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Showing posts from July, 2015
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For the second time in a month after a ceasefire was declared in Yemen, fighting has continued. Saudi bombing began just hours after the earlier ceasefire and allies of the exiled government launched an offensive in Aden. In the earlier ceasefire, the Saudis claimed that they were not subject to it and had not agreed to it. Just a day after this new ceasefire was announced by the Saudis and Mansour Hadi, the president of the Yemeni government-in-exile, the fighting on the ground at least is escalating. The Saudis blame the Houthis, which could very well be correct this time around, although the Houthis claim there was no communication with them as to when the ceasefire was to begin. The Houthis are wary of a ceasefire when the last time the Saudis not only continued bombing but were able to take over the port of Aden. However, the takeover of the port in a successful offensive may also be related to talks between the Houthi ally former president Saleh and western diplomats. The appen…

UK should be ready to intervene in Libya Prime Minister Cameron claims

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London - British Prime Minister David Cameron claims the UK should be ready to fight terrorist groups anywhere in the world. He is drawing up plans for defeating Islamic State forces inside Libya..
+ Add Image 1 of 2  The Telegraph reports Cameron has ordered officials to plan for a new intervention in Libya, which he claims has become a haven for IS jihadists. The gunman who recently killed 30 tourists in Tunisia was trained by IS in Libya. Actually, the Islamic State lost control of its original stronghold the city of Derna in eastern Libya. It was driven out by an umbrella group of Islamists who now have control of the city. IS fighters have been driven out into the nearby mountains. The only significant area they control is the city of Sirte and surrounding area. However, they launch suicide attacks in many areas
Cameron is flying out of the UK today to a four-day trade mission to South East Asia. He will offer UK expertise to both Malaysia and Indonesia to help them fight terrorism…

Turkey attacks the Islamic State but also Kurds in northern Iraq

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Washington has long urged Turkey to intervene against the Islamic State in Syria. After a suicide bombing that killed 32 people in Turkey, Turkish planes have targeted IS locations in Syria for two consecutive days now. + Add Image If the Turks had simply bombed IS positions the US would no doubt have been quite pleased but Turkish planes also targeted shelters and storage sites belonging to the Kurdistan Worker's Party in seven different locations in northern Iraq. While the US has yet to make a statement on the Iraq attacks the PKK has said that conditions for peace talks with the Turkish government are no longer in place. Turkey had embarked on peace talks with the PKK in 2012, and the PKK had declared a cease fire in 2013. The Kurds in northern Iraq including the PKK units have been instrumental in defending the area against the Islamic State and even retaking some territory. In attacking the PKK, Turkey is attacking an ally in the fight against the Islamic State as far as the…

UN head Christine Lagarde and Libyan Prime Minister Al-Thinni should be subject to sanctions

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The UN has the power to sanction any group that interferes with or obstructs the peace process in Libya. The EU has already listed five individuals it intends to sanction. + Add Image The UN had previously tried to impose sanctions on two Libyans, one from each main party in the conflict but the sanctions failed to pass through the Security Council. The EU has recently named five people to be subject of sanctions, three from the Tripoli government side, and two from the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government in Tobruk. The Tripoli government has not even signed the UN plan, yet it is still called a peace agreement. In the bizarre world of international relations one can have a political settlement of a conflict with just one side signing on. As of now, the agreement is just initialled since most of the significant parts still need to be completed. Negotiators for the HoR Tobruk government of prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni have approved the agreement yet…

Former Yemeni president in talks with US, UK, and UAE diplomats

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Representatives of Al Abdullah Saleh, the former president of Yemen are talking with diplomats from the United States, Britain, and the United Arab Emirates in negotiations that may help end the war in Yemen, according to a member of Saleh's party. + Add Image Saleh himself along with his son are sanctioned by the UN so he will not personally be at the talks. Saleh and his son are still powerful in Yemen with many of the Yemeni armed forces loyal to Saleh. Saleh has allied his group with the Houthi rebels. Without his support the Houthis would likely not have advanced nearly as far as they have especially in the south of the country. Perhaps, Saleh is contemplating changing his allegiance again in order to have more power within any new government. While he was president, Saleh often fought with the Houthis whose stronghold is in the north of Yemen. The Houthis are Shia while the majority of Yemenis are Sunni Muslims. The exiled president Mansour Hadi, was vice-president under Sal…

