[Dawn] The United States' decision to designate the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization shows it is not sincere about peace efforts in Afghanistan, senior commanders of the group said on Friday. But somehow not putting them on the list isn't going to help it.
The move will also bring hardship for US Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who is being held by the bad turbans, the commanders told Rooters by telephone from Qazi's guesthouse an undisclosed location.
The United States is designating the Pakistain-based Haqqani network, accused of high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, as a terrorist organization, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ... sometimes described as For a good time at 3 a.m. call Hillary and at other times as Mrs. Bill, never as Another William H. Seward ... said on Friday, in a move that would trigger sanctions against the group and turn up the heat on Pakistain's government.
US officials have long accused Pakistain of supporting the network, an allegation Islamabad denies.
The Haqqanis, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban, are some of the most experienced fighters in Afghanistan and have carried out several high-profile attacks on Western targets.
Senior commanders from the network said the decision to designate the group as beturbanned goons could endanger efforts to reach a peaceful settlement to the Afghan conflict before most NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A cautionary tale of cost-benefit analysis.... combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
"It means the United States is not sincere in their talks. They are on the one hand claiming to look for a political solution to the Afghan issue while on the other they are declaring us terrorists," said one of the commanders.
"So how can peace talks succeed in bringing peace to Afghanistan?"
Whether or not to brand the group a terrorist organization has been the subject of intense debate within the administration of US President Barack Obama The campaign's over, John... , with some officials arguing it would have little real impact, but would risk setting back Afghan reconciliation efforts.
The New York Times ...which still proudly displays Walter Duranty's Pulitzer prize... earlier reported that senior US officials who argued against blacklisting the group were concerned it could jeopardise the fate of Bergdahl, who disappeared from his base in southern Afghanistan in June 2009 and is believed to be being held by the bad turbans.
"Until now we treated him very well but this move by the United States will of course create hardships for him," another Haqqani commander told Rooters.
ISLAMABAD: The United States' decision to designate the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization shows it is not sincere about peace efforts in Afghanistan, senior commanders of the group said on Friday.
The move will also bring hardship for US Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who is being held by the militants, the commanders told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The United States is designating the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, accused of high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, as a terrorist organization, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday, in a move that would trigger sanctions against the group and turn up the heat on Pakistan's government.
US officials have long accused Pakistan of supporting the network, an allegation Islamabad denies.
The Haqqanis, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban, are some of the most experienced fighters in Afghanistan and have carried out several high-profile attacks on Western targets.
(Sh.M.Network)--A UK-based advocacy group has issued a report highly critical of the hapless Somali government's attempts to restore security in Mogadishu and improve local governance.
The report points at a disturbing rise in violence and officially-sanctioned vigilantes a year after the thug bad turban group Al-Shabaab ... the Islamic version of the old Somali warlord... was dislodged from the capital by the African peacekeeping force, Amisom.
The 27-page report by Saferworld, a conflict-prevention research and advocacy organization based in London, entitled Mogadishu rising? -- Conflict and governance dynamics in Mogadishu", notes tentative gains in security.
It acknowledges that there is an improved public perception, but says progress "remains inadequate and uneven with significant areas of Mogadishu -- particularly the city's northern districts -- almost entirely unpoliced.
"In the absence of state-provided security, residents and officials have formed an array of neighbourhood vigilante groups and private militia to protect themselves and their property."
The report, based on a comprehensive field research that involved opinion surveys and focus groups, from April to July 2012, accuses the TFG of failing to capitalise on the military gains achieved to improve security and instead fuelling a "privatization of security" likely to undermine the efforts to stabilize the capital in the longer term.
"A significant number -- reportedly up to 50 per cent -- of police and military personnel work for private individuals, adding to the large number of freelance armed actors in the city, and seriously undermining the security services' ability to perform their duties."
The private militias and neighbourhood vigilante groups serve basic security functions but the problem is that they operate independently and are primarily loyal to their clans, the report says.
"These groups are better defined by what they are against -- Al-Shabaab -- than what they stand for as they work autonomously and lack a single command and control structure."
There is growing public unease at the rise of these private militia groups loyal and their links with faction leaders and influential businessmen, whose political agenda remains dubious.
It says there is evidence some of these warlords, who feel aggrieved at their exclusion from the "new political order", may use these private militia groups to stage an armed revolt or foment instability.
Insurgency-related violence is declining but remains a threat, the report says, with Al-Shabaab picking on soft targets -- NGO staff and journalists.
(Sh.M.Network)--On Thursday, Somali's electoral commission has officially released the list of twenty five presidential candidates for the upcoming presidential elections on September 10, after filling all requirements. The candidates are expected to give their speeches on Friday to the parliament.
[Al Ahram] A number of political groups have condemned the growing influence of ultra-conservative Salafists ...Salafists are ostentatiously devout Moslems who figure the ostentation of their piety gives them the right to tell others how to do it and to kill those who don't listen to them... at the Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowments) and Al-Azhar, the most important seat of learning in the Sunni Mohammedan world.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Popular Movement for the Independence of Al-Azhar, the Free Front for Peaceful Change and the Union of Revolutionary Forces described the appointment of Salafists, mostly from the Building and Development Party -- the political arm of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya -- as deputies at the ministry as an attempt to "divert the path of the Egyptian people who look to Al-Azhar as their religious reference point."
The groups claimed moderate religious figures at Al-Azhar were being deliberately marginalised and replaced with "extremist" scholars who follow the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam.
Furthermore, the groups stressed the importance of Egypt maintaining its role as the "protector of moderate Islam" and said it should resist "the importation of foreign ideas," referring to Wahhabism, which originated in Soddy Arabia ...a kingdom taking up the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. Its primary economic activity involves exporting oil and soaking Islamic rubes on the annual hajj pilgrimage. The country supports a large number of princes in whatcha might call princely splendor. When the oil runs out the rest of the world is going to kick sand in their national face... A call to demonstrate at the Ministry of Awqaf on Sunday has been issued by the three groups.
For the first time in 2,000 years, this year there will be no Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services at the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria.
The synagogue was the last 'working' synagogue in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities have banned High Holiday services for 'security' reasons.
Levana Zamir, who heads the International Association of Egyptian Jews in Israel, comments: "It seems this is really the end of Jewish life in Egypt. The authorities have found a way to take over the last Jewish bastion, since all the remaining synagogues are already archaeological and tourist sites. It is very sad."
OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird delivered a diplomatic bolt from the blue Friday, abruptly and unexpectedly severing ties with Iran, shuttering Canada's embassy there and giving Iranian diplomats in Ottawa five days to get out of the country.
Baird rattled off a litany of long-standing grievances with Iran during a news conference in the Russian city of Vladivostok, where he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are participating in this weekend's meeting of Asia Pacific Co-operation leaders.
"The Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel," said Baird, adding that the government on Friday formally listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.
"Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran. Our diplomats serve Canada as civilians, and their safety is our No. 1 priority."
Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been growing ever more strained in recent years, but there was no immediately apparent catalyst for the decision to cut off all ties.
Officials at the Iranian embassy in Ottawa did not return calls Friday. People showed up outside the imposing red brick building seeking passport-related services, only to learn from a note on the door that the embassy had closed up shop.
"Because of the hostile decision by the government of Canada, the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa is closed and has no choice but to stop providing any consular services for its dear citizens," said the note, written in Persian.
Ordinary Canadians were also being warned Friday to avoid any travel to Iran.
In his news conference, Baird justified the move by reciting familiar complaints that Canada and others around the world have been making for months, if not years.
He cited an eight-month-old attack on Britain's embassy in Tehran as evidence that Canada's own diplomats there are in danger.
