Thursday, December 31, 2015

State Department: US Has Concerns About Jaish al-Islam, but...

    Thursday, December 31, 2015   No comments
ISR: comment: U.S. administration is willing to work with a rebel group that is determined to "purge Syria from Alawites, Shia, Asians..." and impose the Ummayyad system, a genocidal regime from the 8th century, but not Assad's government that is fighting such a group. No comment!
The U.S. has “significant concerns” about a Syrian rebel group whose leader was killed in a Christmas Day airstrike but was troubled by the decision to target someone who had committed himself to efforts to negotiate an end to the civil war, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday.

 The U.S. has “significant concerns” about a Syrian rebel group whose leader was killed in a Christmas Day airstrike but was troubled by the decision to target someone who had committed himself to efforts to negotiate an end to the civil war, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday.

Toner told a daily press briefing the death of Zahran Alloush, the leader of the Islamist rebel group Jaish al-Islam, complicates efforts to bring rebel and regime representatives to the negotiating table. Under an initiative of the so-called International Syria Support Group (ISSG), talks are scheduled to begin in Geneva on January 25.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Seymour Hersh report on Syria: White House knew US was arming Islamic State

    Monday, December 28, 2015   No comments
 Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reports that the administration of President Barack Obama, in particular the CIA, has knowingly armed militant Islamists in Syria, including the Islamic State.

"Barack Obama's repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office -- and that there are 'moderate' rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him -- has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon's Joint Staff," Hersh writes in the London Review of Books. "Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration's fixation on Assad's primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn't adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington's anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped."

Friday, December 25, 2015

Bizarre news: Erdoğan talks man out of suicide on Bosporus bridge

    Friday, December 25, 2015   No comments
[This is just a must see to believe, and the thing is: It was all coincidences: the president on his iPhone being driven to work, knew that the man is going to jump, and with the media and camera people present to take shots from every angle... This guy can do it all!]

 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's convoy coincidentally bumped into a man who was about to attempt suicide on the Bosporus bridge in İstanbul on Friday, and after talking to the man, who wanted to jump off the bridge, the president persuaded him not to kill himself.
Footage from the private Doğan news agency shows the man, whom presidential sources said was from the southeastern province of Siirt and was having problems with his wife, talking to Erdoğan, who remained seated in the back seat of his car.

The man kissed Erdoğan's hand and left the area after talking to himfor a while. The president was seen holding his mobile phone to his ear during the conversation with him.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rights group: Nigerian soldiers kill hundreds of Shiites

    Thursday, December 24, 2015   No comments
Hundreds of Shiite Muslims were killed by Nigerian soldiers and buried in mass graves in an "unjustified" attack earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

Nigerian soldiers killed "at least 300" members of the radical Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) earlier in December when they fired "without any provocation," said the New York-based rights watchdog in a statement.

Witnesses said that the soldiers of Africa's biggest economy disposed of hundreds of bodies by throwing them in mass graves, making it difficult to establish an accurate death toll, according to HRW.

The violence erupted on December 12 when members of the minority Shiite group erected a makeshift road block during a religious procession, blocking the path of a Nigerian army chief.

"It is almost impossible to see how a roadblock by angry young men could justify the killings of hundreds of people," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

UN: Saudi-led coalition behind most attacks on civilians in Yemen

    Tuesday, December 22, 2015   No comments

A disproportionate number of attacks on civilians in Yemen's conflict appear to be carried out by the Saudi-led and U.S.-supported coalition, the United Nations human rights chief told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. The gathering was meant to press all sides to end a war that has shattered the Arab world's poorest country.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein spoke as U.N.-sponsored peace talks on Yemen are scheduled to reconvene Jan. 14 after collapsing Sunday in Switzerland. Fighting continues despite a cease-fire agreement in place until at least Dec. 28.

The U.N. says the conflict has killed at least 5,884 people since March, when airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition began.

Returnee Says IS Recruiting for Terror Attacks in Germany

    Tuesday, December 22, 2015   No comments

By Hubert Gude and Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt

Islamist extremist Harry S. wasn't in Syria for long. But during his stay there, he claims, Islamic State leaders repeatedly tried to recruit him to commit terror attacks in Germany. Security officials believe he could be telling the truth.

