Daily Archives: March 9, 2016

مصر تحافظ على “شعرة معاوية” مع الخليج إزاء ملفات الشرق الأوسط العالقة

 

الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسى وخادم الحرمين والرئيس الباكستانى نواز الشريف والسودانى عمر البشير – الاربعاء 9 مارس 2016

استقبل خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود في مدينة الملك خالد العسكرية في حفر الباطن مساء الأربعاء الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي والرؤساء والمسؤولين الذين قدموا لحضور المناورة الختامية لتمرين رعد الشمال والعرض العسكري للقوات المسلحة السعودية والقوات المشاركة في التمرين

وقالت مصادر مصرية إن السيسي سيشهد الخميس 10 مارس/ آذار العرض مع خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز وعدد من قادة الدول، منهم أمير دولة الكويت الشيخ صباح الأحمد الجابر الصباح وعاهل الأردن الملك عبدالله الثاني بن الحسين وملك البحرين الشيخ حمد بن خليفة والشيخ محمد بن زايد ولي عهد أبوظبي والرئيس السوداني عمر البشير وعدد من الرؤساء ووزراء الدفاع ورؤساء الأركان وكبار المسؤولين بعدد من الدول الإفريقية والعربية والإسلامية

وأضافت أنه من المقرر أن يعقد خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز جلسة مباحثات ثنائية مع الرئيس المصري لبحث تعزيز التعاون الثنائي، ومناقشة قضايا المنطقة، وفي مقدمتها الأوضاع في سوريا ومنطقة الخليج واليمن وجهود مكافحة الإرهاب

وأكدت الرئاسة المصرية، على لسان المتحدث الرسمي باسمها علاء يوسف، أن حرص مصر على المشاركة في مناورات “رعد الشمال” جاء في إطار دورها لتعزيز أمن المنطقة العربية ومنطقة الخليج العربي، الذي تعُدُّه مصر جزءاً لا يتجزأ من أمنها القومي، والتزاماً بتعزيز روح التعاون الإيجابية البناءة بين الدول العربية في هذه المرحلة الدقيقة، التي يمر بها عدد من الدول العربية، والتي تستدعي تحقيق وحدة الصف والتضامن العربي

وتعكس المشاركة المصرية سعيها الحثيث لتشكيل القوة العربية المشتركة، التي عطلتها الرياض فعليا حتى الآن، على أمل أن تكون نواة لقوات تتحرك لتحقيق مهمات داخل منطقة مضطربة، بقيت مصر حتى اللحظة منها استثناء، بينما تسعى قوى غربية للدفع بالخليج العربي في اتجاه حرب طائفية بين أحد أطرافها بزعامة سعودية-خليجية-تركية، والآخر بقيادة إيرانية قد تنجر إليها سوريا والعراق ولبنان

وعلى الرغم من عدم اتفاق مصر مع كثير من وجهات نظر قادة الخليج في قضايا مختلفة، بشكل واضح، ومن بينها الملف السوري، حيث يريد بعضهم حل الأزمة السورية عسكريا، بينما ترى مصر، بتنسيق كامل مع روسيا، وقوى كبرى في العالم، أن الحل يجب أن يكون سياسيا، وأن الشعب السوري هو من سيحدد مصيره، مع الحفاظ على مؤسسات الدولة هناك

ومن الواضح أن الملف السوري لا يمثل الخلاف الوحيد مع دول الخليج، إذ لا تتفق القاهرة معها أيضا بشأن الملف الليبي، حيث تساند مصر الجيش ومؤسسات الدولة الليبية، بينما تهمل دول الخليج هذا الملف، باستثناء قطر، التي تخدم الأجندتين التركية والغربية في ليبيا، وفق مراقبين

وعلى الرغم من ذلك كله، فإن القاهرة لا تريد أن تخسر الخليج، وتحديداً السعودية، ولذا تحافظ معها على “شعرة معاوية”، وخاصة فيما يتعلق برؤيتها المختلفة، والأكثر شمولا لملفات الإرهاب، التي تحيط بالمنطقة العربية من كل جانب، وهو الأمر، الذي سيكون محل نقاش في جلسة مباحثات، تجمع الرئيس السيسي بالملك سلمان

ولا شك في أن مصر محطة حاسمة في كثير من ملفات الشرق الأوسط، وهذا ما يبدو واضحا عبر تنسيق دول عظمى معها في الملفين الأخطر الآن على الطاولة الدولية. ففي سوريا يظهر تقارب مصري-روسي بشأن مكافحة الإرهاب، وسبل حل الملف السوري سياسيا، وهي الرؤية، التي تدعم الحل السياسي، وتؤمن بضرورة القضاء على الإرهاب في كل أرجاء العالم باستراتيجية موحدة ومشتركة

أما في ليبيا، فهناك تنسيق مع روسيا، وهو الأمر، الذي كان محورا لمحادثات هاتفية أجريت بين الرئيسين المصري والروسي، حيث أكد فلاديمير بوتين، وفق بيان للكرملين، أن الالتزام بشروط الهدنة يعدُّ العامل الرئيس لتطبيع الوضع الداخلي في سوريا، وتحسين الظروف الإنسانية، بينما أيد السيسي إطلاق عملية سياسية لتسوية الأزمة السورية، تحت رعاية الأمم المتحدة، في أقرب وقت ممكن. وقد اتفق الرئيسان على مواصلة التعاون الوثيق في إطار المجموعة الدولية لدعم سوريا، كذلك شدد الطرفان على ضرورة مواصلة الحرب بصورة فعالة ضد الإرهاب الدولي، ليس في سوريا فحسب، بل وفي ليبيا واليمن أيضاً

وقد أعقبت المكالمة الرئاسية، التي جرت منذ يومين، محادثات هاتفية بين وزيري الخارجية المصري والروسي أمس الثلاثاء 8 مارس/ آذار، حيث أعرب الجانبان عن ارتياحهما للتقدم في سير تنفيذ الاتفاقات بشأن الهدنة، مع تشديدهما على ضرورة إطلاق الحوار سريعا بين الحكومة السورية والمعارضة في جنيف برعاية أممية، وكذلك على تبادل وجهات النظر حول سبل المساعدة في تسوية الأزمة الليبية والصراع في اليمن

الخبير العسكري والاستراتيجي اللواء حسام سويلم، رأى أن لمشاركة الرئيس السيسي، في ختام فعاليات “رعد الشمال” – أكبر مناورات العرب – دلالات، أهمها: تكذيب كل ما روج له الإعلام في الفترة السابقة عن خلافات بين القيادتين المصرية والسعودية، والتمهيد لزيارة الملك سلمان إلى مصر في أبريل/نيسان المقبل، ودعم السعودية في مواجهة التدخلات الإيرانية، وتأكيد التزام مصر بالمسؤولية تجاه الأمن القومي العربي والخليجي

وختاما، إن القاهرة التي تجمعها علاقات استراتيجية بالخليج وموسكو وعدد من القوى المؤثرة عالمياً، والتي تحسم في إطارها كثيرا من الملفات الساخنة، تحافظ على صلات قوية بالخليج، من دون التأثير على توجهاتها ورؤاها فيما يرتبط بمحاربة الإرهاب، والحفاظ على الأمن القومي العربي

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‘Dirty Bargain’: Turkey, EU Forge Deal With Syrian Blood on Their Hands

As the Turkish government continues its crackdown on the free press, columnist Kemal Okuyan speaks to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear to expose how this relates to Ankara’s deal with the European Union to stem the flow of refugees.

“I have to say that this is a real dirty bargain,” Okuyan, a leading columnist with Turkish newspaper SoL, tells Loud & Clear host Brian Becker. “The refugee crisis, I think, is an outcome of the terrorist acts of NATO, Turkey, and other reactionary forces in the region.”

 https://www.spreaker.com/embed/player/standard?episode_id=7958257

According to Okuyan, Ankara is manipulating the crisis in order to achieve its own ends with the European Union.”This was on purpose, by the Turkish government,” he says. “And we know that Turkey encouraged people to go by boat through the sea to the Greek islands.

“Now they are using this to blackmail the European Union.”

As part of negotiations with the EU, Ankara wants over 3 billion euros, visa exceptions, Western ground forces in Syria, as well as the enforcement of a terrorist-free zone in neighboring Syria.

While Turkey may be taking advantage of a humanitarian crisis for its own gains, the European Union isn’t entirely innocent, either.

“The European Union is also one of the actors in the Syrian [conflict],” Okuyan says. “Especially Germany, France, Britain. They have their hands in Syria, so they are also responsible for this big human tragedy.”

While the Erdogan government may have sights on joining the EU, it could face problems due to its harsh press laws.

“Nearly three-fourths of the daily newspapers printed in Turkey are in the hands of Erdogan,” Okuyan says.

