UN Seriously Looking For Diplomatic “Exit” Door To Syrian War

Kathrin Hille in Moscow, Alex Barker in Brussels and Geoff Dyer in Washington

  Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, spe...Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, speaks to the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images©AFP  The chamber of the general assembly at the UN building in New York

Deep divisions over the format to begin a new peace initiative for Syria are emerging as the first obstacle for world leaders, as they meet at the UN general assembly on Monday to search for a response to a war engulfing the region.

Much of the attention will be focused on talks between Barack Obama, US president, and Vladimir Putin, Russian president, on Monday. However, Syria will be the main subject of a flurry of other meetings on the margins of the assembly which John Kerry, US secretary of state, likened to “diplomatic speed-dating”.

Prompted by Russia’s military build-up in Syria, European diplomats are seeking to reconfigure the so-called P5+1 format to address the Syrian conflict. This includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. It achieved the Iran nuclear deal and has been hailed as a model of constructive Russian diplomacy.

At a meeting scheduled at the assembly on Monday to discuss implementation of the Iran deal, the group is also expected to raise the subject of Syria. One option under consideration is to invite Turkey and Saudi Arabia to join a Syria-specific process under a UN umbrella, European diplomats said.

But the question of what role Iran should play could seriously hamper any such effort. Earlier diplomatic efforts over Syria this year have stalled over Russia’s attempts to pull in Iran.

At a meeting in Doha in early August, Mr Kerry, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Adel al-Jubeir, their Saudi counterpart, agreed that each of the three countries would draw up a list of Syrian opposition figures they considered moderate enough to become part of a political solution. In a next step, the three lists would have been merged to create a “platform” for a political transition.

But the initiative ran aground. “We sent them our list of 38 names, but the US and the Saudis didn’t do their homework,” said one Russian official. Four foreign diplomats said a push from Moscow for Iran to be included had raised misgivings in Riyadh.

US officials say that the administration has no objection to Iran being involved in Syria talks in some form. Indeed, Mr Kerry met Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, on Saturday at the UN, where they talked about the conflicts in both Syria and Yemen.

However, the Iranian role in any talks is a delicate issue for the US because, in the aftermath of the Iran nuclear deal, the administration has made commitments to the Saudis and other Gulf allies to prevent Iran from extending its influence in other parts of the region.

For that reason, US officials said that a transplant of the P5+1 format for the nuclear talks to the Syria issue, thereby giving Iran a formal role, would be unlikely. But they said the US was open to other formats for a new diplomatic initiative.

One idea under discussion is to form a contact group which could invite Iranian representatives on a less frequent basis, two European diplomats said.

On the role of Mr Assad, both Mr Kerry and some EU leaders have signalled that they are prepared to take a softer line on when Mr Assad has to depart — the main point of contention in past discussions with Russia.

US officials said one of the main reasons Mr Obama agreed to meet Mr Putin was to test the Russian leader’s level of commitment to Mr Assad after some subtle tweaks of Moscow’s language on the issue.

Said a senior administration official: “What we need to understand is, is this simply public rhetoric or is there a way for us to get the Russians to think seriously about the political transition which we believe needs to be part of a resolution of the Syrian conflict?”

In an interview with CBS to be aired on Sunday evening, Mr Putin defended his support of the Assad regime and criticised US backing of rebel groups.

“In my opinion, the provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the UN Charter,” he said. “We have been providing assistance to legitimate government entities only.”

US Soldiers Ordered To Ignore Screams of Afghan Boys Raped By Warlords

U.S. soldiers told to ignore Afghan allies’ abuse of boys

san antonio express

Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an Afghani militia commander for keeping a boy chained to a bed as a sex slave, in Mineola, N.Y., Sept. 18, 2015. American soldiers were instructed not to intervene in the sexual abuse of children - bachi bazi, literally "boy play" - long common among Afghan warlords and strongmen. Quinn, and others who did so, faced discipline and even career ruin. (Kirsten Luce/The New York Times) Photo: KIRSTEN LUCE, STR / New York Times / NYTNSDan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an Afghani militia commander for keeping a boy chained to a bed as a sex slave, in Mineola, N.Y., Sept. 18, 2015. American soldiers were instructed not to intervene in the sexual abuse of children – bachi bazi, literally “boy play” – long common among Afghan warlords and strongmen. Quinn, and others who did so, faced discipline and even career ruin. (Kirsten Luce/The New York Times)

KABUL — In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and U.S. soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The policy has endured as U.S. forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But GIs have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the U.S. military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children.

