Παρασκευή, 31 Οκτωβρίου 2014

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Foreign jihadists flocking to Iraq and Syria on ‘unprecedented scale’ – UN



Foreign jihadists flocking to Iraq and Syria on ‘unprecedented scale’ – UN report suggests decline of al-Qaida has yielded an explosion of jihadist enthusiasm for its even mightier successor organisations, chiefly Isis – Spencer Ackerman in New York – theguardian.com, Thursday 30 October 2014 21.13 GMT -The United Nations has warned that foreign jihadists are swarming into the twin conflicts in Iraq and Syria on “an unprecedented scale” and from countries that had not previously contributed combatants to global terrorism.

A report by the UN security council, obtained by the Guardian, finds that 15,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State (Isis) and similar extremist groups. They come from more than 80 countries, the report states, “including a tail of countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to al-Qaida”.
The UN said it was uncertain whether al-Qaida would benefit from the surge. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida who booted Isis out of his organisation, “appears to be maneuvering for relevance”, the report says.
The UN’s numbers bolster recent estimates from US intelligence about the scope of the foreign fighter problem, which the UN report finds to have spread despite the Obama administration’s aggressive counter-terrorism strikes and global surveillance dragnets. “Numbers since 2010 are now many times the size of the cumulative numbers of foreign terrorist fighters between 1990 and 2010 – and are growing,” says the report, produced by a security council committee that monitors al-Qaida.
The UN report did not list the 80-plus countries that it said were the source of fighters flowing fighters into Iraq and Syria. But in recent months, Isis supporters have appeared in places as unlikely as the Maldives, and its videos proudly display jihadists with Chilean-Norwegian and other diverse backgrounds. “There are instances of foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together,” it states. More than 500 British citizens are believed to have travelled to the region since 2011.
The UN report, an update on the spread of transnational terrorism and efforts to staunch it, validates the Obama administration’s claim that “core al-Qaida remains weak”. But it suggests that the decline of al-Qaida has yielded an explosion of jihadist enthusiasm for its even mightier successor organizations, chiefly Isis.
Those organisations are less interested in assaults outside their frontiers: “Truly cross-border attacks – or attacks against international targets – remain a minority,” the report assesses. But the report indicates that more nations than ever will face the challenge of experienced fighters returning home from the Syria-Iraq conflict.
Wading into a debate with legal implications for Barack Obama’s new war against Isis, the UN considers Isis “a splinter group” from al-Qaida. It considers an ideological congruence between the two groups sufficient to categorise them as part a broader movement, notwithstanding al-Qaida’s formal excommunication of Isis last February.
“Al-Qaida core and Isil pursue similar strategic goals, albeit with tactical differences regarding sequencing and substantive differences about personal leadership,” the UN writes, using a different acronym for Isis.
Leadership disputes between the organisations are reflected in the shape of their propaganda, the UN finds. A “cosmopolitan” embrace of social media platforms andinternet culture by Isis (“as when extremists post kitten photographs”) has displaced the “long and turgid messaging” from al-Qaida. Zawahiri’s most recent video lasted 55 minutes, while Isis members incessantly use Twitter, Snapchat, Kik, Ask.fm, a communications apparatus “unhindered by organisational structures”.
A “lack of social media message discipline” in Isis points to a leadership “that recognizes the terror and recruitment value of multichannel, multi-language social and other media messaging,” reflecting a younger and “more international” membership than al-Qaida’s various affiliates.
With revenues just from its oil smuggling operations now estimated at $1m daily, Isis controls territory in Iraq and Syria home to between five and six million people, a population the size of Finland’s. Bolstering Isis’s treasury is up to $45m in money from kidnapping for ransom, the UN report finds. Family members of Isis victim James Foley, an American journalist, have questioned the policy of refusing to pay ransoms, which US officials argue would encourage more kidnappings.
Two months of outright US-led war against Isis has suffered from a lack of proxy ground forces to take territory from Isis, as Obama has formally ruled out direct US ground combat. On Thursday at the Pentagon, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the US has yet to even begin vetting Syrian rebels for potential inclusion in an anti-Isis army it seeks to muster in Syria. Dempsey encouraged the Iraqi government to directly arm Sunni tribes to withstand Isis’s advances through the western Anbar Province. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/30/foreign-jihadist-iraq-syria-unprecedented-un-isis

MESOP TODAY’S QUOTATION : Iran Leads at Halftime; Game Over? / THE COACH IN CHIEF

by Shoshana Bryen  •  October 31, 2014 – The relevant UN Resolution, as well as the Congressional sanctions bill, says the acceptable level of enrichment is none at all. The administration is, in fact, negotiating a level. This track means the total erasure of all international sanctions. All of the steps Iran took are reversible. Iran’s “expressed desires” should not be the driver of U.S. policy. The Coach-in Chief, President Obama, appears to believe the West and Iran are on the same team looking for a negotiated tie. The Iranians, however, are looking for nuclear weapons. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4832/iran-november-talks


U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang said in a briefing Thursday the humanitarian crisis in Syria is worsening and that “The collective punishment inflicted upon civilians is appalling.” U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura proposed an “action plan” of implementing local cease-fires, or “incremental freeze zones,” to allow for aid deliveries and local mediation efforts. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday acknowledged the Syrian regime is benefiting from U.S.-led airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants in Syria, however he noted the United States is pursuing a long-term strategy in the region.

U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials reported over 1,000 foreign fighters travel to Syria each month. They noted that this rate has remained constant, despite coalition airstrikes.


MESOP Syria Daily: Economic Difficulties in Damascus — “Unimaginable Prices for the Winter”

By Scott Lucas October 31, 2014 07:58 Updated – eaworldview – LATEST: Insurgents Form “Peace Corps” To Prevent Further In-Fighting Between Factions Sharply rising prices for heating oil and diesel fuel, food, and other essentials. Falling business for traders. Difficulties paying rent. This is a snapshot of life in Damascus after 43 months of the Syrian crisis, offered by Diaa Hadid of the Associated Press. This month, the government raised the subsidized price of diesel fuel from 36 cents to 48 cents a liter and of heating oil went from 73 cents a liter to 85 cents.

Those prices may appear modest compared to those in Western countries, but they come in a country where salaries are far lower: most civil servants and soldiers are paid around $100 a month.
And the underlying situation offers the prospect of more shocks. Regime oil production has fallen more than 95%, from 360,000 barrels per day to 16,000. US bombing of the Islamic State, which has taken most of Syria’s oilfields, has tightened the squeeze — despite their opposition to the Syrian regime, the jihadists have allegedly sold about $1 billion of oil to Damascus.
This month’s rising price for fuel set out inflationary ripples through the economy. The price of a loaf of unsubsidized bread has risen to 97 cents from 85 cents —– more than four times the 21-cent price before the crisis. Milk, at 30 cents in March 2011, rose to $1.13 from $1.
“We are hearing there’s unimaginable prices for the winter,” said a clothing vendor. “We have been through struggles before, but not like this.”
The hope for the Assad regime lies in more assistance from Russia and Iran.
Analysts say Tehran, which propped up Damascus with a $3.6 billion line of credit in July 2013, will be asked for more to finance oil purchases, cover other expenses, and keep the Syrian currency from collapsing. Russia will be asked for fuel and wheat.

Insurgents Form “Peace Corps” To Prevent Further In-Fighting Between Factions

Mohammad Alloush, a senior figure in the Islamic Front, has announced the formation of a “peace corps” of insurgent brigades to prevent further fighting between the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Jabhat al-Nusra in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.
The SRF and elements of Jabhat al-Nusra clashed in a town in the province earlier this week, taking attention away from the insurgency’s offensive against the Syrian regime near and in Idlib city. There was also trouble when the Harakat Hazm brigade tried to block Jabhat al-Nusra reinforcements.
The SRF and Jabhat al-Nusra blamed each other for starting the fight, while other brigades and senior Jabhat al-Nusra leaders called for a ceasefire and submission of disputes to Sharia courts.

Claim: Saudi Jets Collecting Intelligence on Regime-Controlled Areas

A prominent Syrian activist on social media makes a provocative claim about Saudi intelligence missions — the aircraft are supposed to be part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, but are pursuing another task:

UN Report: 15,000 Foreign Fighters from 80+ Countries in Syria

The report of a UN committee estimates that 15,000 foreign fighters, from more than 80 countries, have been involved in the Syrian conflict.
A Security Council committee that monitors Al Qa’eda concluded, “Numbers since 2010 are now many times the size of the cumulative numbers of foreign terrorist fighters between 1990 and 2010 — and are growing.”
The report did not name the scores of countries but cites instances such as “foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together”.

The Evolution of a New Legal System in Syria?

Writing for Foreign Policy, Maxwell Martin outlines an important aspect of the challenge to the Assad regime — the development of an alternative system for justice:
In Syria’s rebel-controlled areas, a nascent legal system has emerged to solve crimes and settle disputes between citizens. This court system has grown increasingly sophisticated -=- particularly in the north, which has become a stronghold for rebels not aligned with the Islamic State. However, the courts remain divided, despite the emergence of a consensus around the implementation of their rulings. Their various approaches to justice reflect an evolving debate within the opposition over the religious identity of Syrian society and the type of laws that should govern it, both during the war and into the future.

UN Envoy De Mistura: “I Have An Action Plan to Freeze Conflict in Certain Areas”

The UN envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told the Security Council on Thursday that he has an “action plan” to freeze conflict in selected areas, possibly starting with the country’s largest city Aleppo, to further humanitarian aid and a political process for a wider peace.
De Mistura, after a recent visit to Syria and the region, said the “horrific trigger” of the Islamic State’s offensive provided an opportunity for another approach for resolution of the 43-month conflict.
“I don’t have at this stage a peace plan, which would be presumptuous,” the envoy told reporters. “I do have an action plan.”
De Mistura did not give details on how the “incremental freezes” would work. Instead, he focused on the halt to the Islamic State’s advances:
Daesh is to be stopped.
How? Well, by…seeing whether we can implement some incremental freeze zones, in order to make sure that in those areas, we will be able to build first a political process at the local level and then eventually the national level. Give hope to the local population and avoid a fight which is going on at the moment and, actually, which is giving advantage to Daesh.
He said Aleppo, divided between regime and insurgent forces since July 2012, could be a symbol “which we hope can become the opportunity of showing that somewhere in Syria, just because everybody feels there are other priorities, and rightly so, in the terrorism threat, there can be some areas that show that some improvement can take place”.

Hidden agreements among three powers may wipe out Hasaka’s identity


Reporting by Mohamed Al Hussein; Translation by Yusra Ahmed – Zamanalwsl – 31 Oct 2014 – HASAKA (Zaman Al Wasl)-Islamic State for Iraq and al-Sham “ISIS” with the Democratic Union Party “PYD” share control of Hasaka’s countryside. Each one of them created its own institutions to control and rule people. “PYD” preceded “ISIS” in announcing its own military and security institutions in North of Hasaka after the withdrawal of the regime from the town’s countryside, especially after liberating “Ras al-Ain” by the Free Syrian Army “FSA” late in 2012. Practically, it seems that hidden agreement on sharing benefits and power in the province among three powers , while Syrian regime control the official documents production in Hasaka’s and Qamishli’s cities, and denies any other documents, PYD’s barriers control the city’s entrances. The party formed local councils, courts, police forces, customs, and controlled registering properties and vehicle in their own system, beside raising the party’s flags over official buildings.

Those actions were not disapproved by the regime, leading to announcing autonomy on regions the PYD controlled and called it “West Kurdistan”.Controlling the Western, Eastern and southern countryside of Hasaka was not that easy, where PYD took a chance of battles between regime and “FSA” in those areas, which resulted in liberate Ras al-Ain in 2012 to control the northern countryside, but FSA lost it again a year later as a result of heavy shelling and bombing by the regime, and attacks by PYD’s militants. All those battles facilitated circumstances for ISIS to control areas’ under FSA’s control after controlling the city of Raqqa completely.
The Islamic State applied Sharea rules and formed Shora council, Sharea courts and bodies, Islamic police forces, and office for teaching Islam. Besides appointing a Wally for Hasaka and changed its name into “Baraka state” and raise its flag over all official buildings and painted all the city’s entrances with black.
Hasaka’s familiar landmarks and identity disappeared as a result of the race between ISIS and PYD to give the city its own theme. In the middle of that mess, people confused and did not know who to follow, even in the simplest living needs. “for example, there is 3 options to register a car, either with regime inside the city, or with PYD’s administration in northern of the city, but if the person wanted to go to the south of the city, might need to register it at Caliphate’s system ’” an activist explained.
The activist showed more possible disastrous outcomes of that mess, especially problems in registering deaths, births, marriage and other civil register issues. “youth and young men left the villages and towns in the area fearing of mandatory military service imposed by the PYD, and most employment stopped in areas under the Islamic State control, led to poverty and lack of income, moreover, bombing the oil refineries by the US-led alliance’s strikes, killed the last chance for unemployed to get some income” the activist ended. https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/7290.html


Dr. Rashid Karadaghi — Special to Ekurd.net   - October 31, 2014 – “No friends but the Americans,” said Sultan Muslim, a 35-year-old Kurdish woman from the by-now-legendary city of Kobane (in Syrian-occupied Kurdistan) a few days ago following the most welcomed and anticipated eleventh-hour airstrikes by US warplanes of the IS terrorists in and around Kobane that may have saved the city from falling into their hands, despite fierce resistance by its brave Kurdish defenders. Sultan Muslim, her husband, and six young children fled Kobane before the fighting intensified and barely made it across the border to Suruc, where she gave birth to her seventh child, a boy. She named her newborn “Obama” “in symbolic gratitude for the US assistance to save Kobane.” “I gave my son this name from my heart. I will never change this name. … Because of his help maybe we will get rid of this cruelty and get back to our homes,” said the grateful Kurdish mother.

It used to be said that “the Kurds have no friends but the mountains.” Now, we can, perhaps, add America to the list of powerful friends the Kurds have and can count on. We are more than sure of what a reliable friend the mountains have been in protecting the Kurds from enemy invading armies throughout history, but whether we can say the same thing about America is still a work-in-progress. While it is true that the Kurds have many friends who have lent their moral and material support to their cause, given the totality of the Kurdish historical experience and where it counts the most regarding the survival of the Kurdish people, one can say that Sultan Muslim may have spoken the truth.
The relationship between the US and the Kurds has, on the whole, been positive, but it hasn’t always been so. The first hint of a relationship between the two sides was extremely positive and it goes back to President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points Statement in 1918 following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Even though the Kurds were not mentioned by name, and neither were the other ethnic groups concerned, President Wilson clearly recognized the right of the Kurds to “autonomous development” when he stated in Article 12 of the historic document, “The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development….”
Unfortunately, President Wilson’s proposal was put on the shelf and the Kurds were cheated out of their “autonomous development” by Britain and France, the colonial powers of the day, when they parceled Kurdistan out, as if it were their own property, and gave it as a gift to the current occupiers of Kurdistan. In drawing the new map of the Middle East, the two countries showed a total disregard for the most basic rights of the Kurdish people, let alone their right to an “autonomous development” as envisioned by President Wilson. They planted the seeds of discord in the region by drawing the new map of the Middle East the way they did, which has been very costly to us Kurds. So, the architects of the tragedy that the Kurds have suffered for the last one hundred years, including genocide, are Britain and France. Both countries are morally obligated to make amends for the unspeakable suffering they have caused the Kurds for a century by giving the local colonialists a free hand to do what they wished with the Kurds.
The next serious contact between the Kurds and the US, which can only be described as a fiasco, dates back to 1975, when the US suddenly withdrew its support for the Kurds at the height of their fight for autonomy in Iraq, leading to a serious setback in their quest for independence.
On the other hand, the Kurds will always be grateful to America for the imposition and implementation of the no-fly zone in Iraqi-occupied Kurdistan in 1991 (after it was proposed by France) following the Gulf war and until the liberation of Iraq in 2003. For about ten years, American war planes, with help from British and French warplanes, protected the Kurds in what was then called the no-fly “safe haven” against possible attempts by Saddam to reoccupy the Kurdish region of Iraq. The American pilots, supported by British and French pilots, who flew those missions for so long over the skies of Kurdistan were just as protective of the Kurds as the Peshmerga. We honor them by calling them “Peshmerga,” the most sacred word for the Kurdish people, just as we honor their comrades who are in the skies of Kurdistan today protecting the Kurds.
The recent recognition by the US of the Kurds in Syrian –occupied Kurdistan as a fighting force and an ally against ISIS, and the airstrikes against ISIS positions to help save Kobane from falling into enemy hands, which should have come much earlier to avoid the loss of so many innocent lives, are very positive steps which the Kurds appreciate very much, but these steps must be followed by US recognition of the Kurds in Syria and elsewhere as an oppressed people with national rights and aspirations.
The people defending Kobane and other Kurdish cities, towns, and villages against a brutal force that is threatening the whole world are not terrorists, as some are labeling them, but freedom fighters fighting for freedom and democracy for the Kurds and fighting the forces of darkness on behalf of the rest of the world. Before fighting ISIS, they were fighting the Syrian government, which has yet to grant some of its Kurdish citizens something as simple as Syrian citizenship even though their ancestors have been living there since before present Syria was carved out of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War1. It is the height of absurdity to call these freedom-fighters “terrorists.”
The State Department should base its policies towards the Kurds not on what the enemies of the Kurds have been saying about them for decades but on what the Kurds say about themselves and on the reality on the ground. It should listen to the US military personnel, from private to general, who have been to Kurdistan and worked with the Kurds. Their opinion should count more than what some fickle so-called “allies” say about the Kurds. The US should stop listening to, or being influenced by, those whose agenda is to destroy and distort the Kurds’ reputation, those who have never borne any good will towards the Kurds in their entire history.
The recognition of the right of a nation of over forty million to independence is overdue. Given the complexity of the situation, one must realize that the issue cannot be resolved overnight, but let us start with abandoning the myth of an indivisible Iraq, a state that was established on the wrong assumptions and was destined to fail from the beginning. It is not a question of forming a new government or making cosmetic changes, but of a relationship that is not working. The insistence on a “unified Iraq” defies logic.
Common sense and the US national interests make it imperative that the US does not only not create obstacles in the way of Kurdish independence but embrace it. Based on what the Kurds have achieved in the last ten years in the Kurdish Region (of Iraq) with a relative degree of freedom for the first time in their whole history, despite all the roadblocks put in their way by the Iraqi government and others, a Kurdish independent state can be a beacon of freedom, harmony, peaceful co-existence, and democracy for the entire region. Not only that, but it can also be an economic power. According to some recent studies, South Kurdistan has one of the biggest oil and gas reserves in the world.
It has often been said that the Kurds are America’s best friends and allies in the Middle East. The time has come for America to give full and unconditional support and recognition to these friends. With all its enemies around the world, isn’t it time the US recognized the right of its most reliable friends and allies to an independent state starting with the Kurdish Region of the fast-disintegrating Iraq so it would have a strong, prosperous, and stable state in the region that it can count on?
Dr Rashid Karadaghi, a senior Kurdish writer, author of “The Azadi English-Kurdish Dictionary”, the dictionary is available on Amazon.


Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga delegation back from Syria’s Kobani to Turkey

October 31, 2014 -  firat news & agencies – ekurd – MESOP  - URFA, Turkey’s Kurdish region— A delegation of 10 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who have crossed into Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan early Thursday have turned back to Turkey’s Suruc in the evening, Firat news reported.

“Ten Peshmerga (fighters) entered Kobani to coordinate the arrival of their comrades, who are still waiting with their weapons in Turkey,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Following day-long talks with Syrian Kurdish YPG/YPJ [People's/Women's Protection Units] commanders regarding the crossing of their forces and heavy weapons into the town, the delegation has turned back to the Çukobirlik site near the Mürşitpınar border crossing, where 150 Peshmerga fighters are still being kept waiting since their arrival Wednesday.
Turkish military and police forces have in the meantime taken intense measures in the area where the Peshmerga units are kept waiting. The monitoring group said Thursday the remaining Peshmerga fighters were expected to enter the town in Syrian Kurdistan “within hours”. But it was still unclear when the fighters would cross the Turkish border to join the fight for the Kurdish town of Kobani against Islamic State (IS) jihadists. IS fighters had also launched an assault of a northern neighbourhood overnight but were pushed back by forces from the YPG, said the Britain-based group, which relies on a broad network of activists for its reporting.


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