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Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Air strikes against Yemen have no justification except Hadi’s failure to manage the state. I hope the brothers will not bet on a losing horse."--Ali Abdullah Saleh

Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh called on Saturday for an end to the Saudi-led Operation “Decisive Storm” being waged against Houthi militias in Yemen.
In comments addressed to Arab heads of state meeting in Cairo, Saleh called on the coalition to stop “the aggression and return to the negotiating table,” saying the current president, Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, had failed to run the country, Reuters news agency reported.
"Let’s go to dialogue and elections, and I promise you that neither I nor any of my relatives will run for the presidency," he said.
"Air strikes against Yemen have no justification except Hadi’s failure to manage the state. I hope the brothers will not bet on a losing horse."
  Reuters

Netanyahu's policies speak much more loudly than his half-apology- Rula Jebreal

Israel has again voted for a national leader who acts as if he considers one-fifth of its country's citizens -- including me and my family -- to be an existential threat. We were born into the wrong tribe, so to speak.
Campaign season shed light on the troubling reality in Israel -- that tribalism trumps democracy and ethnicity trumps citizenship. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Arabs were "being bused to the polling station in droves," people around the world were justifiably horrified. And Monday, in response to the outrage, he apologized for his statement, offering that he knew his comments "offended members of the Israeli Arab community."
Rula Jebreal
But Netanyahu's policies speak much more loudly than his half-apology. And with him poised to serve a fourth term, many Palestinian citizens of Israel fear, with good reason, that his victory means it is open season for anti-Arab racism in the Knesset and in the streets.
Israel's war on its Palestinian citizens is nothing new; our rights have been under attack for years (imagine a proposal that forced Jewish Americans to sign a "loyalty oath" to the United States as was proposed for Palestinians and other non-Jewish citizens of Israel). However, the majority's attempt to further entrench institutionalized racism and deny the rights of indigenous Palestinians has achieved frightening momentum.
The controversial "Jewish Nation-State Bill" that previously floundered in the Knesset has been resurrected. The bill, if passed, would codify the principle of preserving a Jewish ethnic majority. There are versions of it that establish Hebrew as the sole official language and recognize Jewish religious law as a "source of inspiration for the Knesset."
Even Israel's Supreme Court has come under attack in recent years for occasionally defending minority rights, which some view as a threat to the legal privileges afforded its Jewish citizens.
In response, the government changed the Supreme Court's composition to tilt it further to the right. Today, the sole Arab Supreme Court justice, Salim Jubran, very often serves as a dissenting voice in judgments where the court favors legislation demeaning to Israel's Palestinian citizens.
The 2011 Admissions Committees Law — upheld in 2014 by the more conservative Supreme Court, which includes the first Israeli settler jurist — allows hundreds of localities in Israel to essentially reject applicants seeking to buy homes built on state land because the applicants are deemed "unsuitable." The law caused an outcry among Palestinian citizens and human rights groups, who assert that it's simply a thinly disguised effort to discriminate against Israeli citizens on the basis of ethnicity. Simply put, the law enforces segregation within Israel, helping to keep Palestinian citizens out of Jewish communities.
Attempts to marginalize Palestinian citizens of Israel also extend to the political sphere. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's successful push to raise the threshold required to win seats in the Knesset was a move designed to exclude Palestinian lawmakers. Ironically, that move backfired, prompting four Arab parties to create the Arab Joint List, whose members span a wide ideological spectrum.
Despite their political differences, they were united by one important mission, and that was to defend the rights of Palestinians, whether they reside within Israel or in the occupied territories. The Joint List won 13 seats and took third place in the parliamentary election.
While their unity and strong showing is encouraging in the face of Israeli efforts to divide and weaken the Palestinian community, the fact that they were forced to unite on the basis of ethnicity rather than ideology is a reflection of Israeli politics, which draws boundaries among its citizens on the basis of ethnicity and religion and openly participates in ugly, xenophobic electioneering.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said that the essence of democracy is "to rule and be ruled in turn," but as Hassan Jabareen, head of Adalah: The Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel, puts it, in Israel, "Arabs are always ruled and Arab citizens are always in the opposition, never in the coalition, no matter how many seats they win."
It is very telling that Netanyahu could well form his coalition with Avigdor Lieberman, who called for beheading disloyal Arab citizens of Israel and whose party Yisrael Beiteinu only won six seats in the Knesset, and not with the Arab Joint List, which won more than twice as many seats and is calling for equality and an end to Israel's military occupation of Palestinian lands, which has lasted nearly half a century.
If Netanyahu's re-election is an ill omen for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, it is even worse news for the 4.5 million Palestinians under occupation who are ruled by a state that denies them all rights. When Netanyahu said on the eve of the election that he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state, he was making it clear that the occupation will continue as long as he remains in power.
Renouncing Palestinian statehood rallied Netanyahu's base by reminding them of how much he has done to preserve and extend Israel's grip on its West Bank settlements, built in violation of international law and considered illegitimate by official U.S. policy going back decades. In fact, blocking the creation of a Palestinian state has been Netanyahu's life's work.
Over the years, he has rhetorically "accepted" Palestinian statehood while continuing to steal the very land that would comprise a Palestinian state. 
CNN

Friday, March 27, 2015

Barack Obama offered U.S. support for air strikes led by Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies on Houthi militia camps in Yemen, while Saudi and Egyptian warships move to the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen


 

Saudi and Egyptian warships deployed Friday to the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen to secure the strategic sea passage, Egyptian military officials said, as a Saudi-led coalition widened their airstrikes on the second day of an air campaign against Shiite rebels and their allies, aiming to pave the way for possible ground operations.
A top priority for the campaign after the air campaign was weakened the rebels is for coalition troops -likely Egyptians - to move into the southern port city of Aden, a main stronghold of supporters of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to leave the country as the rebels and their allies moved on Aden, Yemeni and Egyptian military officials said.
That could prove a tough prospect. On Friday, rebel fighters and their allies - military units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh - were moving through southern Abyan province toward Aden, aiming to reinforce their fighters already in the city, Yemeni security officials said. At the same time, pro-Hadi military units and militiamen were fighting rebel forces in street battles in several southern cities on Friday.

