četvrtak, 18. veljače 2016.

The closure of borders in the Balkans will not stop the wave of migrants

Greek Minister for Migration Janis Muzalas warned that the closure of borders in the Balkans cause "a major humanitarian crisis" in Greece and it will not stop the wave of migrants.

In an interview with German daily Handelsblatt, the Minister pointed out that the only way to stop the refugees to end the war in Syria.

The EU needs to work on this and to address the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, he said.

"It's the only way we can overcome the crisis. Closing the borders will not help," he said in an interview published on Thursday, before the EU summit in Brussels that is dedicated to the refugee crisis.

'The refugees seeking protection because their lives are in danger'

"The refugees seeking protection because their lives are in danger, they are desperate," he said.

Macedonia filed a fence with barbed wire on the main crossing for migrants at its southern border with Greece.

When asked what impact a closing borders with the Balkans, Muzalas said: "If the border is now closed, it would be in Greece caused a major humanitarian crisis."

He warned that only 430 refugees so far migrated from Greece as part of a European plan that provides for the relocation of at least 160,000 people from Greece and Italy.

Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia strongly opposed any quota system for the reception of migrants and want stricter controls on the borders of the Balkan countries in the Greek neighborhood, if they fail to efforts to limit the number of refugees coming from Turkey to Greece.

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that Europe needs to improve the protection of its external borders, and for this it is necessary for Greece to work harder and make her its European partners that help.

'Greece has the best possible border control'

But Muzalas stressed that Greece protects its borders and that the "best possible control" both on land and at sea. He noted that Greece by international law must accept all refugees who arrive by sea.

He also said that the Greek islands deployed 700 staff Frontex, while Greece asked for the 1800th

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker criticized on Thursday the Austrian decision to significant tightening regime of entry into the country, saying that the Commission will examine whether these measures in accordance with European legislation.

"I do not want the public to respond. Clearly I have spoken over the past month that we in the Commission do not like the national border controls, not like the introduction of these controls what happens because we do not have a European approach. I'm still as ever on the European Council to seek a European approach . As Austria is concerned, I must say that I do not like their decision and we will examine whether it is in accordance with European legislation. in the afternoon I about it have a friendly discussion with Austrian Chancellor Werner fayman, "Juncker said at a joint press conference with President European Parliament Martin Schulz.

Juncker also answered a journalist's question to comment on the Austrian decision, and the decision of Slovenia to Austria following the announcement introducing more stringent measures on the border with Croatian.

In Austria from Friday maximum of 3,200 people per day

Austria has announced that from Friday on its southern border with Slovenia receive only 80 asylum applications a day, and on its territory will play a day up to 3200 people, who express intention to seek asylum in neighboring countries.

Consequently, the Slovenian government on Thursday said it would step up surveillance on the Schengen border with Croatian. According to the decision, Slovenia will return migrants who do not fulfill the conditions for entry and who had not requested asylum.

Interior Minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar announced that Slovenia will receive migrants within the quota imposed by Austria.

ponedjeljak, 4. siječnja 2016.

Saudi-Iran Crisis: Why It Matters in the Fight Against ISIS

Divisions between Sunni and Shia factions flared up violently after the Saudi government executed a top Shia cleric, Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, as part of a mass execution of 47 people on Jan. 2. The Saudi government claimed the executed individuals were terrorists. Protests began almost immediately in Iran and the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was set on fire. Embassy staff managed to escape unharmed.
The Saudi government responded by severing diplomatic relations with Iran and gave its diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubier said the Iranians have an “aggressive policy in the region, which aims to destabilize security and stability, and to provoke conflict and wars.” The Saudis recently banned all flights from Iran. Bahrain and Sudan have also severed diplomatic ties with Iran. The United Arab Emirates downgraded its diplomatic ties with Iran.
"We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential in working through differences and we will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Monday.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting proxy wars in Yemen and Syria, but these new tensions could have serious implications for the West. At the end of 2015 both nations participated in American-led talks in New York aimed at seeking a political solution. But the severing of diplomatic ties between the two threatens the future of those negotiations, and therefore threatens the American strategy for resolving that devastating conflict and eventually defeating ISIS.
The second and more immediate alarm for Americans is the potential rise in oil prices. The Wall Street Journal reports Monday that oil prices rose over concerns about Middle East tensions and weak economic data out of China. Investors worry that tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran could disrupt the flow the oil. Recent data shows that the two countries combined produce about 13 million barrels of crude oil a day.

