Bashar Assad.

“If you think that by killing our women and children ... and destroying our neighborhoods, villages and cities we will retreat or back away from our position, you are wrong,” he said in a speech to supporters marking the end of the 2006 monthlong war with Israel.

“If the battle with these terrorist Takfiris requires for me personally and all of Hezbollah to go to Syria, we will go to Syria,” he said, drawing thunderous applause from thousands of supporters gathered in a village in south Lebanon bordering Israel. The crowd watched him speak on a large screen via satellite link.

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Murdering the Wretched of the Earth

    Saturday, August 17, 2013   No comments
Radical Islam is the last refuge of the Muslim poor. The mandated five prayers a day give the only real structure to the lives of impoverished believers. The careful rituals of washing before prayers in the mosque, the strict moral code, along with the understanding that life has an ultimate purpose and meaning, keep hundreds of millions of destitute Muslims from despair. The fundamentalist ideology that rises from oppression is rigid and unforgiving. It radically splits the world into black and white, good and evil, apostates and believers. It is bigoted and cruel to women, Jews, Christians and secularists, along with gays and lesbians. But at the same time it offers to those on the very bottom of society a final refuge and hope. The massacres of hundreds of believers in the streets of Cairo signal not only an assault against a religious ideology, not only a return to the brutal police state of Hosni Mubarak, but the start of a holy war that will turn Egypt and other poor regions of the globe into a caldron of blood and suffering.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Commander Haji Ahmad told Firat News that his fighters killed two members of the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) in the last two days of clashes in the region of Sad Shahab where the Kurdish villages are located

    Friday, August 16, 2013   No comments
The general commander of Jabhat al-Akrad said 117 Kurdish villages in the Aleppo / Bab / Azzaz triangle are under attack by al-Qaeda-linked groups and several brigades of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The attacks came as a result of  a meeting attended by more 70 commanders of the FSA in Turkey last July.

Commander Haji Ahmad told Firat News that his fighters killed two members of the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) in the last two days of clashes in the region of Sad Shahab where the Kurdish villages are located.

The names of two members of the MIT will be announced in the coming days, said the al-Akrad commander, noting that the presence of these people is proof of Turkey's role in the attacks on Kurds.

Many villages in the region of Sad Shahab, including the villages of "Kafar Zikhir", "Narabiya", "Kubbessini", "Kul Suruch", "Jabal Assi" and "Tall Maden" were surrounded 14 August by armed groups affiliated to al-Qaeda. Groups hiding behind the cover of Islam to commit horrendous crimes.

About 500 people were kidnapped in the villages of Kafar Zikhir and Narabiya, Kurdish sources said. Nearly 1,500 families were forced to flee their homes.

Jabhat al-Akrad (the Kurdish Front), consists of members of all ethnic groups in Syria and are allied of the People's Defense Forces (YPG).  This organisation has forty battalions, especially in the areas of Bab Azzaz and Aleppo. It is part of the military council of the "real" Free Syrian Army (FLA).
read more >>

A leading member of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has accused Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu of being engaged in efforts to aid armed groups in Syria that have been clashing with Syria's Democratic Union Party (PYD)

    Friday, August 16, 2013   No comments
A leading member of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has accused Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu of being engaged in efforts to aid armed groups in Syria that have been clashing with Syria's Democratic Union Party (PYD), an offshoot of the PKK, the Taraf daily claimed on Friday.
“I'm well informed that Mr. Davutoğlu has been giving special attention to these forces for more than a year,” said Murat Karayılan, a member of the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities' Union (KCK), an umbrella group for the PKK, according to Taraf.

Syria's ethnic Kurdish minority, led by the PYD, gave signals about a month ago that in the absence of a central government in war-torn Syria it was planning to establish an autonomous administration to cater to the needs of locals in the northern part of the country. Now, some of the Islamist groups fighting the Syrian regime, such as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, have turned their weapons against the Kurds. Fighting between the PYD and the Islamist groups has continued since then.

Karayılan, who is also the head of the PKK's armed wing, the People's Defense Forces (HPG), said that the policy he attributed to Davutoğlu only makes sense if Kurds are seen as the enemy. He added that the attacks on Kurds in northern Syria are part of a plan to stop Kurds from getting stronger and obtaining power. The HPG, Karayılan said, has been reorganized to respond to the new situation. Reports say the HPG is now in a position to cooperate militarily with Peshmerga forces under Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, and to Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Iraq's Kurdish president. Karayılan said the PKK is preparing to establish a professional army.

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A protester attacked Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ and was immediately stopped by security forces at a ceremony he attended today to commemorate Alevi - Bektaşi figure Hacı Bektaş Veli in Nevşehir

    Friday, August 16, 2013   No comments
The protester, who hit Bozdağ in the chest, was identified as Hüseyin Satı, a local journalist. Satı was detained by police after his attempted move failed.

“How dare you to come here,” Satı shouted before trying to punch Bozdağ.

...

