UN Chief Wants Immediate Gaza Cease-Fire

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza. 

Speaking to the press in New York on July 28, he said the people of Gaza have nowhere to run and they are trapped. 

Ban said leaders on both sides must show “their political will” to stop the carnage.

“They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israelis and Palestinians — particularly when they continue to fight — it is only the helpless civilians who suffer and are being killed,” he said.

He also said there must be accountability for crimes by all sides.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Washington shortly after Ban’s remarks that “any process to solve the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups.”

He added that Washington “will work closely with Israel and regional partners and the international community in support of this goal.”

On July 28, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the UN Security Council’s call earlier in the day for a truce in Gaza.

Netanyahu said the call addressed the needs of Islamist Hamas militants while neglecting Israeli security.

In an emergency session early on July 28, the UN Security Council had called for an “immediate and unconditional” cease-fire in the conflict that has already killed more than 1,030 Palestinians and 45 Israelis — mostly soldiers.

The council meeting urged Israel and Hamas “to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond.”

It said this would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.

Eid begins on July 28 in many Muslim countries.

The declaration was agreed upon by all 15 members of the Security Council ahead of the meeting.

The council statement also called on the parties “to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire, based on the Egyptian initiative.”

Last week, Cairo came up with a peace plan that, among other things, called on Israel to cease all hostilities in the Gaza Strip, halt all ground operations and refrain from targeting civilians. It also required Palestinian factions to cease hostilities against Israel, halt rocket fire, and cross-border attacks and stop targeting civilians.

Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have agreed to several short-lived cease-fires in the past two days that have been repeatedly broken.

Netanyahu has said Israeli military operations in Gaza will continue for as long as it takes to demilitarize the Gaza Strip — where Hamas militants are shooting rockets into Israel and using many tunnels to dig under Israeli territory.

With reporting by AFP and AP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

President Massum : We work for formation of national government

BAGHDAD / Nina / President of the Republic Fuad Massum, confirmed in a speech addressed to the Iraqi people on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr : ” We would wholeheartedly work to communicate with all political parties, and as soon as possible in accordance with the constitutional contexts for the formation of a national government based on national partnership and power-sharing to accomplish basic tasks./ End

LINK

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

U.S., Major EU Nations Agree To Further Measures Against Russia

The leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy agreed by telephone on July 28 that they would impose new sanctions on Russia for its role in the crisis in Ukraine.

The French president’s office released a statement about the call that said the five leaders “confirmed…their intention to adopt new measures against Russia.”

The statement added that the leaders said they would watch carefully to see if Russia was giving direct military support to the separatists. 

The call came as the United States and the European Union weigh up tougher sanctions against Russia amid the crisis over Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which went down over eastern Ukraine on July 17.

The West accuses separatists in eastern Ukraine of shooting down the passenger jet and blames Russia for supplying the rebels with equipment capable of doing so.

After the phone call, White House deputy security adviser Tony Blinken said the European leaders made clear in the conversation that they were prepared to impose new sanctions on Russia’s financial, energy, and arms sectors.

Blinken said the United States would be announcing new sanctions against Russia soon.

Blinken spoke about the downed Malaysian airliner saying that, while it is still not clear “exactly who pulled the trigger,” Moscow remains culpable since the weapon system used to shoot down the plane came from Russia.

He also said that there are likely still SA-11 missile launchers in Ukraine similar to the one that brought down the Malaysian plane and some of them might be in the hands of pro-Russian separatists.

Efforts to investigate the site of the plane crash have been hampered in recent days by heavy fighting around the area.

On July 28, Russia’s ambassador to the UN and a separatist military commander said Ukrainian government forces were moving to seize control of the region where the plane’s wreckage is located.

Igor Strelkov, the defense minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, claimed his forces repelled the worst attacks and destroyed several armored vehicles in fighting near the town of Shakhtarsk.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Viltay Churkin said the attempt by Ukrainian government forces to take control of the crash site violated a UN resolution.

Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported separatists were using Grad multiple rocket launchers to shell civilian areas of Shakhtarsk. 

Government troops have also reportedly “entered” the towns of Shakhtarsk and Torez. National Guard units are also reported to be on the outskirts of the city of Horlivka.

The Ukrainian government said on July 28 that its forces had captured the city of Debaltsevo and the hill of Saur-Mohyla, in the Donetsk region.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin was in Washington on the same day and he said separatists were ignoring calls for a cease-fire in the crash area so that they could destroy evidence of their involvement in shooting down the plane. 

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, UNIAN, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Jaafary, Beecroft review political, security updates

Baghdad (AIN) –The head of the National Alliance, Ibrahim al-Jaafary discussed on Sunday with U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft the political and security situation in Iraq.

A statement by al-Jaafary’s office received by All Iraq News Agency cited “The two sides discussed during the meeting, political and security situation in Iraq.”

“They also reviewed the current talks between the political blocs to complete the government formation according to the constitutional timings,” the statement concluded. /End/

LINK

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

UN Condemns Terrorist Oil Sales From Iraq, Syria

UN Condemns Terrorist Oil Sales From Iraq, Syria

Posted 2014-07-28 16:20 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council is strongly condemning any sale of oil from Syria or Iraq by terrorist groups and is reminding all countries that buying this illegally obtained oil violates U.N. sanctions.

A presidential statement approved Monday targets two terrorist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the most powerful Syrian rebel groups; and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which has seized a wide swath of territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq and now calls itself the Islamic State.

The Russian-drafted statement expresses concern that oilfields or infrastructure controlled by terrorist organizations “could generate material income for terrorists, which would support their recruitment efforts, including of foreign terrorist fighters, and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Interview: Expert Says Yukos Ruling Could Take Years To Enforce

In what has been the largest such ruling of its kind, an international arbitration court in The Hague has ruled against Russia and awarded former majority shareholders of the Yukos oil company $ 50 billion for Moscow’s seizure and sale of the corporation’s assets. But Loukas Mistelis, the director of the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London, told RFE/RL’s Glenn Kates that it could be more than a decade before investors recover these assets. 

RFE/RL: Moscow has said it will contest today’s ruling in Dutch courts. What are its options? 

Loukas Mistelis: There’s no appeal mechanism. What there is is a challenge of the award. And the challenge of the award will be an annulment process by national courts that can only be done on procedural grounds.

So [the award could be annulled in that national jurisdiction] if a national court were to find that the tribunal had manifestly exceeded its powers, or there was a significant procedural irregularity or a violation of due process, or the tribunal [was found to be in a country that] shouldn’t have had jurisdiction.

So they’re entirely procedural grounds.  It’s not an appeal. An appeal process would effectively modify the decision. The challenge process is that of a process of extinguishing the award, but rarely successful.  (Editor’s note: After the ruling Moscow claimed that the Dutch court does not have jurisdiction because Russia has signed but not ratified the European Union’s Energy Charter, under which the decision was made.)

RFE/RL: If the award is upheld and Russia does refuse to pay, what are the likely consequences and how can Yukos investors be expected to recover the award?

Mistelis: What can happen is of course there are different things of different consequences. The refusal of the Russian Federation to pay would have an [impact] on their credit rating. 

The Yukos investors will try to enforce wherever they can enforce. There is a precedent with a case called Franz Sedelmayer versus the Russian Federation. It took him about 10 to 15 years to try to enforce against Russian assets. And he obtained court decisions in Germany and in Sweden, effectively ordering the execution of the award. 

RFE/RL: Will other countries work to seize Russian assets? 

x

Professor Loukas Mistelis

Mistelis: In the European Union there is precedent…where the national courts of these countries will be prepared to enforce against commercial assets of the Russian Federation. So the question will be: What is a commercial asset? So, I’m not sure whether Aeroflot is a state-run company, but it’s certainly a commercial company so one could technically enforce against Aeroflot. (Editors’ note: Aeroflot is 51 percent owned by the Russian state.) 

A fleet in the country — could enforce against a commercial merchant fleet. They could enforce against other property — for example, a language school which is owned by the Russian Federation. For assets that will qualify as commercial property, most European jurisdictions will be prepared to enforce. 

RFE/RL: How long would you expect this process to continue?

Mistelis: I think it’s going to be a long process. It’s going to be quite a long process. The Franz Sedelmayer award took nearly 10 years to enforce so I will not be surprised if the Yukos shareholders will need to dedicate 10 or 12 years to recover a substantial part of the award but maybe not the whole award.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Deaths as strikes resume in Gaza

Missiles have struck several sites in Gaza, including a park inside a refugee camp and an outpatient building of the strip’s largest hospital, disrupting a relative lull at the start of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Eight people, including seven children, died following missile fire on a park inside the Shati refugee camp on the edge of Gaza City, medics said.

The children were playing on a swing when the strike hit the park, Ayman Sahabani, the head of the emergency room at Shifa hospital, told reporters.

The Israeli army swiftly denied it was behind the strike, tweeting that a misfired rocket from Gaza had hit the playground.

However Hamas denied it had fired any rockets in the area and said: “This is categorically an airstrike by Israel.”

Medics said that an Israeli missile also hit a building, believed to be an outpatient clinic, close to the main gate of Shifa hospital, the same hospital where the victims of the playground strike were taken.

Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from the hospital, said there were chaotic scenes as “a number of small bodies were brought into this hospital”.

“It’s believed that because it’s been relatively calm, many of these children went outside to enjoy themselves on this Eid holiday but tragically they’ve been killed,” Tyab said.

Israelis killed

Also on Monday, four Israelis were killed in a mortar attack at Eshkol in southern Israel near the Gaza border.

The Israeli army hasn’t commented on whether the four were soldiers or civilians, but the army has been deployed heavily in that area.

Monday’s violence followed an almost 12-hour pause in fighting and came as international efforts intensified to end the three-week war between Israel and Hamas.

The United Nations on Monday called for an “immediate” ceasefire in the fighting that has already killed more than 1,040 Palestinians, 43 Israeli soldiers and three civilians on the Israeli side.

At least two more Palestinians were killed in other attacks on Monday. A four-year-old boy died when tank shells hit his family’s house in Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip, Gaza health officials said. Another person was killed by tank shelling in a separate incident, also in Jabaliya.

The military said at least a dozen rockets had been fired from Gaza at Israel since midnight.

Eid of mourning

As Muslims began celebrating Eid al-Fitr, there was fear and mourning on Monday instead of holiday cheer in large parts of Gaza.

Palestinian families huddled inside their homes, fearing more airstrikes, while those who came to a cemetery in Gaza City’s Sheik Radwan neighbourhood to pay traditional respects at their ancestors’ graves gathered around a large crater from an airstrike a week ago that had broken up several graves.

Amid an eerie calm, the call to Eid prayer echoed in the southern town of Rafah on Monday morning. Dozens of worshippers lined the rows of a severely destroyed mosque, with a collapsed roof and missing walls. Many of the faithful looked sombre during the traditional holiday sermon.

In Gaza City, dozens of men prayed in the courtyard of a UN school surrounded by school desks. Children and women stood on a higher level overlooking the worshippers.

“We are suffering and will suffer but we need our rights, our houses, our lands and our farms to return to us and we will not accept living a miserable life,” said Abu Saber Jalees, who fled fighting to seek shelter at the school.

Amid a slowdown in the fighting, rescue teams uncovered five bodies in a village east of Khan Younis, said Saed al-Saoudi, the commander of the Civil Defence in Gaza.

UN unsuccessful truce bid

In New York, an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire”.

And while it was the council’s strongest statement yet on the Gaza war, it was not a resolution and therefore not binding.

The council’s presidential statement also called on the parties “to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, spoke with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, according to a statement from his office, in which he voiced his dismay with the announcement.

“It does not include a response to Israel’s security needs and the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour also did not hide his disappointment.

He said the council should have adopted a strong and legally binding resolution a long time ago demanding an immediate halt to Israel’s “aggression,” providing the Palestinian people with protection and lifting the siege in the Gaza Strip so goods and people could move freely.

“You cannot keep 1.8 million Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip in this huge prison,” Mansour told reporters. “That is a recipe for disaster. It is inhumane, and it has to be stopped and it has to be lifted.”

834

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Masoum, German Ambassador to Iraq discuss mutual relations

The President, Fuad Masoum, and the German Ambassador to Iraq discussed the mutual relations and the means of promoting them.

