US and Russia reach agreement in Syria weapons talks

images (94)Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have reached an agreement on a framework for securing Syria’s chemical weapons on the third day of intense negotiations in Geneva.

Syria has one week to comply. And if Syrian leaders fail to comply, the United States and Russia will seek a United Nations Security Council resolution, Kerry and Lavrov said.

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At a news conference Saturday, Kerry said the pair and their teams of experts had reached “a shared assessment” of the existing stockpile and that Syria must destroy all of its weapons.

Kerry said, “we have committed to a standard that says, verify and verify.” The negotiations between the United States and Russia on securing Syria’s chemical weapons also are considered key to a resumption of peace talks to end the 2 1/2-year Syrian civil war.

A spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after the announcement: “The secretary-general looks forward to learning more of this framework agreement and pledges the support of the United Nations in its implementation. The Secretary-General expresses his fervent hope that the agreement will, first, prevent any future use of chemical weapons in Syria and, second, help pave the path for a political solution to stop the appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people.”

The Obama administration welcomed the agreement but made clear that the use of military force is still an option.

“While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done,” President Obama said. “The United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today.  And, if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act.”

Pentagon spokesman George Little said: “We haven’t made any changes to our force posture to this point. The credible threat of military force has been key to driving diplomatic progress. And it’s important that the Assad regime lives up to its obligations under the framework agreement.

The U.N. secretary-general said Friday that he expected “an overwhelming report” that chemical weapons were indeed used on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21. Obama called for a limited military strike against Bashar Assad’s forces in response, then deferred seeking congressional approval to consider the Russian proposal.

Senior U.S. officials in Washington have said they do not expect the U.N. resolution will ultimately include the threat of military force, considered how Russia has repeatedly blocked such language at the U.N.

Meanwhile, sensing perhaps that the threat of a U.S. strike is no longer imminent, Assad is publicly trying to strengthen his hand. In an interview with Russian television, he not only demanded the U.S. drop the threat of military action — he also said the Obama administration must stop arming the opposition.

Read more at Fox News

TURKISH PRIME MINISTER ERDOGAN TO UN CONFERENCE: “ZIONISM IS CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY” “ISLAMOPHOBIA IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY”

#MyJihad ErdoganBy Pamela Geller:

Looks like the Prime Minister of Turkey will be starring in another one of our bus ads. Criticism of the most brutal and violent ideology on the planet is a “crime against humanity.”

“Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” Erdogan said.

The UN is worse than useless. They aid and abet Hitler’s heirs.

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Check this out from Obama’s “most trusted ally in the region“:

“Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” Erdogan said.

 Turkey’s Erdogan to UN Conference: “Zionism is Crime Against Humanity” UN Watch

Ban Ki-moon Stayed Silent, Must Speak Out

 

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Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (podium, right) and Ban Ki-moon (second from left)

 

GENEVAFeb. 28 – UN Watch expressed shock over anti-Jewish remarks delivered by Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan at a UN summit for tolerance, and urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon — who waspresent on the stage yet stayed silent — to speak out and condemn the speech. The Geneva-based human rights group also called on Erdogan to apologize.

Speaking yesterday before a Vienna forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN framework for West-Islam dialogue, Erodgan called Zionism, the movement founded in 1897 for Jewish self-determination, a “crime against humanity,” likening it with anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia. Click here for video (minute 8:00 to 8:30); click here for Turkish news report.

“We remind secretary-general Ban Ki-moon that his predecessor Kofi Annan recognized that the UN’s 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution was an expression of anti-Semitism, and he hailed its repeal.”

UN Watch urged all members of the Alliance’s High Level Group – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Professor John Esposito — “to denounce remarks that fundamentally contradict the very purpose of a forum supposedly dedicated to mutual tolerance.”

“Erdogan’s misuse of this global podium to incite hatred, and his resort to Ahmandinejad-style pronouncements appealing to the lowest common denominator in the Muslim world,” said Neuer, “will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its four-year-old feud with Israel.”

Read the rest at Atlas Shrugs

Saudi Hypocrisy At Its Best

King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz

King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz

By Raymond Ibrahim:

Few things offer surreal experiences as when Islam and the West interact—when 7th century primordialism encounters 21st century relativism.  Consider the issue of “interfaith dialogue.” In principle, it is a decent thing: Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others trying to reach a common ground and professing mutual respect. But what does one make of the gross contradictions that emerge when a human-rights violating nation calls for “dialogue,” even as it enforces religious intolerance on its own turf?

Enter Saudi Arabia.  Birthplace of Islam, the Arabian kingdom is also the one Muslim nation that regularly sponsors interfaith initiatives in the West—even as its official policy back home is to demonize and persecute the very faiths it claims to want to have an interfaith dialogue with.

Back in 2008, for example, in what was deemed an unprecedented move, Saudi King Abdullah “made an impassioned plea for dialogue among Muslims, Christians, and Jews,” going so far as to refer to the latter two as “our brothers.” His stated goal was to develop “respect among religions.”

The Saudi monarch’s most recent initiative reached fruition recently, on November 26, 2012, when the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue was launched in the Austrian capital, Vienna. According to its own website, the center “was founded to enable, empower and encourage dialogue among followers of different religions and cultures around the world.” Lending international legitimacy to this Saudi gesture of goodwill, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among those who attended the opening.

While all this ostensibly sounds well and good, consider the many incongruities, the many absurdities—initially demonstrated by the simple fact that Saudi Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, who was quoted praising the Austrian-based center as proof that “Islam is a religion of dialogue and understanding and not a religion of enmity, fanaticism, and violence,” is also on record calling Jews “monkeys and pigs” and Christians “cross worshippers.”

Nor is he just a run-of-the-mill sheikh: he is the government-appointed imam of Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mosque in Mecca—Islam’s holiest site, where Christians, Jews, and others are routinely condemned and cursed during the prayers of the faithful.

Read more at Front Page

Jihadists Occupy Mali With Impunity

0702-ansar_full_600-450x344By Joseph Klein

Foreign Islamist jihadists from Sudan, Algeria, Libya and elsewhere, who are part of a network of terrorist groups that affiliate themselves with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, are entrenching themselves in yet another African country. Al Qaeda is currently occupying an area the size of France in the northern portion of Mali. Like a virus exploiting a weak immune system, the jihadists, mostly Arabs, are exploiting a power vacuum created by internal fighting among ethnic tribes within Mali that had led to a coup and a weakened central government.

Yet, in the face of both a strategic and humanitarian crisis in northern Mali caused by Islamist jihadist invaders, the Obama administration is dithering as conditions in northern Mali worsen by the day.  So is the United Nations on which the Obama administration appears to be relying for a global consensus regarding what to do next.

Reports from the ground indicate that the jihadists have stepped up their forces in the area, turning northern Mali into another breeding ground for the spread of Islamic terrorism throughout Africa. According to the top American military commander in Africa, Gen. Carter F. Ham, the jihadists in Mali are providing arms, explosives and financing to their counterparts in northern Nigeria, where Christians are already being murdered and churches burned. Moreover, al Qaeda is using its control of northern Mali to increase recruiting across sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Europe, according to Gen. Ham.

Northern Mali is also near the tipping point of becoming the current version of the Afghanistan of the 1990′s, in terms of its use as a base for plotting, training and launching of terrorist attacks around the world. Indeed, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mali-based extremists played a role in the September 11th attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. That fact alone would merit direct American action to eliminate the al Qaeda presence in Mali. Yet there is silence from the Obama White House.

The jihadist occupiers have also committed gross human rights violations against the local Malian population. Imposing Taliban-style sharia law in place of Sufism that most Malians practice, the occupiers have destroyed the local population’s most revered religious monuments the jihadists considered idolatrous and subjected Malians to amputations, stoning, extra-judicial executions and recruitment of children as soldiers. As usual when sharia law is applied, women have been targeted for the harshest treatment. Over 412,000 people have been forced to flee the north.

Mali leaders have pleaded for help from their neighbors with whom they have had peaceful relations. The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responded with an offer of military assistance to uproot the Islamist invaders. In accordance with the United Nations Charter, these regional groups have gone to the UN Security Council to seek authorization and support for an African-led military force to drive out the occupiers.

The Council passed a resolution in October.  It stated the Security Council’s readiness to consider requests for international military force under African auspices to intervene in Mali, but kicked the can down the road until it received a report from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the situation in Mali and further recommendations for UN action.

Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman presented the Secretary General’s report on Mali to the Security Council on December 5th, followed by statements from representatives of Mali, ECOWAS and the African Union.  The disconnect on what to do next between the UN Secretary General’s passive recommendations and the call for forceful action by the Mali, ECOWAS and African Union representatives was glaring.

Although conceding the urgency of conditions on the ground in northern Mali, the Secretary General’s report urged patience.  Give “national dialogue” more time to sort out Mali’s internal issues, prepare a “transitional roadmap” (a favorite phrase the UN bureaucracy uses when it has no concrete plan of action) and establish the conditions for a credible election, the report recommended.

“A military operation may be required as a last resort to deal with terrorist and criminal elements in northern Mali,” Under Secretary General Feltman told the Security Council in summarizing Ban Ki-moon’s report, “but the priority must be on supporting the national authorities to restore constitutional order and reach a political settlement to the ongoing crisis.”

The report expressed concern that the request to the Security Council to authorize a United Nations support package for an offensive military operation could have an “impact on the image of the United Nations,” as if its image could become any worse in dealing with the global Islamist threat. The United Nations is “not best placed to directly tackle the security threat posed by terrorists and affiliated groups,” the report conceded.

Nevertheless, while disavowing the UN’s responsibility for providing direct support or funding from the UN’s regular budget for targeted military operations required to dislodge the terrorists from northern Mali, the report recommended that the Security Council set down “benchmarks” the African-led forces and Malians must meet before they are permitted to commence military operations.  The benchmarks would include “positive developments in the political process…and the effective training of military and police personnel of both the support mission and the Malian forces in their obligations under international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law.” The UN should then send in a “sufficient number” of human rights observers to monitor “strict adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law” by the Malian forces and their allies.

In other words, the United Nations’ top leader Ban Ki-moon is recommending that the Malians defending their own country with the help of their neighbors against a foreign invasion by the world’s worst  specimens of human rights abusers must first prove to the UN that they have their own house in order before they can repel the jihadist invaders. Second, the Malians and their allies must effectively pass a human rights certification course and then show that they will play by the rules flouted by the terrorists, all under the watchful eyes of UN monitors for which, by the way, funding will somehow be made available even though there are evidently no monies in the vast UN budget that can be found to support the military operation itself.

The Malian representative, not surprisingly, had a very different take. She pleaded for military assistance to rid Mali of the jihadist scourge without delay.  She mentioned several times that the terrorists occupying northern Mali are foreign. Mali is addressing its own human rights issues in dealing with ethnic minorities, she assured the Council, using what she described as “affirmative action” to integrate minorities into significant positions in government institutions. The process for holding credible elections is already underway, she added.  Responding to those concerned about human rights violations in Mali, she declared that “the best way to preserve human rights” is to quickly set up an African-led military force with international backing that would “allow the Mali government to restore territorial integrity of the entire country.”

Kaddre Ouedraogo, the president of ECOWAS and former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, told the Security Council that “political dialogue must be combined with a military option to dismantle the terrorists.”  He called for the Security Council to pass a resolution by the end of this year under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter authorizing the use of military force against the terrorists.

The African Union representative Tete Antonio concurred, adding that past experience of the United Nations in Sudan and Somalia has shown the limitations of voluntary contributions to pay for the support of military operations.  He wants funding to come through the UN assessed budget this time  rather than have to pass the hat for voluntary contributions.

Where is the Obama administration regarding the Mali crisis? Leading from behind would be an overstatement. It is outsourcing the matter to the UN and to France.

Read more at Front Page