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The Middle East Explained – In One Minute | Zero Hedge

The Middle East Explained – In One Minute | Zero Hedge.

With Islamic extremists raising their ominous-looking flags over Falluja and Ramadi again, it’s not looking too good in Iraq (or the rest of the Middle East). Sure, Mark Firoe notes, Iraqi government forces may take back some territory they lost, but it’s never a good sign when you have to shell your own country to maintain order. Confused at the proxy-wars, terrorists, statists, and just who the US is friends with? Have no fear, the following brief clip will explain it all…

 

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : World Danger Spots for 2014

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : World Danger Spots for 2014.

written by eric margolis
Kiev Nov

Where are the world’s most dangerous places in 2014?

*Mostly forgotten, but the highly dangerous, Indian-controlled portion of disputed Kashmir. Rebellion against Indian rule by Kashmir’s majority Muslims is again boiling. Over 1.6 million Indian and Pakistani troops, backed by nuclear weapons, are in confrontation. Skirmishing along Kashmir’s Line of Control is frequent. The nuclear strike forces of both India and Pakistan are on a perilous hair-trigger alert, with about three minutes warning of an enemy attack.

A false warning of incoming missiles or aircraft, a border clash, or a massive offensive by India exasperated by guerilla attacks from Pakistan could set off a war that could kill millions and pollute the entire planet with radioactive dust. India and Pakistan aside, hardly anyone even thinks about beautiful, remote, perilous Kashmir.

*Korea’s Demilitarized Zone, the world’s second most dangerous place where 1.5 million North and South Korean troops, and 28,000 Americans, face off. Tension crackles along the DMZ. Some 11,000 N Korean guns and rockets are targeted on South Korea’s capitol, Seoul. The North is believed to have 4-6 crude nuclear devices that could hit S Korea or Japan.

In December, North Korea’s new ruler, Kim Jong-un, had his powerful uncle arrested and shot. This was another sign of the Pyongyang regime’s instability, and dangerously erratic behavior by youthful hothead leader, Kim Jong-un. War could erupt anytime along the DMZ. Just as likely, North Korea could collapse, sending 25 million starving northerners to seek refuge in South Korea, something that Seoul dreads.

*The dear old Mideast. Syria may continue disintegrating into warring mini-states. The US, Saudi, Israel, and Turkey sparked the uprising against Syrian ruler Bashar Assad to punish Iran, causing millions of refugees to flood the region. This after the US invasion of Iraq caused 3 million refugees. Iran and Saudi Arabia (backed by secret ally Israel) will fight over Syria’s bleeding body as this once lovely country is relentlessly destroyed. Yemen will continue to burn.

Intense efforts are underway by American neocons and their hired hands in Congress to get the US to attack Iran, or at least force the US to go to war against Iran if Israel initiates a conflict. Meanwhile, Israel is gearing up for another invasion of Lebanon aimed at destroying Hezbollah, and it may intervene directly in Syria. Egypt, now ruled by a fascist military junta, is working hand in glove with Israel and Saudi Arabia. The so-called Israel-Palestinian peace agreement is a very bad joke, a Mideast Kabuki dance in which no one believes.

*East Africa – A new cauldron of trouble. Efforts by Washington to forge a US-led African protectorate of South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia – dominated by close US ally Ethiopia – have run into trouble. All are dictatorships that are rent by tribal, ethnic and regional problems.

Watch the new US Africa Command get drawn ever deeper into East, Central and North Africa, all regions, by no coincidence, with oil.

*China Sea – China has blundered into open confrontation with Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines over its claims to islets in the East China Sea. This has caused the US to beef up its Pacific forces and alliances. Japanese and Chinese warplanes and ships play a daily game of chicken around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. China’s aggressive stance is causing Japan to increase military spending and may, along with North Korean threats, cause Japan to deploy nuclear weapons – which it can produce in only 90 days.

Chinese, usually deft, cautious diplomats, have alarmed much of East Asia for no good purpose. China’s government has been foolishly fanning the flames of nationalism among young people. All this resonates with the same type of idiotic, primitive behavior that unleashed World War I. The clock is ticking down rapidly.

*Strife-torn Ukraine is another powder keg. Its western half wants to join Europe; the Russian-speaking eastern half wants to reunite with Russia. The West is busy stirring the pot in Kiev. Moscow is furious and sees nefarious western plots to begin tearing apart the Russian Federation, which is beset by rebellion in the Caucasus. All this threatens a clash between Russia and NATO. Diplomacy, not subversion, is urgently needed.

Flickr/Oxlaey.com

Iraq government loses control of Fallujah – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Iraq government loses control of Fallujah – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.

The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki has vowed to eliminate “all terrorist groups” from Anbar province as a security source conceded the government had lost control of the town of Fallujah to al-Qaeda linked fighters.

Maliki, speaking on state television on Saturday, said his government would end “fitna”, or disunity, in the province and would “not back down until we end all terrorist groups and save our people in Anbar”.

His comments came after a senior Iraqi security official told the AFP news agency that the government had lost control of Fallujah to fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Videos showed ISIL fighters in control of the main Fallujah highway, and officials and witnesses inside the town told the Reuters news agency that ISIL was in control of nothern and northeastern parts of the town.

