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    • <header class="story-header interactive-header"><div class="story-meta"><h1 style="white-space: normal; float: none; display: block; position: static;" itemprop="headline" class="story-heading interactive-headline">Why Turkey Is Fighting the<br data-owner="balance-text">Kurds Who Are Fighting ISIS</h1><br/> <br/> <div class="story-meta-footer interactive-meta-footer"><br/> <div class="interactive-byline"><br/> <p class="byline-dateline"><span itemscope="" itemprop="author creator" class="byline " itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">By <span itemprop="name" class="byline-author" data-byline-name="SARAH ALMUKHTAR">SARAH ALMUKHTAR</span> and </span><span itemscope="" itemprop="author creator" class="byline last-byline" itemtype="http://schema.org/Person"><span itemprop="name" class="byline-author" data-byline-name="TIM WALLACE">TIM WALLACE</span></span> <time datetime="2015-08-12" class="dateline">AUG. 12, 2015</time><br/> </p><br/></div><br/> <p class="interactive-leadin summary"><br/> <span class="summary-text">On the same day that Turkey announced it would <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/world/middleeast/turkey-and-us-agree-on-plan-to-clear-isis-from-strip-of-northern-syria.html">help fight the Islamic State</a>, Turkish forces began an airstrike campaign against one of the very groups that has been crucial to stopping the advance of the Islamic State.</span><br/> <br/> </p><br/> </div>&lt;!-- close story-meta-footer --><br/><br/> </div>&lt;!-- close story-meta --><br/> </header><br/> <div class="interactive-graphic" id="turkey-kurds-isis"><br/> &lt;!--<br/><br/>======================================================<br/><br/>THIS IS A GENERATED TEMPLATE FILE. 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0;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-small .g-table-group {<br/> width: 50px;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-medium .g-table-group {<br/> width: 5%;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-small .g-table-militarywing {<br/> width: 100px;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-medium .g-table-militarywing {<br/> width: 12%;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-small .g-table-location {<br/> width: 75px;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-medium .g-table-location {<br/> width: 10%;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-small .g-table-party {<br/> width: 140px;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-medium .g-table-party {<br/> width: 15%;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-small .g-table-text {<br/> width: 100%;<br/> display: block;<br/> margin-top: 10px;<br/>}<br/>.viewport-medium .g-table-text {<br/> width: 45%;<br/> display: table-cell;<br/>}<br/>.g-section {<br/> margin-left: auto;<br/> margin-right: auto;<br/>}<br/>.g-section-credit {<br/> margin-top: 4px;<br/>}<br/>#kurdsturkey .g-key-square {<br/> margin-left: 3px;<br/> height: 12px;<br/> margin-top: 4px;<br/>}<br/></style><br/><link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2015/07/31/turkey-kurds-isis/da648a90d29ca58af61e2d7f5ec62cf9abd7ad3f/resizerStyle.css"><br/><br/><div class="g-graphics-stack"><br/><br/><br/> <br/><br/> <br/><br/> <div class="g-section " id="intro"><br/><br/> <br/><br/> <br/><br/> <div class="g-quotes"><br/> <br/><br/> <br/> </div><br/><br/> <br/> <div class="g-section-copy"><br/> <p><br/> <span class="g-intro">Since the July 24 announcement, Turkey has launched several waves of airstrikes against elements of a Kurdish separatist group known as the P.K.K., which is widely listed as a terrorist group. But that group and its allies in Syria, who <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/10/world/middleeast/syria-turkey-islamic-state-kurdish-militia-ypg.html">have been closely working with</a> American forces, are pushing Islamic State militants out of areas they once controlled.</span><span class="g-intro">So while the United States had long sought Turkey’s help in fighting ISIS, the events since the agreement reveal the tangle of diverging interests in the region.<br/> <br/> <br/> </span></p></div></div></div></div>
    • Coordinating Against ISIS

       
          
            
          
       

        Kurdish fighters have been coordinating with the American military since last October. From cloaked rooms in northern Syria, members of the militia known as the Y.P.G. have relayed intelligence and coordinates for potential airstrike targets to an American operations center hundreds of miles away.The resulting strikes have in turn helped the Kurds seize a broad stretch of territory along the Turkish border from the Islamic State. “The role of the coalition jets has been essential to these victories,” said Idris Nassan, a senior Kurdish official from Kobani.     

    • The Y.P.G. is perhaps America’s most effective ally in Syria against the Islamic State. But American officials, though they will broadly acknowledge that they are working with the Y.P.G., take pains not to detail just how closely the forces are working together, given the group’s ties to the outlawed P.K.K.

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    • The August 16, 2015 attack on a market in the Syrian town of Douma, just outside the capital Damascus, has caused international outrage. Condemnations of the Syrian government have poured in from seemingly all corners of the globe as President Assad and the Syrian military have been declared responsible for the attack, convicted in the court of media opinion. Interestingly, such declarations have come well before any investigation has been conducted, and without any tangible evidence other than the assertions of the rebel spokespersons and anti-government sources. Indeed, there has been an embarrassing dearth of investigative questions asked as corporate media, who have been far from objective these last four and half years, have rushed to fit the facts to their long-standing narrative of “Assad the Butcher.”
    • This author fully understands that, in asking difficult questions, he will be called an “apologist,” an “Assad propagandist,” or some other such nonsense. Frankly, such name-calling means very little when compared to the suffering of Syrian people, and the untold brutality that will be visited upon them if the western corporate media and warmongers get their way and yet another imperialist so-called intervention is carried out in the name of “humanitarianism.” The goal is to ask the right questions, to cast doubt on the already solidifying propaganda narrative that will undoubtedly be used to justify still more war.

       

      Those who work for peace must be prepared to interrogate the received truths of the media machine, to confront head on that which is uncomfortable, and to do so knowing that their motives are just. The victims of this war, both past and future, deserve nothing less.

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    • White House Reveals 'Boots on Ground' in Syria, but Media Too Giddy Over Special Ops Porn to Notice
    • CNN produced a CGI version of the US raid in Syria, turning official claims into visual reality.

       

      The White House announced on Saturday that a team of Delta Force soldiers had gone into sovereign Syrian territory to kill an alleged ISIS  “commander” and a few dozen other faceless bad guys.

       

      Per usual, the media would retell the narrative based entirely on Pentagon and White House action movie prose. Just as with the bin Laden raid narrative—that later turned out to be mostly false—this tale involved some unbelievably compelling details: “rescuing a Yazidi slave,” “hand-to-hand combat,” “women and children as human shields,” “precise fire” (that, of course, avoided these women and children), and a body count, “40 extremists,” that would make Jack Bauer blush.

    • To the New York Times‘ credit, it did issue one of the most passive-aggressive “we could not independently verify these claims” disclaimers in journalistic history:

       

      A Defense Department official said Islamic State fighters who defended their building and Abu Sayyaf tried to use women and children as shields, but that the Delta Force commandos “used very precise fire” and “separated the women and children.” The official said the operation involved close “hand-to-hand fighting.” (The accounts of the raid came from military and government officials and could not be immediately verified through independent sources.)

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    • Friday, August 22, 2014

        
         
       
           

       The Role of Proxy Terror 

    • Disclaimer: The bulk of this essay was written almost a year ago, in the latter months of 2013. I intended to get it published, so that it might reach a wider audience. Unable to find a publication that would take it, the essay sank into the obscurity of my laptop. It is dated in its specifics, but not in its overall analysis. If I were to attempt to write the same piece today, I would make some changes to some of the language and ideas, but only minimal changes.
       
       -DD
       
       
       
       'To read in the pictures…only what confirms a general abhorrence of war is to stand back from an engagement with a country… It is to dismiss politics.'
       
       -Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
    • The Internet’s multimedia capabilities accelerate both the potentials and the perils of previous media. The primary potential and peril as regard war, and any confrontation with the specter of war undertaken by anti-imperialist movements, is the power of the imagery of human suffering and human triumph, on the Internet always a simple click or Twitter timeline scroll away. The primary peril to which these images lend themselves is that of the politics of grief and outrage as well as the politics of feel-goodism. This peril is especially apparent in the case of Syria, a country ripped to shreds by international avarice, but variously presented on the Internet as a country in the midst of revolution or, sometimes from the same parties, as a country in desperate need of militaristic saving. 
       
       
       
       With on the one hand common images of Syrian ruin, blood, and death, and on the other hand images of inspiring chants and graffiti, have come demands for moral performance rather than political analysis, a shaming discourse set on preventing anti-imperialist movements from doing what they are intended to do—that is, from opposing imperialist aggression, and in the case of Syria, opposing wider war. But at the center of moral performance is, more often than not, moral idiocy, a response to social pressures premised on the assumption that sound morality is the product of shared grief and literal reaction. 

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    • Palestinians Show Support for Syria
    • Published 24 July 2015
    • More than 1000 Palestinians and Palestinian organizations from across the world have expressed support for Syria “in its efforts to repel the foreign invaders and the countries that are creating, training, financing, arming and supporting the terrorist groups in Syria.”
          
                 

      Statement of Palestinian groups and individuals in the occupied homeland, refugee camps and the diaspora about the global war on Syria            

      We are Palestinians and Palestinian organizations that declare our solidarity with the Syrian people in their historic struggle for survival, (with a civil war) now in its fifth year. We are in a unique position to understand and appreciate the challenges facing our Syrian brothers and sisters, because we face the same challenges.            

      We understand what it means to have our lands and our property taken by foreign usurpers. We understand what it means for millions of our people to be driven out of their homes and to be unable to return. We understand what it means for our interests and our national rights to become the plaything of the most powerful nations on earth. We understand what it means to suffer and die in defense of our sovereignty and human rights.            

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    • ISIS use of chemical weapons in Iraq is alleged again

       
       

      Kurds, trained by Germany, reported breathing difficulties earlier this week

       

          By Josh Lederman, The Associated Press    Posted: Aug 13, 2015

    • The United States is investigating whether the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) used chemical weapons, the White House said Thursday, following allegations that militants deployed chemical weapons against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.

       

      Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, said the U.S. is taking the allegations "very seriously" and seeking more information about what happened. He noted that ISIS had been accused of using such weapons before.

       

      "We continue to monitor these reports closely, and would further stress that any use of chemicals or biological material as a weapon is completely inconsistent with international standards and norms regarding such capabilities," Baskey said in a statement.

    • Earlier on Thursday, Kurdish officials said their forces, known as Peshmerga, were attacked the day before near the town of Makhmour, not far from Ibril. Germany's military has been training the Kurds in the area, and the German Defense Ministry said some 60 Kurdish fighters had suffered breathing difficulties from the attack — a telltale sign of chemical weapons use. But neither Germany nor the Kurds specified which type of chemical weapons may have been used.

       

      Confirmation of chemical weapons use by ISIS would mark a dramatic turn in the U.S.-led effort to rout the extremist group from territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria. Although the U.S. and its coalition partners are mounting airstrikes against ISIS, they are relying on local forces like the Kurds, the Iraqi military and others to do the fighting on the ground.

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    • State Dept, Pentagon push back on reports of US-trained fighters being abducted, killed in Syria
    • The State Department and Pentagon pushed back Friday on claims made by multiple media outlets that the leader of a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group and as many as 60 other fighters under him were abducted and killed by al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda offshoot operating in that country.

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    • The Kurdish militias (YPG, PKK) have been Washington’s most effective weapon in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But the Obama administration has sold out the Kurds in order to strengthen ties with Turkey and gain access to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base. The agreement to switch sides was made in phone call between President Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan less than 48 hours after a terrorist incident in the Turkish town of Suruc killed 32 people and wounded more than 100 others.

       

      The bombing provided Obama with the cover he needed to throw the Kurds under the bus, cave in to Turkey’s demands, and look the other way while Turkish bombers and tanks pounded Kurdish positions in Syria and Iraq. The media has characterized this shocking reversal of US policy as a “game-changer” that will improve US prospects for victory over ISIS. But what the about-face really shows is Washington’s inability to conduct a principled foreign policy as well as Obama’s eagerness to betray a trusted friend and ally if he sees some advantage in doing so.

    • Turkish President Erdogan has launched a war against the Kurds; that is what’s really happening in Syria at present. The media’s view of events–that Turkey has joined the fight against ISIS–is mostly spin and propaganda. The fact that the Kurds had been gaining ground against ISIS in areas along the Turkish border, worried political leaders in Ankara that an independent Kurdish state could be emerging. Determined to stop that possibility,  they decided to use the bombing in Suruc as an excuse to round up more than 1,000 of Erdogans political enemies (only a small percentage of who are connected to ISIS) while bombing the holy hell out of Kurdish positions in Syria and Iraq. All the while, the media has been portraying this ruthless assault on a de facto US ally, as a war on ISIS. It is not a war on ISIS. It is the manipulation of a terrorist attack to advance the belligerent geopolitical agenda of Turkish and US elites. Just take a look at these two tweets from CNN Turkey on Saturday and you’ll see what’s going on under the radar: 

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    • NATO vows solidarity with Turkey over ISIS threat but urges peace with Kurds

       
       

      Turkish airstrikes targeted Kurds this week

       

          The Associated Press    Posted: Jul 28, 2015

    • NATO declared its "strong solidarity" with Turkey on Tuesday as ambassadors gathered for a rare emergency meeting about the threat faced by a member.

       

      Turkey requested the extraordinary meeting to gauge the threat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group poses to Turkey, and the actions Turkish authorities are taking in response, including attacks on Kurdish rebels.

       

      "We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against Turkey, and express our condolences to the Turkish government and the families" of victims killed in recent terrorist actions, NATO ambassadors said in a statement after the meeting.

       

      While public statements stressed unity, a NATO official said members also used the closed-door meeting to call on Turkey not to use undue force and to continue peace efforts with representatives of the Kurdish minority. The official was not authorized to speak on the record and spoke on condition of anonymity.

       

      In a series of cross-border strikes, Turkey has not only targeted ISIS but also Kurdish fighters affiliated with forces battling ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, in Syria and Iraq.

    • Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty empowers member states to seek emergency consultations when they consider their "territorial integrity, political independence or security" to be in jeopardy. This was only the fifth such meeting in NATO's 66-year history.

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    • It has been confirmed that TV journalist Richard Engel’s kidnapping/rescue in norther Syria in late 2012 was a hoax. NBC management knew the story was probably false but proceeded to broadcast it anyway.
    • There are at least two good things about “Engelgate”.

       

      * It is clear evidence of mainstream media bias in their reporting and characterization of the conflict in Syria. The kidnapping was meant to show that “bad” Assad supporters had kidnapped Richard Engel only to be rescued by the Western/Turkey/Gulf supported “good” rebels. NBC management knew the scenario was dubious but promoted it anyway.

       

      * Engelgate is also proof that Syrian anti-government rebels consciously manipulated western media for political gain. An elaborate ruse was performed to demonize the Syrian government &supporters and to encourage more support for the anti-government rebels.

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    • Turkey Accused of Shelling Kurdish Positions in Syria

        

      Officials says Ankara is investigating

    • Kurdish fighters on Monday accused Turkey of shelling their positions in Syria, highlighting the difficult situation Ankara faces as it presses forward with its first direct fight against Islamic State there.

      The Kurds’ People’s Defense Units, or YPG, has emerged as a key partner to the U.S. in fighting Islamic State. That has complicated matters for Turkey, which is concerned about Kurdish territorial ambitions and fears an emboldened Kurdish minority seeking more autonomy at home.

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    • There's no agreement to establish no-fly zone in Turkey, senior U.S. official says

      Updated 9:34 AM ET, Mon July 27, 2015

    • (CNN)Ahead of a hastily called NATO meeting, a senior Obama administration official told CNN on Monday there is no agreement with Turkey to establish a no-fly zone in the country.

      But, the official said, Turkey has granted the U.S. access to its air bases to push back ISIS militants, so essentially that arrangement creates "nearly the same effect" as a no-fly zone.

    • "What we are talking about with Turkey is cooperating to support partners on the ground in northern Syria who are countering ISIL," a second senior administration official said. "The goal is to establish an ISIL-free zone and ensure greater security and stability along Turkey's border with Syria."

      ISIL -- the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- is sometimes used instead of the acronym ISIS.

      Turkey requested the NATO meeting under Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty, which allows countries to ask for consultations when they believe their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.

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    • 'UK Govt priorities were wrong over Libya'

           
       
           
         
         
       
       

      The UK government spent 13 times more bombing Libya than securing peace in the years afterwards, it has been revealed. 

       

      The House of Commons library has released information which shows the UK government spent around £320 million in a bombing campaign against Libya, and just £25 million in re-building programmes following the conflict. 

       

      The revelations follows serious concerns raised by the SNP over the UK’s current involvement in Syria -which had been taken forward despite a vote against bombing Syria in the House of Commons two years ago. 

       

      Stephen Gethins MP said:

       

      “These figures are eye-watering. The amount of money the UK government will spend bombing a country dwarves the re-building programme thirteen to one. 

    • “The lessons of Libya, like Iraq, is that you cannot just bomb somewhere and move on. The figures are especially alarming given the UK government’s current involvement in Syria. 

       

      “The case for bombing in Syria has simply not been made – and the involvement of British service personnel in bombing without the approval of Parliament clearly flouts the democratic decision taken by the House of Commons.

       

      "We urgently need honesty and transparency about the UK intentions in Syria- and a strong commitment to the country following the conflict.” 

       

      Commenting on UK intervention in Syria on the Marr show this morning, SNP Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alex Salmond said:

       

      “Parliament has to be consulted and Parliament would have to be persuaded.  And I’ve heard nothing yet from the Prime Minister that would persuade me that there’s an integrated strategy that would justify a bombing campaign.

       

      “Spending £320m on a bombing campaign and £25m to help restore the country is one reason perhaps that we have a failed state in Libya.”

       

      ENDS

    • Note to Editor: 

       

      Operation Ellamy- Libya

       

      The total cost of Operation Ellamy is estimated at around £320 million:

       

      http://researchbriefings.intranet.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN03139

       

      State-building

       

      A PQ answered in June 2014, giving a figure of £25 million:

       

      Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) military and (b) humanitarian aid the UK provided to the Libyan Government in (A) 2011, (B) 2012 and (C) 2013.

       

      Hugh Robertson: Owing to our accounting structures we are only able to provide exact spending figures for financial years rather than calendar years. In this time, the UK has provided military aid to Libya in the form of the defence portion of the tri-departmental (MOD, FCO, DFID) conflict pool, and core defence funding for defence engagement activity. This has been:

       

       Year £

       

      2010-11 3,000

       

      2011-12 200,000

       

      2012-13 2,173,000

    • The United States and Turkey are finalizing plans for a military campaign to push the Islamic State group out of a strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border, a move that would further embroil Turkey in Syria's civil war and set up a potential conflict with U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

       

       A U.S. official said Monday that the creation of an "Islamic State-free zone" would ensure greater security and stability in the Turkish-Syrian border region. However, the official said any joint military efforts with Turkey would not include the imposition of a no-fly zone. The official insisted on anonymity because this person was not authorized to publicly discuss the talks with Turkey.

    • The U.S. has long rejected Turkish and other requests for a no-fly zone to halt Syrian government air raids, fearing it would draw U.S. forces further into the civil war.

       

       The discussions come amid a major tactical shift in Turkey's approach to the Islamic State. After months of reluctance, Turkish warplanes started striking militant targets in Syria last week, following a long-awaited agreement allowing the U.S. to launch its own strikes from Turkey's strategically located Incirlik Air Base.

       

       On Sunday, Turkey called a meeting of its NATO allies for Tuesday to discuss threats to its security, as well as its airstrikes.

       

       A Turkish-driven military campaign to push IS out of territory along the Turkish border is likely to complicate matters on the ground. Kurdish fighters in Syria control most of the 910 kilometers (565 miles) boundary with Turkey, and have warned Ankara against any military intervention in northern Syria.

    • In a series of cross border strikes since Friday, Turkey has not only targeted the IS group but also Kurdish fighters affiliated with forces battling the extremists in Syria and Iraq. The Syrian Kurds are among the most effective ground forces battling the IS group and have been aided by U.S.-led airstrikes, but Turkey fears they could revive an insurgency against Ankara in pursuit of an independent state.

       

       Syria's main Kurdish militia — the YPG or the People's Protection Units — is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and maintains bases in remote parts of northern Iraq.

       

       It was not immediately clear how an IS-free zone would be established along the Turkish-Syrian border. In comments published Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey and the United States had no plans to send ground troops into Syria but wanted to see Syria's moderate opposition forces replace IS near the Turkish border.

       

       In a reflection of the complexities involved, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday refused to draw a distinction between the Islamic State group and the PKK.

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    • To read Human Rights Watch and the western mainstream media, the Syrian government army is inflicting massive casualties upon the Syrian civilian population, most especially through the use of “barrel bombs”.  Thousands of bombs have been dropped, inflicting thousands of casualties.
    • But wait a minute.  Doesn’t that imply one casualty per bomb?

       

      Credible and reliable facts and figures are notoriously hard to come by, but Human Rights Watch intrepidly goes where angels fear to tread.  They are the only ones that provide both casualty and bomb counts for a given period of time, from February, 2014 through January, 2015.  According to them, more than 1,450 bombs – mostly “barrel” bombs – were dropped on the areas of Daraa and Aleppo covered by the report.  HRW also reports 3,185 civilian casualties from aerial attacks for the same time period and in the same places.  So roughly two casualties per bomb, even if you accept that a lot of “civilians” are actually fighters and that HRW and its sources are hardly unbiased.

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    •  
        
           
       
       
             
       
       

      Canada lacks long-term strategy in ISIS fight, according to report

       
       

      Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute says Ottawa has little influence in Baghdad

       

          By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press    Posted: May 11, 2015

    • An independent report on Canada's war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) says the extremist threat is real, but perhaps exaggerated, while the Harper government ignores other important political concerns.

       

      An analysis by the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute released Monday says the violence being meted out by extremists is just the latest expression of Sunni alienation in Iraq and is rooted in a philosophy to which few Canadians can relate.

       

      "The threat to homeland security, first, is real, but it should not be overstated," said Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa.

       

      "According to the government, a few dozen Canadians have travelled to Iraq or Syria to fight or train with [ISIS] and other extremist groups. Some of them have been or will be killed, while a majority will return home without ill intentions. This leaves a handful who could attempt attacks."

    • Canada's endorsement of airstrikes and the training of local security forces will not be enough to defeat ISIS, and a more long-term vision needs to be developed, he added.

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    • Barack Obama says ISIS will be defeated by ideas, not guns

       
       

      U.S. president meets with Pentagon officials following weekend airstrikes in eastern Syria

       

          CBC News    Posted: Jul 06, 2015

    • The complex threat of the ISIS extremist group will not be ultimately defeated by guns but through ideology, Barack Obama says.

       

      The U.S. president made the remarks Monday on the military campaign against the Islamic State group after being briefed by Pentagon officials earlier in the day. 

       

      He called for co-operation among countries in a fight he said spills over borders. Obama will look to partner with Muslim communities that he said are often the target of ISIS attacks.

       

      "The battle for hearts and minds is going to be a generational struggle," he said.

    • Obama has insisted he will not send U.S. troops into ground combat to fight the Islamic State in Iraq or Syria. However, he has acknowledged that the U.S. lacks a "complete strategy" for training Iraqi troops to carry out ground missions. He identified local authorities in targeted communities as essential to any kind of resolution.

       

      "If [the U.S. military tries] to do everything ourselves, we'll be playing whack-a-mole," Obama said.

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    • Russia moves to shut down 'undesirable' foreign organizations

       
       

      Recently passed laws have led to increased pressure on Russian NGOs

       

          The Associated Press    Posted: May 15, 2015

    • The Russian parliament gave preliminary approval Friday to legislation that would allow prosecutors to declare foreign and international organizations "undesirable" in Russia and shut them down.

       

      The step appeared to be part of a campaign to stifle civil society and dissent in Russia that intensified when President Vladimir Putin began his third term in 2012.

       

      Russian suspicions of Western intentions have been further heightened because of tensions over the conflict in Ukraine.

    • Laws passed in recent years already have led to increased pressure on Russian non-governmental organizations, particularly those that receive foreign funding. Hundreds of NGOs have been subject to raids and inspections, ostensibly to check their compliance with laws banning extremism or requiring organizations that receive funding from outside Russia and engage in political activity to register as foreign agents. Such a label carries connotations of spying.

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    • Eight Problems with Amnesty’s Report on Aleppo Syria

       
    • In 1990 Amnesty International made a horrendous mistake in the midst of the media campaign leading up to Gulf War 1.  While U.S. military action was being debated and the public was significantly opposed, it was reported that Iraqi troops were stealing incubators from a Kuwaiti hospital and leaving babies to die on the floor. In dramatic testimony before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a Kuwaiti teenage girl claimed she was a hospital volunteer and eye-witness. Congress members were in tears, the event received huge publicity and had significant influence in changing public opinion. The event was a fabrication conceived by a Washington PR firm and the girl was the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter. There might have been more scrutiny and investigation but the story was corroborated by Amnesty International.
    • More recently, in early 2011, Amnesty International and other human rights groups were influential in spreading false or exaggerated information about conditions in Libya. It paved the way for a “No Fly Zone” which NATO converted into a mandate for “regime change”. The consequence has been a catastrophic loss of security and living standards for the citizens of Libya and an eruption of violence and sectarianism within and beyond the borders.

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