Martin Kobler told the U.N. Security Council that Iraqi armed groups have an increasingly active presence in Syria. As a result, he said, the Syrian conflict is no longer just spilling over into Iraq, but Iraqis are reportedly taking arms against each other inside Syria, he said.
“These countries are interrelated,” Kobler stressed. “Iraq is the fault line between the Shia and the Sunni world and everything which happens in Syria, of course, has repercussions on the political landscape in Iraq.”
Kobler said the last four months have been among the bloodiest in Iraq in the last five years with nearly 3,000 people killed and over 7,000 injured. He said the perpetrators are taking advantage of the ongoing political stalemate in the country and the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011 and has killed over 93,000 people.
Kobler did not give any figures of Iraqis killed in fighting in Iraq but warned that the violence in both countries “could easily spiral out of control if not urgently addressed.”
What’s critically important, he said, is to address the roots of the conflict in Iraq and find a political solution to the civil war in Syria.
As of July 7, he said more than 160,000 Syrian refugees have been registered in Iraq, mainly in the northern Kurdistan region. He appealed to the Iraqi government to reopen the border to Syrians seeking protection.
Kobler said there are two main “drivers” behind the increase in sectarian violence in Iraq – a perception of “marginalization” by Sunnis in the region and Iraqis trying to to go to Syria to fight, “which plays into the Iraqi politics.”
Last month, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told AP that the Iraq-Syria border even before the Syrian conflict was “troubled,” and the Americans helped build trenches to enhance border security. But he said the border is still “quite open for movement of terrorist groups, or weapons.”
Kobler, who was addressing the Security Council for the last time on Iraq before taking up his new post as the U.N. special representative in Congo, stressed the importance of pursuing the U.N. mission’s mandate to promote national reconciliation in Iraq where Shiites dominate Sunnis, Kurds and other minorities.
He said the instability has seriously affected human rights, with one-third of children deprived of many basic services and fundamental rights and minorities being targeted for murder and kidnapping for ransom.
Looking back on his two years in Iraq, Kobler said “major bloodshed” was averted after lengthy negotiations that led to the relocation of an Iranian exile group that opposes Tehran’s clerical regime to a new camp, where security remains a problem.
He welcomed Germany and Albania’s agreement to resettle over 300 residents, and appealed to all U.N. member states to take in the more than 3,000 other members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, known as the MEK.
Kobler expressed increasing concern at human rights abuses in Camp Liberty, citing reports from some residents that camp leaders are keeping residents from leaving, from participating in the resettlement process, from contacting family members outside Iraq, and from medical treatment.
Pentagon officials on Monday announced that it has decided to equip the Afghan Air Force (AAF) with 86 MI-17 transport helicopters by the end of 2016. The officials added that they will buy these helicopters from a Russian company.
Considering the geography of Afghanistan, the officials feel that MI-17 choppers will be best suited for the Afghan terrain.
Elaborating on the procurement plans, the Pentagon officials said, “There is no better alternative to the MI-17. The helicopter is best suited for the Afghan terrain. Moreover, the AAF is well-acquainted with the controls of this helicopter.”
Meanwhile, the National Security Council (NSC) cited non-existence of choppers in the AAF as a serious concern and urged the U.S. authorities to accelerate the procurement process and equip the AAF as soon as possible.
The decision was welcomed by the Afghan officials and they said that it will help the AAF tackle any security threat in the country.
“The decision has settled one of the biggest needs of the AAF. However, I do not know the exact number of helicopters that will be given by the U.S.,” said Gen. Zahir Azimi, spokesman of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Setting up a strong and technologically sound AAF has been one of the fundamental concerns of the Afghan government. And, with the procurement of MI-17 choppers, this need would be met and the AAF would be able to stand on its own feet.
A number of MPs believe that if the ANSF is not equipped with necessary arms and ammunitions on time, Afghanistan will be on the brink of facing a disaster post-2014.
“The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) does not have the capability to fight and lead military operations. Due to lack of equipments and proper training, the ANSF is unable to provide medical assistance to soldiers who are wounded during operations,” said Mohammad Abdu, MP.
“ANSF is very weak and the international community has taken the responsibility to equip these forces with necessary weaponries. Afghanistan will have to confront several challenges post-2014, and if a powerful air force is not formed the nation will be doomed,” Mr. Abdu added.
Existence of a capable air force is considered as an important factor for the security of a country. Unfortunately, for Afghanistan the situation is quite different as its air force still does not have enough equipment to protect itself. So far, even the international community has failed to address the issue, and it could be catastrophic for the future of Afghanistan if nothing is done.
After Kabul strongly criticised the nighttime military operations carried out by the foreign forces, the responsibility of such operations was given to the ANSF. Experts feel that this has happened at such a time when the ANSF is not properly equipped, and it could prove detrimental for the security of the country.
President Karzai has persistently requested the international community, especially the US to help equip the AAF with latest equipment. Earlier in May, the U.S. had committed that it will buy 20 fighter jets for the AAF. It was confirmed by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Spokesman, Brigadier General Gunter Katz.
“We know that the Afghan people are concerned about the equipment for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). And yes indeed, we already provided lot of equipments for the ANSF. But we have to acknowledge that there are still some shortfalls and we always said that individual nations sit together, discuss with representatives from the Government and the army how to overcome those shortfalls. And one example of those negotiations is the recent announcement of the US Air Force that declared that they are willing to buy 20 fighter air planes for the Afghan Air force,” ISAF Spokesman, Brigadier General Gunter Katz told TOLOnews.
The MoD expects that Afghan military forces will be equipped with fighter planes, transport planes and drones within few years.
by Mohammad Reza Gulkohi
The peace process has become even more ambiguous with the opening of an office for the Taleban in Qatar.
Members of Parliament summoned Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, national security advisor to the president Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta and the head of the High Peace Council Secretariat, Masoom Stanekzai last week.
The closed-door meeting has created more ambiguity than clarity.Spanta, the national security adviser, said there was no “programme” for peace.
MPs confirmed to Killid that the president’s adviser explained that since efforts over the years to talk to the Taleban have not led to peace talks, these contacts cannot be seen as a move towards peace. Efforts by the High Peace Council have not yielded the results that people were expecting, he added.
There’s great hope and optimism each time a new page is turned in trying to restore peace and stability in the country. But each time people’s hopes are dashed by reactions both from inside and outside Afghanistan.
Atefa Nazari, a teacher in a private school, says, “We hear every night experts talk on TV about the future. But sometimes their views are so discouraging that it we feel so dispirited.” She believes that for lasting peace all political parties and national institutions should sit together and draft a comprehensive strategy. Only then would other countries that are involved in trying to end the conflict “hear” Afghanistan’s views.
Members of Parliament (MP) from Sar-e-Pul Sharif Balkhabi and Sayed Anwar Sadat say Spanta was not optimistic about the outcome in Doha since it was not “as the people and the government want it”. Sadat said he understood from Spanta that “the trend that is going on would not bring peace to Afghanistan.”
Foreign Minister Rassoul and head of the High Peace CouncilSecretariat Stanekzai had different views.
Naqibullah Fayeq, the representative of Faryab, said Stanekzai “insisted” the Afghan government is in “secret contact with Tayeb Aqa, a representative of Mullah Omar.” But he added that Dr Spanta did not think there was anything to suggest there would be peace talks. “The individuals (Taleban) that have contacts with Afghan government are not peace emissaries … the contacts are based on friendship and as compatriots,” he said.
MP from Badakhshan Fawzia Koofi gathers from Spanta’s statements that the government is being secretive about the peace process. “The surprise opening of an office in Qatar is an example of how things are concealed. There are hidden works going on that the people don’t know about,” she asserts.
Voices are again being raised about the usefulness of the High Peace Council. Sadat thinks it should be disbanded “because it has not achieved even a small result in breaking the deadlock over peace with the Taleban”.
Asadullah, 38, says he returned to Afghanistan hoping for lasting peace. Now many of his relatives have immigrated because they see no future here. But Asadullah is still hopeful. “The authorities should be honest with people and transparent. People’s support and strong backing would be a great strength for the government,” he feels.
MPs think the government owes people an apology for being secretive. Abdul Wahab Erfan,a member of the National Assembly, says people’s feelings have been played with for many years. “The government should take responsibility,” he adds.
“If as Dr Spanta says the peace process has not restarted then why were they discussing (it) so seriously? It is a big shame for the government,” he concludes.
Mohammad Alam Ezedtar, the first deputy of the national assembly, condemns the government. “Authorities are addicted to telling lies.”
The Killid Group (TKG) is an independent, Afghan public media group made of eight local Radios and two weekly nation-wide magazines, established by the Development & Humanitarian Services for Afghanistan (DHSA) in 2002. The group’s editorial policy embraces one main concept: Afghan ownership of Afghanistan’s process, and is committed to one principle: people’s right to be informed and to be heard, which is the basis for good governance, accountability and transparency. To fulfill the concept and the principle we are forging a TKG focus and style, ruled by high quality, in-depth, timely, accurate and balanced reporting together with a creative selection of story-ideas.
