Tag Archives: Syria

US warns Kremlin that Assad has no role in anti-IS fight

Moscow’s actions in Syria have raised concerns in Washington. US Secretary of State John Kerry has placed his third call in 10 days to his counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Russia’s recent military buildup in Syria has left the Obama administration in a quandary as to how to respond. It has also complicated Washington’s efforts to both combat “Islamic State” extremists and help moderate rebels who are trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Secretary of State John Kerry has called his Kremlin counterpart Sergei Lavrov to restate the US position after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin promised to maintain military support for Assad.

“Secretary Kerry made clear that Russia’s continued support for President Assad risks exacerbating and extending the conflict, and undermining our shared goal of fighting extremism,” said his office.

Read more » DW
See more » http://www.dw.com/en/us-warns-kremlin-that-assad-has-no-role-in-anti-is-fight/a-18716837?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

Syria crisis: US concern over Russia ‘military build-up’

US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed concern to Moscow over reports of Russian military build-up in Syria, the state department says.

US media reports said Russia has sent advisers and hardware to Syria, in what Washington fears is an expansion of its support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Any such development would “escalate the conflict”, Mr Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Russia has been a key ally of Syria throughout its four-year civil war.

The New York Times cited US officials as saying Russia had despatched an advance military team to Syria, as well as housing units and an air traffic control centre to an airfield.

The officials quoted admitted they were unsure of Moscow’s intentions, but said the deployments could enable Russia to use the airbase to facilitate supply of military gear or to launch air strikes against Mr Assad’s enemies.

Mr Kerry made his concerns over the reports known to the Russian Foreign Minister in a phone call.

“If such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-Isil coalition operating in Syria,” the state department said, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State (IS).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday it was “premature” to talk about Moscow getting involved in direct fighting.

Russia and the US disagree sharply on Syria. While Russia has backed the Syrian government, and provided it with arms, the US wants to see the removal of President Assad.

In the latest fighting on the ground, at least 47 people died in fierce clashes between IS militants and other rebels in the northern town of Marea.

At least six members of Syria’s security forces were shot dead in the south-western city of Sweida, after a prominent cleric in the minority Druze community died in a car bomb blast.

News courtesy: BBC
Read more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34166623

IS ‘abducts Syrian Christians’

Islamic State militants ‘abduct Christians’ in Syrian town

Islamic State militants have abducted dozens of people, many Christian, from a Syrian town captured on Thursday from pro-regime forces, reports say.

They were seized when the jihadists swept through al-Qaryatain in Homs province, monitoring groups say.

Many of the Christians had fled to al-Qaryatain to escape fighting in Aleppo province to the north.

Islamic State (IS) has treated Christians harshly in other places under its control.

The group follows its own extreme version of Sunni Islam and has previously ordered Christians to convert, pay jizya (a religious levy), or face death.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33818386

Islamic State burned a woman alive for not engaging in an ‘extreme’ sex act, U.N. official says

By Ishaan Tharoor

Amid all the Islamic State’s  atrocities — its massacres of civilians, its beheading of hostages, its pillaging of antiquities — the systematic violence the jihadists have carried out against countless enslaved women and girls never fails to shock. For months now, we’ve heard appalling testimony from women who escaped the Islamic State’s clutches, many of whom endured rape and other hideous acts of violence.

Zainab Bangura, the U.N.’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, recently conducted a tour of refugee camps in the shadow of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, war-ravaged countries where the Islamic State commands swaths of territory. She heard a host of horror stories from victims and their families and recounted them in an interview earlier this week withthe Middle East Eye, an independent regional news site.

“They are institutionalizing sexual violence,” Bangura said of the Islamic State. “The brutalization of women and girls is central to their ideology.”

Bangura detailed the processes by which “pretty virgins” captured by the jihadists were bought and sold at auctions. Here’s a chilling excerpt:

After attacking a village, [the Islamic State] splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.

There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.

We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his “property.”

Estimates vary, but there are believed to be somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 women enslaved by the Islamic State. Many are Yazidis, a persecuted minority sect that the extremist Islamic State considers to be apostate “devil-worshippers,” in part because of the Yazidis’ ancient connection to the region’s pre-Islamic past. The jihadists’ treatment of Yazidi women, in particular, has been marked out by its contempt and savagery.

