Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2018

U.S. doesn't want to harm friends, allies with Iran sanctions: Bolton

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday the Trump administration wants sanctions on Iran’s crude exports to strain Tehran, but does not want to harm countries that depend on the oil.
The United States is preparing to impose the new sanctions on Iran’s oil industry after Washington withdrew from a nuclear deal between Tehran and other global powers earlier this year, but is also considering offering waivers to some allies that rely on Iranian supplies.
“We want to achieve maximum pressure but we don’t want to harm friends and allies either,” Bolton said in a talk at the Hamilton Society.
Bolton said the administration understands that a number of countries, some close geographically to Iran which he visited last week, and others “may not be able to go all the way, all the way to zero immediately.” 
It was a more conciliatory tone about the sanctions from Bolton, a proponent of being tough on Iran and winding down its crude exports to zero.
Still, Bolton said that conseq…

U.N. says Austria and Hungary mistaken to shun non-binding migrant pact

Austria and Hungary’s decision to turn their backs on a U.N. agreement on how to manage migration is bizarre and mistaken, U.N. Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour told Reuters on Wednesday.
The Global Compact For Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved in July by all 193 U.N. member nations except the United States, which pulled out last year.
Hungary quit in July, and on Wednesday Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said his country would not join either. Poland is considering leaving too.
Arbour, a former U.N. human rights chief, said it was regrettable to see departures because the whole U.N. had managed to find common ground, and Austria - an active participant in the negotiations - should be comfortable with the text and could easily express any reservations that remained.
“What I also find frankly a bit disappointing is that a lot of reasons that are advanced for disengaging are either mistaken or do not reflect what this global compact is all a…

Saudi-led coalition masses troops near Yemen's Hodeidah as pressure mounts to end war

The Saudi-led coalition has massed thousands of troops near Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah, local military sources said on Wednesday, in a move to pressure Iranian-aligned Houthi insurgents to return to U.N.-sponsored peace talks.
The United States and Britain have called for an end to the 3-1/2-year war that has driven impoverished Yemen to the verge of famine, raising pressure on Saudi Arabia as it faces a global outcry over the murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
The military alliance of Sunni Muslim states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has deployed forces around 30,000-strong south of Houthi-held Hodeidah and near its eastern entrance, pro-coalition Yemeni military sources told Reuters.
“Thousands of Yemeni soldiers trained by the coalition have been sent to the outskirts of Hodeidah in addition to modern weaponry including armored vehicles and tanks... in preparation for a big operation in coming d…

Austria to shun global migration pact, fearing creep in human rights

Austria will follow the United States and Hungary in backing out of a United Nations migration pact over concerns it will blur the line between legal and illegal migration, the right-wing government said on Wednesday.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved in July by all 193 member nations except the United States, which backed out last year.
Hungary’s right-wing government has since said it will not sign the final document at a ceremony in Morocco in December. 
Poland, which has also clashed with Brussels by resisting national quotas for asylum seekers, has said it is considering the same step.
“Austria will not join the U.N. migration pact,” said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a conservative and immigration hard-liner who governs in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.
“We view some points of the migration pact very critically, such as the mixing up of seeking protection with labor migration,” said Kurz, who argues that migrants rescued in the Mediterr…

New migrant caravan departs El Salvador for U.S.

About 2,000 migrants set off on foot from El Salvador’s capital on Wednesday, the latest of several groups of Central Americans heading to the United States, even as U.S. President Donald Trump increased pressure to halt their flow.
Men and women from the two groups of Salvadorans that departed San Salvador pushed baby strollers or bore children on their shoulders. 
On Sunday, a separate group of about 300 people set off from the city.
Some, such as 42-year-old Luis Geovanni Vindel, a salesman from the central city of Zacatecoluca, moved on quickly, hitching rides alone toward the Guatemalan border.
“We’re already one step away from Guatemala, and soon into Mexico,” said Vindel, limping forward with a cane on a prosthetic leg in the municipality of San Francisco Menendez.
A larger U.S.-bound caravan, which left northern Honduras in mid-October is moving north at about 30 miles (48 km) a day through southern Mexico. 
It has become a major campaign issue ahead of U.S. congressional elections …

Exclusive: Canada rushes to deport asylum seekers who walked from U.S. - data

Canada is prioritizing the deportation of asylum seekers who walked across the border from the United States illegally, federal agency statistics show, as the Liberal government tries to tackle a politically sensitive issue ahead of an election year.
The number of people deported after their refugee applications were rejected was on track to drop 25 percent so far this year compared to 2017 to its lowest point in a decade, even as the number of deported border-crossers was on track to triple, according to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) data.
More than 36,000 people have walked into Canada from the United States to file refugee claims since January 2017, many saying they feared U.S. President Donald Trump’s election promise and policy to crack down on illegal immigration.
The influx has thrown the Canadian asylum system into turmoil and caused a political uproar in a country accustomed to picking and choosing its newcomers.
In response, the government gave more money to the independe…

Trump hardens stance on Mexico border, says 15,000 troops could be sent

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States could send as many as 15,000 troops to the border with Mexico, as he hardens his stance against a caravan of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.
The numbers cited by Trump are significantly higher than defense officials have disclosed. 
The Pentagon said on Monday it was deploying more than 5,200 troops to the border but that the number would rise. 
On Wednesday, it said more than 7,000 troops would support the Department of Homeland Security along the border.
Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have accused Trump of politicizing the military ahead of next week’s congressional elections with his plans to use active military personnel to buttress border patrol efforts.
“As far as the caravan is concerned, our military is out ... We’ll go up to anywhere between 10 and 15,000 military personnel, on top of Border Patrol, ICE and everybody else at the border,” Trump told reporters at …

US-China war looming? Russia bracing for conflict? Week of warmongering predictions by top officials

Several top officials have issued thinly veiled – and outright blunt – ‘warnings’ about war over the past week. 
While the beating of war drums worldwide remains just hot air for now, many messengers seem a bit too eager about it.

War between US and China just 10-15 years away
A grim prognosis was made by former US commander in Europe Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges (retired), who spoke last week at the Warsaw Security Forum. 
He urged European countries to do more for their own "security," explaining that Washington has "to deal with the Chinese threat" in the Pacific.
The United States needs a very strong European pillar. I think in 15 years – it's not inevitable – but it is a very strong likelihood that we will be at war with China.
While European security remains top priority for the US, the former official added, the country will also have to prepare for "the eventuality that in 10 or 15 years we're going to be having to fight in the Pacific."


At least 25 killed in Afghanistan military chopper crash, officials reportedly on board

At least 25 people were killed after an Afghan helicopter crashed in the western part of the country, authorities confirmed to local media. 
Provincial officials and top military officers are reportedly among the casualties.
As the story unfolded, the Taliban claimed credit for the attack, saying their militants shot the helicopter down. Afghan authorities blamed the incident on the bad weather.
The head of the Farah provincial council and the deputy commander of the Afghan Army’s 207th corps are said to be among the officials on board the ill-fated aircraft.
The type of helicopter is not yet known. There are over 90 Russian-made Mil Mi-17 helicopters flown by the Afghan Air Force, according to open sources. 
The war-ravaged country will also receive delivery of 150 UH-60 Black Hawks from the US Air Force’s inventory.
Helicopter crashes are not uncommon in Afghanistan. In early September, one owned by a Moldovan company went down in the north of the country, killing 11 members of the Afghan…

Damascus slams Israel’s ‘Judaization plans & illegal elections’ in occupied Golan Heights

Syria has condemned the “illegal elections” being held by Israel for the first time in the occupied Golan Heights, as an attempt to assimilate the Druze minority, who for their part have largely refused to take part in the polls.
Members of the Druze community residing under Israeli occupation for over half a century took to the streets on Tuesday in an effort to interfere in the municipal elections that Tel Aviv had introduced for the first time in the Golan Heights as part of the nationwide election process.
Carrying Syrian and Druze rainbow flags, hundreds of members of the Muslim minority sect assembled outside the gates of polling stations, trying to prevent other Druze community members from voting. 
“The Golan’s identity is Arab and Syrian,” they chanted. Amid sporadic clashes with police, religious elders wearing their distinctive white and red caps, symbolizing religious piety, urged the youth not to confront the security forces, who in some instances used tear gas against prote…

Islamic State revival? ‘Decimated’ terror group ambushes US-backed forces in Syria

Washington claims that the Islamic State group has been all-but-eliminated from Syria thanks to its military efforts, but recent attacks by the group show that US-controlled eastern Syria is far from terror-free.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) militants made gains in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zour, closer to the border with Iraq, killing over 40 US-backed fighters in an offensive launched during a sandstorm. 
The attack, which occurred in a region supposedly controlled by the US military and its proxies, comes weeks after Donald Trump boasted that the terror group had been “decimated” by the US and its allies.
Although the terror group has lost virtually all of the territory it once controlled in Syria, US-backed Kurdish groups who helped push IS out of the country are now engaged in a simmering conflict with Washington’s NATO ally, Turkey.
Fighting between competing factions in Syria has given the nearly-vanquished terrorist group some breathing room to “play back and forth…

Saudi Arabia executes migrant maid for murder of employer, angers Indonesian govt

Saudi Arabia’s execution of a migrant maid has sparked diplomatic tension with Indonesia at a time when the kingdom is facing international condemnation for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi authorities executed Tuti Tursilawati on Monday without informing the Indonesian government, Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. 
It’s the third time in three years that the kingdom has executed an Indonesian citizen without informing their government in advance.
Tursilawati was charged with premeditated murder after she beat her employer’s father to death with a stick in 2010, the Jakarta Post reports. She said she was acting in self-defense and that he had been sexually abusing her. 
The woman ran away after the killing and was reportedly raped by nine Saudi men before she was taken into custody. She was sentenced to death in 2011 and was one of 18 Indonesians on death row in Saudi Arabia.
“Tuti’s execution was carried out without [prior notification],” Foreign Minister Retno …

Khashoggi strangled in planned attack, body dismembered – Turkish prosecutor

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by “strangulation” immediately after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a Turkish prosecutor has confirmed, adding that his body was “cut into pieces’ after the murder.
The dissident reporter disappeared after going to the diplomatic mission on October 2. After denying his death and the knowledge of his whereabouts for days, Riyadh admitted that Khashoggi died as a result of a 'fist fight.' Later, the Saudi prosecutors also said that some evidence suggested that Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated.
Now, the office of Istanbul’s chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan says Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the diplomatic compound as part of a premeditated killing. 
This is the first official confirmation of the murder made by the Turkish officials.
The statement stopped short of accusing the Saudis of non-cooperation in regards to the meeting of Saudi chief prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb and his entourage with Turkish law enforcement autho…