Friday, February 28, 2014

WORLD_ SYRIA_ Saudi Arabia: Russia guilty in Syria’s bloodshed

Saudi Arabia: Russia guilty in Syria’s bloodshed

TREND
1 March 2014, 10:33 (GMT+04:00)

Saudi Arabia lashed out on Friday at Russian criticism of the kingdom's support for the Syrian opposition, saying it was Moscow's support for the Syrian regime that encourages President Bashar al-Assad to continue his brutality, Al Arabiya reported.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry expressed "surprise" at a Russian Foreign Ministry statement blaming the kingdom for the unrest in Syria.

Alarmed by recent reports that Saudi Arabia and other allies are planning to transfer advanced weapons to members of the Syrian rebel Free Syrian Army, Russia warned that such transfers would pose a major security threat in the region.

"If this sensitive weapon falls into the hands of extremists and terrorists who have flooded Syria, there is a great probability that in the end it will be used far from the borders of this Middle Eastern country," said the Russian foreign ministry statement.

Riyadh said it supports the Syrian people against the brutality of the regime in Damascus, which enjoys strong backing from Moscow. This backing, Saudi Arabia says, has cost Russia sympathy of the Arab street.

Follow us on Twitter @TRENDNewsAgency



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WORLD BRIEFING_ American Envoy to Syria Steps Down

WORLD BRIEFING

American Envoy to Syria Steps Down

By MICHAEL R. GORDON 
FEB. 28, 2014
The New York Times


The United States’ top representative to the Syrian opposition, Robert S. Ford, retired from the Foreign Service on Friday, the State Department said. Lawrence Silverman, the acting deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, will serve as his replacement until a successor is chosen. State Department officials said this month that Mr. Ford was expected to retire soon. As the American ambassador to Syria, Mr. Ford played an active role in challenging President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on the political opposition. In February 2012, as the security situation in Syria worsened, the American Embassy was closed. Mr. Ford later became the chief American envoy to the moderate Syrian opposition. Mr. Ford played a central role during the first two rounds of the peace talks in Geneva.

Those talks made no headway, and Secretary of State John Kerry has blamed the Syrian government for the deadlock. Mr. Ford also served as ambassador in Algeria and was a diplomat in Iran, Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey and Cameroon.

A version of this brief appears in print on March 1, 2014, on page A5 of the New York edition with the headline: Syria: American Envoy Steps Down.



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OPINION_ U.S. Can't End the Syrian Tragedy

LETTERS

U.S. Can't End the Syrian Tragedy

There is no legitimate U.S. national security interest at stake in Syria.

Feb. 28, 2014 4:59 p.m. ET
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

It is apparent that Fouad Ajami and Sen. John McCain feel strongly that America isn't doing enough in Syria to overthrow the Assad government ("Obama's Syria Debacle Laid Bare," by Fouad Ajami, op-ed, Feb. 21). While we all support an end to the violence and the right of the people to select their own government, the real issues in Syria have nothing to do with peace or democracy.

The civil war in Syria is a proxy for the regional competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The situation is further complicated by the interests of Israel, Russia and Turkey. The only reason the U.S. might consider any further action is to protect the interests of our allies in the region. There is no legitimate U.S. national security interest at stake in Syria. In fact, ongoing American meddling in Syria is likely to further inflame anti-American sentiment.

If we truly want the violence to stop, our best approach is to stay out of the conflict and encourage our regional allies to do the same. It should be left to the Syrians to resolve their internal conflicts on their own.

Steve Laudeman

Denver

_____________

What do you think?

Riêng những người dân Việt Nam BỊ MẤT NƯỚC vào tay bè lũ chó má phản quốc cướp nước diệt chủng BÁN NƯỚC việt gian cộng sản Việt Nam, học thêm được bài học gì nữa trước tình hình đã và đang xảy ra ở Syria và đặc biệt ở Ukraine ?

Và bài học nào cho những kẻ vọng ngoại, chủ quan, đã 39 năm MẤT NƯỚC vẫn còn tiếp tục trở thành những kẻ "không có cái đầu" nghe, tin vào những gì bọn chó má việt cộng nói;  đáng tội nghiệp nếu không muốn nói đáng khinh bỉ hơn cả là trở thành những kẻ "không có trái tim" làm theo lời bọn dối trá tàn ác tội đồ dân tộc BÁN NƯỚC DIỆT NÒI cộng sản VN ?



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conbenho
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Nguyễn Hoài Trang
01032014

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UKRAINE REVOLUTION_ Will Russia invade Ukraine?

28 February 2014 Last updated at 14:42

Will Russia invade Ukraine?

By Jonathan Marcus
BBC diplomatic correspondent




Recent developments look much like the preliminary to the Russian assault on Georgia in 2008



Could Russia intervene militarily in Crimea to safeguard its strategic interests? Or, to put the question a different way, has Russia already intervened?

Nobody yet knows the identities of the armed men who seized control of Simferopol airport.

But their equipment, their vehicles and their behaviour all signal that this is a trained military unit, not a rag-tag group of pro-Russian loyalists.

"These men look like a formed and organised body of troops. They appear to be disciplined, confident and uniformly dressed and equipped," says Brigadier Ben Barry, a land warfare expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

"Irregular militia may obtain bits of official kit but they tend to look like a military jumble sale."

All we know is that what looks to be a military unit has secured the airport in Simferopol, the Crimean regional capital.

This comes against a background of deepening tensions, with the Russians working through a predictable play-book of threats and menaces aimed at the new interim authorities in Ukraine.

Combat aircraft in areas bordering Ukraine are on alert. Snap military exercises have been held to demonstrate the readiness of Russian forces.

Misleading comparisons

There have been economic threats too, for example to increase customs duties at the two countries' border along with widespread rhetoric warning of the threats to Russian minorities, orthodox religious shrines and so on.

Nobody yet knows who the armed men at Simferopol airport are So far, it looks much like the preliminaries to the Russian assault on Georgia back in 2008.

Then, of course, the Georgian military did the Russians the favour of moving first into the separatist enclave of South Ossetia sparking a furious Russian response.

But comparisons can be misleading.

Georgia was a small country that had deeply irritated Moscow and one that could do little to respond against Russia's overwhelming military might.

Many experts believe a similar full-scale Russian intervention in Ukraine is unlikely.

Given the size of Ukraine and the divisions within its population, it would simply saddle Russia with involvement in what might rapidly become a bitter civil war.

Russian pressure at the moment serves a different goal.

