Germany Set To Help Militarize the Political Situation In Eastern Europe

Germany May Send Military Aid To Eastern Europe In Response To Russia’s Actions

EW News Desk Team

By: EW News Desk Team

The German defence ministry is considering providing military assistance to some eastern European members of the NATO defence alliance, in order to assuage fears of further Russian aggression following their actions in Crimea, reported Der Spiegel over the weekend.

The defence ministry in Berlin could send up to six air force planes to patrol the Baltic region, the news magazine said, adding that the number of NATO aircraft could be doubled at least.

A decision will be announced during a NATO meeting in Brussels on the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday, Der Spiegel said.

Other NATO members have also begun increasing their military presence in Eastern Europe, particularly in former Soviet states.

Denmark will send six F16 fighters to the Baltic countries to help patrol their airspace, Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said on Thursday; while according to Reuters, France might send four planes to Lithuania if NATO decided to boost air defences.

Nevertheless German military missions overseas remain a sensitive topic due to their Nazi past. In response to the Der Spiegel report, a defence ministry spokeswoman told Reuters that any army mission still remained in the hands of politicians.

The Imaginary “Moderate” Rebels of Syria

[A “moderate” individual, by definition, is ABSOLUTELY NOT someone who would take-up arms against their fellow countrymen, intending to kill all men, women and children who get in their way.  Obama and Bush could never have started, or maintained, these wars of terror without first destroying and rearranging all known human vocabulary.  By Western re-definition, “terrorists” can only exist in the camp of the opposition, “democrats” can only be applied to “our guys.” 

We are the generation, sent by Destiny Itself, to destroy human civilization.  Whatever rises up out of the ashes of our world war will NOT be anything that we would call “civilized.”  Thank your government for the suffering that is coming to your household in the very near future.]

The moderate rebels: A needle in a haystack

alakhbar

Rebel fighters members of the al-Sham Brigade (Liwa al-Sham) take part in a training session in the northeastern city of Deir Ezzor, on March 25, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Ahmed Aboud)

The United States and its allies sound like a broken record when they claim to only “support moderate rebels” in Syria. This support, however, requires finding these moderate rebels first, a difficult if not impossible mission.

Syria: If the nature of the Free Syrian Army’s name was ambiguous since its inception in 2011, it is clear today that it is nothing but a label for media consumption. In fact, it never constituted an umbrella group and it did not succeed in creating real leadership that would direct the activities of armed groups present on the ground. Hundreds of groups claimed to be part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Announcing their FSA affiliation was a mere pathway to receiving foreign support. Funders – most notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait’s Salafis – were keen on the Islamist identity of the groups receiving support without requiring them to announce it publicly.

 

In 2013, the picture became clearer. The Islamist discourse became public and most groups organized under the rubric of new fronts that are predominantly jihadist in nature. Groups that used to claim affiliation with the FSA united with hardline groups that never once raised the FSA flag. An example would be the Tawhid Brigade joining ranks with Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham Movement in creating the Islamic Front which became the third part in a tripartite alliance of opposition forces along with al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). If al-Nusra Front and ISIS’s extremist credentials are well-known, the Islamic Front is no less extreme, especially the Ahrar al-Sham Movement which can be described as the Syrian al-Qaeda. 

The FSA’s general staff divides the Syrian battlefield into five battle fronts. The southern front in Damascus, its countryside, Daraa and Suwaida. The eastern front in Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Hasaka. The western front in Latakia and Tartous. The central front in Homs and Hama and the northern front in Aleppo and Idlib. We will now place these fronts under a more critical lens to look for the moderate groups.

The southern front

In addition to al-Nusra Front and Jaysh al-Islam, who are affiliated with the Islamic Front, the southern front of the FSA’s offensive is teaming up with small jihadist groups such as the Green Battalion which is believed to be al-Qaeda-affiliated even though it is not well-known in the media. Saudi jihadists have a very strong presence within the group. It has pledged allegiance to the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and its leaders boast that they were the first to use “immersion” operations, i.e. immersing oneself into the enemy – in Syria.

There is also the al-Baraa Brigade which claimed the kidnapping of Iranian pilgrims “because they are Shia” and the Glories of Islam Gathering which consists of five Islamist groups that allied together last October. The statement announcing their formation said that the gathering was established “for the sake of closing ranks and developing jihadist activities.” In the same month, four groups created what they called Jaysh al-Sunna wa al-Jamaa which vowed to “keep on fighting to uphold the word of God and overthrow the Iranian sponsored regime.”

All the organizations adopt the same discourse, including ones that have remained independent in the Damascus countryside such as Suquour al-Sham Battalion, Ansar al-Islam Gathering, Sham al-Rasoul Brigade and Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyyah Battalion.

In 2013, the picture became clearer and their Islamist discourse became public.

 

In Daraa too, the Islamist groups are dominant. Such as the Muthanna bin Haritha Battalion, which defines itself as defeater of the Safavid Persians, al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar Brigade which includes foreign jihadists, the Yarmouk Band which was formed last month gathering under its Islamic banner 14 groups that pledged to “liberate Daraa from the clutches of the Alawi occupation,” under the slogan “And God is predominant over His affairs but most of the people do not know.” There are also brigades and battalions in the region that have pledged allegiance to al-Nusra Front such as al-Musayfira Martyrs’ Brigade. 

In Quneitra, there is Ahfad al-Rasul (the Prophet’s Grandchildren) Brigade which is fighting under the banner of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front. The group, which the FSA’s general staff touted its moderate Islamist credentials, is the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade formed in August 2012 under the leadership of Bashar al-Zoubi upon merging seven smaller groups. In March 2013, this brigade held members of an international peacekeeping force captive as they were passing in the demilitarized zone “because they are crusaders.”

The eastern front

The most prominent groups on this front are the Islamic Front and ISIS, who exercise exclusive control over Raqqa, while al-Nusra Front challenges their control in Deir al-Zour and the oil fields and is trying to control al-Khabur Basin in Hasaka. There is also the Kurdish Islamist Front which includes a 1,000 fighters and is primarily interested in fighting “infidel” Kurdish groups.

The western front

The front with the least amount of armed groups. These groups are confined to the northern Latakia countryside and they are all jihadist groups such as al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Ansar al-Sham and Junoud al-Sham. The latter is a group whose fighters are predominantly Chechen and is not related to the organization Jund al-Sham. There is also Sham al-Islam Movement, a jihadist movement whose fighters are mostly Moroccan.

The northern front

This front, chronologically speaking, came in second in terms of the influx of immigrant jihadists and is still number one in terms of numbers. There, the opposition power is divided between ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Jaysh al-Mujahideen and the Islamic Front. The main components of the Islamic Front in this area are al-Tawhid Brigade and Ahrar al-Sham Movement. There was a recent announcement about new groups joining the Islamic Front in Aleppo such as Aasifat al-Shamal Brigade and Ahrar Surya Brigade. Both groups are accused of stealing, making the Islamic Front in that area a bizarre mix of hardliners and thieves.

Jaysh al-Mujahideen also takes the same hardline approach. It is the one that declared in communique number two that “the jihadists of al-Nusra Front are our brothers.” It also called on “the immigrants in ISIS to defect and join the ranks of their brothers, the honest mujahideen garrisoned at the Syrian border against the Alawi Assad regime.” One of this group’s most recent accomplishments is detaining Christian opposition activist Marcell Shehwaro and forcing her to sign a pledge promising to wear a veil. When it was formed, Jaysh al-Mujahideen included the biggest group in the region that hid behind a mask of secularism, namely, the Nineteenth Band in the Free Syrian Army.

 

In Idlib, Jaysh al-Sham al-Islami enjoys a strong presence. It was formed from the union of several groups last February and it upholds the slogan “Towards a Rashidun (righteously guided) Islamic Caliphate.” 

The central front

It was one of the first areas in Syria to welcome jihadists through Lebanese territories. Al-Haq Brigade, affiliated with the Syrian Islamic Front, and al-Nusra Front are the two most prominent groups in the area. There is also Mujahideen al-Sham Brigade that is affiliated with the Islamic Front. While Jund al-Sham, which was the strongest group in al-Husn region collapsed, al-Faruq Brigades are still present. The group was initially known as al-Faruq Battalions and it achieved great fame through the support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its “Saudi brothers.” Al-Faruq Brigades fought with such sectarian spirit arguing that the shedding of Alawi blood is permissible. The group is now divided into Faruq al-Shamal, Faruq al-Islami, the Independent Omar al-Faruq Brigade and Hama Faruq Battalion. None of them however have abandoned the motto of shedding Alawi blood.

A somewhat weak group in the area is the Revolution Shields which was formed in August 2012 with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its fighters do not exceed a thousand and until recently, the Brotherhood had promoted the group as a moderate Islamist alliance, and had pinned hopes on it. But placing the Muslim Brotherhood on the Saudi terrorist list ousted the Revolution Shields from the game.

The same did not happen to the National Unity Battalions, a group that has not actually fought since its inception in August 2012 and the number of its fighters range between 1,500 and 2,000 deployed on a number of fronts within battalions that have non-Islamic names such as Yusuf al-Azmi and Abdul Rahman al-Shahbandar. The National Unity Battalions is not an effective group and it does not have strong foreign ties or a prominent face to lead it, unlike the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, which is under the leadership of Jamal Maarouf, and is expected to absorb the National Unity Battalions into its own ranks soon.

Bandar Is back

Prince Bandar bin Sultan is on his way back to Riyadh where he will resume his tasks as head of Saudi Intelligence, reported news portal NOW Lebanon.

An informed Saudi source confirmed the report to Al Arabiya News.

“This is without doubt bad news for Tehran, Damascus and Hezbollah, particularly that anti-Saudi media has been propagating false information for the past two months that Prince Bandar’s absence has been due to his dismissal and due to a Saudi decision to back away from its policies regarding the regional conflict,” said the source in Riyadh.

The source confirms that Prince Bandar has actually been away due to medical reasons, however, he has resumed his activities this week from the Moroccan city of Marrakesh; where he has been recovering and where he has met with former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed.

“Prince Bandar will be in Riyadh in a week’s time, as soon as his sick leave is over. He has been recovering of a delicate surgery that he underwent to treat a shoulder injury at a hospital in the United States and has been recovering in Marrakesh,” said the source adding that “He (Prince Bandar) will return to work from his office to manage all the important tasks he was assigned by Saudi King Abdullah as of July 2012.”

On top of the issues Prince Bandar spearheads is Saudi Arabia’s support of the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Council in their fight against the regime massacres.

The return of the Saudi head of intelligence will certainly contradict what has been reported in the past few weeks in various media outlets, including some leading Western agencies and newspapers.

Various media reports had revealed his illness and some concluded on their own that he was dismissed from his role as head of intelligence. Some analysts mistakenly said that this was due to his opposition to regional U.S. policy and his public criticism for the current U.S. administration which has upset the White House.

Taliban Veto Bush/Obama War and Faux-Election—Observers Turning Tail

Foreign observers pulling out; EU team stays

Pajhwok

KABUL (Pajhwok): International election observers are preparing to leave Kabul following a string of deadly Taliban attacks in the heart of the central capital, a source said on Sunday.

Brazen assaults on Serena Hotel, frequented by foreigners, and the Independent Election Commission headquarters have prompted international monitors to pull out of Kabul.

Coming a week ahead of the landmark presidential vote, slated for April 5, the attack on the IEC headquarters ended on Saturday evening with the killing of five assailants.

The burqa-clad assailants fired at the commission’s office from a nearby building and clashed with security personnel for hours. Two policemen were slightly injured in the gunbattle.

Earlier in the month, two major international election observation missions left Afghanistan in the wake of the March 20 attack on the luxury Hotel.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) withdrew staff, leaving the European Union’s international monitoring mission the only major one to remain.

An NDI observer, Luis Maria Duarte, was among the nine people killed after four teenager attackers opened fire at the restaurant, where mostly foreigners were staying at the time.

One international observer, requesting not to be named, told Pajhwok Afghan News many of the missions, including the Bangkok-based Asian Foundation for Free Elections (ANFREL), had decided to leave.

“Many of them are expected to return home in the next couple of days,” he said, voicing concern at the growing insecurity.

But the EU election assessment team will stay in Afghanistan to observe the vote. “The team is here on the invitation of Afghan authorities and will carry out its work as planned,” EU chief observer Thijs Berman.

Pakistan’s 2nd Baloch Coastal Facility Reportedly Undergoes Suspicious Replay of Mehran Assault

[If this was a replay of Mehran, then why no casualties, why withdraw alive?  Nothing was accomplished by the alleged terrorists, so why bother?  Pasni radar is the only non-Iranian radar in that area, so, if the attack actually took place, then it could only have been intended to mask something landing or taking-off from Iran.  Either that, or the press coverage passing through government censors are hiding a much bigger attack.]

pasni radar_coverage

Forces recapture Pasni radar post

[According to this Pak report (Another Naval Base Near Gwadar?), Pak Navy was building another facility at Kalmat Chundi Hore, which has been marked on the map below.

Another Pak news report revealed an American base going in next to Jinnah Naval Base in Ormorra (also marked).  A thorough search of the Baloch coastline reveals no deepwater facilities, nor any portage of any sort between Ormorra and Gwadar, however, some creative layering by the Google specialists has resulted in several strange views, as seen here:

Kalmat Chundi Hore

This story is a smokescreen.]

 

 

 

 

Bandar In Royal Dog House for Screwing-Up Syrian Plan

Saudi King Angry at Bandar’s Incompetency in Controlling Situation in Syria

farsnews
Saudi King Angry at Bandar’s Incompetency in Controlling Situation in Syria
TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is angry at his Spy Chief Bandar Bin Sultan for his failure in controlling the situation in Syria, specially in preventing the death of the Saudi terrorists in the crisis-hit country, sources revealed on Wednesday.

“The Saudi King’s anger at Bandar increased after Interior Minister Mohammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reported that over 3,000 Saudi nationals have been killed in the three-year-long crisis in Syria,” an informed source close to the Saudi monarch who called for anonymity for fear of his life told FNA.

“After hearing the report, the Saudi King summoned Bandar and addressed him with ferocious remarks. “I was not optimistic about your handling of the regional issues since the beginning and the death of such a high number of Saudi nationals (terrorists in Syria) is regretable,” the king told Bandar, according to the source.

Earlier reports said that Saudi Arabia has sent between 20,000 to 30,000 fighters to Syria since 2011 headed by Bandar bin Sultan.

But recently it was revealed that Bandar has gone under ‘sensitive’ medical operations and is now recovering and not able to lead the Saudi fighters in Syria directly.

Saudi sources said that Bandar’s obligatory absence from the political scene has surrendered the Syrian case to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faissal.

In relevant remarks on Monday, US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford ordered the foreign-backed opposition figures to take part in the Geneva II conference, noting that there are many changes in the Saudi policy regarding the Syrian crisis.

An official in the executive committee of the so-called ‘Syrian National Coalition’, Nidal Hamade, said that Ford had called for an urgent meeting with SNC figures in Turkey’s Istanbul, noting that the US envoy had threatened to cut funds for anyone who will not attend the meeting.

“In addition to Ford, all SNC figures opposing participation in the Geneva 2 conference were at the meeting, namely Loay Safi, Anass al-Abdeh, Haitham al-Maleh, Burhan Ghalioun, Najeeb al-Ghadban and Maher Noaimi,” Hamade said.

During the meeting, Ford told the SNC figures that Saudi prince Bandar Bin Sultan is on long vacation in the United States, “because of sickness and psychological fatigue”, Hamade added, citing a Syrian opposition official close to former Prime Minister Riyad Hijab.

“We would like to inform you that there are some changes that will take place in Saudi Arabia next March,” Ford said, noting that these changes will reach Bandar Bin Sultan and Saud al-Faissal.

The US ambassador added that the Saudi committee for Lebanon and Syria (which compromises Abdulaziz Khoja, Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Al Saud and Muqren Bin Abdullah Al Saud) is to be activated and will take over the Lebanese and Syrian file from Bandar.

Ford told the Syrian opposition figures that “Bandar’s plan for the Syrian conflict, put in 2012, had catastrophic repercussions on Syria and the region. It had made of Syria a powerful hub for al-Qaeda that the US cannot confront. For that, you have to stop objecting and to go to Geneva 2, this is the US’ interest.”

Obama To Allow Saudis To Send Portable SAM Missiles To Syrian Terrorists?

https://i1.wp.com/www.armyrecognition.com/images/stories/east_europe/russia/weapons/sa-16_igla-s/pictures/Igla-S_MANPADS_and_Strelets_set_for_firing_of_missiles_of_Igla-type_MANPADS_001.jpg

Obama May Allow Air Defense Help for Syria Rebels

abcnews_logo_v2

 

The Obama administration is considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to Syrian rebels, a U.S. official said Friday.

President Barack Obama’s possible shift would likely be welcomed by Saudi Arabia, which has been pressing the White House to allow the man-portable air-defense systems, known as “manpads,” into Syria. Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday evening for meetings with King Abdullah.

Allowing manpads to be delivered to Syrian rebels would mark a shift in strategy for the U.S., which until this point has limited its lethal assistance to small weapons and ammunition, as well as humanitarian aid. The U.S. has been grappling for ways to boost the rebels, who have lost ground in recent months, allowing Syrian President Bashar Assad to regain a tighter grip on the war-torn nation.

The actual manpad shipments could come from the Saudis, who have so far held off sending in the equipment because of U.S. opposition.

The president is not expected to announce a final decision on the matter during his overnight trip to the Gulf kingdom. U.S. and Saudi intelligence officials have been discussing the possibility of injecting manpads into the crisis for some time, including during a meeting in Washington earlier this year.

As recently as February, the administration had said Obama remained opposed to any shipments of manpads to the Syrian opposition. The U.S. has been concerned that the weaponry could fall into the wrong hands and possibly be used to shoot down a commercial airliner.

Among the reasons for Obama’s shift in thinking is the greater understanding the U.S. now has about the composition of the Syrian rebels, the official said. However, the official added, the president continues to have concerns about escalating the fire power on the ground in Syria, which has been torn apart by more than three years of civil war.

The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the internal deliberations by name and insisted on anonymity.

Sunni days for Saudi’s hired gun Pakistan, as Obama visits Riyadh

Sunni days for Saudi’s hired gun Pakistan, as Obama visits Riyadh

times of india

Sunni days for Saudi's hired gun Pakistan, as Obama visits Riyadh
US President Barack Obama headed into Riyadh today evening on a brief visit to Saudi Arabia, a long-time ally with which ties are fraying. 
WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama headed into Riyadh on Friday evening on a brief visit to Saudi Arabia, a long-time ally with which ties are fraying amid rapid changes in the region through events that also touches the Indian sub-continent.

Things have soured quite dramatically between Washington and Riyadh, which have long enjoyed an oil-for-security equation from the time President Roosevelt sealed an alliance with Saudi’s Founding King Abdul Aziz. But several developments in the region, topped with America’s own discovery of a vast trove of energy at home through shale gas exploitation, had disrupted the cozy arrangement. Meanwhile, pressure is growing on the White House to call the Saudi kingdom to account for its human rights excesses and funding of Sunni extremism through the region.

Just ahead of his departure, Amnesty International challenged Obama to take a female Secret Service driver with him to Riyadh to show his displeasure over the medieval Saudi Kingdom’s ban on women driving — the only country in the world with such an absurd rule. Some 70 US lawmakers also wrote to the US President urging him to raise critical human rights issue with the Saudis. Earlier this week, Washington feebly complained about the Saudis denying a visa to the Washington-based bureau chief of the Jerusalem Post who planned to cover the Obama visit.

But these will be trifles as Obama deals with what White House sees as larger issues. He will also likely hear a laundry list of complaints from Saudis – the perceived US betrayal of Saudi interests arising from Washington’s recent overtures towards Iran, to letting Riyadh down in Syria. In both countries, Saudis are fighting for Sunni influence in the region again Shia-dominated regimes. In neighboring Bahrain, it is backing a minority Sunni regime against a majority Shia uprising.

In fact, the Sunni axis that Saudi Arabia has forged comes close to India’s borders, since Pakistan is the hired gun Riyadh has chosen to act as an enforcer. According to reports in the Pakistani media, Saudi Arabia transferred a whopping $1.5 billion to Islamabad earlier this month, ostensibly to shore up Pakistan’s economy.

While the Nawaz Sharief government confirmed the transfer as “no-strings-attached” grant from a “friendly” government, the scuttlebutt in strategic circles is that it is payoff for Pakistani foot-soldiers waging Saudi bankrolled jihad in Bahrain and Syria, among other places.

In fact, Washington’s biggest fear is that the Saudis are also making sure they have access to the Pakistani nuclear arsenal just in case the US easing of pressure on Teheran results in Shiite Iran going nuclear. The Saudis have said as much, that they will be forced to go nuclear if Iran does. The Saudis are also ticked off with Washington over events in Egypt, where Riyadh is opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose deposed ruler Mohammed Morsi, was backed by Qatar, home to the satellite channel Al Jazeera, which is also seen as being inimical to the Saudi Kingdom.

President Obama enters this snakepit at a time the sentiment in the US is increasingly to withdraw from regions where Washington has no strategic interest. Indeed, the rapid decline in US dependence on middle-east oil, affords this.

But the flip side is Washington’s withdrawal will enable the spread of both toxic Sunni fundamentalism and Shiite resurgence that will come with an invigorated Iran. Both developments will bring trouble to the India-Pakistan region.

On its part, the Obama administration has ignored every report pointing to Pakistani malfeasance – from the sheltering of Osama bin Laden by its military-intelligence, to its secret nuclear deal with the Saudis, to its export of mercenary foot-soldiers to Bahrain and Syria. With Secretary of State John Kerry seemingly well disposed to it, Islamabad is easing its way back into American favor.

As a first stem, the US is reported to be considering channeling some of the huge surplus of military equipment in Afghanistan, worth some $7 billion, to Pakistan, even as it exits from the region. None of this augurs well for a new government that will come into place in New Delhi in May, particularly given India’s own bilateral problems with Washington over trade and administrative issues that has put the strategic dialogue on the backburner.

Jihadists in Syria Threat To Islam

“These groups who are fighting in Syria today, it is not clear who they are,” says Soran Omer, a member of parliament from the Islamic League (Komal). “They are being used as tools by other countries and they have stained Islam.”

Kurdistan Islamic Groups: Jihadists in Syria Threaten Regional Stability

rudaw kurd logo

ISIS fighters in Syria. Photo: AFP

ISIS fighters in Syria. Photo: AFP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – As radical Islamists continue their fight in Syria, including attacks on the Kurdish areas known as Rojava, Islamic groups in the Kurdistan Region denounce such groups as threats to stability.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the main radical group in Syria, from which al-Qaeda recently distanced itself. In recent months its fighters have infiltrated neighboring Iraq and engaged Iraqi forces in fierce battles in the Sunni province of Anbar.

“We see this group as a threat to the security and stability of the region,” Muthana Amin, a member of the political bureau of the Islamic Union (Yekgirtu) told Rudaw.

He says they damage the image of Islam and lead both Iraq and Syria to more destruction.

“The first victim of the actions of these groups is the religion itself. Then, it is security, stability and people’s rights,” says Amin.

Over the past year the main Syrian opposition group — the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — has lost much of its initial vigor in the war against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In their place have appeared the ISIS and other radical groups, which aim to topple the regime and establish an Islamic state on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border.

To gain more ground the ISIS has been fighting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Rojava, using ground assaults and at times suicide car bombs. But so far, the YPG has proven more than a match to these groups.

“These groups who are fighting in Syria today, it is not clear who they are,” says Soran Omer, a member of parliament from the Islamic League (Komal). “They are being used as tools by other countries and they have stained Islam.”

In the past three years, a number of Kurdish youth from the Kurdistan Region have traveled to Syria and joined radical groups in the fight against Damascus. So far around 30 have been killed in the war.

Kurdish Islamic parties deny they have encouraged anyone to join the fight in Syria, arguing that the conflict is not considered as a “jihad,” or holy war.

“I suggest that Islamic parties in Kurdistan should hold a conference to show people the real agendas of those groups fighting in Syria,” said Omer.

The Kurdish condemnation of extremist Islamic groups like ISIS resonates with the international concern that extremist groups are dominating the war in Syria and that they pose a serious threat to stability in the wider Middle East.

Kurdish Fighters Still Under Assault By ISIL Terrorists

[SEE: “Islamist” Killers Lay Seige To Kurds In Ras al-Ain]

YPG Calls on all Kurdish Groups to Unite Against Jihadist Threats in Rojava

rudaw kurd logo

YPG fighters in Tel Kocer. Photo: AP

YPG fighters in Tel Kocer. Photo: AP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – All Kurdish groups in the region must set aside their differences and unite to counter threats by Islamic extremists in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), said the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is the most powerful Kurdish force in Syrian Kurdistan.

“All the parties and forces of Rojava, the officials of the autonomous Cantons of Cizire, Kobani and Afrin, the Kurdish national Council and Council of western Kurdistan must put aside their differences at this stage,” the YPG said in a statement.

It suspended military operations in the three cantons, created in the northeast last month by its political overseer, the PYD, saying it would only act defensively.

However, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has vowed to take control over the Kobani area and annex it to areas under its control. In the past several days, it has launched heavy assaults on Kobani areas, but has failed to capture territories due to resistance by YPG fighters.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that ISIS has also clashed with YPG in some villages west of Tal Abyad in Raqqa province bordering Turkey. The clashes forced people to flee for Turkey.

“Above all (we urge) the Kurdistan Region presidency, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Change movement (Gorran) and all the leaders and officials of southern Kurdistan (Kurdistan Region) to take up their historical role and counter the threats facing Rojava,” the statement said.

The Kurdish force reaffirmed its resolve to continue to fight the armed groups that launch attacks on Kurdish areas. “We will continue to fight to protect the population of western Kurdistan (Rojava) and prevent attempts to destroy the geographical status and disturb the social relations in the region,” the YPG said.

