Yemen: Is Peace Possible?

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Brussels EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Nearly a year on, there is no end in sight to Yemen’s war. ICG Middle East Report N°167 The conflict pits Ansar Allah (Huthi) rebels and military units allied with ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh against a diverse mix of opponents, including what remains of the government of President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S., the UK and France. Ending the war requires negotiations leading to an interim settlement that must include ... Read More »

Peshmerga needs $300M a month to fight ISIL: Official

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Kurdish peshmerga forces need a short-term emergency fund of $300 million a month from the U.S. to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Kurdish Iraqi official said on Feb. 8. Hurriyet – WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency The money is needed “for their salaries, and the logistics and the transportations for these efforts against ISIS [ISIL],” said Hemin Hawrami, foreign policy advisor to northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani. Speaking at the Washington Institute ... Read More »

Why the West is standing by amid Russia’s campaign in Syria

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SEARCH FOR A PATH FORWARD – Russia’s airstrikes on Aleppo, Syria, have killed hundreds and sent a fresh wave of tens of thousands of civilians north to the border with Turkey. The Christian Science Monitor – By Howard LaFranchi, Staff writer WASHINGTON — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is “horrified” by the impact that Russia’s relentless airstrikes on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, are having on civilians. And as Russia’s bombing campaign has killed hundreds and sent a fresh wave of tens ... Read More »

Melbourne priest Paul Grasby moves to Malaysia to pursue ‘young Asian men’ while on paid leave

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EXCLUSIVE A Catholic priest stood down amid child sexual abuse allegations has moved to Malaysia, where he is using a gay dating website to seek the company of “young Asian men” while on paid leave. The Age – Nino Bucci, Crime reporter for The Age Father Peter Grasby, who is suspected of abusing boys from at least two Melbourne parishes during almost 40 years as a priest, also propositioned a former parishioner on a gay dating website, it can be revealed. Father Grasby, ... Read More »

Syrian government is ‘exterminating’ its population: UN

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Turkey steps up its involvement in Syria to help refugees Aleppo’s underground schools face burnout and bombardment Syria’s battle for Aleppo backed by Iranian proxies Geneva: Detainees held by the Syrian government are dying on a massive scale, amounting to a state policy of “extermination” of the civilian population, a crime against humanity, United Nations investigators say. WAtoday – Stephanie Nebehay * The UN commission of inquiry on Monday called on the Security Council to impose “targeted sanctions” on Syrian officials ... Read More »

Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches

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The civil war in Syria and Iraq and the rise of Islamic State (Isis) has brought the 30 million Kurds in the Middle East new terrors and fresh opportunities. CounterPunch – by Patrick Cockburn In Syria, the conflict has led to the creation of a Kurdish quasi-state between the Tigris and Euphrates that fields a powerful army supported by US air power. In northern Iraq, the defeat of the Iraqi army by Isis in 2014 enabled the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to seize territory long ... Read More »

Turkish forces accused of ‘massacre’ over Cizre raid

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Conflicting reports about death toll and identities of victims in raid on building by Turkish security forces #TurkeyAtWar Middle East Eye – Alex MacDonald Scores of people are reported to have been killed in the southeastern Turkish town of Cizre following a raid by security services on a building allegedly harbouring Kurdish separatist fighters. State-run TRT reported late on Sunday that 60 “terrorists” had been “neutralised” following the raid on the building in the Cudi neighbourhood of Cizre. News sources in ... Read More »

Dealing With Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program

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A diplomatic effort to cap missile development is the next necessary step. The National Interest – William LuersThomas PickeringGreg Thielmann Building on the momentum from the successful pursuit of the nuclear deal with Iran, the P5+1 should now combine pressure and diplomacy to deal with Iran’s missile program. Missiles became an essential component of Iran’s military posture during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, in which Iran received intensive Iraqi missile and air bombardments. Tehran started to build a missile arsenal ... Read More »

UN Security Council holds emergency session on North Korea after rocket launch

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Defiant North Korea launches ‘space rocket’ ‘Successful’ nuclear bomb test a strategic move Was North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test a deliberate distraction? New York: The United Nations Security Council began an emergency meeting on North Korea’s rocket launch on Sunday, with diplomats expecting the 15-nation body to condemn Pyongyang and redouble efforts to agree on new sanctions. The Canberra Times – Louis Charbonneau * Speaking to reporters ahead of the closed-door session, France’s UN ambassador, Francois Delattre, described North Korea’s launch of a long-range ... Read More »

Sri Lanka, not Sri Lankans, the OHCHR agenda

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There is a continuum in the unfolding of events in Geneva. If we fail to comprehend the bigger picture, underestimate Sri Lanka’s strategic importance, and refuse to see ourselves as Sri Lankans, we will find ourselves, again, in a fratricidal war that will provide fertile ground for marauding invaders. It is urgent that the people of Sri Lanka regain their sovereign right to govern themselves from those who, in Geneva, betrayed their trust by surrendering the authority accorded to them ... Read More »

American Aggression Against China

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On January 30th the United States committed a deliberate act of aggression against China when it sent the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur within the 12 nautical mile territorial limit of one of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. New Eastern Outlook – Author: Christopher Black The islands are claimed historically by China, though Vietnam also has filed claims to the islands under the Law of the Sea Convention. The Americans state that Taiwan also claims the islands ... Read More »

Capital flight, not debt, could shock China’s economy: BTIM’s Gor warns

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Capital outflows leading to the exhaustion of China’s foreign exchange reserves are a bigger trigger for a hard landing in the Chinese economy than its enormous pile of debt, warns one of Australia’s most prominent fund managers. WAtoday – Vesna Poljak, Senior Reporter China reported a lower-than-expected $US100 billion drop in the value of its foreign exchange reserves on Sunday, reducing its stockpile to $US3.23 trillion last month, the lowest level since May 2012, according to central bank figures. That rate of depletion is ... Read More »

China’s currency reserves plunged in January

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China’s foreign currency reserves plunged by $99.5bn in January, the People’s Bank of China reported. BBC China has been running down its vast foreign currency reserves in an attempt to boost the value of its own currency and stem a flow of funds overseas. At $3.23 trillion, China still has the world’s biggest reserve of foreign currency holdings. But that has declined by $420bn over six months and stands at the lowest level since May 2012. “While the remaining reserves ... Read More »

Ecuador conveys ‘unease’ over use of force by Turkish president’s guards

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Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry has conveyed its “unease” over the use of force against its citizens by guards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a demonstration in the capital of Quito, Turkish officials have confirmed. Hurriyet – Emine Kart – ANKARA The incident subject to Ecuador’s diplomatic moves took place on Feb. 5 as a group of demonstrators protested Turkey’s ongoing military operations against the outlawedKurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as Erdoğan was speaking at the National Higher Studies Institute in Quito. ... Read More »

Academia in Turkey ‘reminds me of Ceauşescu’s Romania’, says exiled scholar

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Political theorist Andrei Stavilă explains how a comment on a friend’s Facebook page led to exit from Turkish university Times Higher Education By Jack Grove Twitter: @jgro_the A politics lecturer has alleged that he was forced to resign from a Turkish university after making a Facebook comment criticising government efforts to intimidate and silence academics. Andrei Stavilă had recently been informed that his one-year contract at Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, in eastern Turkey, would be renewed for two more years ... Read More »

The Not-So-Frozen Conflicts on Russia’s Borders

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Of the six countries singled out by the European Union (EU) as its eastern neighbourhood partners, five are locked in disputes over regions that have claimed independence. Two of these regions have been recognised by Moscow, and Russia is closely engaged in all of them. ICG – By Magdalena Grono These standoffs, several dating back to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, are a genuine security and political challenge in a neighbourhood where the EU’s association and Russia’s integration ... Read More »