Sunday, 21 January 2018
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Turkey says it will press ahead with all out attack on Kurdish held city of Afrin in Syria

Added: 20.01.2018 19:06 | 0 views | 0 comments


Turkey said Friday that it would press ahead with a full scale assault on a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria despite pleas from the US to hold back.  Ankara has been threatening for days to send its forces into Afrin, a Syrian district near the Turkish border controlled by Kurdish forces who are allied with the US but mortal enemies of Turkey.  Turkish troops shelled the area on Friday and said it was moving units of commandos near the border as well as mobilising pro-Turkish Syrian rebel groups for the attack. “This operation will take place; the terror organisation will be cleansed,” said Nurettin Canikli, Turkey’s defence minister. "The operation has actually de facto started with cross border shelling.” Mr Canikli said Syrian opposition fighters would lead the attack with the support of Turkish ground forces.  Graphic: Areas of control in Syria As of Friday night, an all out ground invasion did not yet appear to be underway. Turkey has in the past promised a major incursion into northern Syria but pulled back at the last minute.  Turkey’s apparent willingness to press ahead with the attack, despite American objections, illustrates the dire state of relations between Washington and Ankara.  Turkey has long fumed over America’s decision to ally itself with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  The US has found the Kurds to be effective allies against the jihadists but Turkey accuses them of carrying out terrorist attacks against Turks.  Turkish anger reached boiling point this week after US officials said they were helping the YPG to train a 30,000 strong “border force” that would patrol the Syrian side of the Turkish border. Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, hastily tried to ease tensions, insisting that it had been a mistake to call the unit a “border force” but his words have so far done little to appease the Turks.  The potential Turkish offensive is complicated by the presence of Russian troops in Afrin. Turkish state media reported that Russian soldiers had evacuated ahead of the offensive but the YPG said they remained in place.   Turkish military and intelligence chiefs travelled to Moscow this week to discuss the operation with their Russian counterparts. The Syrian regime warned that any Turkish offensive would be considered "aggressive act” an that Syrian forces would attack Turkish aircraft.  But the regime has often issued such warnings to the myriad of foreign militaries operating inside Syria without then acting on them.   

What has happened to each of Donald Trump's campaign pledges?