Libyan commander-in-chief Haftar dismisses sanctions against him as meaningless

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he EU has drawn up a list of five Libyans it says will be sanctioned. The sanctions will include an asset freeze in all EU countries and a travel ban as well. + Add Image Included in the list of those to be sanctioned is CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar, head of the internationally-recognized government's armed forces. The Tobruk government or House of Representatives (HoR) controls the eastern part of LIbya. Most of the western part is controlled by the Tripoli or GNC government. The head of the HoR government's air force is also listed to be sanctioned. There are three individuals from the Tripoli umbrella militia organization Libya Dawn also named. The militia group has rejected the last draft of a peace accord presented to dialogue participants. The General National Congress(GNC) government in Tripoli has also rejected the draft and refused to continue the peace dialogue until amendments it presented are considered. The UN envoy Bernardino Leon insists there can be no fur…

Tribal clashes hit southern Libyan city of Sabha

While much of Libya is divided up into areas controlled by the rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk, some parts of the south are still controlled by tribal groups who often clash with each other. + Add Image In southern Libya, the largest city of Sabha has seen fighting break out between members of the Tuareg and Tebu tribes for control of the key city. According to the city's mayor, Hamed al-Khayali, the conflict began in a suburb four days ago after a member of the Tebu tribe was killed at a checkpoint. He said that in all around 29 members of the Tuareg tribe were killed and four more wounded in the clashes. A local Tebu official said eight Tebu were killed and 18 wounded. The mayor said attempts to negotiate a truce had failed. The Tuareg are also active in northern Mali. While Sabha is nominally under the control of the Tripoli government, military officials in Tripoli did not respond to a request for help to restore order in the city. The Tuareg control much of south-west…

Greece and Israel sign status of forces agreement

Greece and Israel signed a status of forces agreement in Tel Aviv that offers legal defense to the forces of each country while training in the other's country. + Add Image The accord was signed by Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos and Moshe Ya'alon, his Israeli counterpart. The only other country with which Israel has signed such an accord is the U.S. The two also discussed continuing defense ties between Israel and Greece. Ya'alon said:“We very much appreciate your visit here during a difficult period for Greece. This underlines the importance of relations between the countries. We wish the Greek people and Greece itself success in its effort to overcome the economic challenge. We pray for that since we believe Greece is a very important country, with a history and a contribution to the history of humanity.” Ya'alon also praised the joint training exercises between the Israel Defennse Force(IDF) and the Greek armed forces within Greece. The Israeli air force held j…

Internationally-recognized LIbyan government plane sinks ship near Benghazi port

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On Sunday, July 19, a Libyan war plane from the forces of the internationally-recognized Tobruk government attack and sank a vessel near the port city of Benghazi according to a spokesperson for the air force. + Add Image While there were no eyewitness reports or any other independent confirmation of the sinking it was also reported on the Al-Arabiya TV network. According to the air force spokesperson, Nassera al-Hassi: "The vessel was sunk because it had loaded fighters, weapons and ammunition to support terrorism in the eastern region." The forces of the Tobruk government under the command of CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar have been on an offensive in Benghazi to try and drive out forces of the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, an umbrella group that includes Ansar al-Sharia, the group accused of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador, several CIA agents and staff. While Haftar has retaken much of the city, parts still rema…

Germany pledges flexibility on Greek debt restructuring but no write-down of debt

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The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel said today that Germany would be flexible in negotiations on restructuring Greece's massive debt. However, she ruled out any write off as part of the restructuring. + Add Image Merkel said on German TV that "a classic haircut of 30, 40 percent of debt cannot happen in a currency union." Merkel said interest rates could be lowered, maturity of debt extended, as well as other relief. Another possibility would be to link payments on the loans to economic performance. Before any of this is discussed the creditors want to finalize the new bailout program. Merkel also said on TV: “Greece has already been given relief. We had a voluntary haircut among the private creditors and we then extended maturities once and reduced interest rates...And we can now talk about such possibilities again ... Once the first successful review of the programme to be negotiated has been completed, then exactly this question will be discussed – not now, but then,” …

Rebels in eastern Ukraine agree to move back smaller caliber weapons from most of front lines

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- Rebels in the separatist eastern regions in Donetsk and Luhansk have agreed to move back smaller-caliber weapons from much of the front lines in eastern Ukraine. + Add Image The withdrawal of weapons from the front lines by each side has been required by the Minsk agreement. The process started back in late February. Violations of the agreement have been frequent ever since then and there have been heavy casualties at times on both sides. Ukrainian military spokesperson Col. Lysenkosaid that three civilians had been killed in the town of Avdivka. Digital Journal reports recent shelling with casualties in Donetsk. Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the Donetsk Republic rebels claimed his forces are willing to pull back tanks and armored vehicles with weapons under 100mm 3 kilometers or 1.9 miles from the front line except for what he called problem areas. Luhansk rebels are willing to make a similar move. A statement by rebel officials to a Russian news agency said: "To show our …

IMF and EU at odds over need for debt relief in Greece

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The rift between the IMF and the Euro zone countries became clear when the IMF insisted on releasing a document arguing that without substantial debt relief, Greece could not manage its debt repayments. + Add Image Euro zone countries tried to delay release of the document until the final negotiations for a bailout deal with Greece had finished but to no avail. The US virtually controls the IMF and no doubt demanded the release specifically to influence the outcome. The document also suggested that debt relief might require a substantial write off or "haircut" of loans. As I see it, the plan of Finance Minister Woflgang Schaeuble of Germany was to present two options to Greece, a Grexit with some sweeteners or a completely humiliating, painful, bailout plan that originally required transferring over 50 billion in Greek assets to a Luxembourg firm to be privatized. Tsipras managed to transfer the fund to Athens with Greek control but under Troika supervision. This will achieve…

Yemen government-in-exile sends ministers to southern city of Aden

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Several ministers of the government-in-exile of Mansour Hadi arrived by helicopter from Saudi Arabia in preparation for the revival of institutions of state in the city of Aden. + Add Image Al Jazeera reports several ministers, along with top intelligence officials of the Hadi government, arrived in Aden after forces loyal to Hadi recaptured Aden from the Houthis. The photo accompanying the Al Jazeera articles shows forces in Aden said to be loyal to Hadi. It is a loyalty of convenience. The flag these loyalists are flying is not that of Yemen but of the Republic of South Yemen. These are members of a Southern Movement militia who are separatists. They will use the situation to promote their own cause and not that of Hadi, whose proposal to divide Yemen into six federal regions they reject. Al Jazeera notes: On Wednesday, Popular Resistance fighters - a southern militia that has been the mainstay of support for Hadi - recaptured the provincial government headquarters in the Mualla dis…

Commander of Libyan Special Forces loyal to Haftar killed in Benghazi by sniper

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For months now the head of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives government in Tobruk has supported the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Khalifa Haftar, in his Operation Dignity offensive intended to retake Benghazi and Tripoli. + Add Image He still has not completely recaptured Benghazi, which had been for some time under the control of an umbrella group of radical Islamists called the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries. The group includes Ansar al-Sharia, who are said to be linked to Al Qaeda, and of late there are reports that Daesh or the Islamic State are involved as well. However, Ansar al-Sharia is usually in conflict with the Islamic State as it is in competition with it and many of its fighters have joined the more radical group. In Derna, which for long was the main stronghold of IS in Libya, an umbrella group of jihadists drove out IS from the city, the first serious setback for the group in Libya. IS still holds the city of Sirte and the sur…