Before the incident, Bozdağ delivered a speech about Alevi culture and Hacı Bektaş Veli, but was continually protested by many of the attendees, some of whom carried Turkish flags and posters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The crowd also chanted “everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance,” one of the main slogans from the Gezi Park protests, which began May 31.

A three-day festival to honor Hacı Bektaş Veli is hosted in the town that bears his name, Hacıbektaş, every year in mid-August.

“The Hacı Bektaş Veli commemoration activities help us understand him better and aid our walk on his enlightened way, which started centuries ago,” Bozdağ said amid boos.

Bozdağ also said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was working to meet the demands of Alevis, which were set to be announced soon.
 read more >>

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The reaction to this week's massacre in Cairo will be key to the reputations of the United States and Europe in Arab states and the Muslim world in general for years to come. Its credibility and influence are at stake

    Thursday, August 15, 2013   No comments
When historical turning points present themselves, there's no avoiding the need for decisive action. Now that the Egyptian armed forces -- with the backing and the approval of a subservient civil government -- has brutally clamped down on protests by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Western world is at a crossroads. It is irrelevant if the number of casualties is 500 or over 1,000, depending on which source is to be believed. The reaction to this week's massacre in Cairo will be key to the reputations of the United States and Europe in Arab states and the Muslim world in general for years to come. Its credibility and influence are at stake.

As is often the case, the issue is not how much outrage and sympathy is triggered by shocking images of seriously injured men, helpless elderly women and crying children. The issue is how to balance realpolitik with human rights.
Do we want to issue stern diplomatic warnings and return to dialogue with a strongman at the top of the Egyptian government with blood on his hands but the clout to bring a modicum of stability to the country and the region, and a foreign policy stance that dovetails with ours?

Or do we want to issue stern diplomatic warnings against pushing the Muslim Brotherhood underground, thereby turning them into martyrs, and instead call for them to be supported in their rights -- even though the fundamentalist ideology of these bearded men is so alien to us and undoubtedly at least partly responsible for the current political turmoil?

                                                                                                                                            Photos >>

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army claims the supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi were armed and it has broadcast footage in a bid to prove it

    Thursday, August 15, 2013   No comments
The death toll continues to rise in Egypt, a day after the presidency declared a month-long state of emergency in most of the country. Egypt’s new leaders justify this exceptional measure on the grounds that armed Muslim Brotherhood supporters allegedly fired at the security forces. Videos doing the rounds on the internet are supposed proof of such allegations.

Many online videos and photos bear witness to the fierce violence on the streets of Cairo and across the country. Dozens appear to show the security forces shooting live ammunition. But the army claims the supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi were armed and it has broadcast footage in a bid to prove it. But besides the army’s images, only one bit of footage appears to add weight to this claim.

The video was filmed by journalists from Youm7, a newspaper highly critical of the Muslim Brothers. They filmed on the roof of the publication’s offices on Battal Ahmed Abdel-Aziz Road, not far from Arab League Road in Cairo’s Mohandissen neighbourhood.

In the first video in the series, two civilians armed with AK-47s (kalashnikovs) are clearly visible. One of them is wearing a bullet-proof vest. Both men fire, but it is not clear what their target is.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

industry sources: Iraq’s Kurdistan region is exporting crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia

    Wednesday, August 07, 2013   No comments
In a dispute largely over revenue sharing, Kurdistan’s crude exports through a pipeline controlled by the Iraqi central government dried up last year. However, it is transporting about 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude and condensates by road from the landlocked region through Turkey. 

Now the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has approved a second route for crude through Iran used previously only for petroleum products, the sources said. For the past two months, crude has been trucked from Kurdish fields over the border to Iran’s Bandar Imam Khomeini (BIK) terminal, 900 km (560 miles) to the south on the Gulf. Amounts are unclear but could be as much as 30,000 bpd, they said.

One industry source in Kurdistan said the regional government in Arbil was anxious not to put out either of the region’s powerful neighbors, Turkey and Iran, in transporting the crude. “It’s a political compromise,” said the source, who declined to be identified. “They cannot ignore the Iranians and go all the way ... with the Turks. They have to balance.”


Obama cancels meeting with Putin over Snowden asylum tensions

    Wednesday, August 07, 2013   No comments
Relations between the United States and Russia deteriorated further on Wednesday when Barack Obama abandoned a presidential summit with Vladimir Putin that was due to be held next month, amid fury in Washington over Moscow's decision to grant asylum to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The White House confirmed that it had decided to snub the Russian leader by pulling out of the planned bilateral meeting in Moscow, but is expected to take part in the broader G20 meeting of international leaders in St Petersburg.

Moscow reacted coolly to the decision, which had been widely expected after Putin infuriated the Obama administration by granting temporary sanctuary to Snowden, who fled to Moscow after the Chinese government allowed him to leave Hong Kong, rather than heed US calls for his arrest.

