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New militant group replacing ‘Islamic State’ jihadists in Mosul, says Iraqi city’s governor


New militant group replacing ‘Islamic State’ jihadists in Mosul, says Iraqi city’s governor
By Luke Harding, The Guardian
Friday, July 18, 2014 10:37 EDT

Isis fighters have partially withdrawn from Iraq’s second city, Mosul, where another militant group – closely linked to former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime – has taken over large areas, according to the city’s governor.

In an interview with the Guardian the governor, Atheel Nujaifi, who escaped from Mosul last month, said the Islamic State’s main “strike force” had withdrawn from the city to fight the Iraqi army further south in Tikrit, he said. A smaller number of local Isis supporters remained in Mosul’s western part, known as the right bank, he said.

Last month Isis staged a stunning advance, seizing Mosul and Tikrit, and raising the spectre of Iraq’s collapse. On Tuesday the Iraqi army was forced to retreat from Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, 100 miles north of Baghdad, after its latest attempt to retake the city met heavy Isis resistance.

But according to Nujaifi, most of the eastern half of Mosul is now dominated by the Naqshbandi Army, a group led by high-ranking Saddam-era Ba’athists including Izzat al-Douri, the king of clubs in the US deck of “wanted Iraqi” playing cards. Naqshbandi militants had taken down Isis flags from “a lot of buildings” and replaced them with their own, he said. Other sources inside Mosul confirmed that Isis fighters began to withdraw from the city about a week ago.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Jul 19, 2014, 06:17 AM (0 replies)

US must address its responsibilities south of the border



Guatemalan illegal immigrants deported from the US wait to be processed on their return to Guatemala City this week.

US must address its responsibilities south of the border
Mary Lawlor
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 01:00

Since October 2013, 52,000 undocumented children entered the United States from Central America and it is estimated that this will reach 90,000 by year end. While official statements describe this as an “urgent humanitarian crisis” the government’s less than humanitarian response has been to request more power from Congress to fast track the deportation of these unaccompanied minors, many of them girls under 13 and children as young as four or five, back to Central America, including Honduras and Guatemala.

Under the umbrella of the war on drugs, the United States has consistently supported some of the most repressive governments in the region and has at times colluded in human rights abuses. This unquestioning support has helped to create a highly polarised society where the majority of people live in poverty, caught between state indifference and the violence of the drug cartels which has effectively spiralled out of control.

On a recent mission to Guatemala to assess the situation for human rights defenders (HRDs), environmentalist Yuri Melini explained the history of the country. Guatemala never had a war of independence but a negotiated handover of power from Spain so that the 10 families who controlled every aspect of the country’s political and economic life remained in power – as they still do.

Ninety per cent of the country’s wealth is controlled by this powerful oligarchy and their influence extends to manipulating elections so that their candidate always wins. According to Melini, himself the survivor of an assassination attempt linked to his environmental work, with “virtually complete control of national media and close links to the military leadership their power is firmly entrenched.” A similar situation prevails in neighbouring Honduras, where a 2009 coup led to an upsurge in violence.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 08:15 AM (1 replies)

The Nato promise


The Nato promise
Ray McGovern
Friday, July 18, 2014
From Print Edition

Absent from US media encomia for recently deceased former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze is any mention of the historic deal he reached with his US counterpart James Baker in 1990 ensuring that the Soviet empire would collapse “with a whimper, not a bang” (Mr Baker's words).

Mr Baker keeps repeating that the Cold War “could not have ended peacefully without Shevardnadze.” But he and others are silent on the quid pro quo. The quid was Moscow's agreement to swallow the bitter pill of a reunited Germany in Nato; the quo was a US promise not to “leapfrog” Nato over Germany farther east. Washington welched on the deal.

It began to unravel in October 1996 during the last weeks of President Bill Clinton's campaign for re-election. Mr Clinton bragged that he would welcome Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into Nato, explaining, “America truly is the world's indispensable nation” (and, sotto voce, can do what it wants).

Those three countries joined Nato in 1999, and by April 2009, nine more became members, bringing the post-Cold War additions to 12 – equal to the number of the original 12 Nato states. The additional nine included the former Baltic Republics that had been part of the USSR, but not Ukraine. Nato intentions, however, were made clear at its summit in Bucharest in April 2008, which formally declared, “Georgia and Ukraine will be in Nato.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 08:11 AM (0 replies)

Hatred as politics in Myanmar


Hatred as politics in Myanmar
By Kyaw Win
Jul 18, '14

This month's tragic anti-Muslim violence in Mandalay has again revealed that dark forces are alive and well in Myanmar. The violence left two dead and many injured, causing damage to property and generating a climate of fear in the country's cultural and historic capital.

In the aftermath of the violence, the government has moved to crack down on hate speech but has also warned the media against making statements that could destabilize national security, saying that "action will be taken against those who threaten state stability."

Tellingly, however, no action has been taken against those responsible for triggering the Mandalay violence by spreading false rumors on social media, while journalists reporting on the riots have already been threatened with violence. In addition, some observers have noted that the violence has also had a secondary effect- it has successfully distracted public interest from a signature campaign calling for amendment to the 2008 Constitution.

Such patterns are finally leading more and more analysts to ask critical questions about the nature of recent anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar and the real motivations behind it.
Outside of Myanmar, reporting has been less critical, with some major media wires referring to the violence as 'sectarian'.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 07:17 AM (0 replies)

Zarif and Kerry signal nuclear momentum


Zarif and Kerry signal nuclear momentum
By Gareth Porter
Jul 18, '14

WASHINGTON - As the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme approach the July 20 deadline, both US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have signaled through their carefully worded statements that they are now moving toward agreement on the two most crucial issues in the talks: the level of Iranian enrichment capability to be allowed and the duration of the agreement.

Their statements after two days of meetings suggest that both Kerry and Zarif now see a basis for an agreement that would freeze Iran's enrichment capacity at somewhere around its present level of 10,000 operational centrifuges for a period of years.

Once the difference between the proposed duration of the two sides has been reduced to a very few years, both sides may well conclude that the difference is not important enough to sacrifice the advantages of reaching agreement.

They also indicated that the two sides have not yet agreed on how many years the agreement would last, but that the bargaining on that question has already begun.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 06:55 AM (0 replies)

Health Catastrophe in Gaza after Israel bombs water infrastructure


Health Catastrophe in Gaza after Israel bombs water infrastructure
By contributors | Jul. 18, 2014
By: Ahmed Hadi

Gaza – Bassem Siam carried two plastic gallons as he left his home in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in northern Gaza, ignoring the intense bombardment and the continued Israeli military flights. He went to his neighbors who happen to have a small supply of drinking water to get a sip of water for himself and his family and to help his wife wash the dishes that have accumulated in the kitchen because water has been cut off for two days. The 30-something-year-old man held the two gallons tightly to his chest and returned home quickly as Israeli planes bombed farm land near his home. When he entered the building where he lives, he exhaled deeply, having survived the devastating missile shrapnel.

In addition, three main water lines that feed al-Shujaiya and al-Sabra neighborhoods and provide about 21,000 people with water were also hit. Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza live under the threat of water scarcity due to the fact that Israeli fighter jets bombed wells that provide water to several residential areas in the Gaza Strip. Municipalities in charge of these wells believe that the Israeli targeting of wells is motivated by a decision to destroy the infrastructure in Gaza and to undermine the people’s ability to remain steadfast.

Israeli planes targeted a well located in al-Nasr neighborhood, west of the city of Gaza, which provides water to about 20,000 people and the Ali well in al-Zaitoun area, south of the city, which provides water to about 7,000 people. In addition, three main water lines that feed al-Shujaiya and al-Sabra neighborhoods and provide about 21,000 people with water were also hit.

This targeting appears to be systematic and its obvious objective is to deprive people of water, the single most important element of daily life, especially during the month of Ramadan.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 06:40 AM (2 replies)

Blow-Back: How Bush-Cheney Reduced Iraq to Ashes


Blow-Back: How Bush-Cheney Reduced Iraq to Ashes
By contributors | Jul. 18, 2014
By Dahr Jamail

For Americans, it was like the news from nowhere. Years had passed since reporters bothered to head for the country we invaded and blew a hole through back in 2003, the country once known as Iraq that our occupation drove into a never-ending sectarian nightmare. In 2011, the last U.S. combat troops slipped out of the country, their heads “held high,” as President Obama proclaimed at the time, and Iraq ceased to be news for Americans.

So the headlines of recent weeks — Iraq Army collapses! Iraq’s second largest city falls to insurgents! Terrorist Caliphate established in Middle East! — couldn’t have seemed more shockingly out of the blue. Suddenly, reporters flooded back in, the Bush-era neocons who had planned and supported the invasion and occupation were writing op-eds as if it were yesterday, and Iraq was again the story of the moment as the post-post-mortems began to appear and commentators began asking: How in the world could this be happening?

Iraqis, of course, lacked the luxury of ignoring what had been going on in their land since 2011. For them, whether Sunnis or Shiites, the recent unraveling of the army, the spread of a series of revolts across the Sunni parts of Iraq, the advance of an extremist insurgency on the country’s capital, Baghdad, and the embattled nature of the autocratic government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were, if not predictable, at least expectable. And as the killings ratcheted up, caught in the middle were the vast majority of Iraqis, people who were neither fighters nor directly involved in the corrupt politics of their country, but found themselves, as always, caught in the vice grip of the violence again engulfing it.


“Life in Iraq has become impossible, and even more dangerous, and there is now no way to leave here. To the north, west, and east of Baghdad there is fighting, and with so many groups of Shiite militias in the south, it is not safe for us to go there because of the sectarianism that was never here before the invasion. The price for bus tickets has become very expensive and they are all booked up for months. So many Iraqi families and I are trapped in the middle now.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 06:37 AM (1 replies)

George Bush the worst president in 100 years: here's why


George Bush the worst president in 100 years: here's why
Paul Sheehan
July 13, 2014

President Barack Obama is regarded as the worst US president since World War II according to the most recent opinion poll conducted by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Connecticut. Quinnipiac is one of the most respected polls in the US, but this is absurd. President Obama has many problems, many of his own making, but he inherited a whirlwind from his predecessor, George Bush, who was a trillion-dollar disaster.

Yet it is Obama who was chosen by 33 per cent of those surveyed as the worst president of the modern era, while Bush came second, chosen as worst by 28 per cent.

I’ve spent the past month in the US, where I lived for 12 years, and I was struck by the impact of the miscalculations, insularity and ineptitude of President Bush’s defining decisions that are still rippling through American society. The events of recent weeks reveal the scale of the cost of his prodigiously wasteful invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In 2013, the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University studied the direct cost of the war and came up with a figure of $US1.7 trillion. The indirect costs would take this figure to at least double that figure. That is a heavy burden of wasted productivity even for America.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Jul 17, 2014, 06:44 AM (2 replies)

How the US Went From ‘Older Brother’ to ‘Big Brother’


The NSA spying scandal has torn gaping wounds into German-American relations. The U.S. went long ago from being our older brother to literally being our “Big Brother,” the omnipresent watchdog - and that has produced painful consequences.

How the US Went From ‘Older Brother’ to ‘Big Brother’
Berliner Zeitung, Germany
By Holger Schmale
Translated By Ron Argentati
10 July 2014
Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Saying goodbye to a great love is always painful, even if both promise they will always remain close friends. That's a bit how it is with the relationship between Germany and the United States.

How greatly did we (West) Germans worship the Americans after World War II, or more recently, ever since our occupiers became our protectors first and finally, our friends. Of course, there were occasional low points in the relationship: the war in Vietnam and again with the invasion of Iraq, not to mention the whole George W. Bush administration, for example. However, a new wave of sympathy always followed these, most recently with the election of Barack Obama as president.

However, there's a difference between what the U.S. does in other parts of the world — in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Guantanamo — and when we suddenly find ourselves a victim of U.S. activities where we previously thought of ourselves as their friends and partners: That's how it currently is in Germany.

Many Germans, and most of all Chancellor Merkel, find themselves waking from a delusion. We recognize that all those pretty speeches about close ties and shared values — or simply put, the much-vaunted German-American relationship — don't count for much, except when they apply only to American superpower interests. The much-idolized great love turns out to be just a frigid, despicable egoist.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Jul 17, 2014, 06:39 AM (0 replies)

US must back up the words in its South China Sea remark


US must back up the words in its South China Sea remark
The China Post new staff
July 15, 2014, 12:00 am TWN

On Saturday, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Michael Fuchs called on the parties in South China Sea territorial disputes to agree to a 'voluntary freeze' on provocative behavior. Fuchs appealed for a concrete development of principles laid out in the 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DoC) signed between China and ASEAN.

Couched in diplomatic pleasantries, the DoC affirms universal principles of non-interference, peaceful resolution to conflicts and “promotion of economic prosperity.” The beautiful-sounding points require parties to operate on the basis of existing international laws governing operations on the seas and diplomacy, and also affirm the right to free navigation as well as overflight.

It is evident to all, though, that those principles have been violated repeatedly since then. In the area that China claims 90 percent of, we have seen in the past three years the country blockading Second Thomas Shoal, setting up a municipal government on the island of Sansha, and recently constructing oil rigs in areas disputed by Vietnam. The Philippines released evidence of what it calls China reclaiming the Johnson Reef.

While Fuchs says that no single party is wholly responsible for tensions, he explicitly points out that the U.S. considers China to be provocative. And he is right. In the context of geopolitical strategic balance, China is clearly acting to take advantage of its resources, from population to economic wealth to military might.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Jul 17, 2014, 06:35 AM (0 replies)
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