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“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up a U.S.-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

After the beating, the Army relieved Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan. He’s since left the military.

Four years later, the Army is also trying to forcibly retire Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, a Special Forces member who joined Quinn in beating up the commander.

When asked about U.S. military policy, the spokesman for the U.S. command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, wrote in an email: “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.” He added that “there would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.” An exception, he said, is when rape is being used as a weapon of war.

Chinese Military To Back-Up Russian Moves in Syria


Chinese Military Personnel Expected to Arrive in Syria

the arab source
By Leith Fadel
The recent arrival of the Russian Marines and Air Force to the Syrian port-city of Tartous has generated a significant amount of interest around the world, as the possibility of Russia’s direct military intervention becomes the focal point of the war on ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham).

Should the Russians begin military operations in Syria, what role with the U.S. led “Anti-ISIS Coalition” play in combatting the terrorist group? Will they coordinate with one another? Will they avoid one another?

It seems both sides have their own strategy to combat ISIS, but the U.S. has had far more experience fighting the terrorist group, despite their minimal success in obstructing their growth and advance in Syria and Iraq.

Russia seems poised to take a similar approach to the U.S. led Coalition; however, they are not seeking the assistance of the neighboring Arab countries to combat the terrorist group.

Instead, the Russians appear to have a contingency that involves another world power that was absent from the U.S. led Anti-ISIS Coalition: China.


On Tuesday morning, a Chinese naval vessel reportedly traveled through Egypt’s Suez Canal to enter the Mediterranean Sea; its destination was not confirmed.

However, according to a senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that is stationed inside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, Chinese military personnel and aerial assets are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks (6 weeks) to the port-city of Tartous – he could not provide anymore detail.

Russia has made it abundantly clear that they are taking an active role in this conflict, but the news of the Chinese military to Syria provides more insight into their contingency.

It appears that Russia is not going to combat ISIS alone: the plan is similar to the U.S.’ idea of a “coalition” of air forces, but far more involved on the ground; this is something the U.S. and their allies have avoided since the inception of their war against ISIS.

Despite all of this, Russia and the U.S. appear to be at it again; however, this is no space or arms race, they are actively flexing their muscles through their proxies (U.S.: rebels and Russia: Syrian Army).

Russian Jets Strike ISIL Positions in Syria’s Aleppo

Russian Jets Strike ISIL Positions in Syria’s Aleppo


Russian Jets Strike ISIL Positions in Syria's Aleppo
TEHRAN (FNA)- Military sources said that the Russian Air Force launched a series of airstrikes above Aleppo’s Eastern countryside, targeting the ISIL terrorist group’s positions along the Deir Hafer-Aleppo Highway while the Syrian Army attacked the terrorist group on the ground, Arab media reports said.

The sources told Syria’s al-Masdar news outlet that the Syrian army, in coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF), conducted a powerful assault on the ISIL positions at  ‘Ayn Sabl, resulting in the capture of the Southwestern perimeter of this town that is located to the East of Tal Rayman and Al-Salihiyah.

“The Russian fighter jets reportedly struck ISIL positions in East Aleppo with remarkable precision and relentless ferocity; these airstrikes also marked the first time that Russia physically participated in this four-year-long Syrian conflict,” the report said.

The Russian Air Force was also seen flying above the Damascus countryside, Lattakia and Hama Governorates, on Thursday morning, but all of their jets reportedly returned back to the Hmamiyat Military Airport in the Syrian coastal city of Jableh.

According to a senior officer in the Syrian army, these Russian airstrikes were coordinated with the Syrian Air Force , who launched their own raids along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzur Highway, added the report.

Meantime, other sources said that the jets were Russia-made fighters, but did not confirmed that they were operating under the Russian air force command.

Earlier this month, military sources said that the Syrian air force, using satellite images, carried out a series of airstrikes above the Prophet Younis Mountains in the Lattakia Governorate’s Northeastern territories, killing at least 47 militants from Liwaa Suqour Al-Ghaab and Ahrar Al-Sham.