Reader’s links Feb. 18 – 2016

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Thank you all for those that take the effort to assist this site in keeping the public informed. Below, typically people can find the latest enemy propaganda, news items of related materials from multiple countries and languages, op-eds from many excellent sites who write on our topics, geopolitics and immigration issues and so on.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

70 Replies to “Reader’s links Feb. 18 – 2016”

  1. REVEALED: Security alert as Saudi firm works on Obama’s Air Force One and other VIP jets (express, Feb 18, 2016)

    “A COMPANY owned by a Saudi businessman carries out work on Air Force One and other VIP jets that ferry top US politicians around the world, it has been revealed.

    GDC Technics services Barack Obama’s jet as a contract for Boeing, according to the US Air Force.

    The company was purchased in 2013 by MAZ Aviation – which is owned by Saudi investor Mohammed Alzeer.

    It is the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged that a contractor from a business with foreign ties has worked on the President’s private plane.

    But Air Force spokesman Lt Col Chris Karns insisted the contract does not jeopardise the plane’s safety, which he said is of paramount importance with “stringent security protocols in place”….”

  2. Hundreds of armed rebels cross from Turkey into Syria, says monitor (guardian, Feb 18, 2016)

    “At least 500 rebels on Wednesday crossed the Turkish border, a monitor said, and headed for the Syrian town of Azaz in northern Aleppo province where opposition forces have suffered setbacks at the hands of Kurdish fighters.

    “At least 500 rebels have crossed the Bab al-Salam border crossing on their way to the town of Azaz, from which they want to help the insurgents in the face of gains made by Kurdish forces in the north of the province,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel, told Agence France-Presse.

    They included rebels as well as Islamist fighters, all of them armed, he said.

    Almost 350 rebels were also reported to have passed through the Atme border crossing on 14 February armed with heavy and light weapons.

    Opposition forces have lost ground to government troops in northern Aleppo province since they began a major offensive in the former rebel bastion backed by Russian airstrikes.

    Pressing their advantage, Kurdish forces have been taking ground in the fragmented region, most notably the city of Tal Rifaat, as they seek to carve out their own autonomous state.

    The rebels now hold only the town of Azaz, not far from the Turkish border, and to the south Marea, encircled by Kurdish forces to the west and Islamic State fighters to the east.

    Alarmed by the Kurds’ gains close to its border, Turkey, which supports the groups opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has continued shelling their positions.

    The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, warned on Wednesday that escalating military activity in Syria and threats of further use of force risked derailing efforts to reconvene peace talks and find a political solution to the five-year-old war….”

  3. Childcare centers do not any longer order pork
    The pig in the public space is a political issue. Politically right-wing groups, but also citizens who demand freedom of choice, become annoyed when everyone must follow Muslim food taboos. Not infrequently, the well merely asserted; repeatedly circulated cases through the media of alleged pork bans that none were in truth. In Denmark a local council recently agreed with the majority votes of the Danish People’s Party even for making pork in kindergartens duty to set an example for the preservation of Danish food culture.

    The competent member of the Department “Childcare Frankfurt”, Gabriele Bischoff said, Frankfurt childcare center had “caused no instruction or direction to the exclusion of pork under those catering to the children’s centers”. However, the statement relates only to the relationship between the city and its own daycare. Click to third parties as instructed caterers, there may have been anyway. And there they were, according to the company Wisag that cooks a number of municipal day-care centers. It also confirmed on further prompting, that there was this statement: “In Frankfurt and the surrounding area we have a diet without pork.”
    (google translate)
    (the article is from 10th of February, so perhaps somebody already gave link to it. I put it just in case)

  4. Indonesia backpedals on plan to block Tumblr (asiancorrespondent, Feb 18, 2016)

    “THE Indonesian government has stated that it would not block access to popular microblogging and social networking website Tumblr after all.

    This statement comes less than 12 hours after it announced on Wednesday that it would block the website from being accessed within the country until Tumblr agreed to remove explicit content depicting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships, as well as pornography.

    According to Coconuts Jakarta, Communications and Information Technology Ministry spokesman Ismail Cawidu was quoted by Detik yesterday saying that the government would not block Tumblr, but would instead request them to block access to explicit content for Indonesian users…”

  5. Hungary Central Bank Stockpiles Guns, Bullets Citing Terror Risk

    Hungary’s central bank, already facing criticism for a spending spree ranging from real estate to fine art, is now beefing up its security force, citing Europe’s migrant crisis and potential bomb threats among the reasons.

    The National Bank of Hungary bought 200,000 rounds of live ammunition and 112 handguns for its security company, according to documents posted on a website for public procurements.

    Additional protection is needed due to the rise of “international security risks” including bomb and terror threats and migration, central bank Governor Gyorgy Matolcsy said in a written response to a lawmaker who asked about the purchases, posted on Parliament’s website Feb. 17. The central bank’s assumption of the role of financial regulator and the related increase in the number of its properties also contributed to the need for further defenses, he said.

    The security measures added to public scrutiny of the running of the bank, which under Matolcsy earmarked 200 billion forint ($718 million) to set up foundations to teach alternatives to what he called “outdated neoliberal” economics. Another $108 million fund used for buying fine art including a painting by Titian also drew criticism from opposition parties, as did a series of investments in office buildings and villas.

  6. Obama Refuses to Hit ISIS’s Libyan Capital
    The terror group is gaining ground in Libya. But the Obama administration has said no to a Pentagon plan to go after ISIS there.

    Despite the growing threat from the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Libya, the Obama administration has turned down a U.S. military plan for an assault on ISIS’s regional hub there, three defense officials told The Daily Beast.

    In recent weeks, the U.S. military—led by its Africa and Special Operations Commands—have pushed for more airstrikes and the deployment of elite troops, particularly in the city of Sirte. The hometown of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the city is now under ISIS control and serving as a regional epicenter for the terror group.

    The airstrikes would target ISIS resources while a small band of Special Operations Forces would train Libyans to eventually be members of a national army, the officials said.

  7. Australia says China ‘challenged’ South China Sea missile report

    BEIJING (Reuters) – China has “challenged” reports that it deployed advanced surface-to-air missiles to a disputed island in the South China Sea, Australia’s foreign minister said on Thursday, as Beijing told Canberra to stop interfering.

    Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the missile batteries had been set up on Woody Island in the Paracels chain, which has been under Chinese control for decades, but is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

    A U.S. defense official confirmed the “apparent deployment” of the missiles, first reported by Fox News.

    Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the first senior Western official to visit China since the missile reports, said she had raised the issue of the South China Sea’s militarization in her talks.

    “President Xi (Jinping) said in Washington last year that China did not intend to militarize the islands and we certainly hold China to that and that’s been reiterated to me,” she told reporters, after meeting China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi.

    “In the case of the surface-to-air missile claim, that’s disputed by China. We raised the matter and we’ve had a discussion about it,” Bishop added.

    Pressed on whether China was denying the presence of missiles, she said, “No, they did not deny, but nor did they admit that there were. It was challenged. The reports were challenged.

    “The point about the surface-to-air missiles is in dispute, so until such time as we have a clear picture of it, of course it’s a matter of concern.”

  8. Blast hits Turkish cultural center in Sweden

    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – An explosion severely damaged part of a building that housed a Turkish cultural association in a Stockholm suburb late on Wednesday but no one was injured, police said.

    Police said all the windows of the center were blown out and that technicians were on site to investigate the cause. The center was located in the basement of a building in Fittja, in southwest Stockholm.

    “No one was inside. No one was injured. It had been locked since earlier in the evening,” a police spokesman said.

    No one has been arrested and there are currently no suspects, he added.

    Earlier on Wednesday, 28 people were killed and dozens wounded in Turkey’s capital Ankara when a car laden with explosives detonated next to military buses near the armed forces’ headquarters, parliament and other government buildings.

    • Turkey: Davutoglu blames deadly Ankara attack on YPG

      Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke to press in Ankara, Thursday, during a condolence visit to Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar the day after a deadly blast that rocked the Turkish capital,killing at least 28

      SOT, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (Turkish): “I would like to express my gratitude to our security forces which shed light to this incident in a very short time. In light of the information we have obtained, it has been clearly determined that this attack was carried out by members of a terrorist organization inside Turkey together with a YPG member who has infiltrated [into Turkey] from Syria. The one who carried out this suicide attack is Salih Neccar, born in 1992 in Amuda, northern Syria, in Haseke region, which reveals direct connection of the attack with the YPG.”

      SOT, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (Turkish): “YPG showed once again that it is the enemy of Turkey, along with the PKK, with the attack yesterday. We expect from our allies and the other countries in the world to make their attitudes clear against this terrorist organization. Those who directly or indirectly back an organization that is the enemy of Turkey risk losing the title of being a friend of Turkey.”

    • US has not yet assigned blame for Turkey attack, White House says

      The United States has not yet identified who was behind a car bomb attack in Turkey that killed 28 people, but it has been careful to press Syrian Kurds fighting against Islamic State militants not to target Turkey, the White House said on Thursday.

      Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told a news briefing the United States would be talking directly to Ankara about the Wednesday attack, which Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed on a Syrian Kurdish militia fighter.

      “We as a government have not settled upon assignment of responsibility,” said Rhodes, who strongly condemned the incident.

      “We’ve made clear to the Turks that in all of our engagements with the YPG and other Kurdish elements that we make very clear to them the importance of our alliance with Turkey and the importance of them not engaging in efforts that would undermine what should be our focus, which is the shared threat of ISIL,” said Rhodes, using an acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

    • UK Has Hit ‘Just Seven IS Fighters In Syria’

      Only four RAF strikes have resulted in Islamic State casualties since the PM won support to extend military action to Syria.

      British airstrikes in Syria have killed or injured just seven Islamic State militants, according to Ministry of Defence estimates.

      Four attacks have resulted in IS casualties since David Cameron won parliamentary support to extend airstrikes in December, the MoD revealed.

      The Prime Minister had cited the high-precision Brimstone missile as a UK asset that could make a “meaningful difference” to the international efforts in Syria.

      But the figures – accurate to the end of January – show none of the RAF strikes have so far used the Brimstone.

      The UK has focused on targeting IS infrastructure such as oil fields which provide revenue for the fighters.

      An MoD spokesman said: “We are playing a crucial role in a campaign that will take time and patience.

      “Using the right weapon for each scenario, RAF jets have struck Daesh (IS) almost 600 times.

      “In Iraq we have helped to drive them out of Sinjar and Ramadi. In Syria, we have severely weakened them by targeting their key infrastructure.”

      On Christmas Day, one militant was killed or injured at a checkpoint south of Raqqa, IS’ de facto capital in Syria, after an RAF Reaper drone fired a Hellfire missile.

      Two more fighters from IS were hit on the same day in Tabqa, also with a Hellfire.

      On 11 January, two fighters were killed or injured in a Hellfire strike in Al Busayrah, the figures showed, while two more were hit by a Paveway IV guided bomb on 15 January.

      The figures were released following a Freedom of Information request by the Huffington Post.

  9. Germany: ‘We have to talk with Turkey’ – Merkel discusses refugee crisis measures

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to criticisms of her government’s refugee policies during an address in Walldorf, Wednesday, going on to explain negotiations with Turkey over migrant resettlement quotas and plugging the flow of refugees into Europe.

    • Germany: Planned refugee housing badly damaged in blaze

      A building earmarked to house refugees in the south-western town of Unterensingen was severely damaged in a blaze, early Thursday. Police were seen inspecting the damage later in the day.

      A police spokesperson told local media that the fire was discovered at 6 am local time by a newspaper deliverer, who informed the fire brigade. The blaze started in a room on the ground floor, which is made entirely out of wood. The hallway was also affected by smoke damage. Police estimate the cost of the damage at around €15,000 ($16,600).

  10. Russia: Gang who forged fake passports for IS militants busted by FSB

    The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested 14 suspects engaged in producing counterfeit documents for militants preparing to go fight with the so-called Islamic State (former ISIL/ISIS, IS) in Moscow, Thursday.

  11. Iraq court sentences 40 to death over 2014 Tikrit massacre

    An Iraqi court on Thursday sentenced 40 men to hang over the June 2014 massacre by Sunni militants and allied militants of hundreds of military recruits in Tikrit, the judiciary said.

    The central criminal court in Baghdad found 40 of 47 defendants guilty of involvement in the “Speicher” massacre, named after the base near where the victims were captured before being executed.

    “The court ordered the execution of 40 (people) convicted of involvement in the incident, while seven were released for lack of evidence,” Iraq’s judiciary spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar said in the statement.

    Bayraqdar said the sentences were handed down under Article Four of Iraq’s anti-terrorism law, which states that anyone who perpetrates, incites, plans, finances or assists acts of terrorism will be sentenced to death.

    A judicial source said all 47 were Iraqi citizens and present in court for their sentencing.

    “Some of them actually did the killing and others assisted them in this crime,” the official, who could not give his name because he was not authorised to talk to the press, told AFP.

    He said the 40 were sentenced to death by hanging.

    The court itself did not reveal the identities of the defendants nor any details of the circumstances of their arrest.

    In a similar trial in July 2015, 24 men were sentenced to hang over the Speicher massacre, which was committed during the first days of the Islamic State (ISIS) group’s sweeping offensive in Iraq.

    All of them had denied involvement.

    Some had said they were not even near Tikrit at the time, others that they never saw a lawyer and that the confessions used to secure convictions were obtained under torture.

    Rights groups had criticised that trial as not meeting many of the standards required for such crimes.

    The highest estimate for the number of men murdered in the Speicher massacre is 1,700. Tikrit was retaken from IS in April 2015.

    Amnesty International on Thursday criticised “a fundamentally flawed mass trial” which it said brought the number of death sentences handed down by Iraqi courts this year to 92.

    “For Iraqi courts to hand down 92 death sentences in just six weeks is a grim indicator of the current state of justice in the country,” the rights watchdog’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director James Lynch said in a statement.

    “The vast majority of the trials have been grossly unfair, with many of the defendants claiming to have been tortured into ‘confessing’ the crimes,” he said.

    Before a death sentence can be carried out in Iraq, it must be ratified by the president.

    Amnesty said the current head of state, Fuad Masum, has come under significant pressure to do so but called on the Iraqi authorities to establish an official moratorium on executions.

    The Speicher massacre is considered one of ISIS’ worst crimes since it took over large parts of the country in 2014.

    Combined with a call by the country’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for Iraqis to take up arms against them, the Speicher massacre played a key role in the mass recruitment of Shia volunteers to fight the militants.–to-death-over–Tikrit-massac.aspx
    graphic :

    • Bless Tim Cook. In today’s world, encrypted and secure private knowledge is as important as an AR-15 in your closet. Rush Limbaugh thinks the Feds will win this case. Who knows? I can’t see how the Federal government can force a private company to be their Cat’s Paw in destroying the very secure equipment they market to the US citizens. If the Federales succeed in forcing Apple to open up their cell phones, then Apple needs to separate the OS design group from the USA and put it into a foreign country. Then they could design the phone with a public interface and folks could pay to download their own secure OS from overseas. Tell the FBI/NSA/CIA to go F-themselves. Why anyone would trust the American governments at all levels when the IRS attacks the Tea Party, the NSA bugs their telephone calls, the US Marshals use DRT-boxes to spoof Telco cell towers, the Chicago police use Stingrays to screw with cells and ATF sends assault rifles to kill Mexicans, is beyond me.

  12. Austria sticks to migration cap despite EU legal warning

    Austria said on Thursday it would go ahead with introducing daily caps on migrants despite warnings from Brussels that the move broke European Union rules, which have already been badly stretched by the migration crisis engulfing the bloc.

    Vienna announced it would let in no more than 3,200 people and cap asylum claims at 80 per day from Friday as it tries to cut immigration, drawing criticism from the European Union’s migration chief.

    “Politically I say we’ll stick with it … it is unthinkable for Austria to take on the asylum seekers for the whole of Europe,” Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann said on arriving at an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.

    Around 700,000 migrants entered Austria last year and about 90,000 applied for asylum in the country sitting on the migrant route from Turkey via Greece and the Balkans to Germany.

    “After 100,000 refugees, we can’t tell the Austrian people that it will just continue like this. That’s why I tell the EU: we set a good example but to think that you don’t have to do anything, then I have to say it is time for the EU to act,” Faymann said.

    Austria is the latest EU state to resort to its own measures to curb migration and try control the flows as the 28-nation bloc has all but failed to implement a joint response to its worst migration crisis in decades.

    “It is true that Austria is under huge pressure,” European Union Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told Reuters earlier on Thursday. “It is true they are overwhelmed. But, on the other hand, there are some principles and laws that all countries must respect and apply.”

    Avramopoulos sent a letter to Austria’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner on Thursday, urging Vienna to reconsider the move as it was against EU laws.

    “The Austrians are obliged to accept asylum applications without putting a cap,” Avramopoulos said.

    But Faymann blamed the failure of the European migration and refugee policies, saying the bloc’s relocation plan to ease the burden on most-affected countries was not working and criticizing central-eastern EU members who have stalled it.

    The migration crisis, which saw more than a million people reach Europe last year, opened deep rifts between EU states, which are trading blame and increasingly resorting to ad-hoc national solutions despite Brussels calls to prevent them.

    Faymann backed Merkel in pushing for more cooperation with Turkey to get Ankara to curb the number of migrants and refugees who embark from its shores toward Europe.

    Germany and Austria are among 11 EU states that were due to meet Turkey separately before the summit of all 28 EU leaders to discuss taking in more people directly from Turkey to discourage perilous journeys across the Mediterranean.

    “Every agreement between Turkey and Greece to protect the common border and make legal immigration possible, every advance and may it be ever so mediocre, would be necessary and right,” Faymann said, adding he would seek a new meeting with Turkey after the Thursday one was canceled over a bombing in Ankara.

    EU tells Austria daily cap on asylum applicants against law

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos wrote to the Austrian government on Thursday to warn Vienna that its plan for a daily cap on the number of asylum seekers it would let across its border would break EU law.

    “What the Austrians have decided is not according to European laws,” Avramopoulos told Reuters. “I am sending the letter telling them that what they decided to do is not compatible to the European legislation. The Austrians are obliged to accept asylum applications without putting a cap.”

    Austria, on the migrant route from Turkey via Greece and the Balkans to Germany, said late on Wednesday that it would let in no more than 3,200 people a day from Friday.

  13. N Y T – Bergoglio Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian’

    ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRLINER — Inserting himself into the Republican presidential race, Bergoglio on Wednesday suggested that Donald J. Trump “is not Christian” because of the harshness of his campaign promises to deport more immigrants and force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border.

    “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Bergoglio said when a reporter asked him about Mr. Trump on the papal airliner as he returned to Rome after his six-day visit to Mexico.

    […]Bergoglio made his remarks about Mr. Trump barely three hours after he had concluded his Mexico trip by presiding over a huge Mass in the border city of Ciudad Juárez. He first walked to the edge of the Rio Grande — as American security officers watched from the other side — to lay flowers at a new memorial commemorating those who have died trying to cross the border.

    […]Mr. Trump has staked out controversial positions on immigration, vowing to force Mexico to build a wall and also increase deportations. He has also made inflammatory comments accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists and criminals.

    Asked whether he would try to influence Catholics in how they vote in the presidential election, Bergoglio said he “was not going to get involved in that” but then repeated his criticism of Mr. Trump, with a caveat.

    “I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that,” Bergoglio said. “We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”

    […]In the days before Bergoglio arrived at the border, Mr. Trump criticized the visit, calling the pope a political person and accusing him of acting at the behest of the Mexican government. “I think that the pope is a very political person,” he said.

    Mr. Trump, in an interview with Fox Business Network, said: “I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico. I think Mexico got him to do it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They’re making a fortune, and we’re losing.”

    Mr. Trump is a Presbyterian and has been trying to make inroads among evangelical voters as he seeks to win the coming set of Southern primaries.[…]

  14. Hungary decrees 3 main railway crossings to Croatia will be shut for 30 days, beginning Sunday –


    Good chance Hungary will have to build fence on Romanian border – Hungary government

    Hungary is ready to build a fence on its border with Romania to keep out migrants and there is a good chance that this cannot be avoided, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said on Thursday.

    “We are ready to erect a technical barrier on the Romanian border as well … today there is significant chance that this cannot be avoided,” Janos Lazar told a news conference.

    Lazar also said Hungary and the Visegrad group of Central European countries respected a proposal that the flow of migrants should be primarily tackled on the borders of Greece.

    “The real debate is about whether we help the Balkans countries or not,” Lazar said, adding that if there was no second line of defence between Greece and the Schengen border, then Europe would leave Balkans countries on their own.

    • Hungary to shut Croatia railway crossings used by migrants

      Hungary said it would shut three railway crossings with Croatia for 30 days from Sunday, closing routes used by thousands of migrants last year.

      The decree from Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said the move would ensure “the protection of public safety,” without mentioning migrants or going into other details.

      Crowds of migrants entered Hungary through the crossings of Murakeresztur-Kotoriba, Gyekenyes-Koprivnica and Magyarboly-Beli Manastir on the way to Germany last year.

      Those large-scale movements stopped after Hungary finished a fence on its southern border with Serbia and Croatia late in 2015 to keep migrants out.

  15. Syrian rebels say reinforcements get free passage via Turkey

    Syrian rebels have brought at least 2,000 reinforcements through Turkey in the past week to bolster the fight against Kurdish-led militias north of Aleppo, rebel sources said on Thursday.

    Turkish forces facilitated the transfer from one front to another over several nights, covertly escorting rebels as they exited Syria’s Idlib governorate, travelled four hours across Turkey, and re-entered Syria to support the embattled rebel stronghold of Azaz, the sources said.

    “We have been allowed to move everything from light weapons to heavy equipment, mortars and missiles and our tanks,” Abu Issa, a commander in the Levant Front, the rebel group that runs the border crossing of Bab al-Salama, told Reuters, giving his alias and talking on condition of anonymity.

    The reinforcements did not include fighters from the hardline Nusra Front or other jihadist groups, he said.

    A Turkish security source confirmed fighters had crossed the border but put the numbers at 400-500, and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence across the war torn-country, also said hundreds had crossed.

    On Sunday, the Syrian government said Turkish forces were among 100 gunmen who had entered Syria accompanied by 12 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, in an ongoing supply operation to insurgents.

    The route via Turkey has become the sole supply line for Azaz after the Syrian army closed what for years had been the main route into rebel territory and advanced to within 25 miles of the border for the first time in over two years.

    The Syrian army wants to seal it off altogether and reassert full control of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the war.

    Inside Aleppo city, heavy clashes continued between Arab insurgent groups and Syrian Kurdish fighters in Kurdish-held neighbourhoods of Sheikh Maqsoud, the Syrian Observatory said.

    Russian bombing has transformed the almost five-year-old civil war in recent weeks, turning the momentum decisively in favour of Moscow’s ally President Bashar al-Assad.

    But the rapid advance of U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters has infuriated Ankara and threatened to drive a wedge between NATO allies.

    Turkey sees the militia as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade insurgency for autonomy in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.

    Determined to prevent the YPG from gaining a foothold on its border, Turkey has shelled its positions in response to what it says is fire coming across the border.

    Turkey has also stepped up deliveries of military hardware to the rebels, another rebel source said.

    “We are getting fresh supplies of everything from missiles to mortars to armoured vehicles. Almost everything is now being delivered to us,” said the rebel source.

    Turkish army vehicles were offloading the munitions and equipment onto Syrian rebel armoured vehicles and trucks, said the rebel, who was present during a handover of weapons.

    New supplies of ground-to-ground missiles with a range of 20 km (12 miles) had been provided to bolster the response to the Russian-backed attack, two rebel commanders said.

    Facing one of the biggest defeats of the five-year-long war, rebels have been complaining that foreign states such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey have let them down by not providing them with more powerful weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles.

    The rebels and the Turkish government accuse the Kurdish militias of a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Arab-inhabited villages in a bid to carve a fiefdom in Syria’s north.

    The YPG has exploited the Russian-backed offensive, seizing ground from other opposition groups. After taking a string of towns, in what the rebels say is an advance coordinated with Russia, the YPG is now seeking to take Marea, the last town before Azaz.
    Aleppo Feb 18 2016

  16. Germany: Investigation launched into alleged sexual harassment at refugee centre

    Refugees and migrants gathered outside emergency refugee accommodation in Cologne, on Thursday, following a demonstration there the day before against alleged sexual harassment and poor living standards.

    In conversation with local journalists several women reportedly complained that they were filmed breastfeeding in the facility. They also alleged that members of the security team would burst into the washrooms unannounced. Refugees also said to reporters that one woman was slapped on the backside and a girl was invited to spend the night in the security guards’ office. The men allegedly then tried to force her into sexual intercourse.

  17. Saudi ground forces would target IS in Syria: minister

    Riyadh (AFP) – Saudi forces participating in any US-led ground operation in Syria would focus on fighting the Islamic State jihadist group not the Damascus regime, the kingdom’s foreign minister told AFP on Thursday.

    In an interview in Riyadh, Adel al-Jubeir also said separate Saudi-led military operations in Yemen would carry on until the country’s government is fully restored to power and that the kingdom would not cut oil production despite falling prices.

    On Syria, Jubeir said any Saudi force on the ground would make the battle against IS its priority, despite Riyadh’s fierce opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

    “Saudi Arabia has expressed its readiness to send special forces to Syria as part of the coalition, with the goal of eliminating Daesh. This is the mission and the responsibility,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

    “If they enter Syria, these forces will work in the framework of the international coalition to fight Daesh, there will be no unilateral operations,” he said in the interview at his ministry.

    Asked if the mission could be expanded to include operations against Assad’s forces, Jubeir said: “This would be something the international coalition would have to make a decision on.”

    Saudi Arabia has backed rebel forces fighting Assad in the country’s nearly five-year civil war and insists he must leave office for the conflict to be resolved.

    As regime forces assisted by Russian air strikes made major advances, Assad told AFP last week that his eventual goal is to retake all of Syria.

    Jubeir responded that Assad “said many things since the start of the crisis in Syria. A lot of what he said is unrealistic.”

    The UN has begun delivering aid to besieged Syrian cities under an international deal struck last week that also hoped for a ceasefire within seven days.

    “It’s a very delicate situation and we’re watching it day by day. We will find out if Bashar al-Assad and his allies are serious about a political process or not,” Jubeir said.

    Saudi Arabia has been part of the US-led coalition bombing IS in Syria and Iraq since late 2014. Its participation declined after it launched strikes against Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen last March.

    Some analysts said the kingdom would not be able or willing to send many forces to a possible US-led operation in Syria because it is mired in the nearly year-long effort supporting Yemen’s government.

    “It’s a matter of time before the international coalition in Yemen succeeds in restoring the legitimate government… in control of all of Yemen’s territory,” Jubeir said.

    “The support for the legitimate government will continue until the objectives are achieved or until an agreement is reached politically to achieve those objectives.”

    US ties ‘strengthening’ –

    Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab allies began air strikes against the Shiite Huthis after they seized control of large parts of Yemen and forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government to flee the capital Sanaa.

    The Huthis have also been supported by forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    Jubeir said the coalition had helped the government reclaim more than three-quarters of Yemeni territory, open up supply lines for aid and “put enough pressure on the Huthis and Saleh for them to seriously consider a political process”.

    He dismissed claims that Saudi Arabia was mired in the conflict.

    “A very, very small part of our total military is involved in Yemen and it is not bogged down,” the soft-spoken Jubeir said.

    Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have accused Iran of interference throughout the Middle East and Riyadh cut ties with Tehran in a major diplomatic row earlier this year.

    “If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia there is a need for Iran to change its behaviour and to change its policies. Mere words will not do the job,” the minister said.

    He also rejected any suggestion that Saudi Arabia feels abandoned by its longtime ally Washington following Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

    “Absolutely not,” the former US ambassador said. “I don’t see any reduction of that relationship. If anything I see a strengthening of that relationship as time goes by.”

    The kingdom is in a battle for market share with US shale oil producers and, as the largest member of OPEC, has refused to cut output despite a fall of about 70 percent in global crude prices since mid-2014.

    On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia agreed with non-OPEC member Russia to freeze output as long as major competitors follow suit, in an effort to stabilise the market.

    “If other producers want to limit or agree to a freeze in terms of additional production that may have an impact on the market, but Saudi Arabia is not prepared to cut production,” Jubeir said.

    Priority of any Syria ground op must be IS: Saudi minister

    • Priority of any Syria ground op must be IS: Saudi minister (tribune, Feb 18, 2016)

      “RIYADH: Any participation by Saudi forces in a US-led ground operation in Syria would focus on fighting the Islamic State group not President Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told AFP on Thursday.

      “Saudi Arabia has expressed its readiness to send special forces to Syria as part of the coalition, with the goal of eliminating Daesh. This is the mission and the responsibility,” Adel al-Jubeir said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

      Riyadh has been a fierce opponent of Assad, but Jubeir said any participating Saudi force would make the battle against IS the priority.

      “For now the objective of any ground forces or special forces would be to fight Daesh on the ground in order to seize territory from them,” he said.

      “If they enter Syria, these forces will work in the framework of the international coalition to fight Daesh, there will be no unilateral operations,” he said.

      Asked if the mission could be expanded to include operations against Assad’s forces, Jubeir said: “This would be something the international coalition would have to make a decision on.”

      Saudi Arabia backs rebel forces fighting Assad and insists he must leave office for the country’s conflict to be resolved.”

  18. Ayatollah Khamenei: Global Zionism Network Dictates U.S. Iran Policy

    ?Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that the global Zionism network dictates the policies of the U.S. and many EU members vis-a-vis Iran. “The U.S. and many European governments’ policies are dominated by this (Zionist) network.”

    “A U.S. official has in recent days said they would take action to dissuade foreign investments in Iran…that’s exactly why it has been repeatedly stated that Americans are not trustworthy.”?

    In response to Washington’s protests against the slogan of “Death to America” in nationwide rallies, Khamenei said, “When you act like this, when your past and present is nothing but open hostility, what else do you expect from the Iranian people?”

  19. The Arab Attitude toward Israel’s 2005 Unilateral Disengagement

    =>Israel’s 2005 unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria was perceived as an achievement of the Palestinian struggle. The decision to pursue disengagement was taken at a time when Palestinian terrorist activities reached their highest levels. From the Arab point of view, it exposed the failure of Israeli society to cope effectively with that challenge.

    =>The Palestinians began to think that the pressure on Israel should continue, which could then bring them closer to their next objective – a unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, and from Jerusalem.

    =>One may argue that the 2006 election victory for Hamas may be attributed to the perception of the general public which saw Hamas as the critical player in forcing Israel to seek disengagement from Gaza. For Hamas, Israel’s decision clearly vindicated the movement’s insistence that terror is the only way to liberate Palestine.

    =>Israel would claim that it no longer had the status of an occupier in Gaza, and its decision to leave the Philadelphi Route along the Gaza-Egypt border was defended on that basis. Yet the Palestinians easily managed to enlist international support for their position which still considered Israel as an occupying power, in a place where it had neither a military nor civilian presence.

    =>Unilateral concessions are perceived in the region as signs of weakness, and hence invite additional pressure. Conversely, demonstrating resolve discourages pressure. Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon encouraged the Palestinians to choose confrontation and launch the Second Intifada. The disengagement convinced the extremist elements among the Palestinians, along with Hizbullah, to continue the armed struggle, including a focus on kidnappings.

    =>There is a basic structural weakness in Western political and strategic thinking, a fundamental naiveté which makes it difficult to see the other side as an enemy whom one must confront until he changes his policy and ceases to be an enemy. Many believe that even when the other side unequivocally regards us as an enemy that must be destroyed, we must view him as an opponent that can and should be placated and turned into a partner.

    • This part of the cultural Marxist program has worked, the vast majority of the west thinks that fighting to a clear victory is evil. This is one of the reasons that WWIII will be so long and so bloody. Their are still enough men who follow the traditional male behavior to ensure that the west will remain free, although freedom may disappear from parts of the west.

      Western culture and civilization are what is in danger, Many works of art will be destroyed by the barbarians on both sides during the war and many of our true cultural development will be destroyed. One of the things that (hopefully) will be restored is a return to traditional morality and people being taught that the traditional morality is what insures the survival of the nation.

  20. Libya’s North African neighbors brace for any Western strikes (reuters, Feb 18, 2016)

    “Libya’s neighbors are again preparing for possible Western intervention in Libya, tightening border security and sending diplomatic warnings about the risk from hurried action against Islamic State that could force thousands refugees to flee.

    As Islamic State has expanded in Libya — taking over the city of Sirte and attacking oil ports — so too have calls increased for a swift Western response to stop the group establishing a base outside its Iraq and Syria territory.

    For Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria, sharing borders with Libya was already a security challenge as the country slipped into war between rival factions and allowed Islamic State to thrive five years after NATO strikes helped defeat Muammar Gaddafi.

    Exactly what Western intervention is possible is still under discussion. But President Barack Obama has ordered security advisers to look to halt Islamic State, and U.S. officials say air strikes and special forces operations are options.

    Italy’s defense minister has said the West can not afford to let spring come and go without intervening, though most officials say they are pushing for a united Libya government first to ask for help on the ground.

    North African officials back international attempts to bring Libya’s factions together, but they worry they will pay the price in instability, refugees and militant counter attacks if an intervention happens without a government on the ground.

    “Those countries who are envisaging a military intervention in Libya should before anything take into consideration the interests of the neighboring countries,” Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said.

    Tunisia’s parliament speaker travels this week to Brussels to express the country’s concerns over Western military action to his counterparts in the European Parliament.

    In the years since Gaddafi fell in 2011, Libya has slipped deeper into chaos with two rival governments each backed by competing factions of former rebel brigades.

    A U.N.-backed government of national accord is trying to win support, but is still awaiting parliamentary approval, and has yet to establish itself in the capital Tripoli.

    Western officials and diplomats say air strikes, special forces operations are possible as well as an Italian-led “security stabilization” plan of training and advising.

    U.S. and European officials insist Libyans must invite help through a united government, but say they may still carry out unilateral action if needed. The United States and its allies are already carrying out air strikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

    Political delays in Libya are testing patience, however, and worrying North African governments.

    “The people who wanted to first form a government, are now the same people in a hurry for intervention,” one North African diplomat said. “You need a unified action. If you are just planning air strikes, it won’t get the results.”


    Tunisia and Egypt face the most risk from Libya’s crisis. Last year, Tunisian jihadists who trained in Libyan camps carried out two major attacks on foreign tourists in Tunisia.

    More than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight with Islamic State and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria, but Tunisian security sources say they believe many are returning to Libya.

    Along the Libyan frontier, Tunisian authorities have built a 200-km (125 mile) barrier. Hospitals in Gafsa, Tataouine, Mednine and Gabes are prepared to receive wounded, and authorities have stockpiled supplies, officials say.

    “These Tunisian fighters left here illegally and they know ways to cross back,” a Tunisian security source said. “We are vigilant for when they try to escape here if the coalition attacks on Islamic State start.”

    Egypt has long urged the international community to help fight Islamist militancy in Libya. But Cairo has also been more circumspect about a full-blown Western military intervention.

    Over the past 18 months, Egypt has ramped up border security and aerial surveillance and also carried out air strikes itself on Libyan militants. It has also relied on Bedouins whose familial links allow them to act lookouts on the border.

    “This is a Libyan decision that no one should interfere with,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. “We hope that the Libyan government and the Libyan army … will come out with something that will exclude the possibilities of intervention.”

    With its own bloody history from a war with armed Islamists in 1990s, Algeria has been a key partner in the Western campaign against Islamist militancy in the Sahel, but it is also keen to maintain its traditional policy of non-interference.

    Algerian border security was already tight since Islamist fighters crossed over from Libya to help in a 2013 attack on Algeria’s In Amenas gas field, where 40 oil workers were killed.

    Last month, Algerian forces arrested seven Libyan militants near the border close to In Amenas, and the army frequently stops weapons smuggled from Libya. Citing security concerns, Algeria last month also suspended flights to Libya.

    “A major war in Libya would have a negative impact, more refugees and security risks,” said Smail Djouhri, an ex-colonel and lecturer in security at Algiers University. “Less Daesh in the region is also good news. A blow to them reduces their recruitment in North Africa.”

    (Additional reporting by Lamine Chikhi in Algiers and Lin Noueihed in Cairo; Editing by Alison Williams)”

  21. U.S. has asked Russia not to attack special forces in Syria: military (yahoo, Feb 18, 2016)

    “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has told Russia broad areas in which U.S. special forces are operating in Syria and asked them not to strike there, U.S. military officials said on Thursday.

    The move marks a step up in U.S.-Russian military coordination in Syria, which the United States had previously said was limited to a mechanism to avoid accidents in the air as both countries undertake bombing campaigns there.

    Lieutenant General Charles Brown, the head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, disclosed the request at a Thursday news briefing at the Pentagon.

    “We told them (the Russians) these are … general areas where we have coalition forces that we don’t want them to strike there, because all it’s going to do is escalate things,” Brown said. “It’s really just to maintain the safety for our forces that are both in the air and in this case on the ground.”

    The United States announced in October it would deploy dozens of special operators in northern Syria to advise opposition forces in their fight against the militant group Islamic State.

    A senior U.S. defense official said at the time that the United States had not notified Russia of the special forces’ location in Syria, but was open to doing so in order to keep the troops safe.

    Russia launched air strikes in Syria last year saying it was targeting Islamic State militants. But rebels on the ground and Western officials say the strikes have mainly targeted moderate rebel groups not associated with Islamic State, including U.S.-trained fighters.

    Major powers agreed last week to a limited cessation of hostilities in Syria in a deal that takes effect at the end of this week. Russia says the “cessation” does not apply to its air strikes, which have shifted the balance of power toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    The United States has not shared with the Russians specific locations or times of the U.S. special operators’ movements, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on Thursday. The request was made via the two countries’ defense ministries, and U.S. Secretary Ash Carter was aware of the request, Cook said.

    “We provided (the Russians) a geographical area that we asked them to stay out of because of the risk to U.S. forces,” Cook said. “Up to this point they have honored this request.”

    He declined to comment specifically on the timing of the request…”

  22. HOLIDAY TERROR WARNING: ‘High threat’ of attack at hotspot popular with British tourists (express, Feb 18, 2016)

    “A HEIGHTENED terror alert has been issued to all Britons looking at booking a holiday retreat to a popular sunny tourist destination.

    The Government has warned Britons against “all but essential” travel to key tourist destinations in Malaysia.

    The Foreign Office ramped up the terrorism threat level from “general to high” today following fears of an terror attack against Western tourists.

    The statement revealed militant attacks would likely targets “places visited by foreigners”.

    Britons are advised against travelling to “all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau.”

    Officials also fear the threat of kidnapping in Eastern Malayisa, along the border with southern Philippines….”

  23. US-led airstrike kills 15 civilians as missile aimed at ISIS logistics hub hits bakery (express, Feb 18, 2016)

    “AIRSTRIKES by jets fighting as part of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition have killed at least 38 people in Syria in just the last two days, including a number of civilians in a bakery.

    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 15 civilians were killed when the busy store in the city of al-Shadadi, near the border with Iraq, was hit while planes were targeting an ISIS logistics centre.

