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.

source

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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If48iG-CPjk
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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Perpetrators of the Ankara Massacre were on the Turkish government's list of suspects with ties to ISIL

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015   No comments
The two suicide bombers who perpetrated Turkey’s deadliest terrorist attack ever on Oct. 10 in Ankara have been identified, with one of them an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) member whose brother killed 33 people on July 20 in Suruç in a separate bombing.

One of the pair was identified as Yunus Emre Alagöz, who was sought for being a member of an ISIL cell from the southeastern town of Adıyaman. Alagöz is the brother of Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz, who was the suicide bomber of the Suruç attack on July 20 this year in which 33 people were killed.

The second suicide bomber in the Ankara Massacre, which killed at least 97 people and injured hundreds more, was identified as Ömer Deniz Dündar. The man’s name was also on a list of 21 suspected suicide bombers.

...
According to a list of potential suicide bombers that was circulated widely on the Internet before the identification of the suspects, both Alagöz and Dündar were on the list.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Five leads pointing to ISIL as prime suspect of Ankara bombings

    Monday, October 12, 2015   No comments
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is considered a prime suspect in the double suicide bombings that killed at least 97 in Ankara. Here are the five leads that point to ISIL’s involvement in the attacks

1.The bombs

In the bombings, 10-kg cluster bombs were detonated. Authorities believe a hand grenade could have been used rather than a remote-controlled detonator.

An official speaking to Reuters pointed out the similarities between the Ankara blasts and the July 20 Suruç bombing that killed 33.

“This attack is very similar to Suruç, indeed, all signs show this is its replica,” the source reportedly said.

2.‘Two suicide bombers’

Davutoglu: Islamic State, Kurdish militant factions or far-leftist radicals could all have carried out Saturday's bombing

    Monday, October 12, 2015   No comments
Prime Minister Davutoglu, exposing a mosaic of domestic political perils, said on Saturday Islamic State, Kurdish militant factions or far-leftist radicals could all have carried out Saturday's bombing.

Some direct their suspicions at militant nationalist groupings, with or without ties to the state, who are opposed to any concession to Kurdish demands for greater minority rights.

HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas said the government had blood on its hands, accusing it of failing to fully investigate the Suruc bombing or another attack on an HDP election rally in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on the eve of the last parliamentary election in June.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Trukish protesters gather at scene of Ankara bombings chanting anti-AKP slogans; number of dead rises to 95

    Sunday, October 11, 2015   No comments
Thousands of people, many chanting anti-government slogans, gathered in central Ankara on Oct. 11 near the scene of bomb blasts which killed at least 95 people, mourning the victims of the most deadly attack of its kind on Turkish soil.
Two suspected suicide bombers hit a rally of pro-Kurdish and labour activists near Ankara's main train station on Oct. 11, three weeks before an election, shocking a nation beset by conflict between the state and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a major presence at Oct. 10 march, said police attacked its leaders and members as they tried to leave carnations earlier at the scene. Some were hurt in the melee, it said in a statement.

"Murderer (President Tayyip) Erdoğan", "murderer police", the crowd chanted in Sıhhiye square, as riot police backed by water cannon vehicles blocked a main highway leading to the district where parliament and government buildings are located.

The government denies any suggestion of involvement.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Suicide bombers kill 86 at pro-Kurdish rally in Turkish capital

    Saturday, October 10, 2015   No comments
At least 86 people were killed when two suspected suicide bombers struck a rally of pro-Kurdish and labor activists outside Ankara's main train station just weeks before elections, in the worst attack of its kind on Turkish soil.

Bodies covered by flags and banners, including those of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), lay scattered on the road among bloodstains and body parts. The HDP blamed the government which, it said, had blood on its hands.

Footage screened by broadcaster CNN Turk showed a line of young men and women holding hands and dancing, and then flinching as a large explosion flashed behind them, engulfing people carrying HDP and leftist party banners.

President Tayyip Erdogan, who has vowed to root out and crush a Kurdish insurgency since the collapse of a ceasefire and resumption of intense violence in July, called in a statement for "solidarity and determination" to confront the attackers.

"Like other terror attacks, the one at the Ankara train station targets our unity, togetherness, brotherhood and future," he said in a statement.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Tunisian mediator group wins Nobel Peace Prize for aiding move to democracy

    Friday, October 09, 2015   No comments
Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for helping build democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring, an example of peaceful transition in a region otherwise struggling with violence and upheaval.

The quartet of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers was formed in the summer of 2013.

It helped support the democratisation process when it was in danger of collapsing, the Norwegian Nobel committee said in its citation.

"This is a great joy and pride for Tunisia, but also a hope for the Arab World," UGTT chief Hussein Abassi told Reuters.

"It's a message that dialogue can lead us on the right path. This prize is a message for our region to put down arms and sit and talk at the negotiation table."

With a new constitution, free elections and a compromise politics between Islamist and secular leaders, Tunisia has been held up as a model of how to make the transition to a democracy from dictatorship.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

US lawmakers: "The Syria Train and Equip Program is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat"; Obama Administration Ends Pentagon Program

    Thursday, October 08, 2015   No comments
After 1 year of US air strikes, ISIL's map did not change

...