Ukraine is heading towards bankruptcy. It needs outside funding. Moscow knows that Western financial institutions must play some kind of role.

Its concern is to underline in as clear terms as possible that any future Ukrainian government should tilt as much towards Moscow as it does to the EU.

Russia's bottom line is that Kiev should resist any temptation to draw towards Nato.

Crimea though is another matter. For a start the Russian military does not need to invade - it is already there, leasing facilities from the Ukrainian authorities.

The bulk of Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea with its headquarters in Sevastopol.

Russian naval personnel come and go in Sevastopol as if it were a Russian city. The navy dominates the town.

While largely made up of naval personnel, the Black Sea Fleet also has a contingent of marines and there have been a series of reports suggesting that Russian forces in and around Sevastopol have been bolstered in recent days.

Crimea has a very large pro-Russian population, who are probably in the majority.

Many Russian naval personnel have retired there - and it is distanced physically and politically from Kiev. Russian pressure in Crimea again serves Moscow's wider purpose of reminding Ukraine's new rulers that Moscow's concerns must be considered in any future economic and diplomatic arrangements.


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UKRAINE REVOLUTION_ Ukraine unrest: Armed pro-Russian men seize control of government buildings in Crimea

Ukraine unrest: Armed pro-Russian men seize control of government buildings in Crimea

Updated 7 hours 1 minute ago
ABC NEWS

Pro-Russian armed men seized control of parliament and government buildings in the Ukrainian region of Crimea on Thursday and hoisted Russian flags, officials said.


Up to 50 men with weapons marched into the buildings in the regional capital of Simferopol in a dawn raid and blocked government workers from entering, Crimean prime minister Anatoliy Mohilyov said.

Two people are thought to have been killed.

The moves came amid concerns of growing separatism on the overwhelmingly pro-Russian peninsula on the Black Sea after the ousting of Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.

Mr Yanukovych is thought to be in Russia, where he has been granted protection by the Russian government.

Many in Crimea, which is overwhelmingly Russian rather than Ukrainian speaking, strongly oppose the takeover of Ukraine by pro-EU and anti-Kremlin forces.

"We were building barricades in the night to protect parliament. Then this young Russian guy came up with a pistol... we all lay down, some more ran up, there was some shooting and around 50 went in through the window," Leonid Khazanov, an ethnic Russian, said.

"They're still there... Then the police came, they seemed scared. I asked [the armed men] what they wanted and they said: 'To make our own decisions, not to have Kiev telling us what to do'."

Local authorities were preparing to "take measures", Mr Mohilyov said without elaborating.

Ukraine's interim interior minister Arsen Avakov said security forces were being mobilised.

"Interior troops and the entire police force have been put on alert," Mr Avakov said in a statement on Facebook, adding that the area had been cordoned off "to prevent bloodshed".

In a statement, the regional government asked employees "not to come to work today".

An AFP journalist at the scene said police were pushing people back from around occupied administrative buildings.

Dozens of men in full combat dress but without any markings of affiliation marched into the government and parliament and removed the guards without any fight, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted sources in parliament as saying.

It said they gained entrance to the building complex by firing on the glass doors but that no-one was hurt.

The head of the local assembly for Crimea's Muslim Tatar minority - which is fearful of any pro-Russian separatist moves - confirmed that the buildings had been seized.

"I was told that the buildings of the Crimean Verkhovna Rada [parliament] and the Crimean Council of Ministers [government] are occupied by armed men in uniform without identification signs," Refat Chubarov wrote on Facebook.

"They have not put forward any demands yet."

Russia accepts Yanukovych request for protection

Russia has vowed to abide by its agreements with Ukraine and not move its troops outside of a Russian navy base in the regional Crimean capital.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen is warning Moscow not to take any steps that could further destabilise the situation

"I'm extremely concerned about the most recent developments in Crimea," he said.

"This morning's actions by an armed group is dangerous and irresponsible.

"I urge Russia not to take any action that can escalate tension or create misunderstanding."

The Russian government says Moscow has accepted a request from the deposed Mr Yanukovych for protection.

With Mr Yanukovych heavily criticised by many of his own supporters in Ukraine and many politicians in Russia too, it had seemed unlikely that Russia would offer him support.

Russian state television read out a statement on his behalf in which he declared he was still Ukraine's lawful president.

He also denounced the actions of the new government and parliament in Kiev as illegitimate and warned they would not be accepted by many in south-eastern and southern regions of Ukraine and in Crimea.

Ukraine's parliament in Kiev has voted to approve the formation of an interim government, headed by former opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk.

The United States says any Russian military action would be a grave mistake, calling on nations to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and avoid provocative actions.

But Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement that Moscow would defend the rights of its compatriots and react without compromise to any violation of those rights.

It expressed concern about "large-scale human rights violations", attacks and vandalism in the former Soviet republic.

Mr Yanukovych was toppled after three months of unrest led by protesters in Kiev.

He is now on the run being sought by the new authorities for murder in connection with the deaths of around 100 people during the conflict.

AFP/Reuters



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Nguyễn Hoài Trang
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Bao che, dung dưỡng TỘI ÁC là đồng lõa với TỘI ÁC

WORLD_ SYRIA_ Syrian War ‘Calamity’ Leads U.S. Report on Human Rights

Syrian War ‘Calamity’ Leads U.S. Report on Human Rights

By Terry Atlas
Feb 28, 2014 4:00 PM ET
Bloomberg News


The U.S. described the Syrian civil war as a “human rights calamity,” while citing Russia, China, Egypt, Turkey and other nations for abuses against their citizens in an annual State Department report.

“Too many governments continue to tighten their grasp on free expression, association, and assembly, using increasingly repressive laws, politically motivated prosecutions and even new technologies to deny citizens their universal human rights, in the public square and in virtual space,” Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in the preface to the global human-rights report released yesterday in Washington.

The document, covering almost 200 countries and territories, cited the Syrian government for committing “egregious human rights violations” in a conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and “created an opening for violent extremists that continues to endanger regional stability and our own national security.”

The report also found that “the government and opposition forces both impeded the flow of humanitarian assistance” and that both sides “used civilians, including women and children” to shield combatants.

“In Syria, hundreds were murdered in the dead of night when a disaster occurred at the hands of a dictator who decided to infect the air of Damascus with poisonous gas, and many more have been unfortunately confined to die under a barrage of barrel bombs, Scud missiles, artillery and other conventional weapons,” Kerry told reporters at a State Department briefing.

‘Momentous’ Year

Governments worldwide have sought to quash peaceful protests “from Independence Square in Ukraine to Gezi Park in Turkey,” while Russia has “continued its crackdown on dissent that began after Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency,” according to the report.

The report “comes on the heels of one of the most momentous years in the struggle for greater rights and freedoms in modern history,” Kerry said at the briefing, citing concerns from the deaths of workers in Bangladesh garment factories to discrimination against gay citizens and advocates in 80 countries from Nigeria to Russia and Iran.

The report cited the now-ousted government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine for beating detainees, for politically motivated prosecution and detentions, and for “tolerance of increased levels of violence toward journalists.” The report was completed before Yanukovych fled in the face of mass protests against his rule.

On China, which always figures prominently in the annual report, Kerry said in his statement that “a lack of judicial independence has fueled a state-directed crackdown on activists and suppression of political dissent and public advocacy.”

Chinese Detainees

The report cites dozens of detainees including Cao Shunli, who was stopped at Beijing Airport as she was attempting to travel to Geneva to attend a training session in advance of China’s Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Five weeks after her disappearance, authorities confirmed that Cao had been criminally detained on charges of unlawful assembly, according to the report.

Chen Kegui, a nephew of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, remained in prison, where he allegedly has been tortured, according to the report. His case has been raised repeatedly with Chinese authorities by U.S. officials since Chen, who drew attention for his efforts to expose forced abortions, was given refuge in the U.S.

China’s State Council information office released its own report today on human rights in the U.S., the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The U.S. “carefully concealed and avoided mentioning its own human rights problems,” while commenting on other countries, Xinhua said, citing the Chinese report.

Egypt’s Abuses

The Chinese report cited the U.S. government surveillance program known as Prism, exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, as “a blatant violation of international law” that “seriously infringes on human rights,” Xinhua said.

The State Department report said that in Egypt, significant human rights abuses included “the removal of an elected civilian government; excessive use of force by security forces, including unlawful killings and torture; the suppression of civil liberties, including societal and government restrictions on freedom of expression and press and freedom of assembly; and military trials of civilians.”

In Turkey, the government “used excessive force to disperse protests, detained thousands of persons, including many journalists, academics, lawyers, and students, during demonstrations, and charged many under the antiterror law,” the report said.

The report cites crackdowns on civil society by nations including Bahrain, Ecuador, Belarus, and Tajikistan. There have been increasing press restrictions in the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Azerbaijan, the report said.

The report also details abuses by security forces in Sudan, Libya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terry Atlas in Washington at tatlas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net


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Thursday, February 27, 2014

UKRAINE REVOLUTION_ Ukraine tensions escalate as armed men seize Crimea government HQ

Ukraine tensions escalate as armed men seize Crimea government HQ

Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych asks for Russian protection from 'extremists'

The Associated Press
Posted: Feb 27, 2014 12:59 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 27, 2014 3:26 PM ET
CBC NEWS


Russia sent fighter jets to patrol the border with Ukraine and reportedly gave shelter to the country's fugitive president as pro-Russian gunmen stormed offices of a strategic region, deepening the crisis for Ukraine's new government even as it was being formed.

The moves pose an immediate challenge to Ukraine's new authorities as they seek to set up an interim government for the country, whose population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West. Ukraine's new prime minister said the country's future lies in the European Union but with friendly relations with Russia.

Moscow, meanwhile, has launched a massive military exercise involving 150,000 troops and put fighter jets on patrol along the border.

A respected Russian news organization reported that President Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven out of Kyiv by a three-month protest movement, was staying in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside Moscow.

  * Can Russia keep its hands off Ukraine?

  * Ukraine in crisis: Key facts, major developments

  * Vladimir Putin's Ukraine dilemma: How to react?



"I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists," Yanukovych said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies on Thursday.

Shortly after, the same three Russian news agencies quoted an unnamed Russian official saying that Yanukovych's request for protection "was satisfied on the territory of Russia."

Russian news agencies later reported that Yanukovych will hold a news conference Friday in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych's flight, condemned the takeover of government buildings in Crimea as a "crime against the government of Ukraine." He warned that any move by Russian troops off of their base in Crimea "will be considered a military aggression."

"Unidentified people with automatic weapons, explosives and grenades have taken over the governmental buildings and the parliament building in the autonomous region of Crimea," he said. "I have given orders to the military to use all methods necessary to protect the citizens, punish the criminals, and to free the buildings."

  * The Current: Photojournalist discusses his work in Ukraine

  * Ukraine's strategic importance to Russia's defence

  * Live blog: Ukraine's deadly violence


In Kyiv, lawmakers chose Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the new prime minister. He will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is not only deeply divided politically but on the verge of financial collapse. The 39-year-old served as economy minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker before Yanukovych took office in 2010, and is widely viewed as a technocratic reformer who enjoys the support of the U.S.

Shortly before the lawmakers chose him as the leader of the new cabinet, Yatsenyuk said Ukraine doesn't want a fight with Russia, but insisted the country wouldn't accept the secession of the southern Crimea region.

He said Crimea "has been and will be a part of Ukraine."

Yanukovych fled after riot police attacked protesters in Kyiv's central square, killing more than 80 people, and European and Russian officials intervened. He has not been seen publicly since Saturday, when he said he remained the legitimately elected president — a position that has been backed by Russia.

Yanukovych reportedly at sanatorium

Russia's respected RBK news organization reported Wednesday evening that Yanukovych was staying at the Barvikha sanatorium, which is run by the presidential administration's property department. The spokesman for this department, Viktor Khrekov, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he has no information about this.

The RBK report was impossible to confirm, but security at the Ukraina Hotel was unusually heavy late Wednesday, with police watching from parked vehicles outside and guards posted throughout the lobby. Some of Yanukovych's allies, also reported to have been at the hotel, may have still been there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman also said he had no information about Yanukovych's reported arrival in Moscow.

In a clear warning to Ukraine, Putin on Wednesday ordered massive military exercises involving most of the military units in western Russia. On Thursday, as part of the exercises, fighter jets were put on combat alert and were patrolling the border, Russia's Defence Ministry said in a statement. It didn't specify the areas where patrol missions were being conducted. The military also announced measures to tighten security at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean peninsula in southeastern Ukraine.

The military manoeuvres prompted a sharp rebuke from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned Russia that any military intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake."

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern Thursday about the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and vowed to protect their interests. State-owned ITAR-Tass news agency quoted a statement read at a session of the ministry's board on Thursday, saying that Russia "will have a firm and uncompromising response to violations of the rights of compatriots by foreign states."

