Monday, September 30, 2013

Rumors of War - Iran

My Way News - Keep the Iran sanctions, Netanyahu urges Obama
My Way News reports: "Despite soothing assurances from Iran's new leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored President Barack Obama on Monday to keep punishing sanctions in place against Tehran - and even tighten them if the Islamic republic advances its nuclear programs while negotiating with the U.S. [...] The U.S., Israel and other allies have long accused Iran of seeking a bomb."

Labels: , ,

Rumors of War

My Way News - UK plans new cyber force to boost strike ability
My Way News reports: "Britain's defense secretary says it is recruiting hundreds of experts for a new cyber force designed to protect the nation's vital data - and stage cyberattacks if necessary. Philip Hammond says the Joint Cyber Reserve Unit aims to boost Britain's offensive and defensive capabilities in an age of increasing threats from cyberespionage and cybersabotage."

Labels: ,

Roaring Waves

My Way News - Climate panel forecast: Higher seas, temperatures
My Way News reports: "Top scientists have a better idea of how global warming will shape the 21st century: In a new report, they predict sea levels will be much higher than previously thought and pinpoint how dangerously hot it's likely to get."

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - UN votes to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons
My Way News reports: "The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday night to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, a landmark decision aimed at taking poison gas off the battlefield in the escalating 2 1/2-year conflict. [...] The resolution calls for consequences if Syria fails to comply, but those will depend on the council passing another resolution in the event of non-compliance. That will give Assad ally Russia the means to stop any punishment from being imposed."

Comment: I'm not sure anything has really changed, Russia and China are still looking out for Assad.

Labels: , ,

Rumors of War - Iran

My Way News - Iraq says Iran's shift toward West is serious
My Way News reports: "Iraq's foreign minister said Saturday that the new Iranian government led by President Hassan Rouhani offers 'the best chance after 34 years of animosity' to improve relations with the United States and should be taken seriously."

My Way News - Iran leader's US outreach meets praise, some anger
My Way News reports: "Smiling and waving flags, Iranians from across the political spectrum welcomed President Hassan Rouhani home Saturday with cheers for his historic phone conversation with his American counterpart. But pockets of anger over the new contact between the two enemy nations signaled challenges ahead. Hard-liners opposed to any improved contact with Washington made their objections clear as several dozen protesters chanting 'Death to America' tried to block his motorcade in Tehran."

My Way News - Officials: Iran source of Navy computer intrusion
My Way News reports: "U.S. officials say an unclassified Navy computer network was breached about two weeks ago by hackers believed to be linked to Iran. Officials say it appears the hackers may been working as proxies for the Iranian government. Cyberattacks originating in Iran have been a persistent issue for U.S. government and businesses, particularly energy companies."

Labels: ,

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rumors of War - Iran

My Way News - Obama speaks to Rouhani, says Iran deal possible
My Way News reports: "President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone Friday, the first conversation between American and Iranian presidents in more than 30 years. The exchange could reflect a major step in resolving global concerns over Iran's nuclear program."

My Way News - Iran's Revolutionary Guard unveils attack drone
My Way News reports: "Iran unveiled on Friday an unmanned attack aircraft it described as its most sophisticated drone to date that can reach much of the Middle East, including Israel. [...] The military says the Shahed-129, or Witness-129, has a range of 1,700 kilometers (1,050 miles), a 24-hour non-stop flight capability and can carry eight bombs or missiles capable of hitting both stationary and moving targets."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Persecution

My Way News - Attackers kill pastor, torch church in Nigeria
My Way News reports: "Police say suspected Islamic militants armed with automatic rifles and explosives killed a pastor and his son and torched a church in northeast Nigeria before dawn Thursday. [...]  gunmen used explosives to set ablaze the church and five homes."

Labels:

King of the North

My Way News - Russia, Belarus hold joint war games
My Way News reports: "Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart have watched a massive joint military exercise of the two ex-Soviet neighbors that involved more than 22,000 troops. The West 2013 exercise conducted Thursday near the city of Grodno in western Belarus and in Russia's westernmost Kaliningrad region also involved more than 500 armored vehicles and about 90 aircraft along with ships of Russia's Black Sea Fleet."

Labels: ,

Earthquake

My Way News - Muddy island formed by Pakistan quake may not last
My Way News reports: "Alongside the carnage of Pakistan's massive earthquake came a new creation: a small island of mud, stone and bubbling gas pushed forth from the seabed. Experts say the island was formed by the massive movement of the earth during the 7.7-magnitude quake that hit Pakistan's Baluchistan province on Tuesday, killing at least 285 people."

Labels:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rumors of War - Persia

My Way News - Iran tries to shine light on Israeli nukes
My Way News reports: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed Rouhani's outreach to the West as a ploy to ease international sanctions and gain more time to build the bomb. He has urged the international community to increase, not ease, the pressure, and to maintain a 'credible' military threat until Iran dismantles its nuclear program. Israeli officials reject Iranian attempts to make Israel part of the debate, calling it a cheap diversionary tactic. Asked about this possible linkage, Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, would only say that Iran would be judged not by words, but by its actions."

My Way News - Nod toward diplomacy with Iran changes UN tone
My Way News reports: "A year after Iran and the West appeared headed for conflict over Tehran's nuclear program, a shift in mood could be felt at the United Nations on Tuesday, and officials and commentators raised hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough under the Islamic republic's new moderate-leaning president. [...] Israel, however, stood apart with sharp questions about the sincerity of Iran's expressed desire to work with the West. [...] The overtures between Washington and Tehran have left Israel off balance a year after Netanyahu appeared to be gaining Western backing for possible military action against Iran's nuclear program."

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Earthquakes

My Way News - Major quake in southwestern Pakistan kills 39
My Way News reports: "A major earthquake struck a remote area in southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 39 people and wounding dozens as houses collapsed on top of people inside while others fled into the streets and prayed for their lives. [...] Pakistan's chief meteorologist, Mohammed Riaz, put the magnitude of the quake at 7.7, while the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. Said it was magnitude 7.8."

Labels:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Persecution

My Way News - Pakistani Christians protest deadly church bombing
My Way News reports: "Pakistani Christians rallied Monday to denounce the deadliest attack ever in this country against the religious minority as the death toll from the church bombings the day before climbed to 85. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up amid hundreds of worshippers outside the historic All Saints Church in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday."

Labels:

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Assad: Syria committed to destroy chemical weapons
My Way News reports: "President Bashar Assad pledged in an interview broadcast Monday to honor an agreement to surrender Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, but he said that rebels might try to block international arms inspectors from doing their work."

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Persecution

My Way News - Suicide attack on Pakistani church kills 78 people
My Way News reports: "A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up amid hundreds of worshippers at a historic church in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing 78 people in the deadliest-ever attack against the country's Christian minority. A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing [...] The white walls of the church, which first opened in the late 1800s, were pockmarked with holes caused by ball bearings contained in the bombs to cause maximum damage."

Labels:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nations in Distress

My Way News - 39 dead in Kenya mall attack; hostages still held
My Way News reports: "Terrified shoppers huddled in back hallways and prayed they would not be found by the Islamic extremist gunmen lobbing grenades and firing assault rifles inside Nairobi's top mall Saturday.  [...] At least 39 people were killed and more than 150 wounded in the assault, Kenya's president announced on national TV, while disclosing that his close family members were among the dead. [...] the al-Qaida-linked gunmen asked the victims they had cornered if they were Muslim: Those who answered yes were free to go, several witnesses said. The non-Muslims were not."

Comment: Think about that, all they had to do was renounce their true faith and claim to be a Muslim to escape the threat of death.  An unknown number of people refused to do that and remain hostage. Wow.