The statement noted that YPG defense does not discriminate against anyone, despite the political differences and problems among the political parties and organizations of Rojava.

The YPG described ISIS assaults on the town of Kobani as “merciless,” saying that the jihadist group aims at cutting off Kurdish areas from one another.

“Merciless attacks are launched by ISIS against the people of Kobani, al-Raqqa and Gre Spi.” “ISIS attacks are aimed at controlling Ramilan to cut off the Kurdish areas from one another.”

The statement also accuses Arab and international media of avoid to cover the incidents happening in Rojava. In the meantime, it accuses the Syrian opposition of silence against the attacks on the Kurds.

“Originally the attack is aimed at all the Kurds because they have targeted Kurdish homeland and its history and it would be stupid to consider the attacks on only one party,” the YPG said. “The victory of the YPG in Rojava is the victory for all the Kurds.”

PYD’s ties with the Kurdistan Region have been strained because the former refused to abide by the Erbil agreement brokered by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani in 2012, which brought the PYD’s People’s Council of Western Kurdistan and Kurdish National Council under the newly-created Kurdish Supreme Council.

Ceasefire With TTP Taliban To Strengthen Afghan Taliban Spring Offensive

[ISI’s favorite militia (Haqqani) has interceded to save Pakistani Taliban, to strengthen Afghan Taliban and to  protect the Pak Establishment.  All of these forces NEED to resume their primary CIA mission, the destabilization of southeast Asia, just as the Saudis are handling their primary mission in the western theater of destabilization for the CIA.  Games that have been played in the past to create the illusion of division between the Pakistani Army and the US Army are no longer needed.  The name of the game at this point is total destabilization within the Middle Eastern theater of war, in order to justify the Pentagon taking the violence to the next level, the nuclear level.]

Exclusive: Pakistan Taliban agrees to ceasefire to help Afghan allies

Reuters

KABUL

An Afghan security personnel keeps watch near the Serena hotel, during an attack in Kabul March 20, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

An Afghan security personnel keeps watch near the Serena hotel, during an attack in Kabul March 20, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

(Reuters) – The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have secretly agreed to focus on carrying out operations in Afghanistan, with Pakistani militants announcing a ceasefire with their government in order to preserve militant bases used to stage cross-border attacks.

The collaboration between the two Talibans, revealed to Reuters by militant chiefs and security officials in the region, increases the risk that violence will escalate further in a crucial year for Afghanistan.

The nation of 30 million people holds a presidential election on April 5, a litmus test for foreign donors hesitant about bankrolling the government after the bulk of NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan withdraw this year.

The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban are closely allied and both aim to impose a strict form of Islam on their societies.

But their leadership and targets differ. The Pakistani Taliban focus their attacks in Pakistan, while the Afghan Taliban focus on Afghan and NATO security forces and anyone allied to them.

A rash of Taliban attacks this month has already raised concerns about the credibility of the poll, which should mark the first democratic transfer of power in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Most foreign observers withdrew their monitors after a deadly attack on a hotel in the heart of the capital, increasing the risk of the widespread fraud that marred the last presidential election in 2009.

A large number of voters may also be too scared to cast their ballot.

Afghanistan’s interior minister said this week that the one-month ceasefire announced by the Pakistan Taliban on March 1 to revive peace talks with the government in Islamabad had prompted militants there to switch focus from home soil to Afghanistan.

“From the day there was a ceasefire on that side, almost every night one or other of our border posts has been attacked by people from the other side of the border,” Umer Daudzai told Reuters.

CEASEFIRE STRATEGY

The ceasefire was urged on the Pakistani Taliban by the hardline Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban, who are based around the mountainous border between the two countries, militant commanders and a security source said.

They feared the threat of an offensive by the Pakistani military could hamper their own push to carry out attacks in Afghanistan, including on election officials and NATO forces.

Peace talks between Islamabad and the Pakistan Taliban began in February, but broke down when the militants bombed a police bus and executed 23 paramilitary troops.

The Pakistani military then launched air strikes and said it was preparing to storm militant sanctuaries in North Waziristan,

a border region that is a militant stronghold. But the operation was put on hold after the Pakistan Taliban announced the truce.

The revelations suggest that the ceasefire may have been a smokescreen to give the Pakistani militants a chance to regroup and also work with the Afghan Taliban and Haqqanis to ramp up attacks in Afghanistan ahead of the election.

“We need to focus on Afghanistan,” one Taliban commander told Reuters. “It is a very crucial time for us and if the North Waziristan operation goes ahead we will lose many of our fighters.”

The Pakistani security forces and government did not respond to requests for comment.

INCREASED CONVERGENCE

Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters this month that the government was worried about the possibility of increasing convergence between the two Talibans.

“Then the (Pakistani Taliban) will have a powerhouse behind them,” he said.

This week Pakistan’s National Security Council was told in a briefing that plans had been hatched in Islamic religious schools to disrupt the poll in neighbouring Afghanistan, an Islamabad-based security official said.

The shadowy Haqqani network, which is blamed for some of the deadliest and most sophisticated attacks in Afghanistan, was at the heart of the ceasefire plan, sources said.

Shortly after the peace talks collapsed in February, Pakistani politicians approached Haqqani commanders and asked them to help broker a ceasefire, two Taliban chiefs and two Kabul-based officials said.

“I’m sure of the involvement of the Haqqanis and Quetta Shura in these (ceasefire) talks,” said a high-ranking Afghan government official with extensive contacts with the insurgency. The Quetta Shura is the leadership of the Afghan Taliban.

The Pakistani Taliban initially rebuffed the Haqqanis, who then asked senior members of the Afghan Taliban to help persuade their Pakistani counterparts to announce the truce. It worked, Taliban commanders said.

The police chief of the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, which lies on the border with Pakistan, said there was no doubt Taliban militants were crossing into Afghanistan.

“It is too early to say how the peace talks in Pakistan would affect this side, but insurgents there are crossing the border to disrupt the election,” Abdul Habib Sayedkhil told Reuters. “We are prepared and have certain measures in place to tackle it.”

(Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik in ISLAMABAD and Mohammad Anwar in KUNAR, Afghanistan; Editing by John Chalmers and Mike Collett-White)

 

Al-Sisi Threatens Egypt With Blood Bath Which Will Dwarf Current Death Toll

Egyptian Army coup–3 July 2013 to 02 January 2014

“Figures from the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) show 2,665 violent deaths and almost 16,000 people wounded since the ousting of elected President Mohamed Morsi.”

Egypt’s Sisi to resign as minister, pave way for presidential bid

Sisi may revive strongman era to quell Egypt unrest

malay mail online

Analysts say Field Marshal Sisi, who yesterday announced he was quitting the army to run for president, was certain to continue the crackdown on Islamists that started when he overthrew elected president Mohamed Morsi in July.

And, the experts say, with security issues likely to hamper Sisi from delivering on his promise of economic recovery, he could resort to repression more and more.

Sisi’s widely-anticipated candidacy is being hailed by the millions of Egyptians who are weary of more than three years of turmoil since the Arab Spring overthrow of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

But it is likely to further inflame Islamist protests and worry those secular activists who fear a return to rule by military men and the strong-arm tactics of the Mubarak era.

Aside from Morsi, whose year in office deeply polarised the country, every Egyptian president has been drawn from, or installed by, the army.

Analysts say Field Marshal Sisi, who yesterday announced he was quitting the army to run for president, was certain to continue the crackdown on Islamists that started when he overthrew elected president Mohamed Morsi in July.

And, the experts say, with security issues likely to hamper Sisi from delivering on his promise of economic recovery, he could resort to repression more and more.

Sisi’s widely-anticipated candidacy is being hailed by the millions of Egyptians who are weary of more than three years of turmoil since the Arab Spring overthrow of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

But it is likely to further inflame Islamist protests and worry those secular activists who fear a return to rule by military men and the strong-arm tactics of the Mubarak era.

Aside from Morsi, whose year in office deeply polarised the country, every Egyptian president has been drawn from, or installed by, the army.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/sisi-may-revive-strongman-era-to-quell-egypt-unrest#sthash.FH49hJpe.dpuf

Dressed in army fatigues for the last time in public, Sisi promised in a televised address to bolster the precarious economy and crush the “terrorism” that has surged since Morsi’s overthrow.

Michele Dunne, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, said Sisi’s address suggested he would continue the crackdown on the Islamists that has made little headway in restoring stability.

“I didn’t hear Field Marshal Sisi say anything in the initial speech to suggest there will be a shift in the security strategy,” she said.

Since Morsi’s overthrow, his supporters have staged weekly and at times violent protests, leading to the deaths of at least 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, in clashes with police.

Militants in the same period have killed more than 200 security personnel in bombing and shooting attacks.

Encouraged by many Egyptians who view the Islamists as destructive, the authorities have arrested some 15,000 people and placed thousands on trial.

“If the crackdown goes on and people continue to be killed every week, it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to restore stability and get the economy on its feet,” Dunne said.

The unrest has battered the economy, which is propped by billions of dollars in aid from friendly Gulf Arab states.

Regime human rights abuses and Islamist militant attacks on police are not new to Egypt, having marred Mubarak’s three-decade presidency before his overthrow in a popular uprising in 2011.

But since Morsi’s ouster they have surged to unprecedented levels, Dunne said.

“Egypt is now undergoing … the worst terrorism in decades” said Dunne. “Human rights are right now in a much worse state than they were under Mubarak.”

‘No return to Mubarak’

Sisi overthrew Morsi after millions took to the streets demanding the resignation of the Islamist president.

Sisi’s aides said the military chief’s intention was not to replace Morsi but that he had swayed by popular demand.

Despite assurances by Sisi’s camp that the “Mubarak’s era” would not be allowed to return, the cycle of violence and arrests is likely to continue, analysts say, as both the state and the Islamist opposition are equally opposed to serious compromise.

Prolonged unrest may hamper Sisi from delivering on his promise of economic recovery, but is unlikely to greatly erode his considerable support in the short term, said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert and fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“If he can’t deliver, which he probably won’t be able to, then he will have to rely on his arsenal of repression,” Hamid said.

Egypt saw a breakdown in security following Mubarak’s overthrow and under an interim military regime before Morsi’s election in June 2012.

Many now view the army as the only institution that can rein in the turmoil, further pushing back the prospect of a strong civilian president who can control the military.

“It once more confirms that the military republic since 1952 is back with the same mentality; the idea of the military as the institution that defends the state,” said Andrew Hammond, a Middle East analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations. — AFP

“YouTube Plot”=Fethullah Gulen Threat To Turkey’s National Security

Turkey blocks YouTube ‘as threat to national security’

the irish times

PM Erdogan denounces leaking of audio recording of top security officials

Turkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdogan: “They even leaked a national security meeting,” he said at a campaign rally. “This is villainous, this is dishonesty ... Photograph: Murad Sezer/ReutersTurkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdogan: “They even leaked a national security meeting,” he said at a campaign rally. “This is villainous, this is dishonesty … Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters

 

Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan yesterday denounced as “villainous” the leaking of a recording of top security officials discussing possible military action in Syria to video-sharing site YouTube. Turkish authorities ordered a shutdown of the site.

Mr Erdogan’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the posting, an audio file with photographs of the officials involved, a “declaration of war” – an apparent reference to an escalating power struggle between Mr Erdogan and rivals.

The anonymous posting followed similar releases on social media in recent weeks that Erdogan has cast as a plot by his political enemies, particularly a Turkish Islamic cleric based in the United States, to unseat him ahead of March 30th elections. But it took the campaign to a higher level, impinging on a highly sensitive top-level meeting of security officials.

“They even leaked a national security meeting,” Mr Erdogan said at a campaign rally. “This is villainous, this is dishonesty … Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?”

The recording referred to was of intelligence chief Hakan Fidan discussing possible military operations in Syria with Mr Davutoglu, deputy chief of military staff Yasar Guler and other officials. – (Reuters)

Lebanon’s Other Terrorist Car-Bomb Ring

[SEE: Sunni Cleric Confesses To Facilitating Anti-Hezbollah Car-Bomb Ring]

Military Prosecutor recommends indicting 21 people in Tripoli twin bombings

daily star LEB

Head of the Arab Democratic Party Ali Eid

BEIRUT: The trial of suspects in last summer’s twin car bombings in Tripoli drew closer Wednesday as Lebanon’s military prosecutor recommended indicting 21 individuals, members of a network that allegedly planned, executed and facilitated the attack.

Military prosecutor Saqr Saqr issued a legal opinion demanding the indictment of the 21 individuals.

The suspect list includes the Alawite leader of the pro-Assad Arab Democratic Party, former MP Ali Eid, who is accused of helping an individual linked to the attack flee from Lebanon.

The prospect of Eid’s arrest has previously inflamed passions in Tripoli, the scene of repeated clashes linked to the war in Syria.

Saqr’s conclusions have been referred to Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda.

Abu Ghayda now has to study Saqr’s recommendation and issue an indictment, which will pave the way for a public military trial.

Two car bombs were detonated in Tripoli in August outside the Al-Salam and Al-Taqwa mosques during Friday prayers. The twin attacks killed 47 and wounded hundreds.

Violence has repeatedly erupted in Tripoli between the majority-Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the predominantly Alawite Jabal Mohsen, where Eid’s ADP is headquartered.

Eid’s arrest is a key demand for the anti-Assad faction in Tripoli.

Saqr recommended charging 16 individuals with crimes including committing a terrorist act, complicity in terrorism, homicide, incitement and vandalism.

Saqr recommended charging four individuals, including Eid, with helping fugitives flee from justice.

Saqr also asked that Hashem Minqara, a Tripoli-based preacher, be indicted for failing to warn the authorities about the attack.

Minqara, who heads the Tawhid Movement, a pro-Assad Islamist group, was detained last year over suspicions that he had foreknowledge of the attacks. He denied the accusation in a news conference last year after his release.

A judicial source told The Daily Star that Abu Ghayda is likely to issue an indictment in the case by the middle of next week.

Seven individuals have so far been arrested in the case.

The seven include Sheikh Ahmad al-Gharib, Mustafa Houri, and ADP member Youssef Diab, who is accused of carrying out the Al-Salam Mosque bombing.

The other individuals who have been arrested include Ahmad Ali, Eid’s driver.

Arrest warrants have also been issued against Eid and ADP member Ahmad Merhi, who is accused of responsibility for the Al-Taqwa Mosque bombing.

Soukeina Ismail, a Syrian citizen, is charged with helping smuggle in the two vehicles used in the bombing from Syria to the neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen.

Arrest warrants in absentia were also issued against two Syrian intelligence officers accused of complicity in the attacks.

State Dept Hides Embarrassing Truth About Saudi Terrorist Indoctrination In Public Schools

Report Alleges State Department Withholding Saudi Textbook Study Because It Would Embarrass the Saudis

the blaze

As President Barack Obama sets out for his visit to Saudi Arabia this week, a new report suggests the State Department has intentionally been withholding a comprehensive study on Saudi textbooks, because the books include offensive material that dehumanizes Christians and Jews that if made public would embarrass the kingdom.

President Barack Obama waves upon his arrival on Air Force One at Brussels International Airport, Tuesday, March 25, 2014 in Brussels, Belgium. Obama is visiting Brussels to attend European Union and NATO summits. Later this week, he heads to Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“The State Department appears to be withholding a government-commissioned textbooks study on the subject,” said the report by the DC-based research organization the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “Textbook Diplomacy: Why the State Department Shelved a Study on Incitement in Saudi Education Materials.”

“Passages [in textbooks] continue to dehumanize Jews and Christians, promote the murder of perceived deviants such as homosexuals, and sanction violence against Muslims who do not follow the Wahhabi brand of Islam that is sponsored by the Saudi state,” the government-commissioned study found, according to the think tank report.

David Andrew Weinberg, who authored the Foundation for Defense of Democracies report, wrote that in 2011 the State Department paid the non-profit organization the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) $500,000 to conduct the study of Saudi government-published textbooks that are used widely not only in the kingdom, but are also sent free of charge to Muslim schools around the world, including in the U.S.

“However, when the results of this study were ready for release in 2012, U.S. government officials decided not to publish its findings. Nor did the Department release this study in 2013, despite issuing a similar but controversial study equating the narratives found in textbooks used by Israelis and Palestinians,” Weinberg wrote.

According to Weinberg, ICRD’s leadership asserted their study was withheld from the public because it showed the Saudis had made progress on textbook improvements and that the State Department did not want to discourage further progress by publicly criticizing the remaining areas of disagreement.

“However, current and former officials contest this characterization, asserting that ICRD’s study was withheld because of how bad it makes the Saudis look,” Weinberg wrote.

State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf insisted during Tuesday’s State Department briefing that the report was never meant to be released.

“This project, this assessment from this project, was never intended to be made public, as they often are not,” Harf said. “It was intended to drive and inform the work of the State Department as we work with the Saudi Government to push them to reform their textbooks.”

“There’s no one keeping a public report quiet. It was always supposed to be internal,” she added.

Of the reported evidence that the Saudi textbooks continue to contain offensive themes, Harf said, “We know there’s more work to be done. We’ve been very clear about that publicly, again, regardless of whether a report is released or not. And we have worked with the Saudis over the years, and we believe that it is – every country reforms at its own pace.”

Michael Posner — who was assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor during President Barack Obama’s first term – suggested to the Daily Beast that the State Department had never ruled out making the study public.

“We commissioned the study to assess and evaluate the content of the textbooks with the intention of sharing our findings with the Saudi government and with the option, depending on the findings, of making it public if the problems persisted,” Posner told the Daily Beast.

Posner would not provide details on the unpublished textbook study, but spoke more generally about the problems in Saudi study materials.

“Among the references that were most offensive were commentary that linked Christians and Jews to apes and pigs,” Posner told the Daily Beast. “If those references are still in some textbooks then the problem hasn’t been solved.”

Since 9/11, the U.S. government has been concerned about inciting materials in Saudi textbooks that could encourage Islamic extremism. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks were Saudi nationals.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies quoted a source familiar with the study who provided quotes from the ICRD report which said Saudi textbooks “create a climate that fosters exclusivity, intolerance, and calls to violence that put religious and ethnic minorities at risk.”

A tenth grade Islamic law book said students should “kill the person who changes his religion…for there is no benefit in keeping them alive.”

Christians, Jews and pagans were described in a twelfth grade monotheism textbook as “the worst of creatures” who will “dwell in hellfire.”

According to Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ unnamed source who saw the study, in another tenth grade book, Christians were compared to idol worshippers. It also wrote of Jews that God “made them of swine and apes.” Yet other books praised violence against non-Muslims.

Douglas Johnston, the president and founder of ICRD which conducted the study told the Daily Beast that he recommended against publishing its results.

“We strongly suggested it should not be published because they are making great progress on this. We can achieve a lot more if we pursue this outside the public domain,” Johnston said.

Read the full report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies at this link.

Qatar Tries To Deal Muslim Brotherhood Back Into the Game

Qatar's Sheik Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani attends the 25th Arab League summit at Bayan palace in Kuwait City on Tuesday. | AFP-JIJI

Qatar’s Sheik Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani attends the 25th Arab League summit at Bayan palace in Kuwait City on Tuesday. | AFP-JIJI

Raising Middle East tensions, Qatar’s emir criticizes Egypt, Iraq

THE japan-times2

AP

Qatar’s ruler on Tuesday criticized Iraq’s Shiite-led government and Egyptian authorities in an address to the opening session of an Arab summit in Kuwait, a move that is likely to add a new layer to tension in the region.

Sheik Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani also criticized fellow Arab leaders for not following through on a Qatari proposal made a year ago to set up a $1 billion fund to help the Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem, defiantly stating that his tiny but super-rich nation will go ahead with the $250 million it has already pledged.

A resolution to create the fund was adopted by last year’s Arab summit held in Qatar.

“The resolution was not executed and that calls on me to declare before you that Qatar remains committed to the funds it has pledged and will set up the Qatari fund for the support of Jerusalem,” Tamim said.

He also renewed calls for a small Arab summit to be held to resolve differences between the militant Hamas group, which rules the Gaza Strip, and the Western-backed Fatah group in the West Bank. Qatar supports Hamas.

Without naming Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Tamim criticized what he said were attempts to sideline entire segments of that Arab nation, a reference to Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority. His criticism of Iraq’s government follow recent comments by al-Maliki in which he accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of supporting Sunni militants in Iraq.

“It’s about time for Iraq to emerge from the vicious circle of violence and differences. That cannot come about through the sidelining of entire society segments or accusing it of terrorism if they demand equality and inclusion,” he said.

“It is inappropriate that everyone who fails to maintain national unity accuses other Arab nations of supporting terrorism in his nation,” he said, alluding to the comments by al-Maliki, who is staying away from the summit.

Tamim also called on Egypt to start a “political dialogue,” an implicit criticism of the crackdown there against the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that Qatar backs and of which Islamist President Mohammed Morsi is a member.

The military removed Morsi last July and there has been a massive crackdown against the Brotherhood, with the arrest of thousands and the killing of hundreds of its supporters. Morsi and leaders of the Brotherhood are in detention and some are in court on charges that carry the death penalty.

The criticism of Egypt, though implicit, is likely to further strain relations with Cairo at a time when Qatar’s own relations with heavyweight Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — its partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council — are fraught with tension. Egypt and the three Arab nations have withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar.

Qatar has reacted with dismay at the diplomatic gestures but insists it will push ahead with its own policies.

Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah has said his country will “follow a path of its own” and that the independence of its “foreign policy is simply non-negotiable.”

Qatar, a U.S. ally and home to one of Washington’s largest military bases abroad, has in recent years played an outsized role in Arab affairs, spearheading efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and mediating in some of Sudan’s internal conflicts.

At the heart of Egypt’s dispute with Qatar is its perceived support for Morsi. Cairo’s government also blames the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network for inciting violence.

Saudi Arabia and its close Gulf Arab allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates complain that Qatar meddles in their internal affairs by supporting the opposition — the Muslim Brotherhood in the case of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

They also want Qatar to stop supporting Shiite rebels in Yemen, an impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation that is of strategic significance to Saudi Arabia. And they want Qatar to make sure that its arms shipments to guerrillas fighting the Syrian government do not wind up in the hands of terrorists.

Russia seizes 51 Ukrainian ships in Crimea

In military rout, Russia seizes 51 Ukrainian ships in Crimea

kyiv post

Christopher J. Miller

Ukrainian naval officers raise the Ukrainian navy flag on the Slavutych ship docked in Sevastopol’s Kurrenaya Bay on March 13.
© Anastasia Vlasova

In its invasion and annexation of Crimea, Russia has seized 51 vessels belonging to the Ukrainian navy, according to information compiled by Dmitry Tymchuk, director of the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv.

Among the Ukrainian vessels reportedly captured by the Russians are submarine Zaporizhia, management ship Slavutych, landing ship Konstantin Olshansky, landing ship Kirovohrad, minesweeper Chernihiv and minesweeper Cherkasy.

The Cherkasy was the last of the ships to have been overtaken following weeks of threats and ultimatums to surrender. It was finally chased down and overtaken by the Russian navy on March 25 after failing to slip past a blockade of two ships intentionally sunk by the Russians to trap it and other vessels in a narrow gulf, keeping them from escaping into the Black Sea.

Russia has captured 51 vessels belonging to Ukraine’s navy, according to information gathere by the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv. (Infographic: Rusudan Tsiskreli)

As of March 26, just 10 Ukrainian vessels remained in its navy’s possession, including frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, gunboat Skadovsk, intelligence ship Pereyaslav and diving vessel Netishin.

Kyiv Post editor Christopher J. Miller can be reached at millerjchristopher@gmail.com, and on Twitter at @ChristopherJM.

Petrosaudi, The Next Embarrassment for Malaysia and Saudi Royals

’1MDB must explain Cayman Islands fund’

1MDB – Najib’s Political Slush FundTo Prop Taib And His Cronies

1MDB NAJIB’S WATERLOO? Sudden shock resignation of external auditors triggers alarm bells

https://i2.wp.com/uploads.kinibiz.com/2013/05/ringgit-malaysia-generic-6.0.jpg

1MDB is the Malaysian national strategic development fund, which  has been called a massive slush fund,” used to further enrich corrupt politicians, strong men and corporations.

 

sarawak

Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

1MDB’s money was invested in a joint venture, with PetroSaudi, alleged to belong to the Saudi royal family.  Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is CEO.  The Saudis invested PetroSaudis money in the Islamic banking system, where each $1US was suddenly split into 6 or 7 “Islamic bucks” which could not be redeemed for 11 years.  The real money went into a Cayman Island account, where it was backed-up by equity in (so far land-locked) Turkmen gas assets.

Now the whole mess is detonating, to the embarrassment of the govt., nearly coinciding with the scandalous disappearance of Malaysian Flight 380.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mohammed Dahlan, George Bush’s “Whore,” Now He’s Selling His Ass To the Saudis

[SEE: The Gaza Bombshell]

“The UAE has donated $50 million to build the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan city in Gaza strip for released Palestinian prisoners.”

PHOTO: File - In this Jan. 3, 2011 file photo, Palestinian Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan gestures as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Banished in 2010 by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a former mentor, Dahlan has leveraged millions spent on needy Palestinians and his close ties with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates into growing political influence at home. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

Aided by Gulf millions, exiled Palestinian operative Mohammed Dahlan seeks new Gaza foothold

the republic

By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH and KARIN LAUB  Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Fueled by millions in Gulf aid dollars that are his to distribute, an exiled Palestinian operative seems to be orchestrating a comeback that could position him as a potential successor to aging Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

In a phone interview from London, Mohammed Dahlan spoke of his aid projects in the Gaza Strip, his closeness to Egypt’s military leaders and his conviction that the 79-year-old Abbas has left the Palestinian national cause in tatters.

If staging a successful return, Dahlan, a former Gaza security chief once valued by the West for his pragmatism, could reshuffle a stagnant Palestinian deck. Some caution that Dahlan has made too many enemies in Abbas’ Fatah movement and will continue to be ostracized by those planning to compete for the top job in the future.

