Bayati: National Alliance authorizes Maliki to take the appropriate actions to re-flow water to the central and southern governorates

BAGHDAD / NINA / A member of the parliamentary Commission on Security and Defense, MP of state of law coalition, Abbas al-Bayati declared that “All the leaders of the Iraqi National Alliance have authorized Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to take what he sees fit to make Euphrates River re- flow to central and southern governorates.”

Bayati told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / ” cutting the Euphrates River to the central and southern governorates by the terrorists of ISIS is silent killing, so deterrent military measures should be taken in order to re-flow the water in the Euphrates River,” pointing out that ” cannot be hesitated in this regard, because it is related to the stability of the country and it is intended to tear the country and national unity.

He stressed the need not to allow ISIS and al-Qaeda to carry out such act, calling the government “To use all the available means of pressure and power, in order to prevent these terrorists from moving to implement their bloody and coward plans.”

Bayati concluded, “During their meeting held yesterday, the attitude of all the leaders of the National Alliance was united and authorized Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to take what he sees fit to a re- flow of the Euphrates River to central and southern governorates and prevent and al-Qaeda to stay in their places and kill and expel them.”


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Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Syrian Economy May Take 30 Years to Recover: UN Study

GENEVA — Businesses across Syria have been devastated by the destruction inflicted by the traumatic three-year civil war, and the economy could take 30 years to recover to its pre-conflict level , a United Nations survey published Wednesday warns.

The fighting “saw the economy lose a total of $ 84.4 billion over the first two years of the conflict. . . . Even if the conflict ceased now and GDP (gross domestic product) grew at an average rate of 5 percent each year, it is estimated that it would take the Syrian economy 30 years to return to the economic level of 2010,” it said.

During the war, Syria has experienced “massive de-industrialization, dilapidation and degradation,” the study said. Businesses have closed or gone bankrupt, and those that haven’t have been looted or destroyed by war, the study said. Capital flight _ people getting their money out of the country _ has been massive.

“This is the first study of its kind and provides hard statistical evidence of the tragic and widespread impact the conflict is having on lives and livelihoods across Syria,” said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which undertook the survey as part of its responsibilities for assisting Palestinian refugees.

The survey polled clients of the agency’s micro-finance loan program in Syria and found that nearly three-quarters had been displaced from their homes. In the Yarmouk district of Damascus, a heavily Palestinian area that once held 160,000 residents, 89 percent of residents had fled, the survey found.

Nearly 56 percent of those surveyed said their homes had been damaged and 14 percent said their homes had been destroyed.

The report based its survey on a random sample taken from among 8,000 business people, both Palestinians and Syrians, participated in the micro-finance program. Of those, 840 were selected to take part in the current survey; 541 fully completed the poll.

“Almost half of all enterprises (44.2 percent) had been closed by the owners and another two-fifths (39.9 percent) had been robbed or looted,” the survey found. In the Damascus suburb of Douma, which is currently controlled by rebels, 72 percent of those surveyed reported their business had been looted and nearly two-thirds had been damaged.

U.N. economists estimated that since the outbreak of violence more than three years ago, 2.3 million jobs had been lost, “with the welfare of almost 10 million dependents jeopardized.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Newcomer Set To Take Slovak Presidency

A political newcomer is headed for victory in the presidential runoff in the Central European state of Slovakia.

Results from the vote on March 29 put the former businessman Andrej Kiska far in front of Prime Minister Robert Fico, who has already conceded defeat.

Results from 72 percent of voting stations showed Kiska leading by 59.2 to 40.8 percent.

The 51-year-old Kiska has been riding the wave of anti-Fico sentiment among rightwing voters as well as distrust in mainstream political parties because of corruption scandals and high unemployment.

The 49-year-old Fico heads Slovakia’s dominant leftist SMER-Social Democracy party, which he led to a landslide victory in 2012 that allowed the party to govern alone in Slovakia. 

Based on Reuters and AP reporting

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Dictator’s Handbook: Six Regrettable Lessons To Take Away From Crimea Crisis

The speed and ease with which Russia reclaimed its hold on the Crimean Peninsula have left much of the world reeling. But the factors that went into it were years in the making. Here are six life lessons for acquisitive future dictators and countries trying to break free of them. 

1. Don’t Give Up Your Nukes

Twenty years ago, Ukraine was the third-largest nuclear power in the world, with 1,900 long-range and 2,400 short-range strategic warheads that had once been part of the U.S.S.R.’s Cold War arsenal. But Kyiv voluntarily handed them back to Russia in 1994, when it signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurance, trading in its nuclear weapons in exchange for sovereignty and the promise that Russia would “refrain from the threat or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.”

It seemed like a good deal at the time. But many Ukrainian lawmakers are now lamenting the decision, admitting something that Pakistan and India have known for decades — that missiles beat memoranda when it comes to keeping interlopers off your land. Or, as Verkhovna Rada lawmaker Pavlo Ryzanenko told “USA Today,” “If you have nuclear weapons, people don’t invade you.” Fellow Budapest signatories Belarus and Kazakhstan may suddenly be ruing the day they gave up their nukes. Iran and North Korea, meanwhile, are less likely than ever to respond to global pressure to give up theirs.

2. Deals Are Meaningless

See above. The Budapest Memorandum, despite being approved by all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, has in no way restrained Vladimir Putin from taking over Crimea. The Russian president has argued that the memorandum no longer holds weight because the current Kyiv government arrived via “coup” and is not legitimate in Moscow’s eyes.

Nor has the Budapest deal prompted the Western co-signatories — the United States and the United Kingdom — to step in militarily against Moscow. The agreement, as its title suggests, provides assurances but stops short of actual security guarantees, which neither Washington nor London was prepared to offer in 1994 (or now).

In its annexation of Crimea, in fact, Moscow has violated a number of agreements, including the UN Charter, the Charter of the Council for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the 1975 Helsinki Accords, the 1997 bilateral Ukraine-Russia treaty, and its recently renewed lease agreement on the Black Sea Fleet, which provides for Russia’s Crimean bases but not the influx of thousands of additional troops. (It did not violate the CFE Treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe, but only because it withdrew from the agreement in 2007, a year before its war in Georgia.)

3. Ethnic Cleansing Works

Possession, as they say, is nine-tenths of the law. And if you really want to put your claim on a territory, the best way to do it is by removing the locals and establishing yourself as the new majority. The tactic was successfully used against Native Americans in the United States, against Muslims and Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and against millions of non-Slavic minorities living in Stalin’s Soviet Union.

More than 200,000 Tatars were forcibly expelled from Crimea in 1944 on the false pretext of Nazi collaboration. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russians were sent to take their place, cementing Moscow’s influence and strengthening the peninsula’s loyalty to the imperial center. By the 1980s, when Tatars began to return to Crimea in what was then the Ukrainian SSR, they were the interlopers and the minority. Now, with a 97 percent referendum return, Russia can argue it has “democratic” data to back its takeover bid. After all, numbers don’t lie.

4. It’s Not Lying If They Believe It

Both Adolf Hitler and his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels were avid proponents of the “Big Lie,” a falsehood so flagrant, and so consequential, that people choose to accept it rather than believe its teller capable of such underhandedness. Putin, whose KGB training and rumored plastic surgery have rendered his expression all but unreadable, has employed several Big Lies — and innumerable little ones — in his Crimea campaign:

1) Russians are having their rights violated;
2) He is upset by the idea of Russians having their rights violated;
3) Power in Kyiv has been seized by fascists;
4) The situation is so dire Ukrainians themselves are fleeing to Russia;
5) No Russian troops entered Ukraine;
6) “We are not considering [annexing Crimea].”

Even in instances where such claims were demonstrably false — as in Crimea, where Russian soldiers willingly identified themselves to journalists — there has been no tangible downside to the lie. Cracking down on the few remaining free news outlets in Russia has only made it easier to sell this alternate narrative at home.

5. The Market Has No Morals

The Sochi Olympics provided an early reminder of this, when sponsors like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble refused to pressure Russia on its antigay laws out of fear of hurting their profits. With the Ukraine crisis, global governance appears equally hapless. Until the EU and U.S. sanctions on March 17, there were no bodies or governments willing to penalize Russia’s actions in Crimea with more than words. Some $ 63 billion left Russia in 2013 alone, destined for Swiss banks, Caribbean offshore accounts, and luxury real-estate markets in London, Manhattan, and southern France.

Economic struggles have compromised the ability of Western countries to act as moral standard-bearers — they are not only dependent on Russian investment, they are potentially tied to the mafia networks that lie behind it. (Russia’s Central Bank has estimated that two-thirds of the country’s capital outflow are proceeds from crime, bribes, and tax fraud.) Although the Ukrainian crisis has strained Russia’s $ 2 trillion economy — the direct cost of annexing Crimea is estimated to be at least $ 3 billion — it’s not clear that sanctions will avoid a ripple effect on the EU and U.S. economies.

6. Patriotism Is Good — Except When It’s Terribly, Terribly Bad

Putin has spent most of his years in power dedicated to restoring the Russian national identity — dusting off Stalin, resurrecting the Orthodox Church, bemoaning the collapse of the Soviet Union, exercising world-stage diplomacy, and replacing Soviet cosmopolitanism with increasingly nativist tendencies. This Great Nation-building project made it easy for the Kremlin leader to argue that the Crimean takeover was not only natural, but necessary. Leaving Crimea and its people in trouble, Putin said, “would have been nothing short of betrayal.”

But having invoked patriotic sentiment at home, Putin then distorted it in Ukraine, seizing on the country’s massive Euromaidan protests as an opportunity for scaremongering. The Russian president has alternately described the forces behind the Ukrainian “coup” that replaced President Viktor Yanukovych with a pro-Western interim government as nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes, and anti-Semites. (Ukraine has accused Russia of staging deliberate provocations to advance this train of thought.) This double-edged sword — which works to Russia’s advantage regardless — may be wielded again as Moscow considers the fate of Russian “patriots” in eastern Ukraine, northern Kazakhstan, and elsewhere.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

U.S. Military Vessel To Take Part In More Black Sea Drills

The commander of a U.S. military vessel says it will carry out more exercises with NATO allied ships in the Black Sea.

The “U.S.S. Truxtun” took part in drills with Romanian and Bulgarian ships in the Black Sea last week a few hundreds kilometers from Crimea where Russia has deployed troops after protests toppled Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president.

The United States said the exercises were routine and had been planned long before the crisis erupted.

But they coincided with air drills carried out by U.S. and Polish fighter jets in Poland and NATO reconnaissance flights over Eastern Europe.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

U.S. Military Vessel To Take Part In More Black Sea Drills

The commander of a U.S. military vessel says it will carry out more exercises with NATO allied ships in the Black Sea.

The “U.S.S. Truxtun” took part in drills with Romanian and Bulgarian ships in the Black Sea last week a few hundreds kilometers from Crimea where Russia has deployed troops after protests toppled Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president.

The United States said the exercises were routine and had been planned long before the crisis erupted.

But they coincided with air drills carried out by U.S. and Polish fighter jets in Poland and NATO reconnaissance flights over Eastern Europe.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

900,000 Syrians Take Refuge in Turkey: UNICEF

The estimated number of Syrian refugees that have taken shelter in Turkey is nearly 900,000, 700,000 of whom are living outside of camps, a U.N. official has said, while noting that the exile has especially affected children.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), working together with the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD), is trying to provide education to Syrian children in Turkey.

“The most challenging part so far is how to reach Syrians living out of camps,” UNICEF Representative for Turkey Dr. Ayman A. Abulaban told the Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview.

In three years of conflict in Syria, 6 million Syrian children, both inside and outside of Syria, have been affected, Abulaban said, noting that more than 10,000 out of 100,000 Syrians killed in the country were children.

UNICEF is seeking to raise awareness on the problems of children who have suffered over the course of the three-year-old civil war.

Syrian children must remain at the top of the agenda of all those who are doing political work at the moment, Abulaban said.

“Children should not be a victim or a failure of politics, or a failure of the international world to find a solution,” he said.

The U.N. official stressed that the rights of children in Syria were being violated and that they were even being deliberately killed in some cases. “Sometimes children are killed because they are children. There are reports that children are killed under torture, by all parties, but mainly the regime,” he said. Children are being taken to the prisons for any reason, regardless of whether they have been involved in clashes, he said.

Abulaban also noted some reports that fighting groups had recruited children. “The official stance of the [opposition] coalition is that they are against this. The same stance comes from the government. But we know that this is not always been respected on both sides,” Abulaban said.

“Their rights are being exploited physically and sexually. There have been cases of rape,” Abulaban said.

“Because of this war, children have become too old, too soon. When they lose their father, children step up to take care of the family. They are leaving their schools; they are getting into labor at an early age and getting married earlier. They are losing their childhood and getting old sooner.”

Abulaban pointed at two areas in which children suffer in Syria: the health system, which he said had collapsed in most areas and led to diseases, such as polio, as well as the education system.

Almost 3.5 million people have fled Syria, with nearly 1 million in Turkey, he said, praising Ankara for its “excellent response.”

In collaboration with the Turkish government, UNICEF is building schools and providing training for Syrian teachers both in the camps and outside.

In Turkey, the majority of teachers are volunteers who used to be teachers in Syria, he said.

Assyrian International News Agency

Syrian forces take strategic town from rebels

Syrian forces have captured a strategic rebel-held town in the province of Homs, after a month of intense fighting, state media and the army have said.

The military reported taking “full control of the town of Zara and its surroundings” in the western Homs countryside on Saturday.

Without al-Hosn and Zara, it will be the end of the revolution to the west of Homs

Samy al-Homsi, Activist

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the capture, saying Zara, near the Krak des Chevaliers castle, fell a day after it was hit by air strikes.

Activist Samy al-Homsi told the Associated Press news agency, “the town was one of two last strongholds for rebels along the Lebanese border leading to the city of Homs, the other being the nearby village of al-Hosn”.

“Without al-Hosn and Zara, it will be the end of the revolution to the west of Homs… It’s the only two areas left to the rebels there.”

The Observatory said the town, which is mostly inhabited by the minority Sunni Turkmen, was taken after “fierce fighting between loyalist troops and fighters from Jund al-Sham and other rebel groups.”

The military emphasised the importance of the town due to its location linking central Syria to the Mediterranean coast and its role as a “key passageway for groups coming from Lebanon”.

The capture of Zara comes as the army battles rebels further south around Yabroud, an opposition stronghold in the Qalamoun mountains close to the Lebanese border.

The fighting is part of an offensive launched late last year to secure the Damascus-Homs highway and to severe a key rebel supply route to the town of Arsal in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. 

Homs ceasefire: A turning point?

Fractured opposition

Meanwhile, Syria’s main opposition coalition confirmed in a statement on Saturday that it had chosen a new army chief following the refusal of General Salim Idriss to step down.

