Britain, Germany Reacts As Trump Pulls US Troops Out Of Syria

 

Britain and German have reacted to recent reports that President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of US troops in Syria. 

On Thursday, Britain said that it remained committed to the fight against the Islamic State group.

“The global coalition against Daesh has made huge progress, but much remains to be done and we must not lose sight of the threat they pose,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said, using an alternative name for IS.

“Even without territory, Daesh will remain a threat.

“We remain committed to the global coalition and the campaign to deny Daesh territory and ensure its enduring defeat, working alongside our critical regional partners in Syria and beyond.”

Repeating a statement issued by the Foreign Office late Wednesday, he said: “This government will continue to do what is necessary to protect the British people and our allies and partners.”

Media reports suggested London was not given advance notice of the pull-out.

But the spokesman said: “We have been in discussion with our US partners on this for a number of days.”

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the issue late Wednesday.

Junior defence minister Tobias Ellwood had contradicted Trump on Wednesday, retweeting his message that the jihadists had been defeated in Syria with the words: “I strongly disagree.

“It has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive.”

The US Pulling Out Will Revive ISIS – Germany

Germany warned Thursday that US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria could endanger a battle against Islamic State militants and jeopardise achievements on the front.

“The IS has been pushed back, but the threat is not over. There is a danger that the consequences of (Trump’s) decision could hurt the fight against the IS and endanger what has been achieved,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a statement.

The battle against the Islamist militants would be “decided in the long run — militarily and with civilian means”, said Maas.

The foreign minister stressed the need for a political process under the auspices of the United Nations, in order to bring lasting stability back to war-torn Syria.

US Does Not Want To Be Middle East Police – Trump

The United States does not want to be the “Policeman” of the Middle East,” US President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday, defending his controversial decision to pull US forces out of Syria.

“Does the USA want to be the Policeman of the Middle East, getting NOTHING but spending precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing? Do we want to be there forever? Time for others to finally fight…..” he tweeted.

Trump declared on Wednesday that IS had been “beaten” in Syria and announced the pullout of US ground forces from the war-ravaged nation.

Currently, about 2,000 US forces are in Syria, most of them on a train-and-advise mission to support local forces fighting IS.

The Pentagon refused to say what effect the troop withdrawal would have on air operations in Syria that have been ongoing since late 2014.

Merkel Warns ‘No Military Solution’ To Ukraine Conflict

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday there is “no military solution” to the Ukraine conflict after President Petro Poroshenko asked for NATO naval support in his country’s standoff with Russia.

Blaming Russia for the tensions, Merkel said: “We ask the Ukrainian side too to be sensible because we know that we can only solve things through being reasonable and through dialogue because there is no military solution to these disputes”.

Russia fired on and then seized three Ukrainian ships on Sunday, accusing them of illegally entering its waters in the Sea of Azov and detaining their crew, in a dramatic spike in tensions that raises fears of a wider escalation.

Kiev accused Russia, which annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, of launching “a new phase of aggression”.

Poroshenko asked Germany and other NATO countries in comments to Bild newspaper on Thursday to “relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security”.

Ukraine is not a NATO member but has established close ties with the US-led military alliance, especially since the 2014 Crimea annexation.

Merkel, speaking at a German-Ukrainian business forum, said she would discuss the conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina this weekend.

She said a bridge from the Russian mainland to Crimea that Putin opened in May had already restricted shipping access to the Sea of Azov and therefore to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol.

“The full blame for this goes to the Russian president,” she said.

“Now what I want is that the facts of what happened are put on the table, that the (crew) are released, and that no confessions are coerced as we have seen on television.”

“I would also support keeping things calm, but we must also ensure that a city like Mariupol that relies on access to the sea … is not simply cut off so that large parts of Ukraine can no longer be easily reached.”

AFP

Israel Ends Humanitarian Aid Programme For Syrians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu                             Photo: Sebastian Scheiner / POOL / AFP

 

The Israeli army on Thursday announced it was ending an operation it says was aimed at providing Syrian civilians with humanitarian and medical aid in the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel has had a policy of offering aid to Syrians who reach its lines, saying it was doing so without getting involved in the conflict.

“This humanitarian aid has ended with the return of the Syrian regime in the southern part of Syria,” the Israeli army said a statement.

In the past five years, 4,900 Syrian civilians including 1,300 children have been treated in Israeli hospitals, and 7,000 at a field hospital near the Golan ceasefire line, it said.

Food, medical equipment, medicine, tents, generators, fuel and clothes were provided to them as part of what the Israeli army dubbed “Operation Good Neighbour”.

But while it has provided aid since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011, Israel has consistently refused to host refugees from the war-ravaged country.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria around 50 years ago before annexing it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the international community.

It still occupies nearly 70 percent of the strategic plateau.

Israel says it has sought to stay out of the war in Syria, with which it remains technically at war.

But it has repeatedly carried out air strikes against forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran.

More than 360,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict since it erupted in March 2011 with protests against Assad’s regime.

AFP

Five Million African Children May Have Died From Conflict – Report

Africa on the map

 

Injury, disease, and hunger caused by armed conflict in Africa may have killed as many as five million children under five from 1995 to 2015, said a study Friday.

Of these, about three million were infants aged 12 months or younger.

The research, published in The Lancet medical journal, did not rely on an actual headcount, but compared data on 15,441 conflicts in which nearly a million people died, with childbirth and death registers, the research team said.

They used these data to calculate the risk of a child dying within 100 kilometres (62 miles) and eight years of an armed conflict, and then estimated the number of child deaths attributable to Africa’s many wars.

The five million figure was much higher than previous estimates, the authors said.

“More frequent and more intense armed conflicts have taken place in Africa over the past 30 years than in any other continent,” they wrote.

“This analysis shows that the effects of armed conflict extend beyond the deaths of combatants and physical devastation: armed conflict substantially increases the risk of death of young children, for a long period of time.”

Apart from directly injuring some children, conflicts contribute to death and stunting “for many years, and over wide areas,” the team said.

Deaths result from the interruption of interrupted medical care for pregnant women and newborns, disease spread as sanitary services and water networks crumble, a lack of medicines and malnutrition as food runs out.

AFP

Hamas Accuses Palestinian Authority Of Blocking Reconciliation

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 12, 2017 shows Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad (R) and Saleh al-Aruri (L) of Hamas shaking hands after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo. Hamas, the Islamist movement that has run the Gaza Strip for a decade, has been seeking to end its long feud with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah, but its powerful armed wing may prove to be a dealbreaker. KHALED DESOUKI / AFP

The Islamist movement Hamas on Saturday accused the Palestinian Authority of blocking a landmark unity deal and called for a lifting of its sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

“We demand that the government of (prime minister) Rami Hamdallah assume its responsibilities in full and lift the unjust sanctions imposed on our people in Gaza,” said Hamas, the faction which controls the coastal enclave.

The Gaza Strip has been blockaded by Israel for a decade, while its only other land border — with Egypt — has also been largely sealed in recent years.

In addition, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmud Abbas has imposed a string of punitive measures against Gaza, where basic infrastructure for its two million residents is severely lacking.

Residents receive only a few hours of electricity per day, and UN officials have said the densely-populated and impoverished territory is becoming rapidly unliveable.

The PA, dominated by Fatah, was scheduled to take over control of Gaza by December 1 under a landmark unity deal signed in October, but the deadline passed with the two factions accusing each other of not respecting the accord.

In its statement Saturday, Hamas charged that the Palestinian government based in the West Bank had “made no effort to lift the sanctions and ease the sufferings of the people of Gaza”.

The PA, in a statement of its own, dismissed the charges as “irresponsible”.

