‘Which side are you fighting for?’ Russia blasts US for refusing to share intel on ISIS

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Washington’s failure to share data with Russian intelligence about terrorist positions in Syria makes one question the goals that Americans have in their anti-ISIS campaign in Syria and Iraq, a senior Russian diplomat has said.

The refusal to share intelligence on terrorists “just confirms once more what we knew from the very start, that the US goals in Syria have little to do with creating the conditions for a political process and national reconciliation,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Thursday.

“I would risk saying that by doing this the US and the countries that joined the US-led coalition are putting themselves in a politically dubious position. The question is: which side are you fighting for in this war?”

Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation © Mikhail Voskresenskiy

Earlier, the Russian military said they would welcome American intelligence on the forces of terrorist group Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) to help with Russia’s bombing operation in Syria. But the US State Department said it would not be possible because Russia and the US do not share the same goals in Syria.


“I don’t know how you can share intelligence when you don’t share a basic, common objective inside Syria. We’re not at that – we’re nowhere near that point. There’s no shared, common objective here about going after ISIL,” said John Kirby, a State Department spokesman.

The US has accused Russia of failing to target ISIS and instead bombing moderate rebel forces, which Washington wants to replace the government of President Bashar Assad. Russia denies the allegations.

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Ryabkov said that without US intelligence Russia would remain quite effective in the Syrian operation, considering that it has plenty of other sources.

“There are our own means of reconnaissance. We get intelligence from a number of other countries and coordinate its flow through the Baghdad information-sharing center,” the Russian diplomat said, referring to a facility in the Iraqi capital that is used by Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia to coordinate their efforts in fighting ISIS.

The US-led coalition has been bombing ISIS targets for over a year and provided supplies and assistance to forces such as Iraqi and Kurdish militias, which are fighting the terrorists on the ground. But it has refused to deal with either Damascus or its key regional ally Tehran, saying that the downfall of the government of President Assad is part of the solution to the crisis. Despite the coalition’s efforts, ISIS has enlarged the territory under its control over the last year.

Senior Syrian and Iranian officials questioned America’s determination to defeat ISIS, saying that the coalition airstrikes are more of a show and are not intended to actually harm the terrorists. Instead Washington is trying to get ISIS topple the Assad government, hoping to deal with them later.

Russia voiced similar concerns on Wednesday, after reporting that its week-long effort had done serious harm to the jihadists in Syria.

“The US Air Force and other parties has been conduction airstrikes for a year. We have reasons to believe that they don’t often hit terrorist targets, or rather do so very rarely,” said Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry.

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Meanwhile Russia’s effort seems to have paid off, as on Tuesday the Syrian Army announced a major offensive against various terrorist groups. Commenting on what role Russia’s support played in turning the tables on the jihadists, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said that Russia “has produced significant results in several days that greatly surpass those achieved by the [US-led anti-ISIS] coalition in over a year.”


Europe Braces For Second, THREE MILLION-Strong Migrant Wave After Russia’s Syria Bombing

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Chancellor Angela Merkel set the wheels in motion when she declared that she would welcome a million Muslim migrants after ISIS warned they would be sending over an army of fighters in a migration to Europe. Al hijrah — immigration jihad.

Obama said they will be welcome here as well.

How long before this comes to our shores?

Throughout history the loss of a civilization could take well over a century or more. But this — Europe will disappear in the blink of an eye. Just. like. that.

“Europe Braces For Second, THREE MILLION-Strong Migrant Wave After Russia’s Syria Bombing,” By Donna Rachel Edmunds, Breitbart, October 8, 2015 (thanks to Claude):

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Migrants and refugees rest on beds at an improvised temporary shelter in a sports hall in Hanau, Germany, this week. EU border guard agency Frontex has warned a market in fake Syrian passports has sprung up, particularly in Turkey, to help migrants and refugees enter the EU Refugees line up at a temporary shelter for asylum seekers in Giessen, western Germany. The United Nations is planning for the displacement of 500,000 people from the Iraqi city of Mosul if Iraqi forces launch an attempt to recapture it from Islamic State

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Europe is bracing itself for a second migrant wave from Syria as up to three million people begin to flee the country in the wake of the Russian military intervention. Russian warships fired 26 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea yesterday. The missiles flew 900 miles over Iran and Iraq before hitting targets in the area around Aleppo in northern Syria.