The statement insisted that despite some confusion, Brigadier General Abdel Ilah al-Bashir would assume leadership of the coalition’s military council.

The body originally issued the announcement appointing al-Bashir on February 17. But two days later, Idriss rejected his dismissal. Then Idriss, along with more than a dozen senior opposition fighters, severed ties with the political opposition-in-exile, further fragmenting the notoriously divided rebel movement.



Finance Committee recommends that central government banks take over sale of hard currency

Recommended by the parliamentary Finance Committee, according to the proposals handed over to the management of the Iraqi Central Bank to take over the government banks the task of selling hard currency rather than private banks. said committee member secretary Hadi’s (IMN) “The Finance Committee considers it necessary to take over the government banks to buy hard currency from the bank Central and distributed to customers of merchants, according to the bond Import official. ” added Hadi that the “file management sale of hard currency from government banks better than to take over the private banks that task,” adding that “the measures the Iraqi Central Bank ended the process of manipulating the documents to import goods from by traders. ” According to an earlier report of the Finance Committee representative, the private banks had accounted for 80% of central bank sales of foreign currency while you get government banks at the lowest rate which is 20%. sells Bank of Iraq, which is subject to the control of the House of Representatives, foreign currency on a daily basis to banks and businessmen referees to him, but in the last year put controls “strict” to curb the smuggling of currency.


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Finance Committee recommends that central government banks take over sale of hard currency

Recommended by the parliamentary Finance Committee, according to the proposals handed over to the management of the Iraqi Central Bank to take over the government banks the task of selling hard currency rather than private banks. said committee member secretary Hadi’s (IMN) “The Finance Committee considers it necessary to take over the government banks to buy hard currency from the bank Central and distributed to customers of merchants, according to the bond Import official. ” added Hadi that the “file management sale of hard currency from government banks better than to take over the private banks that task,” adding that “the measures the Iraqi Central Bank ended the process of manipulating the documents to import goods from by traders. ” According to an earlier report of the Finance Committee representative, the private banks had accounted for 80% of central bank sales of foreign currency while you get government banks at the lowest rate which is 20%. sells Bank of Iraq, which is subject to the control of the House of Representatives, foreign currency on a daily basis to banks and businessmen referees to him, but in the last year put controls “strict” to curb the smuggling of currency.


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Pussy Rioters Urge Americans To Take Hard Look At Russia

Two touring members of the Russian punk protests collective Pussy Riot have urged Americans attending the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to take a hard look at that country beyond the new sports facilities.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova made their first public appearance in the United States at a press conference in New York on February 4.

They are scheduled to take part in Amnesty International’s “Bringing Human Rights Home” concert in Brooklyn the following day.

The two called on Russia to repeal laws restricting homosexual activity, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and other human rights activities.

They have been critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and political conditions in their homeland. The opening ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are scheduled for February 7.

The women were released in December after nearly two years in prison following a conviction for hooliganism when they staged an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral, wearing balaclavas and screaming lyrics.

“Due to what we saw in prison and due to all the things we’ve just mentioned, we’ve decided to start a human rights organization which will be called Rights Zone, to change all the things we believe have unjustly happened,” Alyokhina said.

The two have vowed to work for inmates’ rights.

Tolokonnikova spelled out their aims.

“Our goal is to bring more transparency to the Russian political system and to the Russian penitentiary system,” Tolokonnikova said. “And this is part of everything we are doing right now.”

When asked if they feared being thrown back in prison, Alyokhina said they were not scared.

“If a person goes to prison for his criticism of the political leadership of the government of his country, this simply demonstrates the political situation in the country,” Alyokhina said.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina will be introduced at the Amnesty International concert by pop star Madonna and will speak but are not expected to perform at the event.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Ukrainian Defense Ministry Calls On President To Take ‘Urgent’ Steps

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has called on President Viktor Yanukovych to take steps to ease the crisis gripping the country.

According to the Defense Ministry’s press service, Ukrainian military and Defense Ministry officials met and called on Yanukovych, as commander in chief, “to take urgent measures to stabilize the situation in the country and achieve accord in society within the current legislation.”

The ministry also said the seizure of state buildings by antigovernment protesters is unacceptable.

The statement said any further escalation of the conflict poses a threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

The ministry’s assertion comes after Yanukovych said on January 30 that authorities had fulfilled all their obligations to resolve the crisis, accusing the opposition of continuing to increase tensions.

He admitted that authorities had made mistakes, however, and promised to show “more understanding” for people’s needs and aspirations.

He also announced that he was going on sick leave without saying exactly when he would return. 

UN Rights Office Calls For Torture Probe

In related news, the UN’s human rights office is calling on Ukraine to launch an independent probe of deaths, kidnappings, and torture amid the country’s political unrest.

In a statement, Rupert Coville, the spokesman for the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, said his office is “appalled” by the recent deaths of at least four antigovernment protesters.

He said those deaths should be “promptly, thoroughly, and independently investigated.”

Colville also urged President Viktor Yanukovych to sign a new law that overturns antiprotest legislation approved earlier this month.

His comments came as a missing Ukrainian opposition activist was found badly beaten overnight.

Dmytro Bulatov turned up in a village near Kyiv more than a week after he was reported missing.

Another abducted activist, Yuriy Verbytsky, was found dead on January 22 in a forest near Kyiv  with broken ribs and traces of duct tape on his hands and clothes.

Verbytskyy had gone missing on January 21 together with his friend Ihor Lutsenko, an opposition journalist and a key figure in the two-month-old Euromaidan protests.

Lutsenko later resurfaced with a black eye and a knocked-out front tooth, claiming he had been beaten and left to die in the countryside.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iran nuclear deal to take effect this month

Iran’s interim nuclear deal with six world powers will come into effect on January 20, the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the European Union have confirmed.

An Iranian ministry spokesman said on Sunday that a consensus was reached over the weekend with the P5+1 countries – China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States, plus Germany – to implement the landmark nuclear deal signed last November.

Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, confirmed the deal, and said the sides would now ask the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog to verify its implementation.

“We will ask the [International Atomic Energy Agency] to undertake the necessary nuclear-related monitoring and verification activities,” Ashton said.

Seen as a major step in bridging the gap between Iran and Western states, the six-month, interim deal signed in November eases economic sanctions on Iran, in exchange for Tehran capping its most sensitive nuclear work and not enriching uranium beyond five percent.

US President Barack Obama welcomed the implementation agreement, and said the US would give “modest relief” on Iranian sanctions. He warned, however, that the US would increase its sanctions if Iran reneges on the agreement.

“With today’s agreement, we have made concrete progress. I welcome this important step forward, and we will now focus on the critical work of pursuing a comprehensive resolution that addresses our concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme,” the White House said in a statement.

Western governments fear Iran’s nuclear programme could allow it to build a nuclear bomb, while Tehran has maintained that its programme is peaceful.

More UN inspectors

The IAEA has said it would consider increasing its presence in Iran to more efficiently verify that Tehran is abiding by the agreement, European diplomats told Reuters news agency on Sunday.

IAEA inspectors will be the ones checking that Tehran lives up to its side of the six-month deal. It currently has at least one team of two inspectors on the ground in Iran permanently.

The organisation is likely to need more inspectors, and is considering setting up a temporary office in the country, the diplomats said.

“It should be seen as a natural corollary to daily access. If staff are there every day they should be able to have an office,” a Western diplomat in the Austrian capital said.

Another envoy said: “At least another team would be required to be there.”

The organisation’s governing board is expected to hold a meeting in late January to discuss the IAEA’s additional work under the nuclear agreement.



Anbar Residents Await Anxiously As ‘Clan Revolutionaries’ Take On Al-Qaeda

RAMADI, Iraq — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been trying since late December to reassert control over Fallujah and Ramadi, the key cities in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province.

The cities fell out of government control after troops broke up a Sunni protest camp in Ramadi on December 30, sparking an uprising by Sunni militants that only now is subsiding.

In both cities, gunmen from leading antigovernment Sunni tribes, joined by fighters from the Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, took control of the streets, attacking police stations and freeing prisoners.

Iraq’s Shi’ite led government has been reluctant to send the army back into the cities, for fear that could help could spark a sectarian civil war. Instead, Baghdad has called on local leaders to try to restore order.

RRF/RL’s Radio Free Iraq correspondent Samira Ali Mandee checked in with our reporter in Anbar Province, Abdulkhaliq Muhammad, to describe the situation on the ground.

Is the situation calmer now in Ramadi and Fallujah?

Abdulkhaliq Muhammad: Ramadi City is relatively calm, but only during daylight hours. Yesterday [January 8] there were fierce clashes between the armed groups controlling the southern sector of the city.

In Fallujah, there was a major development…[on January 8]…with the distribution of leaflets throughout the city, signed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, threatening to blow up the homes of all those who actively oppose them by supporting the local government. The fighters are now based in the eastern sector of the city, while the city center is under the control of powerful local clans, who are working together with the civilian-clad local police.

Who are the gunmen who are still competing for control in the cities?

Muhammad: Here in Ramadi, there are a number of factions whose groups are fighting each other. The Al-Qaeda-affiliated gunmen are masked extremists who are well-armed with a variety of weapons. On the other side we have the “clan revolutionaries,”who maintain their presence inside the cities’ residential neighborhoods, particularly in Fallujah. They are involved in fighting the Al-Qaeda gunmen and in ensuring that the army doesn’t come in. They are thus operating on two fronts.

There are also units of the local police force alongside the tribal fighters. They are dressed as civilians in Fallujah, while those in Ramadi are in their normal security uniforms. They fight alongside the tribes.

The Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters number not more than 300 men and their composition is varied. There are Pakistanis, Afghans, and Arabs of various nationalities. They are led by Abdullah al-Janabi, who hails from Fallujah.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has tried not to use the national army to restore order in Fallujah and Ramadi. Why is that?

Muhammad: Everyone here believes that that the decision [to keep out the army] is the right one — if the army were to enter the city even simple citizens would take up arms against it. Some see the army as the enemy, but this is incorrect. They have been hurt by teams of special forces, but these are not sanctioned by either the Iraqi Constitution or by the Iraqi army. Those teams used to enter cities and make arbitrary arrests. This has created a fear of the army.

Everyone is looking forward to the departure of all the armed groups from their streets without the army’s intervention.

How badly has the recent fighting damaged the economies of Ramadi and Fallujah? Is there enough food now for people? Is there electricity and water?

Muhammad: Fallujah has sustained major damage to its infrastructure, as well as to government buildings and private homes. There are food, water, and electricity shortages throughout the city, as the security situation has severely crippled public services. In Ramadi, there is a slight improvement in conditions. Markets, banks, and schools have reopened, but the city is still without electricity since yesterday and fuel is unavailable. Some parts of the city are without water.

Do you think the antigovernment protest camp in Ramadi that was cleared by the police will return in some form in the coming months?

Muhammad: I expect the crisis to resume, especially if the Al-Qaeda gunmen remain inside Fallujah. The central and local governments will face two options: either leave them there, where they can grow and become stronger, or send in the army, in which case there will be negative repercussions. The next few days may witness major military operations.

Some are talking about organizing another peaceful civilian protest in Ramadi, while — now that Maliki has seized the weapons of the protesters and removed those whom he described as armed groups from their number — some are wondering whether the citizens of Anbar would be able to resume their protest and whether Maliki would allow them to do that. Everybody is talking about the political conflicts in the run-up to the parliamentary elections [on April 30], and local Anbar politicians are also exchanging claims and accusations.

RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel contributed to this interview

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty



Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

What will it take for them to raise that rate?

12-22-2013 Newshound Guru Adam Montana What will it take for them to raise that rate? In order for the CBI to raise the rate, they have to be confident that they can maintain the new rate. As always, this brings us back to a major key to Iraq’s future success as a country… their ability to function as a free country, producing goods and making sales. Chapter 7 was a major key in their progress; they are now able to act on their own without the former UN restrictions

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Lets all take a realistic chill pill

The Chill Pill

12-21-13 The Realist:   Guys..Lets all take a realistic chill pill here. So who do you think is going to call this thing first…a Guru? or a BANK? Doesnt a bank have to have a live rate up first before they will allow you to do an exchange..ANSWER: YES
No guru in the world will ever beat the bank. Using good ol fashion common sense here. So moral of the story follow the bank not the guru..But they do tell some interesting stories dont they?

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

South Sudan rebels take flashpoint town

Anti-government fighters in South Sudan have claimed control over the flashpoint town of Bor as rival military factions pay no heed to the president’s call for talks, raising fears of a slide into civil war.

Battles between troops loyal to Riek Machar, South Sudan’s fugitive former vice president, and the government’s military continued early on Thursday.

“Our soldiers have lost control of Bor to the force of Riek Machar late on Wednesday,” army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP news agency.

“There was shooting last night. We don’t have information on casualties or the displaced in the town, as operations are ongoing.”

Violence which first sparked in the capital Juba on Sunday has spread to the rural state of Jonglei in South Sudan, and has killed about 500 people, according to United Nations.

The fighting started shortly before President Salva Kiir announced that security forces had put down an attempted coup by supporters of his former deputy.

At a press conference on Wednesday Kiir said he was willing to sit down with the former vice president for talks, but said “I do not know what the results of the talks will be.”

Thousands seek refuge from violence in South Sudan

Talking to Al Jazeera’s Hannah McNeish, Machar 
denied that any plot was carried out to coup Kiir

“My life was in danger; my colleagues were being arrested for no reason. They are not plotters, it was not a coup. Nobody wants that,” Machar added, claiming he was “used as a scapegoat” by Kiir to purge the ruling SPLM party of rivals to avoid reforming it.

About 20,000 people have sought refuge at UN facilities in Juba, since fighting started on Sunday, and on Tuesday the United States ordered its citizens to leave South Sudan immediately.

“UN officials have told me they’re going to find it very difficult to cope with these people,” said Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York.

“They don’t have the food or resources to look after them,” he added.

Escalating conflict

In Bor, in Jonglei state, where Nuer soldiers loyal to Machar in 1991 massacred hundreds of Dinka, the ethnic group of Kiir, the locals feared the fighting could spill beyond the barracks.

Casie Copeland, the South Sudan analyst for the International Crisis Group, said key Nuer leaders in the army were defecting in Jonglei, in an escalation of the conflict.

“The situation is no longer contained to Juba. This extension of conflict to the state-level is deeply concerning and poses serious challenges for ongoing efforts to reduce hostilities,” she said.

The UN in South Sudan reported fighting on Wednesday morning in Bor area, saying on its Twitter feed that more than 1,000 civilians sought refuge in the UN compound.

A broader conflict could threaten vital aid and be exploited by neighbouring Sudan, which has had persistent rows with Juba over their undefined borders, oil and security.

That would further hurt efforts to build a functioning state in the south.

Tense calm

In Juba, residents reported a tense calm after sporadic gunfire overnight, with traffic returning to the streets

“Most people are scared they might be confronted with a mob or see dead bodies,” said one aid worker in Juba, adding that the city was calmer on Wednesday morning, after residents awoke to heavy gunfire and artillery blasts on Monday and Tuesday.

At least 10 senior former government officials have been arrested, including six cabinet ministers, said Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth. The government named the men on its website.

Political tensions have been mounting since Machar’s dismissal. The former vice president has said he would run for president and has accused Kiir of being dictatorial.

Kiir had said before the clashes that his rivals were reviving rifts that provoked infighting in the 1990s.

He has faced public criticism for doing little to improve life in one of Africa’s poorest nations.

Britons evacuated

The British government, meanwhile, said it would send an aircraft to evacuate its nationals from Juba as the violence drags on.

“A UK aircraft is en route to Juba to evacuate British Nationals who wish to leave from Juba airport on Thursday 19 December,” the website of the Foreign Office said.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which has warned against all travel to Juba and other parts of South Sudan, has already taken the to decision to temporarily withdraw some staff and dependants from the British Embassy, the website said. 



Debate over dropping zeros will take place after 2014 government takes office

Migrate project to delete the zeros to the next government

Parliamentary Finance Committee confirmed the deportation of the project to delete the zeros from the national currency to Iraqi custody next year, any new government after the elections, and said that the implementation date will remain postponed until now.The MP said Abdul-Hussein al-Yasiri for «future» yesterday that the process of deletion of zeros from the national currency is supposed to begin next year, with the agreement of the central bank.

He noted that determine when to hold elections next year and the end of the age of the current state government will pay for the project automatically migrate to a new cabinet to consider its implementation and set a date to work with it. He Yasiri that this project will lead to reduce the rate of the national currency in circulation of 4 billion dinars to one billion.

The Iraqi Central Bank announced earlier that this year will see the implementation of the project to delete the three zeroes from the national currency amid expectations of parliamentary committees to decide on the project next year, 2014, but the central bank recently returned to back down from his decision and says that the current situation is not suitable for the deletion of zeros from currency Iraq, noting that he will announce early to the public when it decided to delete it.


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

‘Afghan Vets’ Take To Barricades To Defend Ukraine’s Protesters

KYIV — In a grimy canvas tent in the nerve center of the protest encampment against Ukraine’s president, Oleg Mikhyuk barks orders like the commander of an army.

In the last 24 hours, hundreds of former soldiers have filed into the tent to enlist their services with Mikhyuk, 48, who sits in jeans and a green shirt festooned with medals from his time as a paratrooper in the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.

Mikhyuk’s brigade — which he says numbers thousands of Afghan war veterans — is one of four security divisions designated to defend the opposition encampment tooth-and-nail if the authorities attempt to break up what protesters say is a peaceful demonstration.

“We are peacekeepers here, foremost, but just because we are keeping the peace does not mean that if they beat us, we’re going to stand around silently,” Mikhyuk says.

“We know how to defend ourselves and how to strike back. They sensed this the other night on the barricades. They took away the barricades, but they couldn’t force the people out.”

Mikhyuk was among the mass of protesters who repelled hundreds of riot police in the early hours of December 11, when they tried to bring an end to the “Euromaidan” demonstrations against President Viktor Yanukovych for scuttling a landmark deal with the EU.

NEWS ANALYSIS: Flip-Flops Point To Splits In Yanukovych’s Circle

After laying siege to Independence Square, where the opposition has established a protest camp, police moved in — clearly on orders not to swing truncheons — and tried to physically push the opposition off the square.

But without using more aggressive tactics, they appeared unable to dislodge the swarm of men in hard hats and body armor fashioned out of sticks and tape. And as the sun rose over Kyiv, the police withdrew.

Mikhyuk has been on high alert since, but says the attempt to clear the square has actually galvanized the protesting forces.

‘Defend The People, Not The Authorities’

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been flooding into the snowbound capital, mainly from the west of the country, in anticipation of a weekend of huge antigovernment demonstrations.

Barricades, bulldozed by police days ago, have been reerected twice as big as before, while green and brown canvas tents have sprung up again.

PHOTO GALLERY: As mass antigovernment protests continue in Kyiv, volunteers have taken on the job of feeding the activists in the streets. The main kitchen supplying the protests, located at the dining hall of a labor-union building, is in operation 24 hours a day, making meals and hot drinks with supplies donated by supporters.

Police are again a rare sight near Kyiv’s Independence Square, which sometimes has the incongruent feel of the sprawling million-dollar film set of some medieval epic.

Smartly dressed lawyers talking on phones rub shoulders with mustachioed Cossacks in full garb, while bearded priests in black gowns lead prayers over speakers to murmuring old women crossing themselves. Men in orange hard hats carry planks of wood to beef up barricades made from scrap, barbed wire, and bags packed with snow.

The fear is that this scene is the calm before the storm. But Mikhyuk is defiant. “We don’t fear anyone — not the Berkut [riot police] nor anyone else,” he says. “We went through Afghanistan. We saw bloodshed, we understand the worth of life. We want the people in epaulettes to understand that they took an oath to defend the people of Ukraine and not the authorities.”

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Syrian Bishop: Christians Called to ‘Take Up Arms’

A senior Orthodox Church official has urged Christians to take up arms to defend themselves and their holy places in the wake of the seizure of a group of nuns from the ancient village of Maaloula.

Speaking to the Iraqi newspaper Az-Zaman, Bishop Luca al-Khoury said “we have many young men who are asking us [to take action], and there are those demanding that we take immediate action.”

“I call on every young man who can take up arms to come forward,” Khoury said, adding that the initiative was meant to allow the community’s members to engage in self-defense and protect Christian holy places, which have come under attack recently.

“Our young people are ready; their fingers are on the trigger and they’re ready to fight for the sake of Syria and for the sake of self-defense,” said Khoury, the patriarchal assistant at the Antioch Diocese, based in Damascus.

Asked about the 13 nuns and several orphanage workers who were seized last week and spirited away from Maaloula to the nearby town of Yabroud, Khoury indicated they were unable to discuss their situation freely:

“As they said, they’re in the home of a neighbor. And when you’re in a neighbor’s home, you can only communicate when the neighbor wants you to.”

The women appeared in video footage broadcast Friday by Al-Jazeera television and said they were being treated well after being forced to leave Maaloula due to heavy shelling. Pro-opposition sources deny that the women were kidnapped.

Khoury said that some 40 churches had been damaged during the war in Syria and blamed the international community for accepting the opposition’s version of events, “which is that the regime is killing its people — they are seeing things with only eye.”

Khoury urged leading countries to instead make efforts to stop the flow of weapons into the country.

In Lebanon, caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said the events in Maaloula, where the regime and rebels have been locked in a fierce campaign for the last several weeks, were having an impact on Christians in Lebanon and the rest of the world.

Bassil told a news conference that it was time to act in order to halt “the series of attacks on Christians.”

“Reactions in Lebanon, the Levant and the world haven’t been sufficient,” Bassil said, adding that a similar disappointing response followed the kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops in April.

The minister proposed both prayer and large-scale peaceful demonstrations to express outrage over the targeting of Christians in the war in Syria.

Assyrian International News Agency

Islamic Front Fighters Take Over Free Syrian Army Bases Near Turkish Border

The Islamic Front, a recently formed Islamist alliance of several large groups that cooperate with al Qaeda in Syria, has driven Free Syrian Army forces out of bases and a warehouse at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing into Turkey. Late last month, the warehouse and its FSA commanders were taken over by the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham.

Following an all-night battle between the Islamic Front and FSA units, today Islamic Front fighters seized FSA arms depots containing weapons that had come into Syria through Turkey, according to the activist Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

FSA spokesman Louay Meqdad said the Islamic Front fighters raised their own flag in place of the FSA’s, after “asking” FSA personnel to leave, Reuters reported.

Agence France Presse notes that the capture of the FSA bases took place only four days after the Islamic Front declared that it rejected FSA command.

Last week, the Islamic Front, estimated at 45,000 fighters, published its charter, which sets out its goals of creating an Islamic state under sharia law. Although the charter does not mention al Qaeda or its two official Syrian branches, the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, the Islamic Front embraces jihad and calls the foreign fighters “our brothers.” Taken as a whole, the charter indicates that the Islamic Front is willing to cooperate with both Al Nusrah and the ISIS; most of the Islamist groups that make up the Islamic Front have fought alongside the al Qaeda groups already. [See LWJ reports, Islamic Front endorses jihad, says 'the Muhajireen are our brothers,' and Analysis: Formation of Islamic Front in Syria benefits jihadist groups.]

Shortly after the publication of the charter, General Salim Idriss, head of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council, congratulated the Islamic Front on its formation and pledged to cooperate with it. A few days earlier, on Nov. 24, an FSA spokesman had claimed that the Islamic Front answered to the Supreme Military Council; he also estimated that the Islamic Front controlled up to 60 percent of the rebel fighters in Syria, TIME reported.

A report in the BBC today states that al Qaeda-linked fighting units are becoming increasingly organized in the recruitment and transfer of foreign fighters through safe houses near the Turkish border into Syria and often out again back to their home countries.

A French jihadist who joined a brigade that consists of 8,000 fighters told the BBC that “there are thousands of us, literally from every corner of the world” and “we are all al-Qaeda.” He also claimed that his brigade had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham.

In a further indication of the growing strength of the Islamist forces and corresponding weakness of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, a former rebel commander told the BBC that FSA fighters are now being targeted by jihadist forces and that he fled to Turkey after jihadists captured his unit and killed most of his men.

By Lisa Lundquist

Assyrian International News Agency

Syrian Kurds Take Steps Toward Self-Governance

(VOA) — In much of Syria’s Kurdish-dominated northeast, basic services are functioning and schools are open in marked contrast to other areas of the war-torn country.

That’s because Kurds have been able to maintain a strong semblance of self-governance.

The city of Qamishli has become a center of that rule, carved out by Kurdish militias who ousted al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists.

Confidence among Kurdish activists is growing and so too is their ambition, they say. They are creating a rival to what remains of the Syrian bureaucracy in the northeast and they hope it could form the basis of a semi-autonomous state once the civil war is eventually over.

Although criticized by the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC) because they refuse to assist rebels battling to oust President Bashar al-Assad, the Kurds say they are determined to prevent their cities from suffering the fate of Aleppo and other towns contested by the rebels and Assad.

Many of them have been razed in the conflict as Assad withdrew most of his forces from the northeast early in the two-and-half year civil war.

“The Kurdish people from the start supported the revolution and they believed in the same dream of the Arab Spring, of having a free democratic society,” said activist Moaze Abdel Kareem, a 32-year-old pharmacist who heads the new Kurdish-controlled Qamishli city council.

“A lot of our people were imprisoned and tortured by Assad over the years,” he said. “But we started to think we might be able to accomplish our aims through peaceful means, as much as we can. We are not only avoiding a fight with the Syrian army but also would prefer not to fight the Free Syrian Army (FSA). But we will defend our geography.”

The Kurds control about 80 percent of the city, they say and try to ignore the presence of Syrian soldiers. They too try to disregard as much as they can the remaining Syrian state apparatus when it comes to everyday basic needs and services. Their approach is simply to ignore and not visit the handful of government buildings that still fly the red, black and white striped Syrian national flag with two green stars.

They go instead to new local Kurdish authorities that have been created from the ground up by activists from different political factions and from no factions at all, although cadres from the leftish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, are to the forefront of the initiative.

“When the situation started to collapse in the city because of the revolution, there was nobody to clean the streets, the trash piled up causing health and hygiene problems and people started to volunteer to do something about it,” Kareem said from a busy office complex taken over by the council.

Volunteer committees started to focus a year ago on trash collection and water supplies.

But the local volunteerism and activism snowballed and in early summer 32 committees in all were formed to supervise a broad range of services — including public health, sewage, energy supplies, security, and women’s issues. The council set up Syria’s first ever all-female municipal police unit.

“There are some things you still have to go to state functionaries for, like applying for a passport,” Kareem said. “But mostly you come to us.”

Funding of the new local councils comes from voluntary donations and service-fees, although Kareem says the fees are lower than those charged by the Syrian government. The 120 council workers receive token salaries and Kareem receives $ 70 a month.

Many Kurds are happy to be freed from the months-long reign of terror of the jihadists and welcome local rule.

??”We used to close the shop very early because we were frightened about safety,’ said Dania Moon, owner of a women’s boutique in downtown Qamishli that sells clothing jihadists would have found offensive. “There were kidnappings and killings by jihadists and also by ordinary individuals.”

With stability, the exchange rate between the Syrian pound and the dollar has stabilized, although prices are still high, at least double their pre-war prices.

Locally grown fruit and vegetable are available in abundance, hawked by street vendors in Qamishli’ s narrow and busy thoroughfares, Still, stores are thinly stocked when it comes to goods from overseas. The Turks have closed much of the border with Syria’s Kurdistan.

The stability the city, which sits at the foot of the Taurus Mountains and has a population of just under 200,000, is threatened though. There is alarm at a burgeoning bombing campaign by jihadists. The latest came recently when a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside the internal security base near Qamishli, killing a civilian and two members of the Kurdish security forces.

Since the summer, there have been 37 car or roadside bombings and three blasts detonated by suicide bombers in Syria’s Kurdistan. More than 40 have died.

Aside from the jihadist bombing campaign, relations with the remaining Syrian troops in the Kurdish pocket are tense.

“The Assad regime knows we are strong, so it chooses not to attack us now,” said Giwan Ibrahim, one of the Kurds’ top military commanders. “And we choose not to attack Assad now, despite the fact that he is not our friend.”

By Jamie Dettmer

Assyrian International News Agency

Calls for the central bank to take effective steps to restore the sovereignty of Baghdad

11-21-13 called Economists Central Bank of Iraq to take effective steps towards the protection of Iraqi funds and to pursue a policy to ensure restoration of national sovereignty them especially after the hit Iraq more than $ 110 billion to creditors.

confirmed in a statement to the (morning) the importance of studying the mechanisms capable of preventing the risk of creditors’ claims as companies or individuals and consistent and in accordance with international law.

And economist said Bassem Jamil Antoine: that large sums of money are still under the protection of the United States in a box to protect Iraqi funds While he should move by the central bank to rid it of illegal claims of some creditors.

Negotiating competencies and explained that the international courts in some countries bring proceedings in poor countries where ارشاء judicial authorities to blackmail Iraq. He pointed out that the country has lacked negotiating skills in this area, but it is possible to hire law firms as well as benefit from the expertise of Iraqi immigrant for the purpose of defending Iraqi funds and in accordance with international law. Where it is difficult to keep funds of this magnitude in the banks of Foreign Affairs for a longer period.

Formed Fund for the Protection of Iraqi funds DFI under UN Security Council Resolution 1483 to protect Iraqi funds from international claims and pirated after the events of 2003.

Remaining period and noted Antoine that the remaining period of the expiration of the period of protection the American money around 7 months, during which should be on the central bank to begin to move and direct editing of debt funds during the audit because there are illegal claims.

Indicating that the debt of companies amounted to $ 21 billion paid them $ 450 million in cash and completed remaining on paid their bills governmental interest rate 5.8 percent, explaining that through this measure was reduced debt to about two billion and 700 thousand dollars has been negotiating with them not to add any amounts Other., and pointed out that the remaining debt on Iraq, according to the Paris Club of between 8.5 to $ 9 billion.

money back from his part, said director of the banks in the Ministry of Finance Hilal Taan: that after the withdrawal of Iraq from Chapter VII and the payment of a large proportion of its foreign debt, the road is easy in front of the financial authorities of the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance to recover money from the Fund for the Protection of Iraqi funds DFI and national sovereignty over them.

Stressed that Iraq of its foreign debt paid more than $ 110 billion during the past years, leaving them only a fraction.

He Taan he does not risk the appearance of creditors potential to claim their money because of the statute of limitations time of the case, where they had to claim their money 11 years ago. So, it does not fear the emergence of such when the money back.

strengthen the reserve and on ways to benefit from the money in the fund Male Taan he can add to balance the currency of the cash reserves to strengthen the dinar or utilize them by employing them because Iraq needs to invest in infrastructure projects and reconstruction., and confirmed that the remaining period to the end of the protection of the American Iraqi funds sufficient to end the Iraq action transfer that money to the Central Bank, referring to the need to resolve This file as soon as this represents a restoration of the prestige of Iraq represented to regain control and discretion his money placed under the tutelage of American and under the supervision of the United Nations.

Stressing the need to give this issue of paramount importance because it is Iraqi money and will benefit the people when restoring control. was U.S. President Barack Obama signed last May an executive order to extend immunity to Iraqi funds in the Development Fund for Iraq, known acronym (DFI) for a year due to the state of national emergency in a manner keeps his money are protected as far as provided by U.S. law standard of protection in such circumstances.

Provides extended protection of Iraqi funds deposited in this fund from any lawsuits and fake or genuine by companies or individuals, it also provides real support to the Iraqi Central Bank and its funds from oil revenues, which represents President supplier to the country’s budget.


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Pakistani Taliban: Who Seems Set To Take The Helm?

For the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the issue of succession has always proved divisive and often bloody.

So it might prove again for the TTP following the death of charismatic and ruthless leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a suspected U.S. drone attack in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on November 1.

Days of secret meetings and discussions have yielded an interim leader, Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, the current head of the TTP’s shura, or council. But Bhittani is widely considered to be merely a short-term fix until a permanent leader can be named.

With a decision looming, an internal struggle for power can be expected among the several prominent factions within the umbrella militant group, some of which have a history of bad blood between them.

According to Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, internal divisions within the TTP have often led to violence.

“Succession has always been a problematic issue for this organization just because it’s a very fractured group with a lot of divisions that tend to play out violently,” he says. “So, it’s always been difficult for them to settle on a successor.”

Kugelman says that Hakimullah Mehsud established an iron grip on the TTP that helped contain factional infighting. But with him gone, those differences could boil over.

In 2009, when former leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a suspected U.S. drone attack, it took weeks of heated discussions and even gunfights before the TTP could settle on a successor.

Now, with the shura again preparing to select a new leader, we look at some of the names that are believed to be under consideration.

Khan ‘Sajna’ Said

The favorite to assume the leadership is the TTP’s former deputy leader Khan Said, also known as ‘Sajna’. The 36-year-old Said, who early on was reported as a nominee to succeed Hakimullah Mehsud, is the leader of the South Waziristan wing of the TTP.

He had a close relationship with Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the former deputy leader of the TTP who was killed in a U.S. drone attack in May. Said has indicated his support for peace talks with the Pakistani government. While some reports have labeled him a relative moderate, others have painted him as a ruthless fighter and ideological fanatic.

Said is believed to have strong support in North and South Waziristan, the birthplace and headquarters of the TTP. He is also from the Mehsud tribe, which dominates top positions in the TTP.

Said is believed to have friendly relations with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group that fights against Afghan and international forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, sees Said as the most viable candidate for the leadership.

“Going back to someone who is from South Waziristan and who belongs to the Mehsud tribe may clear difficulties with some of the TTP’s far-flung operations, which are under local commanders,” he says. “Somebody who is prepared to talk without preconditions would also be preferred.”

Shahriyar Mehsud

Shahriyar Mehsud is a little-known TTP fighter. He was expelled by former leader Baitullah Mehsud from North Waziristan. He is reported to have lived in Afghanistan before returning to North Waziristan after Baitullah Mehsud’s death in 2009. 

Shahriyar Mehsud was close to Hakimullah Mehsud but he never assumed a senior position within the group. Since Hakimullah Mehsud’s death, his faction has publicly backed Shahriyar Mehsud. But his inexperience and lack of influence makes him an outside bet to become the new leader of the TTP.

There is bad blood between Hakimullah Mehsud’s camp and Said, who was deposed as deputy leader of the group earlier this year by the former leader. The point of contention between them reportedly was the issue of peace talks with the Pakistani government. Hakimullah Mehsud was known to be against any dialogue with the government.

Omar Khalid Khurasani

Khurasani is the leader of the TTP’s wing in FATA’s Mohmand Agency. He is considered to be one of the TTP’s most effective and powerful leaders. Khurasani, who real name is Abdul Wali, belongs to the Safi Pashtun tribe.

He rose to prominence when he seized a Sufi shrine in Mohmand and renamed it in honor of Islamabad’s radical Red Mosque, which was the scene of a deadly weeklong battle between radical students and Pakistani security forces in 2007.

Khurusani, who is believed to have close ties to Al-Qaeda, has fought in Kashmir, the Himalayan region disputed by Pakistan and India. Despite his influence within the TTP, Khurusani is considered an unlikely successor because he does not hail from the Mehsud tribe.

Mullah Fazlullah

Fazlullah is the head of the TTP’s wing in Swat Valley. His forces infiltrated Swat in 2007 and enforced draconian rules similar to those imposed by the Afghan Taliban. Men were forced to grow beards, women were discouraged from venturing outside, and schools were destroyed. A military offensive by the Pakistani army pushed most of Fazlullah’s forces out of Swat in 2009. He is believed to be residing across the border in eastern Afghanistan.

His group still has a presence in Swat, however. His forces are believed to have carried out the shooting of schoolgirl and education campaigner Malala Yousafzai last year.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty



Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Arabs Urge Saudis To Take UNSC Seat

Arab envoys to the United Nations have called on Saudi Arabia to reverse its decision to reject a temporary seat on the UN Security Council.

The Arab Group, in a statement, urged the kingdom to continue what it called Saudi Arabia’s “brave role” defending Arab issues by taking the Security Council seat.

Saudi Arabia won a two-year seat on the Security Council in a vote on October 17 – but the next day stunned the diplomatic world when it rejected the seat.

Explaining the move, the Saudis condemned the Security Council’s failure to take action on the Syrian war and other Middle East issues.

No country has ever previously been elected to the Security Council and not taken the seat.

The Saudis are a leading backer of the Syrian rebels.

Based on reports from Reuters and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Syrian Christians, in Fear of Jihadists, Begin to Take Up Arms With Assad

As the Syrian civil war drags on, the rebels no longer simply want to topple a tyrannical regime. Now they want to replace the government with an Islamic-centered state, with Christians now joining President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Members of the religiously neutral Free Syrian Army, which started waging the conflict two years ago, are being supplemented by al-Qaida-affiliated jihadists who seem intent on spreading terror among Syria’s Christian community, according to Catholic Online.

Although Christians have, for the most part, preferred to remain above the fray and declare their neutrality, a Syrian Christian interviewed by France24 and identified only as “John,” said he saw the handwriting on the wall and joined Assad’s forces early on.

“I tried to encourage the men from my village and nearby villages to join up as well. But they weren’t very receptive, as they didn’t feel concerned by what was going on,” John told France24, according to Catholic Online. “All the while, an increasingly large number of Lebanese and Palestinian jihadists were crossing the border to come support the rebels.”

The jihadists brought trouble for not just the Christians, but for Syria’s entire civilian population.

“From week to week, the number of kidnappings and attacks against civilians was increasing rapidly,” John said. “All the inhabitants of the region, whether Christian or Muslim, could clearly see that criminals were taking advantage of the reigning chaos to loot and kidnap innocent people. This ended up pushing many of our young men to join the ranks of the National Defense Committees.”

Catholic Online reported:

There is a growing sense that the conflict cannot be resolved by fighting so the incentive to negotiate is strong. However, al Qaida-backed fighters have little desire to negotiate and they often undermine ceasefires. The rebel forces are receiving arms and supplies, especially the jihadists with their own, independent supply networks.

With no end to the conflict in sight, more Christians are taking Assad’s side in an effort to stem the slowly rising tide of jihadists arrayed against them.

In September, Syria’s rebel forces began receiving weapons paid for by the CIA, according to CNN. Does anyone else have a problem with that?

By Michael Dorstewitz

Assyrian International News Agency



10-9-13 AlreadyBlessed: We were told that banks had codes but not 800#s yet. They had authorization to release 800′s to sites but haven’t done it …WE don’t know which sites will get them…we are probably the biggest right now so they can get to the most people so i am guessing they will got with the major ones?


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Kurdish Groups Take Control In Northeast Syria

RAS AL-AIN, Syria — The Mesopotamian Al-Jazira plain is populated by a majority of Arabs, but the northern districts of the province of Hasakah, including the two main cities Qamishli and Hasakah, will soon see the first steps of a Kurdish-led administrative and political decentralization. Arabs here hold different views on Kurdish autonomy, ranging from support to skepticism and opposition. Regardless of the political shape of these regions, it is urgently necessary to reconcile both communities and solve the land disputes caused by the presence of Arab settlers, in order to ward off a Kirkuk-like ethnic strife.

“The self-management plan won’t discriminate among the different communities,” said Ahmad al-Ahmad, an Arab staff member in the Ministry of Education from al-Jabriyya, a village next to Amuda. “Therefore, I support it. We want to see locals, whether Arabs or Kurds, managing and developing these regions,” he told Al-Monitor. Ahmad is originally from Tabqa in Raqqa province and he settled in al-Jabriyya 37 years ago. He belongs to the so-called maghmurin, “flooded,” Arab tribes resettled by the government along the northern border of the province of Hasakah in the 1970s, in order to compensate them for the loss of their lands flooded by the construction of the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates between 1968 and 1973. It was part of the Arabization plan drafted by Hasakah’s police chief, Mohammad Talab Hilal, in 1963 to change the demographic balance at the expense of Kurds.

In a city like Ras al-Ain, where graffiti celebrates the expulsion of the Arab opposition at the hands of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on July 17 and rockets keep being launched from the neighboring villages controlled by the rebels, some Arab residents show no hesitation in praising the YPG.

“Most Arab tribes are relieved by the departure of the Free Syrian Army [FSA] fighters,” an Arab electrician told Al-Monitor. “People initially welcomed them when they liberated the city from government troops [in November 2012], but they regretted this after the arrival of looters belonging to the brigades of Ahrar al-Ghoyran, Ahrar Manbij and others.”

Despite the preference accorded to Kurdish militias, Arabs in Ras al-Ain are far from convinced of the merits of political decentralization without an effective Arab-Kurdish reconciliation.

“Relations are tense; the percentage of mixed marriages is low. Before any self-management plan you need to clean hearts from fences — that means reaching an agreement between Arab and Kurdish tribes,” an Arab teacher who works in a Kurdish neighborhood told Al-Monitor. “First of all, you have to explain to Arabs what the Kurdish slogans and projects stand for. After two Arab boys were arrested by the YPG for a murder in a nearby village, their father asked incredulously what entitled them to carry out arrests,” the electrician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained.

The main Kurdish coalition, the Kurdish Supreme Committee dominated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), understands perfectly that it needs to soften the terms of autonomy to reassure the opposition, the regime and other communities in general.

“The Kurds realized they need to find common ground with the other Syrian components. Therefore, they referred to the draft of a ‘social contract’ rather than a constitution, besides to stressing the administrative nature of this decentralization,” Hajj Bakr al-Husseini, a Democratic Arab Socialist Union (ASDU) member from Amuda, told Al-Monitor. Nevertheless, such decentralization includes the formation of a “temporary” administration with executive powers and the election of a legislative assembly. The paralysis of the central government caused by the ongoing conflict might actually accentuate the need for political autonomy for these relatively stable areas.

Arabs and Kurds continue to hold divergent views on the fate of the maghmurin settlers, a question likely to ignite tensions in the near future under any Kurdish administration. Arabs recognize that the maghmurin profited from the agrarian reform, but they belittle its anti-Kurdish bias.

“I know maghmurin who were entitled to 40 dunams, since they were given self-sufficient rain-fed lands, but they obtained around 230 dunams,” recalled the electrician from Ras al-Ain. “Kurds are not the only ones who lost land: 80% of our lands in Tabqa were flooded or sold to Arabs from the province of Hasakah, while some Kurds received lands in Hasakah, too,” al-Ahmad told Al-Monitor.

“The Kurdish aghawat [tribal chieftains] played a negative role, as they didn’t agree to allot lands among their poor relatives to circumvent the confiscation of properties exceeding the legally permitted size,” al-Husseini told Al-Monitor. “Less than one fourth of the lands were redistributed according to the political decision and they should be given now to the poor people, not to the original landlords, regardless of their ethnicity,” al-Husseini continued.

Kurds admit the responsibility of the Kurdish aghawat in land dispossession, but they see the question under the lens of a racist policy waiting for compensation.

“I don’t deny that Kurdish landowners share responsibility for what happened, but there was a policy of Arabization. Look how these villages were called: Haifa, Kufa,” said a Kurdish law student from Ras al-Ain, pointing at the settlements named after Arab cities on the road to Dirbasiyyah. When he needs to travel to Hasakah to take his exams, the only viable road is from Dirbasiyyah, as Arab jihadists force Kurds to get off buses on the way from Ras al-Ain.

“In the end, the PYD believes in a Kurdish homeland and I’m confident they’ll expel the maghmurin or levy taxes to allow them to remain on Kurdish lands,” a Kurdish Syrian telecommunications worker told Al-Monitor.