Saudi and Egyptian plans

The events Friday and the comments by the military officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, gave an initial picture of Saudi and Egyptian plans in the conflict that abruptly burst into a regional fight on Thursday after months of chaos within Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and its allies are aiming push back the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and Saleh's forces, which have taken over the capital, Sanaa, and much of the mountainous, impoverished nation. The ultimate goal is to restore Hadi, who was expected to arrive in Egypt on Friday for an Arab summit the following day. Saudi Arabia fears the Houthis will give Shiite powerhouse Iran a new foothold on its southern border.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin said there was an “arrangement” for ground troops of the Saudi-led coalition to deploy in Yemen. “It's a comprehensive military operation,” he told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel. He said Egyptian naval forces are heading to Bab al-Mandab.
Several Egyptian military officials told the AP that Egyptian and Saudi warships were already at or near the strait. One official said two destroyers and two other vessels were at the strait. Egypt has said securing the passage is a priority for it in the conflict, since Bab al-Mandab is the entrance to the Red Sea, leading from the Arabian Sea to its Suez Canal, a vital route for shipping between Europe and Asia.

Constant bombardment

After more than 36 hours of airstrikes by Friday afternoon, more than 40 percent of Yemen's air defenses were destroyed, according to Yemeni Brig. Gen. Saleh al-Subaihi, a pro-Hadi officer.
Yemeni security officials said around 80 fighters had been killed in the strikes - some from the Houthis, but most from among Saleh's forces. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. The first salvo of airstrikes before dawn Thursday also killed 18 civilians - including six children - when they flattened a block of homes in an impoverished neighborhood near Sanaa's airport.
Diminishing Saleh's forces is a key step before any ground action. Saleh, who ruled Yemen with an autocratic hand for decades, was removed in 2012 following an Arab Spring popular uprising against him, and Hadi was installed in his place.
But Saleh remained in Yemen and maintained widespread influence, particular in the fragmented military and security forces. One Yemeni security official on Friday estimated that 70 percent of the military remained loyal to him, including many of the best trained and equipped units, and they are in bases around the country. Their support for the Houthis has been crucial to the rebels' takeover.
Airstrikes on Friday struck in at least six provinces. In the capital Sanaa, heavy airstrikes came in waves overnight, shaking the city as anti-aircrafy guns fired. New strikes hit Saada, the northern stronghold of the Houthis, aiming at locations where rebel leader Abdul-Malek al-Houthi might be, the Yemeni military officials said. The grave of his brother Hussein al-Houthi, founder of the rebel group, was demolished in the strikes. The attacks prompted Houthis to shut down schools and cancel classes indefinitely, according to a statement sent to reporters by the group.
Saudi warplanes also bombed camps and bases of pro-Saleh army forces northeast of Sanaa and in the southern provinces of al-Dhale and Lahj. In the oil- and gas-rich north-central provinces of Marib, strikes targeted radar facilities.

Vast control

Retired Yemeni army officer Nasser al-Marqashi said he expects the airstrikes to continue for a week to weaken the air defenses before a ground offensive, which would likely be launched from Aden or from the country's sparsely populated far eastern Hadramout province, where Hadi also has supporters.
Houthis and the Saleh loyalists control at least 10 of Yemen's 21 provinces. But in many of those places, their hold is not complete, particularly in the south. In Dhamar and Taiz - two areas overrun by the rebels - thousands of demonstrators staged protests Friday in support of the Saudi airstrikes.
In the southern city of al-Dhale - capital of the province of the same name - pro-Hadi militias were fighting Saleh's forces.
Battles were also going on in the southern city of al-Houta, just north of Aden. There, part of the city is controlled by pro-Hadi militias, another part is controlled by al-Qaida militants, and both were separately fighting Houthi and pro-Saleh forces trying to take the area, Yemeni security officials said.
Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni-led allies in the Gulf and the Middle East view the Houthi takeover as an attempt by Iran to establish a proxy on the kingdom's southern border. Iran and the Houthis deny that Tehran arms the rebel movement, though it says it provides diplomatic and humanitarian support.

No direct military action

According to defense officials in Washington, the U.S. is providing refueling tankers and surveillance flights for the Saudi operations, and there are several U.S. troops working in the operations center. The White House said the U.S. was not taking direct military action.
Iran has denounced the Saudi-led air campaign, calling it “dangerous step.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said in a statement Friday that Tehran was “ready to cooperate with its brothers in the region, to make it easier for different groups in Yemen to have dialogue to protect the (country's) integrity and facilitate restoration of stability.”
The comment came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview that his country could provide logistical support for the Saudi-led military operation. Zarif said Iran respects its strategic relations with Turkey.
On Friday, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi reiterated Cairo's commitment to Gulf security in a phone call with Saudi King Salman, saying “the security of the Gulf is a red line and part and parcel of Egyptian national security,” according to presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef.
A high-level delegation from Pakistan was traveling to Saudi Arabia on Friday to hold talks on Yemen, following a meeting in Pakistan chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to assess the situation.
“If the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia is threatened, Pakistan will defend it,” Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told parliament in remarks carried live on state-run television. He said there had been no decision to take part in the Yemeni conflict.

President Barack Obama offered U.S. support for air strikes led by Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies on Houthi militia camps in Yemen during a phone call with King Salman, the White House said Friday.


"The President and King Salman agreed that our collective goal is to achieve lasting stability in Yemen through a negotiated political solution facilitated by the United Nations and involving all parties as envisioned in the GCC Initiative," National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
The remarks follow U.S. lawmakers of both parties reiterating their support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen against Houthi rebels, named “Operation Decisive Storm.”
“I applaud the Saudis for taking this action to protect their homeland and to protect their own neighborhood,” House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said at a news conference. “If America leads, our allies in the region would be tickled to death and would be happy to join a coalition. But America has to lead.”
The Obama administration has said it is providing “logistical and intelligence support” for the operations. Meehan had earlier justified the offensive against the Houthis as having been requested by Hadi and Yemen’s “legitimate government.”
“While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort,” she said in a statement, “we are establishing a joint planning cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support.”
The White House on Thursday expressed concern about Iran's alleged role in stoking violence in Yemen. “We have concerns about Iranian activities in Yemen and reports of Iranian flow of arms into Yemen,” Alistair Baskey told Agence France-Presse.

