Some of the countries in it, either in major or minor roles:
USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Kurdistan, Yemen, Nigeria, France with (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad ) Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Albania, Estonia, Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Republic of Korea, Ireland, Spain, Slovakia, Norway, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Novorussia, Ukraine, Russia, Chechnya, Somalia, Iran, India, South Korea, North Korea, Central African Republic, Kenya, Tunisia, The Philippines, Egypt, Albania, Serbia, China, Sudan, South Sudan, Bukina Faso, Palestine, Georgia, Chad, Spain, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Nepal, Congo, Uganda, Romania, Mexico, Gambia, Haiti, Cameroon, Chad, Algeria, Venezuela, Thailand, Argentina, Vietnam, Myanmar ....
Is a coup about to happen in Saudi Arabia?
The US embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh has cancelled all consular services for Sunday and Monday due to "heightened security concerns".
In a statement, the embassy said consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran would not be available.
It urged US citizens to take extra precautions when travelling in Saudi Arabia and to keep a low profile.
On Friday, the embassy warned that Western oil workers could be the target of militant attacks.
It said it had information that "individuals associated with a terrorist organisation" could be targeting people working in the oil-rich Eastern Province.........
Is there hope for returning refugees of East Ukraine? Has the civil war there stopped for good? Their fate is in the hands of despicable politicians which means the poor and downtrodden are always at a disadvantage.
Russia was ready to bring its nuclear weapons into a state of alert during last year's tensions over the Crimean Peninsula and the overthrow of Ukraine's president, President Vladimir Putin said in remarks aired on Sunday.
Putin also expanded on a previous admission that the well-armed forces in unmarked uniforms who took control of Ukrainian military facilities in Crimea were Russian soldiers.
Putin's comments, in a documentary being shown on state TV, highlight the extent to which alarm spread in Russia in the weeks following Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster in February 2014 after months of street protests that turned increasingly violent.
The documentary comes as speculation swirls about Putin's 10-day absence from public view. On Monday, he will meet with the president of Kyrgyzstan in an event covered by the news media, which would be his first appearance before journalists since March 5..........
Hmmm ... why did I think Vietnam and Japan couldn't see eye to eye?
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan agreed Sunday to continue bilateral efforts to ensure maritime security, underlining the importance of respecting the rule of law, ministry officials said.
Meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction underway in Sendai, Kishida was quoted as saying Japan wants to increase cooperation with Vietnam over wide-ranging issues such as maritime security.
Kishida and Doan also discussed matters related to the South China Sea, the ministry said.
The sea is the focus of lingering tensions over territorial rows between China and Southeast Asian countries, notably Vietnam and the Philippines.....
The Chinese military deployed fighter jets to patrol the country’s border with Myanmar after a cross-border bombing killed four Chinese villagers and left nine injured. Beijing warned its neighbor of "decisive action" if the incident is repeated.
The jets will "track, monitor, warn and chase away" Myanmar military planes, Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.
Myanmar’s ambassador to Beijing, Thit Linn Ohn, was summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday, as Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin lodged a formal protest and demanded a thorough investigation into the incident, the agency reported.
Liu called on the Myanmar authorities to “safeguard the security and stability in the border areas between China and Myanmar."
China will take "firm and decisive action" to protect the safety of its people if any further deadly stray fire incidents should happen, Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the China Central Military Commission, said Saturday in a phone conversation with Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Defense Services. Fan also demanded that Myanmar should punish the perpetrator severely, apologize to and compensate the bereaved families, and inform the Chinese authorities of the result, China Military Online reports. ............
Nigerian troops discovered a Boko Haram bomb factory this week after they seized a northern town from the extremists, the military said.
The factory was tucked inside a fertilizer company in Buni Yadi town in Yobe state, according to officials.
Islamist fighters took over the town in August, one of many seized in the troubled northeast. Troops have battled the militants for months to regain control, and said they recaptured it last week.
Militants planted explosive devices along the highway on their way out, which delayed the soldiers' advance. Four soldiers were killed during the operation. ......