Dahlan, 52, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he is “not looking for any post” after Abbas retires, but called for new elections and an overhaul of Fatah.

“Abbas will leave only ruins and who would be interested to be a president or vice president on these ruins?” Dahlan said. “What I am interested in is a way out of our political situation, not a political position.”

In the past, he and Abbas were among the leading supporters of negotiations with Israel as the preferred path to statehood. Dahlan now believes the current U.S.-led talks “will bring nothing for the Palestinian people,” alleging Abbas has made concessions that his predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat, would not have.

Abbas aide Nimr Hamad and senior Fatah official Jamal Muhaisen declined to comment Thursday on Dahlan’s statements. Last week, Muhaisen said anyone expressing support for Dahlan would be purged from Fatah.

A bitter feud between Abbas and Dahlan seems mostly personal, but also highlights the dysfunctional nature of Fatah, paralyzed by incessant internal rivalries, and Abbas’ apparent unwillingness to tolerate criticism.

Abbas banished Dahlan in 2010, after his former protege purportedly called him weak. Dahlan has since spent his time between Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Before the fallout he was one of a few Palestinian leaders who saw themselves as potential contenders for succeeding Abbas.

Dahlan grew up poor in a Gaza refugee camp, but as a top aide to Arafat became the territory’s strongman in the 1990s, jailing leaders of rival Hamas which was trying to derail Arafat’s negotiation with Israel through bombing and shooting attacks.

Dahlan was dogged by corruption allegations at the time, like Arafat and several other senior Palestinian politicians, but has denied wrongdoing and was never charged.

In exile, he has nurtured political and business ties in the Arab world.

Dahlan said this week that he has been raising millions of dollars from business people and charities in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere for needy Palestinians.

Last year, he said he delivered $8 million to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

“In Gaza, I do the same now,” he said. “I’m collecting money for desalination in Gaza. It’s unbearable. Fifty percent of the water in the houses is sewage water. Hamas and Abbas are doing nothing to solve the real problems of the Gazans.”

When asked if he was buying political support with Gulf money, he said: “This is not political money.” He added that the UAE also provides financial aid to Abbas.

Dahlan’s relationship with Gaza and former arch-enemy Hamas is particularly complex.

Security forces under Dahlan lost control of Gaza in a brief battle with Hamas gunmen in 2007. The defeat cemented the Palestinian political split, leading to rival governments, one run by Hamas in Gaza and the other by Abbas in parts of the West Bank, and was seen as perhaps the biggest blot on Dahlan’s career.

However, there are now signs of a possible rapprochement between Dahlan and the Islamic militants — apparently because of Dahlan’s close ties to Egyptian military chief, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Dahlan said he has met el-Sissi several times and supported last year’s coup — he called it the “Egyptian revolution” — against the country’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is the Gaza offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Since the coup, el-Sissi has tightened a closure of Gaza’s border with Egypt. That blockade has squeezed Hamas financially, and the Islamic militants have been looking for ways to pry the border open.

In January, Hamas allowed three Fatah leaders loyal to Dahlan to return to the territory. The Fatah returnees and Hamas officials formed a committee to oversee construction of a new Gaza town to be funded by the UAE, said a Hamas official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the contacts.

Senior Fatah officials accuse Dahlan of trying to split the movement.

“Dahlan has created an alliance with Hamas,” Nabil Shaath, an Abbas aide, has told Palestine TV. Dahlan loyalists in Gaza “have distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars without having the movement’s permission,” he said.

Underlying Fatah’s fears about a return of Dahlan is the open question of succession.

Abbas was elected in 2005, but overstayed his five-year term because the Hamas-Fatah split has prevented new elections. Abbas has not designated a successor and there is no clear contender.

The only other Palestinian politician with broad support according to polls is Marwan Barghouti, an uprising leader who is serving multiple life sentences in Israeli prison.

Analyst Hani al-Masri said regional support has boosted Dahlan, but that he’s not a serious challenger yet because he has not offered any plans.

Palestinians “won’t support a specific leader without being convinced of his political platform,” he said.


Associated Press writer Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City contributed to this report.

Hamas sees Dahlan as bridge to Egypt

al monitor

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Fatah’s members of parliament (MPs) Majid Abu Shamala and Alaa Yaghi arrived in the Gaza Strip Jan. 21 for their first visit since 2007, the year Hamas assumed power there. Their arrival, the fruit of talks between the leaders of the opposing Palestinian movements, was also made possbile after Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared that leaders and cadres of Fatah who had left the Gaza Strip were now welcome to return. Haniyeh also announced the release of a number of Fatah detainees from Hamas prisons as part of a unilateral initiative to “enhance the reconciliation steps with Fatah.”

Summary Former arch rivals Hamas and 
Mohammed Dahlan have found common ground in that they both oppose President Mahmoud Abbas.
Author Hazem Balousha Posted February 3, 2014

Translator(s)Pascale Menassa

The two MPs are among Fatah leaders who had supported Mohammed Dahlan, the party’s strongman in the Gaza Strip who fell out with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Their appearance in Gaza raised rumors of a rapprochement between Dahlan and Hamas behind closed doors. Suspicions were also stoked by the Islamist movement allowing Dahlan followers to work in several areas in Gaza during the past few months without direct surveillance, according to a source in Hamas.

This same source, who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, revealed, “Intensive contacts were made during the past few months between leaders close to Dahlan and the Hamas movement through Rouhi Mushtaha, a member of the [Hamas] political bureau. This led to a certain rapprochement between both sides and loosened the security restrictions on the members of Fatah in the Gaza Strip.”

The Haniyeh government’s permission for Dahlan allies to work in Gaza does not seem to be a leap in the dark for either side. There appears to have been an undeclared understanding reached by Hamas and Dahlan, as reflected in the noticeable halt in harsh exchanges between the two camps via their respective media outlets.

The launch of a joint “social solidarity committee,” chaired by Abu Shamala and with Ismail al-Ashqar and Mushtaha, two Hamas leaders, as members is one joint undertaking that has become public. The committee will oversee the construction of a residential city in central Gaza funded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to house freed prisoners. In the past, some of its other activities have included supervising the planning of collective weddings, covering university students’ fees and providing in-kind assistance to the poor in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza government has also allowed a charity run by Dahlan’s wife to resume activities in support of humanitarian projects, in particular in the refugee camps.

For his part, political writer Ibrahim Abrash said that the reason behind the rapprochement between Dahlan and Hamas is clear — to improve Hamas’ relations with the interim military regime in Egypt and the UAE, both of which Dahlan has developed strong ties with. Writing Jan. 27 on the Arabic Media Internet Network, Abrash asserted, “It seems that Hamas has felt that Dahlan can be its saving grace from its strategic, political and financial dilemma, thanks to his special relations with the UAE and Egypt and his stable relations with Washington.”

Abu Shamala appeared to confirm this interpretation when he told Al-Monitor, “We are trying to coordinate with our Egyptian brothers to stop any measures that affect our people in Gaza and ease their pain. We are confident that our Egyptian brothers are ready to ease the suffering of Gaza’s people.” In response to a question posed by Al-Monitor about whether his return points to a rapprochement between Dahlan’s movement and Hamas, he said, “We cannot stand helpless before the crises that the Gaza Strip is facing. We should try to heal wounds and help in the construction process regardless of any political consideration or analysis.”

The source in Hamas said that about 80% of the Palestinians returning to Gaza among the 120 announced by Haniyeh in an interview with al-Kitab satellite channel belong to the Dahlan faction in Fatah. The source added that this was only natural given that the Dahlan faction was among the most affected by the division, as it was leading the war against Hamas.

In an article published by the pro-Hamas Felesteen newspaper, Yousef Rizqa, a political adviser to Haniyeh, categorically denied that there was any relationship between the Fatah MPs coming to Gaza on the one hand and the rapprochement with Dahlan and his movement on the other. Rizqa added that permission to enter was nothing more than a gesture of goodwill on the part of Hamas to facilitate Palestinian reconciliation.

The Hamas source noted, “There may be some benefit for the government in Gaza to let Dahlan and his cadres return to operate in Gaza, but this was not the primary objective of such a move.” The source denied that Hamas is using disputes between Dahlan and Abbas to make political headway.

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that both parties are taking advantage of their respective situations. Hamas is trying to politically withstand the pressure being exerted on it by Egypt, and Dahlan’s solid ties with Cairo and its key supporter, the UAE, may help in that regard. Meanwhile, Dahlan is seeking to re-enter Palestinian politics but faces serious obstacles as long as Abbas and the core of Fatah in the West Bank oppose him. Reconnecting with his popular base in Gaza might strengthen his hand within Fatah.

Abu Shamala and the Hamas source agreed that Dahlan will not visit Gaza anytime soon because of concerns about possible repercussions to Hamas’ ties with Abbas. “Such a move could burn bridges [between Hamas] and Abbas,” the source said.

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Notorious “Right Sector” Terrorist Gunned-Down While Resisting Arrest

Notorious Ukrainian nationalist militant shot dead in police raid (GRAPHIC PHOTO)

Russia-Today
Aleksandr Muzychko

Aleksandr Muzychko

 

Muzychko was killed in Rovno, western Ukraine, where he coordinated actions of local groups belonging to the nationalist Right Sector movement, a national Ukrainian news media outlet reported.

At a press conference dedicated to Muzychko‘s death, First Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov announced that charges of hooliganism and obstructing law enforcement agencies had been filed against Muzychko March 8, and on March 12 Muzychko was put on the Ukrainian police’s wanted list.

Yevdokimov provided a dramatic version of the events leading up to Muzychko’s death.

The operation to arrest him took place in a village near Rovno, where the militant leader and three of his bodyguards, all of them armed, were in a local restaurant, called “The Three Crucians.”

An assault group from the Sokol special police task force stormed the restaurant to detain Muzychko and his henchmen. The militant leader made an attempt to flee through a window. He opened fire, and two of his bullets wounded a police officer, who returned fire and shot Muzychko in the leg. Other police officers shot in the air, Yevdokimov said.

Even after Muzychko fell to the ground, he continued shooting.

“When [the police] attempted to detain him, they found out he was wounded. The medics who arrived at the scene proclaimed Muzychko dead,” Yevdokimov said.

The three bodyguards, who were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and Makarov pistols, were detained by police.

There are differing accounts as to how Muzychko died.

A Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada MP, Aleksandr Doniy, was among the first to write about Muzychko’s death.

His car was cut off by two other cars. He was dragged out and placed in one of those cars. Then he was thrown on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back and [he received] two shots in his heart,” Doniy wrote on Facebook.

Right Sector activist Yaroslav Granitny told uapress.info he saw the dead body and was sure it was Muzychko. He added that five people were kidnapped by those who killed the ultra-right leader – three militants from Right Sector and two civilians.

Muzychko himself earlier said he believed he could be killed. In a video address recently posted on YouTube he said that the leadership of “the Prosecutor General’s office and the Interior Ministry of Ukraine made a decision to either eliminate me or to capture me and hand me over to Russia, to then blame it all on the Russian intelligence.”

The man was known for his radicalism, attacks on local officials during the coup in Kiev, and refusing to give up arms after the new authorities were imposed.

Under the name Sashko Bilyi, he took an active part in the First Chechen War in 1994-1995, when he headed a group of Ukrainian nationalists fighting against Russian troops.

Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Aleksandr Muzychko in early March. The Ukrainian was accused of torturing and murdering at least 20 captured Russian soldiers as he fought alongside Chechen militants.

Aleksandr Muzychko came under the spotlight of the Russian authorities after a series of scandals in Ukraine, when the radical nationalist leader went on with the rampage against regional authorities, lashing out at a local prosecutor, threatening local authorities with an AK-47 and making openly anti-Semitic statements

If the United States Retroactively Reversed All Marijuana Convictions How Many Prisons Would Close?

Colorado approves retroactive reversal of marijuana convictions

Russia-Today

AFP Photo / Getty Images / Marc Piscotty

AFP Photo / Getty Images / Marc Piscotty

The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that residents there convicted of marijuana possession before recreational weed was legalized may be eligible to have those decisions overturned.

As of January 1, 2014, adults from Colorado are legally allowed to buy up to one ounce of marijuana under the state Constitution’s recently passed Amendment 64. But with upwards of 9,000 marijuana possession cases being prosecuted each year before then, a huge chunk of the state’s population is now left wondering how the newly enacted law impacts previously decided court rulings.

Earlier this month on March 13, the three judges of the state’s appeals panel said that part of an earlier decision in a case against a Colorado woman sentenced in 2011 for marijuana possession should be vacated.

In making their decision, the appellate court wrote that there could be post-conviction relief if “there has been significant change in the law.”

“Amendment 64, by decriminalizing the personal use or possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, meets the statutory requirement for ‘a significant change in the law’ and eliminates and thus mitigates the penalties for persons convicted of engaging in such conduct,” the judges opined.

A spokesperson for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has since told NPR that the office will likely appeal the court’s latest ruling, but if it stands then it will set the stage for a substantial number of residents to have their convictions reversed.

This month’s ruling doesn’t affect everyone, though. The appeals court weighed in particularly on the case of Brandi Jessica Russell, a Colorado woman who was sentenced in August 2011, to serve two concurrent four-year terms of supervised probation, 192 hours of community service and a suspended sentence of 90 days in jail after being convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana, marijuana concentrate and methamphetamine.

Attorneys for Russell filed an appeal shortly after, but it wasn’t heard by the court system until after Amendment 64 went into effect on December 10, 2012. Since then lawmakers have allowed for the first legal, recreational marijuana dispensaries in the United States to operate across Colorado, and the state is expected to reap millions of dollars in taxes from those sales by the end of the year. And because Russell’s case was still up in the air at that point, the appeals court said her conviction should be tossed.

“Defendant contends that Amendment 64 should be applied retroactively and that her convictions for possession of marijuana concentrate and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana should be vacated. We agree,” the court wrote.

Brian Emeson, an attorney for Russell, told the Denver Post that “It’s a decision that certainly represents the will of the citizens of this state.”

Brian Vicente, a pro-marijuana activist who helped write Amendment 64, told the Associated Press that the ruling was a “huge victory” that could affect hundreds of people who were sentenced to jail terms for petty marijuana offenses in recent years and sought appeal.

Critics of the decision fear that, if not fought, it could open the door for citizens to challenge other convictions unrelated to the drug.

“Well-established retroactivity law in Colorado indicates that statutory changes are prospective only unless the General Assembly or the voters clearly indicted an intent to require such retroactive application,” he said in a statement earlier this month.

Time to grab guns and kill damn Russians – Tymoshenko in leaked tape

Time to grab guns and kill damn Russians – Tymoshenko in leaked tape

Russia-Today

Yulia Tymoshenko (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

Ukrainians must take up arms against Russians so that not even scorched earth will be left where Russia stands; an example of former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko’s vitriol in phone call leaked online.

Tymoshenko confirmed the authenticity of the conversation on Twitter, while pointing out that a section where she is heard to call for the nuclear slaughter of the eight million Russians who remain on Ukrainian territory was edited.

She tweeted “The conversation took place, but the ‘8 million Russians in Ukraine’ piece is an edit. In fact, I said Russians in Ukraine – are Ukrainians. Hello FSB :) Sorry for the obscene language.”

The former Ukrainian PM has not clarified who exactly she wants to nuke.

Shufrych’s press service flatly contradicted Tymoshenko, slamming the tape as fake. The press release reads “The conversation didn’t take place,” as quoted by korrespondent.net.The phone conversation with Nestor Shufrych, former deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, was uploaded on YouTube on Monday by user Sergiy Vechirko.

The leaked phone call took placed on March 18, hours after the Crimea & Sevastopol accession treaty was signed in the Kremlin.

While Shufrych was “just shocked,” Tymoshenko was enraged by the results of the Crimean referendum .

“This is really beyond all boundaries. It’s about time we grab our guns and kill go kill those damn Russians together with their leader,” Tymoshenko said.

The ex-pm declared if she was in charge “there would be no f***ing way that they would get Crimea then.”

Shufrych made the valid point that Ukraine “didn’t have any force potential” to keep Crimea.

But Tymoshenko, who plans to run in Ukraine’s presidential election, expressed confidence that she would have found “a way to kill those a*****es.”

“I hope I will be able to get all my connections involved. And I will use all of my means to make the entire world raise up, so that there wouldn’t be even a scorched field left in Russia,” she promised.

Despite being incapacitated by spinal disc hernia the ex-PM stressed she’s ready to “grab a machine gun and shoot that m*********er in the head.”

Tymoshenko rose to power as a key figure in the pro-European Orange Revolution in 2004, becoming Ukrainian prime minister 2007-2010.

She was imprisoned in 2012, under president Viktor Yanukovich, after being found guilty of exceeding her authority by signing a gas supply and transit deal with Russia.

The deal is claimed to have cost Ukraine’s national oil and gas company, Naftogaz, around US$170 million.

Tymoshenko served part of her seven-year sentence in prison before being relocated to a Kharkov hospital.

She was released immediately after the Kiev coup which ousted Yanukovich.

This is not the first telephone leak scandal since the Ukrainian turmoil began last November.

In February, a tape was revealed, in which US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe,

Victoria Nuland, said “F**k the EU” as she was discussing the formation of the future Ukrainian government with the US ambassador to the country, Geoffrey Pyatt.

And at the beginning of March a phone conversation between EU Foreign Affairs Сhief, Catherine Ashton, and Estonian foreign affairs minister, Urmas Paet, was made public.

Speaking with Ashton, Paet stressed that there was suspicion that the snipers in Kiev, who shot at protesters and police in Kiev might have been hired by Maidan leaders.

Qatar creating spy networks in Gulf states

Qatar creating spy networks in Gulf states, claims military expert

arabianbusiness

Arab officials have claimed Qatar and Turkey are establishing spy networks in GCC states to report on plans to act against the Muslim Brotherhood, a leading Gulf military analyst has said.

Director of research and consultancy at the Institute of Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), Dr Theodore Karasik, could not elaborate on the allegations during an interview with Arabian Business but said the suspected spying was a key element of the anger in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain against fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar.

What had been private tensions between the countries began to spill into the public arena earlier this year when the UAE summoned the Qatari ambassador to explain comments aired on Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera that accused the UAE of being a country against Islamic rule.

They reached boiling point last week when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha and Saudi Arabia threatened to block land and sea borders with Qatar unless it met several key demands, including ending ties with the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood and closing down Al Jazeera.

Karasik said the escalating conflict had the potential to dramatically shift security ties in the region.

“There’s definitely a, I don’t want to say Cold War, but I would say Soft War [going on],” he told Arabian Business.

“There’s a major dispute ongoing that has immense consequences for the future security architecture of the region.”

According to Karasik, who is based in Dubai, the sudden action taken against Qatar is based on the emirate’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, including financially backing the former Mohamed Morsi regime in Egypt and its “antagonistic” broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain also are angry at Qatar’s interference in their internal affairs and its increasingly close relationship with Turkey and Iran.

“Saudi Arabia, the UAE [and Bahrain] thought the new Emir [in Qatar] would be a change in Qatari attitude… but instead they’ve created a safe haven for the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood continues to get money and support from the Qatari government, which runs completely opposite to… Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, who view the Brotherhood as a political Islamic organisation intent on tearing kingdoms apart,” Karasik said.

The veteran analyst expects the three Gulf states to continue to take action against Qatar until it changes course.

Saudi Arabia already has threatened to close its land border with Qatar, through which a significant amount of food and other exports pass.

The kingdom also could restrict access to its airports and airspace for Qatar Airways, potentially causing a dramatic dent in the airline’s budget and putting at risk its plans to launch a domestic-only carrier in Saudi Arabia later this year.

“There’s also the game of ‘what will [Saudi] papers say about Qatar,” Karasik said, suggesting the rulers could attack Qatar through media stories that impact the country’s reputation.

For example, Gulf media has been relatively low key – in contrast to Western media – in its reporting of how Qatar won the FIFA vote to host the World Cup 2022, amid allegations of corruption, as well as revelations that thousands of foreign labourers will die during construction of infrastructure for the event.

“These stories may be opening up again [in the Gulf],” Karasik said.

Oman, which has for years preferred to sit on the outside of the GCC alliance, and Kuwait, where the Muslim Brotherhood has its own political party, so far have not publicly spoken about the rift between their neighbours, although it is understood that Kuwait has privately expressed disappointment at the withdrawal of the ambassadors.

Karasik does not believe they can remain silent for much longer.

“They’re going to have to weigh in eventually, in some form or another,” he said.

“Kuwait by far has to weigh in because they have a significant Muslim Brotherhood presence, but Kuwait has acted as negotiator before on these issues.”

Tensions between the GCC members have existed since the group’s formation in 1981, including clashes on the Saudi-Qatar border in the 1990s.

With Qatar declaring it remained defiant and would not bow to pressure to change its foreign policy, any resolution between the states seems some time away.

“The accusations against Qatar are very, very serious and basically it almost boils down to the [allegation] that Qatar is harbouring a terrorist group, so that kind of thinking, I don’t think will be fixed overnight,” Karasik said.

Qatar has been moving closer to Turkey, which supports the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran, which it is trying to convince to support the conservative group.

Karasik said changes in security ties in the region also could affect businesses, with firms based in Qatar and also operating in other GCC states potentially forced to reconsider their alliances.

“Depending on where the company is, they might need to make an adjustment in order to have business continuity because this is a political disaster for them,” he said.

“I know there are businesses in the southern Gulf states that are now very wary of doing any business in Qatar and… there are expats who work in Qatar who are trying to change jobs to southern Gulf countries and they’re residencies are not being approved.

“There seems to be some policy in place making it difficult to do contractual agreements and joint business operations between those countries.

“Companies that have headquarters in Qatar and also operate in other Gulf states might face some problems. It will depend on the nature of the company and its relationship with the leadership in the country.”

Syria to Give UN 228 Saudi ID Cards Belonging to Killed Militants

Syria to Give UN 228 Saudi ID Cards Belonging to Killed Militants

farsnews

Syria to Give UN 228 Saudi ID Cards Belonging to Killed Militants

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry criticized Saudi Arabia over lack of genuine measures to stop instigation of terrorism in Syria.

On Saturday, in two letters addressed to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of UN Security Council Sylvie Lucas on Saudi Arabia’s subversive role in Syria, the ministry referred to a raft of counter-terrorism legislations issued by the Saudi regime in a make-believe attempt to convince the international community of its involvement in a counter-terrorism drive, Al-Alam reported.

Saudi Arabia thinks that its $100mln contribution to finance the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center will absolve it of legal and ethical responsibility for the loss of thousands of lives, and will cover up millions of dollars it pumped to support terrorist groups in Syria and elsewhere in the world, read the letters.

The letters indicated that “combating terrorism requires that words match actions, i.e. that legislations are issued and put into force. Consequently, the Saudi regime by not taking real measures to stop instigation of terrorism and deter the fitna-mongers (plotters) who issued calls for Jihad in Syria and elsewhere in the world in answer to the call of al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawaheri in October 2013 reveal these laws to be grossly lacking credibility.”

Saudi Arabia continues to spread Wahabi thought which underpins the crimes committed by radical militants in Syria where the danger lies, the Syrian ministry pointed out.

“The evil triggered by Wahabi thought had not remained confined to Syria but boomeranged on all strata of Saudi society,” the letters added. “It is therefore not odd that thousands of Saudis, including university professors, doctors, engineers and employees have embraced the al-Qaeda-linked Wahabi thought due to the regime’s efforts to foster it in the society.”

Blinded by mass media and social networks oversupplied with Wahabi indoctrination, those people have abandoned their families, lives and future to come to Syria to kill with impunity, said the ministry.

The ministry said that Syria will supply the United Nations Security Council and the relevant counter-terrorism committees with the IDs of 228 Saudi terrorists who got killed in Syria.

The letters dismissed Saudi vows to punish those involved in combat operations in Syria upon their return as “cheap media propaganda” that ought to be replaced by real measures.

A recent British defense study showed that about 100,000 militants, fragmented into 1,000 groups, are fighting in Syria against the government and people. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011.

Egypt Sentences 529 Muslim Brotherhood To Death

[In an apparent paradox, Egyptian authorities apply “Sharia” law to Muslim Brotherhood activists, asking extremist “Islamist judge” to sentence 529 “extremist Islamists” to death.]

egyptian courtroom

Over 500 referred to Grand Mufti to consider death penalty

daily news egypt

Minya Criminal Court sentences hundreds to death for attacking a police station

Minya Criminal Court handed down the death penalty to 529 people accused of attacking a police station last summer. The sentence will now be considered by the Grand Mufti, as per Egyptian law.

A total of 545 people, believed to be supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, faced trial for attacking a police station, the killing of one policeman, the attempted murder of a two others, firing and seizing weapons from the police station, according to state-owned media Al-Ahram.

Sixteen of the defendants in the case were found to be innocent, reported state-run MENA

Violence spread across Egypt following the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins on 14 August. The governorate of Minya saw some of the worst violence, much of it sectarian. Amnesty International, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and Human Rights Watch all called for increased protection of Coptic Christians around the country.

US Navy Seals Hand Overloaded N. Korean Oil Tanker To Incompetent Libyan “Authorities”

Libyans and crew from oil tanker delivered to Tripoli

libya herald

By Tom Westcott and Ashraf Abdul Wahab.

Tripoli

The Morning Glory is now moored off the coast of Tripoli after sailing from Zawia last night to deliver the three Libyans and 21 crew on board into the custody of the Attorney General in the capital.

Tripoli was the vessel’s second port of call, after it first went to Zawia, once the Navy took control of the vessel from the US military in international waters yesterday.

The vessel was supposed to unload the illicitly-obtained shipment of oil at Zawia, after sailing there last night under Navy guard, said Colonel Rida Issa. The 21-man crew and the three Libyan prisoners – one understood to be a brother of self-styled federalist leader Ibrahim Jadhran – on board were supposed to then be taken to Tripoli.

“When I discovered that the security situation was not good in that area, I decided to take the tanker east without giving its exact destination,” Issa said. At 10pm, the tanker arrived off the coast of Tripoli where it moored until this morning.

The vessel was unable to berth either at Tripoli Port or the capital’s Naval Base, as neither could accommodate the depth of the tanker which was carrying an estimated 234,000 barrels of oil.

“Some security forces boarded the tanker at around 7am and, at 10am, we brought the prisoners to Tripoli Naval Base and handed them over the the Attorney General,” Issa said.

However, sources at the Naval Base told the Libya Herald that the handover had not gone quite as smoothly as implied by Issa.

Members of the Counter Crime Agency and ordinary police officers apparently argued about who should be responsible for taking the prisoners ashore. With members of both forces having been issued with conflicting orders about who should act as guards and who should take charge of the prisoners, the result, he said, was “total chaos.”

The whole operation was characterised by poor organisation, the source said.

Even today’s press conference to announce the successful return of the tanker and the delivery of those on board did not go smoothly. The way the media side of the handover had been handled caused outrage amongst journalists. Reuters news agency and Libyan national TV Al-Wataniya had apparently been the only two media organisations allowed access to the vessel to witness the handover.

Armenia backs Crimea’s right to self-determination

Armenia backs Crimea’s right to self-determination

Russia-Today

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan (RIA Novosti/Tigran Mekhrabyan)Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan (RIA Novosti/Tigran Mekhrabyan)

Armenia has backed Crimea’s choice of joining Russia, supporting the right to self-determination for the peninsula’s population. In response, Ukraine has recalled its ambassador to Armenia.

“Armenia’s principled position on the right to self-determination remains unchanged and has been repeatedly expressed over the years,” Armenia’s deputy foreign minister, Shavarsh Kocharyan, told Ukrainian Ambassador Ivan Kukhta, as quoted by the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s press service.

The meeting, which took place in Armenia’s capital of Yerevan, was initiated by the Ukrainian side after Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan expressed support for the Crimean referendum, stating it was justified.

Sargsyan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone conversation that the Crimean referendum was a “model for the realization of self-determination.”

In response, Ukraine recalled its ambassador to Yerevan for consultation on Friday.

Kiev also summoned Armenia’s ambassador to Ukraine, Andranik Manukyan, to express its concerns over Armenia’s position on the referendum.

On Sunday, over 96 percent of voters taking part in the Crimean referendum answered “yes” to the autonomous republic joining Russia. The Crimean parliament also unanimously voted to integrate the region into Russia.

On Friday, Russia finalized the legal process of taking Crimea under its sovereignty, as President Putin signed a law amending the Russian constitution to reflect the transition.

Earlier, Russian lawmakers ratified both the amendment and an international treaty with Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which was legally required for the incorporation.

The move has been met with an onslaught of international sanctions against Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis.

Armenia has a strong stance of supporting self-determination.

During the confrontation over Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke out in 1988, the region – mostly populated by Armenians – sought independence from Azerbaijan and announced its intention to join Armenia. In 1991, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was founded. Azerbaijan tried to regain control over the territory, and the conflict escalated into a full-scale war which claimed the lives of around 30,000 people. The conflict ended in 1994, with Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence remaining unrecognized and the region remaining a part of Azerbaijan, according to Baku’s legislation. Yerevan has been supporting the Nagorno-Karabakh region, representing its interests in an official capacity.

Since 1994, talks to determine the status of the disputed region have been conducted within the framework of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The group proposed the basic principles for a settlement of the conflict – known as the Madrid document – in 2007.

“al-Qaeda” Is the Official, Perennial Saudi Cover Story, Hiding the Fat King’s Crimes

al-Qaeda hurts the cause of the Syrian revolution

al shorfa

Noman Benotman with Camille Tawil in London

Former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leader Noman Benotman. [File/Al-Shorfa]

Former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leader Noman Benotman. [File/Al-Shorfa]

Quilliam, a British counter-extremism foundation, recently released a concept paper on jihadist groups in Syria titled “The Jihadist Network in the Syrian Revolution”. The paper spotlights the jihadist network’s inception, objectives, ideology, leadership, structure and strategies.

Al-Shorfa met with Quilliam’s Noman Benotman, a former Libyan jihadist and the foundation’s current president, to discuss al-Qaeda and its involvement in the Syrian revolution.

Al-Shorfa: The Quilliam report discusses “Jabhat al-Nusra [li-ahl al-Sham]” as al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. What is this group and what is the true nature of its connection to al-Qaeda?

Noman Benotman: A careful study of [Jabhat al-Nusra] since its inception, and [a study of] its statements — which now number in the dozens — allow [us to formulate] a key and critical conclusion: that it subscribes to al-Qaeda’s ideology in terms of its understanding of Islam in general, not just its view on what is happening in Syria. Jabhat al-Nusra is a part of al-Qaeda’s jihadist network.

It also became clear to us that Jabhat al-Nusra is virtually the only force within the conglomeration of Islamist jihadist groups — and here we do not speak about the Free Syrian Army, the dominant force in the conflict among the opposition factions — that has a quasi-plan to develop an integrated organisation. They [the leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra] have covered a lot of ground in achieving that plan and now have organisational components that other groups, which are loosely structured as irregular [infantry] camps, battalions and brigades, lack. Jabhat al-Nusra, in contrast, was able to develop an integrated organisational structure in record time.

During the time the report was being prepared, it also drew our attention that Jabhat al-Nusra is the only force within what is known as the jihadist conglomeration in Syria, that has what might be referred to as an ‘outreach programme’ seeking to recruit other groups in Syrian territories, succeeding on some occasions and failing on others. For example, it succeeded in recruiting a group that was affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Damascus, an FSA battalion that announced it joined Jabhat al-Nusra out of the ideological conviction it is the right banner to fight under while adhering more to Sharia.

On the other hand, we have documented cases in other regions of Syria like al-Qaseer, where fighter groups rejected Jabhat al-Nusra’s attempts to persuade them to join it. Jabhat al-Nusra approached some local groups to persuade them to join, but they refused. The vast majority of Syrian fighters are Muslim and believers, but do not view the conflict from an ideological perspective. They are only fighting to get rid of the al-Assad regime. Therefore, as happened in al-Qaseer, they rejected the offer of Jabhat al-Nusra because they do not view the fight from an ideological perspective. [That notwithstanding], no other jihadist group has an outreach programme like that of Jabhat al-Nusra to recruit rebels.

Al-Shorfa: But why does Jabhat al-Nusra operate under that name and not under the name of al-Qaeda?

Benotman: In order for us to build a solid foundation for a conclusion, let us examine the documents, because they are the primary source for dissecting terrorism. I am talking specifically about the messages found at Osama bin Laden’s house [in Abbottabad], which serve as documentary [evidence] since they [detailed] correspondence between him and the leaders of the organisation.

The documents clearly [reveal] a discussion on the need to change the name of the organisation. They clearly indicate that al-Qaeda is being despised for acts committed in its name, as well as [clearly indicate that the organisation’s leaders] have seen barriers emerge between them and Muslim segments and groups in many places. So, al-Qaeda devised a different strategy, calling on [these people] to operate under a generic unrelated name and focus instead on ideology and mobilisation, while refraining from using the al-Qaeda name so people and society will not reject them.

This is their strategy to counter the rejection [of al-Qaeda] on the part of Muslim masses that has begun to surface [on a grassroots level]. Look at what they did in Yemen: they came in under the name of Ansar al-Sharia. Look at what happened in Mali, where al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb exists but behind a different facade and through other alliances.

Al-Qaeda applied the same logic in Syria with Jabhat al-Nusra. It wants to use the current conflict as an incubation stage where it can work on building an organisation. Then, at the end of the day, when Assad falls, it would be able to emerge with its organisation and structure. It does not want to create a problem at this point in time because it knows that regimes are using the al-Qaeda name to cast fear among citizens and in the West and in all countries that support Arab revolutions. It does not want to give cause to the further erosion of its popularity. If you fight in Syria under the al-Qaeda name, the regime would use that [against you], as would other countries, like Russia and China, which would deny the Syrian people the support they deserve. The Syrian people would point to anyone who says he belongs to al-Qaeda and say: You are the reason we were denied international support, and you are standing in the way of us achieving our goals.

So, this is al-Qaeda’s strategy to escape its predicament spawned by past actions, especially in Iraq, that alienated a large number of ordinary Muslims.

Al-Shorfa: Is the connection between Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda strictly ideological or does the matter go deeper than that?

Benotman: There is an organic connection between them as well, but the ideological aspect is of critical importance here because groups do splinter over ideological differences. Even one group may split into two over ideological differences. Therefore, before proving an organic connection exists [between al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra] you need to prove an ideological connection exists. Once it is proven that the ideology — and even the terminology and how enemies are classified — are the same, the search for the organisational [connection] can begin.

The research we conducted in the field proves this case: that Jabhat al-Nusra is an extension of al-Qaeda’s plan, and that it [recycled] al-Qaeda’s old format, circa 2003 [at the time of the invasion of Iraq] in the [Syrian] framework and has revived it anew. In my opinion, if things continue as they are now, an announcement may soon be coming our way — if conditions are right — about the existence of a Levantine branch of al-Qaeda. [Jabhat al-Nusra] is the first seed in the creation of al-Qaeda in the Levant, according to the Islamic regional subdivision al-Qaeda operates under.

Al-Shorfa: But those who call themselves jihadists and are operating within the framework of the Syrian revolution are still few in number?

Benotman: If all the forces that call themselves jihadist withdraw from the battle tomorrow, the balance of the battle would not be affected one iota. The heavy burden in the battle rests on the FSA, despite all the shortcomings in its structure, which they are finally beginning to adequately address by way of professional staff officers and a disciplined structure in line with military rules and regulations. The FSA is the overwhelming force on the ground. There are also local groups of rebels who are not under the administrative authority of the FSA or anyone else, but for whom the primary battle centres on removing the Assad regime from their regions, and those groups are part of the Syrian revolution as well.

Al-Shorfa: To what benefit or detriment will al-Qaeda’s entry into [the conflict] be to the Syrian opposition, including the FSA?

Benotman: They — the FSA and the [Syrian] National Council — have expressed concern over [al-Qaeda’s] entry [into Syria] because it hurts their cause. The [crux of the] matter is simply this: a revolution for freedom, dignity, development and a pluralistic democratic system, where ‘pluralism’ precedes ‘democracy’ here because everyone lives on this earth, transforms into a closed ideological plan that will leave no room for others. This is what happened during the past ten years: wherever al-Qaeda set foot, there was no room for others.

Who would accept such a programme? No one is willing to go along with this programme, not even Arab countries, particularly Gulf countries that strongly supported the Arab revolutions. Those countries are not willing to support al-Qaeda’s programme, and neither will the Syrian people whose social structure is pluralistic. The entry of al-Qaeda and its strict ideological programme [into the country] would cause unnatural disaster. Syria urgently needs pluralism, even before democracy, and al-Qaeda does not accept such pluralism.

Saudi Terrorists Prepare the Jordanian “Jihad” from Syria

[The seized narcotic pills, described as “Captagon,” in Middle Eastern news reports are far more than hyped-up amphetamines, as described.  All “captagon” seized are counterfeit concoctions of high-impact “speed,” amped-up with other drugs which either elevate or suppress brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, suppress fear, increase heart rate and oxygen efficiency, producing an agitated state of “hyper-vigilance.”]

After analyzing 124 batches of Captagon seized [in Jordan], study revealed the absence of fenethylline in all samples analyzed.”

(SEE:  Chemical characterization of counterfeit captagon tablets seized in Jordan.)  Not quite a full-blown “mind-control” hypnotic drug, the tested counterfeit amphetamine rates as a fear-reducer, mood-enhancer, ego-boosting, adrenaline-packed “thrill ride,” for the clinically-insane “jihadis” of Syria, who are eager to risk their lives for some vague notion and a hefty paycheck (SEE: CAPTAGON—Saudi Mind Control Drug of Choice).]

CAPTAGON

Jordan intercepts drugs, arms haul from Syria

al shorfa

Jordanian border guards have intercepted two vehicles crossing from Syria loaded with arms and thousands of amphetamine tablets, AFP reported Thursday (March 20th).

One of the vehicles and its cargo was destroyed when it was fired on by border guards during the operation late Wednesday, the Petra news agency reported.

 

The other was found to be carrying 209 weapons and 10,000 capsules of Captagon, the brand name for the amphetamine phenethylline.

 

The number of cross-border smugglers and their nationalities has not been identified.

 

Syrian fighters reportedly use Captagon to help them cope with the rigors of battle, while sales of the drug are said to generate millions of dollars for weapons purchases.

 

Jordanian authorities have said cross-border arms trafficking between Jordan and Syria has risen 300% in the past year.

To Saudis, You Might Be A Terrorist…If…You Think Like A Democrat

IMRA

Full text of Saudi Interior Ministry statement designating terrorist organizations (includes Muslim Brotherhood)

Full text of Saudi Interior Ministry statement designating terrorist
organizations
Asharq Al-Awsat Saturday, 8 Mar, 2014

Thirty-day deadline to renounce terrorist ideologies extended by 15 days

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia on Friday issued a list formally
designating the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
(ISIS), “Hezbollah in the Kingdom,” Yemen’s Houthi Movement, and all
branches of Al-Qaeda, including the Al-Nusra Front, as terrorist
organizations.

The list comes following a royal decree issued by Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, last month, clamping down on
terrorist. The full text of the Interior Ministry’s statement can be read
below:

“In reference to Royal Order A/44 dated 3/4/1435H, Article IV of which
authorizes the formation of a committee with members from the Ministry of
Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Islamic Affairs,
Endowments, Call, and Guidance, Ministry of Justice, Court of Grievances,
and Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, the task of which is to
file a list (to be updated periodically) of the factions and groups
identified in item 2 of the Article I of the Royal Order and process the
list for final endorsement.

The Ministry hereby seeks to make known that the said committee has met and
discussed the issue, and has sent the list of recommendations to the Royal
Court. The following rulings criminalize citizens and residents:

1- The promotion of atheistic ideologies in any form as well as any attempt
to cast doubt on the fundamentals of Islam, the religion on which this
country stands.

2- Whoever betrays one’s oath of allegiance to the leaders of this country
or swears allegiance to a party, organization, group, faction, or individual
whether inside or outside the country.

3- Taking part in, calling for, or promoting the fighting in conflicts in
other countries, or issuing fatwa supporting the matter.

4- Whoever is a member of or endorses those parties, organizations, groups,
factions, or gatherings; or is sympathetic towards or promoting their
ideologies or holds meetings under their umbrella whether inside or outside
the Kingdom. This includes taking part in all audio-visual and written
media, internet, social communication networks and promotion of their
contents in anyway; included also are their emblems, mottos and any signs
that show support.

5- Financial or material donations to or funding of the extremist and
terroristic organizations, factions, and groups, or sheltering their members
or their promoters inside or outside the Kingdom.

6- Contacting or communicating with groups or factions or individuals who
harbor enmity for the Kingdom.

7- Being loyal to, in liaison with, or communicating with another country,
with the intention of exploiting the secure unity and stability of the
Kingdom and its people.

8- The pursuit of unsettling the social and national fabric, or the call
for, participation in, or promotion of sit-ins, demonstrations, gatherings,
collective statements, or any actions that touch the unity and stability of
the Kingdom under any reason and in any form.

9- Attendance of conferences, forums, or gatherings inside or outside the
Kingdom that target the Kingdom’s security and stability, and instigate
social disorder.

10- Committing offenses against other countries and/or their leaders.

11- Soliciting the help of States, international organizations or bodies
against the Kingdom.

The Ministry of Interior notes that these recommendations have been endorsed
by Royal Order 16820 dated 5/51435H and will be enforced, effective from
8/5/1435H (March 9, 2014). Whoever violates these will be held accountable
for all former and later violations. The King has further ordered that those
who took part in any way in the fighting outside the Kingdom be given an
extra extension period of 15 days as of the issuance of this statement to
rethink their position and return immediately home, hoping that they will
heed reason and come to their better senses.

Along with this, the Ministry of Interior attaches here the first list of
parties, groups and factions addressed by this statement:

Al-Qaida Organization- Al-Qaida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula –
Al-Qaida Organization in Yemen- Al-Qaida Organization in Iraq- Al-Nusra
Front- Hezbollah in the Kingdom- the Muslim Brotherhood – The Houthi Group.

It should be noted that included also are any similar organizations with
similar ideologies, discourses, and actions along with all those groups and
factions noted on the lists of the Security Council and international bodies
and are identified as terroristic and committed to violence.

The Ministry will update this list periodically in accordance with the
mandate of the Royal Order. It also calls on all to fully abide by its
directives, and warns at the same time that the Ministry will not be lenient
or tolerant in enforcing its terms.’

Time For Revolution Or Counter-Revolution?

Revolution vs counter-revolution: Can the people on the streets be wrong?

fight back

Right-wing protest in Venezuela

Venezuela: Right-wing protest action

By Daphne Lawless (Fightback, Auckland).

In the words of British journalist Paul Mason, it seems that “it’s all kicking off everywhere”. Across the world, sustained mass protests and occupations of public space are shaking and even toppling governments. Most famously, months of protests and occupations of the public square in Kiev, capital of Ukraine, forced President Viktor Yanukovych to resign and flee the country. Surely “the people” rising up against the government is a good thing… right? Like the Occupy protests of a couple of years ago?

Actually, from a socialist point of view, there’s a universe of difference between the protests and uprisings which we’ve all heard about on the news – Ukraine, Egypt, Venezuela, Bosnia, Thailand and others. It’s never as simple as “the people” versus “the government”.

Class versus class

Populism is a term used to describe political action taken in the name of “the people” – vaguely defined as anyone who’s not in power at the moment. The thing is, “the people” don’t have many things in common with each other, except for not liking whoever’s in power right now. It includes the upper-middle class as well as the very poor, people with racist and sexist beliefs as well as women and ethnic minorities, homophobes as well as queers.

This becomes a problem since the issue with protests and uprisings is not so much getting rid of the current government, but what you’re going to replace it with. And that question is based on which social force – or class – is most powerful when the old government collapses.

Marxists uses “class” to mean a set of people who have a certain function in the economy, and thus have the same interests in how the economy is run, who gets how much to do what, and who owns things. While there are many different classes in a modern economy, the two most vital are the capitalist class – those who own big corporations and farms and employ people – and the working class – who can only live by getting a job from the capitalist class. Generally, the other classes line up with the capitalist class, except in times of crisis.

Crucially, while individual capitalists have big power on their own – for example, a supermarket owner might be able to lock out dozens of staff and put them at threat of poverty – workers only have power when they band together, in trade unions, their own political parties, and other forms of co-operation.

So the question that you have to look at with a popular uprising is – which class does it represent? This means: what kind of people are actually on the street, protesting? What class do the spokespeople and the policy-makers of the movement come from? And what power – apart from the power of physical bodies in space – does that class have to get its own way?

Venezuela: March in support of Bolivarian revolution

Venezuela: March in support of Bolivarian revolution

Venezuela: the privileged protesters

For example, people who have a shallow view of politics look at mass anti-government protests in the Ukraine and in Venezuela, and think they’re the same thing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem in Venezuela is that the United Socialist Party (PSUV) government has brought in more and more democracy and “people power” – and the capitalist and upper-middle classes in Venezuela don’t like this.

Since 1998, socialist Presidents in Venezuela have been diverting more and more of the country’s oil wealth away from the traditional ruling classes to the millions of impoverished who live in the barrios (slums) of the big cities. There’s already been one successful coup by the right wing in Venezuela – which was reversed when the people from the barrios moved into action to demand their elected President back.

The current set of protests in Venezuela broke out in opposition to a rape on a university campus in the city of Tachida. Unfortunately, students at the private universities in Venezuela are extremely right-wing and anti-government. So what could have been a supportable protest was quickly taken over by an agenda to overthrow the democratically elected President, Nicolas Maduro.

The funny thing is that the people in the barrios are barely aware that any of these “mass protests” are going on. The ruling classes in Venezuela are not only traditionally lighter-skinned, but tend to speak good English, have media skills and know how to operate Facebook and Twitter. So they’re very good at making white people in the rich countries think they’re seeing a real mass uprising.

But the crowds we see in the streets are overwhelmingly made up of rich, privileged people, and leaders of far-right parties, who shout about inflation and violent crime (admittedly serious problem) but are really outraged that they don’t “own” the country any more. There is massive disruption and damage in rich places like the eastern suburbs of Caracas. If you go to the barrios of west Caracas, on the other hand, they hardly even know that anything’s going on.

Democrats against democracy

Socialists don’t necessarily define democracy as “one person, one vote”. Democracy for socialists means political power in the hands of the broad masses, not in the hands of the people who own businesses, land and media outlets. So, no matter whether free speech or free elections exist in a country, if inequality means that the wishes of a billionaire or the prejudices of a TV network outweigh the wishes of a million working people, that’s not democracy.

The classic example of this in English speaking countries is the American “Tea Party”. This “astroturf” (fake grassroots) movement was originally funded by right-wing millionaires to provide an appearance of a “mass uprising” against the very weak healthcare reforms of Barack Obama, and swing public opinion away from them. Tapping into the deep racism in the South and other parts of the USA, the Tea Party has brought thousands of older, white Americans onto the streets to scream about the “fascist”, “socialist” or even “Satanic” agenda of the centre-right Obama administration. It’s so successful that it’s become a real mass movement among the traditional middle classes of the white USA, and is threatening to take control of the Republican party itself.

Things get even wilder when you look at the “yellow shirt” movement in Thailand, which has recently forced their government to call a snap election. The Yellow Shirts’ official name is the People’s Alliance for Democracy. But they don’t even want right-wing capitalist democracy. What they want is an unelected council of business people and academics to take over, because they don’t think the Thai masses can be trusted with power – since they keep electing the populist party of exiled millionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, whose current leader and Prime Minister is his sister Yingluck.

In Egypt, a real mass uprising of the urban and rural middle and lower classes drove out the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. But the liberal middle classes were disgusted when Mohammed Morsi – the candidate aligned to the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood), supported by the rural poor – won the following election. Screaming about “dictatorship”, they appealed to Western Islamophobia by smearing the moderately Islamist Ikhwan as terrorists.

The middle classes in Cairo – again, the people who spoke English or French and had good media skills – took to the streets as the Tamarod (Rebellion) movement. This movement managed to paralyse the country until the military staged a coup in June 2013, arrested President Morsi and took power themselves. Sadly, many socialists and democrats – even in Egypt – supported the coup because they didn’t approve of Morsi’s conservative programme. Now they seem increasingly likely to be stuck with military strongman General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi as the leader of a dictatorship which stays friendly with Israel and the West. Meet the new Mubarak, same as the old one.

When it comes to right-wing movements based on the capitalist class and the upper-middle classes, when they say “democracy” they mean the opposite. They want their own class to have all the power, and for rights and economic privileges to be taken away from the mass of people. These kinds of movement often end up supporting pro-market dictatorships like that of Pinochet in Chile – or worse, fascist or Nazi regimes.

Pretend populists

It is so important for us to tell the difference between a revolution – a mass uprising seeking more democracy – and a counter-revolution – which can also be a mass uprising, but is in support of putting an old régime back in power, or taking power away from the people.

There are two dangers. One is that socialists might get duped by a right-wing populist movement into thinking it’s a real mass uprising, and try to become part of it. Some of the more foolish segments of the American Left tried making common cause with the Tea Party in its early days, as the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists originally welcomed the coup against Morsi.

Back home, in Auckland the populist anti-corruption protester Penny Bright has ended up in alliance with the extreme-right “Affordable Auckland” coalition in an attempt to make the current centre-left Mayor Len Brown resign. But the people behind “Affordable” are the powerful themselves – Pakeha employers and property-owners – while Bright’s supporters are a rag-tag group of people who’re angry about the current system. No prizes for guessing who would take the power, if they managed to make Mayor Brown give it up.

But the other danger is that right-wing populists might invade a real mass uprising and – through being better organised, or by brute force – might shift it to their agenda. A good foreign example of this is the fascist Svoboda and Right Sector parties, who entered the “Euromaidan” protests in Ukraine and put themselves at the head of it by violently and physically ejecting socialists and anarchists who were against the Yanukovych administration.

The Occupy movements were another great example of a populist project, with their rhetoric of the 99% against the 1%. Despite its clear anti-capitalist message to begin with, though, it wasn’t clear enough to put forward a political project. Without a clear political orientation, many occupations saw a growth in conspiracy theories – which deride the working majority as ‘sheeple,’ constructing pseudo-scientific explanations for the enlightened few, in contrast to politics of collective liberation.

In such a situation, socialists have to stay with the masses. If the movement continues to have real mass support, they have to stay in and fight the intellectual and political battle for the leadership with right-wing forces. But if the masses leave, there’s no point fighting over a corpse.

Whether revolutionary or counter-revolutionary, though, there is one good thing about all these mass protests. They thoroughly prove wrong the common saying that “protests can’t change anything”. The Australian state of Victoria – which has recently made it a crime to stay on a protest if a cop tells you to leave – knows this very well, as did the New York cops at Zucotti Park or the Chinese army at Tienanmen Square when they violently closed down protest occupations. Protests backed with the real power of an economic class which won’t be dictated to any more can change the world. In fact, they’re the only thing that ever has.

The Saudi Division of the Muslim Ummah To Sabotage Arab Unity

The Saudi-Qatar rift effect on Syria: How Gulf tensions are fracturing Syria’s opposition to new extent

albawaba news

Syria's opposition is divided in its sponsorship between Riyadh and Doha (Tamer Al Halabi/AFP)

Syria’s opposition is divided in its sponsorship between Riyadh and Doha (Tamer Al Halabi/AFP)

A growing rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar over the emirate’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has sharpened a power struggle within the Syrian opposition at a critical time for the main opposition body.