“There are a lot of journalists in prison in Turkey,” he adds. “There is also blackmailing, [where] you are not arrested, directly, but they say if you have another problem, then you will be put into prison.”

Still, as all sides use the refugee crisis for their own political gain, millions of people are suffering.

“In Turkey, the refugees are in terrible conditions,” Okuyan says. “When you see photos of people [who have] died when crossing to the Greek islands, these are not only accidents, they are killed on purpose for their money.

“They sabotage the boats.”

Just In Case: Inside the Pentagon’s Explosive Plan B for Libya

Recognizing its own failure in Libya, the Pentagon has a new plan to address the spread of terrorist groups in the North African nation: more bombs.

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been in chaos. NATO airstrikes destabilized a government that was unpopular with the West, but otherwise secure, allowing terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, to flourish.

Now the Pentagon has a new plan to “cripple” the terrorist group’s growing influence in Libya, and it’s not much different from the strategy that led to their rise. Presented to the White House last month, the strategy calls for “as many as 30 to 40” airstrikes across the country, which, it is promised, will allow “Western-backed” militias to overwhelm Daesh militants.

According to US officials, the plan is not being “actively” considered at this time, as the Obama administration is currently trying to install a unity government in Libya, and that effort could be hindered by renewed violence.

Earlier this week, a number of Libyan experts noted that the Pentagon’s strategies are based on faulty intelligence.

“The estimates of the number of jihadists is grossly exaggerated,” said Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council, according to AntiWar.com.

While the Pentagon has claimed that between 5,000 and 6,500 Daesh militants are operating in Libya, the need for only 30 to 40 airstrikes suggests that even Washington suspects that the terrorist fighters number in the hundreds, not the thousands.

As the US considers a new military operation in Libya, recently uncovered secret documents show that Italy has invasion plans of its own. Published by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the documents show that Italian troops are preparing to join US, French, and British special forces that have been operating inside Libya for several weeks.

Varying estimates suggest that between 3,000 and 7,000 international troops will be deployed, with nearly a third sent by Rome.

Critics have questioned Italy’s need to become embroiled in a foreign military ground war.

“And the principal question – what is that national interest Italy wants to protect?” reads an op-ed from La Repubblica. “There is danger that Italy could once again be dragged into war with only one purpose – to please its allies.”

Whichever stabilization strategy the West ultimately decides upon, the US and its allies may increasingly regret ousting Gaddafi in the first place.

North Korea Fires Two Ballistic Missiles Off Country’s East Coast – Reports

Following the implementation of harsh new sanctions, North Korea has reportedly launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea for a second time, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

The missiles were fired from the city of Wonsan, where similar launches have occurred, and sources indicate that the projectiles flew a distance of approximately 300 miles.

“The military is keeping close tabs on the situation and prepared to deal with any North Korean provocations,” South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed that Pyongyang is in possession of miniaturized nuclear warheads.

“The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,” Kim said, according to KCNA, adding “this can be called a true nuclear deterrent.”

This week, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a strong condemnation of North Korea’s threat to use preventive strikes.

“In particular, we consider public statements with threats of carrying out some ‘preventive nuclear attacks’ against one’s opponents completely unacceptable,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry reads. “Pyongyang must understand that North Korea completely sets itself against the international community, provides the international legal basis for the use of military force against it.”

Pyongyang has also expressed outrage over joint military drills between Washington and Seoul. The largest ever conducted, the exercises are meant to mimic a hypothetical invasion of North Korea

The UN imposed new sanctions — the harshest in 20 years — against Pyongyang last week over nuclear tests conducted earlier this year. The DPRK also launched a satellite in February which the UN deemed a veiled attempt to demonstrate its ballistic missile capabilities.

Hours after those new penalties were put in place, North Korea fired short-range missiles into the ocean.

‘Not consistent with intl law’: UN lambasts EU-Turkey ‘quick fix’ deal on refugee returns

The UN refugee agency has criticized the deal struck between the EU and Ankara which seeks to send refugees back to Turkey. The UNHCR says the agreement will expose migrants to huge risks, as well as break EU and international laws on the right to protection.

Ankara offered to take back all those who cross through its borders into the EU, while resettling the same number of Syrian refugees in the EU. In return in asked for billions more in cash, as well as expedited talks on EU membership and a rapid implementation of visa-free travel. The 28 EU members agreed and the decision is set to be completed by March 17-18, pending more work by officials.

But according to the UNHCR, the decision is a “quick fix” that will create a fragmented flow of refugees all trying to find ways back into the EU.

Speaking at a UN briefing on Tuesday, Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR Europe Bureau Director, stressed that “collective expulsion of foreigners is prohibited under the European Convention on Human Rights. An agreement that would be tantamount to a blanket return of any foreigners to a third country is not consistent with European law, is not consistent with international law.”

Another key problem associated with the decision, according to the UNHCR, is that the refugee flow would be fragmented, resulting in disparate groups that are all trying to return to the EU. “As long as the conflict is not solved, it’s a myth to believe that the people will not try to leave. It may dissuade some people from leaving through that route, but it won’t dissuade everybody.”

On Europe’s commitment and its implementation so far, Cochetel believes the objective of resettling 20,000 refugees in the space of two years on a voluntary basis is still “very low,” not to mention Europe’s failure last September to relocate some 66,000 refugees from Greece. In fact, it failed on an epic scale, managing to relocate only 600, according to Cochetel’s previous statements.

While Turkey currently hosts three million Syrian refugees – the largest number worldwide – its current acceptance rates for those from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are also “very low,” the UNHCR director told Swiss radio RTS, as cited by Reuters.

“Sending back people who would not have access to protection in Turkey poses a certain number of problems in terms of international law and European law,” he said. “I hope that in the next 10 days a certain number of supplementary guarantees will be put in place so that people sent back to Turkey will have access to an examination of their request [for asylum],” he added.

Similar concerns were voiced by the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), which stressed that “too many details still remain unclear.”

UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe underlined that “the fundamental principle of ‘do no harm’ must apply every step of way.” For the particular agency, this applies first to the rights of children. They are open to all sorts of dangers, including trafficking, forced labor and other forms of exploitation.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International blasted Ankara’s enduring record of leaving refugees to cope alone. It called the EU decision “alarmingly short-sighted and inhumane,” noting in a Tuesday statement how Turkey has “forcibly returned refugees to Syria and [how] many refugees in the country live in desperate conditions without adequate housing.”

Amnesty’s European head, Iverna McGowan, believes that “by no stretch of imagination can Turkey be considered a ‘safe third country’ that the EU can cozily outsource its obligations to.”

Hacker ‘Guccifer,’ who uncovered Clinton’s private emails, to be extradited to US

Marcel Lazar Lehel, aka Guccifer, is escorted by masked policemen in Bucharest after his arrest in 2014.

Guccifer, the infamous Romanian hacker who accessed emails of celebrities and top US officials, will be extradited to the United States, after losing a case in his home country’s top court.

Reuters reports that Lehel will come to the US under an 18-month extradition order, following a request made by the US authorities. Details of the extradition have not been made public, however.

Marcel Lehel, a 42-year-old hacker better known by his pseudonym “Guccifer,” achieved notoriety when he released an email with images of paintings by former President George W. Bush, including a self-portrait in a bathtub. He also hacked and published emails from celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Steve Martin and Mariel Hemingway.

Also released were emails between former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Corina Cretu, a Romanian member of European Parliament, prompting Powell to deny that the two had had an affair.

Perhaps most notably, Lehel was also the first source to uncover Hillary Clinton’s improper use of a private email account while she was Secretary of State, which the FBI is investigating as a potential danger to national security.

In March 2013, the hacker released to RT and several other news outlets the four memos that had been sent to Clinton from her former political adviser Sidney Blumenthal. The memos contain information regarding the September 11, 2012 attacks on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, as well as the January 2013 hostage crisis in In Amenas, Algeria.

Lehel was indicted by the Department of Justice in 2014 on charges of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a protected computer, cyberstalking, aggravated identity theft and obstruction of justice.

In 2014 a Romanian court sentenced to four years in jail for hacking into the accounts of the country’s public figures “with the aim of getting… confidential data” as well as violating his parole. He is serving three years on top of that for other hacking-related offenses. After his extradition to the US, Lehel will return to Romania to serve out his sentences there.

The Romanian national, who goes by the pseudonym “Small Fume” in addition to Guccifer, is an unemployed taxi driver and paint salesman, and he says that he accessed the emails by using social engineering methods that included guessing the answers to security questions to access various accounts.

“I don’t oppose. I go there to United States to fight. I know what I did and this is okay with me,” Guccifer said in February to The Smoking Gun, where he published many of the documents he found.

Prosecutors have said that Lehel has a “compulsive need to be famous,” according to The Register.