It was an early summer morning in the Syrian desert, with not a cloud in the sky, when Mohamed Mahmoud asked those gathered around him: "Here are some prisoners. Which of you wants to waste them?"

Not long before, Islamic State (IS) had taken the city of Palmyra, and now jihadists from Germany and Austria were to participate in the executions of some of the prisoners taken in the operation. They drove to the site of the executions in Toyota pick-ups, bringing along an IS camera team in order to document the atrocity in the city of antique ruins. Even then, Mohamed Mahmoud was known to German security officials for his repeated propaganda-video calls to join the jihad. On that early summer day in Palmyra, though, he didn't just incite others. He grabbed a Kalashnikov himself and began firing. That day, Mahmoud and his group of executioners are thought to have killed six or seven prisoners.

The story comes from someone who was in Palmyra on that day: Harry S., a 27-year-old from Bremen. "I saw it all," he says.

Monday, December 21, 2015

About 60% of fighters in rebel factions in Syria identified with a religious and political ideology similar to that of ISIS

    Monday, December 21, 2015   No comments
About 60% of fighters in rebel factions in Syria identified with a religious and political ideology similar to that of the terror group, it added.

The thinktank, run by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, said: “The west risks making a strategic failure by focusing only on IS. Defeating it militarily will not end global jihadism. We cannot bomb an ideology, but our war is ideological.”

The report comes after the United Nations agreed a resolution endorsing the start of “urgent” formal negotiations between Assad’s regime and moderate opposition groups early next month.
The Observer view on possible British military intervention in Libya
David Cameron’s proposed bombing of Isis is panic, not policy
Read more

But the centre warned the radical groups, including al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, could benefit if they went “unchallenged”.

It added: “If Isis is defeated, there are at least 65,000 fighters belonging to other Salafi-jihadi groups ready to take its place.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2254 (2015), Endorsing Road Map for Peace Process in Syria, Setting Timetable for Talks

    Saturday, December 19, 2015   No comments
The full text of resolution 2254 (2015)
“The Security Council,

“Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2170 (2014), 2175 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2235 (2015), and 2249 (2015) and Presidential Statements of 3 August 2011 (S/PRST/2011/16), 21 March 2012 (S/PRST/2012/6), 5 April 2012 (S/PRST/2012/10), 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15), 24 April 2015 (S/PRST/2015/10) and 17 August 2015 (S/PRST/2015/15),

“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

“Expressing its gravest concern at the continued suffering of the Syrian people, the dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation, the ongoing conflict and its persistent and brutal violence, the negative impact of terrorism and violent extremist ideology in support of terrorism, the destabilizing effect of the crisis on the region and beyond, including the resulting increase in terrorists drawn to the fighting in Syria, the physical destruction in the country, and increasing sectarianism, and underscoring that the situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution,

“Recalling its demand that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians, including members of ethnic, religious and confessional communities, and stresses that, in this regard, the primary responsibility to protect its population lies with the Syrian authorities,

“Reiterating that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 as endorsed by resolution 2118 (2013), including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions,

“Encouraging, in this regard, the diplomatic efforts of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to help bring an end to the conflict in Syria,

Friday, December 18, 2015

Furor over Arabic assignment leads Virginia school district to close today

    Friday, December 18, 2015   No comments
A Virginia school system closed schools Friday after a high school geography assignment on world religions led to allegations of Islamic indoctrination and a slew of angry emails and phone calls.

Augusta County School District officials said that there had been no specific threat of harm to students. But in a statement posted on the school district’s website, officials said they were concerned about the “tone and content of these communications.”

“We regret having to take this action, but we are doing so based on the recommendations of law enforcement and the Augusta County School Board out of an abundance of caution,” the statement says.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Saudi anti ISIS coalition is a work of fiction

    Wednesday, December 16, 2015   No comments
 ISR comment:

Since Wikileaks released damaging diplomatic cables showing Saudi Arabia's two faced-diplomacy (a public good cop persona and a private bad cop persona calling for the West to attack its neighbors and overthrew the governments it does not like), the rulers of the kingdom have been acting erratically and dangerously. Most recently, and without actually consulting with its "allies", the kingdom announced that it is forming an "Islamic military coalition to fight terrorism". The next day, some of the 34 countries the Saudi rulers have listed as part of this bizarre coalition denied knowing anything about it. Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Tunisia all expressed surprise that they were named in this coalition. Most countries expressed willingness to participate in any efforts to combat terrorism but denied agreeing to a "military" coalition. it is likely that by the end of the moth, this coalition will evaporate, leaving Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies alone, once again.