Since entering the fray last week, Russia has hit 112 different targets. Yesterday’s assault saw 11 locations added to that list, according to Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister. The strikes have been carefully co-ordinated with a ground offensive by Assad loyalists, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

Earlier this week it was reported that Russia’s President Putin is preparing a 150,000-strong ground force to enter Syria and take the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital city, located just over 100 miles east of Aleppo.

Unsurprisingly, the massive escalation in fighting in the region is expected to precipitate a new wave of refugees. Turkish officials have estimated that as many as 3 million may leave northern Syria, many of whom will want to make their way into Europe as hundreds of thousands have already done.

If they do, the number of Syrian refugees displaced into other countries would nearly double. Over the last four and a half years of civil war, approximately 5 million have left the country. The majority, nearly 2 million, are now in Turkey. A further 1.1 million are in Lebanon, while 440,000 have made their way to Europe.

Addressing European Union leaders, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council urged greater solidarity between member states in the face of the crisis, as he warned that no help would come from countries beyond Europe.

“Europe is subject to an increasingly more scathing criticism, and our internal disagreements and mutual recriminations only help our opponents,” he said.

“In the United Nations, one could have an impression that Europe is the worst place in the world for refugees.

“Hundreds of thousands of refugees go to Europe because they know that our community is still the most open and tolerant of all. It is still us who respect international standards and conventions, and, it is Europe where people, all people, are safer than anywhere else.

“Let us not let Europe become a scapegoat due our quarrelling and blaming each other with no restraint. Otherwise, before long, theocracies will start to lecture us what religious tolerance means, dictators will tell us what democracy means, and those who are responsible for this massive exodus, will tell us how to treat refugees.”

Alluding to the Gulf States which have so far taken in no refugees, despite vociferous criticism of Europe for not doing more, Tusk said: “In fact, they are already doing this. There are countries, which virtually do not admit any refugees, but are most vocal when it comes to urging Europe to show more openness. That is why we have to take care of our good name, together.”

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Tusk warned that a failure to stand together would result in member states being manipulated to turn against each other, ripping Europe apart from the inside. “For us, refugees are specific people, individuals, who expect our help,” he said. “There are forces around us however, for whom the wave of refugees is just dirty business or a political bargaining chip. We are slowly becoming witnesses to the birth of a new form of political pressure, and some even call it a kind of a new hybrid war, in which migratory waves have become a tool, a weapon against neighbours. This requires particular sensitivity and responsibility on our side.”

Although he rebuked the eastern and southern states such as Greece and Hungary for passing along the migrant problem by barring immigrants entry to their countries, he also had stern words for western states, notably Germany and France who want to throw the doors of Europe wide open.

Chaotic scenes broke out in Tovarnik, Croatia, as thousands of migrants arrived and sparked a stampede as they tried to board buses

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“Today, the ethics of responsibility requires us to refrain from extremes. And by extremes I mean both anti-immigration rhetoric on one hand, and on the other, inviting everyone willing to come, despite being unable to take them under our roof.

“We finally have to understand it – today millions of potential refugees and migrants are dreaming about Europe – not only from Syria, but also from Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other places. For all refugees, easy access to Europe and lack of external borders have become, besides the “Wilkommen politik,” a magnet attracting them to us.

“Declaring solidarity is always greeted with applause, while calling for responsibility and common sense – hardly ever. Practising solidarity is a lot harder than preaching it.

“Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande … have both demonstrated beautiful moral gestures, which we all highly appreciate. [But] they must pass an even harder exam: an exam in responsibility for the protection of the European political community and its external borders.

“Otherwise, they, and all of us will become responsible for the re-emergence of walls and barriers on our internal borders, here in Europe.”

– See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2015/10/europe-braces-for-second-three-million-strong-migrant-wave-after-russias-syria-bombing.html/#sthash.pEs7HKQE.dpuf

Germany’s Refugee Joy Sours

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Obama praises influx; will he bring it to America?


Just a few weeks after throwing open the doors of her country to hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a huge backlash.

Serving up the slogan, “We can do it,” the chancellor won praise as “Mama Merkel” for stepping forward and making Germany the only European nation willing to take significant steps toward providing relief for the millions of people driven from their homes by civil war in Syria, and by the brutality of ISIS terrorists.

The German public initially approved, and there is even talk of a Nobel Peace Prize.

But as German President Joachim Gauck met Wednesday with President Barack Obama, who himself is under pressure to admit more refugees, the German public has soured on Merkel’s initiative. Local officials are overwhelmed, and her own governing coalition is splintered.

Obama has already increased the number of refugees the U.S. will take by some 45,000 over the next three years. It’s unclear whether it stops there.

In his meeting with the German president Wednesday, Obama praised Germany’s willingness to take in refugees and called it a model, according to a report by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Related: Will Refugees Bring Terror?

But Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the German experience both demonstrates the limits of the West’s ability to solve the refugee problem and offers a cautionary tale for U.S. policymakers who would follow suit.

“I think what we’ve seen is we’re never going to be able to deal with a crisis like that,” he said. “The numbers are just too overwhelming.”

About 200,000 refugees responded to Merkel’s call in September alone. By some counts, 5,000 foreigners every single day — and up to 10,000 on peak periods — arrive in Germany. Merkel initially estimated that Germany would receive 800,000 refugees. Some estimates now range as high as 1.5 million.

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Cities and towns throughout Germany have complained they lack the resources to house and feed the newcomers. The German government is seizing unoccupied residential space, and even commercial space, to house the many refugees.

It used to take a few hours to photograph and fingerprint each migrant, issue temporary documentation, and find homes, according to The Atlantic. But the wait period has ballooned to two days or more. Some refugees have been sleeping on the streets in Berlin.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democratic Party, recently told the German magazine Der Spiegel that he was “very worried” about the situation.

Related: What Candidates Say About Refugees

“Anyone who speaks with Germany’s mayors and district councils has observed this: In Germany we are rapidly approaching the limits of our abilities,” he told the magazine. “In other words, in addition to confidence, we also need realism.”

Ralf Jäger, the interior minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told Der Spiegel that people helping the refugees were “at wits’ end.”

Merkel’s policy has strained relations with the Christian Social Union (CSU), the governing partner with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU, said over the weekend in an interview with public broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk that the prime minister should reverse her policy.

“We cannot continue,” he said, warning of a “collapse” by winter if the flow continues unabated.

It is not just coalition partners. Thirty-four politicians from Merkel’s own CDU last week signed a sharply worded letter to her.

“The ‘open borders policy’ we are now implementing is not in line with either European or German law, nor does it reflect the CDU’s program,” the letter states.

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Perhaps they are reading the polls. A survey last week by Infratest Dimap for German public broadcaster ARD indicated 51 percent of Germans are “scared” about the number of refugees entering the country, up from 38 percent last month.

A poll by German-based Forsa Institute suggested the entire conservative bloc that controls the German government has taken a hit since the most recent federal election. The right-wing Alternative for Germany, meanwhile, stood at 7 percent in the poll — a record high this year.

Merkel’s personal popularity dipped to 47 percent, her lowest showing in the polls this year.

Although far less than the scale as experienced by Germany, critics warn that the United States could face similar problems.

“These are the incubators of terrorism,” said Mehlman. “Obviously, not everyone is a potential terrorist. But we do have to be aware of it.”

In Germany, meanwhile, even some refugees appear to be having second thoughts.

“I wish I’d stayed in Syria and not come here,” one 26-year-old told Reuters through an interpreter. “I dreamed Germany would be better, but it’s so bad. We’ve been sleeping in the cold. Now my baby is sick.”

TPP leaked: Wikileaks releases intellectual property chapter of controversial internet and medicine-regulating trade agreement

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Wikileaks has released the Intellectual Property Rights chapter of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which they claim contains rules and regulations that would have “wide-ranging effects on internet services, medicines, publishers, civil liberties and biological patents.”

The idea behind the TPP is free trade – amongst the member states, it aims to lower trade barriers, create a common standard for intellectual property, enforce labour and environmental law standards and promote economic growth.

The agreement has come under severe criticism and scrutiny, however, for the policy of total secrecy during the years-long negotiations.

Others have criticised the more stringent intellectual property laws it would introduce, which could extend copyright terms and mean harsher penalties for file-sharers.

Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has lived since June 2012 in an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual offences charges

A number of trade unions and economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz, have said the agreement “serves the interest of the wealthiest”, and caters to the needs of corporations rather than the citizens of member nations.

Concerns have also been raised over the effect it could have on the cost of medicines – by extending the intellectual property rights of certain branded drugs, delays in the development of cheaper, ‘generic’ versions of these drugs could ensue, potentially leading to poorer people having to wait much longer than the wealthy to get access to the newest medicines.

The chapter on these intellectual property issues is what has been leaked by Wikileaks, and is one of the more controversial chapters in the whole agreement.

Peter Maybarduk, the program director at Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines, said that if the TPP is ratified, “people in the Pacific-Rim countries would have to live by the rules of this leaked text.”

“The new monopoly rights for big pharmaceutical firms would compromise access to medicines in TPP countries. The TPP would cost lives.”

The document, dated 5 October, was apparently produced on the day it was announced that the 12 member states to the treaty had reached an agreement after five and a half years of negotiations.

The nations of Vietnam, Peru, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, Australia, USA, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei are all prospective member states to the free-trade agreement, between them representing over 40 per cent of the world economy.

Despite the leak, the final text of the TPP is reportedly being held until after the Canadian general election, on 19 October.

While, as Wikileaks says, there still needs to a be a final “legal scrub” of the document before it is finished, negotiations on the document between signatories have now ended.

Boehner blasted for delaying vote…

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House conservatives accused Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Friday of acting like a dictator by delaying the election for his successor because his favored candidate, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), suddenly dropped out of the race.

Reps. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) stood up during Friday’s closed-door GOP conference meeting and confronted Boehner about his decision to postpone Thursday’s election immediately after McCarthy’s shocking announcement, according to sources in the room

Boehner spokeswoman Emily Schillinger said the Speaker was well within the conference rules to ask that the elections be delayed. “He made a motion to adjourn the conference meeting, and no member objected,” she said in an email.

But Rice reportedly argued that the Speaker and his leadership team would not have delayed the election and quickly gaveled Thursday’s meeting to such an abrupt end if one of McCarthy’s rivals, such as Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), had said he was dropping out of the race, the sources said.

“He basically challenged the Speaker’s authority to end the meeting,” said one Boehner ally in the room. Boehner made the motion to adjourn Thursday, and Conference GOP Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) quickly banged the gavel, leaving lawmakers stunned and confused.

Rice “is complaining on behalf of himself and others that some rules were violated,” the lawmaker added. “I have sympathy that a lot of big things don’t get discussed by enough people to at least take that argument off the table.”

Boehner told Rice that it would have been ill-advised to move forward with the election given the disarray, sources said, and a majority of the conference erupted in applause agreeing with the Speaker’s remarks.

“I was as shocked as you were about Kevin’s announcement yesterday,” Boehner told his colleagues in the private meeting, sources said. “To allow the shock to wear off a bit, I believed it was in the best interests of everyone here to delay the conference election for Speaker.”

Rice and Gohmert weren’t the only ones griping to leadership. After Friday’s meeting, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) was also furious at Boehner, saying the Speaker “called off the election because he didn’t like the result.”

“What’s this tell the American people? It looks like a banana republic here,” Massie told reporters. “If your man doesn’t win the GOP primary in a presidential race, are you going to reopen the filing date and move the election?”

“That’s essentially what they did,” he added. “That was disgusting.”

Massied pointedly told reporters, according to the Washington Examiner, that a motion to vacate that would remove Boehner as Speaker could still be brought to the floor. Conservatives had considered moving such a motion before Boehner’s own decision to resign as Speaker last month.

“The motion to vacate is still in the hopper, it still has five sponsors and it can still be brought to the floor for a vote within two days,” Massie said.

Minutes before the vote for Speaker Thursday, McCarthy told his colleagues he didn’t have enough support on the House floor and was bowing out of the race. Boehner, who announced last month he planned to resign from Congress Oct. 30, told rank-and-file members Friday that he would stay on as Speaker until the conference can unify around a successor, people in the room said.

House lawmakers will head home Friday for a previously scheduled weeklong recess, when they’ll be challenged by constituents to explain this week’s chaos in the Capitol.

So far, Republicans say Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is the only person who can bring the warring factions of the GOP together, but he’s repeatedly said he’s not interested in the job.

“Paul Ryan is the person who needs to do it. We just got to wait on him to make a decision,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), who himself is looking at the Speaker’s race if Ryan takes a pass.

— This story was updated at 1:41 p.m.

Bradford Richardson contributed.