Crude dips as investors take profits from geopolitical rally – – Crude futures slid on Friday after investors locked in gains from concerns geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and in Israel will disrupt supplies and sold the commodity for profits.

In the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in August traded down 0.06% at $ 103.13 a barrel during U.S. trading. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $ 102.59 a barrel and a high of $ 103.94 a barrel.

The August contract settled up 1.97% at $ 103.19 a barrel on Thursday.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $ 99.01 a barrel, Tuesday’s low, and resistance at $ 103.90 a barrel, Thursday’s high.

Oil prices shot up on news that a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine, with the U.S. blaming pro-Russian separatist for the act.

Elsewhere, Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza to quell rocket attacks.

“Following ten days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said on its website.

Fears of Russian and Mideast supply disruptions sent oil posting strong gains until profit taking sent the commodity back into negative territory on Friday.

Disappointing U.S. sentiment data softened oil prices as well.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index fell to a four-month low of 81.3 in July from 82.5 in June, confounding expectations for rise to 83.0.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for September delivery were down 0.47% and trading at US$ 107.38 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$ 4.25 a barrel. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
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Crude shoots up as U.S. stockpiles take a dive – – Crude futures shot up on Wednesday after data revealed U.S. inventories took a nosedive last week, while upbeat Chinese growth figures also bolstered the commodity.

In the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in August traded up 1.32% at $ 101.28 a barrel during U.S. trading. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $ 99.95 a barrel and a high of $ 101.39 a barrel.

The August contract settled down 0.94% at $ 99.96 a barrel on Tuesday.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $ 99.01 a barrel, Tuesday’s low, and resistance at $ 104.20 a barrel, the high from July 8.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories declined by 7.5 million barrels in the week ended July 11, far surpassing expectations for a decline of 2.1 million barrels.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 375.0 million barrels as of last week.

The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.2 million barrels, below forecasts for a gain of 0.6 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles rose by 2.5 million barrels, above expectations for an increase of 1.7 million barrels.

Upbeat growth data in China, the world’s second-largest consumer of crude, also boosted the commodity.

Official data released earlier showed that China’s economy expanded at an annual rate of 7.5% in the second quarter, above expectations for growth of 7.4%.

A separate report showed that industrial production in China rose by an annualized rate of 9.2% in June, compared to expectations for a 9% increase, after an 8.8% gain in the previous month.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for September delivery were up 0.27% and trading at US$ 107.18 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$ 5.90 a barrel. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
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Crude shoots up as U.S. stockpiles take a dive – – Crude futures shot up on Wednesday after data revealed U.S. inventories took a nosedive last week, while upbeat Chinese growth figures also bolstered the commodity.

In the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in August traded up 1.32% at $ 101.28 a barrel during U.S. trading. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $ 99.95 a barrel and a high of $ 101.39 a barrel.

The August contract settled down 0.94% at $ 99.96 a barrel on Tuesday.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $ 99.01 a barrel, Tuesday’s low, and resistance at $ 104.20 a barrel, the high from July 8.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories declined by 7.5 million barrels in the week ended July 11, far surpassing expectations for a decline of 2.1 million barrels.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 375.0 million barrels as of last week.

The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.2 million barrels, below forecasts for a gain of 0.6 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles rose by 2.5 million barrels, above expectations for an increase of 1.7 million barrels.

Upbeat growth data in China, the world’s second-largest consumer of crude, also boosted the commodity.

Official data released earlier showed that China’s economy expanded at an annual rate of 7.5% in the second quarter, above expectations for growth of 7.4%.

A separate report showed that industrial production in China rose by an annualized rate of 9.2% in June, compared to expectations for a 9% increase, after an 8.8% gain in the previous month.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for September delivery were up 0.27% and trading at US$ 107.18 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$ 5.90 a barrel. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
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Maliki: We will not allow Nujaifi to take any position in the three presidencies

Shafaq News / State of Law coalition led by outgoing Prime Minister ,Nuri al-Maliki confirmed on Thursday, “absolute” rejection for the former parliament speaker, Osama al-Nujaifi to take any of the positions of the three presidencies.

“Whether the presidency of the parliament or the presidency would be to the Sunni Arabs, we in the State of law coalition will not allow and will not accept Osama al-Nujaifi to assume any of the positions for our belief that Nujaifi has failed in the political process in Iraq through delaying the previous Parliament ,”The leader of the coalition, Mohammed al-Sayhood told “Shafaq News”.