Saudi fighter plane gets American help

Meanwhile, a Saudi fighter plane was hit by a technical problem and its two pilots ejected over the Red Sea on Friday, state media said, adding that the pair had been returned to the country with American help.
"A plane of the F-15S type was stricken by a technical fault yesterday evening over the Red Sea and the two pilots were forced to use their rescue seats," state news agency SPA quoted a defense ministry official saying.
"Praise be to God, the pilots were rescued in coordination with the American side, and the two pilots are in good health and high spirits," the official said.

‘Decisive Storm’ continues

Fighter jets of Saudi-led coalition forces pounded a Republican Guard camp in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa as Operation “Decisive Storm” continued for the second day targeting Houthi strongholds and their camps on Friday.
Saudi and Egyptian warships deployed Friday to the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen to secure the strategic sea passage, Egyptian military officials said, aiming to pave the way for possible ground operations, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier on Friday, Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh - who is allied with Houthi leaders and large parts of the army - called for a ceasefire and the resumption of U.N.-brokered dialogue between warring parties.
Witnesses said an air raid by the coalition forces targeted both Houthi members and supporters of Saleh in al-Istiqbal military camp west of the capital.
“Decisive Storm” also launched its air strikes south of Yemen where Houthis and their allies are trying to expand. They targeted al-Anad military camp, which the Houthis had seized last Wednesday.

US Worried about Russian missile Defense System


 

The Washington Free Beacon reports that “Russia’s military has completed work on a new missile defense radar in southern Russia that has some U.S. military officials worried Moscow is building up offensive and defensive strategic forces in destabilizing combination.”
“The large radar station near Armavir, located near the Black Sea and designed to detect missiles launched from Europe and Iran, is nearly complete, said U.S. officials.”
“The radar deployment comes as Russia is seeking legal restrictions on U.S. and NATO missile defenses in Europe that are designed to protect the continent and the United States from long-range Iranian missiles.”
The paper also reports that “U.S. officials said Russia’s military restricted publication of photographs of the controversial Yars-M missile… However, one photo of the new missile’s prohibited view was published last year.”
Topic A

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Yemen crisis escalates after Saudi Arabia bombs rebels


 Followers of the Houthi movement shout slogans during a gathering outside the Presidential Palace in Sana'a on February 4.

The turmoil in Yemen grew into a regional conflict on Thursday, with Saudi Arabia and its allies bombing Shia rebels allied with Iran, while Egyptian officials said a ground assault will follow the airstrikes.
Iran denounced the Saudi-led air campaign, saying it “considers this action a dangerous step,” and oil prices jumped in New York and London after the offensive.
The military action turned impoverished and chaotic Yemen into a new front in the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Yemen’s U.S.-backed President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled the country on Wednesday as the rebels known as Houthis advanced on his stronghold in the southern port of Aden, reappeared on Thursday. He arrived by plane in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh, Saudi state TV reported.
Starting before dawn, Saudi warplanes pounded an air base, military bases and anti-aircraft positions in the capital of Sanaa and flattened a number of homes near the airport, killing at least 18 civilians, including six children. Another round followed in the evening, again rocking the city.
Rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi angrily accused the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel of launching a “criminal, unjust, brutal and sinful” campaign aimed at invading and occupying Yemen.
“Yemenis won’t accept such humiliation,” he said in a televised speech on Thursday night, calling the Saudis “stupid” and “evil.”
The Houthis, who have taken over much of the country, mobilized thousands of supporters to protest the airstrikes, with one speaker lashing out at the Saudi-led coalition and warning that Yemen “will be the tomb” of the aggressors.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Jubeir said at a news conference in Washington on Thursday that Iran has been a major backer of the Houthis, with Revolutionary Guard officers and operatives from the Iran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah on the ground advising the rebels.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters on Air Force One en route to Alabama that President Barack Obama had authorized logistical and intelligence support for the strikes, but that the U.S. is not joining with direct military action.
In the air assault codenamed “Operation Decisive Storm,” Saudi Arabia deployed some 100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers and other navy units, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported. Also involved were aircraft from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt, though it was not clear which carried out actual strikes.
Once the airstrikes have weakened the rebels and their allies in the military forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a ground invasion of Yemen is planned by Egyptian Saudi and other forces.
The assault will come from Saudi Arabia and by landings on Yemen’s coasts along the Red and Arabian seas, according to three Egyptian military and security officials.
Three to five Egyptian troop carriers are stationed offshore, they said, although the number of troops was not specified, and the timing of the operation was not given.
The aim is not to occupy Yemen but to weaken the Houthis and their allies until they enter negotiations for power-sharing, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the plans with the press.
Egypt is “prepared for participation with naval, air and ground forces if necessary,” Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said at a gathering of Arab foreign ministers preparing for a weekend summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni-led allies in the Gulf and the Middle East view the Houthi takeover as an attempt by Iran to establish a proxy on the kingdom’s southern border. Iran and the Houthis deny that Tehran arms the rebel movement, though it says it provides diplomatic and humanitarian support.
The Saudis and their Gulf allies on Thursday asked members of the United Nations Security Council for a resolution that would impose an arms embargo on the rebels and impose financial sanctions on individual members.
The dramatic escalation of the conflict underscores the political complexities for Washington in the Middle East-
A traditional ally of Saudi Arabia, the U.S. is trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran by the end of the month.
In Iraq, the U.S. and Iran are implicitly on the same side helping the Shia-led Baghdad government battle the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State group, although Tehran and Washington are avoiding any actual contact.
In Yemen, the U.S. is backing Gulf Arab states against the Shia rebels allied to Iran. At the same time, the al-Qaeda branch in the country the target of a U.S. drone campaign is also fighting the Shia rebels.
Iran condemned the airstrikes that left “innocent Yemenis wounded and dead, and considers this action a dangerous step,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham. “This invasion will bear no result but expansion of terrorism and extremism throughout the whole region.”
Yemen plays a crucial geographic role in the world’s oil supply, with tankers that go through the Suez Canal having to navigate around the country. The turmoil caused the price of benchmark U.S. crude to jump $2.22, closing at $51.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose $2.71 to $59.19 a barrel in London.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain said their action aimed to “protect” Yemenis from Houthis who are “a tool in the hands of foreign powers.”
In recent months, the Houthis have swept out of their northern strongholds to take over Sanaa and much of the north.
The Houthis have succeeded in their advance with help from Saleh, the autocrat who ruled Yemen for more than 30 years until he was ousted after a 2011 Arab Spring popular uprising. He remained in the country, enjoying the loyalty of some of the strongest military units, which undermined Hadi. Those units are now fighting alongside the Houthis.
The airstrikes appeared to give new spirit to military units and militiamen loyal to Hadi. In Aden, pro-Hadi militiamen battled in two districts with Houthi fighters backed by Saleh’s forces. Bodies of slain fighters were seen in the streets, as shops closed and residents sheltered in their houses, witnesses said.
A Yemeni security official said Hadi had gone by boat Wednesday to the Yemeni port of al-Mukalla in the western province of Hadramawt, where he spent the night. He drove over the border into Oman the next day and was flown to Riyadh. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. 
AP and The Hindu