[They have been pulling this same scam for years. Below is the same, exact headline used in 2011.]
Israeli PM agrees to renew peace talks based on 1967 lines: report, July 13, 2011 —cache
[Here is the same title of a 2010 report where Netanyahu rejected the US claim about “1967 Lines.”]
Netanyahu rejects peace talks based on 1967 borders, Aug. 12, 2010
Today’s lie read:
the url is below:
20 Minutes Later, the url referred to this new story:
Netanyahu denies agreeing to peace talks based on ’67 lines
Americans would probably be surprised to learn that their government was arming affiliates of Al Qaeda. But this is essentially what President Barack Obama is about to do.
Syria’s Bashar Assad has carried out unspeakable violence, with as many as 100,000 dead, if not more. There currently are at least 17 armed jihadist groups rebelling against the Syrian regime, including Jabhat al Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate “that has emerged as one of the most effective rebel factions in Syria,” according to The Associated Press.
And yet the White House has signaled that it is moving toward arming the Syrian rebels.
We have received no public details on how the administration intends to fund arms to these rebels, the vetting criteria U.S. officials will use to distribute weapons or how it intends to monitor the chain of custody over these weapons to assure they do not end up in the wrong hands.
Congress cannot provide its oversight function without making these key details public. The Intelligence Committee’s concerns over how these weapons might be misused have slowed their deployment in a further indication of how treacherous this effort is.
Most important — if the Constitution still matters — the president needed to ask Congress for authorization to arm these rebels. He did not.
We’ve seen this movie before. As The New York Times reported in December 2012: “The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants. … The experience in Libya has taken on new urgency as the administration considers whether to play a direct role in arming rebels in Syria, where weapons are flowing in from Qatar and other countries.”
Any attempt to aid the Syrian rebels would be complicated and dangerous, precisely because we don’t know who these people are. To the degree that we do know who they are, we know that significant numbers of them are associated with Al Qaeda — as many as 10,000 fighters, by some estimates.
If the United States wants to choose a side in Syria, there is no clear moral choice. More important, there is no clear U.S. national interest in Syria.
There is also the question of what happens to Syria’s 2 million Christians. As a minority, these Christians have generally been protected by Assad’s regime, but have been targeted by some of the rebel groups. Imagine if the United States delivered weapons to extremists who, in turn, used them against Christians. Imagine the tragic irony of aiding the same Islamic radicals we have asked American soldiers to fight in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
No question, the Assad regime has committed monstrous atrocities. But this does not mean that the Syrian rebels are in any sense the “good guys.” In Syria, the enemy of our enemy is not our friend. And rebel groups like Jabhat al Nusra are the same enemy we’ve been fighting since Sept. 11, 2001.
Consider the recent reversal by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Last year, Dempsey reportedly endorsed a proposal by then-CIA Director David Petraeus to arm vetted members of Syria’s rebel opposition but has since reconsidered his position. Now, Dempsey says he is unsure that the United States “could clearly identify the right people” to aid or arm in Syria. “It’s actually more confusing on the opposition side today than it was six months ago,” Dempsey testified in April.
Dempsey is not alone in his uneasiness. According to the latest Pew Research Center poll, more than 70 percent of Americans oppose intervening in Syria. And for good reason: Americans are sick and tired of being dragged into Middle East quagmires.
That is why I have introduced bipartisan legislation along with Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) that would prohibit the president from providing military aid to the Syrian rebels without congressional consent.
The United States should never get involved where we have no clear national interest. We should not intervene militarily in a country like Syria, where we can’t separate friend from foe and might end up arming the very people who hate us the most.
Rand Paul represents Kentucky in the U.S. Senate.
Bulgaria’s top diplomat Kristian Vigenin. Photo by BGNES
There is no conclusive evidence for the implication of Hezbollah in the July 2012 bombing in Bulgarian resort city of Burgas, stated new Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister Kristian Vigenin.
This is a significant backstep from the February statement by ex Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who had said that investigations gave Bulgarian authorities sufficient reasons to believe that the attack was organized by “Hezbollah‘s military wing.”
“The evidence is not unequivocal, despite the fact that there are indirect indications about it,” the Foreign Minister stated for the Bulgarian National Radio Wednesday, adding that the authorities would continue to gather evidence.
Vigenin also informed that there was no final decision on the proposal to blacklist the militant wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
The terror attack against a tourist bus at the Sarafovo airport in Burgas killed 7, including 5 Israeli tourists, the Bulgarian bus driver, and an alleged suicide bomber.