Abbas’s PA, seeking to squeeze Hamas, has in recent months reduced the amount it pays Israel for electricity to be piped to Gaza.

The Hamas statement referred to the electricity shortages and the fate of tens of thousands of civil servants hired by Hamas, which seized the enclave in 2007 in a near civil war with Fatah.

On Wednesday, PA employees were prevented from returning to work at a number of ministries in Gaza, and the handover of power in Gaza has been delayed by at least 10 days.

It is now expected to take place on December 10, following talks later Saturday in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah, sources closes to both factions have said.

AFP

10 Killed In Northern Brazil Land Rights Conflict

Ten people were killed in a northeastern Brazil shootout on Wednesday believed to be related to a long-running conflict over land rights.

According to police, nine men and a woman were killed in the incident.

Para Police Chief Joao Bosco said the violence occurred when police in the area on an unrelated investigation came under gunfire on the Santa Lucia Estate, located almost 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) from Belem, the capital of Para.

The officers retaliated but none were injured in the clash.

Para Secretary of Public Security Jeanot Jansen said the incident would be investigated.

Police did not give details on the original purpose of their patrol in the area, but the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) said they were there to carry out “property re-integration.”

Disputes over property rights in Brazil are common. According to the CPT, 61 people were killed in land conflicts in Brazil last year.

Saudi To Probe Deadly Air Strikes On Yemen Funeral House

Yemen Blast, Saudi Arabia, US, Houthi Rebels
Since 2014, thousands have been killed in the conflict between the Houthi Rebels and the Saudi led coalition

The coalition fighting Yemeni rebels led by Saudi Arabia says it will investigate how more than 140 people died in air strikes at a funeral in Sanaa, the country’s capital.

The investigation as announced by Saudi authorities will start immediately and would involve American forensic experts.

Earlier, the Saudi Arabian government debunked the allegations made by the rebel Houthi-run government that the coalition was responsible for the deaths following its air strikes.

The air strikes targeted the funeral of the father of country’s Minister for Interior, Galal al-Rawishan.

In a statement released by the Saudi-led coalition, the Joint Incidents Assessment Team in Yemen and experts from the United States will lead the investigations.

It added that though the situation is regrettable, its troops have been instructed not to target civilian populations.

Meanwhile, the United States is set to carry out its own independent investigation into the air strikes.

The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Ned Price said the collaboration of the US with Saudi Arabia over investigations is “not a blank cheque”.

Allegations of Genocide

The spokesman of the Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdul-Salam said an attack of such magnitude amounts to “genocide”.yemen bomb expolsionjpg

Mr Abdul-Salam also revealed the aid workers who were first responders at the scene of the air strikes were “shocked and outraged”.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, condemned Saturday’s strikes on the funeral as a “horrific attack”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that it had prepared 300 body bags, adding that there were a lot of people in the building before the strikes.

Thousands of people, especially civilians, have been killed in clashes since 2014 when the Saudi-led coalition gave its backing to the internationally-recognized government of Yemen.

Kenya’s Anti-graft Chief, Accused Of Conflict Of Interest, Quits

kenya leaderThe chairman of Kenya’s anti-graft body said on Wednesday he had quit after lawmakers recommended removing him from office over an alleged conflict of interest between his family business and another state-run agency.

Kenyan media reported parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee wanted lawmakers to ask President Uhuru Kenyatta to set up a tribunal to force out Philip Kinisu.

The committee had accused Kinisu of a conflict of interest in his family company’s dealings with state-run National Youth Service, which the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) that he leads was investigating over lost money.

Kinisu denied any wrongdoing by him or the company.

“At the same time, I am mindful that significant resources and attention are being expended by the state and public on deliberating these matters rather than to the fight against corruption,” he said in a statement announcing his resignation.

Kenya has a history of corruption scandals that have failed to result in high-profile convictions, angering the public who say it demonstrates top officials can act with impunity and encourages graft by ordinary employees.

Faced with a growing public outcry last year, Kenyatta promised to root corruption out of the government. Five ministers stepped aside in 2015 after they faced investigations and then lost their jobs in a reshuffle. Two former ministers face trial proceedings

Burundi Death Toll Jumps To 31 In April- U.N. Rights Chief

burundi fightThe United Nations human rights chief said on Wednesday 31 people have been killed in attacks in Burundi this month, decrying an increase in violence in the east African nation.

Tit-for-tat attacks between President Pierre Nkurunziza’s security forces and his opponents escalated a year ago when he announced a disputed bid for a third term as president. He won re-election in July.

The United Nations says more than 400 people have been killed since then and more than 250,000 have fled the country.

“Some 31 people have been killed in attacks so far in April, compared to a total of nine people in the last month,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in a statement.

“I fear that the increasing number of targeted assassinations will inevitably exacerbate the already extremely dangerous spiral of violence and unrest in Burundi.”

In the latest incident, gunmen on Monday killed a brigadier general who was a senior adviser to the first vice president, along with his wife and bodyguard.

The international war crimes court said this week it would investigate the violence in Burundi.

Burundi and neighboring Rwanda, which both have an ethnic Hutu majority and Tutsi minority, have been torn apart by ethnic conflict in the past. Experts fear the recent violence during the political crisis in Burundi may reopen old ethnic wounds and risk causing civil war.

Syria Air Raid Kills 6 Children From Same Family

SYRIA 1Six children from the same family were killed in an air strike by government forces in a village of the northern province in Aleppo on Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing local residents, said three boys and three girls from the  family died in raid on Wahshiyeh.

The village is located in a rebel-held area of Aleppo province that has come under constant aerial bombardment since late last year.

The Human Rights groups has slammed the regime for its air strikes saying, they fail to discriminate between Military targets and Civilian areas.

According to the observatory group on Tuesday evening, a 15-year-old child was killed in an air raid on Latamneh in the central province of Hama and seven-year-old girl died in army shelling near Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province, northwest Syria. In the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, which is controlled by the Jihadist Islamic State, a regime air raid also killed a six-year-old girl.

UN report has put the number of person that have died as a result of the Syrian conflict at 170,000, including more than 9,000 children. it has also forced nearly half  of the country’s population to flee their homes.

 

Nweze Attributes NEMA Vs LASEMA Feud To Misplaced Ego

A Professor of Communications with Pan Atlantic University, Austin Nweze, has attributed the feud between National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) to egos and not conflict of protocol.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily after an heated exchange between directors of the two agencies, Prof Nweze described the fracas as a ‘microcosm’ of what is obtainable in the larger society and amongst government agencies in the country.

“They are not synchronized,” he said, adding that “it’s all about ego, self-interest and who gets what.”

LASEMA had recently ordered the removal of NEMA officials from the scene of a collapsed building in Lagos to the chagrin of the national emergency agency. The two agencies are also disagreeing on who is suppose to address the media during an emeergency situation in the state where they are both rescuing victims of disasters.

According to the Professor, the clash is largely egocentric as LASEMA is reported to have complained of being relegated by the federal agency, on its own turf.

This is a problem of communication, Prof Nweze explained.

He noted that the two agencies barely communicate with each other, which is why there is problem between them.

In the case of any emergency, “there has to be one person that would be appointed to disseminate information” and the state agency should “decide who should speak to the press at each point in time. This is to avoid conflict and dissemination of wrong information.

“It’s not everybody that should come and begin to talk to the press. It is not right” he said.

Prof Nweze also noted that, although NEMA is allowed to respond to emergency situations in the whole country, the agency should restrict itself to a supportive role since there is a state based agency as well. “The federal is to assist and support the Lagos counterpart.”

He however cautioned both agencies to set their priorities correctly as “in any emergency, the primary concern should be the lives of the people” and not “who got there first to save the lives.”