A statement for the presidency today cited “The President Masoum praised the role of the Federal Republic of Germany in supporting Iraq and at all political, economic and cultural levels during a meeting with the German ambassador in Baghdad Eckhard Preveza.” “For his part, the German Ambassador congratulated President Masoum on his election as President of the Republic, and wished him success in the performance of his duties and to serve Iraq and its people,” the statement added. “Preveza renewed his country’s support to Iraq and at all levels and strengthening the bonds of the relationship between the two countries to serve the aspirations of the two friendly peoples in the progress and prosperity,” the statement concluded. /End/

LINK

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Gold maintains modest gains after U.S. pending home sales data

Investing.com –

Investing.com – Gold futures were modestly higher on Monday, after data showed that pending home sales in the U.S. fell unexpectedly in June, dampening optimism over the health of the housing sector.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for December delivery inched up 0.15%, or $ 1.90, to trade at $ 1,307.20 a troy ounce during U.S. morning hours. Prices held in a tight range between $ 1,303.50 and $ 1,311.50.

Gold ended Friday’s session up 0.97%, or $ 12.50, to settle at $ 1,303.30 an ounce. Futures were likely to find support at $ 1,287.50, the low from July 24 and resistance at $ 1,316.80, the high from July 22.

The National Association of Realtors said in a report that its pending home sales index declined by a seasonally adjusted 1.1% last month, disappointing expectations for a 0.5% gain. Pending home sales in May rose by 6.1%.

Year-on-year, pending home sales fell at annualized rate of 4.5% in June, compared to expectations for a decline of 5.2%.

Investors now looked ahead to a series of key economic events later in the week for further indications on the strength of the U.S. economy and the future course of monetary policy.

Market participants were looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy statement due on Wednesday, amid speculation over when the central bank may start to raise interest rates.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s preliminary estimate on second quarter economic growth and Friday’s U.S. jobs report for July were both expected to indicate that the recovery is continuing.

Gold remained supported as tensions between Russia and the West over the situation in Ukraine remained high, while fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza also remained in focus.

The precious metal is often seen as a haven investment in times of geopolitical uncertainty.

Also on the Comex, silver for September delivery tacked on 0.32%, or 6.7 cents, to trade at $ 20.70 a troy ounce.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for September delivery picked up 0.21%, or 0.7 cents, to trade at $ 3.247 a pound.

Data released earlier showed that profit at industrial companies in China increased by 17.9% in June from a year earlier, after gaining 8.9% in May, fuelling optimism over the health of the world’s second largest economy.

The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.

Investing.com
Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
Read more News on Investing.com and download the new Investing.com Stocks & Forex App for Android!

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Ireland’s Archbishop Urges Prayer for Christians in Iraq

Ireland’s Archbishop Urges Prayer for Christians in Iraq

Posted 2014-07-28 13:06 GMT

The Church of Ireland primate has appealed for people to pray for Christians suffering brutal repression by Islamic extremists in Iraq.

Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke said that it was “deeply distressing” to hear reports from northern Iraq that Christians are being expelled or martyred by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Christian churches in Mosul have been forcibly turned into mosques while Christian believers have been give three choices: converting to Islam, paying a special tax, or facing death.

The ISIS group launched an aggressive offensive through western and northern Iraq beginning late last year and took over Mosul in June.

After seizing the city, militants scrawled the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarene) on the doors of Christian-owned homes.

The Most Revd Clarke said: “Recent reports of the forced expulsion, violence and intimidation against the Christian population in Mosul in northern Iraq by ISIS militants is deeply distressing.

“There are accounts that numbers of people have died and been threatened with death for their faith. At this time, we ask people here across our land who enjoy religious freedom and liberty to remember before God the suffering people of this ancient city where Christians and Muslims have lived together for many centuries.

“We remember those who are working selflessly for healing, peace and restoration between peoples in these most difficult of circumstances and pray that by God’s Holy Spirit light will replace the present darkness that many are experiencing.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Report: U.S.-Provided Weapons To Afghans Have Gone Missing, Sparking Insurgent Fears

Weapons bought and paid for by the United States for Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have gone missing, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released on July 28.

http://www.sigar.mil/pdf/Audits/SIGAR-14-84-AR.pdf

The Department of Defense has provided the ANSF with 747,000 weapons since 2004 for approximately $ 626 million, and cannot account for all of their whereabouts due to poor recordkeeping.

The United States also provided Afghan forces with more than 112,000 excess weapons, and the Department of Defense has no authority to recapture or remove them, according to the report.

The Inspector General concluded that due to the Afghan government’s inability to account for or dispose of the weapons, that there is “real potential for these weapons to fall into the hands of insurgents, which will pose additional risks to U.S. personnel, the ANSF, and Afghan civilians.”

The report comes at a perilous moment in Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported on July 26 that Taliban fighters are making key advances near Kabul, beyond their strongholds.

The Afghan government also remains fragile, as a presidential election audit has been troubled with delays and sharp disagreements between the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/world/asia/taliban-making-military-gains-in-afghanistan.html

http://www.rferl.org/content/afghanistan-election-audit-disagreements-delays/25470382.html

The report reveals that the Department of Defense’s recordkeeping is loaded with discrepancies and errors.

Of 474,823 serial numbers in one database named OVERLORD, the Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database, 43 percent had missing information and/or duplication.

OVERLORD also had over 50,000 serial numbers with no shipping or receiving dates, raising questions of their whereabouts.

The Afghan government has no standardized accounting for the weapons, instead relying on documents, handwritten records and some spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel.

The Inspector General visited the Central Supply Depot, controlled by Afghans with assistance from U.S. advisors, and found many discrepancies.

For instance, there were 740 missing M16 rifles, 112 missing M23 pistols and 24 missing M2 machine guns.

The excess arms provided to Afghans have resulted in 83,184 more AK-47 rifles, 5,186 more RPK machine guns, and 5,834 more GP-25/30 Grenade Launchers.

The report notes that the issue of excess weapons will likely worsen in coming years due to projected decreasing numbers of Afghan security forces, but weapons are still slated to be provided at a higher force level.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Forex – NZD/USD drops to 1

Investing.com –

Investing.com – The New Zealand dollar dropped to one-and-a-half month lows against its U.S. counterpart on Monday, as Friday’s upbeat U.S. durable goods data continued to lend support to the greenback.

NZD/USD hit 0.8534 during late Asian trade, the pair’s lowest since June 11; the pair subsequently consolidated at 0.8539, shedding 0.19%.

The pair was likely to find support at 0.8494, the low of June 10 and resistance at 0.8586, the high of July 25.

The greenback remained supported by better than expected data on U.S. durable goods orders for June.

The Commerce Department on Friday reported a rise of 0.7% in orders of long lasting goods such as machinery and electronic products, compared to forecasts of 0.5%.

The kiwi came under broad selling pressure last week after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand its benchmark interest rate to 3.50% from 3.25%, but signaled that rates will not go any higher this year.

Market participants were eyeing the U.S. employment report due later in the week and the upcoming Federal Reserve statement expected on Wednesday. Investors were also awaiting final data on U.S. second-quarter growth on Wednesday.

The New Zealand dollar was lower against its Australian counterpart, with AUD/NZD adding 0.17% to 1.1000.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release data on pending home sales.

Investing.com
Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
Read more News on Investing.com and download the new Investing.com Stocks & Forex App for Android!

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

U.S. General: Iraq Air Strikes Still a Possibility

U.S. General: Iraq Air Strikes Still a Possibility

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey addresses troops in Afghanistan.Gen. Martin Dempsey says U.S. military advisers could join Iraqi ground units on the front lines against Islamic extremists if the Baghdad government shows it can unite to hold the Iraqi state together.

However, U.S. military support was conditional upon the Iraqis solving the sectarian disputes that threaten to splinter the nation, Dempsey said.

Forming a unity government was the key to giving the U.S. a reliable partner against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), said Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey said U.S. support could also include limited air strikes that would seek to distinguish between ISIL fighters and the Sunni tribes north and west of Baghdad.

“If we can get a credible partner [in Iraq], then I think we can do any number of things,” Dempsey said at the Aspen Security Forum last week. “Whether we have credible, reliable partners in Iraq remains to be seen.”

If viable partners can be found, “we can put advisers on the ground who know how to go far enough forward to provide intelligence, to provide planning expertise, to use close air support if we take a decision to provide close air support,” Dempsey said.

The air support would likely come from the carrier George H.W. Bush, which has been in the Persian Gulf for more than a month with six other U.S. warships. The group of ships includes the amphibious assault ship Bataan with 1,000 Marines aboard.

President Obama has authorized up to 300 special operations troops to be in Iraq to operate out of Joint Operations Center in Baghdad and in Irbil, capital of the northern Kurdish region.

Earlier this month, the special operations troops forwarded an assessment on the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces. Dempsey said the Pentagon and the White House were now considering the “options” for U.S. support.

Congress was pressing to have a say on the options for military force in Iraq. Last Friday, the House passed a resolution calling upon Obama to seek permission from Congress before using military force in Iraq.

The resolution passed by a vote of 370-40 and limited the president from deploying U.S. troops in a “sustained combat role in Iraq.” It was unclear whether the resolution would be taken up by the Senate.

In a separate appearance at the Aspen forum, Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, echoed Dempsey on the requirement for the Iraqis to form a unity government before U.S. support can flow.

Odierno blamed the collapse of Iraqi forces in the initial ISIL advance on the “politicization” of the Iraqi army along sectarian lines.

“They didn’t fight,” Odierno said of the Iraqi troops, because of a “complete lack of trust and confidence, and frankly loyalty, in their commanders.”

Without a unity government, “it will continue to disintegrate” in Iraq, Odierno said. “If you don’t get that, no national force will solve the problem.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Assad in Eid appearance as violence rages

Bashar al-Assad has made his first appearance in public after being sworn in as Syria’s president for a third term, attending prayers at a Damascus mosque to mark the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid.

Assad was filmed by Syrian TV on Monday at the prayer in al-Kheir mosque in the capital with Syria’s grand mufti, Mohammad Hassoun, and senior officials in the government.

Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, a three-day feast that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Despite a war that has raged on for more than three years now, residents in Damascus are trying to maintain the traditions of Eid, when people wear new clothes and children get new toys.

Traditional sweets shops were open in Damascus’ business district to sell Eid specialties such as kunafa, maamul and baklawa, while Whirling Dervishes performed at the opening of a bazaar offering foodstuffs and clothes.

Locals say that prices at the bazaar were lower than in general markets in a bid to help people shop for Eid. Prices have risen sharply in the country as a result of the war.

Protests against Assad and explosions have rocked central Damascus on numerous occasions during the conflict, and heavy sounds of shelling continue to resound night and day across the city as the regime battles rebels in the suburbs.

But the city itself has mostly stayed out of the rebels’ reach, sparing it the deadly clashes and heavy destruction that ravaged the commercial hearts of Syria’s two other major cities, Aleppo and Homs.

Raging clashes

In Syria’s north and east, Eid celebrations were overshadowed by clashes between Syrian troops and self-declared jihadist fighters.

The Syrian army on Sunday recaptured a gas field east of the central city of Homs that was seized by fighters from Islamic State group earlier this month.

Activists told Al Jazeera the recapture of Shaer field dealt a blow to the Islamic State.

“The Shaer field is an important military base that the army used to protect nearby villages that are loyal to Assad,” opposition activist Mahmoud al-Homsi told Al Jazeera via Skype from Homs.

In Syria’s northeast, the Islamic State seized an army position in the Syrian city of Hasakeh, following three days of battle, where at least 85 regime troops were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At least 1,100 soldiers and pro-Assad fighters have been killed since the Islamic State intensified its attacks against government forces this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

On another front, Syrian rebels in the central Hama province captured Khattab and Rahbeh villages, taking over arms depots, activists reported.

Amateur video posted by activists on YouTube showed some of the weapons seized by the rebels in Hama, including rockets, ammunition, and mortars.

Syria’s war has killed more than 170,000 people since it broke out in March 2011, and forced nearly half the population to flee their homes.

540

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Moscow Police Detain “Psychics” From Armenia, Central Asia

Moscow police have detained more than two dozen “false psychics” from Central Asia and Armenia.

Moscow’s Interior Affairs Department said on July 28 that 27 suspects, mainly from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, have been detained in Moscow and suburbs.

The suspects, led by a 48-years-old man and a 45-year-old woman from Moscow whose names were not revealed, are suspected in a mass fraud.

