Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has a message about Iraq for Barack Obama: Get back to the White House and do something.
‘I know it is the holiday period in our Western countries,’ Fabius told a radio interviewer Tuesday in France,’ but when people are dying, you must come back from vacation.’
Full-time workers in France are guaranteed a whopping five weeks of paid vacation every year, making his plea all the more urgent.
Obama is on a family and golfing holiday in a ritzy neighborhood of Martha’s Vineyard but says he will come back to Washington this weekend before returning on Tuesday to fun, sun, and more golf.
The Obama administration has lifted longtime restrictions on Libyans attending flight schools in the United States and training here in nuclear science, according to a final amendment of the ban recently approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Less than two years after the deadly terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is poised to sign off on an amendment reversing the ban, which was enacted following a wave or terrorist attacks in 1980s and prevents Libyans from studying these sensitive trades in the United States.
The original law effectively disqualified all Libyan nationals and those “acting on behalf of Libyan entities” from training in “aviation maintenance, flight operations, or nuclear-related fields,” according to the ban.
DHS said the prohibition is irrelevant now since the United States and Libya have worked to “normalize their relationship,” according to the directive approved by the OMB.
Militants from ISIS have killed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq’s human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday. Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said the Sunni militants had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children. Some 300 women were kidnapped as slaves, he added. “We have striking evidence obtained from Yazidis fleeing Sinjar and some who escaped death, and also crime scene images that show indisputably that the gangs of the Islamic States have executed at least 500 Yazidis after seizing Sinjar,” Sudani said in a telephone interview. NBC News could not immediately independently confirm his remarks.
The minister’s comments could pile pressure on the United States – which has carried out air strikes on ISIS targets in response to the group’s latest push through the north – to provide more extensive support. “In some of the images we have obtained there are lines of dead Yazidis who have been shot in the head while the Islamic State fighters cheer and wave their weapons over the corpses,” said Sudani. “This is a vicious atrocity.”
From the White House website:
As Muslims throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to them and their families. This last month has been a time of fasting, reflection, spiritual renewal, and service to the less fortunate. While Eid marks the completion of Ramadan, it also celebrates the common values that unite us in our humanity and reinforces the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other, especially those impacted by poverty, conflict, and disease.
In the United States, Eid also reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy. That is why we stand with people of all faiths, here at home and around the world, to protect and advance their rights to prosper, and we welcome their commitment to giving back to their communities.
On behalf of the Administration, we wish Muslims in the United States and around the world a blessed and joyous celebration. Eid Mubarak.
Actually Obama, Judeo-Christian values are what built the very fabric of this nation. For a self-proclaimed “Constitutional Scholar”, you should know a lot more about our history and how big of roles different groups of people played.
Like the rest of the world, the U.S. government appeared to have been taken aback last month when Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to an offensive by jihadis of the Islamic State that triggered the collapse of five Iraqi army divisions and carried the extremists to the threshold of Baghdad.
A review of the record shows, however, that the Obama administration wasn’t surprised at all.
In congressional testimony as far back as November, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials made clear that the United States had been closely tracking the al Qaida spinoff since 2012, when it enlarged its operations from Iraq to civil war-torn Syria, seized an oil-rich province there and signed up thousands of foreign fighters who’d infiltrated Syria through NATO ally Turkey.
The testimony, which received little news media attention at the time, also showed that Obama administration officials were well aware of the group’s declared intention to turn its Syrian sanctuary into a springboard from which it would send men and materiel back into Iraq and unleash waves of suicide bombings there. And they knew that the Iraqi security forces couldn’t handle it.
Research strongly suggests that camels carry Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a viral illness that has sickened nearly 700 and killed at least 209 people as of early June, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization. For this reason, the government of Saudi Arabia recently warned people to stay away from close contact with camels, at least those that appear to be sick, which prompted some to defiantly post photos of themselves kissing camels on various social media sites.
Until now it was thought that MERS could only be spread via close contact, but a new finding may challenge that assessment: A study published in the journal mBio found the virus in an air sample taken from a camel barn near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The genetic signature of the virus was identical to that found in the sick camels, and the owner, who came down with MERS a week after administering a topical medicine to his camels’ runny noses. The owner later died from MERS.
