Bashar al-Assad

Terrorists and Europe’s “Newspeak”

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Germany outlaws ‘Hezbollah fundraising group’

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A Lebanese flag appears behind Hezbollah's yellow flag in the Bekaa Valley on May 25, 2011
.View photo
A Lebanese flag appears behind Hezbollah‘s yellow flag in the Bekaa Valley on May 25, 2011 (AFP Photo/Joseph Eid)

Berlin (AFP) – German authorities banned a group Tuesday accused of raising millions for the Lebanese militant organisation Hezbollah and staged raids across the country against its members.

The interior ministry said it had outlawed the “Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon” (Orphan Children Project Lebanon) with immediate effect.

“The name of the group masks its actual purpose,” ministry state secretary Emily Haber said in a statement.

She said the organisation, based in the western city of Essen, had raised 3.3 million euros ($4.6 million) in donations between 2007 and 2013 for the Lebanese Shahid Foundation, an “integral” part of Hezbollah. Read the rest of this entry »

20 March SWJ Roundup

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Small Wars Journal Daily Roundup

Ukraine

Ukraine to Pull All Its Military From Crimea, Conceding Loss – NYT

Ukraine Makes Plans for Troops to Leave Crimea – WP

Ukraine ‘Planning Crimea Withdrawal’ – BBC

Pro-Russian Forces Seize Ukraine Navy HQ – VOA

Ukraine Forces Attacked by Pro-Russia Gunmen; Navy Facilities Seized – LAT

Russian Troops Take Over Another Ukrainian Naval Base in Crimea – Reuters

Ukraine Orders Troops to Leave Crimea, Russia Offers Better Pay – McClatchy

Cyber Peace Reigns Despite Russia, Ukraine Tensions – VOA

Russia’s Moves in Ukraine Seen as ‘Wake-Up Call’ for NATO – WP

US, NATO Warn Russia Faces ‘High Costs’ Over Crimea – VOA

NATO Secretary General: Russia Must Suffer Consequences – AFPS

US, European Allies to Step Up Sanctions on Russia – LAT

US Ponders Next Moves in Crimea Crisis – WP

Obama: No US ‘Military Excursion’ in Ukraine – WP

US Defense Chief Praises Ukraine’s Restraint in Crimea Crisis – Reuters

UN Chief Heads to Moscow, Kyiv – VOA

In Crimea, a Swell of Patriotism, But What is to Follow? – WP

For Moscow, Crimea May Prove an Expensive Prize – CSM

Ukraine Minister Says West Sure to Provide More Support – Reuters

Opinions on Ukraine from American and Foreign Media – VOA Roundup

A New Russian Order – WP Editorial

Russia and the Group of 8 – NYT Editorial

Saving Ukraine from Another Russian Heist – CSM Editorial

Crimea Shows US Can’t Step Back and Let Others Lead – CSM Opinion

A Fear of Russia – WP Opinion

A Way Forward for Ukraine – NYT Opinion

Crimea’s Silver Lining – WP Opinion

NATO’s Strategic Ace: Vladimir Putin – UPI Opinion

Putin’s Warped Reality – WP Opinion

How to Punish Putin – NYT Opinion

Making Putin Pay – WP Opinion

Why Sanctions Don’t Really Work – LAT Opinion

Russia / NATO

Russia’s Moves in Ukraine Seen as ‘Wake-Up Call’ for NATO – WP

Biden: US Will Respond to Aggression Against NATO Allies – VOA

Biden Signals Plans for More US Military Drills in the Baltics – USAT

Another Set of Wary Allies Seeks U.S. Reassurance – NYT

In Eastern Europe, Biden Finds Uncertain Allies – WP

European Leaders Seek Ways to Curb Dependence on Russian Gas – Reuters

NATO’s Strategic Ace: Vladimir Putin – UPI Opinion

Afghanistan

Watchdog: US May be Paying Salaries of ‘Ghost’ Afghan Policemen – S&S

Women Vital for Democratic Success in Afghanistan, UN Says – UPI

Razia Jan Fights to Educate Girls in Rural Afghanistan – CSM Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. reservist arrested after allegedly trying to enter Canada on his way to Syria to join Al-Qaeda-linked group

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In this file photo, cars line up to pass through the U.S. Customs station at Blaine, Washington to Canada on Dec. 20, 1999.

A U.S. National Guard reservist has been arrested on a Greyhound bus as he was trying to cross into Canada with the alleged intention of travelling to Syria to join an armed faction linked to Al-Qaeda.Nicholas Teausant, 20, was taken into custody at about 11:40 p.m. Sunday by U.S. Customs agents in Blaine, Wash. The California resident was allegedly on his way to Vancouver International airport.According to the FBI, he had repeatedly expressed his desire to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, or ISIS, an extremist group fighting to overthrown Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Read the rest of this entry »

Insight: After Syria, al Qaeda expanding in Lebanon

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Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) try to calm civilians demonstrating against the rebel infighting in Aleppo (Stringer . Reuters, / January 6, 2014)

Mariam Karouny Reuters  10:19 a.m. EST, January 30, 2014

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Faced with recent setbacks in Iraq and Syria, al Qaeda is slowly but firmly gaining influence in Lebanon, helped by the country’s increasing sectarian violence and the turmoil caused by Syria’s civil war, sources close to the group say.
Lebanon, a small Mediterranean state with a fragile sectarian power sharing system, has seen the worst of the Syria’s war spillover with car bombs in Beirut and Tripoli, gunfights in city streets and rocket fire in the Bekaa Valley.
The violence is exacerbated by Lebanon’s own sectarian divisions and entrenching them. Shi’ite Hezbollah supports President Bashar al-Assad while his rebel opponents are backed by Sunni Muslims including Islamists and al Qaeda fighters.

Read the rest of this entry »

Turkey, Iran seek workaround on Syria

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sign documents in Tehran, Jan. 29, 2014. (photo by Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

“The international political intervention should target not [Syria‘s ruling] Baath [Party] but the actors whose proxy war Baath is fighting,” Taha Ozhan of Turkey’s SETA think-tank wrote on Jan. 25, pointing to Russia and Iran. As the chairman of SETA (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research) — the main civic mouthpiece of Turkey’s deadlocked Syria policy — penned those lines, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was preparing to go to Tehran.

Summary⎙ Print Ankara and Tehran are attempting to normalize a relationship put off track by Syria.

Author Fehim Taştekin Posted February 2, 2014 Translator(s)Sibel Utku Bila

It was a slapdash article reflecting a grudge toward Russia and Iran for fending off regime change in Syria. Four days later, Erdogan was on a completely different track when he told his hosts that he felt like he was at his “second home” in Tehran.

The Turkey-Iran relationship has always been two-sided, but the Syrian crisis upset the balance, threatening the positive side. Erdogan was in Tehran to bolster that side. Back to a “win-win” mode, he set a target of $30 billion in bilateral trade for 2015. In 2013, the trade volume dropped to $13.5 billion from $21.8 billion the previous year.

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Russia plays the Iran card

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Russian President Vladimir Putin passes Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during their meeting at the Kremlin, Jan. 16, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

The Geneva II conference to be held next week may be the most intriguing event in diplomacy since the Cold War. On the one hand, this is an example of the cooperation of major countries that want to resolve a regional conflict, each for its own reason. On the other hand, this is a classic “great game,” when all participants are afraid to miscalculate and miss out on the opportunities that will arise. All this is happening, yet the result is completely unpredictable. Even the process itself is unpredictable — a few days before the conference is set to begin, it is still unclear who will participate.

Read the rest of this entry »

Iran News Round Up July 26, 2012

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syria
syria (Photo credit: themua)

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by Ali Alfoneh, Ahmad Majidyar and Michael Rubin
 
(E) = Article in English

Diplomacy

  • Mohammad-Reza Tabesh: “We must support the government of Syria, which is at the frontline of the struggle against Israel… But we should support it as long as the government of Syria does not treat the people of Syria badly and the rights of the people are not violated.”
  • Ali-Reza Mahjoub: “Survival of the Syrian government is in the interest of our region.”
  • Jafar Qaderi: “The government of Syria… must continue the path of reform, enforce the popular will, and respect the popular vote.”
  • Fatemeh Alia: “We must support the trend of reform in Syria.”
  • Mousa-al-Reza Servati: “We oppose the West because of belief that any reform must take place based on the choice of the people and implemented by the people of Syria. People can achieve whatever their wishes through elections”
  • Amir-Hossein Qazizadeh: “What we see in Syria… is a domestic Syrian issue and intervention in internal affairs of states is incorrect and illegal…” 
  • [E] The Indian media reported that the country’s government has decided to attend the 16th heads-of-state summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran at the highest level, and that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will represent New Delhi in the high profile meeting.
  • [E] Iran and Russia lambasted the western and Arab states for their interferences in the internal affairs of Syria, and called on them to stop unconstructive acts in the Muslim country.

Military and Security

German intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria

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English: Nasser ar-Refai, sheikh of Hawran (Da...
English: Nasser ar-Refai, sheikh of Hawran (Daraa Governorate, Syria) with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jul 24, 2012
By John Rosenthal

 

German intelligence estimates that “around 90” terror attacks that “can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups” were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July, as reported by the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). This was revealed

by the German government in a response to a parliamentary question.

 

In response to the same question, the German government admitted that it had received several reports from the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, on the May 25 massacre in the Syrian town of Houla. But it noted that the content of these reports was to remain classified “by reason of national interest”, Like many other Western governments, Germany expelled Syria’s ambassador in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, holding the Syrian government responsible for the violence.

 

Meanwhile, at least three major German newspapersDie Welt, the FAZ, and the mass-market tabloid Bild – have published reports attributing responsibility for the massacre to anti-government rebel forces or treating this as the most probable scenario.

 

Writing in Bild, longtime German war correspondent Jurgen Todenhofer accused the rebels of “deliberately killing civilians and then presenting them as victims of the government”. He described this “massacre-marketing strategy” as being “among the most disgusting things that I have ever experienced in an armed conflict”. Todenhofer had recently been to Damascus, where he interviewed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for Germany’s ARD public television. Read the rest of this entry »

Syrian Civil War sees increase in combat

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Syrian activists say security forces have attacked rebels in the capital Damascus with helicopters and tanks, while rebels launched an offensive against the government in the northern city of Aleppo.

The activists say government troops used helicopter gunships and tank fire to try to drive rebels out of the Damascus neighborhoods of Barzeh and Mazzeh. Syrian state news agency SANA denied that helicopters were deployed and insisted the capital was “normal” as security forces chased what it called “terrorist” remnants from the streets.

Meanwhile, a rebel commander appeared in an Internet video, announcing that the battle to liberate the commercial hub of Aleppo has begun. Witnesses reported street battles in several districts including Salaheddine and Sakhour.

Elsewhere, Turkish officials said Syrian rebels seized another border crossing between the two countries on Sunday, taking control of the Bab al-Salama complex from Syrian troops. Rebels captured the Syrian side of another crossing (Bab al-Hawa) on the Turkish border last week.

But, Iraqi officials said Syrian insurgents withdrew from the Rabiya border crossing with Iraq overnight, allowing Syrian troops to reclaim it. Rebels remained in control of the Syrian side of the Albu Kamal crossing with Iraq.

Aleppo had been largely untouched by the 16-month uprising against Syrian PresidentBashar al-Assad. It is home to Syrian elites and merchants who have benefited from Mr. Assad’s authoritarian rule, but recently has seen an increase in protests against his deadly crackdown on the rebellion.

Syrian state television broadcast an image of Mr. Assad meeting with his new army chief of staff. It said the Syrian president met General Ali Ayyoub on Sunday and gave him instructions. Mr. Assad promoted his previous army chief of staff to defense minister last week, after a Damascus bomb attack killed the sitting defense minister and three other top security officials. Read the rest of this entry »