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June 25, 2016 / 19 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

US, Russia Agree: Syria’s President Assad Must Go

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Citing unnamed sources, the UK-based Al-Hayat publication reported Thursday that the United States and Russia have come to an agreement over the thorny issue of what to do about Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the report, the two world leaders have agreed on a way to end the years-long civil war with a political solution that allows Assad to find refuge in another country.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has allegedly already informed his Arab counterparts about the deal, which was welcomed by members of the UN Security Council.

However, the source stressed, “the timing of the move and its political context are still not clear.”

The news follows by one day a statement by the embattled Syrian president in which he opined that it would not be difficult to agree on a new Syrian government with opposition figures. That was a statement roundly denounced by the said opposition figures, who responded bluntly that no administration would be legitimate while Assad remained in office.

“What Bashar al-Assad is talking about has no relation to the political process,” said George Sabra of the UN High Negotiations Committee.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest also rejected the idea. “I don’t know whether he envisioned himself being a part of that national unity government. Obviously that would be a nonstarter for us,” Earnest told media.

At a conference in Geneva, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries Wednesday to increase global solidarity and resettle nearly half a million refugees in the next three years. Only three countries responded to the appeal: Italy, Sweden and the United States.

Physical damage to infrastructure in Syria has been estimated by the UN at $90 billion, with an additional $169 billion in accumulated losses due to a collapse in the GDP, reaching less than half of its level in 2011.

Hana Levi Julian

Russia Charges Citizen Over Denying Existence of God

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Grab a cup of strong tea laced with a sugar cube and sit down.

The Russian government arrested and indicted citizen Viktor Krasnov for writing “There is no God” and the “Bible is a collection of Jewish fairy tales” in a 2014 spat on social media.

The posts came to the attention of the government after a user on social media flagged his comments as “offending the sentiments of Orthodox believers.”

The Stavropol native was also subjected to a month-long mandatory psychiatric examination by the government during its investigation. The anti-government Grani.ru website reported on Tuesday that he was “declared sane.”

The posts – which were deleted – could earn him up to a year in prison, according to his lawyer and human rights activist Pavel Chikov.

Krasnov was charged with “offending believers’ feelings” by Russia’s Investigative Committee (the country’s equivalent of the FBI) in the fall of 2015.

The charge might seem minor but it was criminalized in Russia after a performance by the punk band Pussy Riot in a famous cathedral in Moscow in February 2012. Two band members were jailed after the show for performing a song that slammed President Vladimir Putin.

Krasnov’s began Monday in the southern Russian city of Stavropol, according to NBC News, which quoted the local Magistrate’s website.

Hana Levi Julian

Ukrainian Jews Flee To Israel Amid Anti-Semitic Attacks in War-Torn Ukraine

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

By Alexander J. Apfel/TPS

Over 100 Ukrainian Jews fled war-torn Ukraine and arrived in Israel on Tuesday, February 23. Many Ukrainian Jews have been leaving their country of birth due to violence and frequent anti-Semitic attacks. They were assisted by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), which has been spearheading a project of bringing Jews to Israel from countries engulfed by war.

Sisters Marina and Alexandra Prokopovych, aged 17 and 15 respectively, were among the new immigrants who arrived in Israel. They had lived in the small suburb of Rakytne. Both were severely beaten at their high school in what began as a nationalistically-motivated attack, but which spilled over into overt anti-Semitism.

IFCJ Director of Communications Tali Aronsky told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the girls were called “separatists” and “Zhids” [Jews] prior to the assault because they spoke Russian instead of Ukrainian.

“The girls sustained serious injuries as a result. One suffered concussions and had to get stitches. Even the teachers joined in the beating. The father remembers similar things that happened when he was younger, but he decided that it was time to leave when it happened to his daughters,” she said.

Dmytro Prokopovych, the girls’ father, also remembers that he had switched schools three times due to his ethnicity. He himself suffered fourteen concussions from similar attacks during his childhood and he maintains that anti-Semitism is still very prevalent in post-Soviet Ukraine.

“I recently discovered that my family’s real surname is Evenbach and not Prokopovych. It was my grandfather’s surname. My father would not be admitted to university with this surname in Soviet times so he changed it to his mother’s maiden name,” Dmytro recalls.

IFCJ founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein decided that efforts to rescue Jews in countries with prevailing anti-Semitism were insufficient. The IFCJ then began actively searching for Jews suffering in countries affected by war. Many of the immigrants receive additional funds since they were forced to leave behind homes that have become essentially worthless due to the conflicts.

“We don’t wait for the Ukrainians to call us up. We go to them and we also give them more support. We offer them $1,000 per family and $500 for every child in addition to what they get from the government,” Aronsky told TPS.

The new immigrants will be given guidance and career advice. Aronsky said that the organization has also reached out to other countries such as Venezuela, Uruguay, Turkey, and even several Arab countries and has managed to bring some 2,355 Jews to Israel. Aronsky was unable to divulge the identities of the Arab countries due to security concerns for the Jews involved.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Russia Resumes Bombing in Syria, Ceasefire is Shaky

Monday, February 29th, 2016

The cease-fire in Syria that is just two days old may already be gradually grinding to a halt.

Russia has resumed its bombing operations and the regime has launched a new offensive against Homs. Other breaches have been reported as well.

Contrary to the general international perception, the arrangements worked out with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and “moderate” opposition leaders by the United States and Russia do not apply to the entire geographic area of the country.

Thus Russian warplanes were in the skies across Syria on Monday, particularly in northern Aleppo, an area not included in the cease-fire.

“Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reportedly continue to advance south of Shaddadi and toward the ISIS-held town of Markadah,” reported the Levantine Group think tank. The opposition forces were reported to be “clearing ISIS villages along both of the banks of the Khabour river,” the military analysis think tank reported.

Several breaches to the current cease-fire were reported and levels of violence correspondingly have increased.

Local sources reported on Twitter that Russian planes bombed six Syrian towns around Aleppo, and areas north of Homs. Thousands of Syrian refugees were reported to be stranded at the Turkish border after fleeing the northern commercial hub.

However, other news services such as Al Arabiya continued to report the truce “seems to be largely holding, though rebels report what they describe as occasional government violations.”

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Drones Allegedly Seen in Syrian Skies

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Residents of Latakia have reported seeing Israeli drones flying in the skies overhead, according to local sources quoted in social media.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed Monday that his own forces were using the drones to carry out reconnaissance on opposition forces.

Photos of rebel positions were posted to Syrian social media sites. Some of the commentators on the sites have been theorizing that Israel sold the drones to Russia, who then gifted them to Assad.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Kerry on Syria: May Be Too Late to Keep Whole, May Get Much Uglier

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday the world community may not be able to save Syria – what once was Syria, anyway – if the current fighting continues much longer.

Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department’s annual budget request, Kerry had a grim outlook for the future of Syria.

“It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer,” the Secretary said, according to Reuters.

Even if the regime’s Russian-backed forces re-take the northern city of Aleppo – the largest commercial hub in the country – Kerry said it is hard to hold territory in Syria at this point.

For starters, the Secretary told the committee that he cannot guarantee that Russia will stick to the new cease-fire signed this week between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and moderate opposition forces. Moscow and Washington also signed on to that truce, which excluded the Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist groups.

The U.S. military is already looking ahead to a “Plan B,” he said, and will continue to support rebel efforts to overthrow Assad if Russia abandons its obligations under the truce.

“This can get a lot uglier,” Kerry warned. “Even if Russia took Aleppo… holding territory has always been difficult,” he said, according to Foreign Policy magazine. “Russia has to be sitting there evaluating that.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) asked Kerry what would happen if in fact “this cease-fire doesn’t hold? I don’t think Russia believes that anything is going to happen.”

Kerry ducked the question, replying instead, “I’m not going to say this process is sure to work because I don’t know. But I know that it’s the best way to end the war, and it’s the only alternative available to us if indeed we’re going to have a political settlement.”

The Arab world, on the other hand, may not be as willing to wait around and see.

Gulf nation governments and that of Saudi Arabia have already warned their citizens to leave Lebanon if they haven’t already. As early as last week, rumors were flying that Turkey and Saudi Arabia were preparing their troops for a ground invasion of Syria to deal with the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist threat on their own.

Hana Levi Julian

Truce Signed in Syria by Assad Regime, Rebel Forces – Excludes ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

As the gunshots and sounds of mortarfire grow closer to Israeli communities in the Golan Heights, the Syrian regime has signed a truce with representatives of the rebel forces.

The truce, however, excludes Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda and the Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist organizations, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon by the state-run SANA news agency, which raises the issue of how long it will actually last, and how relevant it really is.

“The Syrian Arab Republic accepts the cessation of fighting actions on the basis of continuing the military efforts for combating terrorism against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations according to the Russian-U.S. agreement,” said an official source at the Syrian Expatriates and Foreign Ministry.

The military picture in Syria is far from simple.

Both Russia and the U.S.-led coalition are still claiming to be bombing ISIS terror targets in Syria, but one can hardly separate those out from the general population, let alone from other combatants.

The Syrian regime forces include the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist guerrilla fighters and Russian military personnel on the ground and in the air.

The U.S.-led coalition forces in the air have been bombing targets on behalf of the more moderate Syrian opposition forces. But there have been overlaps and on more than one occasion the “moderate” rebels have united with radical Islamists when they deemed necessary to overcome an enemy target. In this way, weapons, ammunition and other foreign ordnance changes hands, and Da’esh (ISIS) and/or Al Qaeda-linked terrorists end up possessing American arms and military technology.

Moreover, Ankara — also a member of NATO along with the United States — has been bombing Kurdish sites in northern Syria, claiming the PYD and YPG groups are related to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group. Turkey alleges the PKK perpetrated last week’s horrific suicide car bombing in the capital city, Ankara, together with a PYD-linked Syrian national.

Regardless of who is dropping the bombs, after five years of one of the most savage civil wars in the Middle East very little is left of the “Syrian Arab Republic” that the world — or President Bashar al-Assad himself — once knew. At present, even the outlying districts of Damascus have been bombed into rubble in many areas, as seen in the video below, filmed by RussiaWorks.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry source noted that the cease-fire is set to begin on Saturday Feb. 27. In order to ensure the success of the cease-fire, “the Syrian government affirms readiness to continue to coordinate with the Russian side for identifying the areas and the armed groups that are to be included in the cessation along the period it is in effect,” the source said.

“The Syrian government stresses the importance of border curbing, halting support provided by some countries to the armed groups, and preventing these organizations from boosting their capabilities or changing their positions so as to avoid anything that may undermine this agreement,” the source warned.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed that he and U.S. President Barack Obama had agreed on a joint statement announcing their plans to stop military operations in Syria. The U.S. State Department announced the agreement, which it said includes “plans to stop the military operations in Syria, [but] which exclude the Islamic State (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/truce-signed-in-syria-by-assad-regime-rebel-forces-excludes-isis-al-qaeda-al-nusra/2016/02/23/

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