Hezbollah bomb attack targets Israeli border patrol

A bomb attack on an Israeli army vehicle close to the Lebanon border has drawn a response from Israel, which shelled Lebanese territory.
The militant Hezbollah movement said it had detonated a large explosive device beside armoured vehicles patrolling the disputed Shebaa Farms area.
Lebanese media said the retaliatory shellfire hit the village of Wazzani.
Tensions between Israel and Hezbollah were heightened by the killing of a prominent militant in Syria last month.
Hezbollah vowed to hold Israel to account for the killing of Samir Qantar in a missile strike in the capital Damascus. Israel's government welcomed news of his death, but did not confirm it was responsible.

'Vehicle destroyed '

An Israeli military spokesman said two armoured vehicles, one of them a bulldozer, were targeted in Monday's attack on a road in the western Mount Dov or Shebaa Farms area, a tract of land between the borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
No soldiers were killed in the attack but that there were injuries, a military source told the BBC.
Lebanese media reported that shells fired by Israeli artillery in response hit Wazzani and nearby areas, and that there were reports of injuries.
Hezbollah subsequently declared that a cell named after Qantar was behind the bombing.
"The martyr leader Samir Qantar group detonated a large explosive device on an Israeli patrol in the Shebaa Farms... which destroyed an Israeli vehicle... and injured those inside it," a statement said.
Following Qantar's death, Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah said it reserved "the right to respond to this assassination at the time and place of our choosing".
Qantar, a Lebanese Druze, spent almost 30 years in prison in Israel for a notorious attack in which four people were killed, but was released in 2008 in an exchange with Hezbollah.
He later joined the Shia Islamist movement and at the time of his death was involved in "resistance" against Israel's occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights.

Donald Trump’s first TV ad urges attack on ‘radical Islamic terrorism’

The Republican frontrunner vowed to “quickly cut off the head” of Islamic State (ISIS) and “take their oil”.
Trump also repeated his controversial call for a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the US until the country “can figure out what’s going on”. 
The 30-second ad begins with a deep-voiced narrator saying: "The politicians can pretend it's something else but Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism.”
Images of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are shown followed by photos of the San Bernardino terrorists who killed 14 people in a mass shooting in December last year. 
The narrator then adds: "That's why he's calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out what's going on."
The ad also features images of a US battleship launching a missile strike, the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting and immigrants crossing the US border.
The narrator says Trump will "stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for".
The ad, which is approved by Mr Trump at the beginning, ends with the presidential candidate promising to “make America great again”.
The ad, titled “Great Again”, will be broadcast in Iowa and New Hampshire - the first two states to vote in the race for the Republican nomination next month. 
Trump, who has largely benefited from free publicity from US television channels, has decided to launch a series of ads because he doesn’t “want to take any chances” despite having “such a big lead”. 
He told the Washington Post: "I'm $35 million to $40 million under budget and, to be honest, I don’t think I need ads because I have such a big lead. 
“But I don’t want to take any chances and I almost feel guilty not spending money.”
Trump, who has vowed to spend at least $2million a week on television ads, said he hopes the new form of campaigning will win over undecided voters. 
The outspoken property tycoon said he currently has six to eight ads in production and that the series will be broadcast for “months” on US television. 
Over half a million people have signed a petition calling to ban Trump from entering the UK after he called for the US to bar all foreign Muslims from coming to the US. 

srijeda, 7. listopada 2015.

Syrian Army Targets Militants Convoy Coming from Jordan

TEHRAN (IRN)- The Syrian army destroyed 10 SUV vehicles transporting terrorists, weapons and ammunition after the convoy crossed the border from Jordan.
The army destroyed the 10 SUV vehicles in Khirbet al-Ambashi area in Badiya (desert) in Sweida province on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Syrian fighter jets also targeted a convoy of the Takfiri terrorists in Sweida province and destroyed a major part of the vehicles.

The Syrian warplanes bombed the vehicles in the village of Ghadir Abu Sharshouh on the Eastern outskirts of the Badiya "desert" in Sweida.

A number of vehicles were destroyed in the airstrikes while they were moving from the village of Ghadir Abu Sharshouh towards the Eastern Ghouta in Damascus countryside. A group of terrorists were also killed and injured in the air raids.

utorak, 6. listopada 2015.

Russia and Iran in Syria: Friends or rivals?

Some analysts argue Russia intervention may be subtle power play against Tehran. Others are unpersuaded.

Russia’s decision to commence air strikes in Syria against militants opposed to President Bashar al-Assad met, perhaps unsurprisingly, with a warm official reception last week not only from the beleaguered Syrian regime, but also its regional backers, at the head of them Iran.

“Iran welcomes Russia’s efforts against the ISIL,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, using an acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS) group that controls much of eastern Syria. “The Russian airstrikes in Syria will strengthen the power of the resistance axis in confronting the takfiri project,” said Nabil Qaouq of Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese paramilitary ally that has fought rebels in Syria since 2012. “The equations being established in Syria today are entirely in favor of the resistance axis,” Qaouq added, referring to the loose anti-American coalition comprising Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and other Islamist factions such as Hamas.