Added: 20.01.2018 4:59 | 1 views | 0 comments


Donald Trump was elected on a pledge to "make America great again"  - a feat, he said, he would achieve by boosting the economy; taking a tough stance against foreign allies and cutting immigration.  On his first anniversary of entering into office, what has happened to each of President Trump's campaign promises? Build a border wall  Mr Trump insists his border wall with Mexico is still happening, but has accepted it will not all be made up of a physical barrier. While illegal border crossing arrests are at a 47-year low, Mr Trump has yet to get any money for the wall's construction signed off from Congress. We must have Security at our VERY DANGEROUS SOUTHERN BORDER, and we must have a great WALL to help protect us, and to help stop the massive inflow of drugs pouring into our country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018 Earlier this month it was reported that the administration had asked Congress for nearly $18 billion to fund the project.  'Massive' tax cuts Mr Trump has delivered America's biggest tax cut in 30 years, his most significant legislative win during his time in office so far.  I promised that my policies would allow companies like Apple to bring massive amounts of money back to the United States. Great to see Apple follow through as a result of TAX CUTS. Huge win for American workers and the USA! https://t.co/OwXVUyLOb1— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2018 However, claims it is the "biggest ever" have been proved wrong, according to analysis. Despite being sold as a boon for the average American, it is estimated that big corporations (whose tax rate has dropped from 35 to 21 per cent) and high earners will see the most benefit. Muslim ban  Mr Trump's promise to stop all Muslim immigration into the US was watered down even before the election. During the campaign Mr Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", but conceded the next day that the policy would not apply to all Muslims. Within their first week in office, the Trump administration suspended immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. After repeated legal challenges and three re-writings of the directive, a version of the ban is in place - for now. Paris climate agreement The US president kept his vow to pull out of the Paris accord, which aims to prevent global temperatures from rising by 2C above pre-industrial levels, but has hinted he may return.  France's president Emmanuel Macron (L) and US President Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting  Credit: AFP During the election campaign, Mr Trump said he would "cancel" the agreement and "stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs". Instead, he promised to boost America's coal, oil and shale industries by lifting restrictions on drilling. But in a news conference with French president Emmanuel Macron last week, he said: "Frankly, it's an agreement that I have no problem with, but I had a problem with the agreement that they signed, because, as usual, they made a bad deal." Repeal Obamacare In 2016, Mr Trump said: "My first day in office, I'm going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law... You're going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost. It's going to be so easy." He failed spectacularly to live up to the pledge in his first six months after Republican senators voted down the repeal bill.  However, at the end of last year Mr Trump succeeded in recalling a key part of it - individual mandate, which effectively forces people to get health insurance - and has set in place a series of measures to undermine Obamacare.  $1 trillion in infrastructure  The Trump campaign's $1 trillion infrastructure plan fell by the wayside in 2017 but is thought to be next on the legislative agenda for 2018. A train derailment in Washington state which killed 3 and injured 62 last month shone a light on the issue, something Mr Trump recognised, tweeting that it showed the need for his “soon to be submitted infrastructure plan”. The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2017 The president has indicated he wants bipartisan support for any measures, which could prove successful given that Democrats tend to be in favour of more funding, but it is unlikely to happen before the midterm elections. Bring back waterboarding  Mr Trump campaigned on a promise to bring back the banned intelligence service practice of waterboarding on suspects, saying "I would bring back waterboarding, and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”.  He appears to have abandoned the idea, and has since commented that he had heard arguments that torture was not effective. Moving US embassy to Jerusalem Last year Mr Trump followed through on his campaign promise to to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli-capital, upending 70 years of US policy and triggering international outrage.  However the move, which outraged Palestine and other Middle Eastern countries, means his ambition to bring peace to the region seem as far away as it ever was. Tear up 'bad' trade deals Mr Trump pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement within days of taking office. He has yet to formally pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but is aggressively renegotiating its terms, prompting others to predict the US will withdraw soon. However, despite his oft-repeated campaign threat to brand China a currency manipulator, he has yet to impose penalties on Chinese imports or take steps towards realigning their trade relationship.  Instead Mr Trump has used the threat of punishing trade relationships as leverage to get Beijing to put political pressure on North Korea. Mr Trump also promised to impose a 35 percent tariff on goods from US companies that ship production abroad - which he has not followed through with.  Destroying Isil The American-led coalition has had a string of victories against the Islamic State (Isil) including retaking vast swathes of territory. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria Credit: AP Mr Trump has lauded the victories although critics say Barack Obama's administration laid the groundwork for the success with its strategy of working with local forces.  However the terrorist group still remains a potent force, successfully recruiting jihadists abroad, and Mr Trump has pledged to keep US troops in the region until Syria's civil war reaches a political settlement. Leave Afghanistan  During the campaign Mr Trump made a play of attacking former president George Bush's foreign wars and questioning why US troops were in the country. However, he appeared to cave to establishment pressure in August and agreed to send around 3,500 more troops to the country. “My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like to follow my instincts,” Mr Trump said of his policy U-turn. “I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk of the Oval Office.” Iran nuclear deal Mr Trump has failed to scrap the Iran nuclear deal despite calling it the "worst deal ever". However he has started a collision course which could still bring it down. Better relations with Russia  During the campaign Mr Trump praised Vladimir Putin's leadership, suggested they could work together to end the Syrian civil war and urged warmer relations between their two nations.  Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin  Credit: AP But the cloud of the investigation into Russian meddling in the US election and the influence of senior generals has led to a more traditional stance on Russia. Moreover, Russia still remains at logger heads with the US-led allied coalition over Syria. Mr Trump has also hardened his stance on Nato, putting pressure on allies to increase their military spending.    Slap tariffs on China and Mexico Mexico was a focal point of Mr Trump's campaign and he threatened to put a 35 per cent tariff on goods made in Mexico but sold in the US. Mr Trump made similar trade threats to China but has held off a trade war with the nation in the hope that they can work on North Korea together. Stop North Korea's nuclear programme Kim Jong-Un has engaged in a war of words with Donald Trump Mr Trump has dramatically increased pressure on the regime in Pyongyang, forcing through tighter economic sanctions, particularly through the UN, and engaging in a heated war of words with its leader.  However, North Korea insists it will continue to test nuclear weapons and recently claimed it will soon have missiles capable of reaching the US mainland. It is unclear where the talks between Mr Trump and Kim Jong-Un will lead, but global watchers fear a nuclear war cannot be definitively ruled out. Cut red tape Mr Trump followed through with his promise to cut red tape, making one of his first executive orders a requirement for agencies to scrap two regulations for every new one they put in place. In December Mr Trump renewed his pledge to cut regulation, saying: "In 1960, there were approximately 20,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations. Today, there are over 185,000 page". To date, however, the administration says it has only cancelled or delayed 1,500 rules. Bring back jobs and boost the economy  Mr Trump centered his presidential campaign on how his business credentials would help him boost the economy.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased by more than 28 per cent since Mr Trump's election, the highest since 1945 and unemployment is at its lowest level since 1973.     But critics claim the economic recovery is simply following a trend that began under the last months of the Obama administration for which Mr Trump is simply reaping the reward.  