Russia has accused Ukraine's interim leaders of failing to control radicals who threaten the Russia-speaking population in Ukraine's east and south, which includes the Crimean Peninsula.

Witnesses said the gunmen in Simferopol, the Crimean regional capital, wore unmarked camouflage uniforms and carried rocket-propelled grenades, sniper rifles and other weapons. They raised the Russian flag over the local parliament building.

Who are they?

The men did not immediately voice any demands and threw a flash grenade in response to a journalist's questions. They wore black and orange ribbons, a Russian symbol of the victory in the Second World War, and put up a sign reading "Crimea is Russia."

Maxim, a pro-Russian activist who refused to give his last name, said he and other activists had camped overnight outside the local parliament in Simferopol when 50 to 60 heavily armed men wearing flak jackets and carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers and sniper rifles took over the building.

"Our activists were sitting there all night calmly, building the barricades," he said. "At 5 o'clock unknown men turned up and went to the building. They got into the courtyard and put everyone on the ground.

"They were asking who we were. When we said we stand for the Russian language and Russia, they said: 'Don't be afraid. We're with you.' Then they began to storm the building bringing down the doors," he said. "They didn't look like volunteers or amateurs; they were professionals. This was clearly a well-organized operation."

"Who are they?" he added. "Nobody knows."

CBC correspondent Susan Ormiston said many people gathered on Thursday were happy about the takeover.

"They are grouped around here today again showing their support for closer ties to Russia and away from the new government in Kyiv," she said.

A convoy of seven armoured personnel carriers was seen on a road near the village of Ukromnoye, about 10 kilometres away from the city of Simferopol. In Moscow, Russia's Foreign Ministry said that Russia was abiding by an agreement with Ukraine that sharply restricts troops movements, but acknowledged some unspecified troops movements, claiming they didn't violate the deal, the Interfax news agency reported.

  * Ukraine protesters nominate legislator for new PM

  * John Baird leading Canadian delegation to Ukraine


In a statement, the local government said Crimean Prime Minister Anatoly Mogilyev had tried to negotiate with the gunmen but was told "they were not authorized to negotiate and present demands."

Ukraine's acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said on his Facebook page that police were sealing off the area.

Map: A divided Ukraine

European loyalties run highest in the Ukrainian-speaking west of the country, while the eastern half generally falls more into the Russian orbit. Hover over the red and blue dots to learn more about specific flashpoints in the conflict.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-tensions-escalate-as-armed-men-seize-crimea-government-hq-1.2553151



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conbenho
Tiểu Muội quantu
Nguyễn Hoài Trang
28022014

___________

Cộng sản Việt Nam là TỘI ÁC
Bao che, dung dưỡng TỘI ÁC là đồng lõa với TỘI ÁC

UKRAINE REVOLUTION_ Ousted Ukrainian president to hold press conference in Russia

Ousted Ukrainian president to hold press conference in Russia

Viktor Yanukovych says he is still the legitimate leader of Ukraine and will speak publicly in Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Friday




A "Wanted" poster showing a portrait of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych is stuck on a car window in central Kiev Photo: AFP


By Kevin O'Flynn, Moscow
7:55PM GMT 27 Feb 2014

Ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych has called on Russia to give him protection saying that he is still the "legitimate head of the Ukrainian state."

Russian television reported yesterday that Yanukovych, who fled Kiev last week after bloody clashes between protesters and police forces, is now in Russia and the three main news agencies said he would be holding a press conference in the country today.

Yanukovych's plea for protection came after what he claimed were "threats of reprisals against me and my followers."

The acting Ukrainian government has accused the ousted President of mass murder after close to 100 people were killed in the protests and requested an international warrant for his arrest.

Yesterday Russian television quoted him as backing protesters in Russian-speaking regions who have come out against the Maidan demonstrations.


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 _ Fugitive president 'takes refuge in luxury health clinic near Moscow’ - 26 Feb 2014
 _ Ukraine revolution: 150,000 Russian troops on alert - 26 Feb 2014
 _ Ukrainian police filmed kneeling to beg forgiveness - 26 Feb 2014


"It is becoming clear that the people in southeastern Ukraine and in Crimea do not accept the power vacuum and complete lawlessness in the country, when the heads of ministries are appointed by the mob," he said. "On the streets of many cities of our country there is an orgy of extremism."

The state-run RIA and Itar-Tass as well as privately owned Interfax news agencies have reported that he plans to hold a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don at 5pm citing people close to Yanukovich.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Yanukovych has not appeared in public since he fled Kiev. After leaving the capital the deposed leader gave a television interview in Kharkiv, before going to Donetsk and then reportedly heading to Crimea.

Russian daily RBK reported that he flew in to Moscow on Tuesday and was seen at the hotel Ukraina, a vast Stalin-era skyscraper, citing a top state official and major businessman.

The hotel Ukraina, now called the Radisson Royal, was built as a Soviet palace in the 1950s and has a marble-lined, chandelier filled interior. It was known as a gangster hang out in the 1990s but now caters to Russia's super rich with a Rolls-Royce salon on its first floor, which has 5 cars on show.

Yanukovych, whose private zoo and vast collection of classic cars, was revealed to the world after his presidential residence was seized by demonstrators, had not popped in to look for a replacement car, said a sales official.

"We've heard the rumours but I haven't seen him," said Sergei, a security guard manning the door to the smoke-filled hotel lobby, filled with men wearing very chunky, expensive watches.

RBK also reported that another runaway Ukrainian official, former general prosecutor Victor Pshonka had hired a suite on the 11th floor last week for £6600 pounds.

One Twitter parody called VictorinEnglish had already picked up on the rumours by tweeting "The Moscow Radisson is a dump. Damn hotel doesn't even have a zoo."

RBK reported that Yanukovych had since moved on to a top sanatorium, which belongs to the presidential administration, located in the richest area in Moscow.

The sanatorium, once a favourite of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, is in Barvikha in the west of Moscow. Lacking his personal chef, Yanukovych has been reduced to ordering food from the nearest fancy restaurant, Tsarskaya Okhota, run by restaurateur Arkady Novikov, it reported.



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UKRAINE REVOLUTION_ Ukraine: revolutionaries take the place of police on Kiev's streets

Ukraine: revolutionaries take the place of police on Kiev's streets

In the aftermath of the revolution, Ukraine's police have disappeared from the streets




Riot police kneel as they apologise to Lviv residents for taking part in an operation against anti-government protesters in Kiev (Reuters)


By David Blair, Kiev
11:54PM GMT 26 Feb 2014
The Telegraph
3 Comments


The task of controlling entry to a European capital with almost 3 million people has fallen to a 30-year-old electrician called Andreiy, who mans a motorway checkpoint made of old tyres.

Along with four other revolutionaries clad in motley camouflage, he stands guard on the north-eastern fringe of Kiev, watching a vital link between the city and the outside world.

In the aftermath of the revolution, Ukraine's police have disappeared from the streets and handed their duties over to revolutionaries.

In other capitals, the sudden withdrawal of the police would risk a general collapse of law and order. But Kiev is different: shops and offices have reopened and traffic fills the streets. Even banks and jewellers feel confident enough to open their doors despite the absence of a functioning police force.

Andreiy and his comrades keep watch for buses packed with "tituskhi" - the young criminals hired by the old regime to harass protesters. "If we see a suspicious vehicle, we take the registration number and contact the revolutionaries in the centre of Kiev and ask them to stop it. If they call us and tell us to stop a car, then we do," he said.


Related Articles
 _ Russia and NATO to face off over Ukraine - 26 Feb 2014
 _ Fugitive president 'takes refuge in luxury health clinic near Moscow’ - 26 Feb 2014
 _ Ukraine's new cabinet proposed to Maidan crowds - 26 Feb 2014
 _ Russian flag raised in Crimea as gunmen storm parliament - 27 Feb 2014


Andreiy also enforces good behaviour at a nearby junction, although elsewhere in Kiev a few traffic police have reappeared. "If somebody crosses a red light, we say 'please don't do that'. We can't make them pay anything, but we just warn them," he said.

Whether all the revolutionaries are so restrained is open to question. But Ukraine's police were so notorious for taking bribes that few miss their absence.

The revolutionaries, meanwhile, have shown their ability to enforce order.

The area of central Kiev which they have controlled for months is packed with expensive shops, including branches of Gucci and Louis Vuitton. These businesses have closed their doors, but their windows are unbroken and there is no visible sign of looting.

Anna Grygorenko, who serves at a jewellery counter in Komod shopping centre, had no qualms about placing a glittering array of earrings and necklaces on display. "We had the revolution because there was no law and people wanted to control the police. There was no trust in the police - people were afraid of them," she said.

"So it's the opposite: if we don't have police and people try to control things themselves, it makes me feel safer."



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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

POLITICS_ US warns Russia against military intervention in Ukraine

US warns Russia against military intervention in Ukraine

Published February 26, 2014
Associated Press




Feb. 25, 2014: British Foreign Secretary William Hague listens at right as Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington.AP


WASHINGTON – The United States on Wednesday warned Russia against a military intervention in Ukraine, saying such a move would be a "grave mistake," as troops in western Russia were placed on high alert for massive new war games in the area, including near the Russian-Ukrainian border.

In delivering the blunt message, Secretary of State John Kerry also announced that the Obama administration was planning $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and would consider additional direct assistance for the former Soviet republic following unrest that led to the ouster of its Russian-backed president.

Kerry also renewed U.S. demands that Moscow withdraw troops from disputed enclaves in another former Soviet republic, Georgia, and urged Georgia to further integrate with Europe and NATO.

The warning, aid announcement and nudge westward for Georgia all came amid growing tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and were likely to fuel already-heightened Russian suspicions over Western intentions in its backyard.

Kerry insisted, however, that that U.S. policy toward Ukraine, Georgia and the other states that once made up the Soviet Union was not aimed at reducing Russia's influence in its neighborhood. Instead, he maintained that U.S. encouragement for former Soviet states to integrate with the West was driven by America's desire to see their people realize aspirations for freedom in robust democracies with strong economies.

"This is not `Rocky IV'," Kerry said, referring to the iconic 1985 Sylvester Stallone film in which an aging American boxer takes on a daunting Soviet muscleman. "It is not a zero-sum game. We do not view it through the lens of East-West, Russia-U.S. or anything else. We view it as an example of people within a sovereign nation who are expressing their desire to choose their future. And that's a very powerful force."

Noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered large-scale military exercises in what many see as a show of force or possible prelude to intervention in Ukraine, Kerry said it would be hypocritical for Moscow to send troops into another country after spending the last several years opposing foreign military action in places like Libya and Syria.

"For a country that has spoken out so frequently in the last year ... against foreign intervention in Libya, Syria, elsewhere, it would be important for them to heed those warnings as they think about options in the sovereign nation of Ukraine." Kerry said. "Any kind of military intervention that would violate the sovereign territorial integrity of Ukraine would be a huge, a grave mistake. And the territorial integrity of Ukraine needs to be respected."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest urged "outside actors" to respect Ukraine's sovereignty. Without specifically mentioning Russia, Earnest also called on others in the region to end "provocative rhetoric and actions.

" On assistance, Kerry said it was "urgent to move forward" to help Ukraine but also said it was urgent for Ukraine's interim authorities to enact reforms, curb corruption, and prepare free and fair elections. He said the planned $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees would be accompanied by additional aid to be determined later in consultation with Congress, as well as about $1.5 billion from the European Union, along with loans from global financial institutions.

Kerry made the comments in a round-table interview with a small group of reporters at the State Department where he presided over a meeting of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission earlier Wednesday.

At that meeting, he announced additional, but unspecified, U.S. assistance "to help support Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic vision." And he denounced Russia's continued military presence in the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the cease-fire that ended the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict.

He stressed that the U.S. supports Georgia's membership in NATO -- something opposed by Russia -- and wants to see it sign a partnership agreement with the European Union later this year. A similar proposed agreement between Ukraine and the E.U. was among the catalysts that led to the deadly unrest in Kiev that unseated Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych last week.

Some Russian officials accuse the West of being behind the revolt against Yanukovych. U.S. and European officials have denied such allegations.

In addition to Putin ordering the military exercises, Russia's defense ministry said it would take steps to strengthen security at facilities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, where there have been clashes between pro- and anti-Russian demonstrators. Pro-Russian protesters have spoken of secession, and a Russian lawmaker has stoked their passions by promising that Russia will protect them.

Those steps have raised fears of possible Russian military intervention in Ukraine along the lines of its 2008 operation in Georgia, which led to the occupations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and was roundly condemned by the United States and its European allies.

Kerry, sitting next to Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, affirmed that the U.S. "remains steadfast in our support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"We continue to object to Russia's occupation, militarization and borderization of Georgian territory, and we call on Russia to fulfil its obligations under the 2008 cease-fire agreement, including the withdrawal of forces and free access for humanitarian assistance," Kerry said.


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WORLD_ SYRIA_ Syria ships out mustard gas as watchdog urges faster action




The U.S. Navy cargo ship MV Cape Ray, shown in Portsmouth, Virginia, in May 2012, will be used to destroy mustard gas that formed part of Syria's chemical arsenal. | AFP-JIJI

World

Syria ships out mustard gas as watchdog urges faster action

AFP-JIJI Feb 27, 2014
Article history
The Japan Times


DAMASCUS – Syria shipped out a fourth consignment of chemical weapons for destruction Wednesday, but an international watchdog urged swifter progress toward a missed turn-of-the-year deadline to surrender the most dangerous agents.

The mustard gas loaded onto a cargo ship in the Mediterranean port of Latakia was one of five “priority chemicals” in Syria’s arsenal that it was supposed to have handed over by Dec. 31 under a disarmament deal approved by the U.N. Security Council last August.

The feared weapon, made notorious by its use during World War I, is to be destroyed at sea aboard a U.S. vessel, the MV Cape Ray, under the supervision of the U.N. and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Like the last shipment of chemical weapons on Feb. 10, the OPCW gave no details on the volume of mustard gas handed over for destruction.

“The removal of this sulfur mustard is an encouraging and positive development,” said the watchdog’s chief, Ahmet Uzumcu. “Much work nonetheless remains to be done, and we look to the Syrian government to accelerate its efforts to transfer the remaining chemicals in regular, predictable and systematic movements.”

Syria has missed a string of deadlines in a tight disarmament timetable aimed at eliminating its entire chemical arsenal by June 30, and diplomats openly admit that the final target date is no longer achievable.

But the major diplomatic players in the conflict are deeply divided over what to do about it.

Syrian government allies China, Iran and Russia want flexibility over the timetable, but the United States and the European Union have insisted on being strict.

Syria has declared around 700 tons of most-dangerous chemicals, 500 tons of less-dangerous precursor chemicals and around 122 tons of isopropanol, which can be used to make sarin nerve gas.

The first were supposed to have been removed by Dec. 31, the second by Feb. 5 and the third by a now-unachievable deadline of March 1.

The Syrian government insists that it has been doing its best to deliver the chemical weapons in the midst of a raging civil war and has asked for a 100-day extension to an end of May deadline for it to ship out the totality of its chemical arms.

But its Western detractors have accused it of stalling.

“The Syrian government continues to put its energy into excuses instead of actions,” the U.S. representative in the OPCW, Robert Mikulak, charged on Friday.

The watchdog’s executive council is to meet again early next month in a bid to agree on a response to the slippage in the timetable.

Damascus signed on to the deal to avert the threat of U.S. military strikes following deadly chemical attacks outside Damascus last August that the West blamed on President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The plan calls for the chemicals to be taken from Syria’s main port Latakia under Western escort to a U.S. vessel that will break them down using hydrolysis, a process expected to take 90 days.



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UKRAINE REVOLUTION_ Russia Orders Military Exercises Amid Ukraine Tension

Russia Orders Military Exercises Amid Ukraine Tension

Kerry Warns Moscow to Respect Ukraine's Territorial Integrity


By Lukas I. Alpert
Updated Feb. 26, 2014 2:41 p.m. ET
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL




Ukrainian police try to separate pro-Russia separatists from supporters of Ukraine's new leaders in Crimea. REUTERS


MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered surprise military exercises for 150,000 troops in Russia, including some based less than 200 miles from Ukraine, where the ouster of the president has left a political vacuum.

The test of combat readiness applies to ground, air defense and tank units as well as Russia's Northern and Baltic fleets. It is among the largest such exercises the country has undertaken in recent years, and comes amid rising displeasure in Moscow with developments in Ukraine.

Since pro-Western protesters in Ukraine overthrew President Viktor Yanukovych last weekend, Russia has recalled its ambassador from Kiev, suspended a $15 billion bailout package and threatened to raise natural gas prices and impose trade sanctions. Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that the situation posed a threat to Russian interests in the former Soviet republic.




Ukraine's acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, talking with supporters in front of the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev, on Feb. 22. European Pressphoto Agency


Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the exercise had been planed months ago and had nothing to do with the unrest in Ukraine—in which more than 80 people were killed in clashes with police last week. Another senior defense official told local news agencies that the ministry didn't see the unrest in Ukraine as a reason to delay the exercise.

But the timing of the show of strength is certain to heighten concerns over the possibility of military intervention in Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine, particularly Crimea, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Russia needed to "be very careful" in its next steps.

"We are not looking for confrontation. But we are making it clear that every country should respect the territorial integrity here, the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia has said it would do that and we think it's important that Russia keeps its word," he said on NBC television.

On Wednesday, tense, competing protests between pro-Russian and pro-Western residents erupted in Simferopol, the regional capital, where the local parliament discussed Crimea's future.

"What kind of signal does this send to the most-extreme factions on the ground? This is likely only to inflame passions rather than cool them," said Eugene Rumer, director of the Russia program at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The announcement of the military exercises sent the ruble to new lows against the euro and Russian exchanges tumbling.

The last large-scale, military-readiness test was held in May and involved 160,000 soldiers, tanks and aircraft in Siberia. Russia also staged a test of 80,000 soldiers in February 2013, as well as several smaller drills in the Black Sea and in central Russia.

Senior Russian officials in recent days have said that military intervention wasn't on the table; "Such a scenario is impossible," Valentina Matvienko, the head of Russia's upper house, said Wednesday.

But Andrey Klimov, deputy chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia's parliament, said Russia had a responsibility to protect its military assets in Ukraine. "The Russian army must be prepared to use our forces to protect its own bases even if there just a 1% probability that something might happen to our people there," he said.

Defense ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, meeting in Brussels, offered their support for "Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity, democratic development and the principle of inviolability of frontiers."

At a news conference, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen didn't explicitly criticize the military drill, nor did he address the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO—something Russia vehemently opposes.

But Mr. Rasmussen reiterated the allies' position that Kiev should be able to make its own security arrangements. "Every nation has an inherent right to decide for itself when it comes to alliances and foreign and security policies," he said.

The newest military tests involve units in Russia's Western and Central military districts.