 

Imran Khan talks about Maliki’s options on Anbar violence.

The ISIL has been tightening its grip in the Sunni-dominated desert province, near the Syrian border, in recent months in its effort to create an Islamic state across the Iraqi-Syrian borders.

In Ramadi, the other main city in Anbar, local tribesmen and the Iraqi security forces have worked together to counter the ISIL.

But in Fallujah, the Iraqi army has been prevented from entering by local Sunni tribesmen who, despite not supporting al-Qaeda fighters, are opposed to the Shia dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Imran Khan, Al Jazeera’s Iraq correspondent, said: “The Iraqi army is on the outskirts of the town, negotiating with tribal leaders to go and fight the ISIL. They need cooperation from the leaders to go in and root out the militants.

“The military had a base just outside, from where they were shelling the city. They have withdrawn from that base and the tribal leaders have moved in, claiming a victory, but it isn’t clear yet from the army if it was rather a tactical withdrawal.”

Fierce fighting

More than 100 people were killed on Friday during fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi, one of the worst days since violence flared when Iraqi police broke up a Sunni protest camp in Anbar on Monday.

The escalating tension shows the civil war in Syria, where mostly Sunni rebels are battling President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Shia Iran, is spilling over to other countries such as Iraq, threatening delicate sectarian balances.

Syrian opposition turns on al-Qaida-affiliated Isis jihadists near Aleppo | World news | The Guardian

Syrian opposition turns on al-Qaida-affiliated Isis jihadists near Aleppo | World news | The Guardian.

Fighters of  al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant parade at Syrian town of Tel Abyad

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria parade in Tel Abyad. Syrian rebels’ uneasy co-existence with the hardline Isis has turned to outright hostility. Photograph: Reuters

The most serious clashes yet between the Syrian opposition and a prominent al-Qaida group erupted in the north of the country on Friday as a tribal revolt against the same organisation continued to rage inIraq‘s Anbar province.

Opposition groups near Aleppo attacked militants from the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria (Isis) in two areas, al-Atareb and Andana, which are both strongholds of the fundamentalist Sunni organisation.

Battles also erupted in the Salahedin district of Aleppo itself, where both groups had reluctantly co-existed during recent months as Isis had imposed its hardline influence on parts of the city. Several hundred miles east, Isis remains in control of parts of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, having raided mosques, sacked police stations and freed prisoners in moves reminiscent of the darkest days of Iraq’s insurgency, in which much of Anbar had been lost to al-Qaida.

Isis is the latest incarnation of the same ruthless group that held sway in Anbar before the Awakening Movement of tribal militias ousted it. The Awakening was led at the time by powerful local sheikhs and backed by the occupying US military and was credited with freeing both cities from the grip of the jihadists.

But over the past year, security there and elsewhere in Iraq has gradually ebbed as the war in Syria has intensified. In the past week, revitalised Isis insurgents stormed into both cities soon after the Iraqi military withdrew from a violent standoff with local tribes.

The same group has been at the vanguard of an increasing radicalisation of the anti-Assad opposition in northern Syria. Its members cross freely between Anbar and the eastern deserts of Syria as the insurgencies in each country steadily seep in to each other.

Tribal figures in Anbar said they were continuing to mount attacks on Isis and were determined to block the Islamists’ efforts to re-establish a foothold there.

“Never will we allow them to return to our towns,” said a senior sheikh from the outskirts of Ramadi. “We don’t trust the Shia regime of Maliki and we don’t trust al-Qaida. We will fight for our futures. No one else has our benefit at heart.”

The US military had placed great significance on Ramadi and Fallujah, having fought two major battles against insurgents in Fallujah in 2004 and having suffered more than one third of its casualties during the eight-year war in the restive province.

With the US having left Iraq three years ago, the government of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, recently travelled to Washington to seek renewed American intelligence help to get on top of the insurgency. The Obama administration agreed to supply weapons and technicians but it is not yet clear if it also agreed to re-introduce elements of its controversial drone programme.

Though not thought to be co-ordinated, the attacks on Isis strongholds in Syria and Iraq have mounted the most serious challenge to the group’s authority since it again became a dominant player in the region.

The group’s members have imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law in much of northern Syria, subverting local authority and intimidating towns and communities. The increasing strength of the group has also further splintered the original armed Syrian opposition, which has at times come to a battlefield accommodation with the better funded jihadis, and had tried to avoid a reckoning with them.

However, opposition leaders told the Guardian that with military momentum at a crawl, they have little option but to try to oust Isis.

“We have surrounded them in Andana,” said a leader of Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamic group within the opposition. “We have told their foreigners that they must come and join us, within 24 hours, or face being killed.”

In al-Atareb, several dozen fighters, including Isis members, are believed to have been killed in the clashes. The group is thought have at least 10,000 members in northern Syria, many of them foreigners from elsewhere in the Sunni Islamic world, including up to 1,000 Europeans.

Isis has kidnapped more than 30 foreign aid-workers and journalists in the north, along with scores more Syrians. The French medical aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières said five of its members had been taken from a house in northern Syria on Thursday. It gave no details about the identities of the captives, or where they were taken from.

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