Investigators say the group has been cheating ordinary people, “forecasting their future” and organizing “ceremonies to cure their health problems” and to solve other personal issues.

The group has been active in Moscow for a long time and received up to 100 phone calls per day from potential “clients.”

According to police, the group has illegally obtained more than 800 million rubles ($ 22,800,000) from Moscow residents.

Based on reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

In Toronto, Armenian Genocide Curriculum Survives Turkish Challenge

MONTREAL, Canada — An effort by Canadian Turks to abolish curriculum on the Armenian genocide in Toronto schools has failed, with education officials telling Rudaw that the genocide will continue to be taught for years to come.

Canadian Turks earlier this year submitted over 2,200 signatures from an online petition calling for the Armenian genocide module to be removed from the Toronto District School Board’s educational curriculum.

The petition demanded that Canada’s largest school board remove any references to the Armenian genocide on the basis that it “unremittingly discredits one community’s narrative over the other” and “adversely affects the students with Turkish and Turkic heritages.”

The Armenian genocide has been taught since 2008 in a secondary school course called Genocide and Crimes again Humanity. The district told Rudaw that the class “is offered in some of our high schools where there is enough interest” and is “in line with not only the Canadian government but scholars who have looked into this specific issue.”

The Toronto District School Board “has no intention to have it removed in the years ahead,” a district spokesperson said.

Toronto is the largest and one of the most diverse school districts in Canada, serving approximately 232,000 students, including international students, in almost 600 schools.

The online petition was the latest attempt by Turkish Canadians to counter recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide. Turkey acknowledges that Armenians and other minorities were killed and deported during World War I but denies that they were genocidal acts. Twenty-one nations including Canada officially recognize the Armenian genocide, which is commemorated annually around the world on April 25.

Although the Canadian Parliament recognized the Armenian genocide in 2004, the recognition remains a major point of contention between Turks and Armenians in Canada. Upwards of 500 pro-Turkish protesters showed up at a rally to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottawa in April, with police setting up barricades to separate the groups who were taunting one another.

The Federation of Turkish Canadian Associations, which championed the online petition and tried to stop the Armenian genocide curriculum from being introduced in 2008, also in April lobbied against a monument recognizing the Armenian genocide in Toronto.

The petition garnered 2,255 signatures from around the world. The Federation of Turkish Canadian Associations reports that there are 50,000 Canadians of Turkish origin.

Robert Kouyoumdjian, head of the political chapter at the Armenian National Committee of Canada, lobbied for the Toronto district’s Armenian genocide curriculum. Frank Chalk, director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, endorsed it.

The online petition was launched by Turkish parents of students attending Toronto schools who stated in the petition that they were “deeply concerned about the negative impact of the current curriculum module on ‘Armenian Genocide,’” claiming it “would often result in ridiculing, intimidating, and bullying of our innocent children while causing injury to them physically and psychologically.”

However, Jim Karygiannis, a former MP based in Toronto, told Rudaw there is no evidence of Turkish children having been intimidated at schools. He said teaching high school students about the Armenian and other genocides could help prevent future atrocities.

Some scholars argue that if the killing of approximately 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 had been recognized and justice served, subsequent genocides may not have occurred. Adolf Hitler referenced the Armenian genocide as Nazi Germany killed six million Jews and other minorities during World War II.

Many human rights advocates maintain that that recognizing the Armenian genocide could pave the way for other atrocities, such as the 1988 chemical attack that killed 5,000 people in Halabja, to receive international recognition.

Karygiannis also warned that removing references to the Armenian genocide from textbooks could call into question curricula from other genocides, such as the Holocaust, the Ukrainian famine and genocide from 1932-1933, the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and the 1980s Anfal genocidal campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“You can’t change history, and history should not be altered. We should learn from history and move forward so we don’t make the mistakes again,” Karygiannis said.

A Kurdish attorney based in Toronto, Hadyat Nazami, wrote a letter to Change.org officials, expressing serious concerns about the petition, which he deemed hate speech. In his letter, Nazami described the Turks’ petition as “essentially demanding that books and school curriculum be censored, in line with the one century old official ideology of the Turkish state to deny Armenian genocide ever took place in that country.”

Nazami’s vocal opposition has led to discussions among scholars and NGOs about adequate measures to protect freedom of speech while paying respect to the sufferings of survivors.

Assyrian International News Agency

France Offers Asylum To Mosul’s Christians

France says it is ready to welcome Christians from northern Iraq who have been told by Islamic extremists ruling the region to either convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, or face death.

France’s foreign and interior ministers said in a joint statement in Paris on July 28 that “we are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.”

The French government is already providing aid to displaced people who have fled to Iraq’s self-rule Kurdish region to escape threats from the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Islamic State insurgents seized large swathes of northern Iraq last month, prompting hundreds of Christian families in Mosul to flee a city which has hosted the faith since its earliest years.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iraq Leader Appears Likely to Be Replaced

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s days at the helm of his country appear to be numbered after his own party seemed resigned to finding another candidate for the post, releasing a statement urging politicians not to “cling” to their positions.

Shiite politicians were meeting Sunday night to discuss other names for the premiership, lawmakers said. A day earlier, Maliki’s Dawa party said it in its statement that politicians should “adhere to the principle of sacrifice” for the sake of the country.

Maliki’s coalition won the largest share of the vote in elections in April, but not a majority, making him reliant on political alliances to form a government. But with many blaming him for the turmoil that has convulsed the country since the polls, Some parties are digging in their heels to prevent him from ruling for a third four-year term.

But even more problematic for Maliki have been hints from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani that it is time for him to step aside. The reclusive Shiite cleric might be the most influential figure in Iraq, with his words closely followed by millions across the country. Although he normally avoids directly embroiling himself in politics, his sermons have become increasingly pointed.

The Dawa party’s statement Saturday echoed a sermon delivered on behalf of Sistani on Friday, which also urged politicians not to hold on to their positions and to expedite the formation of a new government.

On Saturday, Sheik Abdul Halim al-Zuhairi, a senior figure in Dawa, was dispatched to Najaf to deliver a message to Sistani that the coalition was willing to replace Maliki if necessary, said Jumaa al-Atwani, a politician with Maliki’s coalition. Zuhairi passed the letter to Sistani’s son, he said. But Hayder al-Khoei, an associate fellow at London-based Chatham House, said associates of Sistani had denied that the visit took place. Regardless, he said, the odds appeared stacked against the embattled Iraqi leader.

“It’s clear now that both Dawa and Sistani know that Maliki can’t stay for a third term,” Khoei said. “The key question is: Will he go quietly?”

Assyrian International News Agency

Syrian army retakes gas field from fighters

The Syrian army has recaptured a gas field east of the central city of Homs that was seized by fighters from Islamic State earlier this month, according to state media and opposition activists.

Syrian television showed footage of soldiers running and deploying in a vast desert area which it said was the Shaer gas field in the desert region of Palmyra.

Mahmoud al-Homsi, an activist opposed to President Bashar al-Assad’s government, confirmed to Al Jazeera via Skype from Homs that the army was now in control of the field.

The Syrian army, in a statement on Sunday, said it retook the field after a “precise operation in which dozens of terrorists were killed”.

However, a source from the Islamic State said the fighters pulled out after destroying the gas field’s equipment and capturing at least 15 tanks and dozens of rockets which were used to guard the facility.

“We pulled out because it was no longer good for us to stay. The goal was to get the tanks and rockets present at the field and we did,” he told the Reuters news agency.

“There is no point in staying there and become an easy target for the regime and its warplanes.”

Homsi told Al Jazeera that the recapture of the gas field dealt a blow to the Islamic State.

“The Shaer field is an important military base that the army used to protect nearby villages that are loyal to Assad,” he said.

Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera that Islamic State fighters were forced to withdraw as a result of intense shelling by regime troops.

The Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has advanced in Syria and taken over large expanses of territory in neighbouring Iraq in what it has described as a bid to establish an Islamic caliphate.

At least 1,100 soldiers and pro-Assad fighters have been killed since the Islamic State intensified its attacks against government forces this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

During the assault on the field, Islamic State fighters killed at least 270 soldiers, guards and staff and also killed at least 85 soldiers when they captured an army base in the province of Raqqa on Friday, the Syrian Observatory said.

The fighters said they decapitated most of the soldiers and hung several heads outside the base gates.

420

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Brent oil futures fall below $108 as Middle East tensions cool

Investing.com –

Investing.com – Brent oil futures fell below the $ 108-a-barrel level on Monday, as geopolitical concerns in the Gaza strip eased.

On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for September delivery hit a session low of $ 107.79 a barrel, before trimming losses to last trade at $ 107.91 during European morning hours, down 0.44%, 48 cents.

Investors reassessed the geopolitical situation in the Middle East after Hamas and Israel agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce on Sunday. U.S. President Barack Obama had called for a ceasefire between the two sides, but there was no indication of any comprehensive deal to end the fighting.

Meanwhile, traders awaited new developments from Ukraine, where tensions between Russia and the West over escalating violence in the eastern part of the country remained high

Elsewhere, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. crude oil for delivery in September dipped 0.43%, or 43 cents, to trade at $ 101.66 a barrel.

Market participants were looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy statement due on Wednesday, amid speculation over when the central bank may start to raise interest rates.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s preliminary estimate on second quarter economic growth and Friday’s U.S. jobs report for July were both expected to indicate that the recovery is continuing.

Investing.com
Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
Read more News on Investing.com and download the new Investing.com Stocks & Forex App for Android!

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Afghans Offer Eid Al-Fitr Prayers

Published 28 July 2014

Afghans prayed at Kabul’s Shah-e Do Shamshira Mosque on July 28 as they celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The place of worship, whose name translates as Mosque of the King of Two Swords, is located in the center of the Afghan capital, next to the tomb of an Arab commander who died in the 7th century when the Arabs entered Kabul. (Wali Sabawoon, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan)

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Let’s End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Once and for All

Essentially all of Gaza has become a military target. (Photo: Kashfi Halford / Flckr)

Essentially all of Gaza has become a military target. (Photo: Kashfi Halford / Flckr)

Cross-posted from the Colorado Progressive Jewish News.

Preface: This is the first of a series I hope to write on the current Israeli war on Gaza. There will be a follow-up piece specifically on U.S. policy. I also hope to be writing some stuff with dear friend and frequent collaborator, Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni.

Update: A few hours after I posted this a 12-hour ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza Palestinians was agreed to by both parties. Today is “El Quds” Day…the last Friday prayer of the Ramadan month of fasting. It might not mean much to North Americans and Europeans, but in the Muslim world, it is an important day. It means “Jerusalem Day”…and today the West Bank blew up in opposition and anger against the Israel war on Gaza, so much so that Mohammed Abbas and his Fatah group fear losing control of the situation, greatly complicating Israel’s position. It is also true, although essentially blacked out in the US, that the Secretary General of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, gave an important speech today in which he pledged support for the Gaza Palestinians. In the West Bank already at least seven have died, hundreds arrested. For Israel it now means that it is opposing Palestinians on two fronts, [possibly three] simultaneously – Gaza and the West Bank. It is more than likely that this deteriorating situation for Israel is behind the call for a 12-hour cease-fire. (Cheers, RJP.)

It goes on…now in its twentieth day…Israel’s punishing military offensive against Gaza. Although it might happen – these conflicts have ended abruptly in the past – at the moment there is no ceasefire in site. The asymmetrical blow-for-blow continues. As many have pointed out, it is not a war, but an Israeli premeditated killing spree of Palestinian civilians. Nor is this the first time. Each day the casualty numbers mount. The published statistics are at best only “guestimates” with the real figures being significantly higher. How many more Palestinian civilians will be pulled from the rubble in the months after the fighting stops? How many bodies will never be found?

At last count this morning (Sunday, July 27, 2014) more than a thousand Palestinians have been killed and thousands more wounded. Now massacres on the scale of Deir Yassin are being reported, as in Khuza’a, on Gaza’s border with Israel where civilians are being summarily executed. Essentially all of Gaza has become “a military target,” from boys playing soccer on the beach, the Palestinian families breaking their Ramadan fast in the evening. Gaza, its infrastructure already seriously damaged by the Israeli attacks of 2008 and 2012, looks like the Warsaw Ghetto after the uprising there was finally crushed – a smoldering heap; no infrastructure whatsoever left. If Israel has been “careful” it has been to destroy what is left of standing buildings, hospitals, schools, United Nations headquarters.

For its part Israel claims some 40 killed but the rocket fire from Gaza has added a new element into the equation: creating fear in Israel. The rockets themselves have done little physical damage, but they have created a new psychological tension in Israel. They appear to be mostly a homemade variety with some added booster capacity that permits them to fly deeper into Israeli territory. Several have landed close to Tel Aviv Airport and earlier in the fighting there were reports of rockets reaching Dimona, Israel’s nuclear weapon manufacturing plant.

The Obama Administration’s initiatives to achieve a ceasefire, crafted entirely in Israel, have produced no results, in large measure because neither Israel nor Washington is willing to talk to the Palestinians on the ground in Gaza involved in the fighting. John Kerry is coming off each day as a more pathetic and frustrated figure as he ferries back and forth between Israel and Egypt, occasionally talking to Mohammed Abbas in Ramallah who frankly, has virtually no influence over the events in Gaza. Very few voices are calling on Kerry – and the Israelis – to do the obvious: negotiate directly with the Gaza Palestinians for a ceasefire.

Regardless, if Israel “wins” this round militarily it has already lost politically and morally. This has become something of an Israeli tradition, winning militarily and losing politically and ethically and they are at it once again. Lebanon 1982, Lebanon 2006 (actually one can argue that in this case Israel did not even win militarily), Gaza 2008, 2012, all follow this pattern. For its current Gaza assault, Israel will pay dearly; this military offensive that had no strategic goal whatsoever other than to punish the population of Gaza and to “teach the Palestinians a lesson.” It is not in Israeli lives lost or the human suffering that I speak, but in its legitimacy as a nation in the international community. If the media in the United States has given the conflict its usual one-sided pro-Israeli slant, in the rest of the world, Israel’s name is “mud.”

Besides its savagely cruel, viciously racist quality, this IDF attack on Gaza has virtually no strategic value for Israeli security whatsoever. Some elements in the U.S. peace movement have proposed that Israel’s strategic goal is to weaken the growing Palestinian unity between Hamas and Fatah in the aftermath of their having signed a unity statement. Perhaps, but that unity remains fragile and is far from being a threat to Israel militarily or politically. I am not convinced that this is the major impetus for the current Israeli military campaign.

Rather, the political impetus is much more vulgar, less strategic. It is coming from the decades-long growing political influence of the Israeli religious and political right-wing (the Lieberman faction). It is concentrated in the settlements who did not want to limit the revenge for the killing of three Israeli settlement youth to the kidnapping and burning alive of a Palestinian youth (sanctioned by a settlement rabbi). This is a “revenge attack” pure and simple, the political goal of weakening an already weakened Palestinian unity is a secondary factor. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor under Carter, a hawk if there ever was one, understands this and has openly criticized Israel’s war on Gaza as a “major strategic error” on Netanyahu’s part.

Moshe Feiglin, a Knesset member from Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, publicly called for the expulsion of all Palestinians from Gaza and their replacement with Jewish settlers, about as sparkling  a call for ethnic cleansing as can be imagined. Not to be outdone, Rabbi Dov Lior, spiritual guide of the illegal settlement Kiryat Arba took matters a step further. In an article from the Israeli press (Haaretz) the ultra-Orthodox rabbi issued a religious ruling permitting the total destruction of Gaza if Israel’s military leaders deem it necessary. I believe that is called genocide. Yes, these are coming from the far-right of Israel’s political spectrum, but that element is growing and its demented vision resonates with a growing number of Israelis.

It is getting increasingly difficult for Washington and Tel Aviv to put makeup on this increasingly rotting corpse that is Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. One cannot bomb the Palestinian civilian population into smithereens and expect the world to accept the lame pretext that Israeli actions are “defensive.” A local Denver Jewish supporter of Israel (who supports the Gaza Offensive) was quoted as boasting that “the world stands with Israel” at this moment. Yes and no, mostly no.

True enough, the AIPAC-bought and paid-for U.S. Congress, the Obama Administration and the mainstream U.S. media generally support the IDF, but other than that, Israel – along with the Obama Administration – stands isolated and condemned throughout the world. Spontaneous demonstrations against the Gaza offensive are mounting worldwide from Chicago to Calcutta. They are becoming angrier and more militant with each passing day. Israel’s moral authority has, once again, collapsed; it has, in the past and only with the greatest of difficulties – and much help from Washington – been able to partially resurrect its image as “the Middle East’s only democracy.”

Worse, imagine that the Gaza Palestinians had the nerve not to turn the other cheek and die like flies. Using the meager means at their disposal, they fight back and continue to do so. That their teensey-weensey military capability has been able to survive at all, and in fact, give the IDF a bit of a bloody nose, suggests a certain maturity in Palestinian military organization and tactics. If the Israelis with their highly polished war machine and ruthless targeting of the civilian population can do untold damage to Gaza, it is not without themselves taking more punishment than they are used to.

The casualty rates of 100 (or is it 200 or 300 by now?) to 1 (Palestinians to Israelis) is typical of other wars against Third World peoples…Vietnam, El Salvador, Iraq. The rationale is not novel: make the aspirations for liberation too painful, the price too high to pay so that the colonized and oppressed people will cry “uncle.” I asked a colleague of mine at the University of Denver, an expert on Southeast Asia, recently gone to greener (and less corporately controlled) pastures, if the casualty figure of 3.5 million Vietnamese killed (versus some 56,000 Americans) was accurate. He suggested that the losses sustained by the Vietnamese were probably higher, in the 4-4.5 million range.

How different is that from what the Israelis, using American-made weapons with a green light from Washington D.C. and the American mainstream media cheering them on, are inflicting today on the Palestinians?

If a strategic goal is lacking, the current Israeli onslaught does have a tactical goal: it is to force the Gaza Palestinians to accept a ceasefire which maintains the pre-fighting status quo. The Gaza Palestinians are insisting on a ceasefire that will end the political deadlock on their situation in Gaza…i.e., open the borders to the free flow of people and goods, end the situation in which Gaza is no more than an open air concentration camp blocked and blockaded on all sides.

Are there any lessons to draw from this?

I think so. It all depends on whether those involved want to learn from experience and history or to continue with an ostrich approach.

The main lesson is very simple but clear: there can be no military solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel’s attempts to destroy the Palestinians militarily are a failure; this will continue to be the case. Every war Israel fights against the Palestinians will be bloodier, the outcomes less predictable for Israel both politically and militarily. For all their military might, Israel’s use of extreme force to break the will of the Palestinian people has failed and will continue to fail. It is a dead-end. For all the destruction wreaked upon Gaza, the Palestinian cause, battered and suffering as it appears, will emerge stronger from the ashes of Gaza than before. The status of those Palestinians engaged in confronting the IDF militarily will soar, both among the Palestinian people and throughout the region. While I do not doubt the demented sincerity of Moshe Feiglin and Rabbi Dov Lir to ethnically clean and/or exterminate the Palestinian people in Gaza, such fascist calls – because that is what they are – would, if implemented, spell Israel’s doom as a nation. To repeat: this line of thinking is a dead-end.

From the Palestinian perspective, let us be clear. Used as a defensive shield against Israeli military might, their resort to armed struggle makes sense. Those who call on the Palestinians to pacifist solutions, however sincere, ought to have their heads examined. Who are you, sitting in faraway places, to lecture the Palestinians – or any other people – on what tactics they should employ to win their freedom and independence? Thou lectureth too much.

That said, it is quite clear that the Palestinian use of armed struggle, armed self-defense has its limits. It will not by itself, it cannot by itself, lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Put another way, the Palestinians cannot achieve their political goals uniquely militarily any more than Israel can, not in the foreseeable future, nor in the long run (from what I can tell).

So if neither side can achieve their goals militarily and if both can hurt the other party to one degree or another – the Israelis inflicting human and material damage, the Palestinians more and more inflicting psychological damage and more military damage on the IDF than in the past – what are the options open to resolving the crisis?

This crisis can only be resolved politically, through negotiations. There will be no military solution. Period. Of course Israel – and its U.S. supporters – are attached at the hip with military solutions. Rather than understanding how their cause of assuring Israeli security has been damaged by the Gaza events, many of them are arguing a la Feiglin and Dor Lin for an even more savage use of force…if only the IDF had hit Gaza harder!…imagine.

I don’t know how to convince Israelis that such a line of thinking is a deadend, a road to nowhere and in the heat of battle the current polarization – the growth of ethnic hatred – will only intensify. But there are in Israel some people who are not as stupid and bigoted as Igor Lieberman and his fascist clique and they are beginning to have a more sober view of the situation. Too little too late? Perhaps.

I would like to put forth some suggestions, now in the heat of battle, to resolve the crisis, both short and long-term.

1. It must start off by an acknowledgement – already upheld by international law – that Israel is an occupying power and has conducted a military occupation of Palestinian territories (the West Bank, Gaza, E. Jerusalem) now since 1967. The Palestinians are a colonized and occupied people. Israel is a colonial power.

2. Any settlement of this round of fighting must have as its goal an end to the occupation.

3. Concerning the current situation, there needs to be direct contacts between the IDF and the Palestinian fighters on the ground in Gaza to arrange a ceasefire. Serious negotiations take place between the key adversaries; not cherry-picked opponents.

4. There needs to be an immediate end to the land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip; Gazans need to build a decent port and airport. Negotiations would of course include limits on the transfer of weapons.

5. A process of mutual de-militarization of the border between Gaza and Israel, in stages, should be implemented.

6. Prisoner exchanges, promised in the past, should be honored. New ones should be implemented.

7. The Palestinian Unity Government should be recognized by the entire world (through the U.N), free elections should in no way be impeded and the results should be respected, regardless of the outcome.

8. All of these steps could, within a specific timeframe determined by the parties to be reasonable, lead to an overall negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an end to the Occupation. The negotiations should be based on 47 years of United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

As Uri Avnery, Israeli long distance runner for peace puts it: “Let’s put an end to the war once and for all.”

Rob Prince, whose teaching title has changed five times in the past 20 years, although the job is the same, is Teaching Professor at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. In recent years, he has written extensively on North Africa. He is also the publisher of the Colorado Progressive Jewish News.

Foreign Policy In Focus

ISIS Take Over Syria Base, Behead Soldiers

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has distracted the world from another conflict in the same region: ISIS’s takeover of Syria and Iraq. Fighting continues in war-torn Syria, as it has for the last three years, and the Islamist group ISIS has gained some ground in the last couple of days.

Their latest victory happened on Friday, according to BBC News, when ISIS troops attacked the Syrian base outside the city of Raqqa. Manned by Division 17 of the Syrian Army, the base was attacked at night, when ISIS troops began besieging the base. The base houses a large arsenal of weapons and munitions.

Although the government of Bashar al-Assad has not confirmed the base’s capitulation, BBC News reports that it is organizing a counterattack. Since the fighting begun three years ago, 170,000 people have died, the British news agency reports.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors violence in the Syrian conflict, reports that several soldiers and a colonel were executed after ISIS took over the base; many were beheaded, according to the New York Times.

The newspaper also adds there have been conflicting accounts of what transpired: some accounts claim ISIS took over the whole base, while others say they only have parts of the base under their control.

An ISIS fighter explained the situation at the base to the Times.

“I could see only bodies; there were, like, 70 scattered everywhere,” he said, asking to remain anonymous as he is not allowed to speak with the press. “Now our brothers with their trucks will bury them in a mass grave.”

He added that 13 ISIS fighters died and the remaining Syrian troops fled to nearby villages.

Agence France-Presse corroborates the executions, reporting that around 85 Syrian troops were killed in the attack and an estimated 50 soldiers were “summarily executed.”

“Some of the executed troops were beheaded, and their bodies and severed heads put on display in Raqa city,” the head of the Observartory, Rami Abdel Rahman, told the AFP.

To further instill fear among the populace and the greater world, Islamist began posting photos of the heads on social media, particularly Twitter, according to Al-Arabiya. One of the men posing with the heads has been identified as Mohamed Elomar, an Australian citizen who went to Syria with his friend Khaled Sharrouf, who uses the moniker Abu Zarqawi Australi. Sharrouf posted the images online, reports Al-Arabiya.

Assyrian International News Agency

Three Killed Over ‘Blasphemous’ Facebook Post In Pakistan

A mob has burned down several houses belonging to minority Ahmadi Muslims in eastern Pakistan, killing a woman and her two granddaughters.

The rioting in the city of Gujranwala of Punjab Province erupted late on July 27 after a sect member was accused of posting blasphemous material on Facebook.

Police said the dead included a seven-year-old girl and her baby sister.

Persecution and killings of religious minorities are common in Pakistan where hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims can result in a blasphemy charge, punishable by death.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Kurdish-Canadians Call on World to ‘End Silence’ and Help Syrian Kurds

Kurds in Canada’s largest city protested on Saturday against attacks by Islamic militants on Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), and called on the international community to end their “silence and indifference to the plight of Kurds there.”

“The world media is only talking about what is happening in Gaza and Israel while the Kurds have been suffering and been under attack for one year now,” said Donald Dogan, a member of Toronto’s Kurdish Community.

“If they care about what is happening in Gaza they should also stand by the Kurds,” Dogan told Rudaw.

Using advanced weapons it seized from the Iraqi army in Mosul last month, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has laid siege to the Kurdish city of Kobane and its surrounding villages for several weeks.

“Rojava is facing a big danger from fundamentalists who aim to kill them,” said Mustafa Kakin, one of the protesters. “I am here to say that the world should be aware of this, but unfortunately the West is ignoring them.”

Kakin said that the Islamic militants are targeting not only the Kurds, but also Christians and other minorities who have taken refugee in Rojava.

The Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) is holding back the ISIS attacks, but the group’s leaders say that their weapons are no match for ISIS’s heavy artillery brought over from Iraq.

YPG commanders have called on the world, particularly the United States to help the Kurds in their fight against radical groups in Syria.

In a recent interview with Rudaw, Sipan Hemo, the YPG commander said that if the US is serious about helping the Syrian opposition, “Then the Kurds and YPG deserve this support the most.”

The Kurdish community in Toronto have organized two similar rallies in the past year in support of Rojava and delivered medical supplies to victims of the fighting.

“Civilians and children are being killed by these murderers everyday,” said Dogan, a protest organizer. “How could the world remain silent?”

“Christians are protected only by the Kurds in Syria,” he added. “Canadian people, America and the West have a moral responsibility to help the Kurds.”

The threat to Kobane is such that young Kurdish volunteers rushed across the border from Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey earlier this month to join the YPG in its fight against the ISIS.

Now however, Kurds worry that the war in Gaza has stolen the attention from Kobane and its civilian population.

“My heart goes to Gaza too, but we don’t see the same attention to the Kurds,” said Dilan Bagti, a Kurdish woman holding a poster at Toronto’s iconic Dundas Square. “What is happening in Gaza is the exact same thing that is going on in Rojava, in Kobane.”

Atakan Esen, 23, an engineering student at the University of Toronto said that Islamic extremists in Syria pose a threat to the entire region and not just the Kurds.

“If the ISIS takes over it will be bad for the whole region and the whole world,” said Esen. “There will be more blood, more suffering and worse than it is now.”

“Anyone who is worried about this violence should care,” he added.

LINK

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Police In Astana Detain Women Protesting Land Confiscation

Police in Kazakhstan have detained five women protesting the confiscation of their property by the government.

The women were brought to the Esil district police department in the capital, Astana, where they were told that their public protest was illegal as it had not been officially sanctioned by the authorities.

They were released hours later.

The women spent five days and nights in front of the government’s building, demanding to meet with the chief of the presidential office, Nurlan Nyghmatulin.

The women say they want proper compensation for their property on the outskirts of Astana that was confiscated by the government for “state necessity.”

They say land is often confiscated from people and used to build private homes for government officials or businessmen.

The protesters say they will continue to demand a meeting with Nyghmatulin.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Peshmerga Spokesman: Turkey Talks Were About Solution in Iraq

Jabar Yawar, chief of staff and spokesman for the Kurdistan Region’s ministry of Peshmerga, was part of the top-level to Ankara that was headed by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani. Though the delegation was heavy with military officials, Yawar told Rudaw in an interview that military discussions were only part of the talks. “We did not have any security or military demands for Turkey,” he said. While acknowledging that in every meeting of this kind there is some secrecy that that not everything is disclosed to the media, he said Turkey’s main worry was to try and find a solution to the turmoil in Iraq. Asked if Turkey also would like to see Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki go, Yawar said Ankara believes in change. He also said Turkish officials did not raise the issue of Kurdish independence in any of the discussions. Here is an edited transcript of Rudaw’s interview with Yawar:

Rudaw: The latest visit to Ankara consisted of mainly military officials, including you and the minister of Peshmerga. But why didn’t we hear anything about the military side of the talks at this meeting.

Jabar Yawar: It is true that we were mainly military men, but the delegation which accompanied President Barzani each comes from a political background and military discussions were only part of the meeting. It was a political, military and security delegation. We met with the Turkish President Abdullah Gul, the prime minister and foreign minister as well as advisors from different ministries. As a neighbor and important country, Turkey has a long border with us and great diplomatic and economic relations with us and with Iraq. A big event has taken place in Iraq and of course Turkey would want to talk with us about how it would be possible to find a solution for this situation.

We did not have any security or military demands for Turkey. It was in fact an invitation from Turkey to President Barzani and members of the team were selected by the president. All meetings at such high level would have some secrecy to them that wouldn’t be revealed to the media, but I can say that we talked about the situation in Iraq because we are living in the middle of it and we gave our opinion to the Turkish leaders. There was mutual consultation.

Rudaw: What was the Turkish view of what is happening in Iraq?

Jabar Yawar: They watch the developments very closely and they certainly see a big threat.

Rudaw: Did they have any conditions for the Peshmerga control of the new territories?

Jabar Yawar: No, this subject of where the Peshmerga have gone or what they control was not raised at all. The talks revolved around the situation in general. Our delegation and the Turkish side all agreed that the main cause of the situation in Iraq is political, and that the first step to a solution should be political. This would be key to solving the crisis.

Rudaw: Did you talk about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s third term and that it might cause further problems?

Jabar Yawar: It is clear that the Kurdistan Region isn’t happy with Maliki seeking a third term and that there should be real change in the Iraqi government, the Iraqi system. Turkey pays great attention to the ruling system in Iraq and it wants change.

Rudaw: Is Turkey worried that instability in the Kurdistan Region would have an impact on its own stability?

Jabar Yawar: It is obvious that the stability and security of Kurdistan is significant to the whole Middle East. Due to terrorism the world security is interconnected. We all have a common enemy. The ISIS is only a brand of al-Qaeda, so it is not only an enemy to the Kurds. The ISIS says clearly in its map that it wants to create an Islamic State stretching from Spain to Saudi Arabia, including Turkey. Of course, every country gets worried. And we are allies of all countries that fight terrorism. Turkey is concerned, too, because it has borders with Iraq and with Syria. But what is interesting is that all of Turkey’s borders with federal Iraq is shared with the Kurdistan Region. Hence, Turkey’s special focus on Kurdistan.

Turkey also thanked the Kurdistan Region for the humane and brotherly treatment of all ethnic groups in Kirkuk and other areas. They thanked Kurdistan for receiving all the refugees, despite the budget shortfalls, which helped Turkey in a way by keeping many Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Turkey is very interested in the Kurdistan Region remaining secure and stable.

Rudaw: Did they say how they would like Kirkuk to be governed, especially given that there is a Turkmen population there?

Jabar Yawar: They were pleased that we were able to protect Kirkuk, its multi-ethnic population, the oil installations and the security of the city.

Rudaw: Were there talks about oil?

Jabar Yawar: No, there was no talk of oil at all. There were some false reports that the president was in Turkey to talk about oil and Kurdistan’s oil revenues, but this was false and there was no mention of oil or money whatsoever in Turkey. There was of course at the same time another Kurdish delegation of the deputy prime minister and minister of finance in Turkey who held talks with their Turkish counterparts. That was different.

Rudaw: Did you talk about the situation and capacity of the Peshmerga forces?

Jabar Yawar: Yes, we did. We said to them that the same way the Kurdistan Region has been under economic sanctions from the federal government, the Peshmergas have been under embargo in terms of budget, weapons, ammunition, training, etc. We talked about all this. We said that if, God forbid, this situation continues as it is now, the Peshmerga forces will need a source from which they could acquire their needs. This was not discussed in specific terms, rather in general terms. There was no talk at all about Turkish military bases in Kurdistan or military support or sending troops.

Rudaw: It is said that the Turks asked the Kurdish delegation not to talk of Kurdish independence.

Jabar Yawar: That is not true. In all the meetings that I attended with the Turkish president, Turkish prime minister, foreign minister, none of them even mentioned the issue of Kurdish independence. They only talked in general about the political process in Iraq. They asked President Barzani to play an encouraging role in having all Iraqi sides participate in the political process in Iraq. Both sides had a common view on many aspects of the situation in Iraq and the future of the Kurdistan Region.

Rudaw: The governor of Nineveh has asked the Peshmerga forces to go and control some oilfields in Mosul. Do you have such an intention?

Jabar Yawar: No, we do not have any plans to go anywhere beyond the areas we control now. Our orders are to stay where we are and strengthen our lines of defense with trenches and bunkers. We defend the 1,050 kilometer border line we have. That is it.

LINK

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

UN Security Council calls for Gaza ceasefire

The UN Security Council has called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” in the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas at an emergency meeting.

The council met just after midnight on Monday morning as Muslims started celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

The pressure for a ceasefire followed new attacks launched by Israel and Hamas on Sunday despite going back and forth over proposals for another temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting.

A 12-hour lull on Saturday, agreed to by both sides following intense US and UN mediation efforts, could not be sustained.

The 20-day war has killed more than 1,031 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Israel has lost 43 soldiers, as well as two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, according to the Israeli military.

An unofficial, partial truce is being observed by Israel in the Gaza Strip on Monday, Israeli military sources said.

A military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv confirmed that the air force wass not carrying air strikes. But Israeli ground troops continue to search for and destroy tunnels in Gaza’s eastern border areas.

The Security Council statement urged Israel and Hamas “to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond”.

It said this would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.

The presidential statement also called on the parties “to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative”.

Fighting had subsided in Gaza on Sunday after Hamas said it backed a 24-hour humanitarian truce.

Some firing of rockets continued after the time that Hamas had announced it would put its guns aside, while Israeli artillery guns also fired barrages into Gaza, Israeli media reported.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, questioned the validity of Hamas’s truce, adding that Israel would “take whatever action is necessary to protect our people”.

Palestinian medics said, however, that at least 10 people died in the wave of subsequent strikes that swept Gaza, including a Christian woman whose house in Gaza City was struck by an Israeli bomb.

‘Grave concern’ expressed

The Security Council statement was drafted by Jordan, the Arab representative on the UN’s most powerful body.

Presidential statements become part of the council’s official record and must be approved at a council meeting. They are a step below Security Council resolutions, but unlike resolutions they require approval of all 15 members.

The statement never names either Israel or Hamas. Instead, it expresses “grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties”.

Israel resumes military offensive in Gaza

The statement calls for “full respect” for international humanitarian law and reiterates “the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and their protection”.

The statement also commends efforts by Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, and John Kerry, US secretary of state, to achieve a ceasefire. Ban is scheduled to address UN correspondents on Monday morning on his mission.

In the longer term, the statement urges the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace “with secure and recognized borders”.

For his part, Barack Obama, the US president, spoke with Netanyahu on Sunday and stressed the need for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire.

In a statement, the White House said Obama “made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement”.

So far, diplomatic efforts led by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, to end the 20-day conflict have shown little sign of progress. Israel and Hamas have set conditions that appear irreconcilable.

Hamas wants an end to the Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade of Gaza before agreeing to halt hostilities. Israel has signalled it could make concessions towards that end, but only if Hamas is stripped of its weapons.

“Hamas must be permanently stripped of its missiles and tunnels in a supervised manner,” Naftali Bennett, a member of the Israeli security cabinet, said on Facebook. “In return we will agree to a host of economic alleviations.”

784

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

The Rundown — July 28

RFE/RL in the Media

# RFE/RL mentioned in “Boston Globe” opinion on need for more public diplomacy efforts
# BBG chairman mentions several recent RFE/RL citations in “Time” opinion
# RFE/RL Afghanistan “In Search of the Missing” story reprinted in “Guardian

Ukraine

# U.S. releases photos they say show Russia is firing at Ukraine from Russia
Russia

# “Economist” on the consequences for Russia’s “web of lies

Eastern Europe

Afghanistan/Pakistan

Iraq

# Iraq’s top cleric hints Maliki should step aside

Iran

# Iranian students face expulsion from Norway over sanctions

Central Asia

# Berdymukhamedov is finally getting his own statue
# Kazakh volleyball star slammed by teammates for being too attractive

Of Interest

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Gold / Silver / Copper futures – weekly outlook: July 28

Investing.com –

Investing.com – Gold futures rallied 1% on Friday, as investors continued to monitor geopolitical concerns in the Gaza strip and Ukraine.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for August delivery jumped 0.97%, or $ 12.50, on Friday to end the week at $ 1,303.30 a troy ounce.

Gold prices were likely to find support at $ 1,287.50, the low from July 24 and resistance at $ 1,316.80, the high from July 22.

Gold’s safe haven appeal was boosted on Friday as investors continued to closely watch an intensifying geopolitical crisis between Moscow and the West over the situation in Ukraine.

The Pentagon said Friday that Russia has escalated the violence in Ukraine and may be set to provide more sophisticated weapons to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, fighting between Israel and Hamas showed little sign of abating, despite ongoing efforts by the U.S. to reach a ceasefire.

Gold is often seen as a haven investment in times of geopolitical uncertainty.

Despite Friday’s strong gains, Comex gold prices declined 0.46%, or $ 6.10 an ounce, on the week, the second consecutive weekly loss.

Gold tumbled to a five-week low of $ 1,287.50 on Thursday after upbeat U.S. economic data added to speculation that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates sooner than expected.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending July 19 declined by 19,000 to hit an eight-year low of 284,000.

On Friday, the Census Bureau said that U.S. durable goods orders rose 0.7% in June, beating expectations for a 0.5% gain. Core durable goods orders, which are stripped of transportation items, grew 0.8% in June, beating expectations for a 0.6% gain.

The data primed market expectations for the Fed to wind down its bond-buying stimulus program around October and raise interest rates in 2015, which would reduce the need for gold for use as a hedge against loose monetary policy.

In the week ahead, investors will be looking ahead to Wednesday’s monetary policy announcement by the Federal Reserve. The U.S. will also release the monthly non-farm payrolls report for July later in the week as well as a preliminary estimate on second quarter economic growth.

Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers increased their bullish bets in gold futures in the week ending July 22.

Net longs totaled 136,120 contracts, up 3.1% from net longs of 131,971 in the preceding week.

Also on the Comex, silver for September delivery climbed 1.08%, or 22.1 cents, on Friday to settle the week at $ 20.63 a troy ounce, as investors returned to the market to seek cheap valuations after prices dropped to a five-week low on Thursday.

On the week, the September silver futures contract lost 1.19%, or 25.0 cents, the second straight weekly decline.

Data from the CFTC showed that net silver longs totaled 46,221 contracts as of last week, down slightly from net longs of 46,795 contracts in the preceding week.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for September delivery rallied to a daily high of $ 3.279 a pound on Friday, the most since July 13, before turning lower to end at $ 3.240 by close of trade, down 0.8%, or 2.6 cents.

On the week, Comex copper prices rose 1.72%, or 5.6 cents a pound as growing optimism over the health of the U.S. economy and speculation demand from top consumer China will increase in the near-term boosted prices.

According to the CFTC, net copper longs totaled 44,107 contracts as of last week, down from net longs of 48,994 contracts in the preceding week.

Investing.com
Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
Read more News on Investing.com and download the new Investing.com Stocks & Forex App for Android!

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

UN Security Council Calls For Gaza Truce

The UN Security Council approved a declaration in an emergency session on July 28 calling for an “immediate and unconditional” cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

The council meeting — which began at midnight in New York (0600 Prague time) — urged Israel and Hamas “to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond.”

It said this would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.

Eid begins on July 28 in many Muslim countries.

The declaration was agreed upon by all 15 members of the Security Council ahead of the meeting.

The council statement also called on the parties “to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire, based on the Egyptian initiative.”

Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have agreed to several short-lived cease-fires in the past two days that have been repeatedly broken.

More than 1,030 Palestinians and 45 Israelis — mostly soldiers — have been killed in three weeks of fighting.

U.S. President Barack Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late on July 27 in a phone call that an immediate cease-fire is needed in the Gaza Strip.

Obama called for an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire” that leads to a permanent end to the fighting that has lasted for nearly three weeks.

There was no report on Netanyahu’s reaction to the call.

A second cease-fire on July 27 ended shortly after it was declared when Hamas fired more rockets into Israel.

Israel admitted on July 27 that its troops had mistakenly fired a mortar shell into a UN school in Gaza last week but killed no one.

The Israeli Army showed a video that it says shows the courtyard where the shell hit was empty at the time.

Palestinian officials have said three shells hit the school in the town of Beit Hanoun, killing 16 people and wounding scores of others.

The UN has called for an investigation into the incident.

Netanyahu says Israeli military operations in Gaza will continue for as long as it takes to demilitarize the Gaza Strip — where Hamas militants are shooting rockets into Israel and using a myriad of tunnels to dig under Israeli territory.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Is it Time for Rojava and Kurdistan Region to Unite against Common Enemy?

Whilst the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) was propelled into the limelight in spectacular manner in Iraq, controlling Mosul, Tikrit and large swathes of territory across Iraq, for the Kurds of Syria their deadly battles with the al-Qaeda offshoot over the past year or so have largely failed to make headlines.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has ubiquitously engaged in furious battles against IS militiamen across the areas in Syria under Kurdish control. Those Kurdish areas are of strategic importance, as they straddle the Turkish border — and with it some of the most vital border crossings — and are home to some of Syria’s largest oil fields.

Conversely, the battle of the Peshmerga forces in Iraq has been well noted, as they have formed a formidable frontier against IS rebels, all but saving Kirkuk and many other cities from falling to the IS, which recently changed its name from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In the same manner as the Peshmerga, the YPG should be acknowledged for its vital role in keeping IS at bay in Syria.

Fresh from their gains in Iraq, a buoyant IS has returned to Syria with a new onslaught on Kobane and other Kurdish towns and villages. However, this time the goalposts have shifted. Armed with significant booty from their Iraq conquests, including Humvees, tanks and artillery — not to mention millions of dollars in funds – IS quickly shifted their guns to the Syrian Kurds once more.

According to Jabar Yawar, secretary general of the Peshmerga ministry, “ISIS has different types of rockets, tanks and other heavy weaponry that they got from the Iraqi army and now they use these weapons to attack Kobane.”

Faced with a barrage of attacks on Kobane from different sides, Kurdish forces have fervently confronted IS forces; but they will ultimately struggle under inferior firepower. The co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, warned that IS now possesses “heavy weaponry like mortars and tanks, which concerns our forces. We can’t use our weapons against their bulletproof tanks.”

Furthermore, Syrian Kurds have complained at lack of humanitarian aid over the past couple of years and have been hampered under the cautious eyes of Ankara. YPG spokesperson Redur Xalil called on the international community to “intervene immediately and carry out their duty toward Kobane.”

The Syrian Kurds freed themselves from decades of tyranny and repression and announced self-rule across three cantons. But lack of political unity between the main PYD party and other political parties threaten the existence of the administration in the midst of increasing danger.

The situation has not been helped with lukewarm relations between the PYD and the Kurdistan Region leadership.

There could be no better time for the Kurds to unite and protect the Kurdish population in Syria and also preserve hard-fought Kurdish self-rule. IS is not just an internal matter for the Syrian Kurds: What happens there is very much a problem for the Iraqi Kurds.

Because if Kobane and other major Kurdish cities fall, the IS gets even stronger. That is not good for Erbil, which is also somewhere on the IS priority list of enemies to annul.

For Abdul-Salam Ahmed, co-chair of PYD, Kobane was effectively becoming a factor to “the end of the Sykes-Picot agreement,” the 1916 pact by which the powers of the time redrew the Ottoman Empire borders, essentially dividing the Kurds in the process. Whilst rallying Kurdish unity, Kurdish veteran politician Ahmet Turk emphasized that there is no difference between Kobane and Kirkuk.

PYD head Muslim warned that the unity of the three cantons and ultimately the Syrian Kurdish autonomous region itself depends on Kobane, which he labeled as the “symbol of the Kurds’ identity and resistance.” He urged Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani to join a common struggle against the Islamic militants, claiming that Barzani “had not fully grasped the nature of ISIS.”

Whilst the Kurdish Region edges towards independence, the importance of a stable, secure and prosperous Kurdistan Region of Syria as a key neighbor cannot be discounted.

To this effect, the Syrian Kurds, who have already imposed compulsory military service, have tried to rally Kurds in Iraq and particularly Turkey. Gharib Haso, an official from the PYD, claimed that “Young Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan are going to Syria.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdul Rahman stated that at least 800 Kurdish fighters had crossed the Turkish border into Syria to join the battle.

“It’s a life-or-death battle for the Kurds. If ISIS takes Ayn al Arab (Kobane), it will advance eastwards toward other Kurdish Syrian areas, such as Hasakah in the northeast,” he warned.

The ultimate success of greater Kurdistan rests with all its four parts. There is no better place to start than with a political alliance amongst Kurdish parties in Syria and the fostering of better ties between the Rojava administration and the Kurdistan Region.

LINK

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Is the US changing course on Gaza?

US secretary of state John Kerry launched into a shuttle diplomacy as Israel’s war on Gaza intensifies. He was earlier in Egypt and Israel but failed to strike an angreement to end the war that killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians.

On Saturday, Kerry met a number of foreign ministers in Paris, with Egypt’s top diplomat absent. That meeting did not produce any move to end the conflict in Gaza.

Later, Kerry held a separate meeting at the American Embassy with the Qatari and Turkish foreign ministers. He hailed efforts by Doha and Ankara to end the ongoing crisis.

Up to that moment, Kerry was still supportive of the ceasefire initiative presented by Egypt and rejected by Palestinian armed factions. His own initiative was rejected by Israel.

Now, Kerry seems to be turning to new regional palyers in the region for a long term settlement of the Gaza crisis.

But can Qatar and Turkey really deliver? And under what terms? And is the U.S. reviewing alliances in the Middle East?

Presenter: Mike Hanna

Guests:

Ian Black - the Middle East editor at The Guardian.

Nathan Thrall – senior analyst in the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group.

Nadim Shehadi - associate fellow at Chatham House. Shehadi also directs a programme on the regional dimension of the Palestinian refugee issue in the Middle East. 

264

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

NYMEX crude oil prices gain in Asia as Ukraine, Middle East support

Investing.com –

Investing.com – Crude oil prices rose in early Asia on Monday as investors watched for volatility on events in Russia-Ukraine and the Middle East.

The Ukrainian government said at the weekend that it regained control of the separatist stronghold of Lysychansk after several days of fierce fighting, a move it said would pave the way to take back a string of other important rebel-held positions.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed to secure a temporary cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas after nearly a week of shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, but pledged to continue his efforts over the weekend.

Markets in many parts of Southeast Asia are closed to mark the Eid holiday.

Additionally, there no major releases scheduled in the region’s major economies such as Japan and China, pointing to the likelihood of a quiet day ahead.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in September traded at $ 101.78 a barrel, up 0.31%, after settling last week at $ 102.09, up 0.02%.

Last week, Brent oil futures rallied to a one-week high as investors continued to assess the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East.

On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for September delivery rose to a daily high of $ 108.46 a barrel on Friday, the most since July 18, before settling at $ 108.39 by close of trade, up 1.23%, or $ 1.32.

The September Brent contract advanced 1.06%, or $ 1.15, on the week, the second consecutive weekly gain.

Investors continued to closely watch an intensifying geopolitical crisis between Moscow and the West over the situation in Ukraine.

The Pentagon said Friday that Russia has escalated the violence in Ukraine and may be set to provide more sophisticated weapons to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Russia is one of the world’s top producers and exporters of oil and gas.

Meanwhile, fighting between Israel and Hamas showed little sign of abating, despite ongoing efforts by the U.S. to reach a ceasefire.

Market participants are worried that a flare up in the conflict could draw in neighboring countries and affect oil supplies.

In the week ahead, investors will be focusing on Wednesday’s preliminary reading on U.S. second quarter growth, while Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report will also be in focus.

Wednesday’s Fed statement will also be closely watched for any indications that the central bank is moving closer to raising rates.

The Commerce Department on Friday reported a rise of 0.7% in orders of long lasting goods such as machinery and electronic products, compared to forecasts of 0.5%.

Investing.com
Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
Read more News on Investing.com and download the new Investing.com Stocks & Forex App for Android!

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Iraqi Christians Find Little Help

Lebanese and Iraqis prayed together at the St. Raphael Chaldean cathedral on Sunday, July 27, 2014 (photo: The Daily Star/Venetia Rainey).BAABDA, Lebanon — Joseph Toman leaned on the heavy wooden door of St. Raphael Chaldean Cathedral and sighed in exasperation.

He wore a dirty shirt and his weathered feet peered out of a pair of tattered sandals, a far cry from the rest of the well-dressed Lebanese church attendees that milled around to discuss the morning’s Mass.

“I am going to starve to death,” he said, half to himself, as his eyes pricked with tears.

The 80-year-old Christian, who grew up in Mosul, left his home in Baghdad just 15 days ago. He heard about the advancing forces led by Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) — a religiously intolerant and violent extremist group that recently took over huge swaths of northern Iraq — and decided to use all of his savings to flee to Lebanon.

He is now renting a small apartment in Dikwaneh north of Beirut, but with no work and no family to help him, he is quickly running out of money. “We need help, we can’t pay rent,” Toman said, referring to other Iraqi Christians who have made the same journey as him out of fear for their lives.

Although he was barely able to afford the taxi ride from his home to the cathedral in Baabda — the Lebanese headquarters of the Chaldean sect that many Iraqi Christians are part of — he felt it was important that he attend Sunday’s Mass anyway, especially as it was held to show solidarity with people exactly like him.

“I only have God and the church,” he added.

ISIS, which recently changed its name to Islamic State, gave Christians in Iraq’s northern city an ultimatum last week to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or be killed, forcing hundreds of families to flee and tearing apart a community that has existed since the earliest days of Christianity.

The militants spray-painted Christian houses with the Arabic letter “N” for “Nasrani,” or “Christian,” to identify them.

To symbolically counteract this surge in religious intolerance, children at the cathedral Sunday held up signs of words beginning with “N” that represent Christian values: “narham,” we are merciful; “nashkor,” we are thankful; “nousalli,” we pray; and “naghfor,” we forgive, among others.

Children at the St. Raphael Chaldean cathedral Sunday held up signs of words beginning with “N” that represent Christian values.

Many also carried Vatican flags in an appeal to the highest church authority to provide support.

Estimates for how many Iraqi Christians have fled to Lebanon in the last few months are hard to come by and likely to be an underestimate. UNHCR said it had not registered any, while Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center, part of the international Catholic relief agency, said it had been approached by two families from Mosul, one in Sin al-Fil and one in Sidon.

Father Youssef Denha, an Iraqi Chaldean priest at the Mass Sunday, said he only knew of one such family from his sect, but was not sure about those from the other churches of Christianity present in Iraq, such as Assyrians, Syriacs and Armenians, to name a few.

“Between 2013 and 2014 around 500 Iraqi families have come to Lebanon,” he said, referring to those who have fled the country to escape a growing level of violence, extremism and religious intolerance. “But our concentration now is on the families that were forced to leave Mosul.

“And we are expecting their number to increase.”

Part of the problem is that, like Toman, many Iraqi Christians used what little they had to escape the brutal grip of ISIS and the prospect of living life either as a second-class citizen or being killed.

Sabri Risheresh and his wife managed to grab their passports before leaving their home in Mosul two months ago, but their son and his family were not as lucky, and now find themselves trapped in northern Iraq, unable to leave the country.

“They threatened to kill us, so we had to leave,” Risheresh says as his wife weeps silently beside him. “We left with only our clothes on our backs — we were lucky we got our passports.”

Many of the families The Daily Star spoke to said they had little hope that they would be able to return to their homes any time soon. There have been a number of reports of ISIS rehousing displaced Muslims in local buildings owned by Christians who have fled.

None of those interviewed said they had been able to find work in Lebanon, despite many having college degrees. They bemoaned that they had received little to no help from non-governmental organizations, the United Nations, or the church.

Zina, a 24-year-old engineer from Baghdad, and her sister, a qualified dentist, have found no work in the eight months they’ve been in Lebanon.

“We left [Iraq] because the situation is bad,” she explained with a rueful smile. “Christians are suffering so much, their livelihoods are at stake. Life is very difficult for them.”

The most important thing their community needed at the moment was aid, she said, whether monetary or in-kind. As she spoke, other Iraqis approached to echo the plea, their expressions anxious and weary.

“What we have is very little,” said one woman on the verge of tears. “There is no work for us here,” added another. “Please, we need help,” pleaded a third.

But although their calls for official assistance are likely to fall largely on deaf ears in a country that is already hosting well over a million Syrian refugees, help in one form or another is exactly what those gathered Sunday in Baabda had in mind.

While some of the worshippers at St. Raphael Cathedral were Iraqi, most appeared to be Lebanese who had turned up to demonstrate their support for their co-religionists.

Jacqueline Sarrouh had come from the nearby town of Hazmieh with her young son to pray for — and with — Iraqi Christians.

“We are here to participate in prayer with our Christian brothers,” Sarrouh said. “We already have friends here that we got to know.”

The Mass was led by Chaldean Bishop Michel Kassarji.

“Our struggle today is with futile, deviated ideologies that do not know the meaning of human pride nor freedom of belief nor difference of opinion,” he told a packed church. “History will record that Christians were forced out of their lands just because they were Christians.”

Rodrigue Khoury, leader of the Levant Party, who helped organize the event, said Christians in the Middle East “would never bow” and “would never forsake their faith.”

“We are not Lebanese expressing solidarity with Iraqis, we are one body shouting out,” he said.

Khoury’s speech was met with general enthusiasm, and was interrupted by an Iraqi Christian who stood up and exclaimed, “Long live Iraq!” to widespread applause.

But Father Denha said what was most needed was material support.

“We have helped them by welcoming them in the archbishopric and Michel [Kassarji] is trying to raise funds,” he said. “Some people have been donating clothes, but we would prefer if they could help financially by paying for rent or health care.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Chattels says “WOW”

Chattels Article quotes: “The head of the Iraqi National Alliance, Ibrahim al-Jaafary, assured that the INA is the biggest bloc and not the State of Law Coalition headed by the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki.” “Habeeb al-Turfi, of the Citizen bloc assured that the Iraqi National Alliance is the biggest parliamentary bloc. Speaking to AIN, Turfi said “The biggest bloc is the INA due to its effect in the parliament and it will be able to nominate the next PM.” WOW ! it seems clear now that President Massoum will designate the choice for PM made by the National Alliance then that PM must form and seat a government/Council of Ministers acceptable to a majority vote by the full Parliament within 30 days after designation by the POR (President of the Republic).

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Last Christians Expelled From Mosul, is All of the Middle East Next?

This symbol is the letter “N” in Arabic, and ISIS painted it on Christian homes in Mosul to identify the homes as “Nazarene” (Christian). Christians were given the ultimatum to convert, pay the jizya, or leave.Professor Lord David Alton, who co-founded Jubilee Campaign, writes this important lament concerning the expulsion or forced conversion of all Christians from Mosul, Iraq and call to the United Nations and to the West to stop the atrocities.

The last Christian has now been expelled from Mosul. The light of religious freedom, along with the entire Christian presence, has been extinguished in the Bible’s “great city of Nineveh” – the centre of Christianity in Iraq for two millennia. This follows the uncompromising ultimatum by the jihadists of ISIS to convert or die.

On Sunday Pope Francis expressed his profound anguish: “Our brothers are persecuted, they are cast out, they are forced to leave their homes without having the chance to take anything with them.” The UN Security Council has denounced these crimes but we desperately need to do more. And the West must press the Gulf to end the funding and recruitment for the Islamic State, previously known as ISIS.

Before pitilessly exiling the Christians on foot, ISIS stole everything they had – homes, businesses, cars, money and even wedding rings, sometimes with the ring fingers attached. Churches have all been destroyed, shuttered or turned into mosques.

ISIS has taken a sledgehammer to the tomb of Jonah, replaced the cross with the black Islamic flag on top of Mosul’s St Ephrem’s cathedral, and beheaded or crucified any Muslim who dared to dissent.

Even before the arrival of ISIS, targeted persecution of Iraq’s Christians, many of whom still pray in Aramaic, the language of Jesus, was ignored. Mosul’s Christians dwindled from 30,000 to a few thousand. Now there are none.

Iraq is now a disintegrating failed state. The only people who have successfully withstood ISIS (now the Islamic State) are the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. To their credit, the Kurdish leadership has been generously offering safe haven to Mosul’s fleeing Christians and have asked for international aid to help it do so. This crisis justifies massive humanitarian and resettlement aid that could include micro and business loans to help people to help themselves.

The world needs to wake up urgently to the plight of the ancient churches throughout the region who are faced with the threat of mass murder and mass displacement. The UN claims it has “a duty to protect”, while Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, born in the embers of the Holocaust, insists that each of us must be free to follow our own beliefs.

The religious cleansing and unspeakable bigotry at work in Mosul makes hateful mockery of both.

Assyrian International News Agency

Islamic Militants In Iraq Destroy Another Historic Mosque

Islamic State (IS) militants have destroyed a nearly 600-year-old mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the latest of several religious sites demolished by the group recently.

Mosul residents said the Prophet Jirjis Mosque and Shrine was blown up on July 27 by the radical Sunni group because it is a Shi’ite worship site.

Another site destroyed in Mosul last week was the mosque of the Prophet Shiyt (Seth) — who is revered in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Also demolished was the Mosque of the Prophet Yunis (Jonah), whose story is in the Bible and the Koran.

Muqtada Sadr, a leading Shi’ite cleric in Iraq, said Yunis “was a prophet for all religions” and that those behind the destruction “don’t deserve to live.”

The IS captured large parts of western and northern Iraq in June, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Foreigners urged to flee Libya fighting

European nations have called on their citizens to leave Libya as heavy fighting between troops loyal to a renegade general and militias in the eastern city of Benghazi left more than 36 people dead.

France on Sunday called on all its nationals to leave the country due to the deteriorating security situation.

Most of the victims we have noticed are civilians as the fighters have their own hospitals on the battlefield.

Medical sources

“All our nationals are invited to get in touch as quickly as possible with our embassy in Tripoli,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The United States, the United Nations and Turkey have pulled their diplomats out of the North African country.

The United States evacuated its embassy on Saturday, driving diplomats across the border into Tunisia under heavy military protection because of clashes near the embassy compound in Tripoli.

A British embassy convoy was hit by gunfire during an attempted hijacking outside the capital on the way to the Tunisian border, but no-one was injured in the incident, an embassy official said on Sunday.

“It was an attempted hijack as the convoy was on its way to the Tunisian border,” the official said. “No one was injured but vehicles were damaged.”

Britain’s Foreign Office advised its citizens on Sunday to leave the country immediately because of the “greater intensity of fighting” in Tripoli and the likelihood of further attacks on foreigners.

Germany and Spain also issued warnings to their citizens to leave. Italy’s foreign ministry said it helped more than 100 Italians leave Libya and would help other countries evacuate their citizens as well.

Battle for airport

The Libyan government said more than 150 people had died in Tripoli and Benghazi in two weeks of fighting.

In Tripoli, 23 people, all Egyptian workers, were killed when a rocket hit their home on Saturday during fighting between rival militias battling over the city’s main airport, the Egyptian state news agency reported.

Since the clashes erupted a fortnight ago, 94 people have died in the capital, and more than 400 have been injured as militias exchanged rocket and artillery fire across southern Tripoli, the health ministry said.

Another 55 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Benghazi since the clashes have intensified over the last week between regular forces and militias who are entrenched in the city.

“Most of the victims we have noticed are civilians as the fighters have their own hospitals on the battlefield,” a Benghazi medical source told Reuters news agency.

A new Libyan parliament was elected in June and Western governments hope warring parties may be able to reach a political agreement when the lawmakers meet in August for the first session.

442

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Forex – GBP/USD weekly outlook: July 28

Investing.com –

Investing.com – The pound edged down to one month lows against the broadly stronger dollar on Friday as upbeat U.S. data and heightened geopolitical tensions underpinned demand for the greenback.

GBP/USD edged down 0.06% to 1.6975 late Friday, the lowest since June 25. For the week, the pair lost 0.66%.

Cable is likely to find support at around the 1.6925 level and resistance at 1.7050.

