Friday, August 31, 2012

'A store called Hitler'

"... Israel's consul-general in Mumbai, Orna Sagiv, said she was "really shocked" by the "insensitive" name.
Its owner says he did not know who Adolf Hitler was and the store is named after a business partner's grandfather who was called Hitler for being strict.
Mrs Sagiv said she would "raise the issue" with the state government next week during a pre-arranged visit to Gujarat.
"I don't think they have named the store out of malice, I think it's just ignorance and insensitivity on their part," she said.
The shop's owner Rajesh Shah, who sells men's clothing, said he was surprised he had upset people...."

National Security in Saudi Arabia: ‘no-hailing a Taxi law.’

"... Taxi drivers will be banned from random passenger pickups at various locations, from airports and hospitals to shopping malls and offices, as well as transport stations, the Saudi-based Arab News reported on Thursday. 
That means passengers who require a cab will need to call the taxi office in advance and make a booking.
The ministry announced last month that taxis were barred from ‘cruising’ the streets to pick up potential customers, and drivers who violated the regulation were slapped with about $1,300 (5,000 Saudi riyals).
Other guidelines require Saudi taxi companies to be solely owned by Saudi nationals as per the Saudization of the sector, ..."

Syria Monitoring Committee & Hariri's FUTURE: ''FSA downed 8 Syrian jetfighters just today!''

 and they call for kicking Syria's ambassador out and salutes Morsi' for his position.....
 SMC وتيار المستقبل في واشنطن  يدعوان إلى طرد السفير السوري من بيروت 
 بلغ تمادي النظام السوري في استباحة الساحة اللبنانية أن يعيّن "سفيراً" برتبة شبّيح دولي يمارس على الأرض اللبنانية كل النشاطات الإرهابية  نحن في لجنة الرصد السوريّة وتيار المستقبل نطالب بطرد السفير السوري إلى لبنان وإغلاق مقرّ السفارة في بيروت الذي تحوّل إلى وكر لعمليات الخطف والتنكيل والأعمال العصاباتية ه. نتوجّه بالشكر إلى الموقف الإنساني الرصين الذي أعلنه اليوم الرئيس محمد مرسي عن حق الشعب السوري المشروع في طلب الحريّة وندين تصريحات وليد المعلم غير المسؤولة والديماغوجية بحق الرئيس مرسي والشعب المصري الشقيق. كما نتوجّه بآيات الشكر والعرفان للجيش السوري الحرّ الذي يدافع عن الشعب السوري برمّته، والذي تمكّن اليوم من إسقاط 8 طائرات حربية للنظام. يحيا السوريون أحراراً كراماً وتحيا سوريا حرّة مستقلّة 
.  لجنة رصد السوريّة   
المنسق العام: مرح البقاعي
تيار المستقبل في واشنطن

IAEA: The "imminent danger" of a "nuclear Iran" has thereby decreased

'b' at MoonOfAlabama covers & dissects this stuff like no other.
"... Iran has now 10% less "dangerous stuff" in the form of further easily enrichable 20% UF6 than it had in May 2012. Further enriched this stockpile would not be enough to create even one nuclear device. The "imminent danger" of a "nuclear Iran" has thereby decreased.We can reasonably assume that Iran is doing this decrease on purpose and will in future convert any newly produced UF6 into fuel plates. This will keep its stock of UF6 at a level below what is needed to make a quick run towards a nuclear device.
But as the whole "nuclear Iran" scare has little to do with reality but a lot with U.S. and Israeli desire to subjugate Iran and thereby further their global and regional domination..."

"Apparently, I was wrong about my expectations,"

"...Davutoglu, whose country is hosting more than 80,000 Syrian refugees, said he came to the council with hope that its members would take "long overdue steps" to help suffering people and establish camps inside Syria for those forced to flee their homes."Apparently, I was wrong about my expectations," he told the council. "This meeting will not even end with a presidential or press statement, let alone a robust resolution."
The path to the council's agreement on a safe zone for Syrians is fraught with obstacles, headed by the reluctance of Russia and China ..."

De Borchgrave: "Assad appears to be emerging as the winner & Iran will have kept intact its direct link to Hezbollah & Gaza"

"... Today, the magic is long gone. After two wars on the credit card -- $1 trillion for Iraq and $500 billion and still counting for Afghanistan -- America's credit is maxed out. But the borrowing continues at a dizzying pace to pay for global policy commitments we can no longer afford.
If Obama is re-elected to a second term, he will most probably find a way to avoid running up the war bill in Afghanistan for the current commitment of two more years through the end of 2014. And if Mitt Romney becomes the 45th president, it is hard to see him prolonging the agony of the longest war in U.S. history that involves 48 other nations -- 37 with troops -- that would like to end it ASAP.
How long can the United States put up with green-on-blue killings by Afghan troops turning their guns on their American advisers who supplied them with weapons, ammo and pay? Not much longer.
Newsweek quotes one Afghan officer who says he understands why "our men are shooting U.S. and NATO soldiers."
"I have been personally hurt by the way American forces behave toward my soldiers, our villagers, our religion and culture. Too many of them are racist, arrogant and simply don't respect us," he said.
U.S. soldiers are watching their backs against Afghan soldiers for fear of insider attacks. Once cordial relations and visits to each other's quarters have stopped. Some Afghan soldiers are Taliban guerrillas ordered to false-flag volunteer to kill U.S. advisers.
Anthony Cordesman, a leading strategic thinker at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes: "This is a political war where the political impact of combat, politics, governance and economics are far more important than tactical success in directly defeating the enemy. At this level, the insurgents still seem to have significant momentum and are certainly not being decisively defeated."
Current plans, says Cordesman, "ignore the fundamental realities shaping the war," which are:
-- Pakistan is not a real ally and will not become one.
-- The United States cannot fully defeat al-Qaida or the threat of Islamist extremist terrorism in Afghanistan.
-- There is little prospect of a meaningful, stable and negotiated settlement with the Taliban and Haqqani network.
-- The United States, its allies, and (Afghan forces) cannot establish security across Afghanistan or even in all of the "critical" districts by the end of 2014 or at any predictable point thereafter.
-- Development of the Afghan security forces now focuses on rushing toward unobtainable numbers of forces, without regard to effectiveness and without clear plans to address funding and self-sustainment.
-- Transition alone will not convert Afghanistan into a developed, functional democracy with effective governance, civil rights and rule of law.
-- Economic growth and development are more illusory than real and sustaining them through transition will require serious, well-planned outside aid rather than the vacuous goals and pledges of the Tokyo Conference.... ... ...
Nothing is less certain in the light of more urgent strategic priorities.
The U.S. Naval Update Map for Aug. 29 shows two Carrier Strike Groups – the USS Enterprise and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower -- and the Amphibious Ready Group USS Iwo Jima , all deployed in the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility, which has headquarters in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Operations in Afghanistan are a minor part of this deployment.
A third Carrier Strike Group, the USS John C. Stennis, is underway in the Pacific "for a surge to U.S. 5th Fleet AOR deployment."
This formidable display of air and sea power is there to deter Iran's retaliatory capabilities in the Persian Gulf if Israel decides to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.
These U.S. defense decisions were taken before an almost $500 billion defense cut kicks in over the next 10 years.
This could double to $1 trillion unless Democrats and Republicans can agree before sequestration kicks in at year's end.
Meanwhile, Iran managed to convene the 120-nation non-aligned group in Tehran, with some 50 heads of state and government in attendance, including Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, the first such visit in three decades.
At the same time, Iran's close ally Bashar Assad in Syria appears to be emerging as the winner in a civil war that has killed some 25,000 in 19 months, roughly the same amount his father, the late Hafez Assad, killed in less than a week in Hama in February 1982.
If Assad Jr.'s Alawite regime prevails, Iran will have kept intact its direct link with its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, and from Lebanon south to its other proxy in Gaza. An Israeli attack on Iran would automatically trigger retaliatory capabilities throughout the region..."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aussie Forces Suffer Worst Day Since Vietnam