The Kurdish Front against ISIS

Vijay Prashad

Unity in action against the IS is the spur for Kurdish unity

South of Kobane, Syria, on March 21, the Islamic State (IS) confronted the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga. Western bombers continued to hit IS targets, although these raids did not seem to stop the ferocious attacks from IS against the Kurdish positions. Both sides claim small victories, but these are minor skirmishes. Last year, rapid IS advances drew their fighters deep into Syrian Kurdish territory, with the virtual seizure of Kobane by September. Kurdish fighters, with Western air support, pushed IS out of Kobane by the end of January — but they could not remove IS from the Kurdish regions that border Turkey.
The presence of Iraqi Kurdish fighters in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) is remarkable. Turkey’s government, long an adversary of Kurdish self-determination, allowed the Iraqi Kurds to transit through their country. The peshmerga brought much-needed logistical support for the beleaguered Syrian fighters. Their new allies, the YPG, are members of a political front with close ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), denoted as a terrorist group both by Turkey and the United States. Iraq’s peshmerga is allied with the U.S. That the peshmerga are now fighting alongside the YPG — a creation of the PKK for Syria — suggests the shifting of allegiances in the region. The threat of the IS is sufficient for geopolitical animosities to be held in check.
The Kurdish people are spread out over four countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Syria has the smallest number of Kurds; Turkey the largest. The territory of the Kurdish people is not entirely contiguous. Syria’s Kurds live in three discontinuous pockets in the north, along the border with Turkey. Culture and language unite the Kurds, but politics divides them. Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party and the PKK have vied for leadership over the Kurdish struggle. Mr. Barzani told al-Hayat recently that the emergence of the IS poses an “existential threat” to Kurdish aspirations. No wonder that he and imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan have begun to negotiate once more for a stronger Kurdish National Congress, an umbrella group of Kurdish organisations. Unity in action against the IS is the spur, not irredentism.
Mr. Öcalan’s olive branch to Mr. Barzani comes alongside a renewed call by him for a new agreement with the Turkish state. The PKK has conducted a 30-year bloody, and largely futile, armed struggle against the Turkish state. The “Solution Process” between the government of Recep Tayyip Erdog˘an and the PKK took place under the shadow of the civil war in Syria. Turkey anticipated being drawn into the post-Assad order in Syria, and so Mr. Erdog˘an wanted an entente with the PKK within Turkey. At the Nowruz celebrations of 2013, Mr. Öcalan announced a ceasefire. Matters seemed to favour the peace process until the Syrian war went against Mr. Erdog˘an’s hopes, and the Syrian Kurds took advantage of the chaos to declare the formation of the province of Rojava. Mr. Erdog˘an backed off from the peace process, shelling PKK camps rather than aiding their struggle against the IS. Mr. Öcalan this year has called for a ceasefire again, but it is unlikely to be taken seriously by Mr. Erdog˘an.
The Turkish President is faced with a dilemma. Turkish chauvinist sentiment favours his party. This is why he recently said that Turkey has no Kurdish problem. Meanwhile, discontent against Mr. Erdog˘an suggests that his AK Party will not do as well as forecast in the June parliamentary elections. The pro-Kurdish and leftist People’s Democratic Party (HDP) will go to the polls led by Figen Yüksekdað. Mr. Öcalan’s plea for a ceasefire would bring the PKK to work openly for Ms. Yüksekdað’s party — and would likely allow the HDP to break the 10 per cent threshold, denying Mr. Erdog˘an his parliamentary super-majority. If Mr. Erdog˘an accepts the ceasefire, he provides the advantage to the HDP; if he rejects it, he emboldens his chauvinist allies but weakens his control over Turkey’s institutions.
Turkey’s stubborn view that the primary problem in Syria is the Assad government has prevented its entry into the fight against the IS. At most, Ankara has hardened the official border posts to Syria, although wounded IS fighters seem to find their way into Turkish hospitals, and resupply from Turkey to the IS continues. Turkey’s reticence to come out openly against the IS brought the Iraqi Kurds into alliance with the Syrian Kurds. When the Iraqi Kurds came under threat from the IS last year, the Iranian government came immediately to their aid. “Turkey wants influence in Iraq,” said Mr. Barzani, “but Iran acted more accurately and faster.” The distance from Turkey indicated by Mr. Barzani allows the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds space for closeness.
While the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga receives aid from the U.S. and Iran, the resource-strapped YPG-PKK fighters have taken significant casualties because of the two-faced Turkish policy and the reticence of the U.S. to aid a group that they deem to be a terrorist force. The YPG’s political leadership has appealed to the West for military supplies, but to no avail.
Mr. Barzani recently disparaged the colonial Sykes-Picot borders as “always artificial.” Yet, Mr. Barzani is committed to some version of Iraq, although accusations that the peshmerga have been denying Sunni Arabs the right to return to their homes suggests otherwise. Pressure on Mr. Barzani to remain within Iraq will come not only from the West but also from Iran. Iran has its own Kurdish population. It is unwilling to countenance talk of Kurdistan. 
Vijay Prashad at The Hindu.
 (Vijay Prashad is the Chief Editor at LeftWord Books, New Delhi.)

Yemen crisis - Saudi Arabia’s military operation “Decisive Storm” strongly criticized by Iran and Syria


 

Both Iran and Syria condemned Saudi Arabia’s military operation “Decisive Storm” against the Houthis on Thursday.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry demanded on Thursday an immediate halt to the Saudi-led military operation describing it as “military aggression,” semi-Official Fars news agency reported.
“The Saudi-led air strikes should stop immediately and it is against Yemen’s sovereignty,” the Students News Agency quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying, according to AFP.
“We will make all efforts to control crisis in Yemen,” Zarif said, according to the agency’s report from the Swiss city of Lausanne where he is negotiating with world powers on curbing Iran’s nuclear programme.
“Iran wants an immediate halt to all military aggressions and air strikes against Yemen and its people ... Military actions in Yemen, which faces a domestic crisis, ... will further complicate the situation ... and will hinder efforts to resolve the crisis through peaceful ways,” Fars quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying, Reuters news agency reported.
Meanwhile, the Syrian state news agency said: “Gulf war planes led by the regime of the Saudi family launch a blatant aggression on Yemen,” read a headline carried on the website of the state news agency SANA.

The Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad is an ally of Iran, which is in turn allied with the Yemeni Houthi rebels who are fighting to oust the country’s U.S.-backed president.
Iran denies providing money and training to the Shiite Houthi militia in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm late Wednesday to counter Houthi rebels who have besieged the southern city of Aden, where President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has been holding court.
Violence has spread across Yemen since last year, with Houthi militia seizing Sanaa and sidelining U.S. ally President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. It has made Yemen a front in Saudi Arabia’s region-wide rivalry with Shi’ite-dominated Iran.
Iran denies providing money and training to the Shi’ite Houthi militia in Yemen, as alleged by some Western and Yemeni officials.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen called on Monday for Gulf Arab help to prevent the Houthis from gaining control of its Yemeni airspace.
Afkham warned that the Saudi-led “aggression is a dangerous move which is in violation of international responsibilities for respecting the sovereignty of countries.
“It will lead to spread of terrorism and extremism in the Middle East region,” Fars quoted her as saying.
AFP, Alarabiya and Reuters

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Quotes of George Washington - The Father of America

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

 

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.

 

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.

 

Religion is as necessary to reason as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to; and well has it been said, that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obliged to imagine one.

 

I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it - but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is by Legislative authority: and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall never be wanting


The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.

 

Quotes of Robert Mugabe - The Leader of Zimbabwe.

Stay with us, please remain in this country and constitute a nation based on national unity.


We don't mind having sanctions banning us from Europe. We are not Europeans. 

 

 We are no longer going to ask for the land, but we are going to take it without negotiating.

 

 The land is ours. It's not European and we have taken it, we have given it to the rightful people... Those of white extraction who happen to be in the country and are farming are welcome to do so, but they must do so on the basis of equality.

 

Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer - its guarantor. The people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable twins.


The danger of Netanyahu's win - Guy Ziv

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coasted to victory in Tuesday's elections, defying pre-election polls showing his Likud party trailing his main rival, the center-left Zionist Union. Ever the master politician and brilliant tactician, he used the politics of fear to galvanize his right-wing base, which ultimately secured him a fourth term. Israel, however, may not fare as well as its leader did at the polls.
In a matter of days, Netanyahu exposed his true attitude toward Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, in the process threatening to further erode an already strained relationship with the White House. Less than two weeks ago, Netanyahu declared that his speech of June 2009 at Bar-Ilan University, where he publicly endorsed a demilitarized Palestinian state, is no longer relevant. On Monday, he continued on this theme, announcing that a Palestinian state would not be established under his watch.
Guy Ziv
These comments were tactical moves aimed at mobilizing his base, but so was his Bar-Ilan speech a maneuver aimed at appeasing U.S. President Barack Obama and quelling criticism from abroad. Ultimately, political expedience led Netanyahu to reveal what many critics had long suspected: He has never supported a two-state solution.
In the last six years of his premiership, Netanyahu has spoken out repeatedly against a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land swaps -- the basis for a two-state solution; insisted that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people -- a condition no Palestinian leader can accept; and presided over unprecedented settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians regard as their future capital.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister has disparaged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at every opportunity, asserting that he encourages terrorism -- a claim that was contradicted by the head of Israel's top security service -- and repeating the mantra that Abbas is not a legitimate peace partner. In 2011, he reportedly quashed the Palestinian leader's draft peace agreement that had been secretly negotiated with former Israeli President Shimon Peres. In a less guarded moment, Netanyahu told Israeli writer Etgar Keret that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was "insoluble."
Netanyahu's duplicity on the Palestinian issue has led to a highly dysfunctional relationship with the Obama administration, which has tried, in vain, to broker an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. He made a farce of last year's John Kerry-brokered peace talks by increasing settlement work fourfold during this negotiating period.
Adding fuel to the fire, Netanyahu has repeatedly injected himself into U.S. politics, most recently with his acceptance of an invitation by House Speaker John Boehner to address Congress -- a move that was widely seen as a partisan ploy to undercut the White House.
Obama has yet to respond to Netanyahu's most recent statements, which can only serve to further damage Washington's ties with Jerusalem while contributing to Israel's growing isolation. One European government after another has begun to turn its back on the Israeli government, taking steps to recognize a Palestinian state since it appears less and less likely that one will emerge as a result of negotiations.
But criticism of Netanyahu's approach to the Palestinian issue has also come from none other than the Israeli security community, many of whose members are alarmed at Israel's deteriorating position in the international community in general and its schism with Washington in particular.
A broad array of former generals, ex-heads of Israel Defense Forces military intelligence, and former chiefs of the Mossad and Shin Bet intelligence services have long argued that the status quo is unsustainable and that a two-state solution is vital to Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state. In the last month, nearly 200 of these former high-ranking security officials launched a campaign demanding a change in leadership in light of what they view as Netanyahu's failure to take any diplomatic initiative while harming one of Israel's greatest security assets: its relationship with the United States.
Israelis did not heed the ex-security officials' warnings when they voted to retain Netanyahu as their Prime Minister. But while Netanyahu's come-from-behind victory may attest to his shrewd political instincts, it will also come with a high cost for his country.
published by CNN at 18 march

left could provide a credible alternative to right-wing forces- Parkash Karat


 CPI (M) general secretary Prakash karat addressing the 22nd CPI party congress at Puducherry on Wednesday. Photo: T. Singaravelou


The Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat, on Wednesday, said the Left, and not the Congress, could provide a credible alternative to right-wing forces.
“The Congress party which is responsible for neo-liberal regime with its attendant corruption and looting of resources cannot be the alternative. Only if there is strong independent Left can there be a realignment of forces to put up a real alternative,” Mr. Karat said, while addressing the Communist Party of India’s 22nd party congress.
Stressing the need for strengthening the constituent parties of the Left, the CPI-M general secretary expressed hope that the party congress would address the task of how to build and strengthen the CPI.
Stating there is a need to strengthen the Left by broadening the scope and ambit of Left unity, Mr. Karat said, “In the recent period, we have taken some steps towards that. Six parties came together for joint actions against the policies of the Modi government. We have to work towards broadening Left unity further by bringing all Left parties, groups and individuals together for joint action and united movements.”
Earlier, CPI general secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy said the Left's weak show in the last elections had disappointed the people to some extent. But the Left was not demoralised.
“We need to win the confidence of the people. Left unity is a pre-condition for broad Left democratic unity to be achieved,” he added.
The party congress also paid homage to the communist leader Govind Pansare who was brutally murdered by unknown assailants recently in Maharastra. 
The Hindu

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February UK inflation rate falls to zero


 A stall worker bags up fruit for a customer at a market in Soho, central London


UK inflation rate fell to 0% in February, the lowest since records began, official figures show.
Lower prices for food and computer goods helped to cut the rate from 0.3% in January, official figures show.
February's figure is the lowest rate of Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation since estimates of the measure began in 1988.
The drop in the CPI measure was sharper than many analysts had expected, with most expecting a rate of 0.1%.
The February figure means that the cost of living is the same as it was a year earlier.

Deflation expectation

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said UK "took another step towards deflation" in February.
"It looks likely the rate will drop below zero at some point in the coming months, and hover around zero for most of the year," he said.

Low inflation could support UK economic growth, business lobby group the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said.
"We remain convinced that there is very little risk of a long period of deflation," said David Kern, BCC chief economist.
"Inflation in the service sector, which accounts for 80% of the UK economy, remains firmly above the government's 2% target, and core CPI inflation in February was 1.2%.
"Together with higher earnings, lower inflation is boosting people's spending power, and will contribute to economic growth in the year ahead," he said.
Rain Newton-Smith, director of economics at business lobby group the CBI, said: "Despite inflation dropping to zero, it is unlikely we will see falling prices for a prolonged period, particularly as the pressure from lower oil prices fades."
However, she added: "With the Monetary Policy Committee still alert to the risk of very low inflation becoming entrenched, a rise in interest rates anytime soon seems off the cards."
Last week, the Bank of England's chief economist Andy Haldane said rates were as likely to need cutting as raising in the immediate future.

Cheaper energy

In February, the Bank said that inflation could turn negative temporarily in the spring because of falling oil prices.
Cuts in energy bills are among the factors likely to push inflation lower in March, according to economists.
But unlike in the eurozone, where prices are already showing annual falls, many economists think UK consumer demand will remain steady in the face of falling prices, due to robust employment growth and signs of a pick-up in wages.
Falling prices for food, laptops, tablets and computer peripherals contributed to the fall in February's CPI measure, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The ONS figures also showed the rate of Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation fell to 1% from 1.1%.

Political pitches

Chancellor George Osborne told reporters that zero inflation was "good news for families", and that voters faced a choice in the general election on 7 May.
"Frozen prices are a first for the British economy. This zero inflation is driven by falling petrol prices and falling food prices, so it's good news for families," he said.
"Now the country faces a choice - do we go on working through a long-term plan that's delivering low prices and record jobs, or do we have the economic incompetence and chaos of the Labour party, whose economic argument has literally come to naught?" he added.
However, Labour said inflation is falling around the world "because global oil prices have plummeted, yet in Britain wages continue to be sluggish."
"Working people are £1,600 a year worse off under this government. And another Tory VAT rise if David Cameron wins the election will hit living standards and send prices rising again," said Cathy Jamieson, Labour's shadow Treasury minister.
"A few months of falling world oil prices won't solve the deep-seated problems in our economy. We need Labour's better plan to build a more productive economy so we can earn our way to sustained rises in living standards and so get the deficit down too."
Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: "Coming alongside good growth and record numbers of jobs, Liberal Democrats in government are delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society."
"It's yet another month that sees earnings pulling ahead of prices, which will be a great help to millions of families.

UN starts talks at Doha to resolve Yemen crisis


 An immediate GCC military intervention could be successful in saving Aden from falling into Saleh's hands. [AP]


UN-brokered talks aimed at resolving the escalating political crisis in Yemen will be held in Doha, the UN envoy to Yemen has said, after the internationally recognised Yemeni government appealed to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for military assistance.
A day after warning the UN Security Council that Yemen was on the brink of civil war, Jamal Benomar announced on Monday that talks between the Yemeni parties would take place in the Qatari capital, and that any agreement reached would be signed in Riyadh.
Earlier in the day, Prince Saud Al Faisal, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, said that his country would "take necessary measures if needed" to protect Yemen's sovereignty after the country's government, holed up in the southern port city of Aden, appealed to the GCC members for help.
Iran has been repeatedly accused of supporting the Houthis, the armed group that controls the country's north, including the capital Sanaa, an allegation both Iran and the Yemeni group deny.
"We are against Iran's intervention in Yemen ... it is actually an act of aggression," Faisal said.
"We are keen on protecting Yemen’s sovereignty, the legitimacy of Yemen represented by President Hadi.
"We hope that the crisis can be resolved peacefully and we are ready to respond to any demand that the president requests, whatever it is to support him," he said.
Riyadh Yaseen, Yemen's newly appointed foreign minister, has asked for military intervention from the GCC and the imposition of a no-fly zone by the UN.

The GCC is an alliance of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman; and its Peninsula Shield Force boasts about 40,000 troops and has a permanent base in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.
"We've had enough, we can't watch them occupying airports and cities, destroying Yemen's infrastructure, and we sit there and watch", Yaseen told Al Jazeera on Monday. "We can't allow Iran to take over our country."
The request came a day after Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the Saudi interior minister, said the GCC was ready to take "all efforts" to defend the country's security".
Houthis took over the democratically elected government headed by Hadi in February and appointed Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a cousin of the group's leader, as the new president.
The GCC countries have since lined up to support Hadi and have moved their embassies to Aden to back Hadi against the group.
Hadi, who is also backed by Western states, has been struggling to reassert his authority since escaping house arrest and fleeing to Aden last month.
The Houthis have continued to seize more parts of the country and on Saturday took control of parts of the strategic city of Taiz, as they pushed further south towards Aden.
The group, which hails from the northern region of Saada, insists its territorial advance is an outgrowth of its growing popular support.
Al Jazeera

Monday, March 23, 2015

Send arms to Ukraine - House passes resolution to urging Obama

The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging President Barack Obama to send lethal weapons to Ukraine to protect its sovereignty in its fight against Russian-backed rebels.
The resolution was approved on Monday 348 to 48.
There is bipartisan support in Congress to provide the arms to Ukrainian forces battling the rebels. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies arming rebels in the war in eastern Ukraine, which began in April after Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
U.S. State Department officials said Obama administration officials are discussing lethal assistance to Ukraine but are waiting to see whether the agreements that led to February’s ceasefire are implemented. 
AP

Is Yemen to the edge of civil war

The U.N. special envoy for Yemen warned an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Sunday that events appear to be leading the country “to the edge of civil war” and urged all parties to step back from the brink and resolve the conflict peacefully.

Jamal Benomar stressed repeatedly in a video briefing from Qatar that “peaceful dialogue is the only option we have.”

That view was echoed by the Security Council in a presidential statement which reaffirmed the readiness of the U.N.’s most powerful body to take “further measures” against any party impeding the road to peace in Yemen. That could mean new sanctions, or possibly other actions.
 Lithuania’s U.N. Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite said after the closed consultations that all the council members supported a return to negotiations, but she doesn't foresee new sanctions – “not at this stage.”

Benomar said “it would be an illusion” to think that Houthi Shiite rebels - who control the capital Sanaa, much of the north, and are moving further south backed by some members of Yemen's armed forces - could succeed in taking control of the entire country. On Sunday, the Houthis seized Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city.

“It would be equally false,” Benomar said, to think that embattled President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled earlier this month to the southern city of Aden - the country’s economic hub - could assemble sufficient forces “to liberate the country from the Houthis.”

He warned that any party that pushes the country in either direction “would be inviting a protracted conflict in the vein of an Iraq, Syria, Libya combined scenario.”
Meanwhile the U.N. Security Council also voiced unanimous support for Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and the unity of the country.

“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen, and its commitment to stand by the people of Yemen,” the 15 members said in a statement during an emergency meeting in New York.

The council “supports the legitimacy” of Hadi, it added in its statement, and also made a vague threat of more sanctions against the Shiite militia, known as Huthis, who seized a key central Yemeni city’s airport.
Yemen’s turmoil and political crisis has deepened since the Houthis seized Sanaa in September and put Hadi under house arrest and eventually dissolved the country’s parliament. The country’s al-Qaeda branch, considered by the United States the terror network's most dangerous offshoot, has stepped up attacks against the Shiite rebels.

The Houthis newly announced move to take over the entire country follows the suicide bombings of a pair of mosques in Sanaa that killed 137 people which were claimed by the Islamic State group. It also followed clashes around Aden's airport and planes from Sanaa dropping bombs on the city's presidential palace which Benomar said fortunately did not injure Hadi, who is strongly supported by the Security Council.

“Following the suicide bombings and fighting,” Benomar warned, “emotions are running extremely high, and unless a solution can be found in the coming days the country will slide into further violent conflict and fragmentation.”

He said Yemenis believe the situation is “on a rapid downward spiral,” and are concerned that the conflict “has taken on worrying sectarian tones and deepening north-south divisions.”

“Fears exist that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will exploit the current instability to cause further chaos,” he said.

The deteriorating situation led U.S. troops to evacuate a southern air base crucial to the drone program targeting al-Qaeda militants.

Benomar said “extremists on many sides” are actively trying to undermine U.N.-brokered negotiations that he is leading aimed at putting Yemen back on track to complete its transition to democracy so it can finish work on a constitution, hold a referendum on it, and conduct elections.

He stressed that the political impasse can only be unblocked by negotiations that include both the Houthis and Hadi.

“I urge all sides at this time of rising tensions and rhetoric to de-escalate and exercise maximum restraint, and refrain from provocation,” Benomar said.

In the presidential statement approved by all 15 members, the Security Council echoed Benomar’s call for all parties to stop fighting, engage in the U.N.-brokered negotiations and complete the peaceful transition.

AP, AFP and Alarabiya

A grave blunder --------- The Hindu Editorial dated March 24, 1931 on execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru in Lahore

On the 84th anniversary of the execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru in Lahore, we reproduce our Editorial from the issue dated March 24, 1931

The news of the execution of Bhagat Singh and his two comrades, accused in what is known as the Lahore Conspiracy Case, will come upon the public as a rude shock. For, although the petition for mercy made on their behalf had been rejected by the Viceroy, applications had been made before the High Court with a view to get a judicial pronouncement on the legality of the Local Government’s attempts to carry out the sentence on the prisoners in spite of the fact that the Court which, in the opinion of Counsel for the prisoners, was the only one competent to issue the death warrant, had ceased to exist. The issue raised by Counsel was obviously so complicated and the arrangements made on behalf of the prisoners to get the verdict of the highest tribunal available so advanced that the public felt that for some time at any rate...the execution could not come off and...there was still hope of the prisoners being saved from the extreme penalty of the law. That the Government had every need to proceed with caution will be evident if one recalls the extraordinary circumstances connected with the trial of the accused.
The accused were put up for trial before a Special Magistrate twenty months ago for the offence of conspiracy to wage war against the King by murder, dacoity, manufacture and use of bombs and other methods and, so far as Bhagat Singh was concerned, of having murdered a police officer, Mr. Saunders of Lahore. Subsequently, on the ground that the police ill-treated them, the accused refused to appear in Court... the Lahore High Court... refused to be a party to dispensing with the committed proceedings ...the case was withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts, placed before a special tribunal and provision was made for the trial of the accused in their absence. In spite of these extraordinary arrangements, the accused attended the court of the special tribunal for a few days, but following an incident the police handcuffed them and indulged in a lathi charge in the court premises — proceedings which moved one of the judges of the tribunal openly to express his disgust at the police action.
The accused thereafter refused to attend the court and the trial was proceeded with in their absence. The trial went on in their absence without any counsel representing them; without any cross examination of the approvers and without testing the evidence of other witnesses. Nor should it be forgotten that two of the seven approvers subsequently retracted their earlier story. To carry out a sentence of death passed as the result of a trial in such extraordinary circumstances will have been in any case to incur a very grave responsibility. But in this case the additional point had been raised that there was legally no authority competent to give effect to the sentence... By the indecent haste with which they have proceeded in the matter they have defied public opinion and exasperated it in a manner that it is difficult to envisage the gravity of the reactions in this country to their latest blunder. As Gandhiji says, the Government “have lost a golden opportunity of winning over the revolutionary party. It as their clear duty, in view of the settlement, at least to suspend indefinitely the execution. By their action they have put a severe strain upon the settlement and once more proved their capacity for flouting public opinion”.
थे 

भगत सिंह इस बार न लेना काया भारतवासी की , देश भक्ति के लिए आज भी सजा मिलेगी फांसी की।


उनकी तुरबत पे दिया भी नही , जिनके खूं से जले थे चिराग़े वतन ,
सजते  हैं  मकबरे  उनके ,  बेचते  थे  जो  शहीदों  का     कफ़न।

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ISIS threat online to 100 US military personnels

The US military has called for "vigilance" after an online threat was allegedly made by Islamic State (IS) to about 100 of its personnel.
A list of names and addresses was posted on a website linked to the group alongside a call for them to be killed.
The Pentagon said the threat was unverified and would be investigated.
The IS-linked group said it obtained the information by hacking servers and databases, but US officials said most of the data was in the public domain.
A US security source told the BBC that those on the list were being contacted.
The group, which called itself the Islamic State Hacking Division, said the personnel named had participated in US missions against IS.
It urged its supporters in the US to "take the final step" and "deal with" those named.
A US defence official told US media: "I can't confirm the validity of the information, but we are looking into it."

US Marine Corps spokesman Lt Col John Caldwell said: "Vigilance and force protection considerations remain a priority for commanders and their personnel."
He recommended that marines "check their online/social footprint, ensuring privacy settings are adjusted to limit the amount of available personal information".
The US and its allies have been conducting air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq since last September.
IS has seized large swathes of territory in both countries. Its brutal tactics, including mass killings and abductions of members of religious and ethnic minorities, have sparked outrage across the world.

Former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus said that Iran is main threat to Iraq not ISIS

Former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces during the 2007-2008 surge in the Iraq war, has said that Iran and the Shiite militias it backs pose “the foremost” strategic threat to Iraq, superseding the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terror group.
“I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran,” Petraeus told the Washington Post during a recent visit to northern Iraq.
He said while these Shiite militias helped stop ISIS’ advance toward Baghdad, they were responsible for “atrocities” against Sunni civilians and could later emerge to be the dominant power in Iraq outside the government’s control.
“These militia returned to the streets of Iraq in response to a fatwa by Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani at a moment of extreme danger. And they prevented the Islamic State from continuing its offensive into Baghdad. Nonetheless, they have, in some cases, cleared not only Sunni extremists but also Sunni civilians and committed atrocities against them,” Petraeus said.
“Longer term, Iranian-backed Shiite militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran,” he added.
Petraeus said the increasing Iranian influence in Iraq, through Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Suleimani, underlines “a very important reality: The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East.”
Answering a question about the IRGC commander Suleimani, who reportedly helped build up the Shiite militias which targeted American troops and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad during the surge, Petraeus said: “Yes, ‘Hajji Qassem,’ our old friend. I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren't suitable for publication in a family newspaper like yours.
“What I will say is that he is very capable and resourceful individual, a worthy adversary. He has played his hand well. But this is a long game, so let’s see how events transpire.
“It is certainly interesting to see how visible Suleimani has chosen to become in recent months — quite a striking change for a man of the shadows,” Petraeus added.
The U.S. general, who is widely credited with purging al-Qaeda from Iraq’s Sunni areas in 2006, said that despite Iran’s help in the fight against ISIS, Tehran is “ultimately part of the problem, not the solution.
“The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. While the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh, our interests generally diverge. The Iranian response to the open hand offered by the U.S. has not been encouraging,” he added.
He said: “Iranian power in the Middle East is thus a double problem. It is foremost problematic because it is deeply hostile to us and our friends. But it is also dangerous because, the more it is felt, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests — Sunni radicalism and, if we aren't careful, the prospect of nuclear proliferation as well.”
Petraeus added that in the spring of 2008, Suleimani made it clear to him that he was in charge of Iran’s policy regarding Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan.
The message came through as Iraqi and American-led coalition forces battled Iranian-backed Shiite militias.
“In the midst of the fight, I received word from a very senior Iraqi official that Qassem Suleimani had given him a message for me. When I met with the senior Iraqi, he conveyed the message: ‘General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qassem Suleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.’ The point was clear: He owned the policy and the region, and I should deal with him. When my Iraqi interlocutor asked what I wanted to convey in return, I told him to tell Suleimani that he could ‘pound sand’.”

Cryptic comments

Ali Khedery, a former advisor to Petraeus when the latter headed up the U.S. central command in Iraq in 2009 to 2010, told Al Arabiya News late Friday that he “agree[s] completely” with the general’s comments.
With his cryptic comments on Suleimani, Petraeus was alluding to the Iranian commander’s responsibility for leading Shiite militia groups responsible for the “killing and wounding thousands of American coalition soldiers and Iraqi troops and civilians, so it would be natural for him to wish things upon him that would not be appropriate for a newspaper,” said Khedery, who now works as a consultant for international strategic advisory firm Dragoman Partners.
Last week, the White House said that they were consulting the now-retired Petraeus on the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
The former advisor on Iraq told Al Arabiya News last month that previously, the Obama administration was deliberately turning a blind eye to Shiite militias’ abuses in Iraq - but now with fresh evidence from human rights organizations and with Petraeus's testimony, “Obama now has to clarify what his policy is in the wake of the new evidence that… [has] been revealed,” Khedery said on Friday.
David Mack, a former U.S. ambassador and scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute think tank, said that the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi - aligned in part both politically and ideologically with Iran-backed Shiite militias – must contain control of the situation in order to avoid a long-term “threat to their stability.”