In recent sessions, sterling has backed off the almost six-year highs of 1.7190 set on July 15 as expectations for a rate hike by the Bank of England before then end of the year waned.

The greenback was boosted as better than expected data on durable goods orders for June added to signs that the U.S. economy is improving.

The Commerce Department reported a rise of 0.7% in orders of long lasting goods such as machinery and electronic products, compared to forecasts of 0.5%. Durable goods orders fell by 1.0% in May.

Demand for the dollar has been underpinned since Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated earlier this month that U.S. interest rates could rise sooner if the recovery in the labor market continues.

Investor demand for safe haven assets was also boosted by geopolitical concerns as tensions between the West and Russia remained high. The European Union imposed a fresh round of sanctions against Russia on Friday, in protest over Russia’s involvement in the crisis in east Ukraine.

Earlier Friday, official data confirmed that the U.K. economy grew 0.8% in the second quarter of 2014 and expanded by 3.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Elsewhere, sterling gained ground against the broadly weaker euro, with EUR/GBP sliding 0.18% to 0.7910, not far from Wednesday’s 22-month low of 0.7873.

The single currency weakened broadly on Friday as disappointing German economic data underlined concerns over the diverging monetary policy path between the European Central Bank and other central banks.

In the week ahead investors will be focusing on U.S. data on second-quarter gross domestic product and an interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, while Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report for July will also be closely watched.

The U.K. is to release data on manufacturing sector activity on Friday.

Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets.

Monday, July 28

The U.S. is to release data on pending home sales.

Tuesday, July 29

The U.K. is to release data on net lending.

Later Tuesday, the U.S. is to publish reports on house price inflation and consumer confidence.

Wednesday, July 30

The U.S. is to release the ADP report on private sector job creation, which leads the government’s nonfarm payrolls report by two days. The U.S. is also to publish revised data on second quarter growth.

Later Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is to announce its federal funds rate and publish its rate statement.

Thursday, July 31

The U.K. is to produce private sector data on house price inflation.

The U.S. is to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims, as well as data on manufacturing activity in the Chicago area.

Friday, August 1

The U.K. is to release data on manufacturing activity.

The U.S. is to round up the week with what will be closely watched government data on nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate, while the Institute of Supply Management is to release data on manufacturing activity.

Investing.com
Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
Read more News on Investing.com and download the new Investing.com Stocks & Forex App for Android!

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Jihadists in Iraq Erase Cultural Heritage

BAGHDAD — A campaign by Sunni insurgents to establish an Islamic caliphate across Iraq and Syria and expel other Muslim sects and religions is taking a sharp toll on the countries’ cultural heritage.

The latest casualty was a shrine in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul said to contain the tomb of Jonah, who is revered as a prophet by Jews, Christians and Muslims–who call him Younes. The Nabi Younes Mosque, a towering structure that housed the shrine, was also destroyed in Thursday’s blast.

Militants from Islamic State, the al Qaeda spinoff that seized Mosul on June 10, wired the periphery of the mosque with explosives and then detonated them, residents said, erasing a revered piece of Iraqi heritage. It collapsed in a massive explosion that sent clouds of sand and dust tumbling into the air.

“They turned it to sand, along with all other tombs and shrines,” said Omar Ibrahim, a dentist in Mosul. “But Prophet Younes is something different. It was a symbol of Mosul,” said Mr. Ibrahim, a Sunni. “We cried for it with our blood.”

Though its population is predominantly Sunni, Mosul was a symbol of religious intermingling and tolerance in Iraq. Nineveh, the wider province, is a Assyrian Christian center dating back thousands of years. That Jonah’s shrine was in a mosque was a proud reflection of that coexistence.

Visitors used to stream from across Iraq to pray at the mosque, unique in the country for its grand ascending stairs and alabaster floors. Its large prayer rooms had arched entrances inscribed elaborately with Quranic verses.

The site was a monastery centuries ago before it was turned into a mosque, said Emil Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul. “Nabi Younes was famous in the city of Mosul, the most famous mosque in the area,” Archbishop Nona said. “I’m very sorry to see this place destroyed.”

Islamic State and other groups following ultraconservative Sunni ideology believe the veneration of shrines or tombs is unholy. Many also denounce the veneration of any prophet besides Muhammad, believed by Muslims to be God’s messenger.

The group has announced by decree its plan to destroy graves and shrines, a strategy it has already followed in neighboring Syria, where the militants have thrived in parts of the north and east.

In Mosul, they have already destroyed at least two dozen shrines, as well as Shiite places of worship, and raided the Mosul Museum, officials said.

“This most recent outrage is yet another demonstration of the terrorist group’s intention to shatter Iraq’s shared heritage and identity,” said Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations secretary-general’s special representative for Iraq, on Friday.

Iraqi officials at the tourism ministry and religious officials in Mosul confirmed the shrine as destroyed in a militant attack on Thursday. The attack is captured in amateur video footage shot by locals and posted online. In one, a thick plume of brown smoke rises in the air, presumably over the mosque as it collapsed, as the narrator says: “No, no, no. There goes the Prophet Younes.”

The shrine held particular significance for Iraqis because Jonah–who in stories in both the Bible and Quran is swallowed by a whale–”was a prophet for all,” said Fawziya al-Maliky, director of heritage at the tourism ministry. “We don’t know what these backward militants are thinking, what kind of Islam they are pursuing,” she said. “They are pursuing the end of civilization.”

The attack was another blow to the country’s Christian community. The Islamic State has been pursuing a deliberate anti-Christian campaign in Iraq.

Thousands of Christians fled Mosul last week after Islamic State posed an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a tax, flee or face death. Christian residents said they were terrorized and humiliated in their own city as militants singled out their homes.

Candida Moss, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, called it “part of the irreversible eradication of Christian history and culture in Iraq.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Congressman Slams Obama For Ignoring Christian Genocide In Iraq

Virginia Republican congressman Frank Wolf accused the Obama administration of ignoring the genocide of Iraqi Christians Thursday, saying that “Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out.”

“I believe what is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide,” he said in a speech to the House of Representatives. “I also believe it is a crime against humanity. Where is the West? Where is the Obama Administration? Where is the Congress? The silence is deafening.”

This is the second time this week Rep. Wolf has brought the issue to the floor. On Tuesday, he reminded the president that members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter in June urging him “to actively engage with the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to prioritize additional security support for especially vulnerable populations, notably Iraq’s ancient Christian community,” a call he has still not heeded.

The Obama administration “needs to have the same courage as President Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell when they said genocide was taking place in Darfur,” he concluded. “The time to act is now.”

According to a letter he received from someone on the ground in Iraq, “All Mosul churches and monasteries are seized by ISIS. There are around 30. The cross has been removed from all of them. Many of them are burned, destroyed and looted. Many others are being used as ISIS centers. The religious Sunni, Shiite and Christian tombs are destroyed in Mosul. This destruction is endangering very ancient sites, such as prophet Jonah’s tomb, which was broken last week, according to many reporters.”

Rep. Wolf, in addition to calling on the administration to speak out about the crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Iraqi Christians, wants Obama to ensure relief funds are going to trusted humanitarian agencies and encourage the Kurdish government in its efforts to protect minorities.

Over three years ago, he introduced a bill to create a special envoy for Near East Religious minorities, which passed with bipartisan support, but which has been languishing in the Senate ever since. According to one House staffer, the administration could break through the deadlock and appoint one themselves immediately without Congressional mandate, but has neglected to do so.

The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, a position created by 1998′s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, has been vacant since October of 2013, which Rep. Wolf has repeatedly shamed the administration about.

“As you know, during the Reagan years and during the Jimmy Carter years, they advocated, they spoke out,” he said back in March. “And when you talk to religious leaders in these countries [in the Middle East], they do not understand why America is not speaking out for them now.”

Assyrian International News Agency

U.S. Shares Photos It Says Show Shelling Of Ukrainian Troops From Russian Territory

The U.S. State Department on July 27 released satellite images that Washington says support claims rockets have been fired from Russia into Ukraine during the last week.

The State Department released a four-page document that seems to show blast marks from where rockets were launched and where they landed.

Officials said the images show heavy weapons being fired between July 21 and 26.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by telephone and agreed on the need for an early cease-fire in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow described the Ukrainian crisis as an “internal conflict.”

The U.S. State Department reported that Kerry rejected Lavrov’s denial that part of the problem lay in heavy weapons from Russia. In their phone conversation, Kerry urged Lavrov “to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine, and to begin to contribute to deescalating the conflict,” according to the State Department via Reuters.

The U.S. ambassador to Kyiv, Geoffrey Pyatt, earlier tweeted the satellite images that Washington said clearly showed shelling by artillery from Russian territory and directed at Ukrainian troops.

Meanwhile, at least 13 people, including two small children, were killed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka on July 27.

Officials from the Donetsk regional administration said only the deaths on July 27 were the result of “military actions in Horlivka,” without mentioning which side might have been responsible.

Ukrainian forces launched an offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk region on July 26.

Fighting has been reported around Horlivka, once a city of some 250,000 people.

The fighting caused a team of international inspectors to give up for the day plans to visit the crash site of MH17.

The setback came hours after Malaysia announced it had agreed with Ukrainian rebels to allow international police personnel to enter the crash site.

Alexander Hug, deputy head for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) monitoring mission in Ukraine, told reporters in Donetsk that “we heard indications there’s fighting going on.”

He added, “The situation on the ground appears to be unsafe…we therefore decided to deploy tomorrow morning.”

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, UNIAN, and ITAR-TASS

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Forex – EUR/USD weekly outlook: July 28

Investing.com –

Investing.com – The euro fell to eight month lows against the stronger dollar on Friday and was close to multi-month lows against the yen and the pound as concerns over the divergence in monetary policy between the European Central Bank and other central banks pressured the single currency lower.

EUR/USD was down 0.25% to 1.3429 at the close, reaching the lowest level since November. For the week, the pair lost 0.74%.

The pair is likely to find support at around 1.3400 and resistance at 1.3475.

The drop in the euro came after a report showed that Germany’s Ifo business climate index dropped to 108.0 in July, missing estimates for a reading of 109.4. It was the third consecutive monthly decline.

The data added concerns over the outlook for the euro zone’s largest economy. The euro has come under pressure since the ECB cut rates to record lows on June 5, in a bid to stave off the risk of deflation and shore up growth in the region.

Sentiment on the single currency was also hit by concerns that tougher sanctions on Russia would have a negative impact on the outlook for growth in the currency bloc, which has close trade ties with Moscow.

The greenback was boosted as better than expected data on durable goods orders for June added to signs that the U.S. economy is improving.

The Commerce Department reported a rise of 0.7% in orders of long lasting goods such as machinery and electronic products, compared to forecasts of 0.5%. Durable goods orders fell by 1.0% in May.

Demand for the dollar has been underpinned since Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated earlier this month that U.S. interest rates could rise sooner if the recovery in the labor market continues.

Elsewhere Friday, EUR/JPY was down 0.23% to 136.75 late Friday, not far from the five month lows of 136.35 reached in the previous session.
EUR/GBP slid 0.18% to 0.7910, not far from Wednesday’s 22-month low of 0.7873.

In the week ahead investors will be focusing on U.S. data on second-quarter gross domestic product and an interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, while Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report for July will also be closely watched.

The euro zone is to release preliminary data on consumer prices on Thursday.

Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets.

Monday, July 28

The U.S. is to release data on pending home sales.

Tuesday, July 29

The U.S. is to publish reports on house price inflation and consumer confidence.

Wednesday, July 30

In the euro zone, Germany is to release preliminary data on consumer price inflation, while Spain is to publish flash estimates on consumer inflation and second quarter economic growth.

The U.S. is to release the ADP report on private sector job creation, which leads the government’s nonfarm payrolls report by two days. The U.S. is also to publish revised data on second quarter growth.

Later Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is to announce its federal funds rate and publish its rate statement.

Thursday, July 31

The euro zone is to release preliminary data on consumer inflation and unemployment, while Germany is to publish data on retail sales and unemployment.

The U.S. is to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims, as well as data on manufacturing activity in the Chicago area.

Friday, August 1

The U.S. is to round up the week with what will be closely watched government data on nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate, while the Institute of Supply Management is to release data on manufacturing activity.

Investing.com
Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
Read more News on Investing.com and download the new Investing.com Stocks & Forex App for Android!

Did you like this? Share it:

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits