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News - International News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-13 07:50:57
US President Barack Obama has chosen to appoint former top US commander in Afghanistan, as the lead coordinator of international efforts to fight the Islamic State (IS) militant group, also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Reuters reported Friday, citing a US official. According to the official, retired Marine Corps General John Allen, who served as head of US and international forces in Afghanistan between July 2011 and February 2013, would be named as the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition against ISIL. On Wednesday, Obama announced plans to defeat the IS. He said Washington would be extending its airstrikes from Iraq to Syria and would provide support, equipment and training to Kurdish and Iraqi forces and Syria's opposition in order to respond to the threat. On Thursday, it was announced that Gulf Cooperation Council members, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, together with Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon agreed to join the US-led coalition aimed at defeating the IS militant group. The IS has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, it launched an offensive in Iraq and seized vast areas in both countries, proclaiming an Islamic caliphate on the territories under its control. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-13 05:50:59
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday it was "not appropriate" for Iran to join talks on confronting Islamic State militants, as he appeared to play down how fast countries can commit to force or other steps in an emerging coalition. Kerry met Turkish leaders to try to secure backing for U.S.-led action against Islamic State militants, but Ankara's reluctance to play a frontline role highlighted the difficulty of building a willing coalition for a complex military campaign in the heart of the Middle East. As he tours the region to gather support for President Barack Obama's plan to strike both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier to defeat Islamic State Sunni fighters, Kerry said Shi'ite Iran should have no role in talks on how to go about it. Accusing Iran of being "a state sponsor of terror” and backing Syria’s brutal regime, Kerry said it would be inappropriate for Iranian officials to join an Iraq conference in Paris on Monday to discuss how to curb a jihadist movement that has seized a third of both Iraq and Syria. Tehran has described the coalition as "shrouded in serious ambiguities". "Under the circumstances, at this moment in time, it would not be right for any number of reasons. It would not be appropriate given the many other issues that are on the table in Syria and elsewhere," he told a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-11 09:04:21
Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond’s bid for independence lost ground in an opinion poll a week before a referendum that could lead to the breakup of the U.K. after more than three centuries. The poll by Survation for the Daily Record newspaper in Glasgow put the No lead at six percentage points when excluding undecided voters, with 47 percent support for the Yes campaign and 53 percent opposed to independence. The results follow a survey by YouGov Plc last weekend that put the Yes side ahead for the first time, a swing that sent the pound tumbling. “It’s very hard to predict,” said Andrew Hawkins, chairman of polling company ComRes Ltd. “Referendums are difficult for polling companies, but I’m increasingly of the view that it will be a tight win by No.” That may offer reassurance to Prime Minister David Cameron and fellow U.K. party leaders after they made emergency trips to Scotland yesterday to urge Scots to recoil from seeking independence in the Sept. 18 vote. It might also give some respite to traders and investors concerned about further declines in the value of the pound. Sterling extended its advance against the dollar late yesterday, rising 0.4 percent to $1.6176 in London. It strengthened 0.7 percent to 79.77 pence per euro. Heart or Head The results of the poll are barely changed from the last survey by Survation, published on Aug. 28. When taking into account all respondents, 42 percent said they would vote Yes, up one point, and 48 percent No, unchanged. At the same time, 10 percent said they were undecided how to vote. The people yet to make up their minds are being courted by both sides as the campaigns enter their final week. The Scotsman newspaper endorsed a No vote in an editorial today. “We are better together,” the newspaper said. Scotland’s best interests lie “in continuing the Union,” it said. “You’ve heard a lot of what I call arguments of the head, but it’s also important we make arguments of the heart,” Cameron told workers at life insurer Scottish Widows in Edinburgh. “I would be heartbroken if this family of nations was torn apart. Don’t for one second think the rest of the U.K. is indifferent. These islands are our home.” In the audience was Jeff Martin, 42, an accountant originally from Sunderland, northeast England, who has lived in Edinburgh for 14 years. “I’m getting nervous because of what the opinion polls are saying,” he said afterwards. He will vote No, “but if it’s Yes, I become Scottish, I suppose.” Tight Race The Survation poll covered 1,000 residents of Scotland on Sept. 5-9 and the margin of error was 3.1 percentage points. It illustrates the spread of results that confound attempts to predict the referendum outcome. The five main polls this month have measured the Yes vote at between 38 percent and 47 percent, with No ranging from 39 percent to 48 percent and undecideds at anything between 7 percent and 23 percent. In the past week, YouGov put the independence camp one point ahead, and TNS had them one point behind. Those results spurred a flurry of activity from opponents of independence. Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, also traveled to Scotland to make a pitch for the union, as did Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister. Meanwhile, more companies have been voicing concern over the breakup of the U.K. since the polls shifted. Companies React BP Plc (BP/) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) both warned that Scotland’s oil reserves are lower than nationalists estimate. Standard Life Plc (SL/) said again that it’s considering moving units to England, and the chief executive officer of Kingfisher Plc (KGF) said a vote for independence would mean a freeze on investment. The Treasury said last night that Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Lloyds Banking Group had both been in contact about moving their bases to London in the event of a Yes vote. Polling for a referendum is made harder because there’s no record of past behavior to help model how likely people are to vote. The Yes campaign responded to the Survation poll by pointing out it was the highest they had ever scored in a survey by the company. “This puts Yes support at its highest yet in a Survation poll when those still undecided are included, and at 47 percent excluding don’t knows,” Yes Scotland Chief Blair Jenkins said in an e-mailed statement. “We are in touching distance of success next Thursday, and will galvanize all those who are wanting and working for a Yes to redouble their efforts.” His counterpart from the anti-independence Better Together campaign, Blair McDougall, said that the “fight for Scotland’s future will go right down to the wire, but it’s one we will win. This is too important for a protest vote,” he said in a statement. “There would be no going back.” Ladbrokes Plc said it was cutting the odds of a No vote, and will now pay out 4 pounds ($6.49) for every 11 pounds bet, instead of 4 pounds for every 9 pounds bet. “The latest poll has been a significant market mover,” spokesman Alex Donohue said in a statement. “Until its publication it looked like the odds were only going to get closer but it wouldn’t surprise us now if ‘yes’ odds only get longer from here.” More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-11 08:45:58
President Barack Obama is authorizing the start of airstrikes in Syria and expanding the monthlong bombing campaign in Iraq to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamist militants who recently beheaded two Americans, he told the nation Wednesday evening. The decisions, detailed in a prime-time address on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, would considerably deepen U.S. military involvement in the Middle East and mark an acknowledgment by Mr. Obama that the intensity of the threat from the militant group Islamic State requires the type of long-term, open-ended conflict he has resisted since taking office—and which he campaigned for the White House saying he would avoid. Mr. Obama’s strategy to combat the extremist group that calls itself Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is designed to help Iraqis reclaim large swaths of territory the group has overtaken since spilling over from its stronghold in neighboring Syria in recent months, administration officials said. That means the U.S. would for the first time strike at the group’s bases and havens in Syria, officials said. “America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Mr. Obama said. “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.” The president’s plan, which officials said has no timetable, builds on his authorization in August of airstrikes in Iraq to protect American personnel threatened by Islamic State and provide humanitarian assistance to besieged Iraqis. Administration officials said U.S. airstrikes in Syria would be conducted in a targeted way that wouldn’t embolden President Bashar al-Assad. “We will go after ISIL wherever they are, and that includes Syria,” a senior administration official said. “There should be no mistake that the United States is prepared to take action on both sides of that border.” White House officials on Wednesday said the administration had authority to conduct the strikes in Syria in part based on the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 06:32:06
The United Nations plans to set up an Ebola crisis center to coordinate the response to the deadly virus and to strive to halt its spread in West African countries in six to nine months, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Friday. Ban called on the international community to provide $600 million needed for supplies in West Africa, where more than 3,500 confirmed or probable cases of the hemorrhagic fever have been reported and more than 1,900 people have died since March. "The number of cases is rising exponentially. The disease is spreading far faster than the response. People are increasingly frustrated that it is not being controlled," Ban told reporters. "The goal is to stop Ebola transmission in affected countries within six to nine months, and to prevent the international spread of the virus," he said. "This can be done only if the urgent and necessary mobilization is done both in the affected countries and by the international community." Countries affected by the epidemic include Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. An outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is unrelated to and independent of the West African epidemic, the World Health Organization has said. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 06:24:26
The Pentagon confirmed on Friday that Ahmed Abdi Godane, a leader of the al Shabaab Islamist group, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia this week, calling it a "major symbolic and operational loss" for the al Qaeda-affiliated militants. "We have confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al Shabaab, has been killed," Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, said in a statement. Since taking charge of al Shabaab in 2008, Godane had restyled the group as a global player in the al Qaeda network, carrying out bombings and suicide attacks in Somalia and elsewhere in the region, including the Sept. 21, 2013, attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 67 people. Godane publicly claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack, saying it was revenge for Kenyan and Western involvement in Somalia and noting its proximity to the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. His death leaves a gap in al Shabaab's leadership and was seen as posing the biggest challenge to the group's unity since it emerged as a fighting force eight years ago. Abdi Ayante, director of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, said Godane's death would be "a game changer in many ways for al Shabaab." More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-06 06:03:27
A chartered aircraft carrying about 100 Americans from the U.S. airbase at Bagram, Afghanistan, has landed safely in Dubai after being diverted to Iran because of issues with its flight plan, the U.S. State Department said on Friday. The Fly Dubai plane took off earlier from Bandar Abbas, Iran, after being rerouted there. A U.S. official said the plane had failed to update its flight plan after leaving Bagram for Dubai several hours late. When Iranian civil aviation officials identified the plane, they could not find it in their system because it was supposed to have flown through hours earlier, the official said. Iranian officials first asked it to turn around and then to land at Bandar Abbas when told it did not have enough fuel to return to Afghanistan, the official said. In a statement saying the plane had landed in Dubai, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that contrary to some media reports, "No Iranian jets were scrambled in this situation. "We appreciate the efforts of all parties to help the passengers get safely to their destination," she added. Washington and Tehran have had an antagonistic relationship for decades. The United States cut diplomatic ties with Iran in April 1980, five months after Iranian students occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took U.S. citizens hostage. Fifty-two Americans were ultimately held for 444 days. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-04 08:06:48
President Vladimir Putin outlined plans for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday but Ukraine's prime minister dismissed the proposal, while France expressed its disapproval of Moscow's support for separatist forces by halting delivery of a warship. After speaking to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko by phone, Putin said he believed Kiev and pro-Russian separatists could reach agreement at planned talks in Minsk on Friday. "Our views on the way to resolve the conflict, as it seemed to me, are very close," Putin told reporters during a visit to the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, describing the seven steps he had put forward to secure a resolution to the crisis. They included separatists halting offensive operations, Ukrainian forces pulling back, an end to Ukrainian air strikes, the creation of humanitarian aid corridors, the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure and prisoner exchanges. Poroshenko indicated the conversation with Putin had injected some momentum into efforts to end a conflict that has killed more than 2,600 people since April, saying he hoped the "peace process will finally begin" at Friday's talks and that he and Putin had a "mutual understanding" on steps towards peace. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-02 08:34:23
U.S. military forces carried out an operation on Monday against al Shabaab militants in Somalia, a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman said. "We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available. Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu. African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centers and tracts of countryside. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-09-02 08:23:39
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia on Monday of "direct and undisguised aggression" which he said had radically changed the battlefield balance as Kiev's forces suffered a further reverse in their war with pro-Moscow separatists. In the latest in a string of setbacks in the past week, Ukraine's military said it had pulled back from defending a vital airport in the east of the country, near the city of Luhansk, where troops had been battling a Russian tank battalion. Poroshenko said in a speech there would be high-level personnel changes in the Ukrainian armed forces, whose troops fled a new rebel advance in the south which Kiev and its Western allies say has been backed up by Russian armored columns. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called on Sunday for immediate negotiations on the "statehood" of southern and eastern Ukraine, blamed Kiev's leadership for refusing to enter into direct political talks with the separatists. More»