While the row between the Gulf states, which saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain pull their ambassadors from Qatar last week, has been seen primarily as a response to concerns about Qatar’s sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it has thrown tensions between rival blocs in the Syrian opposition into relief. Saudi Arabia followed the move by designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and threatening Qatar with a land and sea blockade if it did not censure its support for the group and expel its proponents.

Syria’s main opposition group, the National Coalition, has been characterized since its inception by division between two blocs sponsored by Riyadh and Doha.

The coalition supplanted the Syrian National Council in 2012, amid accusations it was dysfunctional and dominated by the Brotherhood.

In July 2013, the coalition elected Ahmad Jarba, who was backed by Saudi Arabia, as its president and later increased its membership.

Disappointed members aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, the SNC and opposition power broker Mustafa Sabbagh quit en masse, but the move was considered as a way for Saudi Arabia to enhance its role in backing the coalition over Qatar and Turkey, which support and host the Brotherhood. It came ahead of the Geneva II peace talks, which collapsed last month, and amid accusations from Washington and elsewhere that Qatar and Turkey were assisting radical Al Qaeda-linked opposition fighters in Syria.

Now, escalating tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia could spark renewed infighting ahead of a leadership poll in the opposition group.

Analysts say Qatar is unlikely to bow to pressure from Saudi Arabia, and the Syrian opposition-in-exile is one area where its leverage could be used in Riyadh’s campaign to rein in its tiny neighbor.

“Unless Qatar and Saudi Arabia soon find a compromise, which seems unlikely, tension between the two countries will spill over into Syria’s National Coalition and will probably crystallize during the body’s next leadership elections,” said Raphael Lefevre, visiting fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center and an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Opposition sources say Jarba is seeking a third term, but for that to happen, the coalition’s bylaws will have to be amended.

“If nothing is done to patch things up soon, it may entirely paralyze the activities of the exiled Syrian opposition,” Lefevre said.

Jarba will need a two-thirds majority of the 120-member Coalition to secure another term. SNC members and those close to the Sabbagh bloc who left say they will rejoin the opposition group, potentially tipping the balance out of Jarba’s favor.

The changes to the bylaws are expected to form part of discussions at a meeting of the coalition in Cairo in coming weeks. The decision to hold the meeting in Cairo, where Muslim Brotherhood figures have been persecuted following the ouster of President Mohammad Morsi by the military last July, is itself controversial.

In Doha this week, SNC figures told The Daily Star they did not expect any reduction of support for the Brotherhood from Qatar.

One SNC member who did not join the coalition and describes himself as a “moderate Islamic, independent figure,” Saleh Mubarak, said the while the main rift between Qatar and Saudi was over Egypt, “It has serious consequences for the Syrian opposition.”

“We tell all our friends who like to help us, but we don’t want any help designed to buy our loyalty or interfere in our affairs, or promote their agendas,” he said. “Some countries tell people to do something in order to dictate their own agenda.”

Mubarak said that Saudi Arabia’s policy involved the contradiction of labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, while supporting the Syrian opposition.

“If you term the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, you have to deal with the fact that you are dealing with them right through the coalition,” he said.

At the new Syrian Embassy in Doha, where the independence or “rebel” flag flies over a villa featuring images and children’s paintings of civilians killed by Syrian regime warplanes, the opposition’s ambassador to Qatar, Nizar Hraki, said the coalition was working to overcome differences but acknowledged the Saudi-Qatari fight was “serious.”

“We are sad to see what is going on between both countries. Syria needs the support of both,” he said.

He argued that Saudi Arabia had made a mistake in designating the Brotherhood terrorists, given the group’s broad support in the Gulf and Arab Spring countries.

“The Muslim Brotherhood has been actively involved in the cultural development in the region. They are not Al Qaeda. They do not have a violent history,” he said.

“There are tens of millions of members around the world and most of them are not politically active.”

By Lauren Williams

Top Saudi Cleric says true Muslims must believe the Sun revolves around the Earth

Top Saudi Cleric says true Muslims must believe the Sun revolves around the Earth 

the commentator

 

The Middle Ages happened a long time ago, yet top Saudi scholar affirms that the Sun revolves around the Earth after all. Western science has been left in tatters

 

 

In a revelation that has left scientific research across the world in tatters, a top Saudi scholar and cleric has affirmed that the thinking of the Middle Ages was right after all: the Sun does in fact revolve around the Earth.

The startling discovery was announced in January on Saudi Arabia’s Channel 1 TV and was related to the world by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

 

Saleh Al-Fawzan

Saudi cleric and member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, Saleh Al-Fawzan, was given a platform as follows:

Moderator: “And Allah says in a Koranic verse: ‘And the Sun runs towards its stopping point. That is the determination of the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing.’

“Does the Sun revolve around the Earth?”

Switching to guest, Saleh Al-Fawzan: “There’s no doubt about it. The Koran says: ‘The Sun runs….’ Nevertheless, they say that the Sun stands in place and the Earth moves. This contradicts the Koran. Ignoring the Koran and adopting modern theories is not something a Muslim can do. A Muslim must follow the Koran.”

Well that’s that then. The Sun does in fact revolve around the Earth.

Palestinians Struggle To Overcome Zionist Ban On Pumping Their Own Gas and Oil

[SEE:  Israel Tapping Palestinian Gas Deposits?War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields]

Crude disputes stain Palestinian oil tender

aljazeera

Palestinians want to start oil production but some worry Israel will stand in the way.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced the oil exploration tenders on Tuesday [Reuters]

Ramallah, Occupied West Bank The Palestinian Authority (PA) has issued a global tender for oil exploration in the West Bank, casting a spotlight on a crucial dimension to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the struggle over resources.

The announcement on Tuesday comes two weeks after Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah [Ar] approved a cabinet decision to issue global tenders for exploration and excavation in an area of around 400sqr km across the West Bank. Almost all of this land is under full Israeli control.

Hamdallah’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Mohammad Mustafa, who is handling the tenders, said the project would be a joint venture, with the state-owned Palestine Investment Fund taking at least a 25 percent stake.

Between 30 and 186 million barrels of oil are expected to be excavated from the area, according to the PA. Lying west of Ramallah, the earmarked site is near an oil field run by an Israeli company on the Green Line, the 1949 armistice line, just outside the Palestinian village of Rantis.

But even though the fields are so close to the de-facto border between the West Bank and Israel, the PA has not said whether the move has been coordinated with Israeli authorities. David Baker, senior foreign press coordinator at the Israeli prime minister’s office, said they did not have a comment on the matter.

Border disputes 

Israel’s oil and gas exploration company, Givot Olam, currently operates the Meged 5 field, in the Israeli town of Rosh Haayin, a stone’s throw away from Rantis. The company said it has already made $40m in oil sales since this field became operational three years ago.

Before its discovery, the company hoped it would produce 2.3 million barrels over 20 years from other wells nearby. But in 2010, Givot Olam’s then CEO, Tovia Luskin, said the area is sitting on a much larger reserve – 13.2 million barrels of recoverable oil – than originally anticipated. The entire site could contain 1.5 billion barrels, according to some estimates.

The oil field is on both sides of the Green Line.

Ephraim Sneh, former member of Israel’s Knesset

The field sits by the Green Line, with access to it restricted because Israel says it is located within an Israeli army firing zone. Its proximity to the border raises the question of how far inside the West Bank the well extends – and how much of its reserves belong to the Palestinians. By one account: “The subsurface geological area containing the reservoirs of oil and gas extends across the Green Line, with about two-thirds of the area located in the West Bank.”

Past terraced, cascading olive groves near the Palestinian village of Rantis, the Meged 5 oil rig hovers over workers in yellow hardhats.

Mu’ayad Odeh, who heads the Rantis village council, claims Israel has moved its separation wall several times to ensure full access to the field. “Everyone seems to know this big secret – that there’s oil here,” Odeh said. “But no one seems to be taking an interest to find out how much of it belongs to the Palestinians.”

Israeli authorities have not acknowledged a Palestinian right to this resource. A spokeswoman for Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources told Al Jazeera, via email: “The Rosh Haayin lease is located within the area of the state of Israel.”

But former member of Israel’s Knesset, Ephraim Sneh, said: “There’s no doubt that [there’s oil on the Palestinian side]. The oil field is on both sides of the Green Line. It is in the shape of a bean, and the Green Line crosses it almost in the middle.” Sneh, who chairs the S Daniel Abraham Centre for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya College, said the resource provides an ideal opportunity for Israel and the PA to cooperate on a project that could be mutually beneficial.

Resource conflicts

The Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993, dictate that resources in shared territory should be made public and explored mutually. Abdullah Herzallah, a Palestinian Geographic Information Systems expert, says Israel doesn’t want to “admit” that this is a natural resource which extends across both sides of the armistice line.

“The Israelis are trying to prevent the Palestinians from making use of their natural resources – in spite of the fact that Oslo agreement says that there should be a joint committee to discuss any natural resource extended on both sides,” he said.

Herzallah suspects that the Israelis have already begun drilling into Palestinian territory. “They have already made horizontal excavations in the Meged-5 and Meged-6 wells… But they have a problem: They need to extend more and more inside the West Bank and to the east and this is the main reason why the Israelis are asking for land swaps in this area.”

But Giora Eiland, Givot Olam’s acting chief executive, said the company “absolutely” does not take any oil from the Palestinian side. “We only have vertical drills, and all of them are located on the Israeli side,” he said.

In 2012, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that it was within the rights of Israeli private and public companies to exploit the West Bank’s natural resources for economic gain. While Palestinian access to the Dead Sea is vastly restricted, Israel’s Ahava cosmetics firm sells products made from mud of therapeutic quality from the area. Several Israeli companies also run quarries in the West Bank, where they extract materials for the construction industry. West Bank water resources are controlled by Israel, ensuring that usage by Israelis – including those living in settlements – is three times higher than by Palestinians in the West Bank.

‘Robust economics’

UK-based petroleum geologist found that the development of the Meged Core Area has “robust economics… and could be a highly profitable venture if the predicted well production volumes prove to be achievable and sustainable”.

While the discovery is not huge in comparison with the resources of oil-rich countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the well may be a game-changer for Palestinians. Today, Palestinian unemployment stands at 24 percent and the Palestinian Authority’s 2014 budget is expected to run at a deficit of $1.3bn.

This is not just an economic problem, it’s a political one, and the occupation is causing us delays in advancing our position

Ehab Bseiso, PA spokesman

But obstacles lie ahead for Palestinians – not just a lack of expertise in oil drilling but, more importantly, that Israel is unlikely to recognise Palestinian rights to any oil in the first place.

“This is not just an economic problem, it’s a political one, and the occupation is causing us delays in advancing our position,” explained Ehab Bseiso, the PA government spokesman. “The oil would help create not only sustainable development, but also less reliance on international aid and eventually [help] promote stability here.”

In the past, Palestinian efforts to extract gas from Gaza’s offshore field – estimated by British Gas at one billion cubic feet – have been derailed by politics. Gas was found off the enclave’s coast as early as 1999, but exploration has been hindered by various obstacles, including Israel reducing the sea area of the Palestinian maritime jurisdiction from 20 nautical miles as directed under the Oslo accords, to six, and also Israel’s full control of maritime routes.

Palestinians import all their energy from Israel. Just two months ago, the Palestine Power Generation Company became the Israeli Leviathan gas field’s first client, signing an agreement to buy $1.2bn in gas over a 20-year period for an electric power plant near Jenin.

According to the World Bank, Israel’s control of “Area C”, which comprises 62 percent of the West Bank, is stunting Palestinian economic growth, especially since the area is “richly endowed with natural resources”. The organisation said the Palestinian economy was losing some $3.4bn a year, a number equivalent to 23 percent of its 2011 GDP. The figure does not include income that could potentially be generated by oil revenues.

Syria shows off Nusra car-bomb assembly site

Syria shows off car-bomb assembly site

daily star LEB

Damaged buildings are seen at Yabroud town at the Damascus countryside, March 16, 2014, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

Damaged buildings are seen at Yabroud town at the Damascus countryside, March 16, 2014, in this handout photograph released by Syria’s national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

BEIRUT: The Syrian army discovered Tuesday two sites in the Syrian town of Yabroud allegedly used by radical groups to rig car-bombs bound for Lebanon as well as to manufacture rockets, local media reported.

The site, as described by a Syrian officer, was set up in the town of Yabroud, which Hezbollah-backed regime forces have recently captured from rebel groups, primarily the Nusra Front.

Speaking to Al-Manar television, the Syrian officer said the military uncovered “the central hub” where rebels used to prepare explosive-rigged vehicles for attacks in Lebanon.

Lebanon has witnessed over a dozen car bombs and rocket attacks in the past few months, most of which were claimed by Islamist radical groups seeking to strike Hezbollah over the group’s involvement in Syria.

The deadly attacks targeted predominantly Shiite areas commonly associated with Hezbollah.

Al-Manar also reported that the Syrian army dismantled a vehicle rigged with 200 kilograms of TRX explosives in Yabroud. The vehicle had a Lebanese license plate.

Television footage showed the vehicle packed with explosives with the detonator placed near the driver’s seat.

It added that the Syrian military also uncovered a site where Nusra Front allegedly manufactured rockets.

US Navy Seals Grab Libyan Oil Tanker Near Cyprus

Libyan militia commander accuses US of piracy

Associated Press

A militia commander controlling Libya’s oil terminals denounced the United States for seizing a tanker that his militia was using to try to export oil in defiance of the country’s central government, saying Tuesday that Washington was siding with Tripoli against the aspirations in the eastern half of the country for greater autonomy.

Ibrahim Jedran is part of a movement demanding autonomy for eastern Libya, and last summer his militia took over Libya’s oil facilities in the east. As a result, the country’s exports of its biggest revenue earner have slowed to a trickle. This month, Jedran’s militia loaded a tanker full of more than $30 million-worth of oil at a Mediterranean port it controls and tried to export the oil for sale for the east’s coffers.

On Sunday night, U.S. Navy SEAL commandos captured the tanker, Morning Glory, as it was anchored off the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The U.S. Navy is now escorting the vessel back to Libya to hand over to the central government.

The tanker episode illustrated the extreme weakness of Libya’s government since the 2011 ouster and death of longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Authorities in Tripoli have almost no authority around the country, the army and police are in disarray, and multiple militias around the country have filled the void, claiming their own power. At the same time, the autonomy movement in the east — a region historically known as Cyrenaica — has gained strength, building on local resentment over years of discrimination and marginalization of the area by Tripoli.

Speaking in a televised statement aired on his private TV network, the militia commander Jedran said Washington was aligning with the wrong side in the dispute of Libya’s regions. He said the central authorities in Tripoli are dominated by Islamists, who hold sway in parliament, and ignore the aspirations of the east.

“The free world should stand next to the side of truth,” Jedran said. “But today we find a super power declaring piracy.”

Jedran warned the U.S. against handing the tanker and three eastern Libyans on board over to “the criminal militia that rules Tripoli,” adding that “such a dangerous measure would lead to a civil war.”

It is not known who the oil was to be sold to or who owns the tanker. Jedran in his comments said it is owned by the Libyan Company for Oil and Gas, a parallel body created by the autonomy movement in the east to run the oil industry in its area. The Cyrenaica autonomy movement has created a number of administrative bodies in the east that are not recognized by Tripoli.

Jedran claims to have around 20,000 fighters under his command, originally rebel fighters who participated in the eight-month uprising that toppled Gadhafi. After the collapse of Gadhafi’s rule, the fighters were tasked with guarding oil terminals in the east, where most of Libya’s oil infrastructure is located. After long accusing the government of corruption and embezzlement, he moved his forces to take over the terminals, virtually shutting down the country’s previous production of 1.4 billion barrels a day. He demands investigation into corruption allegations in oil sales, fair distribution of oil revenues among the country’s three regions — Tripoli, Cyrenaica and the southern region known as Fezzan — and a return to the 1951 constitution, in which the country was a federation where regions had considerable autonomy.

During the oil tanker crisis, parliament tasked western-based militias to launch an offensive to take back the oil facilities. After some initial clashes with Jedran’s forces, the offensive has been put on hold — but the violence deepened polarization.

Jedran benefits from the increasing sense among the eastern population that authorities are unable to bring stability to the country, with killings taking places almost on a daily basis in eastern cities. Many militias in the east have Islamic extremist ideologies and are suspected in frequent attacks on police and the military.

On Monday, a car bomb struck just outside the gates of a military technical school in the eastern city of Benghazi, killing nine soldiers and wounding at least others, Libya’s state news agency and officials said. Hours later, a second blast from a car bomb rocked a central district in the city, killing one person, a security official said.

On Tuesday, a slain Christian Iraqi professor was found inside his car in a central city of Sirte, according to state news agency.

The agency LANA reported that security forces found the body of Adison Karkha, a 54-year-old medical school professor. The agency added that motives behind the killing are unknown.

Libyan military officers say that hard-line Islamic militias including the extremist Ansar al-Shariah have stepped up their presence in recent months in Sirte, once Gadhafi’s stronghold. Christians appear to have been targeted in the past by radicals. Seven Egyptian Christians were found dead last month in the eastern city of Benghazi, where Ansar and other hard-liners groups are strong.

LANA also reported that two bodies — apparently of African migrants — were found with their hands chopped off in Benghazi, the main city of the east.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/18/4002083/report-christian-iraqi-killed.html#storylink=cpy

Riyadh and Doha–Battle of the hot soft language

[The following was an extremely difficult search, especially for an English-speaking human-type.  This article was the source for the PressTV report on Doha plotting with Qaddafi for igniting revolution in Saudi Arabia (SEE:  Qatar plot to kill Saudi King prompts Riyadh rancor: Analyst).  The article speaks of an intercepted phone call between Qatar’s foreign minister and Qaddafi discussing a plot to undermine Saudi Arabia through the Eastern Province (which would obviously be blamed upon Iran), starting in Qatif (SEE: Saudi Arabia Protests).  The semi-shocker in all of this was that the top emissary of the Emir of Qatar was claiming that he was asked by the US and Britain to carry-out this destabilization scheme.]

Riyadh and Doha: Battle of the hot soft language

alforat news  ALFORAT NEWS [Iraq-Kurdish news site]
Riyadh and Doha: Battle of the hot soft language
By Fouad Ibrahim
Case exceed the dimensions of the issue of disagreement on the issue of the withdrawal of ambassadors. War is relentless in whatever sense of the word, but the language soft. It does not seem any of the parties that he is ready to make concessions or express softer. The result is the most serious crisis which threatens the Gulf Cooperation Council, and its repercussions is no doubt that it will hit the entire region, from Egypt to Syria via Palestine and Lebanon. Statements Naeman despite the hottest battle. Statement tri Saudi AED BD launches first spark war was Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal has vowed to launching a smaller neighbor Qatar in case you decide not to abide by pledging the written and signed by the emir, Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani in Riyadh on November 23 last mediated by the Emir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad. And ensure pledge Linear stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and the lack of shelter leadership of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and stop supporting the Houthis in Yemen, and not doing anything detrimental to the stability of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates through the support of individuals affiliated with the Brotherhood movement, or opposition groups seeking to change in these countries.
Song statement, the trio was a soft, long introduction about the principle of cooperation, the individual that was repeated frequently, before the decision to seal the withdrawal of ambassadors from Doha.
The statement pointed out element was missing in the analysis of relations with the Gulf, which is the background, which was founded by the Convention Gulf security, and that I want them «to agree on a path approach ensures traffic within the framework of a unified policy», in other words, reproduce guardianship Arabia within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council, It is precisely the axis that revolves around the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in particular.
Stop statement triple when the meeting was held in Kuwait on 17 February, the last under the auspices of the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, which was attended by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim, while attended by the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). What happened in the meeting?
Gulf sources said that Saud al-Faisal seemed strained during the meeting, and exceeded the bounds of decency in communication with the head of state, so the accusations directly to Qatar as threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and Egypt supported «brothers», and that Qatar has turned into a haven for anyone who wants to do harm to stability in Egypt and the Gulf, in addition to being accused of Qatar to support the Houthis in Yemen. Kept al-Faisal, the tone of his speech elevated in the presence of Amiri, Kuwait, Qatar and the foreign ministers of the GCC countries, then read a list of punitive measures against Qatar in the event of non-compliance with the undertaking, including: withdrawal of ambassadors, and the closure of the land borders, and prevent the planes country to use Saudi airspace, and cancel the membership Qatar of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Arab League agreement with Egypt. Political sources close to Saudi Arabia carried the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani responsible for what happened, because of standing by «brothers» even after the dismissal of former President Mohamed Morsi, while committed to the Doha silent about the Saudi media escalation that preceded the decision to withdraw ambassadors. The Emir of Kuwait has requested from Riyadh’s decision to postpone the implementation of punitive measures until after his mediation to settle the dispute. He did not want the Qataris access dispute to the point of explosion, and at the same time not to accept the logic dictates, and obliging Doha as it should be its foreign policy and its relations with other countries, and their positions on political issues of regional, Arab and international. This is what the statement tried to smooth issued by the Council of Ministers to do across the country put the dispute in which the specified. He said that «nothing to do with them step by older brothers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the interests of the peoples of Gulf security and stability, but in different positions on the issues of reality outside the GCC».
What is worth paying attention to him that the Saudi-Qatari dispute is not confined to the advertiser of the reasons set out in the statement trio, there is a deep controversial issues dating back to 1913 when he decided to Abdul Aziz, the founder of the modern Saudi state, append the Qatar Al-Ahsa province, after the occupation. Abdul Aziz did not recognize the limits of Qatar only after two years under pressure from Britain and across the political agent approved. Despite the signing of the agreement the border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in 1965, sent a recent morning of September 30, 1992 military contingent to control the center Alkhvos border, against the backdrop of tribal gathering in the disputed areas between the two countries, where members of the tribe once distributed in these areas. After the frustration of the military coup in Qatar in 1995, revealed the Qatari government for details related to the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the coup in collaboration with some members of the tribe, and led to a drop of hundreds of tribe, nationality each time and displacement. Intermittent periods of calm between Doha and Riyadh, is soon to witness a setback and acute tension, as happened after the broadcast channel «island» television program in 2002 about the history of Saudi Arabia to host personalities Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and criticism candid King Abdul Aziz, has led to the withdrawal of the Saudi ambassador in Doha Hamad Saleh Taimi for six years. She returned the relations between Riyadh and Doha to normal after a visit by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with the former Crown Prince Sultan in March 2008. Has been appointed new Saudi ambassador in Doha. During the period of estrangement between Riyadh and Doha, held the last broad alliances with Syria, Iran and the resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon, and has succeeded in becoming a regional player active where nursed more than one project reconciliation, Lebanese, and Yemeni, and Palestinian, and Arab countries, with Saudi Arabia adheres to what they think really exclusively its foreign policy in the management of the Gulf. In any case, the dispute between Riyadh and Doha’s just that erupted once again on the back of differing attitudes towards the Israeli aggression on Gaza in December 2008 in January 2009, and the pursuit of Qatar to hold an emergency Arab summit in Doha in terms of the formation of a common Arab position and pressure on the Security Council International to force the Israelis to stop the aggression, but Saudi Arabia boycotted the summit.
In May 2010 has improved relations between the two countries, and responded to the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad, to ask King Abdullah to pardon a number of Saudis involved in the coup attempt that took place in 1995.
With the start of the Arab spring, it seemed what could be described as an alliance of necessity between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC countries in general face the repercussions of the popular movement, which was approaching the edge of the Gulf. With the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, has seen the relationship Qatari Saudi phase of unprecedented cooperation and coordination in the context of the project to support the opposition in all its forms for the overthrow of the regime, at a time when Qatar continues its support for the government (Brotherhood) in Egypt, was not satisfactory to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Remains Mattiyan are the most dangerous in a relationship Arabia Qatar: the first diagonal, a leak of a phone call between the Qatari Foreign Minister, former Hamad bin Jassim with President former Libyan Muammar Gaddafi in January 2011 about the idea of ​​dividing Saudi Arabia, where he spoke former Minister Hamad plan «ending Saudi Arabia and Qatar on his hand and will enter the present day to Qatif and Eastern King Abdullah … and that poor, simple interface, and is the de facto ruler Saud al-Faisal, and it is infinite and beyond will be divided into several areas of Saudi Arabia ». He described bin Jassim system in Saudi Arabia as a «system pyramid». He disclosed that «America and Britain had asked him to report on the situation in Saudi Arabia, and have expressed to him their intention to overthrow the monarchy there, but they fear the alternative would be an Islamic undesirable».
Given the other, is a declaration provocative launched by the Chief of General Intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Bandar bin Sultan, when he described Qatar as «300 people and the channel, and this is not a country», and came at a time when it decided to Saudi Arabia grab the Syrian file Qataris and Turks together, and then came the planning and financing military coup in Egypt cover popular on June 30 (June 2013) and let loose a blow to ally Qatar, any «brothers», and the entry of the new ruling in Egypt in disputes with Qatar on background standing with ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and the rule generally. Dispute the Saudi-Qatari take on new dimensions, especially after the Friday sermon delivered by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in the Mosque of Omar ibn al-Khattab in Doha after retreats as long as three weeks, which show the position of the UAE about what is happening in Egypt after the overthrow of the rule of «brothers», where he added a new element Saudi-Qatari in dispute. Threats Saudi Arabia did not give the result was not deterred from Qatar to continue its policy toward the new reality in Egypt, which it sees as a coup led by the military and supported by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and believes that the positions of Sheikh Qaradawi in line with the general political line of the leadership of the country. Now it has carried out Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE, Bahrain, the first threats against Qatar, which is expected from the recent reaction to the Saudi demand to abide by the pledge, and, if stuck Doha positions, there are situations escalate unexpected, although the available data, and as suggested by the language of the statement of the Council of Ministers the country does not According to decline by Doha. There is no doubt that Qatar face great challenges, but they are still able to mobilize the power of the elements from more than one place, through political repositioning, and the settlement of past differences with the countries that were allied. In the end, the political situation, regional and international non-stable and rapid shift opens the door to many possibilities.

Ukrainian Armor and New Nazi “National Guard” Take-Up Positions Along Russian Border

Tensions rise as Ukraine’s military hardware pulls up to eastern border with Russia

 
Russia-Today
 
March 16, 2014 21:30

 
Ukrainian tanks take part in a military exercise near Kharkiv March 14, 2014 (Reuters / Stringer)

Ukrainian tanks take part in a military exercise near Kharkiv March 14, 2014 (Reuters / Stringer)

 

Ukrainian heavy military equipment, including armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles are heading towards the Russian border, while the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk are protesting the entry of Ukrainian military hardware.

Residents have uploaded various videos of the heavy military equipment moving through the eastern Ukrainian regions. The process triggered protests which erupted in the cities of Kharkov, Donetsk and Lugansk.

On Thursday local activists of Lugansk and Donetsk regions blocked the columns carrying the military equipment. Near Donetsk, the Donbas people’s militia forced the Ukrainian troops to turn around, while in Lugansk the activists stopped the columns, setting up a 24-hour patrol guarding the military equipment and preventing its further movement.

In addition the tensions in the east are escalated by the partial closure of the border, which was admitted by Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs.

“To date, the border with the Russian Federation is practically blocked. This raises tensions in Kharkov and Lugansk in particular. This is because the Border and National Guard are blocking passage from Russia [to Ukraine] of civilians with questionable intentions,” said Arsen Avakov.

There have been concerns that the recently formed National Guard, the custodian of the coup-imposed government, may be used to suppress the rising discontent of eastern Ukrainians with the coup-appointed authorities in Kiev. The Guard which is comprised of former and current Ukrainian troops and volunteers from Maidan self-defense squads.

According to Avakov, from 10 to 15 thousand people are to be mobilized to the Guard till the end of March.

“We suppose that the mobilization will involve all of the Ukrainian territory in figures of 10 to 15 thousand and will be carried out in the next 15 days,” he said on Sunday at a government session.

When it is fully formed the Guard will be comprised of 60,000 men and women appointed by the Verhovnaya Rada upon the recommendation of the acting president Turchinov.

Meanwhile, most of the US financial assistance to Ukraine will focus on the formation and maintenance of the new military, said a source from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense as cited by Itar-Tass.

“Kiev is not planning to fund the army or navy which are in a deplorable state,” the source said. “The high status of the National Guard, along with the rights for oversight of military commanders significantly reduces the prestige of the army and navy, giving them a minor role. Thus, the Ukrainian government leaves the issue of strong national defense of the state, making a bet on the suppression of domestic political nonconformity.”

Crimea’s regional assembly has officially applied to become part of Russia

A man fills out registration papers before casting his vote in a mobile ballot box during voting in a referendum in the village of Pionerskoye, near Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 16, 2014.

Crimea Applies to Join Russia

voa

VOA News

March 17, 2014

Crimea’s regional assembly has officially applied to become part of Russia, a day after a referendum in southern Ukraine overwhelmingly supported joining the Russian Federation. Crimea’s parliament approved the measure Monday.

The United States and its European allies are expected to announce sanctions Monday against Russia.

President Barack Obama told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin Sunday that Washington and its “European partners are prepared to impose additional costs” on Moscow for backing the secession referendum in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

A White House statement called Sunday’s referendum illegal and said it violates Ukraine’s constitution. It also said the vote will “never be recognized by the United States and the international community.”

Crimea’s election chief announced Monday that nearly 97 percent of the voters cast ballots supporting secession and a move to join Russia. However, those opposed to the move had been advised to boycott the referendum.

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk – speaking at an emergency cabinet meeting – called the Moscow-backed Crimea vote “a circus spectacle” directed at gunpoint by Russia.

An earlier White House statement said no decision should be made about the future of Ukraine without the Ukrainian national government.

It also said the presidential elections planned for May 25 will provide a legitimate opportunity for all Ukrainians to make their voices heard on the future of their country.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday agreed to push for Ukrainian constitutional reforms for power sharing and decentralization as a solution to the crisis.

The Duma set to act

Meanwhile, Russia’s lower house of parliament will pass legislation allowing Ukraine’s Crimea region to join Russia “in the very near future”, Interfax news agency quoted the chamber’s deputy speaker as saying on Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will respect the will of the people in Crimea, ignoring Western leaders who say the referendum was illegal because Russian forces have seized the southern region.

“The results of the referendum in Crimea clearly showed that residents of Crimea see their future only as part of Russia,” the deputy speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Neverov, was quoted as saying.

Duma officials claim the Black Sea peninsula can become a member of the Russian Federation under current legislation, specifically under a law “On the procedure for the adoption into the Russian Federation and education of new subjects of the Russian Federation” that was passed in 2001, Interfax said.

First, Crimea’s appeal to join Russia will be sent to Putin. If approved, Putin will then pass it to the upper and lower houses of parliament, which will work on a treaty to be signed between Russia and the new state.

Under the treaty, a transitional period could be set for the new subject to be integrated into Russia’s economic, financial, credit and legal systems.

Following its signing, Russia’s constitutional court should then verify the treaty. It should then be voted on by both houses of parliament, the Duma and the Federation Council.

“I do not think there will be any delays in considering these questions in either the State Duma or Federation Council. We are ready to pass all the required legal decisions as quickly as possible,” the Federation Council’s deputy speaker, Ilyas Umakhanov, told Rossiya-24 television.

Situation on the ground

In Kyiv, Ukraine’s acting defense minister told reporters that both Ukraine and Russia have agreed on a truce in Crimea until March 21.

Sunday’s vote came a day after Russian forces seized a natural gas facility just outside Crimean territory.  The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called the move “a military invasion by Russia.”

Ukraine provides the peninsula with all of its water and energy needs, and some analysts say the seizure may be aimed at ensuring the peninsula’s energy requirements are met in the event Kyiv were to cut off supplies.

Crimea is a primarily ethnic-Russian region within Ukraine.  Moscow says it has the right to protect the interests of ethnic Russians in Crimea.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday Russian forces have seized the Ukrainian village of Strilkove, near the Crimean border.

There are no reports of shots being fired, but the ministry called the takeover an “invasion” and demands that Russian soldiers leave.  Ukrainian border guards say the Russians are guarding a gas pumping station in the town.

Reactions in Kyiv

Thousands of Ukrainians gathered in central Kyiv Sunday to voice opposition to the referendum and what the perceive as Moscow’s moves to divide the Ukraine.

But the mood was somber as many Ukrainians feel helpless against Russia’s might and military superiority, many fearing a further escalation of tensions.

Irina, a restaurant manager who only gave her first name, said Crimea’s fate likely was already decided in Moscow.

She said none of this was right. This could have been done in a nice way, in an honest way, she said. This could have been done in a constitutionally correct way. And it seems to me, she said, everyone would have agreed to that.

Moscow claims it is protecting ethnic Russians from persecution by Ukrainian “extremists” who it says illegitimately came to power after months of anti-government protests.

Another Kyiv resident, Ira, who also only gave her first name, said she had nothing against Russians.

She said she loves and respects the Russian people as much as Ukrainians, but not their government. She expressed hope that everything ends well, everyone becomes united, and that Crimea remains with Ukraine.

VOA’s Daniel Schearf contribited to this report from Kyiv. Some of this report was contributed by Reuters.

Iraqi Terrorists Murder Wife and Children of Local Chief of Anbar “Awakening”

Militants attack Iraq anti-Qaeda leader, kill four

daily star LEB

People inspect the aftermath of a car bomb explosion at a commercial street in al-Ameen district in southeastern Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

People inspect the aftermath of a car bomb explosion at a commercial street in al-Ameen district in southeastern Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

SAMARRA, Iraq: Heavily-armed militants attacked the home of an anti-Qaeda militiaman north of Baghdad Sunday, killing and decapitating his wife and two sons and killing another person in a brutal pre-dawn assault.

The militia leader, Abu Salim, was not in the house at the time of the attack, which involved more than a dozen vehicles and fighters armed with heavy machine guns and other weapons and also left two of his young sons wounded.

Fighters attacked the militia leader’s house in Jilam, a suburb of the predominantly Sunni city of Samarra, at around midnight on Saturday, and killed Abu Salim’s wife, two sons and another woman, a police colonel and another officer said.

They then decapitated his wife and two sons, and set off explosives around the house, injuring two other sons, aged four and five.

Policemen at a nearby checkpoint attempted to repel the assault, the officers said, but were unsuccessful and fled the scene when they ran out of ammunition and reinforcements that they had radioed for failed to arrive.

Abu Salim is the leader in Jilam of the Sahwa, or Awakening, a collection of mostly- Sunni tribal militias that from late-2006 onwards sided with US forces against their co-religionists in Al-Qaeda, helping turn the tide of Iraq’s insurgency.

But as a result, they are regarded by Sunni militants as traitors, and are regularly targeted in attacks.

In the Baghdad area on Sunday, meanwhile, a bombing and two shootings killed three people, security and medical officials said.

The latest bloodshed came a day after five car bombs were set off in commercial areas of the Iraqi capital, killing 15 people and wounding more than 50 others.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, but Sunni militants, including those linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadist group, are often blamed for carrying out coordinated mass-casualty bombings.

Iraq is grappling with its worst prolonged period of violence since it emerged from a bloody sectarian war that left tens of thousands dead in 2006-07.

More than 250 people have been killed already this month, according to an AFP tally.

Analysts and diplomats have urged the Shiite-led government to reach out to the Sunni community, who allege they are mistreated by the government and security forces.

But with elections looming on April 30, political leaders have been loath to be seen to compromise.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has instead singled out Saudi Arabia and Qatar, accusing the two Gulf states of backing militant groups and effectively waging war on Iraq.

He told France 24 in an interview this month that Riyadh and Doha provide political, financial and media support to militant groups, and also accused the Saudis of supporting global “terrorism”.

EU Leaders, Ukrainian Nazi Leader Plans to Destroy Pipelines That Carry Your Gas

Right Sector leader: Kiev should be ready to sabotage Russian pipelines in Ukraine

Russia-Today

Dmytro Yarosh.(Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

Dmytro Yarosh.(Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

The leader of ultranationalist group Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, has threatened to destroy Russian pipelines on Ukrainian territory if a diplomatic solution is not reached with Moscow.

In a fiery address loaded warmongering rhetoric, Yarosh told his followers they should be ready to resist the Russian “occupiers.” The leader of the Right Sector made his address to the coup-appointed government in Kiev, as Crimeans made their way to ballots Sunday to vote to join with Russia or to remain within Ukraine.

“We cannot allow the enemy to carry out a blitzkrieg attack on Ukrainian territory. We mustn’t forget that Russia makes money sending its oil through our pipelines to the West. We will destroy these pipelines and deprive our enemy of its source of income,” Yarosh said.

Continuing the bellicose rhetoric, Yarosh appealed to his followers, urging them to take up arms against Russia, if a diplomatic solution cannot be reached.

Yarosh said that Crimea was too small to satisfy the appetite of the “Russian Empire,” and that the Kremlin would seek to take over the whole of Ukraine.

“Let the ground burn under the feet of the occupiers! Let them choke on their own blood when they attack our territory! Not one step back! We will not allow Moscow’s beserk, totalitarian regime to spark a Third World War!”

The phrase “Not one step back!” was used in a famous order by Joseph Stalin during WWII and became a popular slogan for the Soviet people’s resistance against the Nazis. Yarosh’s use of this particular rhetoric attracted attention from many observers, given that the members of his Right Sector group are known to use Nazi insignia.

Malaysian Investigators Focus Upon Politically-Active Pilot Zaharies

Missing MH370: Flight captain a “political fanatic,” reports Daily Mail

THE STAR, MALAYSIA

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Zaharie with the simulator which he built at home

zaharie-ahmad-shah flight simulator

PETALING JAYA: With the focus back on the crew and passengers of missing Flight MH370 after fears were raised of a hijacking, police are looking further into the background of flight captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

Intelligence sources said the investigations would include political and religions leanings of the two pilots, and the travel pattern of all on board. The probe would also include their hobbies and behaviour with their friends.

The Mail on Sunday  has learned that Zaharie was an ‘obsessive’ supporter of Malaysia’s opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

And hours before the doomed flight left Kuala Lumpur it is understood 53-year-old Zaharie attended a controversial trial in which Ibrahim was jailed for five years, it said.

Police sources confirmed to the daily that Zaharie was a vocal political activist and fear that the court decision left him profoundly upset.

It was against this background that, seven hours later, he took control of a Boeing 777-200 bound for Beijing and carrying 238 passengers and crew.

Police on Saturday searched Zaharie’s house in the upmarket Kuala Lumpur suburb of Shah Alam, where he had installed a home-made flight simulator.

But this newspaper can reveal that investigators had already spent much of last week examining two laptops removed from Zaharie’s home. One is believed to contain data from the simulator.

Confirming rising fears, Malaysia’s prime minister announced that MH370 was deliberately steered off course after its communication system was switched off.
He said it headed west over the Malaysian seaboard and could have flown for another seven hours on its fuel reserves.

Military radar showed the jet climbed to 45,000ft – above its service limit – which could have been a deliberate attempt to knock out the passengers and crew.

The raids on Zaharie’s home appeared stage-managed as a display of intent after the Prime Minister said the focus of the investigation was now on ‘crew and passengers’ as a result of the latest leads.

But investigators have told the Daily Mail on Sunday inquiries into the background of the pilot actually began days earlier.

Malaysian police, helped by FBI agents from the US, are looking into the political and religious backgrounds of both Zaharie and his co-pilot. Zaharie’s home was sealed off as police spent an hour inside.

However, a senior investigation source said two laptops were taken from the property in low-key visits by police early last week despite a series of denials by officials that his home had been searched or raided.

One laptop taken away is thought to contain data from the flight simulator while a second contained little information.

Zaharie’s personal laptop was not found, and is thought to have been with him in the cockpit of the plane, the source said.

Zaharie’s co-workers have told investigators the veteran pilot was a social activist who was vocal and fervent in his support of Anwar.

“Colleagues made it clear to us that he was someone who held strong political beliefs and was strident in his support for Anwar Ibrahim,’ another investigation source said.

“We were told by one colleague he was obsessed with politics.”

In their interviews, colleagues said Zaharie told them he planned to attend the court case involving Anwar on March 7, just hours before the Beijing flight, but investigators had not yet been able to confirm if he was among the crowd of Anwar supporters at court.

Zaharie is believed to be separated or divorced from his wife although they share the same house, close to Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.

They have three children, but no family members were at home: only the maid has remained there.

In the days after Flight MH370 disappeared, Zaharie was affectionately described as a good neighbour and an eccentric ‘geek’ who had a flight simulator at home simply because he loved his work so much.

Malaysian officials initially appeared keen not to direct any suspicion towards Zaharie or his co-pilot, 27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid, who was last week revealed to have invited two women passengers into the cockpit and smoked on an earlier flight to Phuket.

But evidence of the way the plane’s transponder and communication systems were disabled and the way the plane was expertly flown over the Indian Ocean apparently using navigational waypoints meant only a skilled aviator could have been at the controls.

Investigators were also baffled by why, if hijackers took over the plane, there was no Mayday call or signal from the two pilots to say the cockpit had been breached.

At Saturdays’s press conference, the suspicion over the pilot’s involvement mounted as prime minister Najib said that investigators had found ‘deliberate action’ on board the plane resulted in it changing course and losing contact with ground crews.

As a result of the new information, Malaysian authorities had ‘refocused their investigation on crew and passengers aboard’, he said.

Police sealed off the area surrounding Zaharie’s home and searched the house shortly after the press conference.

The revelations about Zaharie’s political affiliations are highly sensitive in a country where political dirty tricks are widespread.

One of the investigation sources said: “We are looking into the theory that Zaharie’s political beliefs may be a factor. There are huge sensitivities surrounding this but we cannot afford not to pursue any angle brought to our attention.”

Separately, a police source told the Mail on Sunday: “I can confirm our investigations include the political and religious leanings of both pilots.”

Zaharie joined Malaysia  Airlines in 1981. He became a captain about 10 years later and has clocked up 18,360 hours of flying experience.

Pakistan Feels Safe To Whitewash Its Mad Dog Terrorist Babies

[This is Pakistan playing its part in the Great Saudi Plan—to rehabilitate the images of some of its terrorist babies, otherwise known as “al-Qaeda,” “Jundullah” and “TTP.”  This corresponds with the Syrian component of the Great Plan, the alleged Saudi “disengagement” from the so-called “Islamists.”  In order for the Saudis to deploy their alleged “Army of Mohammed” (or whatever the latest bullshit title that they have been given), they need ALL of their little “Frankenstein” monsters to enlist in the great cause.  The Saudis are calling-in all of their Islamist “I.O.U.s.”

This latest Pak Army psyop, to sanitize the Pakistani Taliban, and now Jundullah and the ever popular “al-Qaeda,” allegedly under the cover of a “cease fire” with all of these veteran Army/terrorist groups, is explicitly coordinated with bombings by this new “splinter group,” called “Ahrar-ul-Hind.”  

“Oh look…those terrorists can’t be TTP or al-qaeda, since they are negotiating “PEACE.”

This strategy is “getting old,” because the Pak Army has used this strategy so often, to feign “deniability,” simply by renaming the group. 

Most of these elements are actually IMU terrorists, rebranded over and over, since being relocated to S. Waziristan by the CIA and ISI, in the legendary Kunduz airlift (SEE: The Getaway, by Seymour M. Hersh).

This has always been the way it works—whenever military “proxy militias” (terrorists) either become outdated, or too hot to handle, because of negative press, then the hardcore nucleus of the group is saved, or “airlifted-out” by CIA affiliates, in order to regroup with a new name and new funding.  The “bad guys” are now defunct, according to the official lies  (SEE: Pak. Army Slowly Building New “Pakistani Taliban” Cover StoryIslamabad: TTP leaders evacuated by mysterious airliftsBritish Relocating Insurgents from Helmand to Kunduz, Let the Germans Deal With Them ).

Pakistan is, and shall forever remain, the primary outlet for CIA terrorism, and all of that manufactured terror is committed by trained military professionals.]

Al-Qaida, Jundullah, announce ceasefire in Pakistan

the nation pakistan
 Al-Qaida, Jundullah, announce ceasefire in Pakistan

Peshawar- After Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), two more militant groups have agreed over ceasefire for a limited time in Pakistan, according to local media quoting sources reported today.

The talks between Taliban Shura and the dialogue committee in North Waziristan bearing fruit, some analysts claim.

Two militant outfits,  Al-Qaida and Jundullah, have agreed over ceasefire in Pakistan, in a joint meeting held somewhere in Afghanistan.

Commander of Jundullah militant outfit, who had claimed an attack in Peshawar cinema, has announced that al-Qaida and Jundullah groups have suspended terrorist attacks in Pakistan for a limited time period.

Commander Ahmed Marwat said that the decision was made in a joint meeting of the two militant groups in Afghanistan, which was also attended by al-Qaida leader Ahmed Yahya Ghaden.

The groups have ceased their operations in Pakistan for a limited time-span, reports said.

It’s Official, MH370 Hijacked–Thailand calls off search for missing Malaysian jet

by Arun George
8.53 pm: Thailand calls off search for missing Malaysian jet Thailand today called off its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea after Malaysian Premier said hunt for the aircraft will shift to two new destinations. Navy commander Adm Narong Pipattanasai ordered the search to stop after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed that flight MH370 had changed its course to a new destination, including Kazhakistan and southern Indian ocean, Thai navy spokesman Adm Karn Dee-ubon said here. But the navy still directed four ships – HTMS Pattani, HTMS Tapi, HTMS Songkhla and HTMS Sattahip – to stand ready in case the Malaysian government needed help for another search, said Rear Adm Karn. “Our most updated information in the radar system was in Hat Yai in southern Thailand where the air force detected MH370 flying out of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. That was the first and last time we detected MH370,” air force spokesman AM Monthon Sutchukorn said. 6.54 pm: Signals from MH370 received by satellite firm may help search A British satellite communications company today said it had recorded electronic ping signals from the missing Malaysian aircraft which could be analysed to help estimate its location. As the hunt for Flight MH370 remained inconclusive, the information from Inmarsat could prove to be a valuable break in the frustrating search for the plane with 239 people aboard that mysteriously vanished from radar screens last week. Inmarsat described the communication signals from the plane as “routine” and “automated”, without disclosing any details regarding the timing of the signals in relation to the aircraft’s disappearance on 8 March. Inmarsat said in a statement that it handed the information to communications specialist SITA which, it adds, has shared the data with the airline. It has not stated which satellites were involved. Inmarsat operates about 10 geostationary satellites through which it handles satcom datalink transmissions including those from the aeronautical sector. 4.14 pm: Bangladesh joins search for missing Malaysian jet Bangladesh today joined international search operations to trace the missing Malaysian plane by deploying frigates and aircraft in its exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal. In line with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s directive, two patrol aircraft and two navy frigates — BNS Omar Faruque and BNS Bangabandhu — have joined the search, primarily to look for the aircraft in Bangladesh’s exclusive economic zone, a defence ministry spokesman told PTI. Bangladesh decided to join the search for the missing Flight MH370 with 14 other countries in view of emerging possibilities that the plane could be tracked down in the Bay of Bengal, he said. Replying to a question, the official said no time limit was issued for the duration of the campaign. The decision came amid reports suggesting that faint electronic signals sent to satellites from the missing aircraft show it might have been flown thousands 3.19 pm: Malaysian cops raid house of missing jet’s captain Malaysian police today went to the house of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the missing flight MH370, minutes after Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that investigators will refocus on the crew and passengers of the aircraft that disappeared eight days ago. Two police officers went to 53-year-old Capt Zaharie’s house in the suburb of Shah Alam here, officials said, without further elaborating. Zaharie, a pilot with 18,365 flight hours under his belt, is reportedly also a flight instructor. He has been in the news after the mysterious disappearance of the plane on March 8. The questions have been raised in the media over a flight simulator found at his home. The move came hours after Prime Minister Najib said the missing aircraft’s communication system and the transponder were switched off deliberately “by someone on the plane”. He stopped short of saying the plane had been hijacked. Zaharie and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, were among the 12-member crew of the plane with 227 passengers on board including five Indians and one Indian-origin Canadian. Outside of aviation, he had a YouTube channel dedicated to DIY projects, where he told viewers how to fix home appliances like air-conditioners. 11.51 am: Press conference of Malaysian PM begins Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s press conference begins. He thanks the multi-national search effort, says this has been an unprecedented event. “We followed every credible lead, sometimes they led nowhere,” he says. “There has been intense speculation. We understand the desperate need for information on behalf of the families and those watching. But we have a responsibility to the investigation and families to release the information that has been corroborated,” he adds. “Data showed that the plane went north of the Straits of Malacca and thus we extended search to the North, and later to Andaman Sea. Investigation authorities have briefed me on what happened to the flight. Based on new satellite communication, with a high-degree of certainty, we can say that aircraft’s communication system was disabled. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysia and Vietnamese air space, the plane’s transponder was switched off. Malaysia Airforce’s data showed that an aircraft believed to be MH370 flew in the opposite direction,” he says. “These movements are consistent with deliberate action from someone on the plane,” says the PM. “Plane lost communication with satellites. We believe it was flown was in two possible corridors. One in the corridor of North Kazakhstan to Turkmenistan and second from Indonesia to South Indian Ocean. We have also stopped our search operations in South China sea,” he added. He refuses to confirm hijacking claims but says it is still being explored. It should be noted that he has not denied the report of hijacking either. The press conference has vastly expanded the search area. Once again nothing conclusive has been revealed in the press conference. 11.30 am: Malaysia PM’s press conference set to begin The Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is set to host a press conference to give the latest update on the missing MH370 plane. Here’s what is being speculated about the plane for now: 1) Hijack is no longer a theory, it is being looked upon as a conclusive event. According to Associated Press one of the investigators has confirmed that the MH370 was indeed hijacked. This is based on the fact that the plane few on for four hours in the opposite direction. 2) Search in the Indian Ocean has found nothing for now. 3) Search in the Indian Ocean won’t be an easy task for the teams given the depth of the Ocean and the vast expanse. There’s also a fear that high winds and currents could have swept the debris far away. 4) Plane might have run out of fuel in the Indian Ocean. Another report from Reuters said that the plane could have run out of fuel in the Indian Ocean and then crashed. 11.08 am: Indian search finds no trace of Malaysian plane Indian navy ships supported by surveillance planes and helicopters are scouring Andaman Sea islands for a third day without any success in finding evidence of a missing Malaysia Airlines jet, reports Associated Press. VSR Murthy, a top Indian coast guard official, says the search has been expanded farther west into the Bay of Bengal on Saturday. Nearly a dozen ships, patrol vessels, surveillance aircraft and helicopters have been deployed but Murthy says, “We have got nothing so far.” Screengrab of Malaysian Press conference. Screengrab of Malaysian Press conference. Seeing no headway, Malaysian authorities suggested Friday a new search area of 9,000 square kilometers (3,474 square miles) to India along the Chennai coast in the Bay of Bengal, India’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. 10.30 am: Malaysian hijacking theory: Why it’s not an easy task to pull off According to Associated Press reports, investigators have all but confirmed that the plane was indeed hijacked given that it was deliberately flown in the opposite direction. The search for the missing plane has now been expanded into the Indian ocean, which is not an easy task, given the vastness of the Ocean and the sheer depth. As far as pulling off a hijacking is concerned, it still remains highly implausible. Avoiding both air-traffic controllers, military radars are all highly difficult tasks and would require extreme skill on part of the concerned hijackers. Scott Shankland, an American Airlines pilot who spent several years as a co-pilot on Boeing 777s, told Associated Pres,a captain would know how to disable radios and the plane’s other tracking systems. “But a hijacker, even one trained to fly a plane, “would probably be hunting and pecking quite a while — ‘Do I pull this switch? Do I pull that?’ You could disable a great deal” of the tracking equipment, “but possibly not all of it.” Experts feel that this a case of a hijacking gone bad. However the fact that no one has claimed responsibility and no motive has been determined, adds to the confusion. Hopefully the Malaysian PM’s press conference will make the picture clearer today. 10.15 am: Malaysian PM holding emergency press conference Malaysian PM will hold an emergency press conference today shortly. He is likely to give updates on the fact that the plane was indeed hijacked. 10:00 am: Investigators conclude flight was hijacked Investigators have concluded that one or more people with significant flying experience hijacked the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, switched off communication devices and steered it off-course, a Malaysian government official involved in the investigation said on Saturday, according to an Associated Press report. No motive has been established and no demands have been made known, and it is not yet clear where the plane was taken, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media. The official said that hijacking was no longer a theory. “It is conclusive,” he said. He said evidence that led to the conclusion were signs that the plane’s communications were switched off deliberately, data about the flight path and indications the plane was steered in a way to avoid detection by radar. 8.00 am: Investigators looking at foul play The mystery of the missing Malaysian flight is now continuing for the the second week and according to reports from Reuters, the investigators are now seriously exploring the question of foul play. Evvidence suggests it was deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course, sources familiar with the Malaysian probe told Reuters. Two sources told Reuters that military radar data showed an unidentified aircraft that investigators suspect was Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 following a commonly used navigational route toward the Middle East and Europe when it was last spotted early on March 8, northwest of Malaysia. That course – headed into the Andaman Sea and towards the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean – could only have been set deliberately, either by flying the Boeing 777-200ER jet manually or by programming the auto-pilot. Another report from Reuters adds that the plane could have run out of fuel in the Indian Ocean. If this did happen, then finding the plane will be a tricky task. The Indian Ocean with depths of more than 7,000 metres (23,000 feet) is likely to add difficulties to the task faced by searchers Winds and currents could shift any surface debris tens of nautical miles within hours. End of updates for 14 March

Putin adviser threatens U.S. with currency war

Putin adviser threatens U.S. with currency war

Die_Welt_Logo

Sharp words from Russia: economist Sergei Glazyev railed against possible sanctions from the West – they would reduce dependence “to zero” and bring the dollar to crash from.


