Abe’s strategy clearer after Japanese ISIS hostage crisis



The release of a video on Saturday showing a message thatHaruna Yukawa, one of the Japanese hostages captured byIslamic State (IS) militants, had been slaughtered, shocked both Japanese society and its Western allies. Official institutions in both Japan and the US consider the video is likely to be authentic.

The IS claimed last Tuesday it had abducted two Japanese and gave the Japanese government 72 hours to pay $200 million in ransom for the captives. The Abe administration was put in a conundrum. In front of requests from the victims’ families to save the hostages, the Japanese government vowed it would never give in to terrorism on one hand, on the other, it displayed a high-profile stance of striving to free the hostages. But it’s believed that the Abe administration would be unlikely to carry out a dramatic rescue, which has already decided the fate of the hostages.

The brutality of the IS has become well-known. They kill hostages in a cold-blooded manner. Now that Japan has become a victim of global terrorism, Tokyo may reassess the challenges it faces. In the past few years, Japanese rightists portrayed China as Japan’s major threat, despite the fact that China has never infringed upon Japan over the past century. It’s instead Japan that invaded China and persecuted Chinese people again and again.

The death of the hostage also offers a new excuse for Abe to lift the ban on collective self-defense. Abe will face fewer hurdles now if he decides to cooperate with the US strategic deployment and strengthen Japan’s military activities in the Middle East and its security deployment in East Asia.

Some claimed that Abe is more concerned about promoting rightist policies than rescuing hostages. For the good of peace in East Asia and the Japanese public, we hope such analysis is just speculative. Japan is not capable of playing an active role in the Middle East. East Asian countries are not supposed to be key targets of the atrocious IS. The Japanese hostage case sends a warning signal.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the US has spent great efforts in ensuring its domestic security. However, US allies such as European countries and Japan have been constantly targeted by terrorism. It’s worthwhile studying the underlying reasons.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo seemingly unveiled the conflicts between the whole of European society and the Muslim community, but it was striking to see how the US tries to remain neutral over the issue.

Having a geopolitical advantage, Japan should be a country without enemies. However, the country is plagued with a terrible mess in its national strategy. It misperceives China as an imaginary enemy. Tokyo’s ultimate goal is said to be getting rid of US control, however, it is forced to defer to the US due to its confrontation with China. The killing of the Japanese hostage is more or less the price that Japan has paid for its support to Washington.

We strongly condemn the brutal killing by the IS. In the meantime, we hope Japanese public opinion will take a clear-cut attitude against any terrorist attack launched on China. – Global Times

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West should end its hypocrisy on anti-terror war!


Anti_terrorists_China-RussiaChinese and Russian policemen attend a joint anti-terror drill in Manzhouli City, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Oct 20, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

Senior US leaders invited sharp criticism at home for not attending last week’s solidarity rally in Paris against the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed. As a result, US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Paris this week to make up for the mistake.

However, terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Nigeria, where Boko Haram fighters killed hundreds of, if not more, ordinary people early this month, have not received the same attention in the US and the Western world as the Paris attack. Yet such double standards and hypocrisy of the Western world is nothing new.

Over the past few years, the US and some Western countries have not responded to the terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in Beijing, Kunming and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region the way they reacted to the Paris attack.

On several occasions, US State Department spokespersons have used the excuse that they need more information and investigation into the incidents in China to condemn them as terrorist attacks. But they did not ask any such question after the Paris attack.

Some Western news organizations have refused to describe the perpetrators at Kunming railway station in Yunnan province as terrorists, insisting on calling them “knife-wielding attackers”. And on the rare occasions that they have used the word terrorist, they put it within quotation marks as if the ruthless killers in China were any different from those in Paris or elsewhere in the Western world. One CNN report even posed the question, “Terrorism or Cry of Desperation?”, as if killing innocent civilians in China can be somehow justified.

Even though China and the US have common interests in fighting terrorism, some Americans still seem to believe that only those setting off bombs in New York are terrorists while those doing the same in Beijing or any other Chinese city demand a different description.

The West’s double standards are not restricted to China and Nigeria. The decade-old wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, but the mainstream media outlets in the US have largely ignored the tragedies and focused on the loss of their own troops.

If the number of civilian casualties is a measure of the intensity of a terrorist attack, tragedies like the Sept 11, 2001, attacks have occurred multiple times in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Western media don’t seem to care much about them.

Some Western observers have even found excuses for West’s inadequate response to the terrorist attacks in Kunming on March 1 last year in which 31 were killed and 141 injured. But by failing to immediately condemn the attacks against innocent civilians in Kunming and Xinjiang, these people have by default condoned the action of the perpetrators.

It is true that terrorists in the eyes of some could be freedom fighters in the eyes of others. That is why Osama bin Laden was a freedom fighter to the US in the 1980s but a top terrorist in the 21st century. And Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela was still on the US terrorism watch list as late as 2008, years after stepping down as South Africa’s president.

There is no doubt that the US and its allies have failed miserably in their “war on terror” despite the more than 1,000 air strikes launched against the Islamic State group. In spite of the heavy bombardments, we have seen terrorists gaining strength and spreading their tentacles to more areas across the world.

And the Western world responds to this deadly threat with double standards.

By Chen Weihua China Daily/Asia News Network

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA. chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com

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Sony comedy film: The Interview looms cyber war as US-N.Korea tension spikes


The Interview is a 2014 American political comedy film directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg in their second directorial work, following This Is the End. The screenplay by Dan Sterling is from a story by Rogen, Goldberg and Sterling. The film stars Rogen and James Franco as journalists instructed to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park) after booking an interview with him. It received mixed reviews from critics.

The_InterviewIn June 2014, the North Korean government threatened “merciless” action against the United States if the film’s distributor, Columbia Pictures,went ahead with the release. Columbia delayed the release from October 10 to December 25, and reportedly edited the film to make it moreacceptable to North Korea. In November, the computer systems of parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment were hacked by the “Guardians of Peace”, a group the FBI believes has ties to North Korea. After leaking several other then-upcoming Sony films and other sensitive internal information, the group demanded that Sony pull The Interview, which it referred to as “the movie of terrorism”. On December 16, 2014, the Guardians of Peace threatened terrorist attacks against cinemas that played The Interview.

On December 17, after a number of major North American cinema chains canceled screenings in the interest of safety, Sony canceled the theatrical release of The Interview, drawing criticism from the media, Hollywood figures and U.S. President Barack Obama. After initially stating that it had no plans to release the film, Sony made The Interview available for online rental on December 24, and in a limited release at selected cinemas on December 25. – Wikipedia

 Cyber war looms as US-NK tension spikes

North Korea’s Internet and 3G networks were back to normal by midday Tuesday after hours of a strange shutdown. This blackout led to speculation that North Korea had been under cyber-attack from the US. It remains unknown whether the purported US-North Korea conflict will flare up into full-blown cyber war.

Sony Pictures, which has caught global attention for filming The Interview, a movie featuring the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was attacked by a group of hackers recently. The FBI asserted that these hackers were sponsored by North Korea, and US President Barack Obama declared the US would make a “proportional response.” Thus, there are high suspicions that Washington is behind the attack.

Neither Washington nor Pyongyang has commented officially on the incident. There are more threats to cyber security than ever before, and hacking groups not backed by governments have become mainstream. Countries like the US have established cyber armies, but there has been no declaration of a cyber war so far. Any party suspected of launching cyber invasions using its regular cyber army always denies its involvement.

We hope that Washington and Pyongyang will not engage in war in cyberspace. Once they cross the Rubicon, there is no way back.

The current suspected tit-for-tat situation between North Korea and the US raises the risks of a cyber war. Pyongyang has shown its abomination toward Sony Pictures. However, having denied any connections with the attacks, it hailed these actions as justified.

Washington has revealed its inclination to retaliate against Pyongyang, which is why many assume the Internet blackout in North Korea was its doing. Washington’s response could be an overreaction, as it is implying that cyber attacks can be seen as a kind of legitimate state action, which will set a precedent for cyber wars.

Antagonism between North Korea and the US will remain a hot topic for quite a while in the international community. If more cyber attacks are launched in the near future, many people will believe that a cyber war between them has already broken out.

It is possible that Washington is trying to teach Pyongyang a lesson and show its strength through cyber attacks. But it must keep in mind that its advanced networks also have loopholes, which might be taken advantage of by a single hacker and a computer.

The US must not set an example by engaging in cyber warfare. It might prevail in the short term, but the already vulnerable Internet order will be mired in countless trouble.

This North Korea-US cyber conflict has also reminded China that it must reinforce its cyber security and act as a constructive role to guard peace across the Internet. As for the speculation that it was China that cut off North Korea’s Internet connections, these are spurious and do not merit our attention.- Global Times

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US-Sept 11
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


9/11 prompted end of US arrogance

 Was it the day which changed the world? Scholars are still pondering on the impact of the September 11 attacks on US foreign policy.

Those who consider the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 as a turning point mainly attribute the subsequent US military reaction to their trauma.

Others who disagree with this perspective employ a rather different argument. They claim that this catastrophic incident only highlighted Washington’s unilateralism, which had been already apparent during the first months of George W. Bush’s presidency and the last years of Bill Clinton’s administration.

Nonetheless, Washington’s response, and especially the war on Iraq, has changed the world indeed.

Advocates of the war in the US claimed that this military campaign was a necessary decision in the context of the international fight against terrorism and the need of a preemptive action against the usage of weapons of mass destruction by dictators.

But the result of the preventive war against Iraq has been rather dramatic. It left chaos not only in Iraq, but in the wider Middle East. The recent success and advance of the Islamic State (IS) outline that stability is a utopian dream at present.

Terrorist groups give the impression of a modern hydra which grows more heads for each one cut off. Few outside of Iraq could recognize the IS last year. But now it is widely considered as a new international threat jeopardizing security in the Middle East and defying human dignity, as in the brutal and videoed beheadings of journalists.

Instead of spreading democracy in the Middle East, the US is continuously involved in new battles and adventures. Its military victories are Pyrrhic, while the risk for the opening of new fronts in the future is high.

More importantly, the lack of clear political objectives complicates its efforts to deliver at the international level. Washington is not responsible for existing internal tensions, ethnic, religious, or political, in the Arab world, but it often incites them through its interventionism.

The image of the US in the Arab world remains problematic 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.

According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, just 10 percent of respondents in Egypt and 12 percent in Jordan hold a favorable view of Washington.

Anti-Americanism has been recently on the rise due to additional issues, such as the monitoring actions of the National Security Agency and the use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Pew Research Center also reveals that China is more popular than the US in the Middle East, with 49 percent of respondents holding favorable views of Beijing and just 30 percent of Washington.

We cannot tell how the map of the Middle East might have been shaped without the war on Iraq. Some Western policymakers insist that the world is safer as a result of US foreign policy in the aftermath of 9/11. Reality, however, challenges this view, and shows that the brief period of US dominance looks to be over.

A new multipolar world has been created in recent years. Washington’s failure in Iraq and the ensuing economic crisis have seriously hit its post-Cold War superiority.

In parallel with this, the rise of new countries such as China has started to alter the balance at the global level. This new environment is perhaps the most significant evolution of the post-9/11 era.

The study of international relations has to closely follow developments. Ironically, in spite of critical changes such as the relevant fall of the US and the rise of China, a basic factor remains constant. This is the success of terrorism. It was Al Qaeda 13 years ago and it is the IS now, as far as the Middle East is concerned.

The new multipolar world requires international cooperation more than ever. Arrogant foreign policy choices can no longer find a place.

By George N. Tzogopoulos Source: Global Times Published: 2014-9-10 19:23:01

The author is a research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

To Destroy ISIS in Middle East and Syria! 



From Malaysia ISA to IS – Islamic State Terrorists

ISA_IS
He lived hereMohammad Fadhlan’s family home in Kampung Bukit Kabu, Kulim. The self-proclaimed jihadist was killed during an attack by Syrian warplanes and tanks.
ISA_Terrorists

Fighting for a faraway cause: (top left) Mohd Lofti, Zainuri, Mohd Rafi, (lower left) Samad, Zid Saharani among the five former ISA detainee who had gone to Syria along with Zainan (lower right), who was recently killed.

PETALING JAYA: Five former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees are among 40 Malaysians who have joined up with the Islamic State militants in war-torn Syria where multiple factions are vying for supremacy.

The five are former Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia (KMM) members Zainuri Kamaruddin and Rafi Udin along with former Jemaah Islamiah (JI) operative Samad Shukri and Zid Saharani Mohamad Esa.

Former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, 45, rounded up the list.

Sources said that Zainuri, Rafi and Samad had gone to Syria on April 18 along with recently killed Jihadist Zainan Harith, also known as Abu Turob.

The latest Malaysian to be killed in the conflict was Mohammad Fadhlan Shahidi Mohammad Khir, 21, from Kedah. He was killed while fleeing an attack by Syrian government forces on Tuesday.

“Zainan was killed in an attack in Syria which left the other three severely injured. The authorities believe all the former ISA detainees are still in Syria fighting for a militant group,” a source said.

It is learnt that the five along with Zainan, were deeply influenced by extremist teachings and would often keep to themselves.

“It can be said that those who went to fight in Syria are very similar to each other. They believe that almost any means justifies the ends thus they are willing to do almost anything to justify their false jihad,” a source said.

In Malaysia, they held meetings dubbed “Usra” in random locations to avoid detection.

“These Usra included planning attacks and heists to fund the extremist movement. Their ultimate goal was to bear arms and fight in Syria,” the source said.

Surveillance by the authorities also resulted in various “Usra” locations being identified in the Klang Valley. Among the locations were Puchong, Shah Alam and Puncak Alam in Klang.

Aside from planning, the Usra was also used to invite “key” speakers, including jailed JI leader Abubakar Basyir. It is learnt that Abu Bakar gave various talks between 1998 and 2000 to further indoctrinate the followers.

Citing the example of Zainan, a former KMM member, the source explained that the 52-year-old man would distance himself from the family.

“If he did talk to his wife or other family members, it was about religious matters,” he said.

It is learnt that Zainan did not finish secondary school and joined the “tabliq” (missionary) movement soon after dropping out.

“He spent most of his time at the mosque in Taman Datuk Harun here. In 2000, while with KMM, Zainan was involved in the Hong Leong Bank heist in Petaling Jaya along with four others. They escaped with RM110,000 in cash,” the source said.

This was followed by a string of robberies, including a weapons raid on the Guar Cempedak police station and Southern Bank in Petaling Jaya.

“Zainan was finally arrested in 2001 and released from prison in 2010,” the source said.

When he left for Syria in April, Zainan did not even tell his wife about it. He just threw the car keys and said he was leaving.

“He only contacted the wife when he was in transit to Syria. They have been in constant contact via Whatsapp since – until their last communication on Aug 15,” the source said.

The source said the wife, who works in a private company, never suspected that Zainan would be involved in illegal activities, let alone extremism.

“She is used to his mysterious nature, having not told the wife when he went to Cambodia for some humanitarian work. The wife also learned not to ask any question as Zainan never brought any friends home,” the source said.

By Farik Zolkepli The Star/Asia News Network

 

Youngest jihadist is second Malaysian to be killed in Syria

ISA_Mohd Fadhlan Shahidi
Mohd Fadhlan youngest Malaysian jihadist in Syria.

PETALING JAYA: As Syrian jet fighters and tanks fired on a militant base in east Hama, Syria, in a daylight attack, the self-proclaimed jihadists, which included several Malaysian volunteers, fled in trucks and other vehicles.

Mohammad Fadhlan Shahidi Mohammad Khir, 21, from Kedah, was in one truck when he was hit by shrapnel and fell out of the speeding vehicle during the assault on Tuesday morning.

A tank was firing on the truck so the driver could not stop to enable the other passengers to pick up Mohammad Fadhlan, a fellow Malaysian jihadist Ahmad Salman Abdul Rahim revealed.

Militants in another truck managed to pull him into their vehicle shortly after but he was mortally wounded and died minutes later.

“Fadhlan died in the arms of a comrade,” Salman said.

Mohammad Fadhlan is believed to be the youngest Malaysian jihadist and is the second Malaysian to be killed in the ongoing conflict between the militants and the President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The attack also wounded two other Malaysians: former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, 45, and another known only as Abu Agfhan.

Mohammad Fadhlan’s mother Fatimah Md Lazim, 55, identified his body from photographs, according to a source here. His remains were buried in east Hama.

His father Mohammad Khir Ismail, 59, has not been told of his death, reports ROYCE TAN.

“We have yet to break the news to our father because he is bedridden after suffering a stroke.

We don’t think he will take the news well,” said Mohammad Fadhlan’s brother Firdaus, 27, at the family home in Kampung Bukit Kabu in Mahang Karangan, Kulim, yesterday.

Mohammad Fadhlan was the fifth among eight children in the family. He has four sisters and three brothers, aged eight to 29.

He went to Syria on May 13 via Istanbul.

“He sent our mother a text message on May 14 telling her he was going to fight in Syria. We didn’t believe it at first. We only realised he was serious when we saw his Facebook postings,” said Firdaus.

After that, Mohammad Fadhlan did not keep in touch with his family.

“We tried sending him messages on Facebook but he never replied,” Firdaus said.

The first Malaysian militant to die in Syria was Abu Turob, 52, who was killed during an attack by tanks and snipers on Aug 19.

Another militant, Pahang-born Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, died in Iraq when he drove a military vehicle packed with explosives into a SWAT headquarters and detonated it, killing 25 soldiers in May.

Source: The Star/Asia News Network

China unlikely to step into IS fray

Washington to extend airstrikes to Syria

China is unlikely to directly join in the current stage of the US-led fight against the radical Islamic State (IS) but will provide moral support instead, analysts said Thursday, following US President Barack Obama’s call to build a broad anti-IS coalition to crush jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

In a broad escalation of the fight against the IS, which occupies large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, Obama said in a televised speech Wednesday night that the US will extend airstrikes to Syria and expand operations in Iraq.

Obama also said he was building a broad anti-IS coalition involving Sunni-led governments in the region and Western allies.

His speech came after reports that US National Security Adviser Susan Rice requested China’s support in forming the coalition during her visit to Beijing earlier this week. The Washington Post quoted an anonymous official as saying that, “The Chinese expressed interest [at the proposal].”

On Thursday, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, didn’t directly respond to the question of whether China will join the coalition, but said “China is ready to abide by the principle of mutual respect, equality and cooperation in strengthening anti-terrorist cooperation with the rest of the international community and maintaining global peace and stability.”

Dong Manyuan, a deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that he does not expect China to directly step into the fray, despite some shared interests between the US and China in combating terrorism.

Last week, Iraq’s defense ministry posted on its Facebook page photos that it said show a captured Chinese man fighting on behalf of the IS, reported the New York Times.

The Chinese government has yet to confirm the report, but various sources previously suggested that jihadists from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are fighting alongside IS fighters in Syria.

Wu Sike, China’s former special envoy to the Middle East, told a press conference in late July that around 100 jihadists from Xinjiang, most of whom are members of the separatist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement, are fighting or being trained in the Middle East.

Turmoil in Iraq, a major source of China’s oil imports, also posed a threat to Chinese businesses operating in the country.

Zhao Weiming, a professor of Middle East Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, said China may support the US in its fight against the IS, but that its support will be limited to the diplomatic level, and “it is not going to participate in any military actions against the IS.”

However, Zhao told the Global Times that support for the US fight against the IS doesn’t mean that China supports all US military actions carried out in the name of fighting terrorism.

“China opposes the US using anti-terrorism as an excuse to serve its own ends,” he said, referring to the US decision to strike Syria.

Obama Wednesday also asked Congress to authorize $500 million to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels outgunned by the IS and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“We hold that in the international struggle against terrorism, international law should be respected, as well as the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the countries concerned,” Hua told Thursday’s press briefing.

The US plan for airstrikes in Syria drew protest from Ali Haidar, Syria’s Minister of National Reconciliation Affairs, who said any military action without Damascus’ permission is an act of aggression.

“China might give a tacit consent to strikes against IS targets [in Syria], but it has a bottom line – no attack on Syrian government targets or civilian facilities,” Zhang Jiadong, a professor with the Center for American Studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times.

Zhang added that China will not allow the US to weaken Assad’s regime or destabilize Syria under the disguise of anti-terrorism.

China’s stated policy is consistently one of non-intervention, which has been criticized by some observers in the West.

In an August interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama said China has been a “free rider” for the last 30 years, referring to the crisis in Iraq.

Dong argued that US Middle East policy is the cause for turmoil in the region, and has forced some Chinese companies to pull out of the region. “The US not only failed to give Chinese companies a free ride, but actually made trouble for them.”

Zhao shared similar views, noting that China played a significant role in Iraq and Afghanistan’s reconstruction following US-led wars, and contributed to local economic development.

In the fight against the IS, Zhang noted that China can play a unique role in bridging the differences between Washington and Damascus.

US hostility toward both Assad’s regime and the IS, combined with close ties between Damascus and Baghdad, have made it very difficult for the US to carry out its policy, as its anti-terrorist efforts might be offset by the complex situation, Zhang told the Global Times.

“China should press the US to change its policy toward Damascus, and push for national rebuilding in Syria to ensure its stability and security and weaken the foundation of the IS,” he said.

By Yang Jingjie Source: Global Times Published: 2014-9-12 0:53:01

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US may repeat same inept blunders that caused lasting Iraq disaster : ISIS, WMD lies!


US_Iraq dance

The deepening crisis in Iraq is a result of mistakes of US Middle East policy under two presidents. Washington does not learn from mistakes, so tensions inevitably will rise in the already disintegrating region.

 WMD lies
The regime change war of the George W. Bush administration against Iraq was arguably the greatest strategic mistake in US history. The consequences continue to unfold.

The Obama administration added fuel to the regional fire by launching the regime change wars against Libya and Syria. The flow of weapons and terrorists links these struggles.

The US public was outraged that the Obama administration considered a direct attack against Syria. The public today is becoming increasingly concerned about US involvement in yet another unnecessary Iraq war.

The present situation in Iraq must be placed in historic context. The British created the country after WWI from three former Ottoman provinces. The British strategic concept involved moving oil from the northern area of Mosul to Haifa in Palestine to be refined and then service the navy in the Mediterranean. Oil from the southern area of Basra was refined to service the navy in the Persian Gulf.

The northern area is one home of the Kurds, who are an ancient non-Arab ethnic group. The central area is traditionally the home of Sunni Arabs while the southern area is traditionally the home of Shiite Arabs.

The possibility of a breakup of this artificial state has always been present as the Kurds seek independence and the Shiite Arabs have religious ties to Iran. An Iraqi national identity was mostly held by secular political forces in the past.

In the aftermath of the war, the US dismantled the ruling Ba’ath political party, which ran the government apparatus. It also destroyed the Iraqi army. These two moves undermined national unity and stability in the post-war period.

The Obama regime change war against Syria has now morphed into a complex mess involving both Syria and Iraq. This explosive situation in turn threatens Jordan and Lebanon.

ISIS_IraqISIS in Iraq
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group with its many foreign fighters is a powerful actor in the present situation. But it must also be said that various Iraqi groups are also involved. These include former Iraqi military, political, and religious networks dissatisfied with the present Shiite-dominated government.

When the US toppled Saddam Hussein, it was inevitable that the next regime would be dominated by the Shiites who are the majority in Iraq. Experts at that time warned against the war, arguing that with Saddam’s fall, Iran would become influential in Iraq through Shiite politicians.

The Shiite-dominated Maliki government has been heavy handed toward Sunni Arabs and Kurds. This counterproductive behavior set the stage for the present crisis which has been exploited by outside forces such as Saudi Arabia and Gulf states. They financially and militarily support the extremist Sunni terrorist organizations attacking the Shiites.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states also support the US regime change war in Syria. Support by these states for Sunni terrorists is part of a larger plan to bring the region under Saudi dominance.

It is no secret in Washington that pro-Israel neoconservatives for decades have been plotting the balkanization of Syria and Iraq. They see this process as good for Israel because it would break up its hostile neighbors into less threatening enclaves.

The results of Washington’s incompetence may well provoke Iran into action to protect the Shiites of Iraq. Washington and Tehran may or may not be able to agree on a path forward.

The disintegrating situation in Iraq puts great pressure on Jordan.

Because Jordan is a key ally in the region one would expect Washington to bolster Amman and this could involve military forces.

US politicians have forced war and chaos on the Middle East and have learned nothing. Will Washington’s Asian pivot lead to similar results?

– By Clifford A. Kiracofe Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-26
The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Ini Malaysia Boleh? MH370 was likely on autopilot; new search area announced


Australia said the search for MH370 has shifted further south and the aircraft is now believed to have been on autopilot before it disappeared.

“It is highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot.

“Otherwise, it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings,” said Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss during a press conference in Canberra yesterday.

However, he said the investigators could not, and had not intended to, pinpoint the moment when the aircraft was put on autopilot.

“We know it was on autopilot during the critical phase of our tracking but it will be a matter for the Malaysia-based investigation team to look at precisely when it may have been put on autopilot,” said Truss, who also declined to comment on speculation about the pilot having flown the course on his simulator, pointing out that it was irrelevant to their task of finding the aircraft.

“I don’t really want to comment on areas which will probably be the responsibility of Malaysia and its investigators,” he said.

Truss said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had released a report which outlined the basis for their conclusion that the new search area was the most likely place where the aircraft could be found.

He said the new priority search zone was 60,000sqkm, and was greatly expanded compared to the previous underwater search area of only 860sqkm.

“The new phase of the search will have two elements. Firstly there will be mapping of the sea floor in the area, which is already under way, and a comprehensive search once mapping had been completed,” he said.

Mapping is currently being undertaken by Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen and the Australian-contracted vessel Fugro Equator.

Truss said mapping of the very deep sea floor was expected to take about three months to complete, while the underwater search was expected to commence by August.

“To put new equipment into the area without a clear knowledge of what the sea floor is like will certainly put at risk the capacity of that equipment to operate safely,” he said.

Truss added that the search effort would include equipment provided by Malaysia, including vessels equipped with towed sonar systems.

Despite acknowledging the enormity of the task, Truss remains optimistic.

“The search is still going to be painstaking. Of course, we could be fortunate and find it in the first hour or the first day, but it could take another 12 months.”

The Star/Asia News Network

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Missing Malaysian airliner ‘likely on autopilot’ as new search area announced

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss points the new search area for MH370 to reporters at a press conference at Australian Parliament House in Canberra, June 26, 2014.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss points the new search area for MH370 to reporters at a press conference at Australian Parliament House in Canberra, June 26, 2014. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said on Thursday that it is “highly likely” the missing Malaysian airliner flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean. (Xinhua/Xu Haijing)

CANBERRA, June 26 (Xinhua) — Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said on Thursday that it is “highly likely” the missing Malaysian airliner flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Truss made the comment on Thursday when announcing the joint search operation involving Australia, Malaysia and China would shift its focus in the southern Indian Ocean for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The revised search area is based on the findings of an international satellite working group.
The group has reviewed all existing information to define a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometers along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean.

Truss said the refined search area would still be focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite.

But the search would shift to an area slightly further south along the arc, based on the calculations of the international experts.

“Specialists have analyzed satellite communications information- – information which was never initially intended to have the capability to track an aircraft — and performed extremely complex calculations,” Truss said.

“This site is the best available and most likely place where the aircraft is resting.”

“It is highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot, otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings,” Truss said.

He said the search for MH370 was ongoing. A three-month mapping of the ocean floor in the search area is in progress and would be followed by a comprehensive search of the sea floor that is expected to begin in August and take up to 12 months to complete.

“The bathymetric survey has already commenced, with the Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen and the Australian-contracted vessel Fugro Equator conducting operations in the areas provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau,” Truss said.

“The underwater search will aim to locate the aircraft and any evidence to assist with the Malaysian investigation of the disappearance of MH370.”

“This area has never been comprehensively mapped previously and so to put new equipment down into that area without having clear knowledge of what the sea floor is like certainly risks the operation and the capacity of that equipment to operate safely.”

He warned that the search will still be painstaking. “Of course we could be fortunate and find it in the first hour, or the first day, or it could take the next 12 months.”

Australia, Malaysia and China have reaffirmed their commitment to continue to search for MH370 and to keep families informed of developments.

Truss said search nations owed it to “the passengers and the crew and everyone associated with MH370 to bring this mystery to a conclusion.”

“I can assure all the families and those with an interest that Australia remains dedicated to the task of solving this greatest aviation mystery.”

Flight MH370 vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

 

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CANBERRA, June 26 (Xinhua) — Australia announced on Thursday a new search area for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.  Full story
Malaysian speaker vows continued MH370 search
BEIJING, June 24 (Xinhua) — The speaker of Malaysia’s House of Representatives has said that the country will continue searching for missing flight MH370 until its fate has been discovered.  Full story
Investigator: New search area for MH370 to shift south
BEIJING, June 21 (Xinhuanet) — Search for the missing Malaysian passenger plane MH370 will focus on the area hundreds of kilometers south of the first suspected crash site in the Indian Ocean. That’s according to chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Martin Dolan.  Full story
Malaysia commits continuing search for missing plane
KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 (Xinhua) — The Malaysian government and the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) on Sunday reiterated their commitment to continuing the search operation for the missing MH370 flight as 100 days had passed since its disappearance on March 8. Full story

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Ini Malaysia Boleh? Fighting for Syrian jihadist! People reject regime change


Video shows man speaking Bahasa Malaysia about going ‘to the battlefield’ 

KUALA LUMPUR: A chilling video of a Malaysian riding in a truck with a group of militants fighting in the Syrian jihadist movement has surfaced on the Internet.Malaysian Jihadist_terrorist

He is one of the 20 Malaysians confirmed by Bukit Aman to have taken part in the uprising in Syria.

The one-and-a-half minute video, which appeared to have been shot by the man who spoke mostly in Bahasa Malaysia with a northern accent, described his joy as they drove off “to the battlefield”.

The authenticity of the video, which had been viewed more than 5,000 times since it was uploaded to syriantube.net on June 7, was verified by Bukit Aman.

“Yes, they are among 20 Malaysi­ans who are identified as having joined the uprising in Syria. We will announce the names of all the Malaysians involved soon,” said spokesman ACP Datin Asmawati Ahmad.

Syriantube.net founder Maher Ra claimed that the video was shot in Allepo, Syria, by a Mohd Lotfi Ariffin from Kuala Ketil, Kedah.

Syriantube has been showing video footage depicting the behind the scene shots of terrorists activities and atrocities commited by militants in Syria.

Checks on Mohd Lotfi’s Facebook showed that the video did originate from his page on June 3, which had been liked and shared by many Malaysians, some of whom offered words of encouragement.

In a story first broken by Mstar Online and Star Online, the video opened with a shot of a tank from inside a truck. The tank then rolled away in a bushland with several Middle Eastern looking men, dressed in army fatigue sitting on it. The men were also heavily armed.

“Yes, the tank is moving, making its way to its destination – the battlefield. Allahu Akbar (God is great)! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” said the cameraman in Bahasa Malaysia.

“These are our friends,” he continued, panning over to show several men – all dressed in combat gear, bulletproof vests, helmets and black bandanas, and with riffles slung around their necks.

Some of the men even smiled and showed the “V” victory sign with their fingers as the camera closed up on them.

Without the weapons and war gear, they would have appeared like a group of friends, taking pictures with their smartphones, seemingly happy about going on a drive.

The camera then rested on a bearded Middle Eastern-looking man wearing combat uniform and a blue ski cap, who shouted Allahu Akbar! as the group of about 20 men in the truck chanted along.

“Our friends, working happily!” said the cameraman in Bahasa Malaysia, who then focused his shot on a bespectacled young man wearing a black headband and holding a smartphone, who, ironically, made a peace sign.

“Yes, our friends, we are all ready to go to the fight at the battlefield. We don’t feel scared. We don’t feel nervous!” The voice was heard saying, the camera shaking as the truck engine revved up.

“We are moving! Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,” the group chanted.

Maher claimed that the Malaysians had been in Syria for over a year.

“There aren’t 15. There are over 200 of them. Some, even as old as 60. They came with their wives and children. They stay in Aleppo and Ar-Raqqah.

“They have killed people. They have beheaded innocent civilians,” he claimed, describing himself as a pro-government Syrian who started syriantube.net to expose the atrocities committed by militant groups in the conflict-ridden country.

The Syrian government recently claimed that 15 Malaysians, purportedly involved in terrorism and jihadist activities with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isil) network, had been killed.

Contributed by Nicholas Cheng The Star/Asia News Network

The people reject regime change

Syrians defeated an attempt at regime change which has a plan to ensure Western hegemony

IF one is sincere about resolving the bloody three-year-old conflict in Syria, one would regard the outcome of the presidential election held on June 3 as an opportunity for working out a viable solution.

The election was a genuine endorsement of the leadership of Bashar al-Assad.

A total 73% of eligible voters cast their ballots in the first ever multi-candidate direct presidential election in Syria.

Assad secured 88.7% of the votes. There were no allegations of electoral fraud or manipulation.

It is significant that Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan – hosts to the majority of refugees from the on-going war in Syria – voted overwhelmingly for Assad.

It is of course true that those parts of the country which are still in rebel hands could not vote. This would be mainly some parts of rural Syria and one medium-sized city. But all the other cities – and they account for the majority of the population – went to the ballot box.

US officials and the Western media have dismissed the election result contemptuously because a portion of the electorate could not vote, ignoring the fact that the vast majority participated enthusiastically in the polls.

They have conveniently forgotten that in the presidential election in Ukraine on May 25, millions of Russian speaking voters in the eastern part of the country refused to participate and yet the verdict was endorsed by the centres of power in the West.

This is another example of blatant double standards. Instead of rubbishing the election result, Western leaders and commentators should try to find out why the Syrian people showed so much enthusiasm for the election and why they gave so much support to Assad.

One, for the vast majority of Syrians, the election was their repudiation of the war and the killings that have claimed tens of thousands of lives since March 2011.

It was their way of affirming their commitment to peace and stability.

Two, the Syrians know that the only leader who can bring peace and stability to their land is Bashar al-Assad since he has always commanded the support of the majority of his people.

Three, there is also a great deal of appreciation among the people for the way in which the Assad government has managed to ensure that essential goods and services are available to a broad cross-section of the people in spite of the terrible devastation and destruction caused by the war.

Four, the election result is also a show of appreciation of the role played by the armed forces which has lost at least 61,000 men in the war and which, in the eyes of the people, has succeeded in protecting the innocent and preventing some brazen massacres.

It in no way justifies, it should be emphasised, some of the excesses committed by the armed forces which a number of us have condemned from the outset.

Five, if Assad won so convincingly, it is also partly because the opposition is hopelessly divided. The different armed groups are pitted against each other. There is no common platform. They were not even able to put forward a common candidate in the election.

Six, more than the opposition’s utter disarray it is the barbaric brutality of some of the armed groups revealed in so many episodes in the war that turned a lot of Syrians against them and indirectly increased support for Assad.

What has caused even greater revulsion among the people is the claim of these groups that they are the true representatives of Islam.

Seven, since some of these groups are foreign and the foreign hands behind the war are so obvious to most Syrians, rallying around Assad in the election was the people’s response to what they perceive as a massive foreign conspiracy to break Syria’s principled resistance to US helmed hegemony that serves the interests of Israel.

Ousting Assad is central to the goal of breaking resistance.

This is why the people sought through the ballot box to foil a determined push to achieve regime change in Damascus.

This, in the ultimate analysis, is the real significance of Assad’s electoral triumph.

The Syrian people have defeated a violent, aggressive attempt at achieving regime change as part of that perpetual plan to ensure US and Western hegemony, especially in a region which is pivotal to their quest for global domination.

Apart from Israel which launched a number of air-strikes against Syria in the course of the war, some of the West’s other regional allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have also played a major role in pursuit of this diabolical agenda.

Given that the United States and some of its allies are democracies, will they now concede that since the Syrian people have spoken, they will respect their wishes and cease their pursuit of regime change?

It is most unlikely that they would. After all, hegemony has always taken precedence over democracy.

Hegemony trumps everything else. Does it matter to the hegemon and its allies that if they continue along this path, thousands more are going to die or become refugees in some other land?

Perhaps one should reach out to ordinary American citizens in the hope that they would persuade their government to put an end to the war and create the conditions for peace in Syria.

It may be worthwhile trying this approach.

A Pew Research Centre poll conducted in 2013 showed that “70% of Americans oppose arming the Syrian rebels”.

Can they now be convinced that arming rebels against a democratically-elected president nullifies everything that a democracy stands for?

Can we expect American citizens to share the dream of their Syrian counterparts for an end to war in their land?

Will they act to make that dream come true?

By Chandra Muzaffar

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is President of JUST, the International Movement for a Just World.

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