Russia is broken into four large military districts spanning from the Far East to its European borders. The western district is based in St. Petersburg and stretches from Russia's western arctic to its border with Ukraine and Belarus. The central district is based in Yekaterinburg and stretches from Siberia to just west of the Ural Mountains.

The exercises began Wednesday and are scheduled to last until Monday. They will be conducted in two parts, Mr. Shoigu said. The first will involve spot checks of combat readiness. The second part will involve operational and tactical exercises with the 6th Army, based in St. Petersburg; the 20th Army, based in Voronezh, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the Ukrainian border; and the 2nd Army in Samara, near the Kazakh border.

"The Supreme Commander [Vladimir Putin] has ordered a test of the ability of our troops to respond in crisis situations that threaten the military security of the country including terrorist, biological and man-made threats," Mr. Shoigu said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, said that Russia was likely preparing itself should the situation in Ukraine worsen.

"The Russian political and military leadership must be prepared for different scenarios. This does not mean they will use them. But the whole experience of the last 20 years shows that one must be prepared for any possibility, up to military intervention," he said.

Poland's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski recalled the Budapest agreement of 1994, under which Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal after the fall of communism.

"Russia, along with the United States of America and United Kingdom, agreed to guarantee Ukraine's territorial integrity in exchange for the latter's decision to cease being nuclear superpower," he said. "I think we should be heatedly reminding our Russian partners of that fact."



Julian E. Barnes contributed to this article.

Corrections & Amplifications

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov was speaking on Wednesday. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said he was speaking on Thursday.

Write to Lukas I. Alpert at lukas.alpert@wsj.com



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VIEWPOINTS_ Thomas L. Friedman: Don’t just do something; sit there

Thomas L. Friedman: Don’t just do something; sit there

By Thomas L. Friedman
The New York Times
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 - 11:41 am


With Russia growling over the downfall of its ally running Ukraine and still protecting its murderous ally running Syria, there is much talk that we’re returning to the Cold War – and that the Obama team is not up to defending our interests or friends. I beg to differ. I don’t think the Cold War is back; today’s geopolitics are actually so much more interesting than that. And I also don’t think President Barack Obama’s caution is entirely misplaced.

The Cold War was a unique event that pitted two global ideologies, two global superpowers, each with globe-spanning nuclear arsenals and broad alliances behind them. Indeed, the world was divided into a chessboard of red and black, and who controlled each square mattered to each side’s sense of security, well-being and power. It was also a zero-sum game, in which every gain for the Soviet Union and its allies was a loss for the West and NATO, and vice versa.

That game is over. We won. What we have today is the combination of an older game and a newer game. The biggest geopolitical divide in the world today “is between those countries who want their states to be powerful and those countries who want their people to be prosperous,” argues Michael Mandelbaum, professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins.

The first category would be countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea, whose leaders are focused on building their authority, dignity and influence through powerful states. And because the first two have oil and the last has nukes that it can trade for food, their leaders can defy the global system and survive, if not thrive – all while playing an old, traditional game of power politics to dominate their respective regions.

The second category, countries focused on building their dignity and influence through prosperous people, includes all the countries in NAFTA, the European Union, and the MERCOSUR trade bloc in Latin America and ASEAN in Asia. These countries understand that the biggest trend in the world today is not a new Cold War but the merger of globalization and the information technology revolution. They are focused on putting in place the right schools, infrastructure, bandwidth, trade regimes, investment openings and economic management so more of their people can thrive in a world in which every middle-class job will require more skill and the ability to constantly innovate will determine their standard of living – the true source of sustainable power.

But there is also now a third and growing category of countries, which can’t project power or build prosperity. They constitute the world of “disorder.” They are actually power and prosperity sinks because they are consumed in internal fights over primal questions like: Who are we? What are our boundaries? Who owns which olive tree? These countries include Syria, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Congo and other hot spots. While those nations focused on state power do play in some of these countries – Russia and Iran both play in Syria – the states that are more focused on building prosperity are trying to avoid getting too involved in the world of disorder. Though ready to help mitigate humanitarian tragedies there, they know that when you “win” one of these countries in today’s geopolitical game, all you win is a bill.

Ukraine actually straddles all three of these trends. The revolution there happened because the government was induced by Russia, which wants to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence, into pulling out of a trade agreement with the European Union – an agreement favored by the many Ukrainians focused on building a prosperous people. This split has also triggered talk of separatism by the more Russian-speaking and Russian-oriented eastern part of Ukraine.

So what do we do? The world is learning that the bar for U.S. intervention abroad is being set much higher. This is due to a confluence of the end of the Soviet Union’s existential threat, the experience of investing too many lives and $2 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan to little lasting impact, America’s rising energy independence, our intelligence successes in preventing another 9/11 and the realization that to fix what ails the most troubled countries in the world of disorder is often beyond our skill set, resources or patience.

In the Cold War, policymaking was straightforward. We had “containment.” It told us what to do and at almost any price. Today, Obama’s critics say he must do “something” about Syria. I get it. Chaos there can come around to bite us. If there is a policy that would fix Syria, or even just stop the killing there, in a way that was self-sustaining, at a cost we could tolerate and not detract from all the things we need to do at home to secure our own future, I’m for it.

But we should have learned some lessons from our recent experience in the Middle East: First, how little we understand about the social and political complexities of the countries there; second, that we can – at considerable cost – stop bad things from happening in these countries but cannot, by ourselves, make good things happen; and third, that when we try to make good things happen we run the risk of assuming the responsibility for solving their problems, a responsibility that truly belongs to them.

• Read more articles by Thomas L. Friedman

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/26/6191476/thomas-l-friedman-dont-just-do.html#storylink=cpy

_________

What do you think?



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WORLD_ SYRIA_ The image of refugees that shames the world

‘Sea of ghosts’ as refugees queue for food in Syria

Wednesday 26 Feb 2014 6:21 pm
METRO




The picture of refugees stretching into the distance was taken at the end of January (Picture: AP/UNRWA)


These are the horrifying scenes as refugees stretch as far as the eye can see amid ruined buildings as they queue for food in Damascus, Syria.


The almost apocalyptic photograph shows Palestinian refugees from the Yarmouk camp, which is besieged by the warring factions in the country, waiting for food and medicine.

The United Nations wants aid workers to be given unrestricted access to continue the distribution of supplies.

Filippo Grandi, commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said the devastation in the region was ‘unbelievable’.

‘There is not one single building that I have seen that is not an empty shell by now,’ he said, speaking from Beirut, Lebanon.

