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With new US sanctions approved, Iran taking ‘wait & see attitude’ to future Trump administration

RT | December 2, 2016

As the Obama administration applies a series of tough new sanctions against Iran, contravening prior agreements, Iranians have no choice but to hope for the best from Donald Trump, Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran told RT.

The US Senate has voted unanimously to renew sanctions against Iran for another decade.

It’s been described as a symbolic move, but it allows the president to impose new restrictions on Tehran if it violates the 2015 nuclear accord.

The vote was 99 to 0 and follows a similar ballot in the House of Representatives last month when only one person voted against the extension of the Iran Sanctions Act.

RT: Washington says the vote is only symbolic and won’t change anything…. but it gives President-elect Donald Trump an opportunity to break the nuclear accord if he wishes. What are the implications of that?

Mohammad Marandi: The most important thing right now for Tehran is that we have not even entered the Trump era. Obama, who was supposed to implement the agreement between Iran and the “P5+1” has not abided by his side of the bargain. In the past, we saw visa restrictions that were implemented and signed by Obama after the agreement which was a violation. The US confiscated Iranian money. The US put pressure on banks, as well as other financial institutions, insurance companies, shipping companies not to work with Iran. That was a violation of the agreement. And this particular law is a violation, and we see that Obama has not put pressure on the Democrats to vote against it because not a single person stood up against the law. This is a new law because the old law was to run out, it would run out very shortly, and now a new law is being passed. That is in direct violation. The law is both adding sanctions, and it is against third parties, in other third world countries, who want to do business with Iran. All of these are violations of the agreement. So, this is Obama who is actually breaking the agreement.

RT: Trump has called the deal “the stupidest of all time” and Tehran, the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism. Should we expect even harsher rhetoric from the new president?

MM: At the moment the Iranians have decided to wait and see. Because Trump has said many things and he is already backing away from some of the statements that he said before. There are a host of issues that are important for Iran, one is, of course, the “P5+1” agreement with Iran. We have to see where Trump goes on that. Also with regards to ISIS and other extremists, Trump has promised to shift American policy away from supporting terrorism and extremism in this region. We don’t know if he is going to enact on those statements. For the time being the Iranians are looking to the current administration to see what they are doing. Obama has violated the agreement…

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Brexit-Style Referendums Idea Gains Popularity in Three EU States After UK Vote

Sputnik – 01.12.2016

The idea of conducting a referendum on exiting the European Union has become more popular in EU countries, including Italy, Poland and Spain ever since the Brexit vote, while large numbers of people in other states of the bloc would support holding such a referendum, IFop pollster revealed in a survey for Sputnik.

According to the poll, the number of people who would support such a referendum has increased by 7 percent in Italy since July and now stands at 53 percent. The number of supporters of a vote on EU membership has also increased in Spain and Poland by 5 percent, to 39 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

The Brexit-style referendum is also popular in other European countries. Almost half, or 47 percent, of French nationals polled backed such an idea. The number of supporters of holding a referendum on exiting the European Union in Germany stands at 43 percent. The survey was carried out by France’s IFop pollster on October 22-26. As many as 5,019 people took part in the poll. The maximum sample error stands at 3.1 percent.

On June 23, the United Kingdom voted on referendum to leave the European Union. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the country would trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, thus kick-starting withdrawal negotiations.

December 1, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

CONFIRMED: Russia negotiates with Turkey for surrender of Jihadis in east Aleppo

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | December 1, 2016

The Financial Times provides confirmation that as claimed by The Duran in early November Turkey is brokering talks between Russia and the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo for them to surrender the eastern districts of the city.

Back on 2nd November 2016 I wrote a piece for The Duran in which I said that all diplomatic contacts with the US over Syria having completely failed, the Russians were trying to negotiate the surrender of eastern Aleppo with Turkey. 

This is what I said:

“Having despaired of getting the US to separate Al-Qaeda/Jabhat Al-Nusra from the other Jihadis in Aleppo, and getting them to withdraw, it is likely the Russians are trying to agree the same thing with the Turks.  Indeed [General] Gerasimov’s [Russia’s Chief of General Staff] comments today essentially say as much.”

Today there is confirmation from the Financial Times that such talks in Ankara are indeed underway. Here is what it reports:

“Syrian rebels are in secret talks with Russia to end the fighting in Aleppo, according to opposition figures, a development that shows how the US could become sidelined in some of the Middle East’s most pivotal conflicts.

Four opposition members from rebel-held northern Syria told the Financial Times that Turkey has been brokering talks in Ankara with Moscow, whose military intervention last year on the side of President Bashar al-Assad helped turn the five-year civil war in the regime’s favour. Russia is now backing regime efforts to recapture the rebel’s last urban stronghold in Syria’s second city of Aleppo.

“The Russians and Turks are talking without the US now. It [Washington] is completely shut out of these talks, and doesn’t even know what’s going on in Ankara,” said one opposition figure, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.”

Importantly the Russians are not denying the talks. Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s formidable spokeswoman, responded to questions by the Financial Times about the talks as follows

“Washington isolated itself. We’ve been negotiating with the [Syrian] opposition in Turkey for years — it’s not news.”

The Financial Times misunderstands the negotiations which are underway. It quotes Charles Lister, a Syria expert at the Middle East Institute in Washington, as explaining Russia’s intentions in this way

“Russia is hedging its bets. It would prefer to make a deal with the opposition.  If Aleppo were to fall, the Syrian regime would need so many troops to hold the city that its forces would be left thin elsewhere in the country — or dependent on Iranian help, which Moscow would prefer to avoid.”

This is certainly wrong. As The Duran has been reporting ever since September, the consistent Russian demand, and the key provision of the unsuccessful Kerry-Lavrov agreement of September, is that all the Jihadis fighters must quit eastern Aleppo, which must be surrendered to the government. 

It should hardly need saying that Aleppo would be far more defensible without any Jihadi fighters there, rather than with Jihadi fighters owing allegiance to terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS still in control of some of the eastern districts of the city.

Charles Lister’s analysis is I am sorry to say just another example of the wishful thinking and failure to assess realities in Syria objectively which has beset Western understanding of the conflict in Syria since its start.Full article

December 1, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Twenty Buses Carrying Militants Go out of Western Ghouta towards Idlib

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Buses carrying militants in Homs
Al-Manar | November 29, 2016

Twenty buses carrying militants left Khan El-Sheikh area in western Ghouta of Damascus toward Idlib city on Monday after they handed over their weapons, Hezbollah Military Media Bureau said in a statement.

“300 Kalashnikov guns were handed over to the Syrian army as another five buses transferred families from the same area toward Zakiya region,” the statement read.

The Military Media said that all gunmen will be gradually transferred by Tuesday in accordance with the deal between the national military and allied forces, and the armed groups operating in Khan El-Sheikh, Zakiya, Moqailabiyah and Taibeh.

November 29, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Kerry makes ‘unbelievable effort’ to save Syrian rebels from Trump, Russia confirms

RT | November 28, 2016

US Secretary of State John Kerry has significantly intensified contacts with Russia on Syria, the Kremlin confirmed, substantiating a report that Kerry wants to seal a deal with Moscow before Donald Trump assumes the US presidency in January.

The report, by Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, says Kerry is taking a last-ditch effort to stop the Syrian operation in eastern Aleppo, because the Trump administration may be “squarely on the side of dictator [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad.”

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov confirmed that Kerry has lately intensified contacts with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Syria.

“This [effort] could be called unbelievable, in terms that there have never been so many phone calls between the Secretary of State and Russia’s FM which were focused on discussing a single issue – Syria,” he told journalists. Ushakov refrained from commenting on whether there was any progress on it.

According to the Post piece, which cites four unnamed US officials with the knowledge of the situation, Kerry hopes to seal a localized ceasefire in Aleppo by offering to separate members of the so-called moderate opposition from terrorist groups like Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front). The report says Kerry brought in other nations like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and at times Iran in a bid to seal the deal.

“Officials acknowledge that a frustrated Kerry still has not been given authority by the White House to bring any meaningful pressure to bear against Assad or Russia, placing him in a weak negotiating position. The prospect of Hillary Clinton being elected president gave Kerry some leverage, because she was expected to pursue a more hawkish Syria policy,” Rogin wrote.

A ceasefire in Aleppo on Kerry’s terms may be a hard bargain to sell. For once, Russia insists that US failure to separate moderates from terrorists, which was a key point of the truce negotiated by Moscow and Washington in September, was the reason that ceasefire collapsed.

The Syrian government operation to retake eastern Aleppo from armed groups also appears to be progressing, with latest reports saying that the militants lost a third of their territories to the advancing army. Stopping the siege now may give those fighters time to regroup, rearm and mount a counteroffensive.

Moscow appears to be reluctant to strike any significant deal with the outgoing administration and is waiting for Trump to present all the key figures in his future government.

“We will patiently wait for that team to take their seats and then we are interested in having intensive dialogue with them,” Ushakov said.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Trump taps school vouchers proponent Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education

RT | November 23, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Michigan philanthropist and chair of the education organization American Federation of Children Elisabeth ‘Betsy’ DeVos to be his secretary of education.

Trump called his pick “a brilliant and passionate education advocate.”

“Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families,” the president-elect said in a statement.

DeVos is a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party who has never worked in public education. Her children attended private Christian schools. As the chairwoman of American Federation of Children, she is a proponent of the school choice movement, which calls for vouchers that allow families to use federal funds to cover the cost of education at private schools. She is also in favor of charter schools, but not of state regulation of them. Michigan’s charter schools are among the least regulated in the country, thanks to the DeVos family influence, Chalkbeat reported.

“There are a lot of schools that are doing poorly and charter authorizers do not seem to be taking the necessary actions to either improve performance or close those underperforming charters,” current US Secretary of Education John King told Chalkbeat about Michigan in October.

If confirmed, DeVos would replace King, who was confirmed in March 2016.

Although Trump has vocally stated his opposition to the Common Core curriculum ‒ shared learning standards adopted by most states ‒ DeVos says she supports “high standards, strong accountability, and local control,” but is opposed to how the curriculum got turned into “a federalized boondoggle.” However, she is on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a group founded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush that promotes both school choice and Common Core.

DeVos met with Trump on Saturday in New Jersey, and the president-elect’s team said that the conversation “focused on the Common Core mission, and setting higher national standards and promoting the growth of school choice across the nation,” according to Education Week.

Her brother is Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, a notorious mercenary company. Her father-in-law, Richard DeVos, co-founded Amway ‒ a multi-level marketing company that mainly sells health, beauty and home care products ‒ and also owns the Orlando Magic basketball team in Florida.

In 1980, the Department of Education was spun off from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which was created in 1953. Its mission is “to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”

Agencies under its purview include Federal Student Aid, the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and several White House initiatives. Notable secretaries of education include William Bennett (1985-1988), now Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee; 1991-1993) and Arne Duncan (2009-2016). The secretary of education is 16th in the presidential line of succession.

The National Education Association decried the nomination, arguing that DeVos “has consistently pushed a corporate agenda.”

DeVos’ “efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement. “She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education. By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.”

Read more:

Creationism being taught in private schools thanks to $1 billion in taxpayer funds

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

EU Seeks to Make European Citizens Aware of ‘Sneaky’ Russian Propaganda

Sputnik – 21.11.2016

liberty-bonds-crucified-soldierThe EU leadership seems to be very anxious about the fact that some Europeans might not notice the influence of “sneaky” Russian war propaganda. Therefore, the EU politicians have something very special to offer to its citizens in order to make sure they “are aware of existing danger.”

The EU’s “East Stratcom Task Force” has prepared the so-called “disinformation review” that explains to simple-hearted Europeans how exactly “sneaky” Russian propaganda spreads on European soil, German politician and former CDU party member Holger Eekhof wrote for Sputnik Germany.

“The expert group, that includes 400 freelancers, […] sends weekly newsletters to journalists and political PR-specialists to remind them of the mayhem caused by Russia,” Eekhof wrote.

According to the expert, these newsletters are used by the European Union and the European Parliament as a proof that “Russia wages a hybrid war against Europe and European values.” At the same time, they also serve as legitimization of the EU’s political agenda aimed at the protection against alleged Russian aggression.

The latest edition of the review refers to several European websites which it labels as “pro-Kremlin propaganda outlets,” Eekhof wrote. For instance, the latest newsletters referred to the Czech web platform ac24.cz and US-based website conservativedailypost.com.

The first one was created in 2011 by Prof. Dr. Petr Zantovsky with the aim of providing readers with alternative information on global political events. The second one is a conservative US media source which recently released an article on the protests against newly elected US President Donald Trump and assumed that the campaign could be organized with the help of oppositional forces.

How these websites are related to Russia, remains unclear. However, the EU task force seems to be more than eager to promote the idea of Russia’s involvement in every sphere of Western life.

Earlier, Eekhof recalled in an interview with Sputnik that the EU Parliament is set to vote on a report on countering third-party information warfare that puts Russian media and Daesh propaganda on the same level. It says that Russia is using think tanks and “pseudo news agencies” to “challenge democratic values” and “divide Europe.”

The task force was established in September 2015 and is a part of the “strategic communications” sector of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The purpose of this department is to promote the EU’s political ideas in the eastern neighboring states, including Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Eekhof wrote.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Iran fulfilling heavy water obligations under JCPOA: AEOI

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Spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi
Press TV – November 18, 2016

Iran has remained committed to its obligations, including those concerning its heavy water stockpiles, under last year’s landmark nuclear agreement signed between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries, a senior Iranian nuclear official says.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has fulfilled its obligations on heavy water stockpiles based on the JCPOA (the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and remains committed to it,” the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, told IRIB on Friday.

Kamalvandi made the comments in reaction to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week that claimed that Iran’s stocks of heavy water had slightly exceeded the 130-tonne level set out in the JCPOA.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano on Thursday chided Iran for exceeding the agreed limit on its stockpiles and said, “It is important that such situations should be avoided in future in order to maintain international confidence in the implementation.”

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the JCPOA in July 2015 and started implementing it in January 2016.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

The deal requires Iran’s storage of uranium enriched to up to 3.67 percent purity to stay below 300 kilograms. Tehran has also agreed to keep its heavy water stockpile below 130 metric tonnes.

“According to the JCPOA, we were required to offer on the international market any excess over 130 tonnes of heavy water and we have so far sold 70 tonnes,” Kamalvandi said.

He added, “Negotiations are under way with interested countries, the Europeans in particular,” to sell the rest.

The nuclear official emphasized that Iran would remain committed to its undertakings under the JCPOA on heavy water restrictions “so long as the JCPOA is in place.”

Last week, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner played down concerns about Iran exceeding the heavy water stockpile limit.

He said it was “important to note that Iran made no effort to hide this” and that he was “not sure whether that constitutes a formal violation.”

The AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi said in October that the Islamic Republic had sold 32 tonnes of heavy water to the United States and delivered 38 tonnes of the nuclear substance to Russia.

“European firms, including German and French ones, seek to purchase Iran’s heavy water and we have expressed our readiness in this regard,” Salehi added.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia set to break grisly stalemate in Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | November 19, 2016

There are distinct signs that the discussion regarding the Syrian conflict between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the US President-elect Donald Trump last Monday has been a defining moment. At the very least, it creates a firewall against the present US administration of President Barack Obama creating new facts on the ground that vitiates the climate for US-Russian cooperation in Syria after Trump takes over.

The US Defence Secretary Ashton carter had openly stated a week ago that he’d advise the president-elect firmly against taking any cooperation from Russia in addressing the Syrian situation. On the contrary, the remarks in Beirut on Thursday by the Russian presidential envoy on the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov suggest that there are contacts below the radar with Trump’s transition team. Bogdanov said:

  • We are at an important turning point; a new team is coming in with president-elect Donald Trump. We are now already beginning contact with people who will likely assist the new president. We hope the outgoing and incoming administration will accept that without Russia it is impossible to solve the Syrian issue, we are ready for open dialogue.

It is highly significant that soon after Monday’s phone conversation, Russian jets have resumed bombing missions in Syria. Jets from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and ship-launched cruise missiles joined attacks on Idlib and Homs. On Thursday, long-range strategic bombers flew an 11,000 kilometre mission from bases in Russia to fire missiles at targets in Syria. Syrian jets have also operations against rebel targets in Aleppo.

Even as the Obama administration is reduced to a mute witness, a dramatic change in the US policy in Syria seems to be unfolding. To quote Prof Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general of Britain’s respected think tank, Royal United Services Institute, Trump’s “evident sympathy” for Vladimir Putin and his scepticism for America’s military alliances “cannot be assumed to be passing fancies”. (See a sensational report in Telegraph newspaper titled Downing Street warned to prepare for Donald Trump reversal on Syria and military support for the UK.)

Something of all this is most certainly emboldening Turkey to make a grab for the strategic northern Syrian city of Al-Bab, which aims at pre-empting any Kurdish enclave forming along Syria’s border with Turkey. The Syrian Kurds will be furious at the Turkish move, and they have been the US’ best allies so far in Syria. (Reuters )

Turkey’s intention is to break the backbone of the US-Kurdish alliance in northern Syria and pick up the pieces to put together a new Turkish-American paradigm by the time Trump takes office. By the way, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a contender to be Trump’s national security advisor, has been a staunch backer of Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s government.

The Turkish offensive on Al-Bab cannot happen without a tacit Russian nod. Obviously, Turkey has reached out to [Russia] and Moscow is not standing in Erdogan’s way. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is due to travel to Moscow for talks about Syria and deepening bilateral relations. A Voice of America commentary said on a sombre note, “Deepening ties with Moscow is leading to some of Turkey’s NATO allies starting to question where Ankara’s loyalties lie… Ankara’s diversifying of its relations coincides with severe, if not unprecedented, strains with its Western allies.”

“Ankara remains at loggerheads with Washington over the latter’s support of Syrian Kurdish forces and Turkey’s demand for the extradition of U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen… Those ties could be further strained over rising speculation that Gulen could be allowed to leave the United States for a third country.”

“Another key anchor with the West, Turkey’s decades-long bid to join the European Union, is on the verge of being severed, with its effort facing collapse, amid mutual recriminations.”

Similarly, the Iraqi Shi’ite militia supported by Iran is making a bid to capture Tal Afar, some 60 kilometres to the west of Syria. Control of Tal Afar will facilitate a direct land route for Iran to Syria and to Lebanon. The capture of Tal Afar by the pro-Iranian militia will be a serious blow to Israel.

Where does Trump stand on Syria? Actually, there is remarkable consistency in Trump’s pronouncements on the Syrian conflict over a considerable period of time. Deutsche Welle put together ‘fragments of a blueprint’ for Trump’s ‘vision’ of the conflict. Read the revealing ‘fragments’ here.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Michael Flynn named Trump’s next national security adviser – source

RT | November 18, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has named retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his new national security adviser, according to a close source. The former DIA chief has been criticized in US circles for refusing to take an anti-Russian stance.

The 57-year-old three-star general, who once ran the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is considered a controversial figure in US circles for a number of reasons. In May, he claimed in an Al Jazeera interview that the rise of Islamic extremism in the Middle East, including the emergence of Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria, was not the result of chance or ignorance – but of calculated thinking.

General Flynn dismissed Al Jazeera’s suggestion that the Obama administration had simply overlooked the DIA’s analysis, instead arguing that the government had “turned a blind eye” on his agency on purpose.“I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision,” the former DIA chief said, referring to a highly-contentious 2012 DIA memo.

The Pentagon veteran, who was a key figure in the Bush administration’s War on Terror, also lambasted Washington for criticizing Russia’s plans to fight Islamic State in Syria. Flynn told RT in October that he strongly believes that “Russia and the United States working together and trying to work with the other partners that we all have in this region can come up with some other solutions.”

“We have to understand as Americans that Russia also has foreign policy; Russia also has a national security strategy. And I think that we failed to understand what that is,” said the former DIA chief.

Flynn was heavily criticized for taking this position. In a Washington Post interview, Dana Priest tried to portray him as a supporter of Russia, and therefore the antithesis of everything Washington stands for. The interviewer grilled Flynn about a trip he had taken to Moscow, when he was among the speakers and panel guests at an RT conference celebrating its first 10 years on air, and met with President Vladimir Putin. When Priest questioned Flynn about his opinion of RT, the general replied that he didn’t see a difference between the work of RT and US news networks like MSNBC and CNN.

In US circles, the Pentagon veteran is seen by some as representing the legacy of firebrand former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. As the former commander of special ops in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is considered to be “one of the most influential figures in the dramatic post-9/11 expansion of the role of US Special Operations forces globally,” the Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill wrote in September.

Appointment to the post of national security adviser does not require confirmation by the Senate, and the choice of the former DIA chief was merely a rumor until it was confirmed on November 18 by NBC, which spoke to an official close to the transition.

Flynn will be replacing Susan Rice, and is considered to be part of Donald Trump’s cabinet reshuffle that aims to reflect a tougher stance toward both friends and rivals. Flynn was DIA chief in 2012-2014, but reportedly left early due to clashes with senior Obama officials. He is also known for proposing an overhaul of the DIA that was met with opposition.

The controversial figure and Trump loyalist is perhaps best known to the American public for making incendiary remarks about Islam in past tweets, such as the one claiming that it is “rational” to fear Muslims.

There continues to be anxiety about what the new US president will do on a whole series of issues, including, but not limited to, Syria, Iran, and Russia. Trump is expected to make his first international appearance at this summer’s G20 and NATO summits.

Read more:

US ex-intelligence chief on ISIS rise: It was ‘a willful Washington decision’

Moscow’s red lines were crossed – ex US intel chief on Russian military op in Syria

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Houthis say ready to stop fighting, join unity government

Press TV – November 16, 2016

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has expressed its readiness to end fighting and join a national unity government in the conflict-ridden country suffering from a deadly Saudi aggression.

“Ansarullah’s position has been and still is with stopping the war and the establishment of a national unity government that incorporates all political components,” Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, member of Ansarullah’s Political Council, told Reuters on Wednesday.

He made the announcement in response to a question on recent remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said that Saudi Arabia and the Houthis had agreed to observe a cessation of hostilities from November 17.

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Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, member of the Political Council of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement

Speaking after talks in Oman on Tuesday, Kerry said that he had presented Houthi delegates with a document outlining a ceasefire and peace deal.

The Houthis had agreed to observe the truce, provided the other side implemented it, he said, adding, “And thus far the Emiratis and the Saudis… they have both agreed to try to move forward with this.”

Yemen’s warring sides had further reached a consensus to work out a “national unity government in a safe and secure Sana’a… as a goal towards the end of the year,” the top Us diplomat pointed out.

Elsewhere in his comments, Bukhaiti confirmed that the Riyadh regime had agreed to end its offensive against Yemen.

“The new thing is in the position of Saudi (Arabia), which has agreed in principle to stop the war as one of the parties to the conflict,” he said.

On Tuesday, however, Yemen’s former foreign minister, Abdel Malek al-Mekhlafi, complained that Kerry’s announcement had not been coordinated with the country’s resigned government.

Saudi Arabia has come under international opprobrium for the sheer size of the casualties from the war it is leading since March 2015 to crush the Houthis and reinstate the former Yemeni administration.

The war has killed at least 11,400 civilians, according to a recent tally by a Yemeni monitoring group. There have also been countless reports about the deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of civilian infrastructure by the Saudi forces and mercenaries.

The Houthi Ansarullah movement took state matters into their own hands in the wake of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s resignation and escape, which threw Yemen into a state of uncertainty and threatened a total security breakdown in the country.

November 16, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Moscow Hopes New US Administration to Stop Extraterritorial Arrests of Russians

Sputnik – 16.11.2016

MOSCOW – Russia hopes that the new US administration will show political will and will end the practice of extraterritorial arrests of Russian nationals, Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov said Wednesday.

“We shall continue seeking the return of our nationals to their motherland. We intend to make these efforts, of course, in our work with the new US administration. We hope that it will show political will and put an end to the aforementioned illegal practice,” the statement read.

Dolgov added that Russia would continue working with the outgoing US administration to ensure the rights of the Russian nationals that have been detained abroad.

November 16, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment