U.S. allies blocked from arming Kurds against ISIL forces fighting with stolen U.S. weapons

Special to WorldTribune.com

U.S. President Barack Obama has reportedly blocked allies in the Middle East from delivering heavy weapons to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

Kurdish fighters in Syria.  /Reuters

Kurdish fighters in Syria. /Reuters

The Kurds have alone proven successful in pushing back ISIL in Syria and parts of Iraq’s northwest, but are also frustrated that Iraqi forces have left scores of American-made weapons behind when fleeing the battlefield.

Those weapons are now being used by ISIL against the Kurds, who are fighting for the most part with inferior Soviet-made arms.

“If the Americans and the West are not prepared to do anything serious about defeating [ISIL], then we will have to find new ways of dealing with the threat,� a senior Arab government official told The Telegraph.

“With [ISIL] making ground all the time we simply cannot afford to wait for Washington to wake up to the enormity of the threat we face.�

Some U.S. Arab allies have said they are prepared to supply heavy weapons to Kurdish forces in defiance of Iraqi authorities and their American supporters who insist all weapons deliveries must go through Baghdad.

The Telegraph reported that at least one Arab state may be considering arming the Kurds directly, despite U.S. opposition.

The administration’s lack of focus in the bombing campaign is also said to have infuriated allies Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

“There is simply no strategic approach,� one senior Gulf official said. “There is a lack of coordination in selecting targets, and there is no overall plan for defeating ISIL.�

Source Article from http://www.worldtribune.com/2015/07/02/u-s-allies-blocked-from-arming-kurds-against-isil-forces-fighting-with-stolen-u-s-weapons/

Egypt on ‘war’ footing, launches air strikes on ISIL branch in Sinai

Special to WorldTribune.com

Egyptian warplanes conducted air strikes on affiliates of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in North Sinai on July 2.

Smoke rises in Egypt’s North Sinai as seen from the border from the southern Gaza Strip with Egypt, on July 1.  /Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Smoke rises in Egypt’s North Sinai as seen from the Gaza border on July 1. /Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Security sources reported that 23 Sinai-based insurgents affiliated with ISIL were killed in the strikes.

The sources said the jihadists who were killed had taken part in July 1 attacks in Sinai in which 100 militants and 17 Egyptian soldiers were killed. ISIL affiliate Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the July 1 attacks.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb told reporters on July 1 the country was now in a “state of war.”

ISIL affiliates in Sinai have significantly increased terror attacks on Egyptian security forces since then-army chief Abdul Fatah Sisi toppled Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

It has been a week rife with violence for Egypt, a key U.S. ally which controls the vital global shipping lane at the Suez Canal.

The July 1 terror attacks in Sinai followed the assassination of  the nation’s top prosecutor in a car bomb attack in Cairo on June 29.

Source Article from http://www.worldtribune.com/2015/07/02/egypt-on-war-footing-launches-air-strikes-on-isil-branch-in-sinai/

Bloody Friday: Last week in France and Tunisia, next week closer to home?

Special to WorldTribune.com

By John J. Metzler

PARIS — “Terrorism: the Shockwave of Bloody Friday,� headlined the French daily Le Monde, after a series of deadly, coordinated, and barbaric attacks by radical Islamists on three continents.

The massacre of twenty-eight European (mostly British) tourists in Tunisia at a beach resort, the grisly beheading of a plant manager near Lyon, France, the senseless sectarian slaughter of twenty-six Muslim worshipers at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait, and the killings of 150 civilians in Kobane, Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levaqnt, are the latest sanguinary statistics in a war which many people choose to politely forget.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls put the matter succinctly, “we are facing a major terrorist menace,� and for the first time, he called the threat a, “war of civilizations.�

Eight hearses were used in a procession through the Oxfordshire town of Brize Norton.

Eight hearses were used in a procession through the Oxfordshire town of Brize Norton.

Ironically the Socialist Prime Minister Valls, after all, is now using the terminology of the previous conservative government of Nicolas Sarkozy.

As ironic, the left- leaning Le Monde, stated in a front page editorial, “Unity in Face of Barbarism,� in which the paper wrote of “carnage without borders,� coming from Islamic terrorism. Surprising but not really a surprise after the horrible start to the year with the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris back in January.

After the attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, as well as the assault on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, the facts were stunningly clear, for a least a few weeks. Thus six months ago, people of all political stripes proclaimed “Je suis Charlie,� (I am Charlie) in a gesture of solidarity with a free press.