He added of the refugees: ‘It’s like the appearance of ghosts.’

More than 2million people are understood to have fled Syria during its three-year civil war, with more than 9million in total needing humanitarian assistance.

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2014/02/26/sea-of-ghosts-as-refugees-queue-for-food-in-syria-4324554/ 




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WORLD_ SYRIA_ Turkish foreign minister says world has failed Syria

Turkish foreign minister says world has failed Syria

By Samia Nakhoul and Nick Tattersall
ANKARA Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:49am EST




Khattab al-Halabi, a former tattoo artist who is now a Free Syrian Army fighter, carries his weapon as he walks along a street lined with damaged buildings at the Karm al-Jabal frontline in Aleppo February 23, 2014. Picture taken February 23, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Jalal Al-Mamo (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT SOCIETY)


(Reuters) - Turkey's foreign minister said Syria's worsening war now posed a danger to all countries because President Bashar al-Assad's government had been allowed to continue its "crimes" while jihadists from around the world flooded in to fight him.

Ahmet Davutoglu told Reuters a robust international strategy including "real intelligence cooperation" and withdrawal of all foreign fighters was needed to end the conflict and help millions of Syrians devastated by violence.

The crisis was "a threat to all", he said in an interview, pointing to what he called the totalitarian nature of the Assad government and the presence of al Qaeda-linked armed groups.

He added that Damascus had in effect colluded with the militant rebel groups to fight moderate opposition factions. Syria has not responded to similar charges made in recent weeks and says it is leading international efforts against terrorism.

The government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development (AK) Party is already reeling from graft allegations, civic protest, and a struggle for control of institutions with former Islamist allies that have turned against it.

But a long-simmering internal debate over Turkey's policy on Syria and other Arab Spring countries is starting to boil up once more, as fears grow of blowback from Ankara's support for Syrian rebels increasingly dominated by Islamist factions.

"The problem is not only for Turkey, the problem is for the region", Davutoglu told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Syria is becoming a risk for all European countries as well, because of the presence of these terrorist groups based on the power vacuum and because of the totalitarian and autocratic nature of the regime," he said.

"This is a threat to all of us."

The foreign minister said recent so-called Geneva II negotiations between Syria's government and rebels had failed because Damascus ignored the basic premise of the talks - a U.N.-backed communiqué issued in Geneva in June 2012 - calling for a transitional government based on mutual consent.

"They didn't want to talk (about?)a transitional governing body," Davutoglu said, "they wanted to focus on the threat of terrorism, which in fact was created by them."

This, he said, was a failure of an international community that had not faced up to the gravity of the crisis in Syria and of its leadership's war crimes.

He suggested Russia bore special responsibility by blocking effective action in the U.N. Security Council and by continuing to supply it with heavy weapons, actions that had emboldened Assad.

Davutoglu said he and Erdogan spoke recently to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Sochi winter Olympic Games.

"Everybody says the only solution is a political solution," he said, "but we have to be sincere and objective. Those who are supporting the regime by arms, heavy arms, they are on the side of a military option," he said.

"We must cooperate, all of us, in order to create a suitable security atmosphere... That means working together to prevent any terrorist presence," he said. All foreign fighters must leave, including Hebzollah and Iran's proxy Shi'ite militia which are fighting alongside Assad's forces.

WAR CRIMES

A post-Assad Syria should have a new national army composed of moderate elements of the opposition and the Free Syrian Army, Davutoglu said, stressing Syria's sectarian and ethnic mix - Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, Kurds - must be represented.

Unlike other uprisings that toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, the revolt in Syria had struggled to remove Assad because of the country's complex religious mix and Assad's strategic alliances with Iran and Russia, he said.

Davutoglu said Assad had managed to survive because he had not been told by world powers where to stop.

"Some people claim Bashar is successful, because he continued to stay in power... This is not a success, because he has all the power, he has an army, he has airports, he has SCUD missiles, he has chemical weapons and he used everything."

Asked if Turkey, along with other members of the international community, had underestimated Assad's staying power in the early stages in the conflict, Davutoglu said Turkey had worked hard to negotiate with Assad for 10 months in 2011 precisely because it had feared a protracted crisis.

"If we thought that Bashar al-Assad would fall soon, we wouldn't have worked so hard, we were scared of this scenario and wanted to prevent it," he said, adding the powerlessness of the international community had been a greater surprise.

"I wouldn't have imagined that the U.N. Security Council would be dysfunctional for three years despite all these crimes against humanity. That I didn't expect. But the rest, the methods, what the Assad regime did, was foreseeable?," he said.

Russia has shielded Assad from Western and Arab pressure since the conflict began in March 2011, using its veto power to block U.N. Security Council resolutions and insisting that his exit from power cannot be a precondition for peace talks.

Moscow helped Syrian government negotiators resist discussion of a transitional governing body for Syria at the Geneva talks earlier this month by suggesting it endorsed their demands that tackling "terrorism" top the agenda.

The Syrian government's efforts to make that a priority were "completely justified" because Syria "is increasingly becoming a magnet for jihadists and Islamic radicals of all stripes," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Moscow has accused sponsors of the rebels of pushing for "regime change".

The conflict has drawn thousands of foreign fighters into Syria to fight either for the mostly Sunni Muslim rebels or for Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

The fighting has killed more than 140,000 people - more than 7,000 of them children - according to the Britain-based, pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and is destabilizing the country's neighbors.

FOREIGN JIHADIS

Davutoglu said the Assad government and al Qaeda-affiliated groups had been collaborating over the past seven months, the authorities pounding moderate rebel Free Syrian Army posts by air while Islamist groups attacked them on the ground.

He called for international cooperation to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria and denied suggestions that Turkey, which is hosting more than 700,000 Syrian refugees, was letting foreign fighters cross its porous border into Syria.

"Turkey has been working very hard to welcome Syrian refugees, but at the same time was taking all measures to prevent the presence of terrorist groups, but for this there is a need of joint effort," he said. He had raised the issue repeatedly with U.S., European, Russian and other counterparts.

"We told them, if you know who are radicals who want to come to Turkey to go to Syria, stop them coming to Turkey," he said, calling for "real intelligence cooperation".

"If they are being allowed by their countries of origin to come, how can we prevent them from coming inside Turkey, this will not be legal. Last year we received 36 million tourists...We cannot stop tourism in Turkey."

(Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun and Tulay Karadeniz, Editing by William Maclean and Jon Boyle)




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Cộng sản Việt Nam là TỘI ÁC
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