 

Beheadings, imprisonment made 2015 worst year for Christian persecution, report finds

 

Beheadings, imprisonment and eviction from ancestral homelands made 2015 the worst year on record for persecution of Christians, with North Korea topping a list of 10 otherwise Muslim nations as the most dangerous places for followers of the Gospel, according to a new report.

Islamic extremism and authoritarian governments combined to make last year the worst in modern history for Christians around the world, according to Open Doors USA. The trend spiked upward in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with thousands of Christians killed or imprisoned, and even more chased from their homes.

“Islamic extremism continues to be the primary driving force behind the expansion of persecution,” said Open Doors President and CEO David Curry. “It is no longer just a Christian problem, but a global problem that must be addressed.”

An estimated 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2015, up nearly 50 percent from the previous year and the highest number since such statistics have been tracked. Nigeria, Eritrea and Pakistan were among the countries that experienced the biggest – and bloodiest – spikes.

“The report confirms what we have seen develop in these countries — a rise in Islamic extremism that tragically targets minority religions — especially Christians,” said Jay Sekulow, chief council for the American Center for Law and Justice. “The brutality is unspeakable, with nearly 1 million Christians being slaughtered or displaced in the Middle East.”

It is up to the United States to bring about change, according to Curry.

“As the dominant power in the free world, [the U.S.] must lead the charge in bringing more relief and aid to those suffering,” he said.

Of the top 10 countries on the list, nine are of a Muslim majority, but topping the list is the totalitarian regime of North Korea.

Under the family dynasty now ruled by Kim Jong Un, Christianity is seen as a Western-based mass delusion. Out of the country’s estimated 300,000 Christians, nearly 70,000 are imprisoned in the Hermit Kingdom’s notoriously brutal labor camps. Those Christians that are not imprisoned are forced to hide their faith, even from members of their extended families.

Driven by ISIS’ violent reign in the north and west, Iraq was the second most dangerous place for Christians last year. The terrorist organization, which has a large presence in Iraq, Syria and Libya, has made beheading of Christians its bloody hallmark, even as it cleanses large swaths of the Middle East of all religious minorities.

“The report

The number of Bible followers there has fallen to an estimated 275,000, from 1.5 million in 2003. Some experts in the international community believe that the Middle Eastern country could see its Christian population completely gone within five years. The dwindling numbers are due to genocide, flight and forced conversions at the hands of ISIS jihadists.

The country’s second-largest city, Mosul, was once home to a thriving Christian community as old as the religion itself, but was overrun by ISIS and purged of its Christian residents.

Third on the list is the African nation of Eritrea, where Christians are systematically imprisoned for their faith by an authoritarian regime.

Also in the top 10 were Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Libya.

Sekulow says that more needs to be done in Washington to combat the seemingly global issue.

“We continue to urge the full Congress and the Obama administration to act,” he said. “We’ve heard from nearly 215,000 Americans who understand what’s at stake: Christians are being murdered daily because of their faith.”

 

Turkish Opposition Sues Erdogan Government for Supporting Terrorism

Turkey’s main opposition party has filed a lawsuit against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing Ankara of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.”

The Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, has filed a criminal complaint against senior officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), including President Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Chief Hakan Fidan.

The complaint accuses Ankara of being complicit in violence caused by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara itself considers a terrorist organization, as well as the group’s accumulation of weapons, for political gain.”More fatally, just in order to go through election periods calmly, the terrorist organization’s activities of transferring and piling up weaponry, both in rural areas and in urban centers, were openly overlooked,” CHP Deputy Chair Bulent Tezcan said as part of the filing.

The complaint cites the fact that only eight out of 290 requests to conduct anti-terror operations by the Turkish Armed Forces were granted during election periods.

As evidence, Tezcan cited a secret meeting between leaders of the AKP and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The complaint follows statements made by CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, accusing the AKP of aiding terrorist organizations by “overlooking the stockpiling of weapons by the PKK.”

Highlighting unrest within the Turkish government, the nation’s highest court opened its own investigation into government links to the PKK last summer. This followed a criminal complaint by the ruling AKP against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Critics claim that the AKP’s complaint is political, attempting to force the HDP to comply with the Erdogan government.

Southeastern Turkey has been engulfed in violence as Turkish security forces crackdown on Kurdish communities to root out militant groups. The government’s actions have been roundly criticized by a number of rights groups.

“If we cannot solve the Kurdish issue in democratic ways, I am sure the next generation of the Kurds will be very radical,” Mehmet Yuksel, a representative of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, told Sputnik.

“We already see youths of old that are much more radical. They already think that the political ways are not the solution.”