Die Stimmung zwischen US-Präsident Barack Obama und Russlands Präsidenten Wladimir Putin dürfte mittlerweile noch schlechter sein als bei diesem G8-Treffen in 2013

Photo: REUTERS The mood between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin should now be even worse than this G8 meeting in 2013


A senior advisor to the Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the United States against serious economic consequences for another confrontation. Indirectly, he threatened the Americans to a war economy.

Would the United States in the wake of tensions over the Crimea “impose sanctions against Russia, Moscow may be forced to drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to repay loans to U.S. banks,” said the economist Sergei Glazyev.

Also could go on to accept dollar payments over Russia. Instead, you could be the country build its own clearing system with its partners in the east and south, and develop “wonderful trade and economic relations.”

“We will not only find a way to reduce our dependence on the United States to zero, but also a great benefit to ourselves to draw from,” Glazyev said the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Throw U.S. government bonds on the market

Although called the Kremlin’s statements of economic expert later a “private opinion”, such statements from the realm of President Putin, however, often used specifically in Russia, to stake out foreign policy positions.

Glazyev, considered a hardliner and propagandist and Moscow already called in Ukraine about a hard-line stance, went even further: In response to Western sanctions, the government in Moscow should recommend companies and individuals to their U.S. government bonds on the market throw.

These sales were in the U.S. currency a severe blow. After word of Glazyev it might trigger a “crash” of the U.S. financial system by itself.

“The attempt to impose sanctions would, to the collapse of the U.S. financial system on use, and in the global financial system at the end of the hegemony of the United States,” he growled.

Russia holds the third largest foreign exchange reserves

The end of 2013 Russia stopped American debt (Treasuries) worth $ 139 billion, as is apparent from data of the U.S. Treasury. The core state of the former Soviet Union is among the ten largest creditor nations in the United States.

Russia also has the fourth largest foreign exchange reserves in the world. Much of the $ 470 billion that identifies the central bank as a foreign currency holdings are, according to experts invested in dollar-denominated assets.

More potential threat arises from the fact that Russia’s huge energy exports could settle in a currency other than the dollar in the future. That would endanger the role of the dollar as the main trading currency in the world.

However, such announcements are not new. In 2008, Vladimir Putin had agreed to no longer accept dollars for Russian oil and gas.

The ruble has lost much of its value against the euro

Observers such as the American author Jim Richards even speculate that Russia could build his rubles to a new world currency based on gold, to undermine the dominance of the dollar.

To date, such efforts are, however, fizzled. The Russian ruble is far from being a universally recognized currency trading. The euro has lost sight of twelve months, almost 20 percent of its value.

The dominance of the U.S. currency continues unabated. Most recently, he was, according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in more than 80 percent of all foreign exchange transactions involved.

The U.S. dollar since the Second World War, the undisputed trading currency in which the vast majority of the raw materials will be billed.

The dollar also provides good two-thirds of global foreign exchange reserves, which amounted to the end of 2013 to 11.7 trillion dollars.

Merkel’s Minions Promise Impossible “Remedy” To Gazprom Cut-Off for Non-Payment

[Reversing the flow of gas from Europe to Ukraine in a system designed for one-way flow is impossible, without major pipeline construction, not to mention all of the new compressor stations necessary to create a reverse back-pressure, sufficient to send volumes of rerouted Russian gas back to Ukraine.  It would probably take a year or more to attempt such a feat, which the Ukrainian side will probably “stiff” the EU for, as they have been somewhat able to do with Gazprom.   Sending American “fracking gas” to Ukraine, or anywhere else, will not happen before late 2015, at the absolute earliest, when new American Gas liquefaction plants are completed.  In addition to these US compressor plants, Ukraine could not add frack gas back into its distribution system without first building its own LPN terminals, a construction project which takes years…after first clearing the mountains of international and national laws governing such energy projects.

If Ukraine forces another gas cut-off, NO ONE WILL RIDE TO THEIR RESCUE.]

EU leaders draw up plans to send gas to Ukraine if Russia cuts off supply

guardian

Europe braced for possible battle with Moscow after Gazprom threatens to cut off gas supply if Ukraine does not pay bill

EU leaders are rapidly drawing up plans to send some of their stocks of Russian gas back to Ukraine and other eastern European countries that need it, if Vladimir Putin reacts to western sanctions over the Crimea crisis by starving the continent of energy.

Russia’s largest gas producer, Gazprom, said on Friday that Kiev had missed a deadline to pay $440m for gas received in February and threatened to cut off the country’s supply if it did not make the payment.

Gazprom provides Ukraine with around half its gas, and other countries in eastern and southern Europe, including Poland and Greece, reportedly have low stocks of gas.

Although Gazprom said the threat to Kiev would not affect the supply to the rest of Europe, western leaders are steeling themselves for a possible battle with Moscow over energy supplies. At least half of the Russian gas that is piped to Europe passes through Ukraine.

Gazprom last cut off supplies to Ukraine in early 2009, leading to a slump in the supply of Russian gas to Europe. “Either Ukraine makes good on its debt and pays for current supplies, or there is risk of returning to the situation of early 2009,” Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Friday, adding that Ukraine now owed $1.89bn in unpaid bills.

The move to consider reversing Russian gas flows comes amid growing pressure in Washington to exploit the huge boom in US gas – extracted through fracking technologies – to begin global exports, providing a counter-weight to Moscow’s influence.

Although it is the largest producer of natural gas, the US does not currently export its supplies, and the construction of a handful of export terminals will not be completed until at least 2015. But Barack Obama’s administration considering moves to accelerate a drive to export its energy, weakening Putin’s leverage in the future.

In Brussels on Thursday, European leaders engaged in detailed discussions about the feasibility of switching the flow of gas in eastern Europe’s pipelines. Storage reserves in Europe, particularly Germany and Hungary, which have ample supplies, could be used to pump gas back towards Ukraine.

José Manuel Barroso, the president of European Commission, said energy security was an early priority for Ukraine, adding: “We are looking in the short term at the gas transmission network to ensure that reverse flows with the European Union are fully operational.”

A project to modernise Ukraine’s gas transmission infrastructure forms part of the EU’s $15bn promised aid package to Kiev, with an initial loan possible in the near future. A European Commission memorandum specifically states it will seek to enable “reverse flows” of gas to Ukraine, ensuring they can be “operationalised as soon as possible”.

Such a move would likely occur first through Slovakia, and EU officials are pressing Slovakia and Ukraine to quickly sign an agreement that would enable gas to be piped in the opposite direction if the need emerges. Additional “reverse-flow corridors” could be introduced through Bulgaria and Romania, or Croatia and Hungary.

A senior German official briefed on Thursday’s meeting told the Guardian that Berlin was ready to help. “Our gas storage tanks are well filled after a mild winter and we stand ready to assist Ukraine in securing its energy supply including working on reserve flows.”

However, European officials and energy experts concede there are doubts over whether it would be technically possible to transfer sufficient gas through the continent, west to east, if Russia decided to restrict its supplies for a significant period of time. While short-term assistance through the summer months could help, western Europe would not have the capacity to supply neighbours in the east for an extended period of time.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one senior executive said reversing gas flows would be an extremely complex move. “This is not easy to do. Certainly the Gazprom export pipeline is built to move gas only in one direction, and it would involve a lot of time and money to reconfigure for imports,” the executive said. “You would also have to get the agreement of dozens of commercial and other organisations. It is not going to happen.”

Europe imported 155bn cubic metres (bcm) of gas from Russia in 2013, about 30% of its overall gas demand, according to Wood Mackenzie, an Edinburgh-based energy consultancy. Ukraine is the key transit route for Russian gas to Europe, with around 50% piped through the country in 2013.

Gazprom insists exports remain stable, and is desperate to avoid a repeat of the Russia-Ukraine “gas wars” of 2006, 2008 and 2009.

In Washington, there is a growing appetite to retaliate against Russia with a long-term, strategic acceleration in energy exports. Exporting US gas obtained through fracking would be controversial among environmentalists, Democrats, and US industries reliant on cheap energy, the price of which would be expected to rise if supplies were being piped abroad.

Republicans, backed by gas producers such as ExxonMobil, have for years been pushing to dramatically increase gas production to enable export trade, and are using the crisis in Crimea to argue for swift action by the Obama administration.

US gas production is projected to rise 44% by 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and producers have been pressing the Obama administration to expand exports of natural gas.

The Republican leader of the House, John Boehner, used an an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Friday to call on Obama to “dramatically expand production of American-made energy” and make US supplies of natural gas available to global markets.

The Department of Energy as approved six applications to export domestically approved applications for terminals to export liquefied gas; five are in Texas and Louisiana, and one in Maryland. A further 24 applications are pending and Boehner and other top Republicans are calling on the administration to expedite their approval. “The ability to turn the tables and put the Russian leader in check lies right beneath our feet, in the form of vast supplies of natural energy,” Boehner said.

The Obama administration appears receptive to moving to undercut Moscow’s hold over the energy sector. White House press secretary Jay Carney said this week that while the Department of Energy is approving terminal requests on a case-by-case basis, the US would look for ways to wean Ukraine from its “dependence on Russian gas”.

A senior US official said the State Department was supportive of introducing substantial gas exports abroad as a move to counteract Russia’s influence.

Carlos Pascual, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, told the New York Times that opening global markets to US exports “sends a clear signal that the global gas market is changing, that there is the prospect of much greater supply coming from other parts of the world”.

Yatsenyuk Fires Def. Ministers Who Block Arming Maidan “Militia”

Yats Purges Army To Increase Power of Neo-Nazis

larouch pac

As he was meeting with the EU heads of state/government and with NATO in Brussels, new Kiev Prime Minister Arseni “Yats” Yatsenyuk had three deputy defense ministers fired, to comply with an ultimatum posed by the Right Sector neo-Nazis that their forces needed equipment, arms, and ammunition. The fired generals had vehemently opposed that.

Itar-Tass quoted a source as saying that “the demand came from the Right Sector’s leader, Dmytro Yarosh. He claimed the enforcers’ ‘conservative approaches’ do not help restore order in the country and prevent anti-Maidan protests in the country’s eastern and southern regions.” Yarosh demanded “in the form of an ultimatum” armory and medical equipment, as well as military training centers, and if the government and the country leaders failed to abide by the demands, “Yarosh does not rule out that the Right Sector will participate in Ukraine’s fate more energetically,” a barely-veiled threat of yet another coup, the source added. On March 5, the parliament in Kiev also received a motion to grant Yarosh’s gangs the status of military units.

The three fired officials are First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Oleynik, and Deputy Defense Ministers Vladimir Mozharovsky and Arturo Francisco Babenko. According to the source, the three at a closed session of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday expressed sharp criticism over giving the Right Sector militants the status of regular military units.

“They stated that the legal adoption of this initiative would lead to a final split of the society and the country, and bring chaos into the operations of the state’s security agencies,” the source said. “One of these military officials at this session directly told Yatsenyuk that actions of today’s Kiev authorities that overtures with radical nationalist organizations strip Ukraine of chances to ensure national unity, and it is just harmful to involve the state military agency in such dangerous games.” Oleynik was replaced by a pro-Yarosh man, Petro Mekhed.

On Friday one of the few Right Sector figures who talks to the press, Yarosh’s long-time buddy Andriy Tarasenko, gave a press conference to announce the combat coalition’s political plans. The Kyiv Post reports that he said, “We are preparing for a congress, at which the party will be renamed, and we will participate in the elections in Kyiv, the elections in all local councils, towns and villages, and this means that Dmytro Yarosh will run for president of Ukraine.” Tarasenko declared, according to other reports on his press appearance, that “we remain the leaders of this revolution.” He complained that, so far, “there has been no reset of power. Only the names in the government offices have changed,” and he added, “We are mobilizing, we are preparing to react to foreign aggression.”

In other coup-continuation news, the Council of the Maidan has officially demanded that all cabinet ministers come to the Maidan (which is still in session round the clock, albeit with fewer people) to report on what they are going to do and receive the approval of the mob.

Iraq Under Seige from Sunni Death Squads

Suicide car bombing, attack kill at least 42 in Iraq

christian science

A suicide bombing at a security checkpoint killed at least 36 people, and wounded 115 in Hillah Iraq during rush hour. Just outside Baghdad an attack by militants killed six.

By Sinan SalaheddinAssociated Press

Fire fighters and civilians inspect the site of a massive bomb attack in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday. A suicide car bomber set off his explosive-laden vehicle at a security checkpoint in southern Iraq on Sunday, killing and wounding scores of people, police said.

AP Photo

 

A suicide car bomber set off his explosive-laden vehicle at a security checkpoint Sunday in southern Iraq, the deadliest of a series of attacks that killed 42 people, officials said. The violence, which comes a few weeks before scheduled elections, is the latest by insurgents bent on destabilizing the country.

Cell hawks thwart the bombing of two wheels bombs heading from Fallujah to Basra. Attachment Photos

alwasat

Announced hawks intelligence cell in a statement received “middle” copy, “they managed to foil the bombing of two wheels primed to detonate bombs in Basra.

The statement said that “had carried out the cell hawks quality of the intelligence process on 01/02/2014
Where thwarted the bombing of the two wheels of the car bombs Thrkia towards Basra and Fallujah has control them before they entered the city of Basra Faiha. ”

He said in a statement that the cell Hawks have been able to complete the process of a high-quality format with the leadership of the Air Force and the Basra Operations Command and the leadership of the fourth year, ten, and then with the Baghdad Operations Command, and during this heroic operation succeeded to arrest all of the hawks:
1. Sultan Mehdi Ekab
2. Jassim Mohammed Abdullah al-Janabi

He stated that the cell arrested two-wheeler drivers with amazing speed and hawk swooped Champions band fourteenth them with amazing speed Pmalm allow them to grasp the explosive device.
And provided intelligence cell hawks thanks and appreciation to the leadership of the Air Force, and Kiedhamilit Basra and the leadership of the fourth year, ten soldiers and heroes, and the National Intelligence Service, on the speed of their communication with the benevolent hands joined together with a cell hawks clearing the evil for the people of Basra valued.

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The car-bombs

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Western Ukraine Arming-Up, As Armories Are Looted of Thousands of Firearms

Over 5,000 Kalashnikovs, other guns stolen from Ukrainian military bases – report

Russia-Today
Reuters / Eduard Kornienko

Reuters / Eduard Kornienko

Fears of possible armed assaults and provocation in Ukraine and neighboring countries are on the rise after yet another report that rocket grenade launchers, firearms and munitions have been stolen from a military warehouse in western Ukraine.

A source in the Ukrainian Interior Ministry told RIA Novosti that the coup appointed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has recently been notified that a large cache of guns and ammunition was missing from one of the military warehouses.

“Reports to Avakov indicate that over 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 2,741 Makarov handguns, 123 light machineguns and 12 Shmel rocket launchers were stolen from the Interior Troops’ depots in the Lvov Region in late February,” the source said.

“The investigation has also established that 1,500 F-1 hand grenades and a large number of munitions are missing,” it added.

Earlier it was reported that at the end of February 2014 during the assaults on a number Ukrainian military units in the Western Lvov Region, radicals stole some 1,200 firearms, including around 1,000 Makarov handguns, over 170 Kalashnikov rifles as well as machineguns and sniper rifles.

The authorities in Ukraine have so far failed to track down these weapons igniting speculation that these weapons could be used to provoke more unrest in Ukraine which could eventually spill outside the country.

“Given that the northern and eastern borders of Ukraine are heavily guarded, there is a high probability that a significant portion of these weapons will be illegally smuggled through the western regions to the neighboring countries – Romania, Albania, in Transnistria, the Balkans. Of course, later part of the weapons may end up in other EU countries,” says Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Russian Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST).

Some military experts believe that the weapons will soon surface in the hands of the Right Sector or other nationalistic movements, which were the violent driving force of the coup that ousted Victor Yanukovich.

 

"Right Sector" train in Independence Square in central Kiev (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

“Right Sector” train in Independence Square in central Kiev (Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili)

For inciting terrorism and participation in hostilities against Russian soldiers in Chechnya, Russia’s Investigative Committee has placed Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh on an international wanted list.

The head of the Right Sector previously announced the creation of Revolutionary National Guard, a formation that plans to unite all the ultra-nationalists groups to serve as police and secret services. Last week Yarosh also demanded the self-imposed government in Kiev to arm Right Sector members.

The nationalist movement wants weapons and military hardware in addition to army training centers to be under the control of the Right Sector to provide “quality training for Right Sector fighters” in order to “protect the territorial integrity” of Ukraine, Itar-Tass reported, quoting a source in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

The creation of a National Guard on the basis of Ukrainian troops to protect Ukrainians against “external and internal aggression” was announced on Friday.

“The Right Sector carries weapons, and will possess them as long as there is a threat to our state and our people. When the threat is over, we will lay down weapons,” the notorious member of the Sector, Aleksandr Muzychko – or Sashko Bilyi as he was known during his war against Russian soldiers in Chechnya – announced last February.

The question remains, whether Kiev considers Sunday’s referendum in Crimea as such a threat that it should be prevented by any means necessary. Crimean leader certainly thinks so.

On Wednesday the Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov announced he had information that the Right Sector might be planning an attack on one of the Ukrainian army units in the peninsula under the guise of Russian servicemen as a provocation to disrupt the referendum. Some 10,000 members of the Crimean military, recently formed from self-defense squads, and over 5,000 police officers will ensure that the referendum goes smoothly, Aksenov said.

Russia to add 2 Maidan leaders to intl wanted list over Chechen militant links

Russia to add 2 Maidan leaders to intl wanted list over Chechen militant links

Russia-Today
Oleh Tyahnybok, Dmytro Yarosh.(RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev / AFP Photo / Yury Kirnichny)

Oleh Tyahnybok, Dmytro Yarosh.(RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev / AFP Photo / Yury Kirnichny)

Russia intends to prosecute members of the UNA-UNSO ultranationalist party for being part of the gang that fought alongside militant leaders Shamil Basayev and Arab mercenary Emir Khattab [Thamir Saleh Abdullah Suwailem] in the North Caucasus in 1994-95, said Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Investigative Committee.

There has been enough evidence collected to take the decision and bring them in as defendants in absentia within the nearest time for preventive detention and put them on the wanted list,” he said.

The UNSO participants in the battles include Ukraine’s nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party leader Oleg Tyagnibok and leader of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) Dmitry Yarosh – as well as Vladimir Mamalyga, Igor Mazur, Valery Bobrovich, Dmitry Korchinsky, Andrey Tyagnibok and other members not yet identified, Markin said.

 

The 1994-1996 Chechen conflict. Russian soldiers during a combat operation in the village of Stary Achkhoi.(RIA Novosti / Igor Mikhalev)

The 1994-1996 Chechen conflict. Russian soldiers during a combat operation in the village of Stary Achkhoi.(RIA Novosti / Igor Mikhalev)

UNA-UNSO, or the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense, is a far-right political organization in Ukraine. Its political wing is the UNA, while UNSO is a self-defense paramilitary force. The UNA was established in 1990 and led by opposition figure Dmitry Korchinsky. In 1991 squads of the UNSO consisting of Ukrainian Soviet army veterans who fought in Afghanistan were created in Kiev. The party participated in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election, but failed to win any seats.

Tyagnibok and Yarosh came to international attention during the anti-government rallies in Ukraine, commonly known as the Maidan protests. In 2010, Tyagnibok stood in the presidential election, receiving only 1.43 percent of the vote. In 2012, he was elected leader of the Svoboda (Freedom) party. Throughout his political career he has regarded Russia as the biggest threat to Ukraine. Yarosh has headed an ultra-right Stepan Bandera All-Ukrainian Organization ″Tryzub″ since 2005. During the Maidan protests, the organization became the base of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) movement. The movement was reportedly very active in the violence that led to the deposition of President Viktor Yanukovich.

A criminal investigation has been opened, and Markin said that UNA-UNSO members will be prosecuted depending on the role each of them played in the hostilities.

“They are suspected of committing crimes under parts 1 and 2 of Article 209 of the Russian Criminal Code,” he said. This article deals with penalties for creating an armed group or gang with the purpose of attacking citizens, leading such a group and participating in attacks committed by the group.

On March 5, Russia put Yarosh on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism. The far-right leader called for Russia’s most wanted terrorist, Doku Umarov, to act against the country according to an address posted on the Right Sector’s page in the Russian VKontakte social network. Yarosh later claimed the message was faked and that his blog had been hacked.The central Russian district court has sanctioned Yarosh’s arrest in absentia on March 12.

 

Training in hand combat among opposition fighters from the nationalist organization "Right sector" in a camp on Independence Square in Kiev.(RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

Training in hand combat among opposition fighters from the nationalist organization “Right sector” in a camp on Independence Square in Kiev.(RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

On Saturday, Yarosh confirmed that he intends to run for president of Ukraine while transforming his movement into a political party.

According to a recent poll conducted by Ukrainian research group SOCIS about preferences for the presidential election, Tyagnibok and Yarosh have low ratings. Among the respondents who intend to take part in the upcoming elections only 1.6 percent are ready to vote for Yarosh and 2.5 percent for Tyagnibok. The most popular party among the respondents was the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) Party, led by Arseny Yatsenyuk. About 30 percent of voters say they do not know for which party to vote for if the elections took place shortly.

Saudi doctrine runs into problems in Gulf

New Saudi doctrine runs into problems in Gulf

the news pak

AUSTIN, Texas: Within months of embarking upon a new foreign policy doctrine, Saudi Arabia has run into serious problems, says the influential think tank Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm that provides strategic analysis and forecasting around the world.

In its latest analysis on the developing situation in the Gulf, it says the Saudis are trying to assume the leadership of the Arab world and create a regional Arab bulwark against Iran, which is on the path toward international rehabilitation, but Riyadh is facing resistance from Qatar and other Gulf Arab states. Saudi Arabia is fighting on too many fronts.

It says, “Riyadh cannot effectively counter Iran while also battling al Qaeda-style jihadists, the Muslim Brotherhood and resistance to its pursuit of regional hegemon status. Since their inception in the early half of the last century, the Arab states have always constituted an incoherent lot; this is why for the longest time the Saudis focused on the Gulf Cooperation Council as a vehicle for their strategic imperatives more so than the forum of the Arab League. The 2011 uprisings in the Middle East have only added to the regional fragmentation — a process the Saudis will find hard to reverse without compromising with the Qataris and their Muslim Brotherhood allies.”

It says: “The Saudis are engaged in several geopolitical battles at the moment. Riyadh is attempting to subdue jihadism before countering Iran in Syria and the wider region. The kingdom has also been trying to contain the Arab Spring phenomenon, particularly the rise of Muslim Brotherhood-style Islamism. While the Saudis have been preoccupied with these matters, their interests have diverged from their longtime American allies. This has forced Riyadh to assume an assertive foreign policy, one that entails shouldering the leadership of the Arab world. However, Saudi Arabia quickly ran into problems with a fellow Gulf Cooperation Council state, Qatar.

“The rivalry between Riyadh and Doha is not new. For years Qatar, a tiny but natural gas-rich emirate, has been trying to compete with Saudi Arabia for regional influence. Having one foot in the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Qataris have pursued their own independent foreign policy agenda, which has conflicted with Saudi interests for years. Qatar has supported the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, such as Hamas, and has maintained a milder approach toward Iran. On the issue of backing Syrian rebels, Qatar has been more aligned with Turkey, active in supporting its own set of proxies separate from rebel groups backed by Saudi Arabia,” it adds.

It further says, “Qatar has demonstrated that it is unwilling to accept Saudi hegemony in the region. For a long time the Saudis worked behind the scenes to get the Qataris to fall in line. Those diplomatic efforts failed to produce any results, leading to last week’s move by Saudi Arabia, in concert with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to recall its ambassadors from Doha.

“It is no surprise that the UAE and Bahrain support the Saudis against the Qataris. Bahrain is heavily dependent on Riyadh due to its unstable domestic political situation with its Shia majority and the island nation’s proximity to Iran. Likewise, the United Arab Emirates shares Saudi Arabia’s loathing for the Muslim Brotherhood and has an interest in aligning with the Kingdom against Doha. What is significant, however, is that Kuwait — Saudi Arabia’s closest historical ally among the Khaleeji (the Arabic name for the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf) — did not participate in the move to isolate Qatar. Instead, the Kuwaitis have tried to mediate between Riyadh and Doha,” it maintains.

It says, “Even Kuwait is maintaining a position independent of Saudi Arabia. This applies not only to the dispute with Qatar; the Kuwaitis also have a close working relationship with Iran and Iraq. This is especially true for the Tehran-backed (and mostly Shia) government in Baghdad, given the shared border and the fact that Kuwait has a sizable Shia population. The only remaining Gulf Cooperation Council member state is Oman, which has long kept its distance from the Saudis. In fact, the Omanis have had a special relationship with Iran and have served as a conduit between the Americans and the Iranians. Oman uses its close ties with Iran as a way to counter Saudi efforts to dominate the Arabian Peninsula.

“It also has an interest in ensuring peaceful relations between its neighbor north of the Persian Gulf and the United States. It is no surprise that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s first trip to a Gulf Cooperation Council state, scheduled to begin March 12, is to Oman. To make matters worse for the Saudis, the crisis within the Gulf Cooperation Council comes as Riyadh has been pushing to convert the bloc into a regional union. The public manner in which the Saudis have assumed a hostile stance toward the Qataris suggests that this is not a small rift that can be sealed easily. The longer the dispute lasts, the more it will eat away at the coherence of the council,” it adds.

It says, “Realising this, the Saudis seem to be cutting their losses and moving beyond the Khaleeji region. They are now trying to cobble together a coalition among Arab states, especially with Egypt. This is why the Saudis took the step of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, though standing against the Brotherhood will take Saudi Arabia only so far. Likewise, Jordan, though quite dependent on Saudi Arabia, has historically had close ties with the Brotherhood branch in the Hashemite kingdom. The Tunisian and Moroccan versions of the Brotherhood are in government, and the Algerians have long worked with the Brotherhood chapter in their country.

“By calling for a negotiated settlement in Syria, the Qataris have already aligned their position with that of the Iranians, making a break with the Saudi objective, which is to oust the al Assad regime. Iran is also a potential source of support for Qatar, which has defied the Saudis and Egyptians by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Despite the sectarian conflict and the disagreement over Syria, Hamas has maintained ties with Iran and its main Shia Arab proxy, Hezbollah,” it says.

“Tehran could use its links with Hamas and Qatar and the channel between Hamas and Hezbollah to try to gain an advantage in Syria. Turkey and Qatar are already working closely with the Syrian Brotherhood and nationalist rebels. Such an alignment could greatly increase problems for Saudi Arabia,” it concludes.

Moscow Allows Kiev to Conduct Aerial Inspection of Russia

[SEE:  Ukraine Accuses Russia of Military Buildup]

Moscow Allows Kiev to Conduct Aerial Inspection of Russia

ria novosti

Moscow Allows Kiev to Conduct Aerial Inspection of Russia

MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will allow Ukrainian military inspectors to carry out an emergency monitoring flight over Russian territory in response to allegations that recent military activity near Ukrainian borders poses a security threat.

“Although we do not have any obligations to Ukraine, we have decided to allow this inspection flight,” Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told reporters Wednesday.

“We hope that our neighbors will see with their own eyes that the Russian armed forces are not involved in any kind of military activity along the Ukrainian border threatening Ukraine’s security,” Antonov said.

He added that Russia’s Central and Western military districts had recently held snap checks of combat readiness, but that these exercises had ended on March 3 and all military units had returned to their bases on March 7.

The new authorities in Kiev requested the emergency monitoring flight over Russian regions bordering with Ukraine, citing fears that Russia could be preparing to invade its neighbor.

The allegations are part of a turbulent political crisis gripping Ukraine that has led to a standoff between Russia and the West over the fate of Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian region with a narrow ethnic Russian majority.

Crimean authorities have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new central government in Kiev, which was installed after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in late February.

Local officials announced last week that they intended for the peninsula to secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia.

A referendum on the issue has been set for March 16. Authorities in Kiev and international leaders have condemned the referendum as illegitimate.

“There can be no leniency in confronting terrorism that is a threat to the future of all Arab countries,”

[If a closed society like Saudi Arabia criminalizes the expression of basic democratic rights and then violently suppresses those rights (SEE:  The Royal Saudi Decree Defining Democratic Expression As Terrorism), then violent civil resistance becomes justified by the State violence used to prevent non-violent expression.  If there are no democratic institutions in Saudi Arabia to compete with the politics of terrorism, then homegrown terrorism is certain to win-out in the end.  If the Saudis really want to defeat the homegrown Ikhwan terror (Muslim Brotherhood), then they must get out of the way of grassroots Democracy.  They cannot confront Brotherhood terror in Egypt and throughout the Arab world by violent means only.  If the Saudis are serious about putting-down Islamist terrorism, especially at home, then they will embrace Democracy, no matter what they happen to think of the results it produces.

Considering Saudi Arabia’s violent history with the Ikhwan (SEE:  Nov. 20, 1979–Overzealous Wahhabis Seize Grand Mosque In Mecca), one would have to question their judgement in allowing Washington to empower Qatar and the Brotherhood through Obama’s wars, in the first place.

Terrorists are scum.  They must all be dealt with.]

Mashnouq: We Understand Saudi Arabia’s Purpose to Label Some Groups as Terrorist

naharnet

W460

Interior Miniser Nouhad al-Mashnouq stated on Tuesday that Lebanon has taken a “clear position” on all forms of extremist terrorism.

He added in statement: “We understand Saudi Arabia’s recent designation of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah in the kingdom, and al-Nusra Front as terrorist.”

The minister is currently in Morocco to take part in the 31st conference for Arab interior ministers.

“Lebanon has long suffered from terrorism and understands Saudi Arabia’s purpose for designating the groups as terrorist,” remarked Mashnouq.

“There can be no leniency in confronting terrorism that is a threat to the future of all Arab countries,” he stressed.

Granting political freedom for peaceful organizations to function under the authority of the state will allow a country to confront division, he explained.

Saudi Arabia on Friday listed as terrorist groups the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaida’s official Syrian affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Shiite Huthi rebels fighting in northern Yemen, and “Hezbollah inside the kingdom”, apparently referring to a little-known Saudi Shiite group.

The decision to brand the Brotherhood a terrorist group came a day after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, which backs Brotherhood-linked groups across the region.

Saudi Scum Threatens To Blockade Qatar “By Air, Land and Sea”

Saudi Arabia threatens to blockade Qatar over terrorism

the irish times

Riyadh wants to contain radical groups and media at odds with foreign jihad policy
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal attends  an Arab foreign ministers emergency meeting to discuss the Syrian crisis  at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo yesterday. Photograph: Reuters Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal attends an Arab foreign ministers emergency meeting to discuss the Syrian crisis at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo yesterday. Photograph: Reuters

Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade neighbouring Qatar by air, land and sea unless Doha cuts ties with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, closes global channel al-Jazeera, and expels local branches of the US Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation think tanks.

The threat was issued by Riyadh before it withdrew its ambassador to Doha and branded as “terrorist organisations” the brotherhood, Lebanon’s Hizbullah and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Jabhat al-Nusra.

Although the kingdom has long been the font of Sunni ultra-orthodox Salafism and jihadism, it now seeks to contain radical movements and media and other organisations giving them publicity.

King Abdullah has decreed that any Saudi who fights abroad could be jailed for 20-30 years, and those who join, endorse or provide moral or material support to groups classified as “terrorist” or “extremist” will risk prison sentences of five to 30 years.

The decree followed the gazetting of a sweeping new anti- terrorism law prohibiting acts that disturb public order, promote insecurity, undermine national unity or harm the reputation of the kingdom.

Contradiction
While the law and decree are meant to curb jihadi operations on Saudi soil as well as counter non-jihadi dissidence, these legal instruments appear to contradict government policy on foreign jihad.

While 400 Saudis have returned home from Syrian battlefields, another 1,000-2,000 are believed to be fighting with jihadi groups funded by the government as well as wealthy Saudis, Kuwaitis and Qataris.

An informed source speculated the decree sends a message to Saudis: “Don’t come home. Fight unto death or victory.”

For half a century Saudi Arabia used its oil wealth to promote Muslim fundamentalists, notably the brotherhood and its offshoots, to counter the secular pan-Arab nationalism preached by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Syrian and Iraqi Baath parties.

The kingdom provided refuge for brotherhood officials and activists from Egypt and other countries where governments were battling the movement. However, in recent years, Riyadh fell out with the brotherhood because it did not follow Saudi dictation.

After Shia clerics overthrew the shah of Iran in 1979 and tried to export their “Islamic revolution” to the wider Muslim world, which is 85 per cent Sunni, Saudi Arabia, which sees itself as the guardian of Sunni orthodoxy, turned to evangelism.

The object has been to convert Muslims to “Wahhabism,” the Saudi puritanical interpretation of Islam. The Saudi campaign in Syria is against Damascus’s ally Shia Iran as well as godless, secular Baathism.

The rise in the price of oil since the 1970s has enabled the Saudis to train clerics and build schools, Islamic centres, universities and mosques around the world.

Traditionally gentle, tolerant, mystic Sufis, who had served as Islam’s missionaries, have been replaced by narrow, harsh Wahhabi preachers and imams. Over the past 30 years the kingdom has spent more than $100 billion (€72 billion) on promoting Wahhabism.

Even before the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia – partnered by the US Central Intelligence Agency – trained and armed mujahideen (holy warriors) from Afghanistan and across the Muslim world to fight the Soviet Afghan republic. After the war ended with the Soviet withdrawal from that country in 1989, veterans of this conflict fanned out to fight in Bosnia, Algeria, Libya, the Caucasus and elsewhere.

Blowback
Fearing blowback from Saudi jihadis engaged in the Syrian war, Riyadh has recently given the Syrian file to the interior minister Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, who has been in charge of an anti-terrorism campaign in the kingdom and Yemen, replacing intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

The Wall Street Journal has quoted a key Saudi source who said the shift suggests that Riyadh could rely more on diplomatic than military means by exerting pressure on Russia, Iran and Hizbullah, Damascus’s chief supporters, to resolve the conflict by removing President Bashar al-Assad.

Nevertheless, Riyadh also favours providing shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to “vetted” rebels, well aware these weapons could fall into al-Qaeda hands.

Ohio Earthquakes Force Shutdown of Two Fracking Operations

[SEE: 4.3-Magnitude Earthquake In Luther, Oklahoma Near Fracking Zone ; Fracking Has Formerly Stable Ohio City Aquiver Over Earthquakes ;  Oklahoma Fracking Zone Suffers Biggest OK Quake, Ever–(Ohioans Take Note) ; Fracking May Have Caused 50 Earthquakes in Oklahoma  ; England Experiences “Mother-Frackin” Earthquakes from Halliburton’s Multi-Trillion Dollar Brainchild ]

Ohio fracking drilling shut down after quakes

Russia-Today
Reuters / Les Stone

Reuters / Les Stone

Ohio authorities have halted a fracking operation in following two quakes. Both the authorities and the operator say there is no evidence linking fracking with the tremors, but in the past an Ohio well was closed for causing quakes.

The Ohio tremors were felt on Monday in Poland Township and the village of Lowellville near the Pennsylvania. The first 3.0 magnitude quake stroke at about 2:30am and was followed by a second 2.6 magnitude quake at 11:45am, the US Geological Survey reported. Two smaller aftershocks were reported later in the day.

Following the quakes Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) ordered suspension of drilling operation at Carbon Limestone Landfill in Lowellville, local media reported. Texas-based Hilcorp Energy has about a dozen wells in the area and was performing horizontal drilling as part of fracking production of hydrocarbons.

“Out of an abundance of caution we notified the only oil and gas operator in the area, and ordered them to halt all operations until further assessment can take place,” Mark Bruce, ODNR public information officer, said in a statement. “ODNR is using all available resources to determine the exact circumstances surrounding this event and will take the appropriate actions necessary to protect public health and safety.”

“All available information indicates the events are not connected to Class II injection activities,” he added in a reference to the horizontal drilling.

Hilcorp Energy, which is the only oil and gas operator in the area and has been drilling wells there for two years, also cautioned against linking its activities with the seismic events.

“It is far too early in the process to know exactly what happened and we’re not aware of any evidence to connect our operations to these events,” it said in a statement.

Ohio is cautious about possible triggering of earthquakes by fracking operations since a series of earthquakes in 2011. The authorities initially denied any connection between them and fracking, but eventually it was proved otherwise. In January 2012, disposal of fracking waste in the 177 injection wells near Youngstown, which caused the quakes, was halted and similar operations were restricted.

Fracking is the process of pumping mixture of chemicals, sand and water into a shale formation to release oil and gas trapped in it. The resulting waste products, which may be contaminated with heavy metals or even naturally radioactive materials, are then disposed in so-called waste injection wells, which go deep underground.

After the Youngstown quakes, Ohio banned drilling injection wells to a layer of basement rock or to a layer of sandstone just above it, as this may trigger seismic activity.

The suspended Hilcorp operation did not involve disposal of waste in injection wells, however, and horizontal drilling, which they had been conducting, was not previously linked with earthquakes.

This does not stop environmental activists from being concerned about a possible link.

“When you put that much liquid under extreme pressure down into a shale formation, it leaks out of the shale formation and into an area where there is a fault, resulting in an earthquake,” Wilma Subra, an environmental consultant and veteran activist, told Al Jazeera America.

“Before companies can be permitted to conduct fracking operations, states should require companies to assess how close they are to a fault line before granting them a permit,” said Alison Auciello, the Ohio organizer for environmental group Food and Water Watch. “Nothing in any of the state regulations require that now, but that may change with the Ohio earthquakes.”

The US is rapidly developing fracking operations, which allow extracting oil and gas not available through conventional methods. Just over 2013 the US production of crude jumped 15.3 percent, according to an International Energy Agency estimate, an increase unseen since 1951. Proponents say the technology will soon make the US an energy superpower, which would no longer need to import energy from foreign suppliers like Saudi Arabia.

Environmentalists are cautious about potential ramifications of fracking, including earthquakes and contamination of groundwater with dangerous chemicals.

The Dangerous Nazification of Ukrainian Airwaves

[Ukrainian TV HAS to be even more boring than Russian TV.  Let’s see how long Svoboda can contain the restless longings of the Ukrainian masses if they are all bored beyond the point of their capacity to be mesmerized by inanity.]

OSCE slams Ukraine’s repressive censorship of Russian TV channels

Russia-Today

Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok

The OSCE has criticised Kiev’s “repressive” move to shut down the broadcasting of Russian TV channels after the media watchdog reported over 50% of providers have already fulfilled the order allegedly aimed at “ensuring national security and sovereignty.”

“As of 11:00 GMT, March 11th, 50 percent of providers throughout Ukraine have disabled broadcasting of foreign channels,” others are preparing to follow, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine, said on its website.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has voiced strong concerns over the decision.

“I repeat my call to the authorities not to initiate these repressive measures,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said. “Banning programming without a legal basis is a form of censorship; national security concerns should not be used at the expense of media freedom.”

“While I deplore any kind of state propaganda and hate speech as part of the current information war, everyone has the right to receive information from as many sources as he or she wishes,” Mijatovic said. “Switching off and banning channels is not the way to address these problems; any potentially problematic speech should be countered with arguments and more speech.”

So far at least 5 Russian channels have been excluded from the list of options, following an appeal by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine last week.

“The National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine requires the program service providers to stop the broadcast of the Russian TV channels Vesti, Russia 24, Channel One (worldwide transmission), RTR ‘Planeta’, and NTV-World in their network,” the National Council order says.

More than half of Ukraine’s population speaks Russian regularly and one third say it’s their native tongue. In Crimea over 90 percent of the population uses Russian on an everyday basis.

Participants of a rally on Yevpatoria's central square voice their support to Russia. (RIA Novosti/Andrey Stenin)Participants of a rally on Yevpatoria’s central square voice their support to Russia. (RIA Novosti/Andrey Stenin)

On Sunday, Republic of Crimea began broadcasting Russian TV channels on frequencies earlier occupied by Ukrainian television. It has been done because of “legal reasons and moral principles,” Crimea’s information minister Dmitry Polonsky told Itar-tass.

“From the moral point of view, all Ukrainian TV channels were rigidly censored by Kiev’s illegitimate authorities. In violation of fundamental principles they broadcast only one point of view – Crimean politicians, community leaders and Crimeans were unable to comment on the situation,” Polonsky said, adding that their round the clock false reporting of “Russia occupying Crimea” or “declaring war on Ukraine” did not correspond to reality and was used to aggravate the situation and escalate violence.

Polonsky also said that existing contracts should be brought into line with the “current legal situation”, as he urged Ukrainian TV channels to renegotiate contracts for new frequencies with the Crimean broadcasting authorities.

Following the move Ukraine’s media watchdog Goskomteleradio demanded an immediate resumption of Ukrainian TV channels broadcast in Crimea, accusing Russia of “aggression.”

“We regard this as a manifestation of undisguised information aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation,” the statement reads.

Russia has long voiced concerns over banning Russian media broadcasts on Ukraine’s national frequencies, calling it a violation of human rights.

“We are aware of proposals to prohibit broadcasts in Ukraine by companies of countries that are not signatories to the European Broadcasting Convention,” Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said late February after the proposal to ban some channels were first introduced by Svoboda Party in Ukraine.

“Russia is not a signatory to this convention, but this circumstance has not stopped us from broadcasting across Europe. Such broadcasts have not encountered any problems in any country of the European Union. If such a decision is adopted in Ukraine, it will be serious violation of freedom of speech,” Lavrov added.

Feinstein Outraged That NSA Violates Her Constitutional Rights Just Like the Rest of Us

 

Feinstein excoriates CIA for spying on Senate committee

C-NET

US Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) walks off the Senate floor after accusing the CIA of spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 11, 2014.

(Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Senator Dianne Feinstein is not a fan of government surveillance, at least when it’s directed at the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The California senator, who has been the chair of the committee since 2009, said on Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency improperly monitored an independent computer network created for Congress to investigate allegations of torture and abuse in a detention and interrogation program from the George W. Bush administration.

 

Feinstein went public with the allegations after the CIA ignored letters from her on Jan. 17 and Jan. 23 that demanded an explanation and an apology.

She said in a statement on the Senate floor that she although she had been “trying to resolve this dispute in a discreet and respectful way,” she had “grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution.”

She added that the CIA’s inspector general, David Buckley, sent the dispute to the Justice Department, “given the possibility of a criminal violation by CIA personnel,” she said.

CIA Director John Brennan denied the accusation in a statement from last week.

“I am deeply dismayed that some members of the Senate have decided to make spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts,” he said. “I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or legislative branch.”

“Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and congressional overseers,” he said.

“In addition to the grave implications for the Constitutional separation of powers, I am extremely troubled that the CIA leadership has neither responded to specific questions about this search nor even acknowledged that it was inappropriate,” said Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in a statement. “This is simply not acceptable in a democracy.”

Edward Snowden appearing live via Google Hangouts video at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin on Monday, in his first extended public comments since leaking NSA documents last year.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

It’s worth noting that Feinstein has been a stalwart supporter of governmental surveillance. Feinstein condemned Edward Snowden last June after he leaked National Security Agency documents to the press, saying that he had committed “an act of treason.”

Following his first extended public comments during a video conference at yesterday’s South by Southwest festival, the former NSA contractor all but called Feinstein a hypocrite.

“[S]uddenly it’s a scandal when a politician finds out” that they’ve been spied on, Snowden said in a statement to NBC News.

He called Feinstein’s CIA accusations an example of the “Merkel Effect,” a reference to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s angry reaction to her discovery that the US was spying on her, apparently without concern that her fellow countrymen were also the target of widespread surveillance.

Feinstein’s office did not return a request for comment on whether her opinion of Snowden had changed in light of her allegations against the CIA.

Saudi chameleon–What next, jihad in Crimea?

Saudi chameleon: What next, jihad in Crimea?

Russia-Today

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

 
Foreground, from left: Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Refat Chubarov, and leader of the Russian Unity public organization and deputy of autonomous Crimea region's parliament Sergei Aksyonov (RIA Novosti / Taras Litvinenko)

Foreground, from left: Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Refat Chubarov, and leader of the Russian Unity public organization and deputy of autonomous Crimea region’s parliament Sergei Aksyonov (RIA Novosti / Taras Litvinenko)

​The House of Saud may be up to something in Crimea. Let’s pivot back to the desert to see how that could possibly be accomplished.

A week ago, Minister of Information and Culture Abdelaziz Khoja proclaimed that the House of Saud “renews its firm position condemning terrorism in all its forms.” That was the preamble to ask all Saudi nationals, jihadists or otherwise, to abandon Syria. They were committing a crime, Saudi King Abdullah, ever closer to meeting his maker, decreed.

Then, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain all called their ambassadors from Qatar, under the pretext that Doha continues to support “hostile media,” as in Al Jazeera.

Finally Saudi Arabia officially declared the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian branch) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – the rogue jihadists fighting both the Assad government in Syria and the Maliki government in Iraq – as terrorist organizations. Any Saudi member of any of these outfits not back to the Kingdom in 15 days would be thrown in jail for up to 30 years.

By decree, the Saudi Interior Ministry (just in case) also branded as terrorists the Shiite Huthi rebels in northern Yemen, as well as an obscure, Saudi-based outfit called ‘Hezbollah Inside the Kingdom’. None of the above can so much as have a Facebook account.

Petromonarchy implosion

It’s easy to laugh this off as the epic implosion of that prime collection of what the West calls ‘our’ bastards – the petromonarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), also known as Gulf Counter-Revolution Cub.

 

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (Reuters / Hamad I Mohammed)

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (Reuters / Hamad I Mohammed)

And yes, soon the whole thing degenerated into a trademark, vicious inter-Arab catfight. For Qataris, for instance – accused by the Saudis of “meddling” – the meddlers are in fact the Saudis, who supported the August 2013 military coup in Egypt and are responsible for the giant mess among fighting outfits in Syria. Predictably, reams of Saudi and Emirati journalists quit assorted Qatari media jobs, many following a ‘polite’ request by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information.

Yet it’s more complicated. The Saudi royal decree follows an ultra-hardline counterterrorism law which targets any sort of criticism of the House of Saud. So this is not only about the House of Saud being terrified of blowback from assorted hardcore jihadists, after they hone their skills in the Levant. They are terrified of anything that moves in and around Saudi Arabia. Imagine their feelings about the world at large.

They are terrified of young, Westernized Saudis with ‘revolutionary’ ideas. They are terrified of jihad freelancers. They are terrified of Muslim Brothers supported by their cousins in Qatar – which the West, laughably, praises as practicing a ‘more moderate’ brand of medieval Wahhabism. The old Emir Hamad al Thani – who recently deposed himself to the benefit of his son Tamim – had skillfully manipulated the Brotherhood as the key lever of Doha’s wide Middle-Eastern ambitions.

 

RIA Novosti / Roman Hasaev

RIA Novosti / Roman Hasaev

 

To spice up the Saudi-Qatari melee, there was only one Saudi prince among the royals who was in favor of some accommodation, following the orders of his American exceptionalist masters. Yet Saudi heir apparent Prince Nayef, a perennial Minister of Interior from 1975 to 2012, is now dead.

And now it’s wide in the open that Riyadh and Doha virtually come to blows on about everything – from Palestine and Egypt to Syria. After all, every grain of sand in Southwest Asian deserts always knew that the House of Saud is in favor of Salafis while Doha’s state policy was always to support the Ikhwan.

Now it’s easy; you’re either with us or you’re a terrorist. Well, the Bush-Cheney regime in the US had thought about this one first. The difference is that with so many freelancers, Jihad Inc. was handed a monster PR problem, and the usual Gulf financiers, mostly Saudi and Emirati, lost control of the pack.

Now, following the new order, any commando, mercenary, suicide bomber or beheader must abide by the strict American-Saudi playbook; otherwise he won’t be fully weaponized, or worse, will become a candidate for incineration by one of Obama’s choice Hellfire missiles. The Empire needs you, boys, but you gotta behave.

A shuttle to Simferopol?

And that brings us, not accidentally, to Crimea. I was told by a very good Saudi source to keep a close eye on the House of Saud’s machinations in Ukraine; they seem to be immensely interested in what’s going on. This follows the destitution of too volatile Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, from his perch as top intelligence commander of the war on Syria (US Secretary of State John Kerry was crucial in his downfall); Bandar’s replacement by Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is quite popular in Washington; and the ‘recall’ of Saudi fighters in the Levant.

The Tatars in Crimea are Muslims. They are about to ‘celebrate’ the 70th anniversary of their mass deportation by Stalin. They were back to Crimea by the end of the 1980s, and now number roughly 250,000 in Crimea; 13 percent of a largely Russian population, with an unemployment rate of at least 50 percent.

Refat Chubarov, the president of the Majlis, the National Assembly of Crimean Tatars, considers the Crimean referendum on March 16 a “threat” to the Ukraine. He is not promoting a jihad, but as many Tatar representatives, already forecasts “serious consequences” if Crimea’s statute is changed. There is certified Tatar backing to the neo-Nazis/fascists of the Svoboda and Right Sector kind in Kiev. From this ‘alliance’ to jihad, it’s just a suicide bombing away.

Whatever happens in Crimea, the House of Saud is up to something. Bandar Bush had boasted to President Putin that he controlled Caucasus jihadists and could turn them on and off at will. His successor might as well be tempted to turn them on not in the Caucasus, but in establishing a shuttle from the Syrian desert to Simferopol. What a spectacular favor to his American masters. The emperor, after all, is soon to visit Riyadh.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.