Kurds in Iraq say US withdrawal from Syria a mistake

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga leaders say ISIL still a threat and US should not withdraw from Syria.

A pair of armoured vehicles parked in a corner of the Peshmerga headquarters in northern Iraq form a stark reminder of the threat the region is facing by ISIL.

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Collapse of the ‘caliphate’: Daesh territory slashed by 99.5 percent

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, February 11, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

The Daesh “caliphate” that was once the size of Britain has been reduced to a tiny patch of land near a village in eastern Syria, the anti-Daesh coalition said on Thursday.

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US-backed Syria force says captures foreign militants ‘daily’

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, February 11, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

US-backed forces in Syria said Wednesday they were detaining foreign Daesh group fighters on a “daily basis,” days after confirming the capture of German militants Martin Lemke.

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HRW warns against secret transfer of militants from Syria

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, February 11, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Any transfers of suspected foreign militants and their relatives out of Syria should be transparent, Human Rights Watch told AFP, as camps in the northeast fill with families of different nationalities.

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Zawahiri criticizes jihadists in Syria for clinging to territory under Turkey’s protection

Author : Mircea Birca | Sunday, February 10, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

On Feb. 5, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab, released a 45-minute video featuring the group’s global emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The bulk of the video, titled “The Way to Salvation,” is dedicated to explaining why the jihadists have not succeeded in countries that experienced the 2011 Arab uprisings. That is, Zawahiri seeks to explain why his men and their ilk have not come to power in several countries throughout North Africa and the Middle East, such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. These uprisings, although they were initially fueled by popular “anger,” have ended in “failure,” Zawahiri says.

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Analysis: The budding insurgency in southern Syria

Author : Mircea Birca | Sunday, February 10, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Yesterday, a low-quality video depicting an IED attack on a regime checkpoint in southern Syria was uploaded to the internet. A relatively unknown group, the Popular Resistance, claimed credit within the video itself.

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Taliban continues to host foreign terrorist groups, despite assurances to the contrary

Author : Mircea Birca | Sunday, February 10, 2019
Posted in category Afghanistan, Eurasia

In its latest statement on the summit in Moscow, the Taliban stated “we do not allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against other countries including neighboring countries.” Although the Taliban has employed similar language for years, it is a demonstrably false claim. The Taliban has continuously worked alongside jihadist organizations with regional and global aspirations, including al Qaeda.

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Renouncing al-Qaeda and the prospects for engagement

Author : Mircea Birca | Sunday, February 10, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

The seizure of the northern Syrian province of Idlib by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) from other armed opposition groups in early January once again brings to the fore the debate over its ties to al-Qaeda (AQ). HTS grew out of the Nusra Front (NF) in 2017, when it was required to renounce AQ as part of a plan to unify with other Syrian insurgents. The nature of this renunciation is still contested, however. Those who acknowledge the organizational split and significant strategic differences between HTS and AQ challenge the international community’s continued classification of HTS as an AQ affiliate. This classification suggests that many states still believe there are strong personal and ideological ties between the two groups.

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Islamic State’s Chief Al-Baghdadi Survived a ‘Coup’ by his Fighters

Author : Mircea Birca | Sunday, February 10, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Martin Chulov reported [1] for The Guardian yesterday, February 7, the Islamic State’s chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had survived a coup attempt last month by foreign fighters within the ranks of the terrorist organization in its holdout in Hajin in eastern Syria near the town of Al-Bukamal on the border between Syria and Iraq, and the Islamic State had reportedly placed a bounty on the main plotter’s head.

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US General Warns of Russian, Chinese Inroads in Africa

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, February 9, 2019
Posted in category Africa, Eurasia

Fears that Washington is increasingly losing influence across the globe are starting to come to fruition in Africa, where a top military official says Russia is playing on perceived U.S. weaknesses to gain leverage and resources.

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Now That NATO Door Is Open, North Macedonia Gets To Show That It Belongs

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, February 9, 2019
Posted in category Balkans, Eurasia

NATO says it is now ready North Macedonia. But is North Macedonia ready for the Western security alliance?

At the center of a tug-of-war for influence between Russia and the West, Skopje signed a protocol on February 6 that could see another successor state of Yugoslavia become the military alliance’s 30th member if the move is ratified by all current NATO members — foremost among them Greece.