Here’s Bangura again:

They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality. We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.

Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have escaped their captors, either by running away, or being ransomed and rescued by their families. Bangura has urged international assistance in providing proper medical and “psychosocial” support to the escaped women, who have experienced terrible trauma.

News courtesy » The Washington Post
Read more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/05/22/islamic-state-burned-a-woman-alive-for-not-engaging-in-an-extreme-sex-act-u-n-official-says/?tid=sm_fb

Nimrud: Outcry as IS bulldozers attack ancient Iraq site

Archaeologists and officials have expressed outrage about the bulldozing of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud by Islamic State militants in Iraq.

IS began demolishing the site, which was founded in the 13th Century BC, on Thursday, according to Iraqi officials.

The head of the UN’s cultural agency condemned the “systematic” destruction in Iraq as a “war crime”.

IS, which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, says shrines and statues are “false idols” that have to be smashed.

“They are erasing our history,” said Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31760656

Isis fighters throw another ‘gay’ man off a tower – and stone him to death when he survives fall

Isis fighters threw a man accused of homosexuality from a building and stoned him to death when he survived the fall, a Syrian monitoring group has claimed.

The man was reportedly thrown from a tower in the Syrian city of al- Tabaqa, west of the group’s defacto stronghold of Raqqa, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The Observatory collects information from activists living in  Isis-controlled territories.

The killing reportedly took place in front of a huge crowd of people gathered below the building on Tuesday.

Read more » The Independent
See more » http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-fighters-throw-another-gay-man-off-a-tower–and-stone-him-to-death-when-he-survives-fall-10084618.html

Islamic State poses a Dangerous Threat to the world

By GURMEET KANWAL

On February 16, 2015, the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic Caliphate (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) released a video showing the gruesome execution of 21 Egyptian citizens in Libya. All of them were Coptic Christians. Egypt promptly joined the fight against ISIS by launching air strikes in Derna, a hotbed of terrorism. Egypt has already been fighting terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula where many Army personnel have been killed since President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in July 2013.

A few days earlier, ISIS fighters had burnt alive a captured Jordanian pilot because Jordan had refused to be blackmailed into releasing Sajida Al-Rishawi, a jailed ISIS activist. And, a week before that brutal execution, the ISIS had beheaded the second of two Japanese hostages.

The emergence of the ISIS is only the latest manifestation of the continuing conflict in the arc of instability known as West Asia or the Middle East. The triumphant march of the virulently radical Sunni terrorists of the ISIS in 2014 was finally halted virtually on the gates of Baghdad. The ISIS, numbering between 20,000 and 30,000, now controls a large area straddling the Syria-Iraq border and have seized key border crossings on the Syrian border with Jordan. After capturing Faluja in January 2014, ISIS fighters made rapid progress in advancing along the Euphrates River in Anbar province of Iraq.

Read more » NITI Central
See more » http://www.niticentral.com/stream

Titanium jaw created by Israeli dental tech firm on Israeli-developed 3D printer

By BY DAVID SHAMAH

Over the past several years, Israeli hospitals have treated hundreds of victims of the Syrian civil war, but a procedure conducted on a Syrian patient last week at Rambam Hospital in Haifa was easily the most ambitious the institution has ever attempted, according to the hospital

The patient, who sustained severe injuries as a result of fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan border, was brought by the Israeli army to the hospital for treatment. The patient’s lower jaw was completely destroyed as the result of a bullet wound. The man, in critical condition, was unable to eat or to even speak.

Continue reading Titanium jaw created by Israeli dental tech firm on Israeli-developed 3D printer

Islamic radicalisation in UK frightening: Prince Charles

By PTI

London: Britain’s Prince Charles has described as “frightening” the growing radicalisation of British Muslim youth who have been joining the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, partly due to “crazy stuff” available on the internet.

The heir to Britain’s throne said the radicalisation was “one of the greatest worries” that could not be swept “under the carpet” but expressed his hope to build bridges between different faiths in an interview to the BBC broadcast today.

Asked about the radicalisation of young people in the UK, Prince Charles said: “Well, of course, this is one of the greatest worries, I think, and the extent to which this is happening is the alarming part. And particularly in a country like ours, where you know the values we hold dear.

“You think that the people who have come here, (are) born here, go to school here, would imbibe those values and outlooks.