In a statement, the White House said that it had concluded there was "not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda" to hold a US-Russia summit. It cited a lack of progress on arms control, trade, missile defence and human rights, and added: "Russia's disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our co-operation on these issues remains a priority for the United States."


Sunday, August 4, 2013

'No coups, yes to elections!': Massive pro-govt rally held in Tunis

    Sunday, August 04, 2013   No comments
Thousands of Tunisians flooded the capital in support of their Islamist-led government amid calls for its ouster. Members of the secular opposition have alleged the ruling Ennahda party orchestrated the murder of a prominent leftist politician.

Over 150,000 people flocked to Tunis’ central Kasbah Square, brandishing Tunisian flags and shouting pro-government slogans.

The throng chanted “No to coups, yes to elections!” referencing the untimely ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 by the army.
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Hassan Rouhani has taken the oath of office as president of Iran before parliament in Tehran, promising to lead a government of hope and moderation

    Sunday, August 04, 2013   No comments
In his first speech he promised to lead a government of righteousness, honesty and trustworthiness. He said Iranians had rejected extremism in the June presidential election. The Iranian people had smiled at the world by electing him, he said. "The people voted for moderation ... the people want to live better, to have dignity, and enjoy a stable life. They want to recapture their deserving position among nations," he said.

The new president called for better relations with the world and the demise of international sanctions. "The only path to interact with Iran is through negotiations on equal grounds, reciprocal trust-building, mutual respect and reducing hostilities," he added.

PYD leader: Turkey continues to support al-Nusra Front against Kurds

    Sunday, August 04, 2013   No comments
Turkey continues to provide support for al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting Kurds in Syria's north despite statements by Turkish officials that such groups are a threat to Turkey's security as well, the leader of the most powerful Syrian Kurdish group has said.
Saleh Muslim, who heads the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said in remarks published on Sunday that witnesses on both sides of the border have confirmed that there was a transfer of weapons and ammunition from Turkey to Syria through the Karkamış border gate in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on the night of Aug. 2. He said the weapons were then transported to Arab villages near the Kurdish-populated town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab in Arabic) apparently in preparation for attacks on Kobani.

“Kobani is next. It is impossible to understand how Turkey lets this happen. If the al-Nusra Front is the enemy, then this should be prevented,” Muslim told Taraf daily in an interview. The al-Nusra Front is one of the al-Qaeda-linked groups involved in clashes with the Syrian Kurds in Kurdish-populated towns near the Turkish border. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), another al-Qaeda affiliate, is also fighting the Kurds.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (pictured right) won the first round of Mali’s presidential election with 39.24% of the vote while Soumaila Cisse (left) earned 19.44%, the Interior Ministry said Friday. The victor will be decided in an August 11 run-off

    Friday, August 02, 2013   No comments
Former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came in first in Mali’s presidential election but he will face ex-finance minister Soumaila Cisse in a run-off after he failed to secure an outright majority, the government said on Friday.

Keita secured 39.24 percent of the vote in the July 28 poll, well ahead of Cisse with 19.44 percent, Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, Mali’s minister of territorial administration said. The run-off will be held on August 11.
Cisse is expected to form an alliance with two of the other principal candidates, Dramane Dembele and Modibo Sidibe.

While Sunday’s voting was peaceful and has been praised by observer missions, the three men came together on Monday to complain about the process.

Cisse has called for the resignation of the minister of territorial administration, who announced Tuesday’s partial results, accusing him of preparing public opinion for an eventual illegitimate win by Keita.
 

Bashar al-Assad Is On Instagram

    Friday, August 02, 2013   No comments
If you're looking for new follows to spice up your Instagram feed, why not check out the official account of Syria's one and only dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Yes, the Syrian president has opened up an official Instagram account to show off all the great things going on in his country that are not part of the brutal two-year civil war tearing apart the rest of it.
The photos aren't the candids, selfies, and food shots of a typical Instagram account, but are mostly staged photos of Assad and his wife doing presidential and First Lady things, like visiting people in hospitals,hugging children, waving to adoring crowds, and unveiling things. It isn't even propaganda so much as it is a really boring family slideshow.
 

Dianne Feinstein Initiates Pro-Iran Diplomacy Letter in Senate

    Friday, August 02, 2013   No comments
Dear President Obama:

We urge you to seize the opportunity presented by the upcoming inauguration of Iran’s new president, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, by reinvigorating diplomatic efforts to secure a verifiable agreement that ensures that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

Since 2010 Congress has worked with your Administration to increase U.S. and international sanctions against Iran. The impact on Iran’s economy has been significant: the value of the Iranian rial has plummeted against the U.S. dollar since 2011, unofficial estimates of inflation range as high as 70 percent, exports of oil have been halved, Iranian oil production has declined 35 percent to 2.6 million barrels per day, the Iranian economy declined by as much as 8 percent between March 2012 and March 2013 and is set to decline further in the next year, and unemployment estimates range as high as 20 percent.

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