This bizarre behavior by a young prince with a huge arsenal of weapons that he is treating like toys is endangering the region and destabilizing the world. Ibn Salman thinks that all other countries are like his: Ruled by one man. He is ignorant to the fact that other countries actually have governing institutions and procedure that must be followed before entering into a coalition, especially a military one.

Saudi Arabia is now feeling the pressure to reform its religious institutions and fight genocidal ideology. This announcement is meant to relieve that pressure. The Saudi rulers want to appear tough on ISIL. They are not. Every Saudi intervention thus far benefited ISIL and al-Qaeda. They bombed Yemen, only to hand over the southern cities in that country to ISIL and al-Qaeda. This is purely propaganda.

In a move that seems to have taken everyone by surprise, the young Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the king, announced this morning at a brief press conference – itself an unusual event – the formation of an Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism. In reply to a question, he said that the new alliance was directed not only against Islamic State but also against any other terrorist organisation.

Why are other Muslim countries like, Indonesia and Algeria, not in the Saudi-led Sunni coalition against terror?

    Wednesday, December 16, 2015   No comments
Saudi Arabia officially beheads more people than any other country in the world
The Saudis love coalitions. The Sunni monarchy had the Americans, the British, the French and sundry other oil importers on their side to drive Saddam’s legions out of Kuwait in 1991. Earlier this year, the Saudi military – for which read the youngest defence minister in the world and the ambitious Deputy Prime Minister, Mohamed bin Salman al-Saud – struck at the Kingdom’s Shia Houthi enemies in Yemen in yet another coalition. This included not only Saudi fighter-bombers but jets from Qatar, the Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.
In all seriousness, he announced that the battle of this latest “coalition” – which includes countries as mythical as “Palestine”, as corrupt as Afghanistan and as powerless as Lebanon, with bankrupt Chad and the Islamic Republic of the Comoros thrown in for good measure – would require “a very strong effort to fight”. Few spotted, however, the curious absence from the 34-strong “coalition” of Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population. 

This is very strange, since the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 mostly foreign civilians, brought al-Qaeda into Indonesia’s own “war against terror”. Surely Indonesia, with a Sunni population of more than 200 million, would have an interest in joining their fellow Sunni Muslims in this unprecedented “coalition”? Or could it be that with more than 30 Indonesian maids on Saudi Arabia’s death row after grotesquely unfair trials, the country wants an end to this injustice before committing its army to the Kingdom?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Russia: person who shot the Russian pilot of Su-24 warplane was Turkish, son of former mayor, not Syrian rebel

    Monday, December 14, 2015   No comments
Speaking about the death of one of the two pilots flying the Russian Su-24 warplane that got downed by Turkish fighter jets on Nov. 24, Karlov claimed the person who shot the Russian pilot after he ejected himself from the plane and was trying to make a safe landing with a parachute was a Turkish citizen named Alparslan Çelik.

“It is Alparslan Çelik who shot at our pilot. He went before the cameras and was making a statement, and then he showed a part of the parachute. He spoke Turkish easily,” claimed Karlov, adding that Çelik’s father was a former mayor.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The most prominent Muslim elected official in America sees a ‘message of hope’ in Trump’s ‘weakness’

    Sunday, December 13, 2015   No comments
Keith Ellison, the most prominent Muslim elected official in America, was having a pretty good day.
Never mind that the Republican front-runner in the presidential contest — Donald Trump — had proposed to temporarily bar all people of the congressman’s faith from entering the United States, roughly a quarter of the world’s population. Never mind that his House colleague — Indiana Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, the only other Muslim in Congress — received another death threat. And never mind that a Republican colleague — Iowa Rep. Steve King — was, at that very moment, questioning his patriotism in the press, saying the Detroit-born progressive Democrat has not sufficiently denounced Sharia law. Ellison had greeted King with a smile several times that day, even shaking his hand.

But the congressman’s routine belied the chaos engulfing Muslims around the country. Following the California shooting by a couple who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, anti-Muslim violence appears

Friday, December 11, 2015

72 percent of total Twitter content removal requests were made by Turkey

    Friday, December 11, 2015   No comments
Turkey makes by far the highest number of official requests for Twitter to censor tweets. In the first half of 2015, 72 percent of total Twitter content removal requests were made by Turkey, far higher than second-placed Russia, which accounted for 7 percent of removal requests.

Access in Turkey to social media sites, including Twitter and YouTube, has been temporarily blocked by court orders on a number of occasions over allegely illegal content.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Donald Trump's Muslim ban plan plunges Republican party into chaos ... American Muslims react

    Wednesday, December 09, 2015   No comments
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was disowned by his own party’s top leadership on Tuesday and faced calls to drop his White House bid as the world reacted with outrage to his plan for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
The billionaire frontrunner’s plan tipped the Republican presidential race into chaos, with party leaders from the chairman of the Republican National Committee to former US vice-president Dick Cheney condemning the idea as “un-American”.
Donald Trump will not be barred from Britain despite Muslims outburst
Read more

Trump toured the US television studios in unrepentant form, unmoved by the gale of criticism that followed his speech aboard an aircraft carrier on Monday evening. Speaking aboard the USS Yorktown, he acknowledged that his proposal was “probably not politically correct”, before whipping up a cheering crowd and adding: “But. I. Don’t. Care.”

Monday, December 7, 2015

London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, says allies should join Assad and Russia against Isis

    Monday, December 07, 2015   No comments
London’s mayor says doubts about there being 70,000 ‘moderate’ fighters means allies cannot be picky if they want to defeat jihadis

Britain and its allies should accept that Bashar al-Assad’s forces are best placed to lead a ground assault against Islamic State in Syria because David Cameron’s claims about 70,000 moderate opposition forces are “exaggerated,” Boris Johnson has said.

On Wednesday MPs will vote on whether to extend the UK’s air campaign against Isis to Syria. Here are the issues that should inform their decision
Read more

In remarks that may be seized on by Labour opponents of the airstrikes in Syria, Johnson says that “Assad and his army” may be the allies’ best chance of removing Isis because the 70,000 figure includes groups that are ideologically little different from al-Qaida.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

German vice-chancellor accuses Saudi Arabia of funding Islamic extremism in the West

    Sunday, December 06, 2015   No comments
In a highly unusual moment of a Western politician attacking a critical Arab ally, Sigmar Gabriel says the time has come to make it clear to Riyadh the time of looking away is over

 The German vice-chancellor has publicly accused Saudi Arabia of financing Islamic extremism in the West and warned that it must stop.

Sigmar Gabriel said that the Saudi regime is funding extremist mosques and communities that pose a danger to public security.

“We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over,” Mr Gabriel told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview.

“Wahhabi mosques all over the world are financed by Saudi Arabia. Many Islamists who are a threat to public safety come from these communities in Germany.”

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Turkey shot down Russian jet for allegedly violating its sovereignty for 17 seconds, violates Iraq's sovereignty by sending its troops to establish a permanent base

    Saturday, December 05, 2015   No comments

Several hundred Turkish soldiers have been deployed to provide training for Iraqi troops in an area near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is under Islamic State control, a Turkish security source told Reuters on Friday.

Islamic State militants overran Mosul, a city of more than one million people, in June 2014, but a much anticipated counter-offensive by Iraqi forces has been repeatedly postponed because they are involved in fighting elsewhere.

"Turkish soldiers have reached the Mosul Bashiqa region. They are there as part of routine training exercises. One battalion has crossed into the region," the source said, declining to say exactly how many soldiers had been deployed.

Friday, December 4, 2015

European companies are providing the terrorist organization, ISIL, Internet access by satellite dish

    Friday, December 04, 2015   No comments
No terror organization uses the Internet as successfully when it comes to marketing itself and recruiting supporters as Islamic State (IS) does. But how is it able to do so given that the group operates in a region where telecommunications infrastructure has been largely destroyed?