Beneath this pomp and triumphalism, however, some observers believe the picture is more complicated. One hypothesis holds that Russia’s intervention is in fact partly motivated by a quiet rivalry with Iran for primacy within the pro-Assad camp. While Moscow’s alliance with Damascus, which dates back to the Cold War, is older than Tehran’s, since the outbreak of the Syrian war Iran’s substantial paramilitary and financial support for the Assad regime has seen its influence in Syria skyrocket, to the point that it is viewed by many as the new de facto master of the country. When a ceasefire agreement was brokered between rebels and loyalist militants in the Qalamoun and Idlib regions in August, for example, it was Tehran, not Damascus, that negotiated on the latter’s behalf. One Russian diplomat previously based in Damascus told Der Spiegel Tuesday that these developments had made Assad wary of the Islamic Republic, and grateful today to see Moscow reasserting its status. Other reports speak of additional disagreements between Moscow and Tehran regarding the post-war fate of Assad, while some analysis goes further, arguing that an emboldened Russia may actively curb Iranian regional ambitions and even wean Assad away from the ‘resistance axis.’

While acknowledging that Russia – which, as recently as 2010, supported tightened sanctions on Tehran at the UN Security Council – does not have an identical agenda to Iran in the Middle East, analysts with whom NOW spoke were nonetheless unconvinced that Russia’s Syria intervention would work at the expense of Iranian policy.

“Russia and Iran are traditional rivals. There’s always an underlying competition in their relations. Having said that, Russia’s and Iran’s government-to-government ties haven’t been this close in, I would say, about 500 years,” said Anna Borshchevskaya, Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “There’s still competition, but when it comes to Syria, it looks like they’re acting in parallel. They both have a mutual goal, and that is to keep Assad in power.”

Michael Weiss, co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, editor-in-chief of the Institute of Modern Russia’s The Interpreter journal, and a former NOW contributor, concurred.

“I’m very skeptical of this argument that they’re competing,” Weiss told NOW. “Frankly, I think Russia is providing the air cover that Iran cannot provide, and Iran is providing the ground forces […] From [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s perspective, he has very simple objectives: keep Assad alive; go after any credible opposition force on the ground, FSA or otherwise; pretend to be bombing ISIS; block the Americans from doing anything along the lines of mission creep […] He wants to smash anything that could possibly force Assad out, either at the military or diplomatic level. And that I don’t see as at all incongruous with what Iran wants.”

Beyond these factors, Borshchevskaya argues Russian domestic considerations may be just as operative as foreign policy goals.

“Putin wants to look like a great leader, like a powerful leader. And in part he’s doing this because he’s not; he’s a weak leader. Russia is doing terrible economically; socially they’re in a downward spiral; the military forces have a lot of problems. All of these domestic problems undermine him. How does he keep power, as an authoritarian? He points to external enemies” – above all, the United States.

As for the contention that Russia is trying to stay diplomatically relevant; to “ensure [it] has a place at the table when Syria’s future is ultimately decided,” as one analyst phrased it, Weiss counters that the permanent Security Council member’s position at that table was never in doubt.

“A [hypothetical] peace conference with any kind of UN Security Council certification requires Russia,” Weiss told NOW. “Iran is not going to be the driving force for any kind of peace settlement in Syria. Russia will do that, at least according to the parameters of the US State Department, and they’ve been seen as that since 2011.”

Nor is Weiss persuaded that, as at least one report in the last week has claimed, a Russian victory against rebels on the Syrian battlefield would herald the exit of Assad from power.

“I’ve been hearing for five years that Russia’s not wedded personally to Bashar al-Assad, it just wants a client, it just wants its interests maintained. But the fact is if Russia was not wedded to Bashar al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad would no longer be president of Syria,” Weiss told NOW.

“Could I imagine in several years down the road that Russia would come to the US and say, ‘Right, so we’ve destroyed all the Syrian opposition that posed a real threat to Assad, and now let us negotiate the terms of Assad’s surrender’?”


Russian Aircraft Attack 12 Islamic State Positions

Russian Su-34, Su24M and Su-25 crews attacked 12 infrastructure sites, control centers, training camps, and bases belonging to the Islamic State terrorist group, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Russian airstrikes in Syria

Russian Warplanes Destroy ISIL Near Palmyra, Up To 40 Militants Killed
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russian military aircraft struck 12 Islamic State targets in Syria on Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
"Su-34, Su24M and Su-25 crews attacked 12 infrastructure sites, control centers, training camps, and bases belonging to the Islamic State terrorist group," ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters.