The Latest on Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria

BEIRUT  

Turkey is telling the U.N. Security Council that its military offensive into northeast Syria was launched in exercise of its right to self-defense under the U.N. Charter.
In a letter to the council circulated Monday, Turkey said it is countering an “imminent terrorist threat” and ensuring the security of its borders from Syrian Kurds, which it calls “terrorists,” as well as the Islamic State extremist group.
Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters celebrate in Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province advance, after entering over the border from Tal Abyad, Syria, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Cavit Ozgul)

Since 2014, the Kurds have fought alongside the U.S. in defeating the Islamic State in Syria.
The fast-deteriorating situation was set in motion last week, when U.S. President Donald Trump ordered American troops in northern Syria to step aside, clearing the way for an attack by Turkey, now in its sixth day. Trump’s move was decried at home and abroad as a betrayal of an ally.
Turkey’s U.N. Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu said in the letter to the Security Council dated Oct. 9 that its counter-terrorism operation will be “proportionate, measured and responsible.”
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Iran’s president is urging Turkey to halt its military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Speaking at a press conference Monday, Hassan Rouhani: “We do not accept the method that they have chosen.” Turkey says it’s fighting to clear border areas of Syrian Kurdish fighters, which it considers to be terrorists because of their links to Kurdish militants in Turkey.
While Iranian authorities have previously expressed opposition to the Turkish offensive, now in its sixth day, this was Rouhani’s first direct comment.


Iran and Russia have allied with the Syrian government in the country’s eight-year war. Syrian troops abandoned the northeast to Syrian Kurdish-led forces in 2012.
The Kurds had allied with the U.S. to fight the Islamic State group. But after American troops moved aside in northern Syria, clearing the way for the attack by Turkey, the Kurds struck a deal with the Syrian government for assistance.

Boris Johnson prepares for another Brexit delay under ‘all circumstances’ as talks with the EU stall

Source: Business Insider

Boris Johnson’s government is reportedly preparing to ask the European Union for a fresh Brexit delay “in all circumstances” as hopes of the United Kingdom and Brussels agreeing and ratifying a new deal by this month’s Brexit deadline begin to fade.
The pound surged last week when UK prime minister Johnson and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced they could now see a “pathway” to a deal.
The prime minister hopes to agree a deal this week before putting it to a House of Commons vote on Saturday.
However, more detailed talks between London and Brussels appear to have slowed with Buzzfeed News reporting that the UK government was now preparing for Brexit to be delayed beyond its current deadline of October 31, even if an outline of a deal can be agreed this week.
Johnson has proposed a new system for customs between Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the rest of the United Kingdom, in order to prevent a hard border on the Island of Ireland. This, in theory, would allow goods to move over the Irish border freely and without the need for customs checks.
However, while the EU is willing to discuss the proposal, officials in Brussels reportedly believe it does not go far enough, relies upon untested technologies, and will take weeks to flesh out.

The EU has highlighted a handful of problems with Johnson’s proposals, according to Tony Connelly, Europe editor at Irish publication RTE.
Under Johnson’s plan, goods that go from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and stay in Northern Ireland will be charged the EU tariff, meaning importers must claim for rebates if the UK tariff the correct charge is lower.
However, the EU believes the rebate system is complex and could take years to design, Connelly reports. The EU is also waiting for the UK to explain how goods will be tracked under these proposed arrangements.
An EU diplomatic source quoted in The Guardian newspaper said it would now be “impossible” for the UK to leave on October 31 with a “totally new concept” such as the new proposals put forward by Johnson over the weekend.
The question marks over the UK proposals mean that even if Johnson and other EU leaders agree a deal at the European Council summit this week, the latter will likely conclude it cannot be delivered by October 31.
Johnson has repeatedly insisted that the UK will leave the EU on October 31 and said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask EU leaders to delay Britain’s exit again.

However, under the terms of the Benn act passed by members of Parliament last month, the prime minister is compelled by law to request another extension to Article 50 if he cannot secure a deal by the end of this week.

Iran says Rouhani and Trump won’t be meeting at U.N.

Iran said on Monday President Hassan Rouhani will not meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the United Nations, a day after the White House left open the possibility of talks between them.

“Neither is such an event on our agenda, nor will it happen. Such a meeting will not take place,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in remarks carried by state TV.

Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected a meeting and any talks with Washington while Iran is subject to sanctions, which Trump re-imposed after withdrawing last year from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear accords with world powers.

The USS Abraham Lincoln carrier and a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress, conduct joint exercises in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in Arabian sea on June 1.

Iran earlier condemned as “unacceptable” U.S. accusations it was behind an attack on Saudi oil plants, after the United States said it was “locked and loaded” for a potential response . The strikes were claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

“Stopping all sanctions is an indispensable precondition for constructive diplomacy. We hold meetings when we are sure that our people’s problems can be solved,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, according to the semi-official news agency Tasnim.

“Sanctions must be lifted, and the United States must respect the Iranian nation,” Rabiei said.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday the previous day’s attacks “did not help” prospects for a meeting between the two leaders during the United Nations General Assembly this month, but she left open the possibility a meeting could take place.

Nancy Pelosi Claims Democrat Dan McCready Actually Won In North Carolina

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed that Democrat Dan McCready “won the campaign” in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

McCready lost the special election to Republican State Sen. Dan Bishop by roughly 2%, but Democrats took solace in how close the election was. President Donald Trump won the district in 2016 by around 12% over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I’m very proud of Dan McCready. He’s a great patriot. He’s an independent voice for the district that he would have represented,” Pelosi said. “It’s too bad he’s not coming here. But he did a great job.”

Pelosi noted the difference between McCready’s performance and the performances of recent Democratic presidential nominees in the district.

“So he won the campaign,” Pelosi said. “He didn’t win the election, but he won the campaign.”

VIDEO

Trump, the New York Times, and John Bolton

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The New York Times on September 10 ran six articles with the word Trump in the headlines. Two of the stories were clearly warranted – one on Trump’s continuing resolve to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, and one on the way the commerce department played along with Trump’s false message about the Alabama destination of the recent hurricane. The other stories were tabloid-fodder.

Then midday September 10 came the news that John Bolton had been sacked. That deserved a story, so it was fair to predict the Times would run three: one on the event, one on the history of a memorable relationship, and one on “possible consequences.”

The Times on September 11 ran four stories on Bolton. News analysis on page one, by Michael Crowley and Lara Jakes, opened with this sentence: “On one foreign policy issue after another, John R. Bolton was the in-house skeptic who checked President Trump’s most unorthodox instincts.” The word unorthodox is doing a lot of work there. It would be truer to say that Trump cut down Bolton’s most dangerous initiatives: for example his idea of starting a war with Iran by an immediate violent retaliation after the bloodless downing of a US surveillance drone.

Was John Bolton a “skeptic”? An “adult in the room”? Bolton’s best-known policies have been to bomb Iran and replace the Mullahs with a US puppet government; turn Venezuela into an American oil well; exit the UN; and start World War III soon while the US can win (if we don’t tie our hands). And meanwhile withdraw from none of the following countries: Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan.

In an administration pledged to withdraw from unnecessary wars, why is the US still in Afghanistan? Why have we pulled out of the INF treaty? Why are there more trip-wires than ever to set off a war with Iran in the Persian Gulf, or with Russia in Eastern Europe? These are the strategic triumphs of John Bolton.

Bolton was originally appointed by Trump at the request of the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. It was Bolton’s advocacy of Israeli expansion, and his detestation of the very idea of a Palestinian state, that prompted both Adelson and Benjamin Netanyahu to recommend him as the the best choice for Trump’s third national security adviser. His sacking in turn was effected on schedule to coincide with Netanyahu’s sinking popularity in Israel. The name of Adelson goes unmentioned in all the Times articles.

It appears that anyone (no matter how devious and reckless) who opposes Donald Trump can now expect to be rewarded with the honorific title “skeptic” – a word often used in the past to describe a doubter rather than a fanatical supporter of an insane orthodoxy.

We are through the looking glass.

David Bromwich teaches at Yale and is the author most recently of American

German economic minister expected in Namibia capital today

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WINDHOEK – German Minister for Economic Cooperation Development Gerd Müller is expected in the country today, the German Embassy in Windhoek said in a statement.

Müller, who will be here until next week Monday, will start his visit with a meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi.

He will also have an audience with Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein.

Müller will also visit programmes supported in the framework of German development cooperation.
He will visit projects in Katutura aimed at improving the living conditions in the informal settlements and will meet Namibian start-up companies at the Bokamoso Entrepreneurial Center.

Afterwards, Müller and his delegation will travel to the north of Namibia where he will visit a training farm for climate adaptation strategies in agriculture in Mashare.

Together with the Minister for Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, Müller will officially open the newly equipped park station Buffalo in the Bwabwata National Park.
The new park station was funded with German support. On the way to Katima Mulilo, he will meet with representatives from conservancies and also from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and non-governmental organisations.

Before his departure to South Africa, Müller will travel to Walvis Bay where he will visit the harbour as well as a research project on the Benguela Current, supported by the German Ministry for Environment.
Close partnership between Germany and Namibia

Due to their long and joint history, Germany and Namibia are closely connected. Development cooperation is an integral part of the relationship between Namibia and Germany. Since 1990, around one billion Euros of public funds have been made available for this purpose.

The focal areas of the bilateral development cooperation are the promotion of sustainable economic development, the management of natural resources and the development of the transport sector.
In the current framework of bilateral technical and financial cooperation, programmes to the volume of 400 million Euros (N$6.8 billion) are being implemented together with the Namibian government.

President Macron and G7 leaders provide AfDB’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative with $251 million

French President Emmanuel Macron and G7 leaders on Sunday approved a package totalling $251 million in support of the African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.org) AFAWA initiative to support women entrepreneurs in Africa.

“I am particularly proud, as the current G7 president, that the programme we are supporting today, the AFAWA initiative, comes from an African organisation, the African Development Bank, which works with African guarantee funds and a network of African banks,” Macron stated at a press conference at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.

The risk-sharing mechanism used by AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) is a practical approach to international commitments. It is a direct response to the demand by women to ease access to financing, specifically on the need to establish a financing mechanism for women’s economic empowerment, adopted during a summit of African heads of state in 2015 and assigned to the African Development Bank for implementation.

“African women are the backbone of the continent. I’m thrilled to bring their voice to the G7. AFAWA is essential for our continent,” said Beninese artist Angelique Kidjo, a guest at the press conference in her role as programme ambassador.

The Bank’s president Akinwumi Adesina applauded the “extraordinary support of all the G7 heads of state and government, which will provide incredible momentum” to the AFAWA programme.

“This is a great day for African women,” Adesina said. “Investing in women entrepreneurs in Africa is important, because women are not only Africa’s future, they are Africa’s present”.

“Currently, women operate over 40% of SMEs in Africa, but there is a financing gap of $42 billion between male and female entrepreneurs. This gap must be closed, and quickly,” he added.

AFAWA aims to raise up to $5 billion for African women entrepreneurs and the African Development Bank will provide $1 billion financing. “This financing effort for women is the most significant in the continent’s history,” Adesina noted.

The AFAWA initiative, backed by the G7 nations, is based on three fundamental principles. The first is to improve women’s access to financing through innovative and adapted financial instruments, including guarantee mechanisms to support women entrepreneurs.

In cooperation with strategic partners, the second principle is to provide capacity-building services to women entrepreneurs, including access to mentoring and training courses in entrepreneurship. AFAWA also assists financial institutions in responding to specific needs of women-led businesses through specially adapted financial and non-financial products.

The third principle is improving the legal and regulatory environment, eliminating obstacles that specifically affect women by engaging in policy dialogue with governments, central banks, and other institutions.

This press conference on AFAWA is part of the G7 Summit’s emphasis on reducing inequality, specifically including a renewed partnership with Africa. This partnership will be highlighted by creating sustainable employment and supporting entrepreneurship, particularly women entrepreneurs.

France holds the presidency of the G7 in 2019, and President Emmanuel Macron is championing gender equality as a major theme of his five-year term.

Trump hits Baltimore, Rep Cummings in new racist tweets

US President Donald Trump was hit with new accusations of racism Saturday after he attacked African-American lawmaker Elijah Cummings and branded the majority black city of Baltimore an “infested mess.”

Trump’s outburst came in a series of sharply worded tweets aimed at Democratic Representative Cummings — a high-profile critic of Trump’s administration whose district covers much of Baltimore.

“Cumming (sic) District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” the president wrote, calling it “the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States.”

“No human being would want to live there,” he said — in an attack ostensibly provoked by Cummings’ criticism of the harsh conditions facing would-be asylum seekers at the Mexican border.

“Rep. Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump charged.

The president’s morning diatribe ignited a storm of criticism, less than two weeks after the US House of Representatives condemned him for “racist” comments targeting a Somali-born lawmaker.
The top Democrat in Congress, Nancy Pelosi — whose father served as mayor of Baltimore — accused Trump of a “racist” attack.

“@RepCummings is a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague,” Pelosi wrote on Twitter.
We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership.”

The Democratic mayor of Baltimore Bernard “Jack” Young — who is black — rejected Trump’s rhetoric as “hurtful and dangerous.”

“It’s completely unacceptable for the political leader of our country to denigrate a vibrant American City like Baltimore, and to viciously attack US Representative Elijah Cummings,” Young wrote in a statement.

Prominent Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, tweeted that she was “proud” to have her 2020 campaign headquarters in the Cummings district.

“It’s disgraceful the president has chosen to start his morning disparaging this great American city,” said Harris, one of two leading black candidates in the race to succeed Trump.

Cummings himself tweeted: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”

As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Cummings — one of the most prominent African Americans in Congress — has launched investigations into Trump administration policies, including reports of poor treatment at migrant detention centers.

Trump’s attack was reminiscent of his recent, racially-charged criticism of four young Democratic lawmakers, all women of color, who he suggested should “go back” to the “crime infested” places they came from. In fact, three were born in the US and all four are American citizens.

Baltimore, a historic port city, presents a mixed picture, with both handsome and affluent neighborhoods and large poverty-stricken districts. It has one of the country’s highest murder rates.
Cummings’ district is more than 50 percent black — and the city of Baltimore as whole more than 60 percent.

Iran warns new British PM it will ‘protect’ Gulf waters

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Iran warned Britain’s next prime minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday that it will “protect” waters of the oil-rich Gulf, amid a standoff between the two countries over the seizure of tankers.

In the face of rising hostilities with the United States, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Friday impounded a tanker sailing under the flag of US ally Britain.
The seizure of the Stena Impero ship has been seen as a tit-for-tat move after British authorities detained an Iranian tanker on July 4 in the Mediterranean on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

“I congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson on becoming UK PM,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted after Johnson beat his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in a party vote.

“Iran does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters & we will protect them.”

Iran’s top diplomat warned Britain against “implementing the ploys of the B team”, in a video message posted along with his tweet.

Zarif uses the term “B team” to refer to US national security adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi and Abu Dhabi crown princes Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed, who are all pushing a hard line on Iran.

“The B Team is losing ground in the United States and now turning their attention to the United Kingdom,” he tweeted.

Iran has impounded the Stena Impero at its port of Bandar Abbas for allegedly breaking “international maritime rules”.

“Throughout history, Iran has been and will be the main guardian of security and free navigation” in the Gulf, President Hassan Rouhani said late Monday, adding that Tehran was not seeking to stoke tensions.

In new footage aired by Iranian state television, the crew of 18 Indians, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino are seen sitting around a table and seemingly going about their daily routines.

– Nuclear meeting –

Since the US began reimposing sanctions on Iran, tensions have mounted with drones shot down and tankers mysteriously attacked in sensitive Gulf waters.

At the height of the crisis, US President Donald Trump called off air strikes against Iran at the last minute in June after the Islamic republic downed a US drone.

Iran also said Monday it had arrested 17 suspects and sentenced some to death after dismantling a CIA spy network — claims Trump dismissed as “totally false”.

Tehran has been at loggerheads with Washington and its allies since May 2018, when Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran said it would attend a meeting in Vienna this weekend with countries still party to the troubled accord.

The meeting was requested by the European parties to discuss the “new situation”, Iran said, referring to its reduced nuclear commitments under the deal in response to the US withdrawal.

The EU confirmed Iran would meet envoys from the remaining parties — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — on Sunday.

Tehran has already given up on complying with some of the deal’s limits on its nuclear programme in retaliation for the US withdrawal and what it sees as the failure of other parties to help it circumvent sanctions.

– ‘De-escalation’ –

Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi has left for France to deliver a message from Rouhani to his counterpart Emmanuel Macron, the ministry’s spokesman tweeted Tuesday, without elaborating.

Macron’s top diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonne visited Iran on July 9 to “piece together a de-escalation” strategy and met top Iranian officials.

The 2015 deal curbed Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
But on May 8 — more than a year after the US withdrawal — Iran said it would disregard certain limits on the programme as it was not receiving any benefits.
Iran has threatened further measures if the remaining parties to the deal fail to help it circumvent US sanctions, especially to sell its oil.

It has since exceeded the deal’s limits on its enriched uranium and heavy water stockpiles, as well as passing a cap on its uranium enrichment.
The 4.5 percent enrichment level it reached is well below the more than 90 percent required for a nuclear warhead.

Iran has yet to specify what other steps it may take, and has repeatedly emphasised its actions can be reversed “within hours” if European partners deliver on commitments.

Meanwhile, China described as “illegal” US sanctions imposed on its companies as part of Washington’s campaign against Iran.

Boris Johnson wins race to become Britain’s next PM

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Source: Courtesy AFP News

Boris Johnson won the race to become Britain’s next prime minister on Tuesday, heading straight into a confrontation over Brexit with Brussels and parliament, as well as a tense diplomatic standoff with Iran.

The former London mayor easily beat his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in a vote of members of the governing Conservative Party.
He is expected to be confirmed as prime minister on Wednesday, when his predecessor Theresa May formally tenders her resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.
US President Donald Trump was the first world leader to offer his congratulations, saying: “He will be great!”

It is a triumph for a man who has always wanted the top job, but Johnson, known for his jokes and bluster, is taking over at a time of immense political upheaval.
Three years after the referendum vote to leave the European Union, Britain remains a member amid continued wrangling in a divided parliament on how to proceed.

– ‘We’ll get Brexit done’ –

Johnson led the 2016 Brexit campaign and — after May delayed Brexit twice — insists the latest deadline must be kept, with or without a divorce agreement with the EU.
“We’re going to get Brexit done on October 31,” he declared after winning 66 percent of almost 160,000 votes cast.

However, Brussels says it will not renegotiate the deal it struck with May to ease the end of a 46-year partnership — even after MPs rejected it three times.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier said he wanted to work with Johnson “to facilitate the ratification of the withdrawal agreement and achieve an orderly #Brexit”.

But he said he was ready to “rework” an accompanying declaration on future UK-EU ties.
Although parliament dislikes May’s deal, Johnson faces significant opposition from MPs to his threat to leaving with no deal, including from Conservative colleagues.

Several ministers said they will not serve under Johnson, warning that severing ties with Britain’s closest trading partner with no new arrangements is deeply irresponsible.

But addressing Conservative members after his win, Johnson insisted with his trademark optimism that he would find a way through the deadlock.

“Like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity,” he said.

– ‘Brilliant or a disaster’ –

Johnson promised to “work flat out from now on”, saying he would announce his top team in the coming days.

But Westminster is watching for any early challenge which could stop him automatically becoming prime minister.

May’s government has a majority of just two in the 650-seat House of Commons, made possible through an alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The main opposition Labour party is not expected to force a confidence vote this week — but some in his own party have already tried.

Junior foreign minister Alan Duncan, who quit this week, revealed he had sought to force a vote on Tuesday but was blocked by Commons Speaker John Bercow.
However, other colleagues who do not agree with Johnson are still willing to give him a chance.

“I think he needs to be given an opportunity to go out there to engage with the European Commission,” outgoing justice minister David Gauke told BBC radio.
MPs are expected to go on their summer holidays on Friday, giving Johnson some breathing room over the summer to try to get a new Brexit deal.

But when he returns, if “no deal” looks likely, many MPs have vowed to stop him — a move that could trigger an early election.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged Johnson on Tuesday to call a vote, although both his party and the Tories are struggling amid a splintering of support among a public deeply divided over Brexit.

They face a challenge from Nigel Farage’s eurosceptic Brexit Party on one side, and the pro-EU Liberal Democrats on the other.

Outside parliament, where pro- and anti-Brexit protesters gather daily, reaction to Johnson’s win was mixed.

“What a disaster!” said Janet Ellis, 68, who opposes Brexit. But eurosceptic Michelle Pearce, 64, said: “It’s the most we can hope for.”

“He’ll be brilliant or a disaster,” Pearce said.

– Gulf tensions –

Johnson’s domestic battles might have to take a backseat during his first days in office as he manages tensions with Iran.

The Islamic republic seized a UK-flagged tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz last Friday — two weeks after UK authorities detained an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar.
The standoff comes amid escalating tensions between Iran and the United States over the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted his congratulations to Johnson, saying: “Iran does not seek confrontation.

“But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters & we will protect them.”