Sunday, August 30, 2015

Amnesty International: Saudi strike "kills 36 civilians" In Yemen, adding to the "bloody trail of civilian death"

    Sunday, August 30, 2015   No comments
A bottling plant in Hajjah province is hit as Amnesty International warns of a "bloody trail of civilian death" in Yemen.

Issa Ahmed, a resident in Hajjah province, told the Reuters news agency the bottling plant was hit on Sunday morning.

He said: "The process of recovering bodies is finished now.

"The corpses of 36 workers, many of them burnt or in pieces, were pulled out after an airstrike hit the plant this morning."
...
On Friday, air raids killed 65 people in Taiz - most of them civilians - and last month 65 people including 10 children were killed after a milk factory was hit in western Yemen.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The U.S. government knows that Saudi Arabia has Used Cluster Bombs in Yemen

    Thursday, August 27, 2015   No comments
The U.S. knows the Saudi government has employed cluster bombs in its ongoing war against Shiite Muslim rebels in neighboring Yemen, but has done little if anything to stop the use of the indiscriminate and deadly weapons during what has become a human rights catastrophe in one of the Arab world's poorest countries.

With watchdog groups warning of war crimes and attacks striking civilians in Yemen, the Pentagon declined to comment publicly on whether it has discussed cluster bombs with Saudi Arabia or encouraged its military to cease using them, deferring all such questions to the State Department. But a Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, tells U.S. News "the U.S. is aware that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions in Yemen."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

European companies beat US to Iran business after nuclear deal reached

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015   No comments
The ink was barely dry on the agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear programme before a German government plane packed with the nation’s economic elite touched down in Tehran.

The trip was the first in a rush of European ministers and business people flocking to a market poised to reopen after years of grinding sanctions. Upscale Tehran hotels are packed and tables at trendy restaurants are scarce as foreigners jostle for bargains, even amid uncertainty over whether President Obama can overcome US congressional opposition to the deal.

The stream of visitors to Tehran is the latest sign of the Atlantic-wide divide between the US and Europe, where there is scant opposition to the pact that aims to crimp Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Barack Obama and secretary of state John Kerry have warned detractors that they would be unable to reimpose a multinational trade embargo if congress rejects the plans. The other five countries that helped broker the deal have also told congress they will not return to the negotiating table. The trips show that US leaders can’t keep Europeans from flying to Tehran ahead of the congressional vote, which must take place by 17 September.

Did Turkey tip off al Qaida in Syria about U.S.-trained group of Syrian fighters?

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015   No comments

GAZIANTEP, Turkey: The Turkish government Tuesday denied accusations by Syrian rebels that its intelligence service had tipped off an al Qaida-linked group that then abducted the commander and 20 members of a U.S.-trained group of Syrian fighters about to confront the Islamic State.

In a statement to McClatchy, which first reported on Monday the allegations from multiple Syrian rebel groups that the Nusra Front had been alerted by the Turkish government, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office said it denied “the allegations in the strongest terms possible. The idea that Turkey, a key supporter of the Train and Equip Program, would seek to undermine its own interests in Syria is ludicrous.”

The statement was attributed to a senior member of the prime minister’s office.

The dispute centers around the arrival into Syria of the first 54 members of a program by a coalition of anti-Islamic State members – including the U.S., Jordan, the United Kingdom and Turkey – to train and equip carefully vetted Syrian rebels for the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The so called “T&E” group is part of a moderate Syrian rebel group known as Division 30, which has drawn members from a variety of units that were once under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. The FSA led the initial military uprising against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad before being eclipsed by a number of jihadist and Islamist groups, including the Islamic State.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Saudi rulers are not interested in fighting Al Qaeda and ISIL in Yemen

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015   No comments
Dubai (AFP) - Al-Qaeda has gained more ground amidst the chaos in Yemen -- this time in second city Aden -- but for now Saudi Arabia is turning a blind eye to its longtime enemy, experts say.

Supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, forces loyal to Yemen's exiled government retook Aden last month from Iran-backed Huthi rebels who have seized large parts of the country including the capital Sanaa.

As authorities work to reassert control over Aden, the capital of formerly independent South Yemen, Al-Qaeda has moved into the gap.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Turkish mourners blame Erdogan, AKP for rise in violence

    Monday, August 24, 2015   No comments
Mourners slam Erdoğan, Turkish gov’t at funeral ceremonies for slain soldiers

A lieutenant colonel’s angry rebuke during the funeral ceremony for his soldier brother has been added to the increasing number of protests by mourners accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government over the spike in violence ahead of early elections in Turkey.

A lieutenant colonel’s angry rebuke during the funeral ceremony for his soldier brother has been added to the increasing number of protests by mourners accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government over the spike in violence ahead of early elections in Turkey.

Army Captain Ali Alkan was killed after PKK militants attacked a military outpost in southeastern Şırnak province’s Beytüşşebap district late Aug. 21.

More than 15,000 people, including several members of parliament, participated in the funeral ceremony for Alkan in the southern province of Osmaniye on Aug. 23.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Competing narratives of armed conflicts: Turkey corrects the BBC, "members of PKK are not militants, they are terrorists"

    Friday, August 21, 2015   No comments
Turkey has accused the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of “openly supporting terrorism” by making “written and visual propaganda” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during a broadcast on Aug. 20.

“Such broadcasting about an organization which is listed as a terrorist [organization] by many countries, particularly EU countries, is open support for terrorism,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Aug. 21.

The broadcast, which portrayed the PKK as “an innocent organization struggling against another terrorist organization and encouraged [people] to join the PKK, is not acceptable in any way,” the ministry said in a written official statement.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Acknowleding Turkey's role in allow weapons and fighters to flow to ISIL, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter now says, "More needed from Turkey in Islamic State fight"

    Thursday, August 20, 2015   No comments
Turkey needs to do more in the fight against Islamic State militants and has indicated it is willing to go beyond its recent decision to allow U.S. planes to conduct air strikes from Turkish bases, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday.

Carter said Turkey had agreed in principle to participate in the coalition bombing campaign against the militants, but the United States also needed Ankara to step up its efforts to control its long border with Iraq and Syria.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

ISIL calls for conquest of İstanbul, war against ‘treacherous’ Erdoğan

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015   No comments
The people of Turkey have been called to war against the “treacherous” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and to conquer the city of İstanbul, according to a video released by extremist terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Reciting verses from the Quran, a militant clad in grey combat gear and sporting an ashen beard said that on the command of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “amīr al-mu'minīn,” translating to “commander of the faithful,” also used to signify caliphs, “all believers should conquer İstanbul, [the city] that the treacherous Erdoğan is trying, day and night, to give to the crusaders.”

The militant making a call for war in the video is claimed to have joined ISIL in 2014, according to a report in the Milliyet daily on Tuesday.

Monday, August 17, 2015

U.S. trained Division 30 declares its loyalty to al-Qaeda branch in Syria

    Monday, August 17, 2015   No comments
ISR comment: As the U.S. trained Division 30 declares its loyalty to al-Qaeda branch in Syria, its $36 million program initially aimed at moderate Syrian opposition fighters ends up being a training program for future Nusra or ISIL fighters.
...

The meagre American foothold in the fight for northern Syria shrank further on Tuesday as Division 30 rejected a US promise to defend the brigade against Jabhat al Nusra with airstrikes. On Friday, US warplanes bombed al Nusra positions after the jihadist group stormed Division 30’s headquarters and killed five of its members.

In its statement, Division 30 denied its "connection to the operations of the coalition against any faction on Syrian lands".

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Turkey, Iran relations tested by media wars

    Sunday, August 16, 2015   No comments
When Iran's Press TV ran a story* accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan of visiting wounded militants from the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in southern Turkey near the Syrian border, it prompted the Turkish president to cancel his scheduled meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was about to visit Ankara on Tuesday.

While officials from both the Turkish and Iranian foreign ministries carefully scripted the reasons for the abrupt postponement, citing Zarif's busy schedule ahead of his visit to Turkey, the real reason was the Press TV story, which was among a barrage of critical reports in the Iranian media about Turkey's alleged support of radical groups in Syria, diplomatic sources said.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

U.S.: We really can’t succeed against ISIL without Turkey

    Saturday, August 15, 2015   No comments
ISR Comment: Turkish AKP leaders should not feel flattered when U.S. administration officials say, "We really can’t succeed against ISIL without Turkey." Such statements underscore Turkey's role in facilitating the rise of ISIL, not highlight Turkey's capacity to fight ISIL. Turkey allowed fighters, weapons, and space for ISIL to emerge as the global threat it now is. Turkish leaders, motivated by nationalism and sectarianism thought they could use ISIL, the "Sunni" potent fighting force that is motivated by its puritan creed, to remove an Alawite Syrian president. That strategy failed and Turkey, and to some extent the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, have no plan B at this point. It is doubtful that Turkey, under Erdoğan and AKP rule can shift its strategy and cooperate with U.S. to fight ISIL.

__
U.S. President Barack Obama’s Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Anti-ISIL Coalition, Brett McGurk, who was in Ankara this week to finalize the Incirlik agreement between Turkey and U.S., has said Washington “can’t succeed against Daesh without Turkey,” speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News in an exclusive interview via Skype.

Friday, August 14, 2015

ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape

    Friday, August 14, 2015   No comments
Claiming the Quran’s support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery
QADIYA, Iraq — In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Did Sergey Lavrov call Saudi diplomats, including Adel al-Jubeir, F**** morons?

    Thursday, August 13, 2015   No comments
The rulers of Saudi Arabia are blinded by wealth to see their real place in global political scale. The images and sounds emerging out the recent visit by the Kingdom's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, drew a stunning picture of a regime unable to see the contradictions of its logic and actions.

al-Jubair, with a very short resume when it comes to the complex business of diplomacy, insisted that Syria's war will continue unless Bashar Assad is out of power. He argued

Monday, August 10, 2015

Turkey: At least 6 security personnel killed in attacks in Istanbul, southeast region

    Monday, August 10, 2015   No comments
comment: AK Party leaders decided to put their weight behind the Syrian opposition and allow money, arms, and fighters to enter that country to speed up the fall of Assad. Five years later, Turkey is facing its own security threats. Some of the deadliest attacks are carried out by the same extremist groups the Turkish governing authorities armed and trained: ISIL. Now Turkey is facing the prediction it was warned about since the early days of Syrian crisis: being Pakistanized.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Turkey’s top religious body releases report on ISIL, names it ‘terrorist organization’

    Sunday, August 09, 2015   No comments
Turkey’s top religious affairs body has released a report on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), where it defined the group as a terror organization for the first time.

The report, which was prepared by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), was highly critical of ISIL, denouncing its actions.

“All the deeds of this anomalous armed group which is targeting non-Muslims and the rules of Islam is terrorism,” a part of the report said, adding people who conducted the acts of threatening, killing, injuring and abducting were terrorists.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The U.S. picked the wrong ally in the fight against Islamic State

    Friday, August 07, 2015   No comments
Selahattin Demirtas
When Turkey finally agreed to join U.S.-led efforts to fight Islamic State, Ankara was supposed to make the battle against the extremist group more effective. Yet within days, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, bombed not just Islamic State forces but also, with even greater fervor, the one group showing some success in keeping them at bay: the Kurds.

The United States miscalculated by bringing in Erdogan. Turkey’s embattled and volatile leader looks far less interested in combating Islamic State than in reclaiming his power at home. Erdogan’s personal agenda, however, cannot be allowed to alienate U.S. partners and prolong the conflict.

Judge Permits Professor Steven Salaita's Free Speech Case Against University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to Proceed

    Friday, August 07, 2015   No comments
University’s Attempt to Dismiss Salaita Suit Over “Uncivil” Tweets Rejected by Court                    

August 6, 2015, Chicago, a federal judge rejected efforts to throw out a lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for firing Professor Steven Salaita from a tenured position based on his personal tweets criticizing Israel’s military assault on Gaza last summer.  The university has admitted that it based its decision on Salaita’s tweets, calling them “uncivil.”   The court firmly rejected the university’s claim that it did not have a contract with Professor Salaita, stating, “If the Court accepted the University’s argument, the entire American academic hiring process as it now operates would cease to exist.” The court further rejected the university’s attempt to dismiss Professor Salaita’s First Amendment claims, finding that his tweets “implicate every ‘central concern’ of the First Amendment.”

“Given the serious ramifications of my termination from a tenured professorship to a wide range of people, I am happy to move forward with this suit in the hope that restrictions on academic freedom, free speech, and shared governance will not become further entrenched because of UIUC's behavior,” said Steven Salaita.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Obama gives a speech about the Iran nuclear deal (Full text)

    Wednesday, August 05, 2015   No comments
President Obama is continuing his push for the Iran nuclear deal, giving a speech at American University. Here is a complete transcript of his remarks.

OBAMA: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you very much.

I apologize for the slight delay; even presidents have a problem with toner.

(LAUGHTER)

It is a great honor to be back at American University, which has prepared generations of young people for service and public life.

I want to thank President Kerwin and the American University family for hosting us here today.

Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy, at the height of the Cold War, addressed this same university on the subject of peace. The Berlin Wall had just been built. The Soviet Union had tested the most powerful weapons ever developed. China was on the verge of acquiring the nuclear bomb. Less than 20 years after the end of World War II, the prospect of nuclear war was all too real.

Saudi rulers' strategy is to be against Iran at every turn and to presume that Iran's hand is behind every negative act... this could really come back to haunt them

    Wednesday, August 05, 2015   No comments
TEXT HIGHLIGHTS
Jordan on the motivation behind Saudi Arabia’s recent military actions: “They have not articulated a strategy.  It does appear that they have - their strategy is to be against Iran at every turn and to presume that Iran's hand is behind every negative act, certainly in their eastern province in Bahrain and now in Yemen.  We haven't seen what the political objective is of the adventure in Yemen, and I think this could really come back to haunt them.”
Jordan’s description of Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud: “He was governor for almost 50 years.  Um, and so he had them started in his 20s.  He was and has been considered one of the least corrupt leaders.  He has been considered probably the hardest working member of the cabinet.  He would be in his office at 8 o'clock every morning.  The story goes that when he was appointed defense minister, he went over to the Ministry of Defense at 8 o'clock and the only person there was the gate guard. The next day, everyone was there at 8 o'clock.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Erdoğan is blocking the formation of coalition government to force an early elections that might give his AKP a majority this time

    Monday, August 03, 2015   No comments

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is blocking efforts by political parties to form a coalition, even though Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu genuinely wants to create a government, according to the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“I am saying with all my sincerity: Mr. Davutoğlu really wants to form a government and solve the problems of the country. I sincerely sense it. But the person occupying the presidential seat is not allowing this. He is stirring up trouble,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told private broadcaster Habertürk TV late Aug. 2.

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