The answer to this question is an extremely problematic one for Europe, for it is European companies that provide the terrorists with access to the platforms they use to spread their propaganda. It remains unclear whether the companies knowingly do so, but documents obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE show that they may very well know what's going on. And the documents show that the companies could immediately cut off Islamic State's Internet access without much effort.

If you need to get online in Syria or Iraq, the technology needed to do so can be purchased in the Hatay province -- a corner of Turkey located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Syrian border. In the bazaar quarter of the regional capital of Antakya, peddlers hawk everything from brooms and spices to pomegranates, wedding dresses, ovens, beds and all kinds of electronics. Antakya has served as a crossroads for numerous trade routes for thousands of years. Wares continue to flow through the region's relatively porous borders even today.

Bahçeli calls on president Erdoğan to heat palace with dung instead of gas

    Friday, December 04, 2015   No comments
Leader of the minority opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli has criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's stance on speculation that Russia may impose natural gas cuts on Turkey, declaring that the presidential palace should be heated by burning dried cow dung so that the government can share the Turkish people's suffering.

Speaking on the presidential plane on his way to Qatar on Dec. 1 after attending a climate conference in Paris, Erdoğan claimed Turks “are accustomed to suffering,” in response to a question on the effects of a possible gas cut by Russia, the result of a crisis over a Russian fighter jet Turkey recently shot down.

“As you know, we [Turkey] have not lived with natural gas our whole lives. We all know how long it has been since we began using natural gas. … Moreover we will not be doomed if we cannot acquire Russian gas,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey buys natural gas from various countries.

Commenting on the issue on his Twitter account late on Thursday, Bahçeli said: “The people of this country have suffered enough. From now on, the presidential palace must be heated by burning dried cow dung in stoves. It's easy to talk, go ahead and share the people's suffering.”

Bahçeli added that Erdoğan's statements about Turks made him sad.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

German intelligence warns: Saudi Arabia "destabilizing Arab world", funding jihadist groups fighting in Syria, including Daesh

    Wednesday, December 02, 2015   No comments
It is unusual for the BND spy agency to publicly release such a blunt assessment on a country that is considered an ally of the West. Germany has long-standing political and economic ties with Saudi Arabia

 Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming a major destabilizing influence in the Arab world, German intelligence has warned.

Internal power struggles and the desire to emerge as the leading Arab power threaten to make the key Western ally a source of instability, according to the BND intelligence service.

“The current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy,” a BND memo widely distributed to the German press reads.

Worried that Russia may cut export of natural gas, 55% of Turkey's need, Erdoğan says Turks can do without gas, but rushes to ask Qatari Emir for help, just in case

    Wednesday, December 02, 2015   No comments
Erdoğan told reporters on his plane: “As you know, we [Turkey] have not lived with natural gas our whole lives. We all know how long it has been since we began using natural gas.”

“Moreover we will not be doomed if we cannot acquire Russian gas,” he said, adding Turkey buys natural gas from various countries.
Turkey imports 95 percent of its energy from abroad and meets 55 percent -- or 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) -- of its natural gas consumption and 30 percent of its oil needs from Russia. Additionally, the contractors of Turkey's first nuclear energy plant in Mersin's Akkuyu district -- whose reactor is due to be built in 2016 -- are two subsidiaries of Russia's state-owned Rosatom.

Turkey was hit with a wide range of sanctions by Russia after it shot down a Russian Su-24 jet on Nov. 24 after it violated Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. The incident was recorded as the first downing of a Russian jet by a NATO member country in over half a century.


The state-owned Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) has announced a memorandum of understanding with the Qatari national petrol company regarding the long-term supply of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) to Turkey amid speculation that Russia may cut its supply of gas to Turkey.

Russian military provides evidence for Putin's claim that Syrian and Iraqi oil under ISIL's control is sold in Turkey

    Wednesday, December 02, 2015   No comments

Russia accuses Erdogan of trading oil with IS

Moscow has grounds to suspect that Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 on November 24 to secure illegal oil deliveries from Syria to Turkey, Putin said on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Paris on Monday.