My Way News - Assault on Iraq funeral, other attacks kill 96
My Way News reports: "Two suicide bombers, one in an explosives-laden car and the other on foot, struck a cluster of funeral tents packed with mourning families in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, the deadliest in a string of attacks around Iraq that killed at least 96 people on Saturday. The assaults, the latest in a months-long surge of violence, are a chilling reminder of insurgents' determination to re-ignite sectarian conflict more than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion."

Labels: ,

War

My Way News - NATO: 3 US troops killed in Afghan insider attack
My Way News reports: "An Afghan wearing a security forces uniform turned his weapon against U.S. troops Saturday, killing three in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, in another apparent attack by a member of the Afghan forces against their international allies. [...] So far in 2013, 11 foreign soldiers have been killed in seven such attacks, including Saturday's, according to an Associated Press count."

Labels:

Jerusalem Security

My Way News - Israel, allies fend off international censure
My Way News reports: "Israel and its allies fended off an Arab-led attempt Friday to censure the Jewish state's refusal to acknowledge that it possesses nuclear weapons and put them under international oversight. [...] it was the first time in three years that a resolution critical of Israel was put to a vote at the annual conference of the U.N's International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna [...] One diplomat at the meeting said the outcome was the result of strong U.S.-led lobbying on behalf of Israel."

Comment:  Given the way those peace-loving Arab countries continue to try to establish a linkage between this issue and the Mideast peace talks, I would not be at all surprised if the "covenant with many" of Dan. 9 is a regional peace agreement that creates a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. It's hard to imagine now, but I'm sure that post-Damascus it will appear to be an attractive option.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 20, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - AP Analysis: US-Russia Syria deal props up Assad
My Way News reports: "The long-term outcome is likely to be a prolonged war of attrition that continues the slow destruction of Syria as a coherent state and further fans the flames of sectarian hatred and extremism in a turbulent Middle East."

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Kings of the East

My Way News - Jordan's king calls for China role in Syria crisis
My Way News reports: "Jordan's King Abdullah called on China to play an active role in resolving the conflict in Syria, saying Wednesday that Beijing should use its influence as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and as a 'friend of Jordan and the Middle East.' Abdullah made his appeal in his opening remarks at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a state visit to China. [...] China has sought to play a bigger role in the Middle East as part of efforts to stand among leading nations in helping shape world events. Abdullah is the latest in a string of Middle East leaders to visit Beijing, and China has frequently dispatched diplomats to the region to nurture ties with all parties, including Israel."

Comment: It's only in recent history that we have begun to document any reason for powers from the far east to be interested in Israel and the Middle East.  China wants to demonstrate leadership as a world power and that necessarily means involvement in what some have called the "epicenter" of world politics: the Middle East. China also has a large and growing economy that needs oil and the Mideast is a primary market for them. As the U.S. steps back from that region, China's influence seems destined to grow.

Labels: ,

King of the North

My Way News - Putin says he may seek 4th presidential term
My Way News reports: "President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he may run for a fourth presidential term in 2018, confirming the expectations of most Russians and frustrating those now working to restore free elections in Russia. If Putin runs and wins, it would keep him in power for about a quarter century and make him the nation's longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin."

Labels: ,

Persecution

My Way News - Egypt troops move against Islamist stronghold:
My Way News reports: "Egyptian security forces backed by combat vehicles and helicopters stormed a town near the Pyramids, famed among tourists for its traditional rugs and dresses, aiming to drive out Islamist militants [...] The offensive showcases an Egyptian society still in turmoil over Morsi's ouster. The new military-backed leadership has been a wide-scale crackdown on his supporters, while the most hard-core elements of Morsi's Islamist backers have unleashed a campaign of violence ranging from car bombs to attacks on Christians. [...] More than a 1,000 people have died in political violence since June 30 when millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand the ouster of Morsi."

Labels: ,

Persia

My Way News - Iran's top leader opens way for Rouhani outreach
My Way News reports: "A series of statements this week from Khamenei - including saying Iran can show 'heroic flexibility' in diplomacy - suggest a significant shift could be underway. Khamenei appears to be aligning his views more closely with Rouhani's initiatives to repair tattered relations with the West and reopen stalled nuclear negotiations with world powers."

Comment: The fact that Israel is losing patience with Iran and signaling it may choose to attack if the West does nothing, may have something to do with Iran's new-found flexibility.

Labels: , ,

Gospel Preached to All

My Way News - Pope criticizes church emphasis on abortion, gays
My Way News reports: "'The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules," Francis said. 'The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.' The comments contained no change in church teaching, and the pope said reform should not happen quickly. Still, it was the pope's clearest declaration yet of a break in tone and style from his immediate predecessors."

Comment: If he is returning to a focus on Jesus, that would be welcome. If he gets rid of the idolatry (prayer to Mary and other dead saints) that would be even more welcome. I'm actually fairly impressed with what I've seen in Francis and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Labels:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pestilence

My Way News - Report: Drug-resistant bacteria are common killers
My Way News reports: "Antibiotics like penicillin and streptomycin first became widely available in the 1940s, and today dozens are used to kill or suppress the bacteria behind illnesses ranging from strep throat to the plague. The drugs are considered one of the greatest advances in the history of medicine, and have saved countless lives. But as decades passed, some antibiotics stopped working against the bugs they previously vanquished. Experts say their overuse and misuse have helped make them less effective."

Labels:

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Rocket trajectory links Syrian military to attack
My Way News reports: "The trajectory of the rockets that delivered the nerve agent sarin in last month's deadly attack is among the key evidence linking elite Syrian troops based in the mountains overlooking Damascus to the strike that killed hundreds of people, diplomats and human rights officials said Wednesday. [...] The attack precipitated the crisis over Syria's chemical weapons. The U.S. threatened a military strike against Syria, which led to a plan negotiated by Moscow and Washington under which the Assad regime is to abandon its chemical weapons stockpile."

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Earthquakes

My Way News - Bill would create California quake warning system
My Way News reports: "The U.S. lags behind other nations in developing a public alert system, which provides several seconds of warning after a fault ruptures - enough time for trains to brake, utilities to shut off gas lines or people to dive under a table until the shaking stops. For the past several years, the U.S. Geological Survey and universities have tested a prototype that fires off messages to about two dozen groups in the state, mostly scientists and first responders."

Labels:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - UN confirms chemical weapons used in Syria
My Way News reports: "Careful not to blame either side for a deadly chemical weapon attack, U.N. inspectors reported Monday that rockets loaded with the nerve agent sarin had been fired from an area where Syria's military has bases, but said the evidence could have been manipulated in the rebel-controlled stricken neighborhoods. The U.S., Britain and France jumped on evidence in the report - especially the type of rockets, the composition of the sarin agent, and trajectory of the missiles - to declare that President Bashar Assad's government was responsible."

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Covenant With Many

My Way News - 20 years on, Oslo Accords promise rings hollow
My Way News reports: "Palestinians seem no closer now than they were 20 years ago to a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, and some argue they are worse off. The number of Israeli settlers has doubled. East Jerusalem is cut off by an Israeli barrier. Gaza, ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas since 2007, is turning into a distinct enclave. Many Israelis, scarred by Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket fire from Gaza, are skeptical of the other side's intentions and believe the politically divided Palestinians cannot carry out a peace deal, even if one is reached."

Labels:

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Syria weapons deal averts US military move for now
My Way News reports: "A diplomatic breakthrough Saturday on securing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpile averted the threat of U.S. military action for the moment and could swing momentum toward ending a horrific civil war. [...] The deal involves making an inventory and seizing all components of Syria's chemical weapons program and imposing penalties if President Bashar Assad's government fails to comply will the terms."

Labels: ,

Friday, September 13, 2013

War

My Way News - Al-Qaida leader calls for attacks inside US
My Way News reports: "Al-Qaida's leader on Friday marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by calling on Muslims to strike inside the United States, with big attacks or small, using any opportunity they can to 'bleed' America financially."