Turkey says it will press ahead with all out attack on Kurdish held city of Afrin in Syria

Added: 20.01.2018 4:05 | 0 views | 0 comments


Turkey said Friday that it would press ahead with a full scale assault on a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria despite pleas from the US to hold back.  Ankara has been threatening for days to send its forces into Afrin, a Syrian district near the Turkish border controlled by Kurdish forces who are allied with the US but mortal enemies of Turkey.  Turkish troops shelled the area on Friday and said it was moving units of commandos near the border as well as mobilising pro-Turkish Syrian rebel groups for the attack. “This operation will take place; the terror organisation will be cleansed,” said Nurettin Canikli, Turkey’s defence minister. "The operation has actually de facto started with cross border shelling.” Mr Canikli said Syrian opposition fighters would lead the attack with the support of Turkish ground forces.  Graphic: Areas of control in Syria As of Friday night, an all out ground invasion did not yet appear to be underway. Turkey has in the past promised a major incursion into northern Syria but pulled back at the last minute.  Turkey’s apparent willingness to press ahead with the attack, despite American objections, illustrates the dire state of relations between Washington and Ankara.  Turkey has long fumed over America’s decision to ally itself with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).  The US has found the Kurds to be effective allies against the jihadists but Turkey accuses them of carrying out terrorist attacks against Turks.  Turkish anger reached boiling point this week after US officials said they were helping the YPG to train a 30,000 strong “border force” that would patrol the Syrian side of the Turkish border. Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, hastily tried to ease tensions, insisting that it had been a mistake to call the unit a “border force” but his words have so far done little to appease the Turks.  The potential Turkish offensive is complicated by the presence of Russian troops in Afrin. Turkish state media reported that Russian soldiers had evacuated ahead of the offensive but the YPG said they remained in place.   Turkish military and intelligence chiefs travelled to Moscow this week to discuss the operation with their Russian counterparts. The Syrian regime warned that any Turkish offensive would be considered "aggressive act” an that Syrian forces would attack Turkish aircraft.  But the regime has often issued such warnings to the myriad of foreign militaries operating inside Syria without then acting on them.   

Russia, Iran open their arms as NATO ally loses patience with U.S.

Added: 20.01.2018 0:04 | 0 views | 0 comments

Relations between the U.S. and Turkey have hit an new low over Washington's support of militias battling against the Islamic State.

From: https:

ISIS soldier seen executing prisoner in video believed to be NJ high school graduate

Added: 19.01.2018 15:15 | 1 views | 0 comments

An Islamic State soldier featured in a propaganda video beheading a Kurdish prisoner is believed to be a New Jersey high school graduate.

From: feeds.foxnews.com

Tillerson says US troops in Syria to counter Assad

Added: 19.01.2018 15:07 | 0 views | 0 comments


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that US troops will remain in Syria not just to fight jihadists but also to counter the power of Bashar al-Assad and his ally Iran. In a speech on the US strategy to help end Syria's seven-year civil war, Tillerson stressed that the mission of the US military is to destroy the Islamic State group and prevent its return. "A total withdrawal of American personnel at this time would restore Assad to continue his brutal treatment against his own people," Tillerson told an audience at Stanford University.

From: https:

NEW terror threat: Fleeing ISIS jihadis being recruited by al-Qaeda

Added: 19.01.2018 13:01 | 0 views | 0 comments

BLOODTHIRSTY terror group al-Qaeda is poaching fighters from Islamic State as jihadis flee their so-called “caliphate” which is collapsing in the Middle East, sparking fears of a new wave of terror attacks against the West.

From: feedproxy.google.com

Russia, Iran open their arms as NATO ally loses patience with U.S.

Added: 19.01.2018 12:01 | 2 views | 0 comments

Relations between the U.S. and Turkey have hit an new low over Washington's support of militias battling against the Islamic State.

From: https:

Tillerson says US troops in Syria to counter Assad

Added: 19.01.2018 8:40 | 0 views | 0 comments


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that US troops will remain in Syria not just to fight jihadists but also to counter the power of Bashar al-Assad and his ally Iran. In a speech on the US strategy to help end Syria's seven-year civil war, Tillerson stressed that the mission of the US military is to destroy the Islamic State group and prevent its return. "A total withdrawal of American personnel at this time would restore Assad to continue his brutal treatment against his own people," Tillerson told an audience at Stanford University.

From: https:

U.S. signals open-ended presence in Syria, seeks patience on Assad's removal

Added: 18.01.2018 21:36 | 1 views | 0 comments

the clearest indication yet of an acknowledgment that Russia and Iran have bolstered Assad and that he is unlikely to leave power immediately. Billed as the Trump administration's new strategy on Syria, the announcement will prolong the risks and redefine the mission for the U.S. military, which has for years sought to define its operations in Syria along more narrow lines of battling Islamic State and has about 2,000 U.S. ground forces in the country.

From: https:

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