He added that “if Nujaifi assumed the presidency of the Republic or the presidency of the parliament , he will end what has remained, we believe that they are maneuvering the candidate names for office to submit Nujaifi as a candidate finally.”

Motahedoun coalition led by Nujaifi has refused to nominate Maliki as prime minister and called the National Alliance to provide candidates for the position with the exception of al-Maliki.


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British ISIS Jihadis Pledge to Take War to Jordan and Lebanon

A recently released video from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) shows five of the group’s Mujahideen, from Australia and the United Kingdom, pledging to take their holy war to Jordan and Lebanon if ordered by their chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The 13-minute video, entitled “There is No Life Without Jihad”, shows Abu Muthanna al-Yemeni (Britain), Abu Bara al-Hindi (Britain), Abu Yahya ash Shami (Australia), Abu Nour al-Iraqi (Australia) and Abu Dujana al-Hindi (Britain) take it in turns to promote the cause of their ideology.

“We are a state who is implementing the Sharia in both Iraq and the Sham. And look at the soldiers, we understand no borders,” says British militant al Yemeni in the video.

“We have participated in battles in Sham and we will go to Iraq in a few days and we will fight there. We will even go to Lebanon and Jordan with no problems, wherever our Sheikh (Baghdadi) wants to send us.”

Al-Yemeni speaks of the mixture of foreign fighters — from as far as Cambodia to the United Kingdom — that have abandoned their lives at home to fight for Allah in pursuit of an Islamic caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian border.

“We have brothers from Bangladesh, from Iraq, from Cambodia, Australia, UK. Nothing has gathered us except to make Allah the highest. That’s all we’ve came for,” he continued.

“I do not know anybody else who has as many mujahedeen as we do. We have people from all over the world willing to help.”

While the other militants speak of their allegiance to Allah and promote the cause Jihad, al-Yemeni sends a striking message of devotion and commitment to Isis mastermind Baghdadi.

“Don’t fear the blame of the blamers and be firm and don’t change at all. We are with you. Send us. We are your sharp arrows. Throw us at your enemies wherever they may be.”

After al-Yemeni, another British foot-soldier, al-Hindi, issues an impassioned recruitment message to those at home in Britain.

“Are you willing to sacrifice the fat job you’ve got? The big car you’ve got? The family you have? Are you willing to sacrifice this for the sake of Allah? Definitely, if you sacrifice something for Allah, Allah will give you 700 times more than this.”

“Come to Jihad and feel the honour that we are feeling. Feel the happiness that we are feeling.”

The video is notable for its high quality in comparison to past video messages broadcast by the group and the militants’ willingness to reveal their faces and display their noms de guerre.

David Cameron this week stated that the unrest caused by the group across the Middle East will see Britain become a terror target with approximately 400 British nationals currently fighting in Syria, many who have taken up arms for Isis.

“I disagree with those people who think this is nothing to do with us and if they want to have some sort of extreme Islamist regime in the middle of Iraq that won’t affect us — it will,” Cameron said.

Assyrian International News Agency

Kerry: Obama will take quick decisions on Iraq

United States finds itself forced to intervene again in Iraq after two and a half year on its military withdrawal from it, as it faces accusations that the lack of a strategy adopted in neighboring Syria, contributed to the escalation of force “jihadists” who are on the outskirts of Baghdad.

The Americans quickly surprised by the intensity and progress fighters “of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (Daash) is no longer in front of them no other option but to strengthen their support for the Iraqi army, which faces setbacks, which gave him 25 billion dollars in aid over ten years.

He said U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, on Friday, he is expected to take President Barack Obama’s “quick decisions” on Iraq because of the gravity of the situation.

He said Kerry told reporters during a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague “in light of the gravity of the situation … I expect quick decisions from the President in relation to this challenge.”
He said Kerry “Prime Minister Maliki and all the Iraqi leaders need to do more to remove sectarian differences aside.”

It was announced by U.S. President Barack Obama is very reluctant to intervene militarily in wars abroad, that it was considering “all options” in Iraq, a very generalized formula used several times to refer to Syria or Iran. She explained that the government quickly send troops to the ground and it bounces after the departure of the last U.S. troops from Iraq in December 31 (December 2011) at the conclusion of the military intervention behind the major casualties over eight years.