"(AP) - SYDNEY - Australia on Thursday mourned the deaths of five of its soldiers in Afghanistan, three killed by an Afghan army colleague, in the nation's deadliest hours of combat since the Vietnam War.,."

[Don't Laugh!]: 'Can Hezbollah survive the onslaught of Michel Sleiman & Najib Miqati?'

".... It seems that the Lebanese Army has finally received political cover, mainly from President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to confront Hezbollah and its allies and to put an end to the violence. On Sunday, 18 armed men from a family with links to Hezbollah were arrested by the Lebanese Army. Two trucks and a warehouse full of weaponry were confiscated.
This arrest is politically significant. It means that the Lebanese prime minister and president are no longer willing to jeopardize stability in Lebanon by giving Hezbollah full cover, ..."

On AF flight 562: 'The arms peddler to the Syrian militias was more worried than all!'

"...A Paris, le patron des opérations d'Air France, ordonne à l'appareil de se dérouter. Le Caire? Trop loin. Ce sera Amman: à 18h57, les autorités jordaniennes donnent leur accord. Le capitaine Derry Gregoire annonce la nouvelle aux passagers. En classe affaires, Bahige Tabbarah, ancien ministre libanais, est surpris: "Et pourquoi pas Chypre? L'aéroport de Larnaca est tout proche..."....20h20 L'Airbus survole Beyrouth. Au loin, c'est la Syrie, qu'il faut couper par le sud pour rejoindre la Jordanie. Sauf que les Français n'ont pas d'autorisation de survol. Il va falloir jouer serré. "Allô Damas, ici vol AF 562..." annonce le commandant Gregoire. Les premiers échanges sont très secs. Les contrôleurs syriens ne comprennent pas la présence de cet avion sur leur radar. "Mesure d'urgence", explique le commandant. Il veut juste une route directe pour Amman. Il ne l'aura jamais.
Car les Syriens vont montrer une rare mauvaise volonté. Changements de cap, virage à 270 degrés... Durant trente minutes, les instructions s'enchaînent, aussi incohérentes les unes que les autres. "Ils sont en train de nous balader", grimace le commandant ...
20h50 La situation a encore empiré dans le cockpit. Le commandant se rend compte qu'il n'a plus assez de "jus" pour rejoindre Amman. Il faut atterrir à Damas. Patrice Paoli est l'un des premiers à l'apprendre. Il accuse le choc. Un ambassadeur français en terre syrienne... Le moment est plutôt mal choisi,............ le commandant entame sa descente. "Mayday! Mayday!" dit-il dans la radio. Le signal de détresse. Un avion qui lance un tel SOS a la priorité absolue pour se poser. En théorie. Car on ne peut pas dire que ce message émeut les Syriens. "Malgré le Mayday, le contrôle aérien syrien a continué d'être peu coopératif", écrira plus tard le pilote dans son rapport. ..... A l'arrière, une hôtesse fait la chasse à un Libanais parti fumer dans les toilettes...... Certains passagers croient à une farce. Pas tous. "Si ça peut nous permettre de partir plus vite! s'exclame un Libanais, en classe business. Quelle somme faut-il réunir?" "17 000 dollars", répond la chef de cabine. "Moi, j'ai 4000 dollars, et vous?" lance-t-il à la cantonade. "Il était plus inquiet que les autres, raconte Amine Haddad. J'ai su qu'il vendait des armes aux insurgés syriens. Vous imaginez son stress! Le pire moment, c'est quand il a appris que le commandant allait remettre la liste des passagers aux Syriens. Il a eu peur qu'ils montent dans l'appareil. Il n'était pas le seul..." 

"The US & its allies should continue to avoid the no-fly zone trap!"

