Libyans Strike Egyptian and UAE Embassies In Tripoli

[Both Egypt and UAE have recently been implicated in mystery airstrikes against Tripoli militants.]

Bombs Explode Near Egyptian, United Arab Emirates Embassies In Tripoli

Reuters

The wreckage of a car, which was destroyed when a bomb exploded, is pictured next to the Egyptian embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli November 13, 2014.  REUTERS-Stringer

The wreckage of a car, which was destroyed when a bomb exploded, is pictured next to the Egyptian embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli November 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

TRIPOLI, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Bombs exploded near the Egyptian and United Arab Emirates embassies in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Thursday though there were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage in the attacks.

The blasts followed a series of car bombs on Wednesday mainly in towns under the control of the internationally recognized government, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, which is facing a challenge from a rival government set up in Tripoli.

Both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates followed other nations in pulling diplomatic staff out of the capital over the summer after armed clashes in Tripoli between armed factions battling for control of the North African state.

A Reuters witness said the Egyptian embassy bomb had slightly damaged buildings and some stores, but it was not clear if the embassy had been hit.

There were no immediate details of whether embassies were the target of the bombs or whether any staff or security guards were in the buildings at the time.

Three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is caught up in growing unrest as rival armed factions compete for power and control of the OPEC country’s oil resources.

One faction has taken over Tripoli, setting up its own government and parliament and forcing the elected parliament and administration of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to operate out of Tobruk.

Both sides have routinely accused each other of seeking support from neighboring regional powers, and many embassies and embassy staff have left the capital after armed clashes and the takeover of the city in the summer.

Rivals of Thinni’s government say neighboring Egypt has lent support to a renegade former Libyan army general, Khalifa Haftar, who is leading a campaign to drive Islamist factions out of the eastern city of Benghazi. His foes say he has received air support from Egypt, which is worried about the spread of Islamist militants.

International efforts led by the United Nations to mediate between the rival factions have so far failed to broker a ceasefire or bring the North African state’s main armed actors to the negotiating table. (Reporting Libya staff; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Nick Macfie and Ralph Boulton)

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Azerbaijan Shoots-Down Armenian Helicopter During Armenia/Karabakh War Games

[SEE: 30,000 Karabakh soldiers participating in joint military exercise with Armenia ; Missile Strikes On Azerbaijan Oil Facilities Simulated In Armenian War Games]

Armenia vows ‘grave consequences’ after helicopter downed


Obama Allowing Saudi-Turkeys To Back Him Into A Corner In Syria

[It seems that the Bandar/Erdogan wing is winning-out over the voices still arguing for sanity in Syria.  The Bandar/Erdogan option is to back Al-Nusrah over ISIL, since the former Free Syrian Army has been cannabalized by the radical Islamists and no longer exists as a proto-army.  Thanks to selective reporting by Western “legitimate” press, collective memory is fading about the origins of Nusra, much like media erasure of the US State Dept./CIA origins of the entire Syrian conflict (SEE: The Real “Moral Obscenity” In Syria’s Civil War Is How We Started It ).  Whatever remains of FSA fights alongside Nusra Islamists, NOT against them, thus accounting for Syrian “moderate” anger at coalition bombing of Nusra forces.  Western diplomats, who have unleashed this massive blood-letting and attempted to force regime-change upon the Syrian people, insist that they actually know what Syrians really want.  State Dept. geeks only know the minds of the people who have been agitated and won-over by them with their expertly-crafted psychological warfare.  Following Saudi-Turkey dictates to empower an Islamist govt. within Syria, will only expand the reach of the so-called Caliphate, even if we destroy ISIL and hand it to Nusra.  Golani, Nusra chief (SEE: The layers of fiction surrounding Al Nusra chief Abu Mohammed Al Jolani), and al-Baghdadi are the same—BOTH terrorist leaders were created by the US, either by the devious CIA, or in reaction to the inept, stumbling Pentagon efforts to brainwash former Islamists (SEE:  What is the truth about ISIS?).  Everything has conveniently been leading-up to an American invasion of Syria.  The only thing that has so far prevented this new, greater aggression, has been Vladimir Putin.  Whether, or for how long, he will continue to bear this burden of civilization against this anti-Imperialist resistance remains to be seen.

SLEIGHT OF HAND (SEE:  Obama Tries the “Good Islamist/Bad Islamist” Hat Trick In SyriaThe Original Syrian Media Report Revealing Bandar/Feltman Plan To Destroy the Middle East )]

Sources: Obama seeks new Syria strategy review to deal with ISIS, al-Assad

cnn

By Elise Labott, CNN Global Affairs Correspondent

Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama has asked his national security team for another review of the U.S. policy toward Syria after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, senior U.S. officials and diplomats tell CNN.

The review is a tacit admission that the initial strategy of trying to confront ISIS first in Iraq and then take the group’s fighters on in Syria, without also focusing on the removal of al-Assad, was a miscalculation.

In just the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of the President’s national security team, one of which was chaired by Obama and others that were attended by principals like the secretary of state. These meetings, in the words of one senior official, were “driven to a large degree how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy.”

Related: Obama’s “no strategy” comment sparks uproar

“The President has asked us to look again at how this fits together,” one senior official said. “The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria.” The U.S. government refers to ISIS as ISIL.

Multiple senior administration officials and diplomats spoke with CNN on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions. The White House referred questions about the review to the State Department.

Meanwhile, other sources denied to CNN that Obama has ordered a review, but admit there is concern about some core aspects of the strategy. A senior administration official, responding to a CNN report, says there is an ongoing discussion and “constant process of recalibration.”

“There’s no formal strategy review of our Syria policy. What there is is a strategy for degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL that requires us to take a hard look at what we’re doing on a regular basis,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser.

” And, as you know we’ve had regular meetings that the President has joined with his national security team on this issue and Syria has been an important subject at those meetings. And I think the President wants to make sure that we’re asking hard questions about what we’re targeting in Syria, how we’re able to degrade ISIL but also how we’re supporting opposition and building them up as a counterweight to ISIL but also ultimately of course to the Assad regime.”

And Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement Wednesday evening, “The strategy with respect to Syria has not changed: While the immediate focus remains to drive ISIL out of Iraq, we and coalition partners will continue to strike at ISIL in Syria to deny them safe haven and to disrupt their ability to project power.”

He added, “Assad has been the biggest magnet for extremism in Syria, and the President has made clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern. Alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition …”

‘Iraq first’ strategy now appears ‘untenable

In October the United States stressed an “Iraq first” strategy with efforts to degrade ISIS in Iraq as the priority and operations in Syria done to shape conditions in Iraq. Washington hoped that would give time for the U.S. to vet, train and arm a moderate Syrian rebels fighting force to combat ISIS, and ultimately the regime of al-Assad.

But with the Free Syrian Army struggling in a two-front battle against al-Assad’s forces and extremists from both ISIS and other extremist groups such as al-Nusra, U.S. officials recognize the “Iraq first” strategy is untenable.

“Developments on the ground have caused the national security team to collectively conclude we may not have time for Iraq first. In an ideal world you would drive ISIL out of Iraq and pivot to Syria. But if by then the moderate opposition has been smacked and ISIL is still there, that doesn’t help,” a senior administration official said.

Among the options being discussed are a no-fly zone on the border with Turkey and accelerating and expanding the Pentagon program to vet, train and arm the moderate opposition.

Turkey has called for a no-fly zone, both to protect its border and to provide relief to Syrian rebels facing airstrikes from the regime, but officials said Turkey so far has been vague about what troops and other assets it is willing to contribute to the effort.

The administration has asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip 5,000 vetted rebels within one year.

But efforts to expand the program to build Syrian rebel forces may also be stymied by the slow and complicated of vetting the fighters. More than four months after announcing an effort to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told CNN the vetting process had not even begun and logistics are still being worked out with the Turks and Saudis, who are hosting the training.

“The vetting hasn’t started. Once it does start, that will be about a three- to five-month process and then it’s about eight to nine months of training after that,” Kirby said in an interview with CNN last week. “So we still (have) a ways to go.”

A review would come as the military starts meeting with more than 30 countries to “further develop and refine military campaign plans to degrade and defeat” ISIS, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command, which is overseeing U.S. military efforts in Syria and Iraq.

Many of the President’s top national security advisers, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have long argued that Washington’s political strategy was unrealistic.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a blunt memo to National Security Adviser Susan Rice in October that a senior U.S. official told CNN’s Barbara Starr was “expressing concern about overall Syria strategy” and expressing a fear that the U.S. is risking its gains in the war against ISIS if adjustments are not made. The official said the focus of the memo was the “need to have a sharper view of what do about the Assad regime.”

Related: Hagel wrote memo to White House expressing concern about Syria

“It has been pretty clear for some time that supporting the moderate opposition in the hopes of toppling Assad, isn’t going to work,” another senior official said.

In response to the revelations about the Hagel memo, the White House spokesman said his advisers would be “constantly assessing” the strategy.

“That means they want to consider a wide range of opportunities to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to protect and defend American interests around the world,” spokesman Josh Earnest said in an interview with CNN on October 31.

Kerry seeks to preserve fraying coalition

The U.S. is also trying to preserve a fraying anti-ISIS coalition.

Many Arab states have expressed frustration with what they perceive as an ambivalence by the United States toward getting rid of al-Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry and Gen. John Allen, the U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, have reported back to the White House that key allies such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey are calling for a framework for a political transition in Syria.

“What really tipped this into a more vigorous reassessment was hearing from our coalition partners that they are not convinced by the Syria part and this strategy only works if there is a more coherent Syria piece,” said a senior official

Efforts by the U.S. and Russia to strike a deal between al-Assad’s regime and the Syrian opposition forces broke down in January after a long-awaited and ultimately unsuccessful peace conference in Switzerland.

Now officials and diplomats said Kerry has in recent months intensified discussions with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Russia about the possibility of a diplomatic tract to transition al-Assad and his inner circle out of power, while maintaining large parts of the regime and institutions of the state.

Brokered alAssad transition could take months

But any such transition could take time.

“It’s not going to be tomorrow and I don’t think anyone even believes that is physically possible. But even if it is a six- or 12-month plan, as long as it has an exit for Assad,” one senior Arab diplomat said. “But we are glad that we finally see a meeting of the minds with the U.S. that there needs to be a rethinking of the strategy.”

American officials and Arab diplomats said that while Russia has tacitly endorsed the idea of a Syria free of al-Assad, Moscow has done little to effect change on the ground.

“The Russians are not our friend here,” one of the senior administration officials said. “They have given vague expressions of empathy but that is not exactly the same as saying we are with you and are going to rid of him. They are still arming Assad and providing him direct support.”

Kerry has also raised the topic with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, officials said. Kerry has met several times in recent months to hammer out a nuclear deal ahead of a November 24 deadline, which officials stressed was the main topic of discussion and was not linked to any potential cooperation in Syria.

Last month President Obama sent a letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei describing a shared interest in combating ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but it was unclear whether the letter made mention of the three-year civil war in which Iran has backed al-Assad.

Officials pointed to a debate within the Iranian regime about al-Assad’s fate, but there is little sign that the supreme leader or the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps are interested in getting rid of him.

Related: U.S. opens channels with Iran over ISIS

“The moderates are not calling the shots in Syria,” an official said. “The Iranians have come up with plans like constitutional reforms and ultimately an election, and it is better than nothing, but it still doesn’t include Assad going and it is not the basis for an agreement.”

Russia, Saudi Arabia split on alAssad

Arab diplomats have held out hope that if Saudi Arabia and Russia can agree on a political framework, Iran may rethink its insistence that al-Assad must remain in power and strike a deal on al-Assad’s fate. Saudi Arabia is the dominant country in the region pushing for the Syrian President’s ouster

“It is possible if Russia agrees, the Iranians will feel they are the only ones that who have not played a productive role,” one Arab diplomat said. “We know if we agree it will be the least common denominator, where you maintain whoever you can from the regime that doesn’t have blood on their hands. That is something we believe the Syrian people can accept.”

Ceasefires could provide room for political effort

Officials and diplomats said efforts by U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to secure a series of local ceasefires between the regime and Syrian opposition could help strengthen the administration’s efforts to speed up training of the Syrian rebels and Kerry’s diplomatic efforts to diplomacy to reach a political transition.

The United Nations says that de Mistura has proposed incremental freezes in fighting, starting with the city of Aleppo, so that neither side takes advantage of a lull in fighting. A senior U.N. official described the effort as “very preliminary,” but said de Mistura hopes to increase “frozen” areas and “knit them together,” which can create the atmosphere for a broader political agreement.

“This is creating the atmosphere from the bottom up,” one senior U.N. official said. “You don’t have to deal with the huge issues of the future of Assad. You can start dealing with a political arrangement in a place like Aleppo so you don’t have to use violence. This would be a way to reduce the suffering and the killing and destruction in the short term, which only helps ISIS.”

Former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who left his post in February out of frustration with the administration’s policy, said any reassessment of the strategy in Syria must also reconsider the coalition air campaign in Syria, which is squeezing the beleaguered opposition even further.

“The administration needs to have an honest assessment of whether or not its material assistance to the moderate opposition in northern Syria and the manner in which it has constructed airstrikes in eastern Syria has empowered or disempowered the same moderate opposition upon which it will it will depend to contain the Islamic state in Syria as well as play a vital role in achieving an eventually political solution in Syria,” Ford said.

“The air campaign so far has infuriated the Syrians fighting the regime. For the first time since the Syrian uprising started in 2011 they are burning American flags because they think we are helping the regime instead of helping them.”

CNN’s Jim Acosta and Leslie Bentz contributed to this report.

British “White Widow” Terrorist Leaves Kenya, Dies Fighting NovoRussian Troops

‘White Widow’ terrorist shot dead in Ukraine – reports

Russia-Today

Samantha Lewthwaite (‘White Widow’) (Photo: Interpol)
Samantha Lewthwaite (‘White Widow’) (Photo: Interpol)

The ‘White Widow’, a British female terrorist suspect who allegedly fought alongside ISIS terrorists in Syria and was sought internationally has reportedly been shot dead in Ukraine. The news was reported by Russia’s Regnum news agency.

Samantha Lewthwaite, 30, was allegedly gunned down two weeks ago. However, no independent confirmation was available.

Lewthwaite recently fought alongside one of Kiev’s most infamous squads – the Aidar battalion, which was condemned by Amnesty International for its unmatched cruelty in eastern Ukraine.

It was said to be “involved in widespread abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions.”

She was reportedly a sniper for the group. Her killer was also a sniper – allegedly one who travelled from Russia to fight near Lugansk.

The White Widow was deemed one of Britain’s and the world’s most wanted terrorists.

She left the country in 2009 before links to atrocities in Africa began to pop up.

A photo of fake South African passport of Samantha Lewthwaite released by Kenyan police in December 2011. (AFP Photo)

A photo of fake South African passport of Samantha Lewthwaite released by Kenyan police in December 2011. (AFP Photo)

Prior to that, she had been married first to the Jamaican-born British suicide bomber, Germaine Lindsay. Her second marriage was to a British-born Muslim extremist, who was reportedly killed in a shoot-out between two splinter groups within Al-Shabab.

She was also a mother of four.

In Africa she fought with the fearsome Al-Shabab terrorist group in Somalia, who were implicated in Kenya’s Westgate shopping mall massacre of September 2013. It turned out she was actually the mastermind behind the operation.

Witnesses reported a white female among the assailants. 67 people died at the as a result of her Westgate plan.

She used a fake passport to escape Kenya to her supposedly native South Africa. That was the last anyone has heard of her until now, when she was apparently spotted in Ukraine.

Donbass Region Ukraine’s Only Source of Coal

Ukraine out in the cold this winter without coal from Russia, Donbass – Energy Minister

Russia-Today
Ukraine's Energy Minister Yuri Prodan (Reuters / Francois Lenoir)

Ukraine’s Energy Minister Yuri Prodan (Reuters / Francois Lenoir)

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Ukraine doesn’t see other options than to buy gas from Russia, or coal from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, to keep the country warm this winter, said Yury Prodan Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister.

“South Africa has refused to maintain further deliveries of coal to us. A new contract can be signed in at least a month and a half. We have no other choice but to turn to Russian suppliers and purchase their coal. The situation with coal supply is threatening. Energy security is at risk,” said Prodan at a government session Wednesday.

Ukraine now has just 1.7 million tons of coal reserves, which is critically low.

“There is a risk we won’t pull through the autumn and winter, but we continue to look for a way out,” he said.

The Prosecutor General’s office in Ukraine is investigating executives from the Ministry of Energy and the leading energy companies over coal purchases from South Africa and the funding of coal enterprises in territory beyond the control of Kiev.

READ MORE: Kremlin surprised Poland won’t give Ukraine free coal

Yury Prodan has been named as a witness in the case of coal supply from South Africa, and has rejected the allegation of inflated contract prices.

He said that once criminal proceedings were initiated Britain’s Steel Mont Trading refused to provide further deliveries of fuel. “Looking at what’s happening today, well-known European traders will refuse to supply coal, because shipping or payment can stop at any moment,” he said.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk ordered Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) to clarify the situation with the coal market.

“I asked the SBU to urgently investigate the situation and clarify who is behind the issue of coal market redistribution as it is a matter of national security,” he said at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The Energy Minister said American and Australian coal is 15-20 percent more expensive, the price of fuel with the right quality from Vietnam is higher as well. He will continue to look for the best suppliers and will try to resume shipments from South Africa, he said.

In the middle of October Ukraine asked Poland to supply coal charge-free.