    Al-Shadadi is a logistics hub for the Islamic State group, located on a network of highways and whose capture would isolate Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the hardline group….”

    • Bad things happen in war, the people who are responsible for the civilian deaths are those who put a military target near civilians.

  24. Leader of anti-Islam Pegida faces trial for Facebook posts calling foreigners ‘trash’ (express, Feb 18, 2016)

    “A LEADER of the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant group Pegida is facing trial after calling foreigners “cattle” and “trash” in a series of Facebook posts.

    Lutz Bachmann was charged with incitement over the controversial social media posts.

    Prosecutors said the posts were an attempt to incite Germans against refugees.

    The Pegida leader wrote on Facebook he would face trial in Dresden on April 19, which was confirmed by the district court…”

  25. Gang printing fake passports for ISIS jihadis smashed in huge police raid (express, Feb 18, 2016)

    “RUSSIA’S secret service agency says it has smashed an Islamic State gang forging passports for extremists to use for travel to Syria.

    The Federal Security Service, or FSB, said 14 suspected members of the group had been arrested and were now in custody.

    Secret printing presses and laboratories were discovered during the raid near Moscow – the latest in a string of police swoops on suspected terror cells.

    The suspects were accused of forging documents for Russians heading to join ISIS – also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh – in the Middle East warzone.

    The gang was also said to be making papers for ISIS militants who were sneaking back into Russia to carry out terror attacks.

    Search operations revealed a stockpile of forged papers, forms, stamps and equipment for producing fake documents, as well as extremist literature.

    Officials said some of the fake documents were being also being used by migrants to travel by land to Europe…”

  26. Foreigners among 24 terrorists killed in Badakhshan (khaama, Feb 18, 2016)

    “24 terrorists have been killed and 17 others wounded in separate security incidents in northeastern Badakhshan province.

    Spokesperson for the provincial governor said security operation has been launched in Argu District which is successfully going on.

    Ahmad Nawid Froutan added that 17 Taliban militants have been killed and 10 others wounded in the operation so far.

    Those killed include important commanders of the group including Hamidullah, Froutan said.

    The governor’s spokesperson further said that security forces rebuffed a Taliban attack in Souch village of Jurm District on Tuesday night.

    Froutan added that the clash left seven militants killed and as many others wounded.

    Foreigners were among those killed, the governor’s spokesperson said.”

  27. Drone strike kills six Taliban in Paktika’s Gomal District (khaama, Feb 18, 2016)

    “A drone strike has killed six Taliban militants in Gomal District of Paktika province, an official said on Thursday.

    Spokesperson for the governor of Paktika province told Khaama Press that militants killed in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) attack in Raghi area on Wednesday morning were fighting under the command of Asmatullah, the shadow governor of Taliban for Gomal District.

    Nabiullah Peerkhil further said that the dead bodies of the insurgents were shifted by other Taliban members from the area.

    Local officials also confirmed the air strike saying that it was conducted on a hideout of Taliban early in the morning and that a number of weapons were also destroyed in the attack.

    Taliban have not yet commented on the report.”

  28. NDS prevents suicide bombing in Laghman (khaama, Feb 18, 2016)

    “The National Directorate of Security (NDS) – Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has prevented a suicide bombing in the capital of eastern Laghman province.

    A statement released by NDS on Thursday states that Atta Mohammad S/O Agha Mohammad planned to explode his suicide vest in a busy part of Mehtarlam city but luckily he was arrested with the assistance of locals before he could reach to his target.

    In a footage released by NDS, the suspect says he was recruited by Ashabuddin aka Nawlak who took him to Alishang District where he received training from Qari Janat Gul.

    Atta Mohammad further says that after spending some days in Alishang, he was then told by Qari Janat Gul to carry out suicide attack on a commander of local police.

    “I was told that I would go to paradise with doing this,” Atta Mohammad adds.”

  29. NDS busted bomb making factory in Ghazni (khaama, Feb 18, 2016)

    “The National Directorate of Security (NDS) – Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has busted a bomb making factory in central Ghazni province of Afghanistan.

    The agency writes in a statement released on Thursday that a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED), motorcycle-bomb and seven keg-bombs ‘Oil kegs filled with explosives’ and eight missiles.

    According to the press release, terrorists planned to carry out several attacks with these materials in Ghazni but NDS personnel foiled their plans.

    NDS statements usually do not contain exact date of the achievements but they come after recent activities.”

  30. Pakistan, with 324 executions in 2015, ranks third worldwide (tribune, Feb 18, 2016)

    “ISLAMABAD: Pakistan hanged 324 people last year to rank third worldwide in terms of executions, but the vast majority of those put to death had no links to militant groups or attacks, rights groups said in a report seen by Reuters.

    The government lifted a moratorium on executions in late 2014 as a measure to deter militancy, after a Taliban gunmen attacked Army Public School in Peshawar and killed 134 students and 19 adults.

    Of the 351 executions that followed, only 39, or about 1 in 10, involved people linked to a known militant group or guilty of crimes linked to militancy, Reprieve, an international human rights group, and Justice Project Pakistan said in a report…”

  31. No refugees, no money – Italy’s Renzi threatens EU’s east (reuters, Feb 19, 2016)

    “Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned Eastern European leaders on Thursday that they may get less European Union development money if they do not help with the refugee crisis, participants at an EU summit in Brussels said.

    In the midst of the worst migration crisis in Europe since World War Two, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have been among the staunchest opponents of EU plans to transfer asylum seekers arriving in southern Europe to other EU states.

    “The migration crisis is a common problem for all EU countries. If you do not show solidarity, countries contributing the most to the EU budget may show less solidarity to you,” said one person familiar with Renzi’s comments to fellow leaders at a dinner which last into the early hours of Friday.

    He threatened Eastern European countries with reductions in EU development funds channelled to their poorest regions…”

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