"... In fact, despite ongoing calls for international intervention by some opposition groups, an effective no-fly zone in Syria still has no international, regional or domestic buy-in. A large gap remains between the near unanimous sense of obligation to protect Syrian civilians and the means required to do so. Recently updated digests of US and global opinions on the Syrian crisis compiled by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Program on International Policy Attitudes and a recent CNN poll indicate that while a clear majority of world opinion supports a no-fly zone enforced by the US and its allies, it is unsupportive of military engagement. The poll also reveals negative regional attitudes toward the US role in the Syrian crisis thus far. Without regional backing or a mandate to engage the enemy, any potential no-fly zone would be rendered ineffective and potentially destabilizing from the outset.....
The Iraqi case also reveals that an extended no-fly or safety zone could encourage the further fragmentation of the Syria state. The uneven availability of international protection, alliance structures, and security forces in particular regions of Syria would likely reinforce growing fissures between groups and regions. Depending upon the nature of external support over time, different nationalist, religious and tribal communities could take advantage of their protected enclaves by advancing their own group agendas that challenge Syrian state unity. One of the by-products of the northern Iraqi no-fly zone and its accompanying 12-year safe haven is the present-day Iraqi Kurdish quasi-state.
Regional states have their own political baggage that could further complicate the efficacy of a safety zone and unsettle local relations. For instance, many Syrians are skeptical of Ankara’s calls for a buffer zone. Some worry about the influence of a Muslim Brotherhood regime backed by Istanbul while others are concerned about Turkey’s ambitions to extend its control over Syrian territories, referring to the 1938 İskenderun annexation and unresolved Cyprus problem. Still others see a buffer zone to control refugee flows in northern Syria as a pretext for Turkey to root out the PKK problem and shape the region in a post-Assad state.
In the absence of necessary conditions to implement a successful no-fly zone, as well as the “dangers of perpetual patrol,” the US and its allies should continue to avoid the no-fly zone trap ...."

'We will still not tangle with these guys!"

...  'secular' (ehem) rebels in Syria & their supporters abroad still say that they 'will deal with the one thousand percent more lethal Syrian al Qaedaesque militias in due time', that there is plenty of time to 'tame the beast!
"... An estimated 200 heavily armed Islamists destroyed 30 graves at a historic Turkish school in Tripoli’s old city early Wednesday and an unspecified number of other mosques also were attacked, further signs that Libya’s NATO-installed government is facing a major challenge from extremists less than a month after the first elections in this country in 50 years.....
The attack at the school, which was founded in the 19th century by a Turkish official who is now buried there along with members of his family, was another in a string of assaults that have targeted mosques and other sites associated with Sufism, a mystical brand of Islam that some conservative Muslims consider heretical.
On Tuesday, Libya’s interior minister, Fawzi Abdel Al, said that heavily armed Islamists posed a serious threat to Libya’s security. He said he was withdrawing the resignation .....
Members of the police and the Supreme Security Committee, an amalgamation of militias that is the country’s military, stood guard and watched as armed Salafists, followers of a fundamentalist strain of Islam, razed Tripoli’s Sidi Shaab Mosque and the Abdel Salam al Asmar shrine in Zlitan, 100 miles east of Tripoli, over the weekend. Some of the attackers were reported to be serving members of the Supreme Security Committee.
“If we deal with this using security we will be forced to use weapons, and these groups have huge amounts of weapons,” Abdel Al said. “They are large in power and number in Libya. I can’t enter a losing battle to kill people over a grave."...."

My,! A Truly 'non-aligned' summit: 'Jeffrey Feltman in Khamenei's Court!'

'UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs, 
Feltman met, Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, Jalili & Larijani. 
"... former American diplomat Jim Dobbins told Al-Monitor that Feltman likely would have given the US government at least a courtesy ‘heads up’ about his trip, even if he would not take guidance from them. The meeting “is interesting,” Dobbins, now at the Rand Corporation, said.
And another former senior US official who asked not to be named acknowledged she was “shocked” to learn of the meeting, mostly because the Obama administration had publicly pressed Ban to forgo the trip. Feltman, who served as ambassador to Lebanon during the 2006 war, is thought to be fairly hardline on Iran..."
 'The Norwegian Zionist, Terje Roed Larsen was there too'

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"The problem is ...."

'Remember that WAR? '
"... "The US is not losing the war in Afghanistan in the classic military sense. The US, its allies, and Afghan forces still win virtually every direct military encounter. The problem is that this is a political war where the political impact of combat, politics, governance, and economics are far more important than tactical success in directly defeating the enemy. At this level, the insurgents still seem to have significant momentum and are certainly not being decisively defeated.Moreover, tactical military success is no guarantee of a successful Transition...."

"One man, one vote, one time!"

"The Islamist cause prospers in Egypt, not so much in Syria.  In Egypt Air Marshal Shafik, Mursi's principal opponent in the late election is placed on a "watch list" at the ports of departure from Ehypt.  This is obviously a prelude to prosecution.  A suitable charge will be found.  Shafik nearly won.  That can't happen again according to the Islamist playbook.  "One man, one vote, one time" is their formula.  The Islamist dominated parliament and constitution drafting committee will put religious freedom to a vote as well as provisions to allow the parliament and president to imprison minister who displease them.  "Proress" is being made in Egypt and the US applauds it.In Syria even the Washington Post admits that the Islamist rebels are losing.  Wherever they try to hold ground, they lose.  they shoud read something like "People's War, People's Army" by Giap.  Nevertheless, Syrian government forces are still described in the Post as "pro-regime" forces  In Turkey the MB related Erdogan pushes for an attack on the Syrian Air Force.  What is left of the Turkish General Staff resists this.  
All in all, this is a mixed "bag" for the neo-Wilsonians in the Obama Administration. What will he do to "up the ante" if he is re-elected?  What will the neocon tool Romney do if he wins?"Is a puzzlement."  pl

Assad: "We're heading forward"

"...Mr Assad said the Syrian government was "fighting a battle both regionally and internationally"."It definitely needs time to bring it to a decisive end. But I can sum it up in one sentence: we're heading forward," he told al-Dunya. "The situation on the ground is better now, but the conclusion is not there yet. That needs some time."
The security forces were "doing a heroic job in every sense", he added. ..."

Libyan Minister: "We will not tangle with Islamists!"

"(Reuters) - Libya's interior minister said on Tuesday he could would not risk an armed confrontation with hardline Muslims behind a string of sectarian attacks, in an unusually candid admission of the scale of the security challenge facing the country ..."

al Muallem: ""We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments."