He also accused Iran of providing military assistance to the Assad regime in war-riven Syria, failing to comply with UN resolutions regarding its nuclear program, and "materially" supporting terrorist groups.
And, for good measure, he accused Iran of "routinely" threatening the existence of Israel, engaging in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide, and called the country "among the world's worst violators of human rights." "Canada," he said, "views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today."
A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, called Canada's decision "hasty and extreme" and said that Iran would soon respond, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
The timing of the move also left experts puzzled.
"There are many issues involved here -- human rights abuses, the nuclear ambitions, the support for Syria -- but in terms of why now, and why not six months ago, why not a year ago, there's no answer to that," said Paul Sedra, a history professor at Simon Fraser University.
"So I can't really see the rationale behind taking the move and this point and I think that really reduces the effectiveness of the step."
Houchang Hassan-Yari, a Middle East expert from Queen's University and Royal Military College, said Baird was using inflamed rhetoric that could have negative consequences.
"Certainly, the Islamic regime is a regime that is difficult to deal with," Hassan-Yari said.
"This is a regime that treats its people very, very wrong. This is a regime that, in the past, has shown its ability to disregard international law. But to conclude that it is the greatest threat, the more imminent, peace and security, in my opinion, it's a bit far to go."
The decision to sever ties came amid revelations of a sharp argument last month between the Israeli prime minister and a senior U.S. official over Iran.
Reports in the U.S. and Israeli media suggest that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost his temper with a senior U.S. congressman during a meeting last month over what Israel sees as a lack of serious American action against Iran's nuclear program.
The West believes Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but Tehran denies the charge. It says it only wants to develop peaceful nuclear energy.
Media reports quoted Netanyahu applauding a bold move by Canada.
"The determination shown by Canada is of great importance in order for the Iranians to understand that they cannot go on with their race toward nuclear arms," the prime minister said in a statement.
"This practical step must set an example of international morality and responsibility to the international community."
Mehr, a semi-official news agency in Iran, said the Canadian decision was "in accord with the U.S. hostile policy" against Iran and that it "served Zionists."
There has been speculation for months that Israel could move unilaterally to attack Iran's nuclear capabilities; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently referred to the Jewish state as a tumour that would soon be excised.
Baird was careful to make clear Canada wasn't aware of a pending military action -- "Unequivocally, we have no information about a military strike on Iran," he said -- but Sedra mused nonetheless about what exactly the Canadian government knows. "If Ottawa has heard something from the Israelis that something is imminent, I think that's a very, very significant cause for concern."
Canada's relations with Iran have been iffy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After Canadians spirited American diplomats out of Tehran in 1980 during the post-revolution hostage crisis, the Canadian embassy was closed for eight years.
The two countries slowly moved back to normal diplomatic relations with an exchange of ambassadors in 1996.
But the relationship chilled in 2003 after Zahra Kazemi, a freelance photographer with dual Canadian-Iranian citizenship, was killed in custody in Iran in what Canada described as a state-sanctioned murder. Canada recalled its ambassador.
The Israeli government's failure to respond adequately to Jewish extremist attacks against churches and monasteries is fostering a climate of intolerance towards Christianity in the country, a senior Vatican official in Jerusalem has warned.
Police inaction and an educational culture that encourages Jewish children to treat Christians with "contempt" has made life increasingly "intolerable" for many, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custodian of the Holy Land, said.
Fr Pizzaballa's intervention, unusually outspoken for a senior Catholic churchman, came after pro-settler extremists attacked a Trappist monastery in the town of Latroun.
The incident is the latest in a series of acts of arson and vandalism this year targeting places of worship, including Jerusalem's 11th century Monastery of the Cross, built on the site where the tree used to make Christ's Cross is held to have been planted.
Slogans reading "Death to Christians" and other offensive graffiti were daubed on its walls.
Fr Pizzaballa, the head of the Franciscan Order in the Holy Land, and fellow senior clergymen of other denominations have protested the failure of the police to identify the culprits behind any of the incidents.
But the most important issue they say Israel has failed to address is the practice of some ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools that teach children it is a doctrinal obligation to abuse anyone in Holy Orders they encounter in public.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews, including children as young as eight, spit at members of the clergy on a daily basis, Fr Pizzaballa said.
Such a culture of intolerance has resulted in a "scapegoating" of Christians, leading to them becoming the convenient target of extremists fighting political battles that have nothing to do with the community.
No. My reason is that anybody who claims that Christians are discriminated against in Israel is a lying piece of shit!
g(r) - that was beneath you. Christians are Israel's greatest friend and ally.
We are aware of this. And, in consequence, we tolerate behavior from representatives of various Christian churches which would not be tolerated in any other place in the World. Like this lying piece of garbage Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
I've heard two things, grom. a) Christians in the rest of the middle east (bar Lebanon) are typically incomparably worse off than in Israel and b) Christians are sometimes discriminated against in Israel by Jews.
I have not heard anything like Pizzaballa's claims, though--at least not from sources I know to be reliable.
Christians in the rest of the middle east (bar Lebanon) are typically incomparably worse off than in Israel
I would not exempt Christians in Lebanon from the list.
Posted by: Frozen Al ||
"Ultra-Orthodox Jews, including children as young as eight, spit at members of the clergy on a daily basis, Fr Pizzaballa said."
Among the 6.5M or so Jews in Israel, there are about 700k who are Haredim and there may be ten to twenty who engage in this kind of action and possibly even one Rabbi who encourages it (I think my daughter told me she met someone like this once).
Obviously the Rabbinate should find out who and put a stop to it.
But, as other commentators have pointed out, this should be compared to the much more serious persecutions of Christians by Moslems.
Posted by: lord garth ||
It ought also be remembered that the Christians of the Middle East, including in Israel, are pretty traditional in terms of their antisemitism. The Pope has had some problems with his lot on that account.
But the claim here is that anti-Christian hatred is being recently encouraged, and specifically serves to scapegoat them by a group angry about issues such as military service and settlements. And that sort of scapegoating is, unfortunately, a dynamic that is not unknown when crises are pending but have not yet arrived.
[Iran Press TV] A senior Iranian holy man says the 16th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran proved that it is the US and Israel, and not the Islamic Theocratic Republic, which are isolated in the world.
"A blessing of this summit was that it showed to the world that the great Iran is not isolated, since the NAM summit comprises two-thirds of the UN, and it is the US and the Zionist regime [of Israel] which are isolated," Tehran's interim Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami said.
He described the presence of 120 NAM states in the summit as "unique," especially as Washington and Tel Aviv had gone to great pains since several months ago to dissuade the NAM heads of state from participating in the summit or encourage them to dispatch low-ranking delegations to Tehran.
"If anyone wants to appreciate the significance of the [NAM] summit in Tehran, they should behold the extraordinary disappointment of the US and the Zionist regime [of Israel]."
Ayatollah Khatami said the global arrogance That'd be us. They get tired of bitching about the Great Satan™ sometimes. "threatened, begged and made diplomatic efforts," but failed to achieve its goal of undermining the Tehran Summit.
The 16th NAM Summit was wrapped up in the Iranian capital on August 31, with the member states passing a final resolution, which included over 700 clauses.
[Iran Press TV] A senior Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commander has flatly dismissed Israel's capability to launch military aggression against Tehran.
"The fake and illegitimate regime occupying al-Quds (Jerusalem) does not have the power to attack Iran," IRGC Navy Commander Rear-Admiral Ali Fadavi told ISNA on Friday.
"Throughout the history of its wholly evil presence, the Zionist regime [of Israel] has never had an existence separate from the US and is not known as a separate entity," he added.
Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran's nuclear energy facilities based on unsubstantiated claims that the activities there may be directed toward military purposes.
Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the ineffective International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use the nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Despite warnings by former and current Israeli security and intelligence officials, the Tel Aviv regime has recently stepped up its aggressive rhetoric against Iran with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Military Affairs Ehud Barak spearheading the belligerent campaign.
Iranian officials have promised a crushing response to any military strike against the country, warning that any such measure could result in a war that would spread beyond the Middle East.
IIRC TOPIX, WORLD NEWS > [Israeli DM Ehud -] BARAK: US MILITARY PREPARATIONS IN GULF [in + around Persian Gulf] MAY ELIMINATE [Israel's]NEED FOR IRAN STRIKE.
All things equal, it still coms down to the US either joining Israel in joint mil attack on Iran's NucProgs, or else finishing up what Israel started, under threat of Iran-ordered retaliatory response vee proxy [NUke-WMDS?]international terror.
AGAIN, IFF THE US DIDN'T WANT OR DSIRE TO INVADE IRAN BEFORE VEE GROUND/CONVENTIONAL CAMPAIGN, IT WILL HAVE TO AFTER A MAJOR ATTACK BY IT ANDOR ISRAEL AGZ IRAN'S NUCPROGS.
Iran isn't gonna let it slide.
Western spy agencies suspect Syria's government has several hundred tons of chemical weapons and precursor components scattered among as many as 20 sites throughout the country, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
This, the paper reported, heightens anxieties about the ability to secure the arsenals in the event of a complete breakdown of authority in the war-torn nation, US and Middle Eastern officials say.
Though degraded by a war of attrition against increasingly capable guerilla militias, the Syrian military remains a cohesive force capable of continuing its operations for the foreseeable future, according to independent military analysts.
The assessment that the Syrian military remains a potent force contradicts months of suggestions by Obama administration officials that defections and the pace of the increasingly violent conflict is overstretching the military, a theme that's been voiced repeatedly for months in official State Department briefings.
"We think that the army is increasingly overstretched. We think that the economy is under increasing strain. And we think the rebels are getting stronger," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Aug. 9 in one typical comment.
bet some made their way through Gaza tunnels, too
Posted by: Frank G ||
Sunnis can run. Plenty of neighboring Sunni countries. Unless the West decides to admit the entire Alawite population of Syria (problematic since Syrians of all denominations will claim to be Alawites), Alawites will win or be exterminated. Bottom line? Alawites are way more motivated. Yes, a minuscule number of Sunnis participate in high profile suicide attacks, but when you add Iraq and Afghanistan together, the Sunni casualties are about 1/10 suffered by the Vietnamese communists over a similar time span. In the areas of wife-beating and throat-cutting of bound prisoners, Sunnis probably outnumber every religion or sect combined. But their collective willingness to fight, as opposed to boast or whine, is very overrated.
France's decision to send direct aid to Syria's opposition represents a break for the rebels after months of Western hesitation over fears that costly equipment intended for Syria's opposition could get lost or fall into the wrong hands. But even the French action, rebels and activists say, amounts to so little that it's all but useless.
France, Syria's one-time colonial ruler, began sending the aid without intermediaries last week to three regions of Syria where the regime of President Bashar Assad has lost control, in the first such move by a Western power, a diplomat said Wednesday. But it remains limited, primarily repairing bakeries, water systems and schools. And while apparently more than the indirect assistance extended by other Western countries, it's still far from the magnitude needed to make a difference, Syrian opposition activists said.
UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations nearly doubled its humanitarian appeal for Syria on Friday, seeking $347 million for people in need, including more than half a million children forced to flee their homes.
With the civil war intensifying, the number of people in need of assistance has doubled since July to 2.5 million, prompting the dramatic increase in the appeal for aid.
OK, $374 million sounds like a lot of money, but you've got to remember that the actual "throughput" to refugees after UN administrative costs would be about $37.40, probably in the form of an autographed picture of Kofi Annan. Plus, think of the positive impact this would have on 4-star restaurants on the east side of Manhattan, and on employment in the Swiss banking industry.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.