Obama said last Thursday that his team is considering “all options” in regard to the escalation of violence in Iraq and the progress of the detonator armed Islamic extremists in the direction of the capital, Baghdad.

Obama said that “America is ready to intervene militarily in Iraq if they threaten our security,” and explained that “Iraq needs additional assistance” from the United States to repel the rebels, he said, adding: “I do not exclude anything.”

Obama did not specify the type of assistance that it intends to provide to Iraq, but expressed diligent follow-up of the security situation taking place, and the will to prevent the rebels from the control of its parts.

He added that “our national security team is considering all options and we are working tirelessly to find out how we can provide the most effective help, do not rule out anything.” He said that Obama “bet here is to ensure that Islamists do not settle permanently in Iraq or in Syria as well.”

Some lawmakers and urges Americans Obama to allow air strikes in support of the Iraqi army against Islamist fighters extremists.

Obama said on the other hand, he told “directly” Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, his concern about the lack of political cooperation within the country, and said “honestly in the past years we have not seen real trust and cooperation evolve between moderate leaders of the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq within.” Abizaid “This partly explains the weakness of the state and the impact on military capability” of Iraq, saying that “violence in recent days should be a wake-up call for the Iraqi government.

But there are other possibilities in front of Washington also confirms analysts such as air strikes or the potential to accelerate delivery of weapons and intensify the training of the Iraqi armed forces.

He says retired Gen. Paul Eaton told “AFP”: Best Western armies are doing is training other armies to fight.
This adds adviser at the National Security Network in Washington that “the least problematic option for the U.S. president is sending military advisers are helping the Iraqi army to provide better performance with its possibilities.”

He expected his colleague Faisal Itani of the Atlantic Council Foundation (Atlantic Counsel) also “limited response from the United States, such as the Iraqi government to grant some of the demands of military assistance,” and merely the State Department promised to provide “additional military aid.”

It has already been sold and Washington equipment of the Iraqi army worth 14 billion dollars, and in January (January) The United States sold 24 Apache helicopter, as well as hundreds of anti-tank missiles of the type (Hellfire) is scheduled to deliver the first fighter out of 36 F-16s purchased by Iraq in the fall .

On 13 May, the Pentagon told Congress a draft mechanism for the sale of 200 Humvees equipped with machine guns to meet with 101 million dollars and 24 attack aircraft of the type “AT -6 Texan 2″ to meet the 790 million dollars. And before Congress has until Friday to submit objections and will be only the conclusion of the contract.
He said Eaton, who served in Iraq with the start of the invasion in 2003, said, “The other option would be to provide air support strikes through unmanned aircraft or aircraft, but there is the cost of the policy implications of an image that America bombed the Arabs.”

The U.S. administration has refused to comment on the information that Baghdad gave the green light to Washington to carry out air strikes against the jihadists of the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”, which appeared in Syria in 2003.

In the face of these rapid developments in Iraq, were evacuated U.S. companies working for the Iraqi government in the field of defense, its staff Americans, numbering in the hundreds, from the base of an Iraqi air, about 80 km north of Baghdad into the Iraqi capital because of the attack by gunmen “jihadists” in the region.


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Iraq Jihadists Storm University, Take Dozens of Students Hostage

Iraq Jihadists Storm University, Take Dozens of Students Hostage

Posted 2014-06-07 14:20 GMT

Jihadists took staff and students hostage on Saturday at a university campus in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, where security forces have battled anti-government fighters for months, police said, AFP reported.

The attack is the third major operation by militants in three days, following heavy fighting and suicide bombings in northern Iraq on Friday and a major assault on the city of Samarra on Thursday.

The militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group infiltrated the university from the nearby Al-Tasha area, killed its guards, and blew up the bridge leading to its main gate, police said.

An AFP journalist said that security forces have cordoned off the campus.

The attack came a day after violence, including heavy fighting between militants and security forces and twin suicide bombings targeting a minority group, killed at least 36 people in the northern province of Nineveh.