"... Muallem nodded. "If you met the same Emir two years ago, he was praising Assad, and considered him a dear friend. They used to have family relations, spending family holidays in Damascus and sometimes in Doha. There is an important question: what happened? …' ."At the same time, when I was waiting to enter a meeting, there was the head of the Tunisian party Ennahda and the Emir issued orders to pay Ennahda $150m to help his party in the elections. Anyway, this was their business. But I asked the Emir: 'You were having very close relations with Muammar Gaddafi and you were the only leader in his palace when Gaddafi hosted you during the summit – so why are you sending your aircraft to attack Libya and be part of Nato?' The Emir said simply: 'Because we don't want to lose our momentum in Tunis and Egypt – and Gaddafi was responsible for dividing Sudan'."
Of America's power, Walid Muallem had no doubt. The Americans, he says, succeeded in frightening the Gulf countries about Iran's nuclear capabilities, persuaded them to buy arms from the US, fulfilling Franklin Roosevelt's 1936 dream of maintaining bases for oil transportation.
"We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments." ..."

'Any foreign power flooding Syria with arms will see those weapons used for undesired purposes in unexpected places!'

"...Further, arms remain instruments, and do not reliably alter the political agency of their users. In Syria, the fact that many rebels buy their arms from regime troops, or from Iraqi soldiers reselling U.S.-provided arms, should suggest that any foreign power that floods Syria with arms is likely to see those weapons used for undesired purposes in unexpected places. Not only that, but as Libya demonstrated, merely providing arms to rival groups does not preclude the existence of others. ..."

Kodmani: 'SNC does not work with other opposition groups & lost credibility'

Apparently, Kodmani's keyboard is not French, but US English!
"...“I decided to leave the council because of a difference of views over how to move forward and because thought I could be more productive working on the outside,” Kodmani, a Paris-based academic turned revolutionary, said today in a telephone interview.Without going into details, the former chief spokeswoman for the SNC said that in “general terms, I’ve been disappointed with how the council has worked on several levels.” She said she will work with other groups, mainly in humanitarian relief. ..."

Top Libyan officials implicated in mosque desecrations

"Members of the Libyan government and its military have been implicated in the destruction by Islamists over the weekend of several mosques affiliated with the Sufi branch of Islam, an indication that the government that replaced Moammar Gadhafi after a months-long NATO bombing campaign is having difficulty controlling its extremist elements...."

Romney: 'NO to a Syria no-fly zone'

"... "The governor has not called for a no-fly zone. Close friends of his such as Sens. McCain, Lieberman, and Graham have called for a no-fly zone for weeks. That is not a step that Governor Romney has made," senior campaign advisor Rich Williamson told The Cable on the sidelines of a foreign-policy event here at the Republican National Convention........... the Romney team struggled to draw clear distinctions between its policy and what the Obama administration is already doing. For now, the Romney camp is sticking to its calls for arming the rebels directly but not using U.S. military assets inside Syria...."

'Syria’s rebels are not yet worthy of our trust'

"... To judge by the performance of the main Syrian opposition groups to date, it is by no means clear that they can overcome their differences to form a united front. And even if they did succeed in putting together a provisional government, it is unlikely that its agenda would be one that has much appeal for the West.It is sensible to assume that al-Qaeda’s claims about playing a leading role in the struggle to overthrow Assad’s regime are exaggerated. But the presence of its cells of suicide bombers, with their distinctive black and white flags, on the rebels’ front lines certainly does not inspire confidence that post-Assad Syria will be to the West’s liking. This is one reason that all the major Western powers – including France – have refrained from arming the rebels. We should also remember that the majority of those participating in the anti-government rebellion are Sunni Muslims who support Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that was brutally suppressed by the former president, Hafez al-Assad, when it attempted to overthrow his government in 1982. The Muslim Brotherhood might not pursue the same hateful agenda as the fanatics of
al-Qaeda, but it is highly unlikely that the establishment of an Islamist government in Damascus would make Syria any better disposed to the West than it is under the current regime.
Indeed, the prospect of a second Muslim Brotherhood government taking root in the Arab world is one of the reasons that Egypt’s newly elected president Mohamed Morsi will be looking forward to his visit to Iran later this week, when he will be discussing the possibility of finding a regional solution to the Syrian conflict.
With avowedly Islamist leaders such as Mr Morsi seeking to determine the political outcome in Damascus, it certainly makes sense for the West to find out how the Syrians view their own destiny before making any rash commitments about no-fly zones and the like. And it is why Mr Hollande’s proposal, plausible and level-headed though it may sound, should be treated with extreme caution."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"... Funnily, what the US newspapers claim is Hasan Nasrallah's thoughts, is in fact what he presents as Israel's & not what he thinks."

"...  I received a copy from the New York Times of the BBC report on Nasrallah speech from 2005, which was cited in the correction today.   The report said:  "“would dry up the sources of finance, end moral, political and material support, stifle voices, whether they are the voices of the resistance or the voices which support the resistance, pressure states which protect the resistance in one way and another, and pressure the Lebanese state, Iran and Iraq, but especially the Lebanese state, in order to classify it as a state which supports terrorism.”  But I looked up the actual speech.  Here is what he actually said:  "Due to the shelving of the military option by the Israelis, they resorted to two option.  The first was to target the leaders of the resistance, and the second was to put a siege on the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine, politically and diplomatically, through a comprehensive plan...the Zionist effort seeks to convince countries of the world and the international community that the resistance in Lebanon, which Hizbullah constitutes its most prominent headline, is a terrorist organization...If the Zionists succeed in this, it will mean an international and global war on the resistance under the headline of "war on international terrorism" through a political and financial and media war and to pressure the states that protect the resistance especially in Lebanon, Syria and Iran.  The Zionists who failed in their military and security confrontation in Lebanon are trying through political action and international relations to end the role of the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine.  They want from the Lebanese and Palestinians to end the role of the resistance..."  As you can see, it is an entirely different meaning and words altogether.
PS Hamzah found an audio of the speech and he wrote me this:  "Ok I found it's at at minute 15..Funnily, what the US newspapers guys claims from sayyed [Hasan Nasrallah] is what he presents as Israel's thoughts not what he thinks."
PPS And in this full text of the speech he makes it clear that he was not speaking about what could happen but about he Zionist plans which he ridiculed and denied any presence of an international arm of the party--meaning, the entire speech refutes the very premise of the first article in the Times.   He was talking about what the Zionists want to do and said that they think that they can "dry up the sources of funding, and to end the political, moral, and material sources of support, muzzling voices whether they are voices of resistance or voices supportive of resistance, and to pressure the states..."

"We want to see President Mursi visit Jerusalem"

"..."We definitely hope to see President Mursi receive official Israeli representatives in the near future. We want to see him interviewed by the Israeli media. We want to see him visit Jerusalem as a guest of President (Shimon) Peres in Israel," the ultranationalist Lieberman told a legal conference in Tel Aviv. ..."

Hollande talks tough but hopes no one outside the hexagon is listening!

"...An IPSOS poll for French weekly news magazine Le Point on Monday showed that his approval rating has dropped from 55% to 44% in August alone.“Although this has just as much to do with unemployment in France as criticism over Syria, these comments from Sarkozy and Fillon will certainly have had a negative effect,” IPSOS polling director Mathieu Doiret told FRANCE 24.
“It boils down to being perceived to be absent at a time of crisis.”
Hollande’s speech on Monday sought to answer some of these criticisms and to tackle head on his crumbling domestic approval.
His demand for the Syrian rebels to form a provisional government and that France would recognise it is an unprecedented step – most western nations, while calling for Assad to step down, have not formally said that they will recognise the opposition.

While most diplomats recognise that a united opposition is a vital prerequisite to a transition of power, outside of France there is more reluctance to recognise the opposition while it remains plagued by divisions and without even a transition plan..."

"We're nowhere near that yet!"

"...Abdelbaset Sieda, speaking in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said the opposition is making "serious" preparations and consultations to announce a transitional government, but admitted it is not imminent.
On Monday, French President Francoise Hollande called on the Syrian opposition to form a provisional government, saying France would recognize it. But Hollande's statement, believed to be the first of its kind, was quickly shot down by U.S. officials who said it was premature to speak about a provisional government when Syria's fractured opposition hasn't even agreed yet on a transition plan.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter, cited persistent disagreements among the Syrian National Council and rival opposition groups, and between Syrian opposition figures campaigning outside the country and rebels fighting the Assad regime on the front line.
"We're nowhere near that yet," one U.S. official said.
Sieda said the U.S. comments show the international community was not ready not ready" to take decisive decisions when it comes to Syria...."

Russian Army Chief of Staff: '"Why are you so worried about Syria?"

"...The head of Russia's army said Tuesday that Moscow had no intention to end its military presence in Syria despite the escalating violence and threat of President Bashar Al-Assad's fall."Why are you so worried about Syria?" Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov demanded in response to a question about reports that Russia was in the process of evacuating its Syrian naval base and pulling out senior military personnel.
"All the plans that we have in place are working and no one is running away from there," news agencies quoted Makarov as saying.
"I would think it is premature to start making any conclusions..." Makarov said. ..."

'Gangs of Aleppo'

"... One of the characteristics shared by most disintegrating states is a vast surplus of young men who have no access to jobs, money, or women. Gangs are a magnet for them. We see this in American contexts as well: in public schools, in ethnic neighborhoods, and in our prisons, most of which are controlled not by wardens but by racially defined gangs.Young men are also drawn to fighting, which, conveniently, is something gangs do. Much of what we see in states struggling for their lives such as Syria is supply-side war. Fighting spreads not because of some “cause” like democracy but because idle young men see a fight and join in. Why not? They have nothing to do, nothing to lose, and thanks to their new gang and AK-47, lots to take: money, women, and fame. The New York Timesreported from Aleppo:
'... Residents said there were not just clashes between the government and insurgents, but also rival militias from the countryside fighting for control of individual streets. … In a central old quarter, one man said a friend had warned him not to visit because young gunmen had established a checkpoint to rob car passengers....'
Gangs fight not only the government but also each other, and their internecine wars further weaken the state. We need look no further than to our southern neighbor, Mexico, where the killing fields spread as drug gangs massacre one another and any civilians or agents of the state who get in their way. The state arose to bring order, and widening gang wars reveal the state’s impotence. In the struggle for legitimacy that lies at the core of Fourth Generation war, a state that cannot control gangs becomes an object of contempt for friend and foe alike...."

"There is no rush to do it."

"... "It's a Donilon call at the end of the day," the official said, referring to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who is leading a complicated interagency policy process on the Syria crisis. "There's not enthusiasm but there are differences of opinion about a no-fly zone," the official said. "There is no rush to do it."The Assad regime's lack of use of fixed-wing aircraft was cited internally as a reason not to declare at no-fly zone and that reason no longer applies, the official argued. Opponents of a no-fly zone have also argued that the Syrian internal opposition had not formally requested it. That reason is also no longer operative.
"There's a question of whether or not our government is willing to reject the request. Or they could take it into consideration for a long time," the official said. "There's a recognition that some decision has to be made. We are quickly reaching a turning point due to the escalation.".........
While this would require no U.S. combat forces on the ground, it could have a strategically significant impact by reinforcing the emerging rebel safe zones in northern Syria and allowing the opposition the space they need to organize politically and establish a transitional government on Syrian soil."..."

Monday, August 27, 2012

(PARIS)— Hollande calls on Syrian opposition to form provisional govt, says France would recognize it.

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Libya,"

"... The warning is the first the State Department has issued since September 2011 and the first since the July 7 elections in Libya, which saw the Transnational National Council, which has been running the country since Qaddafi's fall, replaced this month by the General National Congress. Those elections were deemed to be free and fair, but now political uncertainly has been replaced by insecurity on the streets of Libya's major cities...."

"al-Qaida; the Salafis, & the Muslim Brotherhood... all equally dangerous!"

"...Focusing on the Sunni tidal wave, the foundational bit of knowledge is that there are three types, and you better learn them all and their complex interrelationships because a lot of people are going to be misinforming you about this and getting others – never themselves, of course – killed.
The three types are the al-Qaida type; the Salafis, and the Muslim Brotherhood. They are all equally dangerous and some are more dangerous in different ways. Have no illusions....  al-Qaida is not the great threat of the 21st century. It is a problem for counterterrorism and relatively lightweight counterinsurgency.
They may be the worst guys, but they are not the West’s main global strategic problem. ....
.... even al-Qaida can be used by the Brotherhood. Look at what happened: an al-Qaida group stormed into an Egyptian base, killed lots of soldiers, stole a couple of vehicles, and attacked the border with Israel.
True, the Egyptian regime (that is, the Brotherhood) attacked and killed some of the al-Qaida people. After all, these terrorists had murdered Egyptian soldiers. But what did the regime tell its people? That Israel was behind the attack. Israel had murdered Egyptians.
And therefore there is more reason than ever to hate and wage war against Israel.......
Then there are the Salafis, a word coined only recently in part as a pretense to pretend that the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate. ........ Sometimes the Brotherhood uses the Salafis as a convenient excuse. If Islamic Jihad lobs rockets and mortars at Israel, well – wink, wink, nudge, nudge – that isn’t the fault of Hamas, is it? At times, the Salafis can furnish the Brotherhood with the needed stormtroopers, ............One thing is clear though: the Salafis’ goal is exactly the same as that of the Brotherhood. The only question is how fast to go, how radical to talk, and how much violence to use. ..."

Egypt's Attorney General's office: 'Samir Geagea' accused of financing plot to overthrow Mursi'

 'Geagea' & LBC's, Pierre Daher'
"...The citizen had reported to the attorney general that he was watching a religious satellite channel when it received a telephone call from political and human rights activist Mohamed Othman, who said he had confirmed that Abou Hamed had received funding from both internal and external sources to cause sectarian strife and overthrow the regime.According to Othman, the foreign funds come from Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who Abou Hamed met while visiting Lebanon. He further alleged that the internal funding comes from an Egyptian businessman aiming to agitate public opinion against President Mohamed Morsy. ..."
'Frequent visitor to Riyadh'

"'Who are you training in that camp? Are you raising men to spill Muslims’ blood?’”

"... Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu slammed the government yesterday after a party delegation was not allowed to visit the Apaydın refugee camp near Hatay, which hosts defected Syrian soldiers. 
“I sent our deputies to check out the camp, which was said to be full of agents and spies,” Kılıçdaroğlu said while in the central Anatolian province of Afyonkarahisar. “But the authorities said you cannot enter this camp. Now I expect an answer from the government: ‘What is in that camp? Who are you training in that camp? Are you raising men to spill Muslims’ blood?’”
Kocaeli deputy Hurşit Güneş said they couldn’t get the required authorization from the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD). “There are claims over this camp that defected soldiers are being trained and given weapons and sent back to Syria,” Güneş said, adding that he will follow up the issue when he returns to Ankara. ..."

“Saudi Arabia is totally pragmatic”

"... A similar approach characterises its policy towards Syria. Riyadh fears (Whoa?) the civil war could lead to the replacement of President Bashar al-Assad with an Islamist – yet for almost a year it has been among the most vocal advocates of the opposition, and one of the few countries believed to be supplying rebels with money and weapons. It sees the toppling of Mr Assad as a way of weakening Iran, an ambitious regional rival with whom Mr Assad is allied.
Meanwhile the most urgent regional crisis – Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear programme and its perceived desire to dominate the Gulf – has intensified. The failure of Tehran’s negotiations with world powers has heightened the prospect of Israeli attacks that would further unsettle the region. As a result, Saudi Arabia today faces one of its most difficult periods since it was founded 80 years ago. The domestic situation compounds the problems..."

Rivals? Not really.

"... Mr. Morsi’s focus bisects Washington’s customary division of the region, between Western-friendly states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the one hand and Iran on the other, said Emad Shahin, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo.But although it involves collaboration with American rivals, Mr. Morsi’s specific initiative, in particular, also appears largely harmonious with the stated Western objective of ending the Syrian bloodshed....Mr. Morsi has already called for Mr. Assad to leave power ........ “Obviously, you need channels to the Assad regime — people who are uncomfortable with the way things stand and would like to be seen as playing a more positive role,” said Peter Harling, a Syria researcher at the International Crisis Group, speaking of Iran. “And any effort to reach Iran can’t include the Western camp; it would be impossible if the U.S. was involved.”"

“There’s nothing good for us: there’s no work,... they don’t want to fight,”

"...“There’s nothing good for us: there’s no work, my family is away and some people died,” Abu Bera said. “Nothing that happened is good.”Over the past year, fighting has increased between Tripoli’s Alawite fighters, who support the Damascus-based regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Sunni militias that support Syria’s rebels.....
The latest round of fighting began on the weekend that marked the end of Ramadan..... someone opened fire. As usual, both sides blamed each other for beginning the battle. Since then, 16 people have died and more than 100 have been injured in the fighting, according to local media....
“They don’t want to fight,” he said of his fighters, with a heavy burst from an automatic weapon nearby belying his hopeful statement.
There are plenty of reasons to not to want to fight. During battles, families are often evacuated from homes near the front line. With no garbage collection, refuse piles in the streets. Basic supplies like water, food and cigarettes are quickly exhausted from the shops near the front line, meaning a perilous sprint across the sniper alleys for those in need.
The frequent battles never have a winner or loser......  Actual assaults — moving on territory held by the other side — are rare...... While all fighters share a hatred of the Syrian regime and its Lebanese allies, boredom seems to drive the urge to fight for some at times. While battles result when militia leaders decide to mobilize, it seems that many fighters often take matters into their own hands.
The mutual hatred between both sides, the lack of a final resolution to battles, combined with growing tensions over Syria – and occasional boredom – ensure that the clashes keep happening.
As the night progressed, Abu Bera slept and some Sunni fighters continued firing in Jebel Mohsen from concealed sniper positions. For hours, the steady staccato of Bab al-Tabbaneh’s snipers at work was unable to provoke a response...... It was only when his phone rang that he woke up. The caller had news that Khaled Baradei, a 28-year-old Salafi fighter and leader, had been killed in Riva, another neighborhood bordering Jebel Mohsen. The cease-fire was voided and the battle was back on .......
At first light, thick black smoke streamed from the front line in Jebel Mohsen down the street and the intensity of the battle increased. Several blocks away from Abu Bera’s fighters, another group of militants who said they were partisans loyal to Future Movement leader and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri were sidelined from the battle after they had exhausted most of their ammunition............
A few hours later, back where Abu Bera’s fighters were stationed, some of the Army’s armored personnel carriers belonging to the 12th Infantry Division began firing their .50-caliber machine guns at Jebel Mohsen.  After each long burst, the Sunni fighters would cheer and shout “Allahu Akbar!” The Sunni fighters used the involvement of the military to push their attack, beginning to ready rocket-propelled grenade tubes and using the Army’s fire as cover to duck down exposed alleys to the front.
The relationship that the Sunni fighters here have with the Lebanese Armed Forces is complicated and confusing....... In engagements earlier this year, Sunni fighters showed contempt for some Army units and admitted to opening fire on them at times.  In May, Abu Bera showed a video of an unidentified unit of the Lebanese Army opening fire on the buildings lining Syria Street.
This time around though, one group of Sunni fighters admitted to buying ammunition at a cut rate from a sympathetic Lebanese soldier stationed on the street....
On Thursday evening, the Lebanese government said that it had approved the “political cover” needed for the Army to go into Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jebel Mohsen and quell the fighting. On Friday night, the government said that arrest warrants had been issued for all fighting in the conflict. In Bab al-Tabbaneh, though, there appeared to be no effort at all to stop the Sunni fighters...."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Egypt investigates killing of a suspected militant

 "... EL-ARISH, Egypt – Egyptian authorities are investigating the death of a suspected militant near the country's border with Israel on Sunday, security officials said. Ibrahim Madhan was killed while riding a motorcycle in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula some 9 miles from the Israeli border. The security officials said scraps from a missile were found next to his body.Officials said they are considering several scenarios, including the possibility of an Israeli missile strike. That would raise questions about whether it was coordinated with Egyptian authorities...."

Egypt investigates killing of a suspected militant

 "... EL-ARISH, Egypt – Egyptian authorities are investigating the death of a suspected militant near the country's border with Israel on Sunday, security officials said. Ibrahim Madhan was killed while riding a motorcycle in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula some 9 miles from the Israeli border. The security officials said scraps from a missile were found next to his body.Officials said they are considering several scenarios, including the possibility of an Israeli missile strike. That would raise questions about whether it was coordinated with Egyptian authorities...."

Egypt investigates killing of a suspected militant

 "... EL-ARISH, Egypt – Egyptian authorities are investigating the death of a suspected militant near the country's border with Israel on Sunday, security officials said. Ibrahim Madhan was killed while riding a motorcycle in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula some 9 miles from the Israeli border. The security officials said scraps from a missile were found next to his body.Officials said they are considering several scenarios, including the possibility of an Israeli missile strike. That would raise questions about whether it was coordinated with Egyptian authorities...."

Egypt investigates killing of a suspected militant

 "... EL-ARISH, Egypt – Egyptian authorities are investigating the death of a suspected militant near the country's border with Israel on Sunday, security officials said. Ibrahim Madhan was killed while riding a motorcycle in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula some 9 miles from the Israeli border. The security officials said scraps from a missile were found next to his body.Officials said they are considering several scenarios, including the possibility of an Israeli missile strike. That would raise questions about whether it was coordinated with Egyptian authorities...."

Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority: 'We rejected a US demand to fire on an Iranian vessel!'

Al Mayadeen reported that yesterday.
"... Egyptian Naval Forces recently rejected a U.S. demand to fire on an Iranian vessel loaded with arms and heading to Syria, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority has told Al Arabiya.
Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, also former commander of the Egyptian Navy, ruled out the possibility of any military operations in the Suez Canal, to guarantee the security of the international waterway...."

'What if Putin is right?'

 Russia knows Jihadis: 'Chechnya' Shamil Basayev before he got killed in 2006''
"...La Russie connait bien le monde musulmanPour autant, ce serait toutefois bien méconnaître la réalité de la Russie contemporaine que de s’arrêter là. On l’oublie trop souvent, la Russie connaît bien le monde musulman. Tout d’abord, rappelons qu’entre 15 et 20 millions de Russes ont l’islam pour religion, localisés essentiellement dans le Caucase du Nord ou encore au Tatarstan. Ensuite, une guerre en Afghanistan mais aussi quelque 70 ans de présence en Asie centrale ont créé une vraie connaissance du monde arabo-musulman que des alliances avec des régimes arabes dits alors progressistes – c’était dans les années 1960 et 1970 – ont largement confortée.
Vu de Moscou, en résumé, le bilan des révolutions arabes est accablant. Ces dernières ne conduisent pas à la démocratie, contrairement aux espoirs qu’elles avaient suscités initialement. En Tunisie, en Libye ou encore en Egypte, ce sont des régimes islamistes qui sont arrivés au pouvoir et qui, aujourd’hui, étouffent l’émergence d’une vraie liberté. Les minorités ethniques et religieuses ainsi que les femmes sont les premières à payer le prix de l’instauration, de fait, de la loi coranique et d’un ordre moral régressif.
Vu de Moscou, Qatar et Arabie saoudite sont les vrais éléments déstabilisateurs de la région. Ces deux pays, qui ne sont pas des parangons de démocratie, loin s’en faut, financent aujourd’hui tous les mouvements salafistes, wahhabites ou encore se réclamant d’Al Qaeda, qui n’ont qu’un objectif, faire refluer l’influence des valeurs occidentales et instaurer une espace islamiste le plus étendu possible. L’instabilité qui prévaut aujourd’hui, par exemple, au sud du Sahara, leur doit pour beaucoup
L’Occident coupable de cécitéLa chute de Bachar al-Assad, surtout si elle est brutale, ne peut amener, pour Moscou, qu’à l’instauration d’un régime là encore islamiste. L’Occident, vu de Russie, est coupable de cécité et d’aveuglement tant il n’a de cesse de soutenir des groupes armés qui, une fois arrivés au pouvoir, lui tourneront le dos pour s’inscrire dans le projet de création d’un grand espace sunnite-islamiste, par définition anti-occidental, mais aussi anti-chiite, que domineront, pétro et gazo-dollars aidant, l’Arabie saoudite et le Qatar. En tout cas ces derniers l’espèrent-ils.
Au final, la position de la Russie n’a rien d’un entêtement de principe, ni ne s’inscrit dans des relents de guerre froide comme ont pu l’accréditer certaines déclarations récentes de dirigeants politiques français. Elle est au contraire raisonnée et réfléchie. Et si Poutine avait raison ? ..."

MUST Read: "How to set the Middle East on Fire!"

"...But she was not prepared a few years later in Bahrain when she encountered plans by high-ranking admirals to confront Iran, any one of which, she reckoned, could set the region on fire. It was 2007, and Todd, then 42, was a top political adviser to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Previous 5th Fleet commanders had resisted various ploys by Bush administration hawks to threaten the Tehran regime. But in spring 2007, a new commander arrived with an ambitious program to show the Iranians who was boss in the Persian Gulf.
Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff had amassed an impressive résumé, rising through the ranks to command a cruiser and a warship group after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. .... backed by a powerful friend and boss, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) chief Adm. William J. “Fox” Fallon — was itching to push the Iranians, Todd and other present and former Navy officials say...................
According to Todd and another witness, Cosgriff’s idea, presented in a series of staff meetings, was to sail three “big decks,” as aircraft carriers are known, through the Strait of Hormuz — to put a virtual armada, unannounced, on Iran’s doorstep. No advance notice, even to Saudi Arabia and other gulf allies. Not only that, they said, Cosgriff ordered his staff to keep the State Department in the dark, too.
To Todd, it was like something straight out of “Seven Days in May,” the 1964 political thriller about a right-wing U.S. military coup. ........  If this maneuver were carried out, Todd and others feared, the Iranians would freak out. At the least, they’d cancel a critical diplomatic meeting coming up with U.S. officials. Todd suspected that was Cosgriff’s aim. She and others also speculated that Cosgriff wouldn’t propose such a brazen plan without Fallon’s support.
Retired Adm. David C. Nichols, deputy Centcom commander in 2007, recalled in an interview last year that Fallon “wanted to do a freedom-of-navigation exercise in what Iran calls its territorial waters that we hadn’t done in a long time.” Nothing wrong with that, per se, but the problem was that “we don’t understand Iran’s perception of what we’re doing, and we haven’t understood what they’re doing and why,” Nichols said. “It makes miscalculations possible.”
Todd feared that the Iranians would respond, possibly by launching fast-attack missile boats into the gulf or unleashing Hezbollah on Israel. Then anything could happen: a collision, a jittery exchange of gunfire — bad enough on its own, but also an incident that Washington hawks could seize on to justify an all-out response on Iran.
Preposterous? It had happened before, off North Vietnam in 1964. In the Tonkin Gulf incident, a Navy captain claimed a communist attack on his ship. President Lyndon Johnson swiftly ordered the bombing of North Vietnam, touching off a wider war that turned the country upside down and left more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen dead.
Don’t tell anybody? No way.
Todd picked up the phone and called a friend in Foggy Bottom. She had to get this thing stopped.... (Continue, here)

'There is time & space" for diplomacy

"...Israel believes that the IAEA report, due to be published this week, backs up claims that Tehran has accelerated its nuclear project. The White House, however, insists that the findings do nothing to alter the working assumption that there is still time to resolve the crisis diplomatically. ..."

Subtext of this concoction: 'Expect a major crackdown in the Eastern Provinces!'

"(Al Arabiya) - ...Saudi Arabia has busted two terror cells in Riyadh and Jeddah, foiling their plans for attacks on the two cities, the country’s interior ministry announced Sunday. .."

Syria VP al Sharaa' Dispels Defection Rumors

"...Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa has appeared in public for the first time in weeks, ending speculation that he had defected from President Bashar al-Assad's embattled government.The 73-year-old Sunni Muslim met Sunday with a visiting senior Iranian official in Damascus. Sharaa was last seen in public at a state funeral for security officials who died in a July 18 bomb blast. ..."

Turkey's Syria Conundrum

"...With this policy of direct confrontation, Ankara not only strove to obtain the moral high ground. It also sought to precipitate the fall of Assad while building a relationship with the future leadership of Syria by heavily investing in the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council.Today, this policy of forcefully pushing the regime change agenda in Syria is under criticism domestically as some of the risks of a post-Assad world are becoming clearer.
The fear in Turkey is of Syria’s disintegration into ethnically and religiously purer ministates, with a Kurdish entity in the north, an Alawite entity in the west and a Sunni entity in the rest. The Kurdish opposition’s recent unilateral power grab in northeastern Syria rekindled Turkish concerns about the emergence of an independent Kurdish entity linking the north of Iraq to the north of Syria.....
The failure to solve its own Kurdish problem therefore raises the stakes for Turkey should Syria implode along sectarian lines. ..."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Al Mayadeen Report: 'Tunisian Jihadis recruited by a Gulf country, filter through Turkey & Lebanon to fight in Syria'

'Qatar & Turkey's participation in Iran's NAM summit'

"Forget the value of Ban Ki Moon’s participation at the NAM summit against Israel’s protests, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani will also likely attend, as well as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Mursi’s participation makes a lot more sense now. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate a policy shift, it does imply a growing realization on the part of some in the US/NATO/GCC axis that neither a military victory, nor a strategic one whereby Assad is toppled, are anywhere in sight. This is even more so the case considering that Iran will be presenting a proposal to resolve the Syrian crisis on the sidelines of the summit. The Syrian army’s military successes in Aleppo will surely not suffice to defeat the insurrection/civil war/proxy war, but they have strengthened the bargaining position of the Syrian government and its allies. Perhaps the summit will serve as a prelude to a wider regional “bargain” between the major powers, which ultimately, is the only way this conflict ever going to be resolved. More often than not, such deals are only struck after matters reach a tipping point."

Fayyad to Haniyeh: 'Don't go to Tehran!'

"... In response, Haniyeh spokesman Mohammed Awad published a statement saying that Haniyeh had no intention of responding to Fayyad.Iran hopes to earn diplomatic kudos by hosting a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement from August 29-31 at a time when the West is seeking to cripple its economy and isolate it diplomatically over its disputed nuclear program. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already said he will attend, defying calls from the United States and Israel to boycott the event...."

PKK attacks continue in Turkey

"...Militants attacked the same battalion twice in the previous 24 hours, leaving one soldier dead and five soldiers injured. ..."