Saturday, February 15, 2014
UPDATE: 2014, Feb. 16th
Source: Press TV
US President Barack Obama has threatened that he will step up pressure on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Obama’s threat came after he hosted King Abdullah II of Jordan at the Sunnylands retreat in Palm Springs, California, where the two discussed, among other things, the unrest in Syria.
The US president said on Friday that he and his royal guest had decided they should take steps “to apply more pressure to the Assad regime.”
“We are going to need a political transition in that region,” Obama said in what sounded like a veiled reference to the announced goal of removing President Assad.
"There will be some intermediate steps that we can take to apply more pressure to the Assad regime, and we’re going to be continuing to work with all the parties concerned to try to move forward on a diplomatic solution,” he said, without specifying what those steps might be.
Several reports have shown over the past year that the US has been covertly training insurgents in Jordan to fight against the Syrian government.
Reports have also revealed that the US shipped weapons to Jordan in order to arm the foreign-backed militant groups.
During the meeting with Jordan’s king, Obama also pledged $1 billion in loan guarantees to Jordan and a renewal of a five-year aid package, which is worth $660 million a year and expires in September.
Shortly after the Geneva II talks between representatives of the Syrian government and the foreign-backed opposition ended with no deals on February 1, insurgents said that Washington had increased direct funding to their commanders in Jordan in order to ramp up pressure on Assad’s government before the next round of talks.
“From now until the next round of talks in Geneva, Assad will be under real pressure — he will feel more pressure from opposition forces,” a militant commander cited a US official as saying.
The “next round of talks in Geneva,” to which the US official had referred, broke off without any results on Saturday as both the Syrian opposition and government officials confirmed that they have been unable to make any progress, with each side sticking to its own position.
Foreign-backed militants in Syria (file photo)
Source: Press TV
Iranian ambassador to Lebanon has renewed call for an end to foreign arms and financial aid to foreign-sponsored militants fighting against the Syrian government.
“If there is really a political will in the UN and the international community for the settlement of the Syria crisis, the flow of money and arms to terrorists in Syria from outside must be stopped so that there will be a possibility for an end to violence and the start of true negotiations,” Ghazanfar Roknabadi said in a meeting with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly.
The UN official, for his part, underlined the need for addressing issues related to the Syrian refugees, urging that practical measures should be taken to find a political solution to Syria crisis.
Syria has been plagued by deadly crisis since March 2011.
Saudi Arabia has been the main supplier of weapons and funds to foreign-backed militants inside Syria. The United States is also said to have stepped up its financial support for the militants.
This comes as the second round of negotiations between the Syrian government and the foreign-backed opposition in the Swiss city of Geneva hit a deadlock due to sharp differences between the two sides.
UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said on Saturday that talks to resolve the Syrian crisis broke off without any result and no date has been yet set for another round.
The Syrian delegation says fighting terrorism should be the top priority. But the opposition insists that formation of a transitional government and resignation of President Bashar al-Assad must come first.
UPDATE: 2014 Feb 16
Source: Press TV
Hawkish US Senator John McCain has called on the Obama administration to employ its already-devised plan of military intervention against the Syrian government.
“The only way to achieve success at Geneva is to change the balance of power on the ground,” McCain said in a statement on Saturday, referring to the failure of the so-called Syria peace talks in Geneva.
“There are options far short of an Iraq-style invasion that can, and should, be employed to change the calculation of the Syrian regime, stem the violence, and ultimately achieve a negotiated political solution,” he added.
The second round of negotiations ended on Saturday without any concrete results about the unrest in Syria.
“The second round of Syria peace talks ended today with no progress toward a negotiated political settlement to the conflict and UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi recognizing that failure is looming,” McCain said.
“After three weeks of talks, we are moving further and further away from a peaceful political solution,” he argued.
The Arizona Republican senator also criticized President Barack Obama for allowing Russia to put pressure on him.
“Russia has recently prevented the passage of a much-needed UN resolution on bringing aid to desperate Syrian civilians,” he said. “Such actions indicate that the Russian government is simply not a partner for peace in Syria and cannot be relied on to help secure a successful outcome.”
During a press conference on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said there is no military solution for the crisis in Syria.
“The crisis in Syria is a crisis. The circumstances on the ground are horrific that is why we have to bring the parties together to try to compel them towards a negotiated political settlement because there isn’t a military solution here,” Carney said.
The Demon John McCain
By: Stewart Brennan
Behold the one in power, behold the one foretold,
Know him by his actions, and the soul that he has sold.
Illusions of god like powers, decorated in blood,
Death plagues and destruction, arriving in his flood.
He delights in money laundered, owned by Patrician creeds
He lays siege on humanity, and tramples on peoples needs.
He praises terror minions and delights in others pain
The evil that commands it all is none other than John McCain.
Terror legions unleashed, bloodthirsty to the bone,
They wait for their commandments, McCain is sure to phone
“Thou shalt kill thy neighbour, do plunder and terror things”
these are just a few words that John McCain sings.
“Heil hail, the world is falling down,
Grinding people to the ground.
Greed, corruption, famine, and frowns
there’s death and destruction all around.”
McCainish demons surface, with weapons from evil dens
Sacrificing the lives of women, children, and men.
Revoke his power I say, and those that he’s defended
John McCain the traitor, must be apprehended.
I take no pity on monsters, nor pleasure in what is sung,
But if mankind’s to survive, then John McCain must be hung.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Article: Is NATO’s Trojan Horse Riding Towards the “Ukraine Spring”?
By: Dennis Kucinich
News Source: Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-j-kucinich/ukraine-nato_b_4435637.html
Ukrainian citizens have rallied in the bitter cold at Independence Square in Kiev to demand a better economic future and to protest President Viktor Yanukovych's failure to sign an economic agreement with the EU.
But while the draft of the EU "Association Agreement" is being sold as an economic boon for Ukrainian citizens, in reality it appears to be NATO's Trojan Horse: a massive expansion of NATO's military position in the region. What's more, the Agreement occurs under the cover of nebulous economic promises for a beset population hungering for better wages.
In a country where the average monthly minimum wage stands at about $150 USD, it's not hard to understand why Ukrainians are in the streets. They do not want to be in Russia's orbit, nor do they want to be pawns of NATO.
But is the plight of Ukrainians being exploited to usher in a new military agreement under the guise of economic reform?
For NATO, the goal is expansion. The prize is access to a country that shares a 1,426-mile border with Russia. The geopolitical map would be dramatically reshaped by the Agreement, with Ukraine serving as the new front for Western missile defense at the doorstep of Russia. Should the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran fall apart, Ukraine could be employed in larger regional disputes, too.
As an EU deal appears imminent, few people are asking questions about NATO's role in the deal, which was meant to facilitate jobs and trade. Economic conditions in Ukraine are dire: $15 billion in IMF loans suspended, danger of default and a zero growth forecast.
While NATO is not specifically mentioned in the draft of the "Association Agreement," the proposal, which was posted online (and translated to English here) by the Ukrainian cabinet in August, pledges convergence of foreign and security policy.
Read: NATO expansion.
For instance, in the draft of the Agreement, foreign and security policy mandates:
“The Parties shall explore the potential of military and technological cooperation. Ukraine and the European Defence Agency (EDA) will establish close contacts to discuss military capability improvement, including technological issues.”
The draft of the Agreement's preamble links Ukraine to "ever closer convergence of positions on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest" including the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) -- which underscores the military nature of the agreement.
Since 22 of 28 members of the EU have NATO membership, there is little doubt that Ukraine is being drawn into the broad military arrangement with EU nations.
If the EU Agreement is ratified, Ukraine will inevitably spend a higher percentage of its GDP for military purposes, steering critical resources from social programs and job opportunities. In 2012, Ukraine's military budget already increased 30 percent to $2 billion, representing a comparatively low 1.1 percent of GDP. NATO members agree to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.
NATO members are also under pressure to contribute more and more of their GDP to military expenditures. "It is time to move beyond the '2 percent rule,'" says the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, in his farewell remarks in June, 2013, described the sentiment:
"The gap between American and European contributions to the Alliance is widening to an unsustainable level. Something must be done. The trends need to be reversed."
When military spending goes up, domestic spending goes down. The winners are unlikely to be the people of Ukraine, but instead the "people" of Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and other defense interests. The Ukrainians didn't go to Independence Square to rally for NATO. Yet NATO's benefit is clear. Less clear is whether Ukrainians will receive key economic benefits they seek.
To wit, the preamble to the Agreement is hazy on the implementation of visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine, a crucial incentive for struggling workers seeking better jobs. The draft of the Agreement is vague, calling for the visa issue to be introduced "in due course." It also asserts that EU nations could block the movement of self-employed Ukrainians to other job markets.
For Greece, Spain and others, EU membership hasn't turned out to be a shining economic savior. The return of austerity policies reminds one of Naomi Klein's warning about the perils of disaster capitalism, in which instability opens the door for exploitation from outside forces.
For the protesters in Kiev, standing tall for democracy and economic opportunity, there's suddenly a new worry: Disaster Militarism. Ukrainians may be pro-EU, but are the EU and NATO pro-Ukrainian?
Dennis J. Kucinich is a former 16-year member of Congress and two-time U.S. presidential candidate.
Visit his Official website: www.kucinichaction.com
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EU / Ukraine Association Agreement (PDF)(English)http://glavcom.ua/pub/2012_11_19_EU_Ukraine_Association_Agreement_English.pdf
Draft of the EU Association Agreement (PDF)
IMF Repeats Loan Demands on Ukraine
Monday, February 3, 2014
Saudi Arabia criminalizes ‘terrorists’ defaming state’s reputation, disturbing order
Source: Russia Todayhttp://rt.com/news/saudi-arabia-counterterrorism-law-556/
Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.
The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.
It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”
The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.
Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.
The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.
When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.
“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”
Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.
“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”
“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.
HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”
Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.
The Rise and Fall of the House of Saudhttp://worldunitednews.blogspot.ca/2013/01/the-fall-of-house-of-saud.html