“The clear message here is that detection of airborne [MERS] molecules, which were 100 percent identical with the viral genomic sequence detected from a camel actively shedding the virus in the same barn on the same day, warrants further investigations and measures to prevent possible airborne transmission of this deadly virus,” said study lead author Esam Azhar, a virologist at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. The finding implies that virus could possibly be spread in enclosed spaces such as hospitals and therefore “further studies are urgently needed,” the scientists wrote.
The scientists took air samples and looked for the DNA found in MERS viruses on three consecutive days. They only found the virus one of the days, the same day that one of the camels tested positive for MERS. This suggests that MERS may not last long in the air, which would be welcome news.
The entire Middle East and a good deal of North Africa is in turmoil — Syria, Iraq and Libya are in combat. A ground war has begun in Israel. A commercial air carrier with 23 Americans on board crashes – possibly shot down – over Ukraine, which Russia has invaded and where it is using surrogates to claim more territory. The president says his team will get right on it, and it’s a “terrible tragedy.” He then gives his same old speech on infrastructure. (And they criticized George W. Bush for finishing reading a story to little children on Sept. 11, 2001.)
Even the president’s use of the term “tragedy” is misguided. This is not a natural disaster, a hurricane that blew through a town. This is the result of Russian aggression and the failure of the West to reverse Russian gains and push its stooges out of Ukraine.
Whether it is his secretary of state pleading for more time, our dithering in Iraq, our belated and insufficient action in Syria or our utter lack of credibility in Israel and Egypt, we see what leading from behind has gotten us. It’s a world more violent, unstable and unsafe. Retrench and bring our forces home? Keep cutting defense? It’s not working out.
2014: Obama’s America – where scandals now come so fast that each new mess makes us forget the previous one.
What keeps the country afloat this terrible summer?
Some American companies produce more gas and oil than ever despite, not because of, the Obama administration. Most Americans still get up every day, work hard, and pay more taxes than they receive in subsidies. American soldiers remain the most formidable in the world despite the confusion of their superiors. The law, regardless of the administration, is still followed by most. And most do not duck out on their daily responsibilities to golf, play pool, or go on junkets.
It is still a hard thing to derail America in a summer — but then again, we have a long way to go until fall.
Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer said Obama’s comment that “We live in a complex world” “may the understatement of the year”, and claimed the world may be more dangerous now than at the height of the Cold War.
Schieffer listed off crises around the world, quoting Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), who recently said “I have never seen the world in more turmoil than it is today.”
“I don’t want to be overly dramatic here tonight, Scott,” Schieffer told CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, “but I think that we are in a very dangerous time right now. Even more so, perhaps, than at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. In those days we had a clearly identifiable enemy. We knew what they were up to. Now we seem to be immersed in a series of events that are totally out of control.”
Schieffer pointed out the futility of many of the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts, remarking, “The Secretary of State is flying around almost nonstop from one crisis to another. So far he’s gotten them to audit, to re-audit the vote in Afghanistan, but otherwise not much is happening there. This is a very dangerous time.”
The light…it burns us…
UNRWA apologizes to Israel, condemns a ‘flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises’ and promises investigation; Israel calls on UN to ‘act strongly’
Some 20 rockets were found Wednesday in a school in Gaza operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the organization confirmed Thursday.
The weapons were found in “the course of the regular inspection of its premises,” UNRWA said in a statement, adding that the school was vacant.
“UNRWA strongly condemns the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations. This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law,” the statement read.
The discovery would seem to confirm Israel’s oft-repeated claim that Hamas and other Gazan terror groups use civilian infrastructure to hide weapons.
“Yet again, Gaza terrorists abuse UN facilities to carry out their violent activities. Hamas and other terror groups are determined to put civilians in harm’s way and will respect nothing in their violent frenzy,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel. “We expect the UN and the international community to condemn and to act strongly against this brazen violation of international humanitarian law, which endangers children and UN humanitarian activities.”