Assyrian International News Agency

Militants Take Staff, Students Hostage At Ramadi University Campus

Iraqi security forces have been battling militants in Ramadi and other parts of Anbar province for months. (file photo)

Jihadists have taken staff and students hostage at a university campus in the Iraqi city of Ramadi.
Police say that, in the attack on the campus on June 7, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an Al-Qaida splinter group, infiltrated the university from the nearby Al-Tasha area, killed its guards, and blew up a bridge leading to the main gate.
Security forces have cordoned off the campus.
ISIL and other Sunni-led militants have controlled parts of Anbar province, including the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, since late December.
The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, says the number of people driven from their homes by months of fighting in Iraq’s Anbar province is now close to 480,000.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Commentary: Russia, Take Your Terrorists Back Home

Contrary to expectation, the Kremlin has not recognized the result of presidential elections in Ukraine. As of today, no greeting and no official bilateral meeting has been planned for Normandy on June 6. Once again, Russian President Vladimir Putin is out of tune with world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama, who have not only acknowledged Ukraine’s new president-elect but have also met him face-to-face this week.
So far, Moscow has merely “respected” the elections’ result — just as it did after fabricated referendums in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk on May 11. In doing so, the Kremlin has demonstrated the same reaction to two events that are absolutely different in terms of their legitimacy and magnitude.
Russian leaders have made clear that the antiterrorist operation in Ukraine’s east is the stumbling block to recognition of the elections by the Kremlin, in fact delivering an ultimatum to Ukraine. Obviously, Russia’s boycott has no effect on electoral legitimacy or world recognition. But it does affect prospects for a diplomatic, negotiated settlement of the crisis between the two states.
Sadly, there is another side-effect of the Kremlin’s diplomatic and information war against Ukraine’s attempts to restore order and law in the east of the country. By demonizing Ukrainian law enforcement, the Kremlin made some foreign observers forget who is playing what role in this story. The world is simply tired of this avalanche of bad news about Ukraine and Russia, and it wants a happy end to this drama sooner rather than later. No doubt, we in Ukraine want it even more; but let’s not be misled by the Kremlin’s calls to stop the operation against terrorists. Rhetoric against violence is always successful, unless it comes from the aggressor who is himself nurturing the violence.
It is Kyiv which is calling for an end to the aggression because Russian and Russian-backed militants are terrorizing and killing Ukrainians in Ukraine. If Russia wants to end the violence, it is welcome to do so –by taking its terrorists back home and not sending any new ones. But it is blatantly hypocritical of Russia to encourage and foster terror on the ground and at the same time blame Ukraine for it.
The Ukrainian state is dragged into two wars at the same time — we have to defend civilians in the east, as well as tirelessly prove the legitimacy of these defense operations, thus repelling Russia’s attacks on both the military and information front lines. While Chechen gunmen are giving interviews to CNN in Donetsk, Ukrainian border guards are heavily attacked daily from Russia’s territory, tons of ammunition and weapons are crossing over the border from Russia, and Kyiv is being asked again and again to provide evidence of a “Russian hand” in Ukraine.
Every day, the Ukrainian government keeps explaining that calling Russian militants in Ukraine “separatists” is illogical because separatists are people who fight for their own country, in their own country. The militants are not rebels or insurgents either, because you don’t bring arms to a foreign state to rebel. If you do, you are a terrorist or a foreign soldier.
Terrorists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) claim to have publicly executed two police chiefs in the town of Horlivka after they refused to swear an oath to the terrorists. Militants use civilians as human shields and harass them if they suspect them of pro-Ukrainian sentiments. The same people deprived many Ukrainians of their right to vote in the May 25 election by blocking polling places, and they at one point seized Donetsk’s international airport.
At the same time, the Ukrainian government keeps hearing calls to “be nice” to the militants and to talk to them. Who would negotiate on their behalf? Igor Girkin, also known as Strelkov, an officer in Russia’s foreign intelligence agency who gave orders to kill Ukrainians and is now calling for Russia to invade Ukraine? Or other similar Russia-backed terrorist leaders?
The Ukrainian government is the party most interested in putting an end to the violence in eastern Ukraine. Sadly, the Russian government is the only party that can do so without the use of force.

Andrii Deshchytsia is the acting minister for foreign affairs of Ukraine. The views are the author’s own and do not represent those of RFE/RL. If you would like to respond to this commentary, leave a comment below or contact

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Afghan Candidates Take The Gloves Off

Campaigning for the first round of Afghanistan’s presidential election was generally amicable, with contestants steering clear of personal attacks. But the two remaining candidates and their supporters have taken off the gloves ahead of the final showdown on June 14.