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Diplomats move on 2 fronts on Syria weapons
My Way News reports: "Key international players were moving on two diplomatic fronts Wednesday to try to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control, and a fresh effort appeared to be underway to get the government and opposition to peace talks."

My Way News - Lack of Assad alternatives hangs over Syria war
My Way News reports: "The crisis over chemical weapons in Syria has underlined a central dilemma for the West as it tries to deal with the country's civil war - the lack of attractive alternatives to President Bashar Assad. The political opposition, largely operating from exile with little credibility on the ground, has been hobbled by infighting. Inside Syria, rebels are also divided. Fighters linked to the al-Qaida terror network have become increasingly dominant, even as the U.S. and its allies try to strengthen rebels seen as moderates with better training and military equipment. [...] But it's not clear who would replace Assad if he were driven from power, either as a result of U.S. punitive strikes for the suspected poison gas attacks or in eventual political transition talks with the Western-backed opposition."

My Way News - AP sources: CIA delivering light weapons to Syria
My Way News reports: The CIA has been delivering light machine guns and other small arms to Syrian rebels for several weeks, following President Barack Obama's decision to arm the rebels. The agency has also arranged for the Syrian opposition to receive anti-tank weaponry like rocket-propelled grenades through a third party, presumably one of the Gulf countries that has been arming the rebels, a senior U.S. intelligence official and two former intelligence officials said Thursday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the classified program publicly."

My Way News - Putin: US military interventions are 'alarming'
My Way News reports: "Russian President Vladimir Putin is using an opinion piece in The New York Times to assert that it's alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Putin says he doubts that such interventions are in the long-term interest of the U.S. He also says millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model for democracy, but as relying solely on brute force."

My Way News - White House pushes back on Putin's op-ed on Syria
My Way News reports: "The White House pushed back Thursday against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his opinion piece in The New York Times that blamed opposition forces for the latest deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria and argued President Barack Obama's remarks about America were self-serving. "

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Signs in the Heavens

My Way News - Meteor lights up sky over Georgia, Alabama
My Way News reports: "NASA officials say brilliant lights in the sky and loud booms reported in Alabama and Georgia came from a meteor that streaked across the South. Officials at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., say a baseball-size fragment of a comet entered Earth's atmosphere above Alabama at 8:18 p.m. CDT Monday."

Labels:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Question of enforcement casts cloud on Syria plan
My Way News reports: "A Russian plan for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to avert Western missile strikes bogged down Tuesday when Moscow rejected U.S. and French demands for a binding U.N. resolution with 'very severe consequences' for non-compliance. [...] The Syrian National Coalition, the main Western-backed opposition group, dismissed the Assad government's turnaround as a maneuver to escape punishment for what it called a crime against humanity. The coalition had been hoping for military strikes from abroad to tip the balance in the war of attrition between rebels and Assad's forces."

My Way News - Securing Syria's arsenal is rife with challenges
My Way News reports: "Syria is believed by experts to have 1,000 tons of chemical warfare agents scattered over several dozen sites across the country, and just getting them transferred while fighting rages presents a logistical and security nightmare."

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 09, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Sudden plan: Syria to dispose of chemical weapons?
My Way News reports: "In a rapid and remarkable chain of events, Syria welcomed the idea of turning over all of its chemical weapons for destruction on Monday, and President Barack Obama, though expressing deep skepticism, declared it a 'potentially a significant breakthrough' that could head off the threats of U.S. air strikes that have set the world on edge."

My Way News - Obama: I might lose congressional vote on Syria
My Way News reports: "Battling stiff resistance in Congress, President Barack Obama conceded Monday night he might lose his fight for congressional support of a military strike against Syria, and declined to say what he would do if lawmakers reject his call to back retaliation for a chemical weapons attack last month."

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - 10 G20 nations join US in blaming Assad for attack
My Way News reports: "Ten members of the Group of 20 international economies joined the United States in accusing the Syrian government of carrying a chemical weapons attack on civilians last month and called for a strong international response against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. [...] The countries are Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom."

NYT - The G-20’s Rising Clout 
The New York Times reports: "The Russian president’s welcome message to the participants of the G-20 summit that begins on Thursday in St. Petersburg asserts that the meeting 'will confirm the G-20’s role as an efficient mechanism for coordinating the world’s leading economies’ approaches to global economy and finance.' It will do no such thing. It will not produce novel ideas about 'growth through trust and transparency.' It will not be remembered for promoting 'quality jobs and investment.' Rather, it will be remembered as the meeting where the G-20 took over the role of the United Nations Security Council."

Labels: , , ,

Jerusalem Security

My Way News - Egypt launches new assault against Sinai militants
My Way News reports: "Officials say that the military is hunting hundreds of militants believed to be responsible for a series of attacks in the region they overran after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The militants, the officials say, belong to a number of well-known al-Qaida-inspired groups that seek the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in northern Sinai, a region bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip."

Comment: This is a promising development. It looks like Israel once again has a partner in Egypt. 

Labels:

Friday, September 06, 2013

Persecution

My Way News - In south Egypt, Islamists take over a town
My Way News reports: "A town of some 120,000 - including 20,000 Christians - Dalga has been outside government control since hard-line supporters of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi drove out police and occupied their station on July 3, the day Egypt's military chief removed the president in a popularly supported coup. It was part of a wave of attacks in the southern Minya province that targeted Christians, their homes and businesses."

Labels:

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Covenant With Many

My Way News - AP EXCLUSIVE: Israeli proposal detailed in talks
My Way News reports: "Israel has proposed leaving intact dozens of Jewish settlements and military bases in the West Bank as part of a package to establish a Palestinian state in provisional borders, a Palestinian official told The Associated Press on Wednesday, in the first detailed glimpse at recently relaunched peace talks."

Labels:

Fearsome Events

My Way News - Japan's radioactive water leaks: How dangerous?
My Way News reports: "New revelations of contaminated water leaking from storage tanks at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant have raised alarm, coming just weeks after Japanese officials acknowledged that radioactive water has been seeping into the Pacific from the plant for more than two years. The government announced this week that it would contribute 47 billion yen ($470 million) to build an underground 'ice wall' around the reactor and turbine buildings and develop an advanced water treatment system. A look at the problem, and the potential risks to fish and the humans who eat them."

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Al-Qaida-linked Syria rebels hit Christian village
My Way News reports: "Al-Qaida-linked rebels launched an assault Wednesday on a regime-held Christian village in the densely populated west of Syria and new clashes erupted near the capital, Damascus - part of a brutal battle of attrition each side believes it can win despite more than two years of deadlock. [...] The four-decade iron rule of the Assad clan over Syria has long rested on support from the country's ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians, Shiite Muslims and Kurds. The Assad family and key regime figures are Alawites, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam, while most rebels and their supporters are Sunni Muslims."

My Way News - Jihadis from Caucasus form own group in Syria
My Way News reports: "A foreign fighter in Syria says jihadis from the Caucasus have formed an independent fighting force. In a video posted online Wednesday by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a man wearing a camouflage uniform is seen standing among other fighters, who he says have come to Syria from the Caucasus and Russia to wage jihad."

My Way News - White House praises Senate for backing Syria plan
My Way News reports: "The White House is praising a Senate panel for backing President Barack Obama's call for a military strike in Syria. [...] The resolution backing the use of force in response to a chemical weapons attack the U.S. blames on Assad's government won approval Wednesday on a 10-7 vote. The measure is expected to reach the Senate floor next week."

Comment: The religious context is often left out of mainstream analysis of the conflcit, I'm glad it's getting some exposure. I'm fairly certain a Sunni victory would not be a good thing for Syria's Christians. After all, the Sunni rebels are being backed by Saudi Arabia, not a land known for religious tolerance. 

Labels: ,

Status of Jersualem

My Way News - AP Interview: Mayor says Jerusalem can't be split
My Way News reports: "Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to key Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that has not been recognized internationally. The fate of Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While past peace talks have discussed partition options, Israel's current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says that is out of the question."