In a letter to the State Department, Pentagon and C.I.A. last week, four senators — three Democrats and a Republican — criticized the program. “The Syria Train and Equip Program goes beyond simply being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars,” the senators wrote. “As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat.”

The senators — Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut; Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia; Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico; and Mike Lee, Republican of Utah — were referring to the latest debacle to plague the program.

Some of the American-trained Syrian fighters gave at least a quarter of their United States-provided equipment to the Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, the United States Central Command acknowledged in late September.

In a statement correcting earlier assertions that reports of the turnover were a “lie” and a militant propaganda ploy, the Central Command said it had subsequently been notified that the Syrian rebels had “surrendered” some of its equipment — including six pickup trucks and a portion of its ammunition — to the Nusra Front.

More broadly, the program has suffered from a shortage of recruits willing to fight the Islamic State instead of the army of President Bashar al-Assad, a problem Mr. Obama noted at a news conference last Friday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Amnesty accuses U.S. allies of committing war crimes and urges arms restrictions on Saudi-led coalition members

    Wednesday, October 07, 2015   No comments
Amnesty International called Wednesday for a "suspension" in transfers of certain arms to members of a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemeni rebels following "damning evidence of war crimes".
The London-based watchdog urged holding an "independent, effective investigation of violations" by the coalition, in which US allies the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are playing a key role.

Amnesty's latest report "uncovers yet more evidence of unlawful airstrikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, some of which amount to war crimes," said Donatella Rovera, who headed the group's fact-finding mission to Yemen.

"It demonstrates in harrowing detail how crucial it is to stop arms being used to commit serious violations of this kind," she said.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Turkish police kill Hacı Lokman Birlik and drag his body in Şırnak

    Monday, October 05, 2015   No comments
A video footage showing the dead body of a man being dragged behind a police vehicle emerged on Sunday after the photos of the incident circulated in the social media and sparked wide public outcry.

The footage, published on the Karşı daily’s website, late on Sunday appears to show the body being dragged while police officers on the vehicle are heard swearing at the dead body. One is heard congratulating his colleague for killing the man.
According to media reports, the dead body was that of Hacı Lokman Birlik, the brother-in-law of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Şırnak deputy Leyla Birlik. Hacı Lokman Birlik was killed on Friday in a clash between members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces in Şırnak.

UNICEF: Six months of violence in Yemen leave more than 500 children dead, some 1.7 million at risk of malnutrition

    Monday, October 05, 2015   No comments
ISR comment: The blockade imposed by the Saudi rulers on Yemen is a war crime, and unless it is ended, it will cause more children to die.
_________

GENEVA/SANA’A, Yemen, 2 October 2015 – Six months of unremitting violence in Yemen have left at least 505 children dead, 702  injured and more than 1.7 million at risk of malnutrition, UNICEF said today.

Across the country, nearly 10 million children – 80 per cent of the country’s under-18 population – need urgent humanitarian assistance. More than 1.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

“With every day that passes, children see their hopes and dreams for the future shattered,” said UNICEF Representative in Yemen Julien Harneis. “Their homes, schools and communities are being destroyed, and their own lives are increasingly threatened by disease and malnutrition.”

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Assad says Syria and allies will win, failure would be devastating

    Sunday, October 04, 2015   No comments
President Bashar al-Assad said a military campaign by Russia, Syria and its allies will decide the fate of the Middle East, and a year of U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants had only helped the spread of terrorism.

In an interview with Iranian television broadcast on Sunday, Assad said if Syria, Russia, Iran and Iraq unite in battling terrorism their efforts would yield practical results.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Global Islamic Economy Summit 2015

    Saturday, October 03, 2015   No comments
The inaugural Global Islamic Economy Summit in 2013 introduced to the world the idea of a cohesive global Islamic Economy. This year we build on that palpable momentum to go beyond delivering on ‘what’ this market is to showing ‘how’ we can all benefit from it.
This year’s Summit will be the platform for over 2,000 policymakers and business leaders to connect from across the Islamic world and beyond. The Summit will discuss critical issues affecting the Islamic Economy, including those related to: business and investment opportunities in Islamic finance and insurance; the full Halal food value chain from manufacturing to logistics; Halal products manufacturing; Tourism; and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, we welcome you to the Global Islamic Economy Summit 2015 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE on October 5th and 6th 2015. Organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Thomson Reuters, the 2015 Summit will not just match the success of the inaugural 2013 Summit but surpass it.

What is the Global Islamic Economy?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friends of Syria Coaltion: Russia strikes 'will fuel extremism'

    Friday, October 02, 2015   No comments

Members of the US-led coalition against Islamic State have called on Russia to cease air strikes they say are hitting the Syrian opposition and civilians.

In a joint statement on Friday, the US, UK, Turkey
and other coalition members said Russian strikes would "only fuel more extremism".

Russia, which according to witnesses launched fresh strikes on Friday, says it is targeting Islamic State (IS).

A senior Russian official says strikes could last for three to four months.

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