But let me analyze the recent attacks. First, in Tunisia where a weak post-Arab Spring government has been the target of Islamic jihadis precisely to destabilize the moderate largely secular country surrounded by an arc of crisis. Thus Tunisia, and its economic lifeline tourist industry has been specifically targeted. In March many Europeans were murdered in an attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis. In 2010, before the Arab Spring which actually began in Tunis, 1.4 million French visited Tunisia annually; last year the number was halved. Since the recent attacks in Sousse, tourist cancellations have soared.

Hosni Djemmali, a Tunisian entrepreneur told the French daily Le Figaro that the attacks may have proved a “Fatal blow to Tunisian tourism.� Yet he warned that stability in the North African country was important to the West; a failed Tunisia at the gates of Europe, only 45 minutes (by air) from France would be a bigger disaster.

Yet radicalization has moved quickly even in this once placid haven of North Africa; over three thousand Tunisian jihadists have been attracted to fight in Iraq and Syria.

Thus in the past few years such attacks have become more common precisely to destabilize a weak but moderate Arab country and push it into the abyss along with neighboring Libya.

Second in Lyon; this attack was carried out near one of France’s largest and most prosperous cities. Of course, there’s always the surrealistic side to the terror; the old adage it can’t happen here disappears in a wisp, as we hear of unimaginable horrors.

The beheading story near Lyon had a yet more bizarre twist of both the medieval and the modern when the killer, Yassine Salhi a local with close ties to the Salafist sect, decided to be modern and take a selfie to post a picture of himself with the severed head of his boss. This case rises to a level of pornographic evil.

The Sunni fundamentalist Salafists are surprisingly active in many mosques throughout France, according to the security services. Some of these clandestine networks go back 25 years. Commenting on the issue, Frederic Lefebvre, a parliamentary deputy for the Republicans, representing French in North America stated, “We must protect young Muslims from radical Islam. I would close the 25 prayer rooms which have been identified by the intelligence services in Ile de France, the 22 in Lyon region, and the 13 in Marseille which have fallen into the hands of extremists.

The Tunisian government courageously closed 80 Salafist mosques recently.� Violence prone Salafists were apparently celebrating the first anniversary of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Fundamentalists also actively recruit in the French prison system where many jihadis are formed.

Third, Kuwait. The attack on the Shiite mosque is aimed to ignite a intra-Islamic war as is going on in Iraq and Syria and to use sectarian fissures to destroy Islam. Here too the Muslim countries must be vigilant to the enduring threat from within.

Bloody Friday reminds Europe and the Arabs that the threat of jihadi terrorism is on their doorstep or inside their country.

For the U.S. the threat is no less severe. We can’t wish it away.

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014).

Eight hearses were used in a procession through the Oxfordshire town of Brize Norton.

Eight hearses were used in a procession through the Oxfordshire town of Brize Norton.

Source Article from http://www.worldtribune.com/2015/07/02/bloody-friday-last-week-in-france-and-tunisia-next-week-closer-to-home/

Tale of two embassies: Ted Cruz slams Obama’s Cuba move as ‘slap in the face’ to Israel

Special to WorldTribune.com

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on July 1 blasted President Barack Obama’s decision to open a U.S. embassy in Cuba.

The Texas senator, who is running for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, said that to “have an embassy in Havana before one in Jerusalem” is a “slap in the face” to Israel, according to The Hill.

Sen. Ted Cruz.  /AP

Sen. Ted Cruz. /AP

Cruz has repeatedly called on Obama to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Obama announced on July 1 the U.S. would restore diplomatic ties and exchange ambassadors with Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also in the running for the 2016 GOP nomination, supports legislation that would eliminate the national security waiver and allow the White House to implement a 1995 law to move the embassy to Jerusalem, The Hill reported.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act also calls for the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel but it has never been implemented as the White House sees it as a move by Congress to usurp its authority.

Cruz and Rubio, who are both of Cuban descent, have blasted communist Cuba for its laundry list of human rights abuses and contentious attitude toward the United States.

Source Article from http://www.worldtribune.com/2015/07/02/tale-of-two-embassies-ted-cruz-slams-obamas-cuba-move-as-slap-in-the-face-to-israel/

Slaughter on the ‘Northern Limit Line': A day for war and soccer

Special to WorldTribune.com

DonKirk3By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com

For several hours on June 29, 2002, images of warships in the West or Yellow Sea filled television screens in Korea.

I was in Seoul watching avidly as reports of a raging battle dominated the news even as South Korea’s beloved Red Devils were about to play Turkey in a match to decide third or fourth place in World Cup 2002.

For me, the day was one of the busiest I have ever had as a journalist. From Seoul, I frantically wrote a story on the West Sea shootout for the New York Times before riding the KTX to Daegu, where I wrote another story for the Times that evening on South Korea’s 3-2 defeat by Turkey. I can’t recall ever having reported and then written at length on two such hugely different topics, from such widely separated datelines, in one day for the same paper.