Labels:

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Syria is said to be hiding weapons, moving troops
My Way News reports: "As the Obama administration tries to prod Congress into backing armed action against Syria, the regime in Damascus is hiding military hardware and shifting troops out of bases into civilian areas. Politically, President Bashar Assad has gone on the offensive, warning in a rare interview with Western media that any military action against Syria could spark a regional war. [...] The regime has a range of options if the U.S. does bomb. It could retaliate with rockets against U.S. allies in the region. It could unleash allies like Hezbollah against Western targets abroad. Or it could do nothing - and score propaganda points by portraying itself as victim of U.S. aggression."

My Way News - Boehner's aboard: Obama gains Syria-strike support
My Way News reports: "President Barack Obama gained ground Tuesday in his drive for congressional backing of a military strike against Syria, winning critical support from House Speaker John Boehner while key Senate Democrats and Republicans agreed to back a no-combat-troops-on-the-ground action in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack."

My Way News - Israel says it holds joint missile test with US
My Way News reports: "Israel says it has carried out a joint missile test with the U.S. in the Mediterranean Sea amid heightened tensions as Washington weighs sea-launched strikes against Syria. The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that it, together with the U.S. Defense Department, had carried out a 'successful test' in the Mediterranean and on an air force base in central Israel. "

Labels: ,

Monday, September 02, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Assad: Risk of regional war if West strikes Syria
My Way News reports: "France released an intelligence report on Monday alleging chemical weapons use by Syria's regime that dovetailed with similar U.S. claims, as President Bashar Assad warned that any military strike against his country would spark an uncontrollable regional war and spread 'chaos and extremism.' The verbal crossfire, including a rejection of the Western allegations by longtime Syrian ally Russia, was part of frenzied efforts on both sides to court international public opinion after President Barack Obama said he would seek authorization from Congress before launching any military action against Assad's regime."

My Way News - With eye on Iran, Israelis seek US action in Syria
My Way News reports: "Israelis have expressed their desire for American action with a mixture of moral and strategic concerns. Watching civilians die from poisonous gas is painful in a country built on the ashes of the Holocaust, in which the Nazis sent countless Jewish victims to their deaths in gas chambers. It has also sharpened concerns that Assad might one day use these weapons on Israel. Special gas-mask distribution centers have been flooded with nervous people in recent days seeking to get their protection kits."

My Way News - Russia may send lawmakers to US to discuss Syria
My Way News reports: "President Vladimir Putin proposed on Monday to send a delegation of Russian lawmakers to the United States to discuss the situation in Syria with members of Congress. "

My Way News - China argues against US action against Syria
My Way News reports: "China on Monday urged the U.S. not to take unilateral action against Syria in response to last month's chemical weapons attack against civilians. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Washington had briefed Beijing over the matter and China was highly concerned about any use of chemical weapons. But he said China opposed the U.S. acting alone and believed any response must conform to the U.N. Charter and the basic principles underlying international relations."

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Doomed Damascus

My Way News - Citing sarin use, US seeks Congress' OK for action
My Way News reports: "The Obama administration geared up for the biggest foreign policy vote since the Iraq war by arguing Sunday that new physical evidence shows the Syrian government used sarin gas in a deadly August attack. With its credibility on the line, the United States must respond, the country's top diplomat said. [...] Sarin, which affects the nervous system and is toxic in liquid or gas form, can be delivered in missiles, bombs, rockets or artillery shells. The gas is outlawed under international rules of warfare."

My Way News - Syria dismisses Obama as confused, moves troops
My Way News reports: "Syria on Sunday derided President Barack Obama's decision to hold off on punitive military strikes, but also took precautions by reportedly moving some troops and military equipment to civilian areas. [...] In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is ready for 'any possible scenario,' a reference to fears of Syrian reprisals against Israel in the event of a U.S. strike on the Assad regime. Netanyahu did not address Obama's latest decisions, but media commentators and hard-line politicians said the U.S. president appeared indecisive."

Labels: ,