“The frightening part is that people can be so radicalised either through contact with somebody else or through the internet, and the extraordinary amount of crazy stuff which is on the internet,” he said.

Read more » Hindustan Times
See more » http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/islamic-radicalisation-in-uk-frightening-prince-charles/article1-1314896.aspx

UN probe: ISIS committing ‘crimes against humanity’ in Syria

GENEVA: ISIS is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a large scale in areas under its control in war-ravaged Syria, U.N. investigators said Friday.

In its first report focused squarely on acts by ISIS, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented a horrifying picture of what life is like in areas controlled by the extremist jihadists, including massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy.

“The commanders of ISIS have acted wilfully, perpetrating these war crimes and crimes against humanity with clear intent of attacking persons with awareness of their civilian or ‘hors de combat’ (non-combat) status,” the report said.

“They are individually criminally responsible for these crimes,” it stated, and called on the perpetrators to be brought to justice, for instance before the International Criminal Court.

Based on more than 300 interviews with people who have fled areas under the control of the jihadists, as well as photographs and video footage released by ISIS itself, the report paints a blood-chilling picture of life under its rule.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Nov-14/277641-un-probe-isis-committing-crimes-against-humanity-in-syria.ashx#ixzz3J3GQOLLf
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Citizens of Mosul endure economic collapse and repression under Isis rule

Many Sunnis were glad to see the Iraqi army go when Islamic State took over – but for many the situation is now far worse

By Mohammad Moslawi in Mosul, in Irbil and The Guardian

Conditions inside Mosul, the largest city under Islamic State (Isis) control, have dramatically deteriorated, residents say, with severe shortages of food and water, no functioning public institutions, and the local economy in a state of near collapse.

In a series of interviews, locals in the Iraqi city paint a bleak picture of life under Isis rule. They say that discontent with the militants who swept into Iraq’s second city nearly five months ago is growing. Most public institutions have stopped working and provide no services. Almost all private sector activity and government-funded construction projects have been put on hold. Thousands of workers have been rendered jobless.

Read more » The Guardian 
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/27/citizens-mosul-iraq-economic-collapse-repression-isis-islamic-state

Iraqi city falls to ISIL as army withdraws

ISIL “100 percent control” Hit in Anbar, says police colonel, after troops are relocated to reinforce nearby airbase.

The Iraqi army has withdrawn from its last base in the city of Hit in Anbar province following weeks of fighting with the ISIL, leaving the group in full control, security sources have said.

Hundreds of troops were pulled out of the base and relocated to help protect the Asad air base, the AFP news agency quoted a police colonel in the provincial capital of Ramadi as saying.

Read more » Aljazeera
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/iraq-army-withdraws-from-last-base-hit-20141013105557467561.html

Kurdish women fighters ready ‘to send ISIS to hell’

Female Kurdish fighters ignite fear into Islamic State militants, who believe that they’ll go straight to hell if they are killed by a woman. RT travelled to Iraqi-Syrian border to meet the YPG, the female battalion fighting IS.

The border area between Iraq and Syria is currently controlled by Kurdish volunteers after both Iraqi and Syrian military forces abandoned the border crossings. The women fighters occupy the lookout post on the border, which allows them to monitor all IS activities in Iraq and Syria.

Read more » http://rt.com/news/193972-kurdish-women-fighters-isis/

Syrian Kurds feel deserted as Islamic State advances

Lightly Armed Kurds Face Terrorist Tanks, Feel ‘Deserted and Furious’ at U.S.

By Benjamin Harvey and Selcan Hacaoglu

From a hill in Turkey, spectators can watch Islamic State’s advance across Syria, its progress hindered only by a ragtag group of Kurdish fighters who say the Turkish army and U.S. air force are doing little to help.

Video footage and eyewitness accounts paint a picture of Kurds with light weapons shooting from inside homes and behind mud walls around the Syrian town of Kobani, while Islamic State militants with tanks and heavy artillery rumble across nearby fields. As the U.S.-led coalition focuses on bombing Islamic State supply lines elsewhere, the Kurds say they are being left as prey to extremists taking territory on Turkey’s border.

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-03/kurds-fight-alone-as-coalition-holds-fire-against-jihadist-tanks.html?hootPostID=e567908358c67e7dea8a4a5066a461e2

Islamic State ‘kills US hostage’

An Islamic State video has appeared which purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist being held hostage by the militants. 

Mr Sotloff, 31, was abducted in Syria in 2013. He appeared at the end of a video last month which showed fellow US journalist James Foley being killed.

A militant in the latest video also threatens to kill a British hostage. Mr Sotloff’s family said they were aware of the video and were “grieving privately”.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29038217

The Islamic State Is Right About Some Things

BY

I’ve talked about the Yezidis many times over the years. The main reason is that I find the obscure marginal sects in the Middle East interesting, because this is a region of the world where religious pluralism existed under very precise and strict conditions, and these groups deviated from those conditions and lived to tell the tale. The Muslim rulers, and more specifically in historical memory the Ottomans, tolerated a specific set of enumerated dhimmi, generally traditional Christian and Jewish groups. Though subject to persecution and oppression, in principle these groups had rights to exist within the Islamic framework. Heretics and pagans on the other hand were not tolerated. For example I have read the account of from the 17th century of an Ottoman official who was making a progress from Baghdad to Istanbul which is an excellent piece of ethnography. His entourage stopped in an isolated mountain valley in what is today Kurdistan. The local population were not Muslims, and when the official inquired as to their religion they told of how they worshipped the sun. Whatever the details of their origin this group obviously would be classed as pagans, and the official was faced with what to do with these people. The choices were conversion to Islam or death, the implementation of which would have been difficult at that moment. As a solution the local Jacobite Orthodox Christian bishop agreed to accept the people as his own, with nominal baptism. Presumably these people eventually became Christians in fact as well as name. But it goes to show that in the pre-modern world of the Middle East religious diversity persisted in the isolated places of the world. Groups such as the Druze offend Sunni Muslims because they are clearly derived from Islam itself, and Islam is the capstone religion in its own conception. Alawites seem to have emerged from the same milieu as the Druze, but they have retained a tenuous Muslim identity, which has accelerated under the Assad family. The Sunni Muslim stance toward these groups is that they are viewed as illegitimate heresies, not protected religions. The extent of Salafi* influence in one’s orientation also conditions how Sunnis view Shia (and there is variation within the Shia group, the Ismailis in particular viewed as heretical because their practice and theology differs more in obvious ways from Sunni orthodoxy; the Zaydi Shia are at the opposite extreme, being very similar to Sunni norms).

All this leads up to why the Islamic State, and Muslims generally to a lesser extent, tend to be extremely harsh in their attitude toward the Yezidi sect. The details of the Yezidi belief system are somewhat obscure, like that of the Druze, but they are clearly not Muslim. The media reports that the Yezidi are an ancient religion, with some relationship to Zoroastrianism. Many Kurds will also agree with this statement, assuming that something like Yezidism was the primal faith of their ethnic group. This may or may not be true. The origins of the Yezidi may actually be more like the Druze, if somewhat more ancient and obscure. Part of the lack of clarity I think goes back to the fact that there is some opaqueness overall in the first century or so of Islam. The social-religious world of the Middle East was a product of those years, but it is very different from them. For example Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian influenced syncretistic Muslim sects were powerful anti-establishment forces across the Iranian cultural zone down to the 9th century. Quite a few extremist Shia sects (ghulat) seem to have made the transition to post-Islam, often imbibing Zoroastrianism of a Mazdakite flavor. Such a transition though was usually a cultural death sentence. Survival usually depended upon attaching oneself to a Shia identity, however tenuous (the Alawite strategy), or, fleeing to a geographically isolated region (in some cases these sectarians fled to the Byzantine Empire, and converted to Orthodox Christianity rather than revert to normative Islam!). Flight from the world is what the Druze and Yezidi have done in their fastness.

The current capture of Sinjar has been a humanitarian catastrophe for the Yezidi because it has been one of their traditional redoubts. The kidnapping of women, and the summary beheading or crucifixion of men, can be comprehensible in light of the Salafi Muslim vision of groups such as the Yezidi, which literally should not exist. Their obliteration would bring balance back into the Salafi world. While Christians and Jews may persist with the barest of sufferance, the existence of the Yezidi is an abomination to Salafi Muslims. What is occurring is a ethnic cleansing and genocide in straightforward terms. In fact Salafi Muslims would probably agree with the appellation cleansing, because the Yezidi to them are an offence to Being itself. Their existence is a matter is a matter of ritual purity in a metaphysical sense. I am wary of ever making analogies to Nazi Germany and the way it viewed the Jews, but this one clearly is a close fit. There is no path toward accommodation of Yezidi existence for the Islamic State, it is now down to an animal battle of survival for them, as they flee into the mountains as they have done so many times in the past.

Read more » http://www.unz.com/gnxp/the-islamic-state-is-right-about-some-things/

ISIS burns 1,800-year-old church in Mosul

Militants from the radical jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have set fire to a 1,800-year-old church in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, a photo released Saturday shows.

The burning of the church is the latest in a series of destruction of Christian property in Mosul, which was taken by the Islamist rebels last month, along with other swathes of Iraqi territory.

Read more » Al Arabiya News
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/07/20/ISIS-burns-1-800-year-old-church-in-Mosul.html

Syria President Bashar al-Assad sworn in for third term

Bashar al-Assad has been sworn in for a third seven-year term as president of Syria, after an election last month that opponents dismissed as a “farce”.

State television broadcast what it said was a live ceremony from the presidential palace in Damascus.

Mr Assad vowed to fight “terrorism” until security was restored to all of the country, but also promised to offer “national reconciliation” to opponents.

He has defied calls to step down since an uprising began in March 2011.

The conflict that erupted after the authorities launched a brutal crackdown on protests has left at least 170,000 people dead and driven more than nine million others from their homes.

‘Monstrous faces’

Mr Assad won 88.7% of the votes cast in the first multi-candidate election in decades, which took place only in areas of Syria that were under government control.

After taking the oath of office on Wednesday, Mr Assad told his supporters: “Syrians, three years and four months… have passed since some cried ‘freedom’.”

“They wanted a revolution, but you have been the real revolutionaries. I congratulate you for your revolution and for your victory,” he added.

“Those who lost their way can now see clearly… the monstrous faces have been unveiled, the mask of freedom and the revolution has fallen.”

Mr Assad also promised that Arab, regional and Western countries who are helping the rebels trying to topple him would soon “pay a high price for supporting terrorism.

Over the past year, Mr Assad’s forces – backed by Iran and the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah – have consolidated their control over a corridor of territory stretching north from the capital to the city of Homs and then into Hama and Latakia provinces.

However, large swathes of the north and east remain under the control of rebel forces, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

The powerful al-Qaeda breakaway declared the creation of a “caliphate” in its territories last month after launching an offensive that saw it capture parts of northern and western Iraq.

Western-backed and more moderate Islamist rebels in Syria, who have been engaged in deadly battles with the group’s fighters since the start of the year, rejected the announcement.

Courtesy: BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28328138

More » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2014/07/140716_syria_president_assad_rwa.shtml

“Neo-Terrorism”: The mutation of Al-Qaeda into the Islamic State

By Roy Murray

One of the suboptimal habits of humans is to compare different things, expect them to behave similarly, and treat them the way we are ‘used to’. So, when the “Islamic State” (IS) debacle began, the world’s intelligences agencies did what they were used to – tracking jihadists back home. Since Al-Qaeda attacked the western home front, IS must have similar ambitions. They attempted to identify the jihadists, tracked their footsteps to the conflict, then they waited back home, ready to pounce on them with decades of counter terrorism experience. The hysteria grew, with ever more resources ploughed into it, augmented by vast media accounts of the threat the “Islamic State” (IS) of Sheikh Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi poses to our ‘home front’.

It became a dangerous addiction which distracted us from the real “neo-terrorism” threat. By tracking Baghdadi’s returning jihadists, the west is effectively acting as his military police, locking up his deserters – after all, jihad is a lifelong adventure. He couldn’t care less.  In fact, our actions morphed into a powerful propaganda tool for the ‘terrorist extraordinaire’ –   feeding his propaganda narrative that Muslims were being oppressed around the world, and must rise up against their “tyrants” and establish a great Islamic State. Focusing on the home front, The West left him alone in the Middle East, free to stir chaos, establish, and expand his ‘Caliphate’. With just 10,000 of his Jihadists and other allies, he took down vast armies and militias that outnumbered his forces by factors upwards of 10 to 1. He is not some supreme being, neither are his men super human. Rather, he is a manifestation of the “neo-terrorist”. A veteran jihadist, he is also a cunning strategist, who designed his escapades with a powerful knowledge of the present, and a generous imagination of the future. He exploited the enmities between his enemies and preyed on their most damning weaknesses. Further, Baghdadi exploited almost every racial, sectarian, and political fault line in the Middle East and left all his enemies in a predicament. He wrong footed almost everyone, all the while being humble about the limits of his power, rarely embarking on battles where he doesn’t have ‘the edge’.”. Everyone played into his hand, and the current reality is that the different powers of the Middle East no longer have any ‘good’ options. Rather, they have options of varying degrees of ‘badness’, or even catastrophe. All this is at the expense of the local civilians, who are now staring down at an extended sectarian conflict that will condemn the Middle East to decades of poverty, threatening the social and political fabric of the region.