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Iran unveils underground ballistic missile plant for 1st time

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, February 9, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Iran

Iran has unveiled an underground plant manufacturing precision ballistic missiles for the Aerospace Division of its Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

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Imagery Suggests Second Launch Attempt Of Iranian Satellite

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, February 9, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

Two satellite-imagery companies have released photos that suggest Iran has attempted a second launch of a satellite after the failure of the first lift-off in January.

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Has Turkish President Erdoğan Distanced Himself from the Muslim Brotherhood?

Author : Mircea Birca | Friday, February 8, 2019
Posted in category Africa, Eurasia, Middle Orient, Turkey

The picture sent shockwaves through Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s grassroots: A poor Egyptian member of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan in Arabic) handcuffed by the Turkish police, put aboard a Turkish Airlines plane to fly back to Cairo, to be tortured and eventually executed. Is President Erdoğan not a staunch supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood? Is he not an eternal enemy of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power after toppling the Ikhwan man, former president Mohamed Morsi, a darling of Erdoğan? Did Erdoğan not freeze diplomatic relations with el-Sisi’s Egypt?

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NATO Allies sign Accession Protocol for the future Republic of North Macedonia

Author : Mircea Birca | Friday, February 8, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

At NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday (6 February 2019) the Permanent Representatives to NATO of the 29 members of the Alliance signed the Accession Protocol for the future Republic of North Macedonia. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov.

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Israeli Satellite PHOTOS Suggest Russian-Made S-300 Operational in Syria

Author : Mircea Birca | Friday, February 8, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

Russia completed its delivery of new S-300 air defence systems to Syria last October following a Russian plane’s accidental destruction by a Syrian air defence battery that was responding to an Israeli airstrike.

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Russia successfully test-fires long-range missile amid tensions with US

Author : Mircea Birca | Friday, February 8, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

Russia has successfully test-launched an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), amid ongoing tensions with the United States over long-running treaties that control development of new missiles.

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Trump Makes Last Appeal for Wall Funding in State of Union Address

Author : Mircea Birca | Thursday, February 7, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

President Donald Trump used the State of the Union address Tuesday night to make a final push for a wall along the southern U.S. border, just days ahead of what he has warned could be another government shutdown.

“I will get it built,” vowed Trump, promising a “smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier.” But he stopped short of declaring a national emergency to obtain funds to build the wall.

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US Senate Criticizes Trump’s Plan to Withdraw Troops from Syria, Afghanistan

Author : Mircea Birca | Thursday, February 7, 2019
Posted in category Afghanistan, Eurasia, South East Asia

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to caution President Donald Trump against swift U.S. troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan.

Trump revealed his decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria in December, declaring that the U.S. had defeated Islamic State and no longer needed to deploy troops in Syria.

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World must do more to tackle ‘shadowy’ mercenary activities undermining stability in Africa, says UN chief

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Posted in category Africa, Eurasia

With mercenaries undermining global peace and security and weakening States’ capacities to protect their people, the UN Security Council on Monday shone its spotlight on their activities as a source of destabilization in Africa.

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Lavrov: Russia to React to US Exit From INF Treaty by Military-Technical Means

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

When reacting to the US announcement on Washington suspending its obligations under the INF Treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Moscow’s proposals remain on the table. Moscow issued a “mirror” response to the US move by suspending its own observance of the treaty.

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Venezuela to revise ties with EU states over Guaido support

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

The Venezuelan government has lashed out at some member states of the European Union (EU) over their move to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the leader of the Latin American country.

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Islamic State Resurgence Expected Within Months

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

Even as U.S.-backed forces close in on the very last pockets of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, the terror group is unfazed, instead preparing to declare victory and retake territory.

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Trump Says Wants To Keep U.S. Base In Iraq To ‘Watch Iran’

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Iran

President Donald Trump made clear in a television interview that he wants to reduce U.S. military engagement in Syria and Afghanistan, but said he was willing to keep a U.S. military base in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on Iran.

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Iran unveils long-range Hoveyzeh cruise missile

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia News, Iran

Iran has unveiled a surface-to-surface missile with a range of more than 1,350 kilometers during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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“We will wait until our partners are ripe for dialogue”: Russia suspends participation in the INF Treaty in response to US actions

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia News

Russia suspends participation in the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF) following a similar step by the United States. This was stated by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The head of state stressed that all attempts to reach an agreement with Washington were not crowned with success, and warned that the Russian side would not initiate negotiations, although all proposals to resolve the situation remain in force. In addition, the Ministry of Defense published data indicating the start of development in the United States of weapons prohibited by the agreement back in 2017. So, it became known that the Congress in November 2017 allocated $ 58 million for these purposes.

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Russia Joins US, Will Suspend INF Nuclear Treaty

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

The United States and Russia are making tit-for-tat moves with their participation in a nuclear treaty, something politicians and analysts see as a burgeoning arms race.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Saturday that Russia is suspending its participation in the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The Russian move follows a similar action Friday by the U.S.

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Trump Takes Aim at Intelligence Chiefs Via Tweet-Storm

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, February 4, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday, appearing to reignite his long-standing feud with the country’s intelligence agencies by belittling their assessments on Islamic State, North Korea and Iran.

In a series of posts, Trump claimed responsibility for key improvements while calling out his intelligence chiefs for being “extremely passive and naive.”

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Why Tehran Crosses Only ‘Pink Lines’

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, February 4, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Talk to any senior European Union official and you are sure to hear the Islamic Republic in Iran designated as “a threat to regional stability.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorses Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s assessment of Iranian behavior as “unacceptable.”

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Lifting the veil: Israel’s new military strategy in Syria

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, February 4, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

After years of ambiguity, Israel is increasingly going public with its strikes on Syria. Retaliatory attacks carried out last week were conducted in broad daylight, a rare occurrence. In contrast to prior strikes, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) immediately took responsibility for the attacks and announced them in real time on twitter. This change in policy, according to Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, is due to the fact that Israel is intensifying its attacks against Iranian “terror ambitions” in Syria. At the same time, Israel’s lifting of the veil on its fight against Iran reflects a new regional geopolitical reality. The change in military tactics coincides with the Assad regime’s definitive survival and – with that – an increased entrenchment by one of the regime’s preeminent supporters: Iran. Amid the recent announcement of a U.S. military withdrawal from Syria and challenges over his military tactics, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has focused on beefing up his security credentials in an effort to both secure his re-election and put Iran on alert.

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Hariri announces another flawed government, but don’t walk away from Lebanon

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, February 4, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

After nine months of deadlock, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced the formation of a new government of 30 ministers. The composition of the government is reflective of Lebanon’s power-sharing system and of the results of the last parliamentary elections. Although the old categories of the March 8 and March 14 coalitions are no longer very meaningful, the erstwhile March 8 coalition got 18 seats and the erstwhile March 14 coalition secured 12. President Michel Aoun and his party, the Free Patriotic Movement, have the largest single bloc of 10 — the largest bloc for a president since the Taif Agreement of 1989 — while Hariri’s Future Movement has the second largest at six, the Lebanese Forces at four, and Hezbollah and Amal at three each. The government has the largest number of women ever, four, including the key Ministry of Interior.

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‘No Progress’ In Talks On Saving Russia-U.S. Missile Pact As Deadline Looms

Author : Mircea Birca | Sunday, February 3, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia

Russia and Washington have failed to bridge their differences over a key Cold War-era arms control treaty at last-ditch talks in Beijing, Russian and U.S. officials say.

The impasse sets the stage for the United States to formally pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty later this week, and suspend its obligations.

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India Seeks License Extension from Russia to Manufacture More Su-30MKI Locally

Author : Mircea Birca | Sunday, February 3, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, India, South East Asia

India’s decision to manufacture additional Su-30MKI for the air force has been taken against the backdrop of a delay in the formal tendering process to acquire 110 fighter jets and upgrades of other existing jets, according to a highly placed official in India’s Defence Ministry.

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Turkey to set up safe zones in Syria: President Erdogan

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, February 2, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient, Turkey

Turkey says it will form safe zones in northern Syria so that millions of Syrian refugees hosted by the Ankara government could return to their home country, which is now recovering from nearly eight years of foreign-sponsored militancy.

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Jordan Will Not Take Over or Monitor al-Tanf Base After US Withdrawal – FM

Author : Mircea Birca | Saturday, February 2, 2019
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient

Jordan is not going to take over or monitor the US military base in the eastern Syrian al-Tanf area, located on the country’s border with Jordan, after Washington withdraws troops from Syria, since the facility is situated outside Jordan, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told Sputnik in an interview.

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