Scene from a new film 'Northern Limit Line' that has generated widespread interest in South Korea.

Scene from a new film ‘Northern Limit Line’ that has generated widespread interest in South Korea.

For many Koreans, incredibly, the question was which was more important, the West Sea naval battle or the World Cup. Yes, six Korean sailors were killed in the shootout, casting a pall but hardly distracting from the final match.

For a time, it seemed as if their sacrifice was almost forgotten as demonstrations boiled over nightly over another terrible tragedy. The deaths of two 13-year-old schoolgirls run over by a 48-ton U.S. army armored vehicle north of Seoul generated a storm of anti-Americanism even as President George W. Bush issued an apology read by the American ambassador and the U.S. Forces Korea commander, General Leon LaPorte, his voice cracking as he uttered heartfelt words of his own.

Kim Dae-Jung, in the last year of his presidency, came out with pro forma condemnation of North Korea for the West Sea battle but did nothing to retaliate for the intrusion.

Soon it was revealed that DJ had told the defense ministry to order commanders not to fire warning shots, to fire only in self-defense, forcing the South Korean navy to rely on loudspeakers and visual signals. Having won the Nobel Peace Prize after flying to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jong-Il in the June 2000 summit, DJ did not want to jeopardize his Sunshine Policy of reconciliation.

With North-South relations as strained as ever, a Korean blockbuster film called ”Northern Limit Line” serves as an important reminder of the historical and current significance of its title. The NLL is the line drawn on maps of the West Sea below which North Korean vessels are banned.

The U.S.-led UN Command, in charge of defense of the South, set the NLL two years after the signing of the truce in Panmunjom that ended the Korean War 62 years ago. North Korea has been challenging the NLL ever since, especially during the crabbing season when North Korean boats dare to venture south in defiance of warnings.

Relegated to the recesses of collective memory, the slaughter of the sailors lives on in this film. Its popularity shows that Koreans not only remember, but care deeply.

The storyline and the portrayal of the sailors is a little labored, perhaps artificial, but their camaraderie and discipline shine through as they navigate the dangerous West Sea before the North Korean vessel challenges them. The ensuing duel, in which dozens of North Koreans are killed before their crippled ship flees, is a reminder not only of the ever-present danger of war but of the foolishness of those who think sweetness and light is really going to appease the North Koreans.

The film doesn’t look for high-level villains, but we feel the frustration when the skipper of the Korean patrol boat gets an order days before the battle to release North Korean fishermen whose boat had strayed south of the line. One of the “fishermen” was the skipper of the ship that later attacked the South Koreans. He was indeed on a fishing expedition ― fishing for a first-hand look at the South Korean patrol boat in the few minutes he was held before his captors were told to set him free.

As I later wrote, “How DJ would respond to the outpouring over the deaths of the two girls and the attack on South Korean boats would say a great deal about his basic outlook.” DJ did not acknowledge any American apologies during the anti-American demonstrations.

For DJ, “Sunshine eclipsed hostility toward the North, seen by his followers at the close of his presidency as less a threat than the Americans with whom he lived in uneasy alliance.”

“Northern Limit Line” is a reality check. North Korean forces regularly confront South Koreans in the West Sea, as in the sinking in 2010 of the corvette the Cheonan with a loss of 46 sailors and then the attack on Yeonpyeong Island, killing two Marines and two contractors.

“Northern Limit Line” should awaken viewers to the dangers. In uncertain times, the sailors on ships out there face hardships and risks that we on shore can only imagine ― or experience vicariously by watching this film.

Columnist Donald Kirk has been covering war and peace in Asia for decades. He’s reachable at kirkdon4343@gmail.com.

Source Article from http://www.worldtribune.com/2015/07/02/slaughter-on-the-northern-limit-line-a-day-for-war-and-soccer/

Cuba, an Internet laggard, opens Wi-Fi hotspots across country

By Jaime Hamre

Havana (Reuters) – Cuba has opened 35 Wi-Fi access points nationwide, offering unprecedented online access in a country that until now has restricted use of the Internet to an elite few.

Before the Wi-Fi signals became available on Wednesday, broadband Internet access had been limited to largely to desktops at state Internet parlors and pricey hotels.

“It was high time for Cuba to be able to connect. Everyone has the right to Internet,” said Alejandro Costa, who used the Wi-Fi on Thursday. The service was available to those who had previously established an account with state telecoms monopoly Etecsa.

Whether because of a lack of investment or concerns about the flow of information in a Communist state that monopolizes the media, Cuba has lagged behind in Internet usage. Only 3.4 percent of Cuban homes have either intranet or Internet access, according to a U.N. agency.

At a Havana street known as La Rampa, Cubans brought out smartphones new and old, whether purchased in state stores, on the black market, or received as gifts from friends and relatives abroad. They mainly browsed Facebook.

An Etecsa official who declined to be identified said all 35 access points started working on Monday, though service at La Rampa was delayed several hours.

“Historically, Cuba has had probably the worst Internet access in the hemisphere. Clearly, the Cuban government has decided that broad Internet access is essential to a 21st century economy. The Internet cafes and now this Wi-Fi network show that the government is serious about expanding Internet access,” said William LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University.

The Cuban government also slashed prices from $4.50 to $2 an hour, still exorbitant for Cubans, who typically earn a monthly salary of about $20.

Many Cubans suspect the new development is related to the recent warming of U.S.-Cuba relations. The two former Cold War rivals on Wednesday agreed to reopen embassies and restore diplomatic relations as of July 20. In January, U.S. President Barack Obama relaxed the U.S. economic embargo for telecommunications, hoping to promote the Internet in Cuba.

For Fidel Croswell, a 50-year-old taxi driver from Havana, the new Wi-Fi network means no longer standing in lines at state Internet parlors.

“But the ultimate solution would really be home Wi-Fi, where you can connect while sitting around shirtless in your flip-flops,” he said.

(The story was refiled to add a dropped word in the fifth paragraph)

(Reporting By Jaime Hamre; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Steve Orlofsky)

Source Article from http://news.yahoo.com/cuba-internet-laggard-opens-wi-fi-hotspots-across-204238871.html

California cancer patient with amnesia identified by sister: NBC

(Reuters) – A woman with amnesia who has been undergoing cancer treatments since she was found semiconscious in Southern California has been identified by her sister after turning to social media in a bid to rekindle her memory and find her family, an NBC affiliate in San Diego reported on Thursday.

Ashley Manetta, 53, never married and has sisters in Colorado and Maryland, according to NBC 7, which first reported on the woman’s plight when she was only known as “Sam.”

It said she was born in Pennsylvania, lived in Flagstaff, Arizona, and several years ago moved to Southern California, where she lived in La Jolla, Vista, and Carlsbad.

She was hospitalized after being found on a street near the beach in Carlsbad, about 30 miles north of San Diego, on Feb. 1.

In a post on Facebook before her identity was known, she said she suffers from “retro amnesia,” and that doctors told her they had seen similar cases “with the kind of antibodies from the volleyball-sized tumor that was on my ovary.”

She said she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments, that she had lost all her hair, and that her prognosis was not good.

“I pray my family will be found soon,” she had written.

NBC 7 said its report about “Sam” was seen by Manetta’s nephew, who telephoned his mother and told her the mystery woman was his aunt, Ashley.

The TV station said the two women then spoke by phone.

“It was extremely emotional. We were all sobbing. They’re so sorry I had to go through what I did during this time without them,” NBC 7 quoted Manetta as saying afterward.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver)

Source Article from http://news.yahoo.com/california-cancer-patient-amnesia-identified-sister-nbc-145345343.html

Greece Forgave Germany’s Debt But Germany Won’t Forgive Greece’s Debt

Greece forgave Germany’s Debt some 62 years ago, but now the greedy want to see Greece, the cradle of Europe’s civilization, fail..

One of the reasons Greece is punished is its historical plausible stance against the Israeli illegal ‘state’ and Greek’s pro-Palestinian policies, unlike Turkey of course which is despite its very criminal history is pampered by the West and East for its pro-Zionist support, Turkey is even supported by Iran!!

Here’s a source:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/27/greece-spain-helped-germany-recover

Source Article from http://www.syrianews.cc/greece-forgave-germanys-debt-germany-wont-forgive-greeces-debt/

Donald Trump Gains Infamy in Mexico for Comments on Immigrants

A Donald J. Trump piñata at a workshop in Reynosa, Mexico, in June. While most American presidential candidates are trying to court the Latino vote, Mr. Trump derided Mexicans during a speech announcing his candidacy.© Daniel Becerril/Reuters
A Donald J. Trump piñata at a workshop in Reynosa, Mexico, in June. While most American presidential candidates are trying to court the Latino vote, Mr. Trump derided Mexicans during a speech announcing his candidacy.

MEXICO CITY — It is the kind of publicity money cannot buy — front-page coverage, segments on the nightly news, the attention of political heavyweights and a stream of commentary burning a hole in the web.

But Donald J. Trump, champion of the so-called birther movement that wrongly questioned President Obama’s birthplace, owner of the Miss Universe contest and developer of hotels bearing his name the world over, has not only found fame in the United States, where he is running for president.

He has also found it in Mexico — or infamy, anyway.

“He’s just ignorant,” said Ricardo Arevala, 18, who works at a piñata shop here, adding that someone recently came into the store looking for a smackable rendition of Mr. Trump. “He speaks in stereotypes.”

While announcing his candidacy to be America’s next president last month, Mr. Trump delivered remarks that ended up echoing across Mexico.

“They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Mr. Trump said about Mexican immigrants, adding, “some, I assume, are good people.”

While most presidential candidates are positioning themselves to court the Latino vote, Mr. Trump ignited a firestorm with his statement, managing to galvanize the disparate populations of Mexico, both social and political.

A host of Mexican political notables have lashed out at the remarks, including former President Felipe Calderón.

A company controlled by Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate — who is much, much richer than Mr. Trump, many Mexicans are quick to point out — cut ties on a joint project with him.

Univision said it would not broadcast the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, which Mr. Trump partially owns the rights to, and Mexico as a nation has pulled out of the competition.

That is to say nothing of the expletives cast around when describing Mr. Trump in much of Mexico, by every strata of society.

The blowback has struck on both sides of the border, of course. NBC severed ties with Mr. Trump. It is backing out of Miss USA and Miss Universe, which was a joint venture with Mr. Trump, although the show that helped resuscitate Mr. Trump’s profile, “Celebrity Apprentice” (of the “you’re fired” fame), will continue.

Macy’s stopped carrying a line of clothes branded by Mr. Trump, and Emmitt Smith, a football Hall of Famer, and Flo Rida, a rapper, now refuse to participate in the Miss USA pageant.

Many Mexicans understand that as an archetypal capitalist, perhaps best known for real estate whose binding characteristic is a mammoth “Trump” sign, Mr. Trump does not do subtle.

From his vast, rust-orange comb-over to his power suits, Mr. Trump plays for keeps, whether suing business partners for soured deals or issuing statements about his enemies.

But while Mr. Trump has defiantly refused to backtrack, there has been a bit of backpedaling.

He has repeatedly assured the non-rapist and noncriminal Mexicans that he loves them and their country. He says he has done business with people from Mexico. He says he has great respect for Mexicans and “their tremendous spirit.”

The feeling, it seems, is not entirely mutual.

Many have posted YouTube clips deriding the tycoon. Others have posted a litany of words online that, were they not directed at the Donald, he might even appreciate. In the northern city of Reynosa, one piñata maker has fashioned a model after Mr. Trump, coif and all.

The price: about $35.

In his own defense, Mr. Trump has said that all anyone has to do is read the papers to know what is happening along the border.

What he said was true, he has fired back, adding that if people do not like that, they had better brace themselves for President Trump.

His general rancor has increased from there.

He has called for a boycott of Macy’s, slapped Univision with a $500 million lawsuit and called NBC “weak and foolish.”

Mr. Trump posted on his Instagram feed a personal letter from a Univision anchor, imploring him to come on the air and talk. The note included the anchor’s cellphone number. He also told executives at Univision that if any of them or their representatives so much as set foot on his resorts, he would have them apprehended.

But while the fracas over his comments might have hurt his business relationships, they have not appeared to hurt him politically. They may even have helped.

Mr. Trump has seen a bump in the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, where he is trailing behind the current Republican leader, Jeb Bush. But whatever his chances of coming to power, Mr. Trump, like others before him, seems to have tapped into a vein of resentment in American society.

It is a popular narrative, after all, that those who cross the border into the United States are fleeing into the embrace of safety, prosperity and opportunity. And that flight, according to Mr. Trump, is precisely what he hopes to block.

“We must have strong borders & stop illegal immigration now!” he said on Twitter, where he has more than three million followers.

But for many Mexicans, the reality is more complex.

Ostensia Bonilla, the 56-year-old sales manager at a party supply shop in downtown Mexico City, has lived in the United States. She moved to Illinois in 2007 with her daughter but, after two years, decided to leave.

“I was worried about the crowd she was hanging out with,” she said. “There were too many people selling and using drugs in her circle.”

And like that, the family moved back, to avoid the very thing Mr. Trump has proclaimed that all of Mexico suffers.

“Of course, we do have drug problems,” she conceded, resting her hands on a wooden box filled with candy. “And Mr. Trump has a right to free speech.”

“But we aren’t the ones using the drugs,” she said. “The addicts are in America.”

Source Article from http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/donald-trump-gains-infamy-in-mexico-for-comments-on-immigrants/ar-AActvHW?srcref=rss