Read more » SYKES PICOT
http://sykespicot.net/2014/07/06/neo-terrorism-the-mutation-of-al-qaeda-into-the-islamic-state/

Christian Father Commits Suicide After ISIS Members Rape Wife and Daughter in Front of Him Because He Couldn’t Pay Poll Tax

BY LEONARDO BLAIR , CP REPORTER

A Christian father who watched his wife and daughter get brutally raped by members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because he couldn’t pay them a poll tax in Mosul, Iraq, killed himself under the weight of the trauma this past weekend.

A report from the Assyrian International News Agency said ISIS began enforcing Islamic laws in the northern Iraq city which they overran on June 10.

Read more » The Christian Post
http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-father-commits-suicide-after-isis-members-rape-wife-and-daughter-in-front-of-him-because-he-couldnt-pay-poll-tax-122220/

Can Pakistan be saved? Or will it go the Iraq way?

By C Uday Bhaskar

The Pakistan military launched Zarb-e-Azb, a major offensive operation against terror groups operating from North Waziristan Sunday, a week after the Karachi airport was audaciously attacked by the Taliban. In the last 48 hours, it is reported that more than 170 terrorists were killed while six soldiers died during the operation which is still continuing.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared: “We will no longer allow Pakistan to be a sanctuary for terrorism at any cost.” The military in turn has highlighted in a press release that it is acting on the “directions” of the civilian government and has “been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries”.

On the face of it, this is a welcome development, in that the Pakistan military has publicly reiterated two critical determinants; first that it is operating as per the directives of the elected government and second, that it will eliminate “terrorists regardless of hue and colour”. The inference that follows is that this time around there will be no distinction between the good and the bad terrorist.

However, there have been two other military operations that GHQ Rawalpindi had initiated in 2009 in Swat and South Waziristan and in both cases, after imposing a heavy cost on the terror groups, the military withdrew without seeking effective closure and the various terror outfits regrouped to challenge the state again. The Karachi airport attack is illustrative of the determination and virulence of the ideology that is  driving the Taliban and its affiliates.

Both the Pakistani political establishment and the military are culpable of having nurtured and sought the support of different factions of the right-wing constituency for their own institutional advantage. If the Pakistan army and the intelligence agencies created and supported certain groups to obtain “strategic depth” in both India and Afghanistan through proxy, political parties led by Nawaz Sharif and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan portrayed the Taliban as brethren who had been misguided and held out the olive branch of reconciliation. Even when the Pakistan Army wanted to pursue a more robust anti-Taliban policy after the beheading of troops, the political ambivalence prevailed.

Karachi is being seen as the tipping point and the name of the operation – Zarb-e-Azb – which means sharp and cutting has a religious salience that merits notice. The theological reference is to the sword of Prophet Muhammad reportedly used in the battle of Badr (624 AD) and by invoking this symbol, the Pak military, it may be conjectured, is assuming a mantle of higher religious legitimacy against the Taliban. The latter in turn perceive themselves as the true guardians of the faith and their objective is to impose an intolerant, inflexible version of the practice of Islam, in which the Shia and other sects are legitimate targets for slaughter.

None of these developments are new to Pakistan and have been gathering momentum for decades with the connivance of the state and civil society. A malignant ideology and a destructive eco-system that intimidated the non-Sunni denominations through political connivance and the introduction of draconian blasphemy laws reached its most tragic manifestation in the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own bodyguard. His crime – supporting due legal process in a blasphemy case against a Pakistani Christian woman.

It may be recalled that the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) episode of Islamabad in July 2007 that marked the end of the Musharraf era was in essence an example of how the Islamist right-wing and its pervasive support triumphed and forced the state to withdraw. At the time it was reported that even the Pakistan Army’s top leadership was uneasy with the Musharraf diktat and opined that many in the rank and file of the military would oppose  any muscular action against the right-wing radicals.

Thus, the moot question is the degree to which the Pakistani political establishment in Islamabad and the GHQ in Rawalpindi will be “sharp and cutting” in eliminating the terror groups and their sanctuaries. Prime Minister Sharif has been in touch with Afghan President Ahmed Karzai to coordinate operations and deny the groups sanctuary in Afghanistan and it is expected that the US will provide tacit support in this endeavour by way of intelligence and drone attacks.

Zarb-e-Azb marks the tactical and military dimension of dealing with the (Islamist) chickens that have come home to roost. The Pakistan military has demonstrated that it has the ability to apply the pressure on the adversary – should it decide to do so. Yes, there have been threats of reprisal and the Pak Taliban has threatened to target Punjab – the Sharif base – which till now was off the terror radar.

The true test of Zarb-e-Azb will be its strategic and political underpinning. Will Islamabad and Rawalpindi arrive at that final and irrevocable determination to sever links with Muridke – the headquarter of groups like the Lashkar and other such centres? This is where the sharp and cutting quality is most required.

Absent this candid admission that support to terror cannot be selectively sustained, the current effort will have limited value and the lives of the Pakistani troops lost will be in vain. Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, have a rare opportunity to save Pakistan from the kind of specter that now threatens Iraq.

(C Uday Bhaskar is Distinguished Fellow, Society for Policy Studies. He can be contacted at cudyabhaskar@spsindia.in)

Courtesy: The South Asia Monitor
http://southasiamonitor.org/detail.php?type=sl&nid=8332

See the grace of America, how it let its citizens to criticize it openly without any censorship!

See the grace of America that how it let its citizens to criticize it openly without any censorship. To criticize the policies of the government is not weakening the America, it is making U.S. more strong.  The people, who are the citizens of America are at least grateful to the USA for two things; for having such a good life, and for being in the USA. These are the reasons, why the people love United States Of America!

Courtesy: YouTube

Afghanistan Backs Russia’s Crimean Invasion, Fails Irony 101

By Adam Weinstein

Afghan President Hamid Karzai threw U.S. observers for a loop over the weekend, announcing that his country would join Syria and Venezuela in supporting Russia’s Crimea invasion annexation:

Citing “the free will of the Crimean people,” the office of President Hamid Karzai said, “we respect the decision the people of Crimea took through a recent referendum that considers Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.”…

Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for Mr. Karzai, said that the Russian annexation of Crimea was a “legitimate move” and that the palace statement represented Afghanistan’s official recognition of the new borders.

“Afghanistan always respects the free will of the nations on deciding their future,” he wrote in an email. He did not elaborate.

Continue reading Afghanistan Backs Russia’s Crimean Invasion, Fails Irony 101

Turkey Says Pakistan-trained Militants Fighting In Syria

As many as 500 Turks, some of them trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have crossed over into Syria to fight the Bashar al-Assad regime alongside Al Qaeda and its affiliates, a report from Turkey’s interior ministry claims.

Read more » News Week
http://newsweekpakistan.com/turkey-says-pakistan-trained-militants-fighting-in-syria/

Russian military put on alert for US strike on Syria

By: Vladimir Radyuhin

The Russian military is bracing for what is seen as an imminent U.S. strike in Syria even as Moscow warned that the attack could trigger a nuclear Armageddon.

In addition to five warships deployed in the East Mediterranean, Russia, in recent days, has sent six more ships to the region, including the guided missile cruiser Moskva.

On Wednesday, Russia placed on heightened alert the Central Command Post of the General Staff, the Aerospace Defence command and the country’s intelligence agencies, Defence Ministry officials said.

Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Valery Gerasimov cancelled a planned visit to Austria on Wednesday, while Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov summoned the U.S. and Israeli military attaches over a test launch of an Israeli missile on Tuesday.

Mr. Antonov described the region a “powder keg” and warned that its fire “may spread, not only to neighbouring states, but to other regions of the world.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a stark warning that a U.S. strike on Syria’s nuclear facilities might result in a nuclear catastrophe.

“If a warhead, by design or by chance, were to hit the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) near Damascus, the consequences could be catastrophic,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.

The region would face the risk of “contamination by highly enriched uranium and it would be virtually impossible to account for nuclear material at the facility, its control and safety,” the Russian statement said.

Moscow urged the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to “react swiftly” and carry out “an analysis of the risks linked to possible American strikes on the MNSR and other facilities in Syria.”

Russia intends to bring up the issue at a 35-nation IAEA board meeting that opens on Monday, the Interfax news agency said.

Courtesy: The Hindu
http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/russian-military-put-on-alert-for-us-strike-on-syria/article5097142.ece

Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West – New York Times

By

The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men. The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/world/middleeast/brutality-of-syrian-rebels-pose-dilemma-in-west.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

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Via – News adopted from Facebook

Obama’s Bluff by George Friedman, Stratfor

Stratfor: Obama’s Bluff
Posted  by Steven Hansen
By George Friedman, Founder and Chairman, Stratfor

Excerpt;

…. Obama now faces the second time in his presidency when war was an option. The first was Libya. The tyrant is now dead, and what followed is not pretty. And Libya was easy compared to Syria. Now, the president must intervene to maintain his credibility. But there is no political support in the United States for intervention. He must take military action, but not one that would cause the United States to appear brutish. He must depose al Assad, but not replace him with his opponents. He never thought al Assad would be so reckless. Despite whether al Assad actually was, the consensus is that he was. That’s the hand the president has to play, so it’s hard to see how he avoids military action and retains credibility. It is also hard to see how he takes military action without a political revolt against him if it goes wrong, which it usually does.

Read more » Global Economic Intersection
http://econintersect.com/wordpress/?p=40497

Russia Warns of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ If US Meddles in Syria

By KIRIT RADIA

MOSCOW: Russian officials today hit back at the United States and its allies after Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday that the Syrian government would face consequences for last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack.

A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry this morning warned of “catastrophic consequences” for Syria and the region if the United States and its allies intervene. It also expressed “serious disappointment” after the United States announced it would back out of a meeting this week with Russian officials to plan a long-delayed peace conference.

Read more » ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/International/russia-warns-catastrophic-consequences-us-meddles-syria/story?id=20081747#.Uh0qZCO7_1g.twitter

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New fears: TTP in Syria

THE problem with a head-in-the-sand approach to fighting militancy is that the rest of the body is left exposed. For a while now the TTP has been an enemy of the Pakistani state but there is hardly a faction within that umbrella organisation that at some point over the years has not been in the good books of the army-led security establishment. But the good Taliban/bad Taliban dichotomy never made sense to begin with and as time has gone by, the contradictions have become apparent. The TTP in all its forms has always been bad news for this country’s internal stability and external relations. Just how bad has been underlined in recent days with two foreign news services reporting that the TTP has claimed to have sent men to Syria to fight alongside rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arab nexus, including links to Al Qaeda, has always been apparent in the arc of the TTP’s relatively short history. Unlike, say, the Afghan Taliban who by and large have hewed to a purely domestic agenda, ie ridding Afghanistan of foreign ‘invaders’, the TTP’s overall agenda has leaned more towards the concept of a global jihad. In the past, that has meant offering sanctuary to foreign militants who arrived in Fata for training or to escape more hostile environments in their home countries. Eventually, however, a resilient TTP was always likely to seek to contribute directly to so-called jihadist struggles outside the Pak-Afghan region. As with all things, TTP claims made by various commanders take time to be established but if the Syria claims are verified, it would mark an alarming new phase in the militant network’s existence.

Syria may be an epic mess on its own, but other countries that could be potential destinations for the TTP’s battle-hardened cadre of fighters will surely be alarmed by the possibility. Pakistan is already fairly isolated in the international arena because of its inability to systematically curb the activities of non-state actors on Pakistani soil and this latest development will only add to the pressure. But it is in the domestic arena that the repercussions will be the most severe. The TTP has proved to be far more resilient than originally thought, though perhaps that is in no small part aided by the lack of a coherent strategy on the part of the state to fight militancy. If the TTP is confident enough to be sending fighters abroad, does that mean the network believes it has enough resources locally to successfully fend off the Pakistani state? That is an enormously worrying possibility.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1029169/new-fears-ttp-in-syria