In the context of the ongoing conflict between Arab jihadists and the YPG, the maghmurin might represent a menace for the Kurdish authorities, as the threat looming over their territories might prompt them to side with the rebels.

“The Kurds should remember that if it weren’t for us [the maghmurin], the FSA would be already here. The rebels contacted us, but we refused to shelter them in Jabriyya to avoid government shelling,” said al-Ahmad. “The maghmurin could be dragged toward supporting the rebels if they feel that their lands are endangered,” admitted the electrician from Ras al-Ain.

As they pave their way toward autonomy, the Syrian Kurds need to win over support from the Jazira plain’s Arab majority. The successful strategy pursued over the last year has been to provide security to legitimize the new Kurdish institutions. However, Arab residents still need to be reassured that the Kurdish rise won’t mean indiscriminate retaliation for Baathist policies.

By Andrea Glioti
AL Monitor

Assyrian International News Agency

Dutch Take Legal Action To Free Greenpeace Activists

The Netherlands has begun legal action against Russia to secure the release of 30 Greenpeace activists charged with piracy.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said on October 4 that the Netherlands has started an arbitration process based on the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea against the “unlawful detention” by Russian officials of the “Arctic Sunrise” ship, which sails under a Dutch flag, and its crew.

On October 3, Russian officials charged the ship’s activists with piracy, which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

The activists — who come from 18 countries — were detained by Russian Coast Guard forces after they had tried to climb a Gazprom oil platform in the Barents Sea to protest Russian plans to drill in the Arctic.

Greenpeace says the crew of the ship committed no crimes.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hakim calls to take care of young people

Baghdad (AIN) –The head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, Ammar al-Hakim, called to take care of young people.

Through his Facebook page, he said “The young people represent the main stream of life and the majority of citizens in Iraq so we have to allocate a major part of our national project to them.” /End/


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Syrian Rebels Take Christian Village

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Rebels including al-Qaida-linked fighters gained control of a Christian village northeast of the capital Damascus, Syrian activists said Sunday. Government media provided a dramatically different account of the battle suggesting regime forces were winning.

It was impossible to independently verify the reports from Maaloula, a scenic mountain community known for being one of the few places in the world where residents still speak the ancient Middle Eastern language of Aramaic. The village is on a UNESCO list of tentative world heritage sites.

The rebel advance into the area this week was spearheaded by Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, exacerbating fears among Syrians and religious minorities about the role played by Islamic extremists within the rebel ranks.

It was not immediately clear why the army couldn’t sufficiently reinforce its troops to prevent the rebel advance in the area some 45 kilometers (25 miles) from Damascus. Some activists say that Assad’s forces are stretched thin, fighting in other areas in the north and south of the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said Jabhat al-Nusra backed by another group, the Qalamon Liberation Front, moved into the village after heavy clashes with the army late Saturday. He said around 1,500 rebels are inside the town.

“The army pulled back to the outskirts of the village and both (rebel groups) are in total control of Maaloula now,” Abdul-Rahman said.

He said pro-government fighters remain inside the village, in hiding.

Initially, troops loyal to President Bashar Assad moved into Maaloula early Saturday, he said, “but they left when rebels started pouring into the village.” Now, Abdul-Rahman said, the army is surrounding the village and controlling its entrances and exits.

A Maaloula resident said the rebels, many of them sporting beards and shouting God is great, attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the village overnight.

“They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village,” said the resident, reached by telephone from neighboring Jordan. “So many people fled the village for safety.”

Now, Maaloula “is a ghost town. Where is President Obama to see what befallen on us?” asked the man.

Another resident who fled the village of 3,000 inhabitants earlier in the day said in a telephone interview that Assad’s forces deployed on the outskirts of the village, while gunmen inside refused to allow anybody in.

He said the gunmen declined to allow fleeing people to take five dead bodies out of the village with them.

He said one of the churches, called Demyanos, had been torched and that gunmen stormed into two other churches and robbed them.

Most of the gunmen are foreigners, he said, adding that he heard different dialects, mainly of Tunisians, Libyans, Moroccans and Chechens.

Another resident, a Christian man, said he saw militants forcing some Christian residents to convert to Islam. “I saw the militants grabbing five villagers Wednesday and threatening them (saying): ‘Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded,’” he said.

The two other residents said they heard about the conversions, but did not see them. All three spoke on condition of anonymity out of fears of retaliation. A Christian woman who spoke to the AP on Thursday also said there were reports that militants threatened villagers with death if they did not convert.

Syria’s state SANA news agency said the army reported “progress” in its offensive against the rebels in Maaloula. “The army inflicted heavy losses in the ranks of the terrorists,” it said, using a government term to describe the rebels.

“Military operations are continuing in the vicinity of Maaloula and its entrances,” SANA said.

State-run TV reported that all churches in Maaloula were now safe and the army was chasing gunmen in the western hills.

The development came as President Barack Obama’s administration pressed ahead with efforts to win congressional backing and international support for military strikes against Syria over an alleged chemical attack in August outside Damascus.

The U.S. says Assad’s forces fired rockets loaded with the nerve agent sarin on rebel-held areas near the capital before dawn on Aug. 21, killing at least 1,429 people. Other estimates put the death toll from the attack at more than 500.

Back in Washington after a trip to Europe that included a two-day visit to Russia to attend a Group of 20 summit, Obama will intensify his efforts to sell a skeptical Congress and a war-weary American public on a military strike against Syria.

A passionate debate is already underway in Congress and the administration’s lobbying campaign culminates Tuesday, as Obama gives an Oval Office speech the evening before a critical vote on the possible Syria action is expected in the Senate.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius questioned in a television interview Sunday Assad’s willingness for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

“No one is for war,” Fabius told France 3 TV. “The question we ask is if we want to get to a political resolution, will Bashar Assad accept if nothing is done? My opinion is no. There has to be a firm response to push toward a political negotiation.”

Fabius said that a military intervention didn’t require every country to be behind it. He said: “We must be vigilant against barbarity.”

By Jamal Halaby

Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.

Assyrian International News Agency

In South Egypt, Islamists Take Over a Town

DALGA, Egypt (AP) — The Coptic Orthodox priest would only talk to his visitor after hiding from the watchful eyes of the bearded Muslim outside, who sported a pistol bulging from under his robe.

So Father Yoannis moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how it was torched by Islamists and then looted when they took over this southern Egyptian town following the ouster of the country’s president.

“The fire in the monastery burned intermittently for three days. The looting continued for a week. At the end, not a wire or an electric switch is left,” Yoannis told The Associated Press. The monastery’s 1,600-year-old underground chapel was stripped of ancient icons and the ground was dug up on the belief that a treasure was buried there.

“Even the remains of ancient and revered saints were disturbed and thrown around,” he said.

A town of some 120,000 — including 20,000 Christians — Dalga has been outside government control since hard-line supporters of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi drove out police and occupied their station on July 3, the day Egypt’s military chief removed the president in a popularly supported coup. It was part of a wave of attacks in the southern Minya province that targeted Christians, their homes and businesses.

Since then, the radicals have imposed their grip on Dalga, twice driving off attempts by the army to send in armored personnel carriers by showering them with gunfire.

Their hold points to the power of hard-line Islamists in southern Egypt even after Morsi’s removal — and their determination to defy the military-backed leadership that has replaced him.

With the army and police already fighting a burgeoning militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, there are growing signs that a second insurgency could erupt in the south — particularly in Minya and Assiut provinces, both Islamist strongholds and both home to Egypt’s two largest Christian communities.

The takeover of Dalga has been disastrous for the Christian community in the town, located 270 kilometers (160 miles) south of Cairo in Minya, on the edge of the Nile Valley near the cliffs that mark the start of the desert.

In the initial burst of violence, the town’s only Catholic church was ransacked and set ablaze, like the Monastery of the Virgin Mary and St. Abraam. The Anglican church was looted.

Some 40 Christian families have fled Dalga since, Yoannis said. Nearly 40 Christian-owned homes and stores have been attacked by Islamists, according to local Minya activists. Bandits from the nearby deserts joined the looting and burning, they said. To ensure the spread of fear, the attackers torched houses in all Christian neighborhoods, not just in one or two.

Among the homes torched was that of Father Angelos, an 80-year-old Orthodox priest who lives close to the monastery. Yoannis’ home was spared a similar fate by his Muslim neighbors. A 60-year-old Christian who fired from his roof to ward off a mob was dragged down and killed, the activists said.

“Even if we had firearms, we would be reluctant to use them,” said Yoannis. “We cannot take a life. Firing in the air may be our limit.”

Those who remain pay armed Muslim neighbors to protect them. Yoannis said his brother paid with a cow and a water buffalo. Most Christian businesses have been closed for weeks.

Armed men can be seen in the streets, and nearly every day Islamists hold rallies at a stage outside the police station, demanding Morsi’s reinstatement.

Most Christians remain indoors as much as possible, particularly during the rallies. They say they are routinely insulted on the streets by Muslims, including children. Christian women stay home at all times, fearing harassment by the Islamists, according to multiple Christians who spoke to the AP. Most requested that their names not be published for fear of reprisals.

“The Copts in Dalga live in utter humiliation,” said local rights activist Ezzat Ibrahim. “They live in horror and cannot lead normal lives.”

None of the town’s churches held Mass for a month, until Wednesday, when one was held in one of the monastery’s two churches. About 25 attended, down from the usual 500 or more.

“They don’t want to see any Christian with any power, no matter how modest,” Yoannis said of the hard-liners now running Dalga. “They only want to see us poor without money, a trade or a business to be proud of.”

Like other Christians in town, he said police and authorities were helpless to intervene.

“Everyone keeps telling me that I should alert the police and the army,” he said. “As if I hadn’t done that already.”

At intervals, the 33-year-old father of three would stop talking, move carefully to the edge of a wall, stick his head out to check if someone was coming.

His big worry was the bearded Muslim at the gate, Saber Sarhan Askar.

Skinny with hawk-like hazelnut eyes, Askar is said by Dalga’s Christians to have taken part in the torching and looting of the monastery. Outside the monastery that day, Askar was telling priests he was there to protect it. But the orders he yelled to other priests left no doubt who was in charge.

“Bring us tea!” he barked at one priest. “I need something cold to drink!” he screamed at another soon after.

School teacher and part-time entrepreneur Kromer Ishaq fled Dalga a day after the Islamists took over. The Islamists already were accusing his father in a family blood feud — a charge that could prompt the killing of Ishaq. Then on the night of the takeover, Ishaq’s gold shop was broken into and looted.

The son of a wealthy family, Ishaq fled with his extended family all the way to the Nile Delta north of Cairo, where he is now looking for work.

“I used to employ people and now I’m looking for work. I once lived in a house I own and now I live in a rented apartment. You ask me what life is like? It’s like black tar,” Ishaq said by telephone.

Dalga is the most extreme example of Islamist power in Minya — no other towns are known to be under such extreme lockdown. But the province in general has seen a surge in Islamist violence since the coup against Morsi.

In the province, 35 churches have been attacked, including 19 completely gutted by fire. At least six Christian schools and five orphanages have been destroyed, along with five courthouses, seven police stations and six city council buildings. A museum in the city of Malawi was looted and ransacked.

On Aug. 11, policemen suspected of loyalty to Morsi stormed the provincial police headquarters in Minya city. They dragged out the province’s security chief and his top aide from their offices and ordered them both to leave the province. They did.

Minya was the epicenter of an Islamic militant insurgency against the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in the 1980s and 1990s. It remains a stronghold of Islamists, including the extremist Gamaa Islamiya group. It also has the largest Christian community of any of Egypt’s 29 provinces — at 35 percent of Minya’s 4 million people, compared to around 10 percent nationwide.

Over Egypt’s past 2 ½ years of turmoil, Islamist strength has grown. Hundreds of jailed radicals who purportedly forswore violence — though not their hard-line ideology — were freed after Mubarak’s 2011 fall and given the freedom to recruit. The south has seen a flood of heavy weapons smuggled across the desert from neighboring Libya.

A top Interior Ministry official in Cairo said the Minya police force suffered large-scale infiltration by pro-Morsi Islamists. The local force is now under investigation by the ministry. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe was still undergoing.

The Minya security chief who fled the province, as well as two top aides, were replaced on Wednesday for what the Interior Ministry called the failure to maintain law and order.

In the security vacuum, it has been Christians largely paying the price.

Christian businessman Talaat Bassili recounted how on Aug. 15, dozens of men, some armed, stormed his home in the city of Malawi, not far from Dalga. For three hours, with no police or army in sight, the attackers made off with TV sets, washing machines, mobile phones, jewelry and cash.

The attackers descended on the house from the scaffoldings of a mosque next door. In footage from Bassili’s security camera, shown to AP, men in robes and boys in sandals try to force their way into the house, then finally blast away the lock with Kalashnikov assault rifles. Some loaded their loot into a donkey cart.

Later, the footage shows Bassili, his wife Nahed Samaan — in a nightgown and a house robe — and son Fady leaving to take refuge with a neighbor.

A week later, Bassili said a man called him on his mobile phone to ask whether he wanted to buy some of his stuff back.

“I said no.”

By Hamza Hendawi

Assyrian International News Agency

NATO Will Not Take Part in a Syria Strike

COPENHAGEN (AFP) — The suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria demands an international response but NATO will not take part, alliance head Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Danish media on Friday.

“I see no NATO role in an international reaction to the (Syrian) regime,” Rasmussen told reporters in the Danish town of Vejle, daily Politiken reported.

He said the alleged use of chemical weapons was “a terrifying and horrible act. Chemical attacks are a clear violation of international standards — a crime that can’t be ignored.”

“It demands an international response, so it doesn’t happen again,” Rasmussen said.

The NATO secretary general has in the past insisted on the need for a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

UN inspectors have visited the scene of the August 21 suspected gas attack near the Syrian capital.

The opposition says more than 1,300 people died when toxic gases were unleashed on Eastern Ghouta and Moadamiyet al-Sham. Doctors Without Borders said 355 people died of “neurotoxic” symptoms in the affected areas.

Rasmussen said he firmly believed the Syrian regime was behind the attack.

“I have no doubt that the regime carried out a chemical attack,” he said, adding: “When you look at who has the chemical stocks and the means to use them in an attack, you have to say that it is the regime.”

“There’s not much to suggest that the opposition would be in a position to carry out such an attack.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Plan B coming up soon that may take the $3.44 international

8-29-13 Mnt.Goat: Hello Everyone. Greetings from Bavaria. You are all brilliant people and I commend you for looking at the glass half full rather than half empty.

It is sometimes hard to take the road not taken. I do notice that there are some who still come on the site and insist on making waves. I say bring on the evidence and let’s all look at the opposing arguments and give constructive viewpoints. When you challenge them there is never any reply back

I do not know why some still think this is a conspiracy in telling the truth or why they cannot see what is right in front of their noses. Maybe since they have been hearing otherwise for so long they cannot step out and see the facts?

Iraq as you may be reading is once again getting close to a civil war. They need this RV since it has tremendous implications on the money laundering, ending most of gov’t corruption and issues with support to Syria (can’t go into details with this).

It also starts the 30 day clock for Maliki since he has agreed to leave office 30 days post RV. I think they are trying to kill multiple birds with one stone….lol…

I wanted to come on today and post some news that I just received. I hesitated to even give you this news since it is sensitive. I was trying to find a way to tell you.

What I am about to tell you may shock you.

Here is something that just came in so I will share with you.

There is a timeline to get this RV international through the channels they are attempting now. I can assure you there is the utmost of urgency.

There is also a plan B coming up soon that may take the $ 3.44 (or some starting rate a bit higher) international and just let got on a float.

Personally I think they will pop it out at around $ 5.25.

They are now thinking about doing this outside of the global reset.

I know this may sound weird and believe me when I heard it I too was shocked and could hardly believe they would even consider this as a viable option.

But it is what I am now hearing and it’s coming from two very good sources. There are good reasons for it.

They have not decided as of yet so don’t get too excited. They have not yet set this date but I am told they are having a meeting this week to discuss all the options as to how they will progress further.

I do not know of any other options. Perhaps some of you may have. Can you share with us all? The fact that the meeting is this week tells me how close we really are and the urgency.

Status of current process

The integration with all the exchanges now looks good, CIX seems to be working and is running all the way through, banks seem to be getting correct rates but occasionally they still are finding bugs and have to fix a bug and retest but the bugs are less severe as time goes on and perhaps becoming more acceptable to go into production with.

They are planning one more final fully integration test all the way through today and if it is satisfactory they may let it go.

If they have more severe bugs again they may hold off and decide what to do next.

It could be plan B?

Like some keep saying – when will they finally stop and just let it go and deal with the smaller issues as they come once its live?

I think they have reached that point.

This week they will make a decision to let it go or go to plan B and deal with the full global reset of 190+ currencies at a later date but not too far behind. It will still be urgent.

This is of great significance since and RV without the other currencies to me seems worthless as helping with the global reset but I’ll take it any day…lol….but there are good reasons for maybe going stag.

Later they could always implement the new process after getting it cleaner but in the meantime they could get Iraq international and at least address some other issues too. I do not have all the details.

I look at the current situation this way – getting this RV done through the global reset is a bottle neck. We all can agree on this – right?

They have been attempting to get this done since the beginning of this year.

The original project since then has expanded tenfold. Like a funnel, there are so many other events relying on passing through this funnel and being implementing once the RV of Iraq currency is done. Nothing else can flow through the funnel until this is done.

It is like a huge gamble they took to do this and do it in a timely manner. Can they pull this off? We are seeing now maybe they bit off too much at once.

I know I will take lots of heat for this post and bringing this recent news but sometimes the truth is hard but I thought you would want to here it before any confusion comes.

I also want you to know this is a very dynamic situation and so I am not taking a flip flop on anything I previously said. Just giving you the recent news. Keep the glass half full!

You do want the news don’t you? You all said you can handle it….lol… 

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Syria rebels take control of strategic town

Syrian rebel forces have taken control of a strategic town in northern Syria, cutting off government forces’ only supply route out of the city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observator for Human Rights has said.

The Britain-based monitoring group said the fall of the town of Khanasir, between Aleppo and Hama, would leave forces of President Bashar al-Assad besieged in Aleppo province.

The rebel advance came amid reports that a prominent Alawite religious leader has been killed in the province of Latakia.

The Observatory said on Monday that it had obtained a photograph showing the execution of Badr Ghazal by hardline rebels. 

Some Syrians were sceptical about the purported killing of Ghazal, saying there was still no definitive proof, but the Observatory said rebels from the Nusra Front shot Ghazal after he was kidnapped in the northern suburbs of Latakia earlier this month.

Meanwhile, residents in the central province of Homs said rebels also tried on Monday to retake the strategic town of Talkalakh, 4km from Lebanon’s northern border. 

Its capture would allow rebels in the Homs countryside to replenish their supplies.

For weeks, Assad’s forces had been on the offensive in Homs, a province they consider vital to securing their hold from Damascus to the president’s coastal stronghold.

The coast is home to a large number of Assad’s Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam, who are seen to be supportive of the president.

But the advance near Talkalakh and the purported assassination of an Alawite cleric suggest the rebels are tentatively trying to push back in central Syria.

Sectarian violence has increasingly overtaken a conflict that began as peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule but has now become an all-out civil war.

The sectarian dimension of the conflict has drawn in foreign fighters from neighbouring countries. Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah has sent fighters to join Assad’s forces, angering Sunni Muslims in Lebanon and the region.

Assad warns against attack

Also on Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia that the US has never succeeded in achieving its political goals in all its previous wars.

“The US faces failure just like in all the previous wars they waged, starting with Vietnam and up to our days,” he said, claiming that any US military action against his country would fail.

He also attacked the West and the “great powers” saying, “Yes, it is true, the great powers can wage wars but can they win them?” he asked.

He also commented on allegations that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in al-Ghouta, in Damascus, the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack last Wednesday, saying that it was an “as “insult to common sense”.



Three Good Reasons To Liquidate Our Empire (And Ten Steps to Take to Do It)


(Jon Ross / Flickr)

This commentary was originally published by TomDispatch in 2009. In light of the draconian Bradley Manning verdict, we are republishing it now.

However ambitious President Barack Obama’s domestic plans, one unacknowledged issue has the potential to destroy any reform efforts he might launch. Think of it as the 800-pound gorilla in the American living room: our longstanding reliance on imperialism and militarism in our relations with other countries and the vast, potentially ruinous global empire of bases that goes with it. The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment and the profligate use of it in missions for which it is hopelessly inappropriate will, sooner rather than later, condemn the United States to a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union.

According to the 2008 official Pentagon inventory of our military bases around the world, our empire consists of 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. We deploy over 190,000 troops in 46 countries and territories. In just one such country, Japan, at the end of March 2008, we still had 99,295 people connected to U.S. military forces living and working there—49,364 members of our armed services, 45,753 dependent family members, and 4,178 civilian employees. Some 13,975 of these were crowded into the small island of Okinawa, the largest concentration of foreign troops anywhere in Japan.

These massive concentrations of American military power outside the United States are not needed for our defense. They are, if anything, a prime contributor to our numerous conflicts with other countries. They are also unimaginably expensive. According to Anita Dancs, an analyst for the website Foreign Policy in Focus, the United States spends approximately $ 250 billion each year maintaining its global military presence. The sole purpose of this is to give us hegemony—that is, control or dominance—over as many nations on the planet as possible.

We are like the British at the end of World War II: desperately trying to shore up an empire that we never needed and can no longer afford, using methods that often resemble those of failed empires of the past—including the Axis powers of World War II and the former Soviet Union. There is an important lesson for us in the British decision, starting in 1945, to liquidate their empire relatively voluntarily, rather than being forced to do so by defeat in war, as were Japan and Germany, or by debilitating colonial conflicts, as were the French and Dutch. We should follow the British example. (Alas, they are currently backsliding and following our example by assisting us in the war in Afghanistan.)

Here are three basic reasons why we must liquidate our empire or else watch it liquidate us.

1. We Can No Longer Afford Our Postwar Expansionism

Shortly after his election as president, Barack Obama, in a speech announcing several members of his new cabinet, stated as fact that “[w]e have to maintain the strongest military on the planet.” A few weeks later, on March 12, 2009, in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., the president again insisted, “Now make no mistake, this nation will maintain our military dominance. We will have the strongest armed forces in the history of the world.” And in a commencement address to the cadets of the U.S. Naval Academy on May 22nd, Obama stressed that “[w]e will maintain America’s military dominance and keep you the finest fighting force the world has ever seen.”

What he failed to note is that the United States no longer has the capability to remain a global hegemon, and to pretend otherwise is to invite disaster.

According to a growing consensus of economists and political scientists around the world, it is impossible for the United States to continue in that role while emerging into full view as a crippled economic power. No such configuration has ever persisted in the history of imperialism. The University of Chicago’s Robert Pape, author of the important study Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Random House, 2005), typically writes:

“America is in unprecedented decline. The self-inflicted wounds of the Iraq war, growing government debt, increasingly negative current-account balances and other internal economic weaknesses have cost the United States real power in today’s world of rapidly spreading knowledge and technology. If present trends continue, we will look back on the Bush years as the death knell of American hegemony.”

There is something absurd, even Kafkaesque, about our military empire. Jay Barr, a bankruptcy attorney, makes this point using an insightful analogy:

“Whether liquidating or reorganizing, a debtor who desires bankruptcy protection must provide a list of expenses, which, if considered reasonable, are offset against income to show that only limited funds are available to repay the bankrupted creditors. Now imagine a person filing for bankruptcy claiming that he could not repay his debts because he had the astronomical expense of maintaining at least 737 facilities overseas that provide exactly zero return on the significant investment required to sustain them… He could not qualify for liquidation without turning over many of his assets for the benefit of creditors, including the valuable foreign real estate on which he placed his bases.”

In other words, the United States is not seriously contemplating its own bankruptcy. It is instead ignoring the meaning of its precipitate economic decline and flirting with insolvency.

Nick Turse, author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books, 2008), calculates that we could clear $ 2.6 billion if we would sell our base assets at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and earn another $ 2.2 billion if we did the same with Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. These are only two of our over 800 overblown military enclaves.

Our unwillingness to retrench, no less liquidate, represents a striking historical failure of the imagination. In his first official visit to China since becoming Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner assured an audience of students at Beijing University, “Chinese assets [invested in the United States] are very safe.” According to press reports, the students responded with loud laughter. Well they might.

In May 2009, the Office of Management and Budget predicted that in 2010 the United States will be burdened with a budget deficit of at least $ 1.75 trillion. This includes neither a projected $ 640 billion budget for the Pentagon, nor the costs of waging two remarkably expensive wars. The sum is so immense that it will take several generations for American citizens to repay the costs of George W. Bush’s imperial adventures—if they ever can or will. It represents about 13% of our current gross domestic product (that is, the value of everything we produce). It is worth noting that the target demanded of European nations wanting to join the Euro Zone is a deficit no greater than 3% of GDP.

Thus far, President Obama has announced measly cuts of only $ 8.8 billion in wasteful and worthless weapons spending, including his cancellation of the F-22 fighter aircraft. The actual Pentagon budget for next year will, in fact, be larger, not smaller, than the bloated final budget of the Bush era. Far bolder cuts in our military expenditures will obviously be required in the very near future if we intend to maintain any semblance of fiscal integrity.

2. We Are Going to Lose the War in Afghanistan and It Will Help Bankrupt Us

One of our major strategic blunders in Afghanistan was not to have recognized that both Great Britain and the Soviet Union attempted to pacify Afghanistan using the same military methods as ours and failed disastrously. We seem to have learned nothing from Afghanistan’s modern history—to the extent that we even know what it is. Between 1849 and 1947, Britain sent almost annual expeditions against the Pashtun tribes and sub-tribes living in what was then called the North-West Frontier Territories—the area along either side of the artificial border between Afghanistan and Pakistan called the Durand Line. This frontier was created in 1893 by Britain’s foreign secretary for India, Sir Mortimer Durand.

Neither Britain nor Pakistan has ever managed to establish effective control over the area. As the eminent historian Louis Dupree put it in his book Afghanistan (Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 425): “Pashtun tribes, almost genetically expert at guerrilla warfare after resisting centuries of all comers and fighting among themselves when no comers were available, plagued attempts to extend the Pax Britannica into their mountain homeland.” An estimated 41 million Pashtuns live in an undemarcated area along the Durand Line and profess no loyalties to the central governments of either Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The region known today as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan is administered directly by Islamabad, which—just as British imperial officials did—has divided the territory into seven agencies, each with its own “political agent” who wields much the same powers as his colonial-era predecessor. Then as now, the part of FATA known as Waziristan and the home of Pashtun tribesmen offered the fiercest resistance.

According to Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, experienced Afghan hands and coauthors of Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story (City Lights, 2009, p. 317):

“If Washington’s bureaucrats don’t remember the history of the region, the Afghans do. The British used air power to bomb these same Pashtun villages after World War I and were condemned for it. When the Soviets used MiGs and the dreaded Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships to do it during the 1980s, they were called criminals. For America to use its overwhelming firepower in the same reckless and indiscriminate manner defies the world’s sense of justice and morality while turning the Afghan people and the Islamic world even further against the United States.”

In 1932, in a series of Guernica-like atrocities, the British used poison gas in Waziristan. The disarmament convention of the same year sought a ban against the aerial bombardment of civilians, but Lloyd George, who had been British prime minister during World War I, gloated: “We insisted on reserving the right to bomb niggers” (Fitzgerald and Gould, p. 65). His view prevailed.

The U.S. continues to act similarly, but with the new excuse that our killing of noncombatants is a result of “collateral damage,” or human error. Using pilotless drones guided with only minimal accuracy from computers at military bases in the Arizona and Nevada deserts, among other places, we have killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unarmed bystanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pakistani and Afghan governments have repeatedly warned that we are alienating precisely the people we claim to be saving for democracy.

When in May 2009 General Stanley McChrystal was appointed as the commander in Afghanistan, he ordered new limits on air attacks, including those carried out by the CIA, except when needed to protect allied troops. Unfortunately, as if to illustrate the incompetence of our chain of command, only two days after this order, on June 23, 2009, the United States carried out a drone attack against a funeral procession that killed at least 80 people, the single deadliest U.S. attack on Pakistani soil so far. There was virtually no reporting of these developments by the mainstream American press or on the network television news. (At the time, the media were almost totally preoccupied by the sexual adventures of the governor of South Carolina and the death of pop star Michael Jackson.)

Our military operations in both Pakistan and Afghanistan have long been plagued by inadequate and inaccurate intelligence about both countries, ideological preconceptions about which parties we should support and which ones we should oppose, and myopic understandings of what we could possibly hope to achieve. Fitzgerald and Gould, for example, charge that, contrary to our own intelligence service’s focus on Afghanistan, “Pakistan has always been the problem.” They add:

“Pakistan’s army and its Inter-Services Intelligence branch… from 1973 on, has played the key role in funding and directing first the mujahideen [anti-Soviet fighters during the 1980s] and then the Taliban. It is Pakistan’s army that controls its nuclear weapons, constrains the development of democratic institutions, trains Taliban fighters in suicide attacks and orders them to fight American and NATO soldiers protecting the Afghan government.” (p. 322-324)

The Pakistani army and its intelligence arm are staffed, in part, by devout Muslims who fostered the Taliban in Afghanistan to meet the needs of their own agenda, though not necessarily to advance an Islamic jihad. Their purposes have always included: keeping Afghanistan free of Russian or Indian influence, providing a training and recruiting ground for mujahideen guerrillas to be used in places like Kashmir (fought over by both Pakistan and India), containing Islamic radicalism in Afghanistan (and so keeping it out of Pakistan), and extorting huge amounts of money from Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf emirates, and the United States to pay and train “freedom fighters” throughout the Islamic world. Pakistan’s consistent policy has been to support the clandestine policies of the Inter-Services Intelligence and thwart the influence of its major enemy and competitor, India.

Colonel Douglas MacGregor, U.S. Army (retired), an adviser to the Center for Defense Information in Washington, summarizes our hopeless project in South Asia this way: “Nothing we do will compel 125 million Muslims in Pakistan to make common cause with a United States in league with the two states that are unambiguously anti-Muslim: Israel and India.”

Obama’s mid-2009 “surge” of troops into southern Afghanistan and particularly into Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold, is fast becoming darkly reminiscent of General William Westmoreland’s continuous requests in Vietnam for more troops and his promises that if we would ratchet up the violence just a little more and tolerate a few more casualties, we would certainly break the will of the Vietnamese insurgents. This was a total misreading of the nature of the conflict in Vietnam, just as it is in Afghanistan today.

Twenty years after the forces of the Red Army withdrew from Afghanistan in disgrace, the last Russian general to command them, Gen. Boris Gromov, issued his own prediction: Disaster, he insisted, will come to the thousands of new forces Obama is sending there, just as it did to the Soviet Union’s, which lost some 15,000 soldiers in its own Afghan war. We should recognize that we are wasting time, lives, and resources in an area where we have never understood the political dynamics and continue to make the wrong choices.

3. We Need to End the Secret Shame of Our Empire of Bases

In March, New York Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert noted, “Rape and other forms of sexual assault against women is the great shame of the U.S. armed forces, and there is no evidence that this ghastly problem, kept out of sight as much as possible, is diminishing.” He continued:

“New data released by the Pentagon showed an almost 9 percent increase in the number of sexual assaults—2,923—and a 25 percent increase in such assaults reported by women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan [over the past year]. Try to imagine how bizarre it is that women in American uniforms who are enduring all the stresses related to serving in a combat zone have to also worry about defending themselves against rapists wearing the same uniform and lining up in formation right beside them.”

The problem is exacerbated by having our troops garrisoned in overseas bases located cheek-by-jowl next to civilian populations and often preying on them like foreign conquerors. For example, sexual violence against women and girls by American GIs has been out of control in Okinawa, Japan’s poorest prefecture, ever since it was permanently occupied by our soldiers, Marines, and airmen some 64 years ago.

That island was the scene of the largest anti-American demonstrations since the end of World War II after the 1995 kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by two Marines and a sailor. The problem of rape has been ubiquitous around all of our bases on every continent and has probably contributed as much to our being loathed abroad as the policies of the Bush administration or our economic exploitation of poverty-stricken countries whose raw materials we covet.

The military itself has done next to nothing to protect its own female soldiers or to defend the rights of innocent bystanders forced to live next to our often racially biased and predatory troops. “The military’s record of prosecuting rapists is not just lousy, it’s atrocious,” writes Herbert. In territories occupied by American military forces, the high command and the State Department make strenuous efforts to enact so-called “Status of Forces Agreements” (SOFAs) that will prevent host governments from gaining jurisdiction over our troops who commit crimes overseas. The SOFAs also make it easier for our military to spirit culprits out of a country before they can be apprehended by local authorities.

This issue was well illustrated by the case of an Australian teacher, a long-time resident of Japan, who in April 2002 was raped by a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, then based at the big naval base at Yokosuka. She identified her assailant and reported him to both Japanese and U.S. authorities. Instead of his being arrested and effectively prosecuted, the victim herself was harassed and humiliated by the local Japanese police. Meanwhile, the U.S. discharged the suspect from the Navy but allowed him to escape Japanese law by returning him to the U.S., where he lives today.

In the course of trying to obtain justice, the Australian teacher discovered that almost fifty years earlier, in October 1953, the Japanese and American governments signed a secret “understanding” as part of their SOFA in which Japan agreed to waive its jurisdiction if the crime was not of “national importance to Japan.” The U.S. argued strenuously for this codicil because it feared that otherwise it would face the likelihood of some 350 servicemen per year being sent to Japanese jails for sex crimes.

Since that time the U.S. has negotiated similar wording in SOFAs with Canada, Ireland, Italy, and Denmark. According to the Handbook of the Law of Visiting Forces (2001), the Japanese practice has become the norm for SOFAs throughout the world, with predictable results. In Japan, of 3,184 U.S. military personnel who committed crimes between 2001 and 2008, 83% were not prosecuted. In Iraq, we have just signed a SOFA that bears a strong resemblance to the first postwar one we had with Japan: namely, military personnel and military contractors accused of off-duty crimes will remain in U.S. custody while Iraqis investigate. This is, of course, a perfect opportunity to spirit the culprits out of the country before they can be charged.

Within the military itself, the journalist Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007), speaks of the “culture of unpunished sexual assaults” and the “shockingly low numbers of courts martial” for rapes and other forms of sexual attacks. Helen Benedict, author of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq (Beacon Press, 2009), quotes this figure in a 2009 Pentagon report on military sexual assaults: 90% of the rapes in the military are never reported at all and, when they are, the consequences for the perpetrator are negligible.

It is fair to say that the U.S. military has created a worldwide sexual playground for its personnel and protected them to a large extent from the consequences of their behavior. I believe a better solution would be to radically reduce the size of our standing army, and bring the troops home from countries where they do not understand their environments and have been taught to think of the inhabitants as inferior to themselves.

10 Steps Toward Liquidating the Empire

Dismantling the American empire would, of course, involve many steps. Here are ten key places to begin:

1. We need to put a halt to the serious environmental damage done by our bases planet-wide. We also need to stop writing SOFAs that exempt us from any responsibility for cleaning up after ourselves.

2. Liquidating the empire will end the burden of carrying our empire of bases and so of the “opportunity costs” that go with them—the things we might otherwise do with our talents and resources but can’t or won’t.

3. As we already know (but often forget), imperialism breeds the use of torture. In the 1960s and 1970s we helped overthrow the elected governments in Brazil and Chile and underwrote regimes of torture that prefigured our own treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. (See, for instance, A.J. Langguth, Hidden Terrors [Pantheon, 1979], on how the U.S. spread torture methods to Brazil and Uruguay.) Dismantling the empire would potentially mean a real end to the modern American record of using torture abroad.

4. We need to cut the ever-lengthening train of camp followers, dependents, civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and hucksters—along with their expensive medical facilities, housing requirements, swimming pools, clubs, golf courses, and so forth—that follow our military enclaves around the world.

5. We need to discredit the myth promoted by the military-industrial complex that our military establishment is valuable to us in terms of jobs, scientific research, and defense. These alleged advantages have long been discredited by serious economic research. Ending empire would make this happen.

6. As a self-respecting democratic nation, we need to stop being the world’s largest exporter of arms and munitions and quit educating Third World militaries in the techniques of torture, military coups, and service as proxies for our imperialism. A prime candidate for immediate closure is the so-called School of the Americas, the U.S. Army’s infamous military academy at Fort Benning, Georgia, for Latin American military officers. (See Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire [Metropolitan Books, 2004], pp. 136-40.)

7. Given the growing constraints on the federal budget, we should abolish the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and other long-standing programs that promote militarism in our schools.

8. We need to restore discipline and accountability in our armed forces by radically scaling back our reliance on civilian contractors, private military companies, and agents working for the military outside the chain of command and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (See Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater:The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army [Nation Books, 2007]). Ending empire would make this possible.

9. We need to reduce, not increase, the size of our standing army and deal much more effectively with the wounds our soldiers receive and combat stress they undergo.

10. To repeat the main message of this essay, we must give up our inappropriate reliance on military force as the chief means of attempting to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Unfortunately, few empires of the past voluntarily gave up their dominions in order to remain independent, self-governing polities. The two most important recent examples are the British and Soviet empires. If we do not learn from their examples, our decline and fall is foreordained.

Foreign Policy In Focus

More Deadly Violence Erupts In Egypt As Morsi Supporters Take To Streets

At least 24 people have been reported killed in Egypt as tens of thousands of supporters of ousted Islamist President Muhammad Morsi take to the streets in Cairo and other cities.

Western media correspondents say at least 11 people were killed at Cairo’s central Ramses Square alone, the main site of the protests in the capital on August 16. The Muslim Brotherhood said 25 were killed at the square.

There were reports of clashes in a number of other cities as well, including the second largest city of Alexandria.  

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has called for a “Friday of Anger” to protest the killing of hundreds of Islamist supporters in a police crackdown on August 14.

Egypt’s interim authorities have raised the death toll from those clashes to more than 620.  The Muslim Brotherhood says over 2,000 people were killed.

Egypt’s interim authorities have imposed a nationwide state of emergency and the Interior Ministry has warned police would use live ammunition if government buildings come under attack.

Police backed by armored military vehicles have been deployed at main intersections in Cairo.

Meanwhile, state television has aired video footage of a man carrying an automatic rifle among protesters heading toward Ramses Square.

Morsi supporters are demanding the reinstatement of the Islamist president who was ousted and detained by the military on July 3.

They accuse the army of destroying democracy by removing Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.

“Here [army chief Abdel Fattah] Sisi said he is going to apply democracy in Egypt and he canceled all democracy,” Morsi supporter Muhammad Ramadan told the Reuters news agency at a protest in Cairo on August 16. “We voted [many times] and the Islamic people [won every time] and he canceled all that. Why did he cancel it? Where is democracy? Where is our voice? And after that, he killed all those who were against him and they didn’t have any guns, any weapons to kill him, and they killed all of them.”

The military deposed Morsi after mass protests demanding he step down.

International concern is growing over the continuing violence in Egypt.

The United Nations’ Security Council has urged “restraint” and called for “national reconciliation.”

U.S. President Barack Obama has canceled planned joint military exercises next month with Egypt.

On August 16, France and Germany called for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers next week to discuss the bloc’s cooperation with Egypt.

Turkish’s Islamist-rooted government has harshly denounced the crackdown on Morsi’s supporters.  Turkey and Egypt have said they are recalling their ambassadors for consultations in the wake of the violence.

Egypt’s interim presidency has rejected international criticism, saying it is not based on “facts” and could encourage activities by “violent armed groups.”

With reporting by Reuters, al-Jazeera, the BBC, and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Gay Athletes Mull How To Take A Stand In Sochi

For one speed skater, making a statement means wearing a rainbow pin as he darts across the ice. For one figure skater, it means just being himself, flamboyant costumes and all, and having his husband there to cheer him on.

But both athletes, who will be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, know they may be arrested under Russia’s vaguely defined ban on so-called gay “propaganda.”

But the speed skater, New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup, and the figure skater, American Johnny Weir, are defying calls by some activists and athletes to boycott February’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. They are among the competitors and supporters who say the best place to take a stand against homophobia is at the Games themselves.

With just months to go before the Olympic cauldron is lit, the question of how best to show support for gay rights has come to the fore. What will be allowed by the Russian authorities — and by the International Olympic Committee, itself — remains an open question.

Skjellerup, 28, is the only openly gay athlete who is currently confirmed for participation in Sochi. He plans to wear a rainbow pin, a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, to show his support.

“I was in the closet for far too long and it wasn’t a very fun time at all. I’m not going to change the person that I am just for the sake of some rules existing in one country,” he told the U.S. news website Huffington Post.

Skjellerup’s stance is supported by Russia’s most prominent gay-rights activist, Nikolai Alekseyev, who told RFE/RL he was ready to distribute pins from the first Moscow pride parade in 2006 to any interested athletes. The Russian capital has since banned pride parades for 100 years.

Falling Afoul Of ‘Propaganda’ Ban

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the ban on so-called gay “propaganda” in June. The law, widely interpreted to be aimed at homosexuals, criminalizes the promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” to minors.

Individuals who violate the law face fines up to 100,000 rubles (about $ 3,000), while organizations can be fined up to 1 million rubles (about $ 30,000). Foreign citizens violating the law must also pay the fines, face automatic deportation, and can be jailed for up to 15 days.

Rights activists in Russia and beyond say the law institutionalizes already rampant homophobic attitudes and condones violence against gays. A spate of attacks, including several killings, has occurred since the law was approved.

For athletes, as well as coaches, trainers, supporters, and journalists coming to Sochi, the most immediate concern is the law’s vagueness as to what constitutes “propaganda” — and the room left for potentially haphazard application. Technically, millions of minors will be watching the Olympics in person or on television.

Could Skjellerup’s pin earn him a fine and time in jail?

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat-New York) has urged countries to wave rainbow flags during the opening ceremony and an online petition is calling for Great Britain’s team to wear rainbow colors. Could such moves send delegations packing?

Enforcing The Law

At the track-and-field world championships held in Moscow this week, two Swedish athletes competed with their fingernails painted in rainbow colors. U.S. runner Nick Symmonds dedicated his silver medal in the 800-meter race to gay friends.

Russia’s world champion pole vaulter, Yelena Isinbayeva, described those moves as disrespectful. “We have our law, which everyone has to respect,” she said in remarks reported by “The New York Times.”

Would similar acts mean fines in Sochi?

There are few precedents to go by. In July, four Dutch citizens shooting a documentary about LGBT communities in Russia were the first foreigners to be detained under the law.

They were detained, fined, and deported. Statements by Russian lawmakers and public officials also suggest there is appetite for broad interpretation of the law, or worse.

A participant at a gay-rights demonstration in Moscow is attacked. Activists say the law institutionalizes already rampant homophobic attitudes and condones violence against gays.

Dmitry Kiselev, the director of the leading state-run TV channel Rossia 1, said of gays during a recent program, “Their hearts, in case of an automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life.”

The Russian Interior Ministry says mounting fears are “groundless” and “far-fetched,” but that the law will be enforced during the Games.

Weir: Presence A Statement

U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir, a two-time Olympian and hopeful for Sochi, is known for his feather- and glitter-adorned costumes. An openly gay athlete, Weir is also a self-proclaimed Russophile. He speaks Russian, has a large Russian following, and is married to a Russian-American man.

He told RFE/RL that he did not plan to wear a pin or wave a flag, but said his presence in Sochi was a statement in itself.


U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir says he doesn’t need to wear a pin to take a stand.

“As far as outward displays, should I be competing in the Olympics, my husband, his entire family, and my entire family will be there as a unit, supporting me — and I think that that is a beautiful statement to make,” he said. “For an immigrant Russian family living in the United States to support their gay son’s husband, it’s something very modern and something very new, and it’s definitely a statement. I don’t have to wear a pin to show the LGBT community that I am in support of them and that I’m with them.”

But Weir also fears he may not be above punishment, or could be targeted for his social-media presence. A photo posted on the Tumblr account of his husband, Victor Voronov, shows the couple kissing on Red Square.

Where Will IOC Stand?

Adding to the concerns is the murky stance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). While the IOC has publicly condemned discrimination against gays, it has also warned that the Games “are not a place for proactive protests or demonstrations.”

In an e-mail to RFE/RL, an IOC spokesperson referenced Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which states, “No kind of demonstration of political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

The spokesperson added, “That said, the IOC would always treat each case individually and take a sensible approach.”

ALSO READ: Beginning A Journey: The Straights Fighting For Russia’s Gays

It remains to be seen whether any outward display of gay identity or support for gay rights will be considered “political,” and therefore unacceptable, by the body. At the 1968 Games in Mexico City, two U.S. athletes who gave a “black power” salute on the podium were later stripped of their medals.

Activists and Western officials say they will be watching the IOC closely.

“To be an openly straight person is not a political statement and is not a religious expression. It’s simply a person being who they are, fundamentally, as a human being,” openly gay U.S. Congressman Mark Takano (Democrat-California) told RFE/RL.

“And I would say that’s true of people who are openly gay, openly lesbian, openly bisexual, [and] openly transgender. To somehow impute that as political expression, whereas being openly straight is somehow not — this is an absurdity.”

The uncertainty about how both Russia and the IOC will respond to shows of LGBT support has even led to some creative suggestions on Twitter for a “Sochi salute” that will not be punishable. One user suggested that athletes should make an arc shape with their hands to reference the rainbow.

Another Twitter user said that regardless of the actions of either Russia or the IOC, Sochi looks destined to become the “gayest games ever.”

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty



Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Citizens will take out Maliki

7-31-2013 Intel Guru Frank26 [via BulldogFord65] Those who say other countries are part of IMF with worthless currency; yes, correct, there are some – but do you see everyone rushing to go into those countries to do business and banking? NO; but they are running to get into Iraq and invest. we are seeing the violence escalate, not in an offensive manner now, but defensively…if the rate is not revealed, the citizens will tear the country apart; I Team reports that the citizens will take out Maliki if something is not done.

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Iran To Take Chinese Subway Cars For Oil

An Iranian official says international sanctions have forced Tehran to accept subway cars from China in place of cash payments for oil.

Amir Jafarpour, deputy head of Iran’s Transportation and Fuel Management Committee, said the government ordered 315 carriages from Beijing for their subway system.

He says billions of dollars of payments from crude-oil exports to China have not been transferred to Iran because of international sanctions.

Jafarpour was quoted by the news website on July 29 as saying, “The Chinese have frozen the money from the oil we sold them.”

Western states have imposed sanctions on Iran because of its disputed nuclear program, saying it could be used to build atomic weapons.

Tehran has sought to bypass the sanctions by bartering for physical goods in exchange for oil.

Based on reporting by AP and

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Disillusioned Rebels Drift Back to Take Assad Amnesty

Disillusioned by the Islamist twist that the “revolution” in Syria has taken, exhausted after more than two years of conflict and feeling that they are losing, growing numbers of rebels are signing up to a negotiated amnesty offered by the Assad regime.

At the same time, the families of retreating fighters have begun quietly moving back to government-controlled territory, seen as a safer place to live as the regime continues its intense military push against rebel-held areas.

The move is a sign of the growing confidence of the regime, which has established a so-called “ministry of reconciliation” with the task of easing the way for former opponents to return to the government side.

Ali Haider, the minister in charge, said: “Our message is, ‘if you really want to defend the Syrian people, put down your weapons and come and defend Syria in the right way, through dialogue’.”

Mr Haider, who has a reputation as a moderate within the regime, has established a system in which opposition fighters give up their weapons in exchange for safe passage to government-held areas.

Rebel fighters have privately said that they are aware of the amnesty offer, and that some men had chosen to accept it, although they say that the numbers involved remains a small proportion of those fighting the government.

“I used to fight for revolution, but now I think we have lost what we were fighting for,” said Mohammed, a moderate Muslim rebel from the northern town of Raqqa who declined to give his last name. “Now extremists control my town. My family has moved back to government side because our town is too unsafe. Assad is terrible, but the alternative is worse.”

The prevalence of extremist Islamist groups in rebel-held areas, particularly in the north, has caused some opposition fighters to “give up” on their cause.

Ziad Abu Jabal comes from one of the villages in Homs province whose residents recently agreed to stop fighting the regime. “When we joined the demonstrations we wanted better rights,” he said. “After seeing the destruction and the power of jihadists, we came to an agreement with the government.”

Mr Haider said that he had attended a ceremony yesterday at which 180 opposition fighters rejoined the government’s police force, from which they had previously defected.

Although it was not possible to verify this claim, when The Daily Telegraph previously visited the reconciliation ministry’s headquarters in Damascus the office was crowded with the family members of rebels fighting in the city’s suburbs who said their men wanted to return.

A ministry negotiator, who gave his name only as Ahmed, was in the process of arranging the defection of a rebel commander and 10 of his men from the Ghouta district.

“It took us three months of negotiation and this is a test,” he said. “If this goes well, the commander says that 50 others will follow.”

He described the steps taken to allow the return of fighters willing to lay down their arms. First, he said, a negotiator must cross the front line for a meeting on rebel-held territory. “We have to hope the rebel commander orders his snipers not to shoot us.”

Would-be defectors were given papers allowing them to pass through Syrian army checkpoints, and then waited in a safe house until the officials could get their names removed from wanted lists held by the more hardline defence ministry and intelligence agencies.

The rebels “did not sign up to be part of extremist Islamist groups that have now gained influence”, he said. “Now they want to come back to a normal life.”

In the days before the regime took the town of Qusayr last month, The Telegraph saw mediators on the Lebanese border work with the Syrian army to secure an amnesty for fighters wanting to surrender.

The phone rang with desperate calls from the parents of the rebels. “These mothers know that this is the last chance for their sons. If they don’t give up their weapons now they will die because they are losing the battle,” said Ali Fayez Uwad, the mediator.

By Ruth Sherlock

Assyrian International News Agency

Trailblazing Afghan Female MP Forced To Take Shelter

Noorzia Atmar is the human face of women’s rights in Afghanistan, her unbridled and open enthusiasm now bruised and sheltered from the public eye.

As one of the country’s first female lawmakers, she was a vocal and active force in carving out a bigger role for women in a society that had suffered for years under the hard-line rule of the Taliban.

Today her voice has been muted, and her existence in a home for battered women epitomizes the rapid unraveling of what advancements had been made.

Shortly after losing her place in the national parliament, Atmar ran into trouble at home. After divorcing her abusive husband, she was spurned by her own family and forced to seek refuge in a discreetly located shelter in Kabul for abused women and girls.

The 40-year-old’s plight has cast a spotlight on the erosion of women’s rights that has sped up just as international troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014. As international scrutiny has waned, powerful religious and conservative circles have taken steps to undermine women’s rights.

In the past decade, women have made significant inroads in Afghan society, with millions of girls attending school and women entering the workforce, including in the country’s political realm. Yet despite the progress, domestic abuse is routine, forced marriages are the norm, and female suicide rates in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world.

Shame And Duty

Atmar says her husband, Toryalai Malakzai, initially seemed open-minded about her political ambitions. The couple married in 2010, while Atmar was vying for reelection as a member of parliament from the eastern province of Nangarhar. But soon after she failed to win reelection she was confined to her home, and on the rare occasions she was allowed to venture outside, her husband forced her to wear an all-covering burqa.

Atmar fled home after Malakzai stabbed her and threatened to kill her six months ago.

“I was the victim of abuse. I had a very bitter life while I was with that man,” Atmar says. “He was getting drunk and hitting me every day. That was his routine. It reached the point where he threw a knife and other sharp objects at me. [That's why] I’m currently in a women’s shelter.”

Atmar, who has lived in the shelter for several months, says that after fleeing from her husband she turned to her family for help. But she says her parents ordered her to return to her husband. She returned, but not for long. Atmar soon filed for divorce and left for the women’s shelter.

It was then, Atmar says, that her family disowned her.

“My family had one disagreement with me. They said divorce was a shameful thing and I shouldn’t do it,” Atmar says. “I have the feeling that my own family hated me. When my name is mentioned at social gatherings, my family curses me. This has been particularly hurtful.”

Shelters Under Siege

Atmar now commutes between the shelter and her job in a vehicle provided by the government, for which she works as an adviser. She says she fears becoming the victim of a so-called honor killing carried out by her husband or her own family.

She does not know how long she will stay at the shelter, whose existence has been the source of controversy in Afghanistan. The country’s independently run and funded women’s shelters, once a symbol of women’s progress, have been described by conservative lawmakers as “brothels.”

In 2011, Afghan President Hamid Karzai attempted to bring the shelters under government control. A draft law that was abandoned following a flurry of Western media attention would have required women to obtain government approval and even virginity tests before they would be granted access to shelters.

Atmar, a former journalist, says shelters for abused women must remain open for women who would otherwise be forced to fend for themselves on the streets.

“I’m worried that if these shelters close, my sisters [Afghan women] and I who have suffered from domestic violence won’t have anywhere to go. This is our worry,” Atmar says. “If a woman has had her arm or leg broken or has had her nose or ears cut off, should we throw them on the street? In the current situation in Afghanistan the shelters are the only places of refuge for women.”

Official Rollback?

Atmar’s own plight comes as a string of controversies threaten to undo progress on women’s rights in the country.

Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament has proposed revisions to the criminal code that would effectively reverse measures designed to protect women from domestic violence. Those proposed changes, to the criminal procedure code, would prohibit a criminal defendant’s relatives from being questioned as witnesses for the prosecution. If the provision became law, it would effectively silence victims and their family members.

In addition, the upper house of parliament is currently debating a revised electoral law whose draft text omits passages — enshrined at the urging of the international community — that set aside 25 percent of the seats on provincial and district councils for women. That draft has already been passed by the lower house of parliament and, if enforced would essentially deprive women of posts in parliament and in government at the provincial and local levels, where conservative and male-dominated elements tend to prevail.

That came after lawmakers in May halted indefinitely a debate on legislation outlawing rape and forced marriages. Female lawmakers had wanted to cement the law — passed by a presidential decree in 2009 — through a parliamentary vote. But it received stiff opposition from conservatives, who have threatened to scrap it.

In what appears to be a response to recent developments, Western nations and aid organizations have moved to reaffirm their commitment to protecting women’s rights in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a program with an aim to educate, train, and empower at least 75,000 women between the ages of 18 and 30. USAID says that the goal of the five-year program is to strengthen women’s rights groups, increase female participation in the economy, and raise the number of women in decision-making positions in government.

The United States is providing nearly $ 200 million for the program, with another $ 200 million expected to come from international donors.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

You have time, take it one step at a time

wittsend:   As a practicing attorney for 33 years, I’ve learned a few things.

1. no need to be in a hurry once you exchange your currency.

2. ask the bank, be it WF or any other for some help in setting up you initial accounts to maximize you ability to protect it from computer hackers.

3. the world isn’t going to collapse economically anytime soon, so you have time to assemble a team to help. The bank can be helpful, a local bar association or CPA association can be helpful.

The point here is you have time, and now you have money, to get the team on board. TAKE THAT TIME.

5. do not be afraid to shop for an attorney or CPA or investment counselor. Ask friends, particularly those with resources, both financial and intellectual, who they use to help them. there is nothing better than to get a recommendation from a trusted friend.

6. don’t be afraid to ask the state bar association or CPA licensing authority to determine if they have ever had an ethical violation(s). If they have, don’t use them.

7. stay informed about world and national events, do not continue to be a low-info person.

8. relax and enjoy the ride. If your professionals are helping you and you are keeping your self informed, you should be able to enjoy your then current economic situation.

But above all, don’t listen to the peeps here or anywhere that tell you that the sky is falling tomorrow and you better have everything figured out today. You have time, take it one step at a time, and be careful and methodical with how you handle it.

[calibeach] wittsend I hope this is captured because it is really good advice!

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Snowden asylum request ‘could take months’

A decision on whether or not Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who is facing charges of espionage in the US, will be given asylum in Ecuador could take months, officials say.

Richard Patino, the country’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday during a state visit to Malaysia that it took two months for the country to make a decision in the case of Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website Wikileaks, and that Snowden’s case would take at least as long from the time the request was filed.

Snowden is currently in hiding in the transit area of the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, the Russian capital.

Also on Wednesday, a senior US politician issued a strong warning to cut ties with Ecuador if that country takes him in.

Robert Menendez, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he would seek to end the preferential treatment for  goods if the South American nation offers political asylum to Snowden. 

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan reports from Washington on latest developments on the Snowden case

Menendez said he would lead the effort to prevent the renewal of Ecuador’s duty-free access to US markets under the Generalised System of Preferences programme, and also to block the renewal of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act, both of which expire at the end of next month. 

Ecuador exported $ 5.4 billion worth of oil, $ 166m of cut flowers, $ 122m of fruits and vegetables and $ 80m of tuna to the US under the Andean trade programme in 2012.

Ecuador said that pending its decision on Snowden’s request, Washington should argue its case for extraditing the former National Security Agency contractor back to the United States.

Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, also called on Russia for his extradition on Wednesday, telling the US media that Snowden’s leaks of classified information on widespread US surveillance programmes had been a “serious security breach” that damaged US national security.

Diplomatic spat

Russia says that since Snowden is in the transit area, he has not technically entered the country and hence cannot be extradited.

Snowden had arrived at the Moscow airport from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, said an earlier US request to arrest Snowden while he was there did not fully comply with its legal requirements.

But Jay Carney, the White House spokesperson, lashed out at Beijing, saying its failure to “honour extradition obligations” had dealt a “serious setback” to efforts to build trust with China’s new president, Xi Jinping.

Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo reports from Quito on the impact of suspended trade ties with US

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, has said he would “almost certainly” grant political asylum to Snowden. 

“If he asked us for it, we would think about it and we would almost certainly give it to him, because political asylum is an international human rights institution to protect the persecuted,” Maduro said. 

The US has been seeking Snowden’s custody since he leaked details of secret US government surveillance programmes. There was no sign on Wednesday of him registering for onward flights out of Russia.

“They are not flying today and not over the next three days,” an Aeroflot representative at the transfer desk at Sheremetyevo said when asked whether Snowden and his legal adviser, Sarah Harrison, were due to fly out.