Followers of Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani — the last two candidates standing — have resorted to mudslinging on the social-networking sites Facebook and Twitter. And the candidates’ campaign teams, meanwhile, have traded insults and threats on an almost daily basis.

In the latest episode, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Ghani’s first vice-presidential running mate, engaged in some saber-rattling during a rally in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif on June 3. “We will accept death but not defeat,” he said. Juma Khan Hamdard, the governor of Paktia Province who was standing alongside Dostum, added that “if voters make a mistake, the country will face war.”

The tough talk came after Abdullah’s second vice-presidential running mate, Mohammad Mohaqeq, insulted Ghani during a televised campaign rally on May 31, calling him a “ruda qaq.” In Dari, the word is slang for a person who is underweight. It literally means dried-up intestine or gut, and means that the object of the insult is weak and sick. Mohaqeq could have been referring to Ghani’s reported health problems.

The attack has attracted a strong backlash on social media.

Some Twitter users have uploaded photos of themselves holding messages to Mohaqeq.

One of them reads, “I’m also skinny, but at least I have a clear conscience.” That’s a reference to Mohaqeq’s checkered past. A powerful Hazara former warlord, Mohaqeq has been accused of human rights abuses carried out during the country’s brutal civil war.

The Independent Election Commission, in a statement on June 1, urged the two teams to steer clear of “discriminatory issues, defamation, and irreverence” that have been “stirred up in rallies, press conferences, and on TV and radio advertisement.” 

And President Hamid Karzai jumped into the fray on June 3 when he assembled officials from state and private media to stress the importance of maintaining a “friendly atmosphere in the electoral atmosphere.” As for the two candidates and their supporters, he advised that they “avoid all such words or actions that cause unpleasant electoral circumstances.”

The Afghan media have echoed those sentiments. An editorial in the independent “Hast-e Sobh” newspaper on June 4 said rival campaign teams were “making remarks that have created concerns for people” and urged them to make “responsible” remarks and take “constructive stances.”

Meanwhile, the private “Mandegar Daily” wrote the same day that the rival campaigns were “beating the war drum” by intensifying their attacks against one another.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Kurds will take real guarantees to implement their demands

BAGHDAD  -The MP, of the Kurdistan Alliance, Mohsen al-Sadoun said “All the demands of the Kurds, to be raised in the negotiate with the political blocs, are constitutional and legal , and everybody knows that, which are the same that have not been implemented over the past four years.” pointing out that ” we are going to take real guarantees for implementing these demands and the Kurds’ rights, from whom will form the next government , for its approval , so as not to repeat the past mistakes . ”

He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / “The Kurdish parties formed a joint committee to negotiate with other political blocs winning in the election, and this committee will have unified message , which contains the rights and demands of the Kurdish people.” pointing out ” when the National Alliance names its candidate , the Kurdish parties will take final position towards him. ”

Sadoun said the Kurds do not the National Alliance’s candidate for prime minister, because the names mentioned in the media for this position is informal, therefore, the Kurds are waiting for the National Alliance to present its candidate officially to begin dialogues with him. “

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Iraq could Take Lead in FDI

Growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) to Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan should overtake the “expansion of flows” to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by 2019, according to a new report from London’s Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and the ICAEW.

The report focuses on the GCC member countries (United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait), plus Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon (abbreviated to GCC+5).

It emphasised that Iraq, Iran and Egypt, despite being among the most volatile economies in the region, are attractive due to the sheer number of potential consumers they represent.

For the vast majority of countries in the Middle East, commodities make up more than half of their total goods exports by value, say the authors. The sum is as high as 99.2% in Iraq, where many other export industries have been disrupted by conflict and ongoing violence.

In Iraq, economic growth is forecast to accelerate to 6.5 per cent this year, moving up to 8.6 per cent by 2016, despite increasing violence. Since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, western and Asian oil majors have vied for a slice of lucrative energy contracts.


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Russia Says Ukraine Border Withdrawal Will Take Weeks

Russian military officials now say their promised withdrawal of 40,000 troops from Ukraine’s borders will not be completed until weeks after Ukraine’s May 25 presidential election.

They say the withdrawal is likely to be completed around the time that a second round vote would take place if no single candidate wins an outright majority in the May 25 vote.

The acknowledgment came two days before the scheduled first round of voting in Ukraine.

U.S. and European officials have expressed concerns that the Russian troop presence on the border is destabilizing the election by emboldening pro-Russian separatists who are battling against government forces after seizing government buildings in several towns and cities in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed on three separate occasions that he ordered a complete withdrawal of Russian forces away from border regions where they were deployed when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region earlier this year.

The Pentagon on May 23 confirmed small scale movements of Russian troops away from the border, but said it is too early to say whether a full scale withdrawal is underway.

Speaking at an international business forum in St. Petersburg on May 23, Putin said Russia also wants “some calming of the situation, and we will respect the choice of Ukrainian people.”

But Putin stopped short of declaring the May 25 election legitimate.

U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf on May 23 called on Russia to use its influence with separatists and urge them “to cease their violent activities and lay down their arms” ahead of the May 25 vote.

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that a successful presidential election in Ukraine will be a major step toward reducing tensions and restoring political stability there.

Ashton said: “Election authorities must be allowed to conduct elections without hindrance throughout the country and domestic and international observers must be allowed to fully fulfill their function.”

Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in an official video statement on May 23 that Ukraine’s “enemies have done everything they could to destabilize the situation and disrupt the elections” during the last three months.

“But,” Turchynov said, “Ukrainians are stronger and wiser.”

It was at a security conference in Moscow on May 23 that General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of Russia’s general staff, announced that it will take 20 days for Russian troops in regions bordering Ukraine to return to their permanent bases.

Earlier on May 23, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonovay had said that all forces would leave the border regions “within days.”

Candidates vying to become Ukraine’s next president held their final campaign rallies on May 23, one day after the Ukrainian Army suffered heavy losses to pro-Russian separatists in the east.

The election pits front-runner Petro Poroshenko, a 48-year-old confectionary magnate, against nearly 20 other challengers — including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Political analysts are predicting a second round vote between Poroshenko and Tymoshenko on June 15.

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

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Russian Media Take To Twitter To #SaveOurGuys

Russia is taking the West’s criticism of press restrictions — and using new media to throw it right back.

After Ukraine detained two news correspondents working for the pro-Kremlin news outlet LifeNews on May 18, a new hashtag emerged on Twitter with the aim of securing their safe release.

#SaveOurGuys is on the trend, quickly garnering thousands of tweets and enticing members of the Twitterati to post images putting their support on full display.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has jumped on the digital bandwagon…

…as have fellow Russian media organizations such as RT.

If the approach has a familiar feel to it, there is a reason.
It was only last month that thousands of celebrities, correspondents, and a concerned mother in the White House joined the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to free Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic extremists.

And long before that, a still-ongoing campaign calling for three Al-Jazeera correspondents detained in Egypt to be released went viral via the #FreeAJStaff hashtag and Facebook campaign.

There is no diminishing the seriousness of any journalist being detained, and the case of LifeNews correspondents Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko has prompted furious reactions from the Russian authorities, who often come under criticism for their treatment of the media.

Lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party urged the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to “raise its voice in defense of the freedom of speech in Ukraine.”

Senior lawmaker Aleksei Mitrofanov has told the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass that “journalists are entitled to work in any conditions and they are protected by laws.”

And Western journalists who themselves have experienced what it is like to have been detained while covering the Ukraine crisis have weighed in.

Ukrainian officials have alleged that the LifeNews journalists were doing more than reporting on the unrest in eastern Ukraine, where they were detained — saying they were caught carrying manned portable antiaircraft weapons.

The U.S. State Department condemned “the unlawful detention of journalists in any capacity” but said the weapons claim “raised some questions about these individuals and whether they were actually journalists.”

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Prisoners take scores hostage in Brazil

Inmates have taken 122 hostages in a prison in Brazil’s northeastern state of Sergipe, AFP news agency reports quoting a prison spokeswoman.

Sandra Melo, said on Sunday that negotiations had started for the release of the hostages, who were mainly visitors to the Advogado Jacinto Filho prison, near Aracaju city.

The hostages were taken during a riot on Saturday that had calmed, Melo added.

“The riot is only in one wing of the prison,” Melo said, adding that mostly visiting relatives of the inmates were among the hostages.

“We don’t believe that the inmates will hurt their own relatives,” Mauricio Iunes, the head of military police in the state of Sergipe, told the G1 news website.

Four prison guards were also held captive. “They are being threatened inside there,” said Iunes.