“At the moment we have received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale,” he said.

“We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure security of this oil’s delivery routes to ports where they are shipped in tankers,” Putin said.

Speaking in Paris on Monday, President Recep Erdogan said that he will leave office if there is proof of Turkey’s cooperation with IS.

 “We are not that dishonest as to buy oil from terrorists. If it is proven that we have, in fact, done so, I will leave office. If there is any evidence, let them present it, we’ll consider [it],” he said, as quoted by TASS.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Obama confirms Russia's claim that ISIL moves fighters and oil through Turkey

    Tuesday, December 01, 2015   No comments
President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that there is some progress in sealing the border between Turkey and Syria but there are still some "gaps" exploited by Islamic State militants to bring in foreign fighters and sell oil.

The 60-mile-long border stretch Obama wants Turkey to close
Obama said he has had repeated conversations with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan about the issue, including on Tuesday. Source

The US move follows increasing international criticism of Turkey for what is seen as its long-term tolerance of, and possible complicity with, Isis and other extreme jihadi groups such as al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra Front, and Ahrar al-Sham. Not only have thousands of foreign fighters passed through Turkey on their way to join Isis, but crude oil from oilfields seized by Isis in north-east Syria has been transported to Turkey for sale, providing much of revenue of the self-declared Islamic State.

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.

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

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.

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.

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".

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thursday, November 5, 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.

Wednesday, November 4, 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.

Monday, November 2, 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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

JOINT STATEMENT: Final declaration on the results of the Syria Talks in Vienna as agreed by participants

    Saturday, October 31, 2015   No comments
Meeting in Vienna, on October 30, 2015, China, Egypt, the EU,
The Participants in the Vienna Talks on Syria (Photo: U.S. State Department)
France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States [“the participants”] came together to discuss the grave situation in Syria and how to bring about an end to the violence as soon as possible.

The participants had a frank and constructive discussion, covering major issues. While substantial differences remain among the participants, they reached a mutual understanding on the following:

Friday, October 30, 2015

World’s ‘poorest’ president, Mujica, hosted in Turkey, whose president, Erdoğan, lives in a palace suited for the "richest"

    Friday, October 30, 2015   No comments
Former president of Uruguay Jose Mujica, who is known for his humble character, was hosted modestly, in accordance with his wishes, with a ’73 VW as his official car and a three-star hotel in Istanbul.

Known as the poorest president of the world, Mujica and his wife arrived in Turkey on Oct. 29 with a Turkish Airlines flight from Paris for a series of panels and conferences for the promotion of his latest book.

He is also expected to meet the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

The Bakırköy municipality has arranged for Mujica a 73’ Volkswagen as an official car with Veli Ağbaba, deputy head of Republican People’s Party (CHP), serving as his driver.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Saudi Arabia: Assad must go through political deal or by force... Syan must have new constitution and new elections

    Thursday, October 29, 2015   No comments
Saudi Arabia often torture citizens under its harsh laws


Mr Jubeir told the BBC that there was "no doubt" Mr Assad had to go. "He will go either through a political process or he will be removed by force," he said.

Earlier American Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was intensifying diplomatic efforts to end the "hell" of Syria's civil war even as it increases support for moderate rebels.

Foreign ministers from the UK, France, Germany, Egypt, Lebanon and the EU have also confirmed they will attend the meeting, and other Middle Eastern powers are also expected.


After WikiLeaks release, Saudis warn against sharing 'fake' files

    Thursday, October 29, 2015   No comments
Saudi Arabia has warned its citizens against spreading "faked" documents. The announcement came after WikiLeaks released thousands of the kingdom's diplomatic cables.

Officials in Saudi Arabia did not confirm nor deny the leaked documents' authenticity in a statement released Saturday. It came a day after WikiLeaks released more than 60,000 documents, including a number of classified reports from institutions such as the Kingdom's General Intelligence Services and the foreign department.

There were also emails between diplomats, and discussions of Saudi Arabia's position on important regional issues and efforts to influence the media. A multi-million dollar limousine bill racked up by a Saudi princess in Switzerland provided a rarely seen insight into the opulent lifestyles of the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Saudi Arabia set to resume flogging of Raif Badawi this Friday

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015   No comments
The Saudi Arabian authorities have an opportunity to improve their appalling human rights record by heeding the international outcry about the public flogging of Raif Badawi and halting it immediately, said Amnesty International.

The organization has learned that the imprisoned activist, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up the Saudi Arabian Liberals website, will be flogged for a second time on Friday 16 January. His flogging began last week after Friday prayers when he was lashed 50 times outside al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.

Iran Confirms Participation in Syrian Crisis Talks in Vienna

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015   No comments

"We have reviewed the invitation, and it was decided that the foreign minister would attend the talks," Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Wednesday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his deputies will attend the Syria peace talks in Vienna on Friday.

"Deputy Foreign Ministers Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Seyed Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi will accompany Foreign Minister on this trip," Afkham said.

According to latest reports, the top diplomats from Russia, the United States, France, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey will also convene in Vienna, Austria, on Friday to discuss the Syrian crisis.

It comes after Washington reversed its opposition to Tehran's participation in talks to end the Syrian civil war.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Iran's invitation to Syria talks marks significant shift for US and allies

    Tuesday, October 27, 2015   No comments

Unlike the countries that support the anti-Assad rebel groups, Iran has taken an unwaveringly strategic view of the crisis, consistently backing Damascus while pursuing its own interests. It has provided billions of dollars in cash and loans, as well as advice and expertise.
Its military role in Syria has been shadowy but vital, deploying Revolutionary Guards as advisers and overseeing offensives by its Lebanese ally Hezbollah and Shia fighters from as far afield as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has raised its profile slightly in recent weeks as the forces it commands have taken part in Assad’s offensive against Aleppo. It has also suffered casualties that are starting to be noticed at home.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted that the invasion of Iraq helped the rise of ISIS

    Monday, October 26, 2015   No comments
Speaking to CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired on Sunday, Blair said, "Of course you can't say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation [in Iraq] in 2015."

"There are elements of truth" in the fact that the invasion is responsible for the rise in ISIS, he said.

Asked whether the invasion was wrong, Blair failed to give a direct apology, saying that he could "apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and certainly our mistakes in our understanding of what would happen when you remove the regime. But I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam. I think, even from today in 2015, it is better that he's not there than that he is there."

"I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought," he said.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Saudi Arabia hajj disaster death toll at least 2,121

    Monday, October 19, 2015   No comments
The crush and stampede that struck the hajj last month in Saudi Arabia killed at least 2,121 pilgrims, a new Associated Press tally showed Monday, after officials in the kingdom met to discuss the tragedy.

The toll keeps rising from the Sept. 24 disaster outside Mecca as individual countries identify bodies and work to determine the whereabouts of hundreds of pilgrims still missing. The official Saudi toll of 769 people killed and 934 injured has not changed since Sept. 26, and officials have yet to address the discrepancy.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz, who is also the kingdom's interior minister, oversaw a meeting late Sunday about the disaster in Mina, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. The agency's report did not mention any official response to the rising death toll.

Iran has repeatedly blamed the disaster on the Saudi royal family, accusing it of mismanagement and of covering up the real death toll, which Tehran says exceeds 4,700, without providing evidence.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Turkey stikes ISIL for the first time; but launched dozens of strikes on Kurdish people since the first ISIL bombing attack on Turkish civilians

    Friday, October 16, 2015   No comments
Although ISIL was behind suicide bomb attacks that killed many Turkish citizens, including the country's deadliest attack that took place in Ankara, the Turkish government initiated airstrikes against punishing Kurdish rebels instead.

Turkish warplanes have successfully struck militants linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Syria in first Turkish air campaign as part of a global coalition built to defeat the extremist group.

For months, Washington and Ankara had been holding talks on the military coordination in the Syrian airspace and it seems Turkish jets are given the green light to join the fight in Syria. There was no confirmation of the air strike from the Turkish side.

"We have seen in the last 24 hours or so that Turkey has stepped up their activity in Syria... reports overnight that Turks for the first time successfully struck a mobile ISIL target inside of Syria," Josh Earnest, White House spokesman, said during a daily press briefing on Thursday.

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