Hamid Karzai: Afghanistan in danger of sliding 'under thumb' of Pakistan
Former president tells the Guardian of his concern over Afghanistan’s tilt towards Pakistan and Ashraf Ghani’s gamble on brokering a peace deal with the Taliban
Afghanistan’s historic struggles against British imperialism and Soviet invasion will have been in vain if the country succumbs to pressure from neighbouring Pakistan, Hamid Karzai has warned in an interview with the Guardian.
The former president of Afghanistan made his remarks at a time when his successor, Ashraf Ghani, has overturned the country’s traditionally hostile relationship with Pakistan in the hope of enlisting its help in brokering a peace deal with the Taliban.
Several once-unthinkable concessions made to Pakistan in recent months have horrified Karzai and many of the men who helped him rule for more than a decade.
“We want a friendly relationship but not to be under Pakistan’s thumb,” he said. ..........
At least 10 people were killed, more than 40 hurt in blasts that hit a Christian community in Pakistan, doctor says. http://t.co/CZfOUSbYjn
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 15, 2015
Iraqi Kurds says Islamic State used chlorine gas against them.
Iraqi Kurdish authorities said on Saturday they had evidence that Islamic State had used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against their peshmerga fighters.
The Security Council of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region said in a statement to Reuters that the peshmerga had taken soil and clothing samples after an Islamic State suicide bombing in northern Iraq in January. It said laboratory analysis showed "the samples contained levels of chlorine that suggested the substance was used in weaponised form.".........
Three Thousand #US Forces Conduct #Military Exercises in #Kuwait - CENTCOM http://t.co/SISYiVjKHv pic.twitter.com/6WQnMo0Eau
— Sputnik (@SputnikInt) March 9, 2015
Thousands rally in Kuwait as opposition vows 'new phase of protests'
Thousands of Kuwaiti opposition activists rallied in the capital Monday demanding the release of a prominent leader and calling for democratic reforms in the Gulf state.
The demonstrators called for the release of Mussallam al-Barrak, a former MP who last week started serving a two-year jail term on charges of insulting the ruler.
Several former opposition lawmakers led some 3,000 people, including women, who gathered outside parliament in the largest opposition rally in about nine months.........
Daily protests around #Bahrain in solidarity with prisoners of conscience and @WefaqGS #HRC28 pic.twitter.com/f9WJIQEOSs
— AlwefaqEN (@AlWefaqEN) March 14, 2015
Russia rejects U.S. concerns over Vietnam base role in bomber flights
Russia on Friday rejected U.S. concerns about its use of a former American base in Vietnam for the refueling of Russian bomber flights around U.S. territory in the Pacific, dismissing recent U.S. statements as "puzzling" and "strange".
Reuters reported on Wednesday that the United States had asked Vietnam to stop letting Russia use Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay for tanker aircraft that have refueled nuclear-capable bombers engaged in shows of strength over the Asia-Pacific region.
“It is strange to hear such statements from representatives of the state whose armed forces are permanently stationed in a number of Asia-Pacific countries and which continues to increase its level of military activity in the region," Russia's Defense Ministry said......
American money fuels unrest and gives birth to civil wars all over our planet. American money aided the Taliban, whether knowingly or not, is besides the point. And, just as American money funded terrorism in Afghanistan so also it should not come as a surprise that the same dirty money is aiding the jihadis in Syria and Iraq today.... and IMO, this time round, America's dirty money is funding terrorism very, very KNOWINGLY.
C.I.A. Funds Found Their Way Into Qaeda Coffers
In the spring of 2010, Afghan officials struck a deal to free an Afghan diplomat held hostage by Al Qaeda. But the price was steep — $5 million — and senior security officials were scrambling to come up with the money.
They first turned to a secret fund that the Central Intelligence Agency bankrolled with monthly cash deliveries to the presidential palace in Kabul, according to several Afghan officials involved in the episode. The Afghan government, they said, had already squirreled away about $1 million from that fund.
Within weeks, that money and $4 million more provided from other countries was handed over to Al Qaeda, replenishing its coffers after a relentless C.I.A. campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan had decimated the militant network’s upper ranks.....
See the before and after night time pics from space of a country destroyed by the USA and allies via proxy civil war. The first pic is from 2012 the second from 2014.
Syria After Four Years of MayhemAn analysis of satellite photographs taken over Syria found that the country is 83 percent darker at night than before the war. Widespread migration is one of the main causes.
Poroshenko Wants Peace, But Prepares for War ...With Arms From 11 EU States
The head of one of eastern Ukraine's breakaway republics asks why Ukraine's president is publically talking about the delivery of weapons from nearly a dozen countries in Europe while simultaneously proclaiming his commitment to peace.
Igor Plotnitsky, leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic, has asked why a Kiev looking for lasting peace in eastern Ukraine has just announced the purchase of weapons from nearly a dozen European countries.....
Israel seeking to block UN inquiry into Gaza war crimes
Israel has launched a campaign to block a UN inquiry into Tel Aviv’s human rights violations during its 50-day bloody war on the blockaded Gaza Strip last summer.
Israel is directing its diplomats to ensure that a majority of 47 countries on the UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza do not support an investigation into the latest Israeli offensive against the Palestinian land, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.
The campaign aims to get “as many countries as possible – with the hope that at least 24 will not approve the committee’s findings – to either vote against, abstain or not show up [for the vote],” the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs told the representatives abroad in a cable.
Part of the campaign against the UN commission is to discredit its head, Canadian lawyer William Schabas, who has accused Israel of war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression against Palestinians......
Taliban Deny Kidnapping Shias in Afghanistan
Authorities are still trying to secure release of 30 Hazara Shias abducted while traveling to Kabul.
The Taliban said Friday they were not responsible for the abduction of 30 Shia Muslims in southern Afghanistan last week, as rescue efforts restarted after a halt for bad weather.
Masked gunmen stopped two buses on the road to Kabul from Herat on Feb. 24 and took 30 male passengers hostage, all of them members of the Hazara minority ethnic group. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but kidnappings for ransom by bandits and militias are common in Afghanistan.....
Clashes erupted in central Libya
on Saturday between Islamic State fighters and a force loyal to a Tripoli-based faction, a military official and residents said.
It was the first publicly known major confrontation between the two groups since militants loyal to Islamic State, the group which has seized much of Iraq and Syria, established a larger presence in central Libya in recent weeks.
Islamic State, which analysts say is splintered into smaller factions in Libya, has sought to exploit turmoil in the major oil producer where two rival governments and their respective allies fight for power.....
London is to host one of several protests in an international day of protest designed to draw attention to the fate of thousands of political dissidents imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.
The event on Saturday March 14 by the Universal Justice Network is designed to highlight the little publicised persecution faced by those who criticise the ultra-conservative monarchy and its policies.
According to a 2011 report by IHRC, there are an estimated 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia out of a population of approximately 18 million Saudi nationals.
Many of them are political reformists but their number also includes religious leaders who have campaigned for fundamental rights and freedoms.........
Volunteering with the Kurds to fight IS
Syria's Kurds are engaged in a bitter battle with the forces of Islamic State (IS) in the north of their country - and increasingly foreign volunteers are finding themselves on the front lines.
"Can you not show my face," the young man asked, as we stood in the Kurdish hospital in Syria. "I don't want my mum knowing I've been shot."
I'll call him Sam. He's from the south of England and is in his early 20s. He's short and slight. Standing in his camouflage gear and boots, he came up to my shoulder. With blue eyes and sallow skin, he looked 16.
Sam had been shot in the arm, in a firefight with the Islamic State.
There's been fierce fighting in north-eastern Syria as the Kurdish People's Protection Unit, or YPG, attempt to hold on to territory they've taken from the Islamic State.
The YPG have made gains - most spectacularly, with the help of coalition airstrikes, in Kobane - but on the ground they are often outgunned and outmanned by the militants.
So foreign volunteers, some of them terribly inexperienced, have been pushed from the rear, to the front. Sam included. ............
Deadly bomb attacks hit Egypt's Sinai peninsula Bomb attacks targeting the police and army in Egypt's restive Sinai peninsula have killed two people and wounded more than 30, officials say.
A suicide bomber targeted a police compound in the city of El-Arish, leaving a civilian driver dead.
A roadside bomb later exploded beside an armoured vehicle, killing a soldier.
Sinai Province, a jihadist group affiliated to Islamic State, claimed it was behind the first attack, the al-Yawm al-Sabaa newspaper reported.
Militants based in the Sinai have killed hundreds of soldiers and police since the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. ...........
#Venezuela & #Russia doing military drills together. #US about ready to lay an egg right now. http://t.co/ABgObt5JGI pic.twitter.com/aV3rkyEKwI
— In The Peninsula (@Inthepeninsula) March 15, 2015
U.S. to keep more troops in Afghanistan than planned - AP
The United States has abandoned plans to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year's end, the Associated Press reported on Saturday, but a senior U.S. official told Reuters no decision has been made.
Many of the 9,800 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan would probably remain well into next year, although no final decision on numbers had been made yet, AP reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
President Barack Obama probably will use a Washington visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani this month to announce the new withdrawal timeline, AP said.............
Is This the 'Final Push'? Chad and Niger Enter Nigeria to Tackle Boko Haram
Niger and Chad sent troops backed by warplanes and artillery into northeastern Nigeria this weekend, reportedly capturing two towns as part of a fresh offensive against Islamic militant group Boko Haram.
Troops gathered at the Niger border before launching the attack, and officials now claim to now control the towns of Malam Fatouri and Damasa — the latter of which lies six miles inside Nigerian territory.
"We have kicked the enemy out of these areas and they are now under our control," a Niger military source told Reuters.
He also said that about 300 Boko Haram militants had been killed, and that the armies had received permission from Nigeria to launch the attacks. ........
Maybe Obama’s Sanctions on Venezuela are Not Really About His “Deep Concern” Over Suppression of Political Rights
The White House on Monday announced the imposition of new sanctions on various Venezuelan officials, pronouncing itself “deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents”: deeply concerned. President Obama also, reportedly with a straight face, officially declared that Venezuela poses “an extraordinary threat to the national security” of the U.S. — a declaration necessary to legally justify the sanctions.
Today, one of the Obama administration’s closest allies on the planet, Saudi Arabia, sentenced one of that country’s few independent human rights activists, Mohammed al-Bajad, to 10 years in prison on “terrorism” charges. That is completely consistent with that regime’s systematic and extreme repression, which includes gruesome state beheadings at a record-setting rate, floggings and long prison terms for anti-regime bloggers, executions of those with minority religious views, and exploitation of terror laws to imprison even the mildest regime critics.
Absolutely nobody expects the “deeply concerned” President Obama to impose sanctions on the Saudis — nor on any of the other loyal U.S. allies from Egypt to the UAE whose repression is far worse than Venezuela’s. Perhaps those who actually believe U.S. proclamations about imposing sanctions on Venezuela in objection to suppression of political opposition might spend some time thinking about what accounts for that disparity...........
#US Psychopath Of The Week "We need to fund both sides so they fight each other" https://t.co/4dIEui0D8u #Russia #Germany #USA #EU
— Andrey (@AndreyPanevin) March 14, 2015
Sweden’s stopped selling arms to Saudi Arabia. Why can’t the UK follow suit?
It’s always nice to have the Scandinavians around, to show us there’s a better way of doing things. The Nordic and Anglo-American models of capitalism sit at opposite ends of the developed world league table on inequality and, as a direct result, on a range of key measures of social wellbeing. Healthy, happy lives for them. Food banks and zero-hour contracts for us. Now, in another area of national embarrassment – foreign policy and arms sales – the Swedes have also demonstrated that there’s an alternative path available.
Our teachable moment began on Monday when Saudi Arabia blocked Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström from speaking about human rights at a meeting of the Arab League. On Tuesday, in the face of opposition from Sweden’s business elite and leading politicians, Stockholm tore up a long-term arms trade agreement with the Saudis which had brought in the equivalent of £900m in 2014 alone. The Swedish state itself may not have relished the decision, but pressure from the political left after the blocking of Wallström’s speech made the continuation of arms sales untenable.............