Brazil’s prison population is 548,000, but the country has space for only 340,000, according to Conectas, an NGO specialising in inmate rights.



Thai rival protests take hold in Bangkok

Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra have begun streaming into western Bangkok for a protest against her removal as Thailand’s prime minister and attempts by opponents to sweep the remnants of her government from power.

The gathering of the pro-government supporters on Saturday came a day after anti-government protesters began laying siege to television stations and state offices to press authorities to install a non-elected prime minister by Monday.

Jatuporn Prompan, who heads the pro-government Red Shirts staging the rally, said on Saturday that “as long as the country’s democracy is not safe, we will be here”.

Jatuporn warned that his side would “escalate our fight immediately” if the anti-government protesters’ demands were met. He said, however, that the Red Shirts did not “wish to see people killed or hurt along the way”.

The competing rallies were being held several dozen kilometres apart, but still raised concerns about violence. Jatuporn said “each side should take care of their own supporters” and avoid confrontation. 

The constitutional court this week forced Yingluck from government for abuse of power for transferring a senior civil servant in 2011 to another position.

Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, the deputy prime minister, was named soon after as her replacement.

Yingluck dissolved the government in December after an election that was boycotted by the main opposition party, the Democrats.

A new election had been planned, but no date had been agreed with the country’s electoral commission.



Ahrar bloc confirms its readiness and desire to take over as prime minister

The MP, of the Ahrar bloc, of the Sadr movement, Amir al-Kanani confirmed Ahrar bloc’s desire to take over prime minister post after the next parliamentary elections . ”

He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / “The Ahrar bloc did not put any name of its candidate for the next prime minister , but the bloc announced its desire to the post of prime minister, because there was an obstacle to this position during the past period , which was the American occupation , and after the occupation left there is no any obstacle stands to the prime minister post. ”

He explained that “the submission of candidates for the prime minister’s post officially will be after the elections to see the number of parliamentary seats and how to deal with partners.”

He pointed out that “the position of the Ahrar bloc is firm to change in the next phase , with the peaceful transfer of power , because we see that two terms for any prime minister is sufficient , so we adopt the project of limit the mandates of the three presidencies.” / end


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Syrian Jihadis ‘Take Aim’ At Christian Toddler

According to Sham Times and other Arabic websites, jihadi social media networks posted the above picture of a child sitting on the ground while surrounded by armed men pointing their rifles at him. The caption appearing with the picture, purportedly posted by a supporter of the Free Syrian Army, is “Our youngest hostage from among the hostile sects of Kessab.”

Kessab is a predominantly Christian Armenian village in Syria near the Turkish border. Earlier it was invaded by jihadis, who terrorized, pillaged churches, and prompted some 2000 residents to flee. Initial reports had stated that about a dozen families remained as hostages.

Since the picture appeared on Arabic social media, many have expressed shock and outrage, condemning the Syrian “rebels,” while others cast doubt on the authenticity of the picture.

Of course, those wondering what the jihadis have to gain from taking such a picture and making it public would do well to remember that these are the same “rebels” who decapitate people and wave their severed and bloodied heads in front of cameras while smiling; these are the same “freedom fighters” who literally eat their victims on camera.

Surely “teasing” an infidel toddler — a subhuman — with their rifles and sharing it with their sadistic comrades via the Internet for a “laugh” should not be too surprising?

At any rate, the fact remains: the “Free Syrian Army,” along with other “rebel” groups operating in Syria, are guilty of countless barbaric crimes against humanity — including against women and children.

UPDATE: Commenter LeviDocker at PJ Tatler posts a very apt excerpt from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic work, The Brothers Karamazov, which follows:

These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children, too; cutting the unborn child from the mother’s womb, and tossing babies up in the air and catching them on the points of their bayonets before their mothers’ eyes. Doing it before the mothers’ eyes was what gave zest to the amusement. Here is another scene that I thought very interesting. Imagine a trembling mother with her baby in her arms, a circle of invading Turks around her. They’ve planned a diversion: they pet the baby, laugh to make it laugh. They succeed, the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk points a pistol four inches from the baby’s face. The baby laughs with glee, holds out its little hands to the pistol, and he pulls the trigger in the baby’s face and blows out its brains. Artistic, wasn’t it? By the way, Turks are particularly fond of sweet things, they say.

Assyrian International News Agency

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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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