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Turkey’s Present Turmoil is All Erdogan’s Fault

All of the problems presently wracking the Turkish Republic are directly attributable to Erdogan in one way or another. Turkey used to be known as a pillar of secularism and stability in the Middle East,but those times seem to be behind it nowadays. The steady Islamization of society that's been undertaken since the AKP first rose to power in 2002 is transforming the very essence of the secular Kemalist state, and the multisided identity conflicts that have lately reemerged are threatening to undermine the harmonic fundamentals that the country depends on. Furthermore, the economy is floundering and human rights are being violated with disturbing frequency, thus weakening the country's social fabric. 

If one thinks about it, a very ironic change is taking place in the region right now. Syria, stereotypically painted by the Western mainstream media as the most volatile country in the Mideast for the past couple of years, is becoming more stabilized, secure, and strong as a result of the organic synergy of purpose between the people and their government, buttressed by Russia's anti-terrorist intervention. On the other hand there's Turkey, long lauded by the West as a model for Syria and the rest of the region to emulate, which is now becoming more unbalanced, dangerous, and weak, and the reason for this is none other than the massive miscalculations made by Erdogan.

A Slippery Slope

Let's take a look at everything that's gone wrong in Turkey lately and how Erdogan is directly at fault for it:

Civil War:

The ongoing civil war that's raging in the southeast was completely avoidable, especially considering that both sides were earlier engaged in a constructive ceasefire with one another. Erdogan restarted the conflict precisely as an electioneering tool in order to win over more nationalist votes from the MHP in the second-round elections. A back-to-back comparison of June and November's ballots suggest that he was successful in stealing some of their voters, but the cost was that he returned the country back to civil war and has lost full control of the dynamic. This has unnecessarily spread the military thin and inhibited their ability to protect the hinterland from terrorist threats.

Terror Threat:

Turkey has lately fallen victim to horrific incidents of ISIL/Daesh terrorism (if one is to follow the government's official narrative that the group is to blame), and the entire country is at risk of repeat attacks due to how deeply embedded the terrorists are throughout its territory. Erdogan refused to shut down the porous border and secure its unprotected portions, all out of his feverish pursuit to militantly overthrow President Bashar Assad via hard-core Islamic terrorists.

There's also a personal factor involved as well because reports state that his son Bilal is profiting quite handsomely from trading oil with Daesh. This familial factor might explain why the Turkish strongman is illegally neglecting his constitutional responsibilities in keeping his countrymen safe from terrorism, and it might also be the reason why he's still keeping Turkey's border with Daesh-occupied Syria totally open to this very day.

Identity Tension:

What's not commonly reported in the Western mainstream media but is a factor that all Turks are aware of is that the country is facing an existential identity crisis. The Kemalist secularism that constitutionally defines the Turkish Republic is being de-facto replaced by Erdogan's Islamism, and the growing divide that this is creating between the cities and the rural areas explains the widening geo-electoral rift that's evident in the country.
Erdogan's sympathy towards the Muslim Brotherhood and desire to implement their ideology across all strata of Turkish life is well-documented, but interestingly, this very same organization is officially designated as a terrorist group by Syria, Russia, and Saudi Arabia (one of the very few instances of political agreement that Damascus and Moscow have in common with Riyadh). Now Erdogan wants to change the constitution to give more power to the presidency (his current position), but many of his critics believe that this is a ploy to eliminate the legal foundation for secularism and slyly enshrine the Muslim Brotherhood's teachings as the supreme law of the land.

Human Rights Deterioration:

Erdogan's leadership (be it as Prime Minister or President) has seen a marked backtracking on fundamental human rights such as the freedoms of speech (the periodic blocking of social media), press (the jailing of opposition journalists), and assembly (the Gezi Park crackdown). These aren't mere fits of rage on the part of an unpredictable psyche, but premeditated actions designed to crush dissent, intimidate critics, and advance the one-party Islamist rule that he's envisioned for Turkey ever since he first came to power in 2002.

Economic Challenges:

The Turkish economy was naturally slowing in tune with the rest of the world amidst the Great Recession, but the country's structural challenges will undoubtedly be made more acute by the Russian restrictions that were recently implemented in response to Turkey's aggression. If the economy continues to decline, then it might be the final spark that's needed to generate a renewed anti-government movement modeled off of the tactics and organization of the historic Gezi Park protests.

The Dilemma

As Erdogan sees it, his increasingly authoritarian and Islamist rule could be reversed by either a pro-democratic uprising or a military coup, and he has no idea how to deal with these two factors simultaneously. He's proven himself adept at handling them individually before, but never in combination, and herein lies the Turkish strongman's dilemma.

The degenerating economy and rising social tensions are giving birth to emboldened grassroots opposition to his rule, and Erdogan is afraid that this could one day turn into a nationwide version of the earlier Gezi Park movement. Concurrent with this, the military is spread ridiculously thin between fighting the Kurds and trying to intimidate the Syrians, and this has opened up too many vulnerable blind spots in the heartland that are now vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Logic would dictate that Erdogan should redeploy some of the military from these fronts in order to secure the cities, but the Turkish strongman is afraid that this would make it all the easier for the armed forces to stage a secular coup against his Islamist government (such a move wouldn't be unprecedented). As regards a Gezi Park 2.0, if Erdogan were rational, he would backtrack on his imposed Islamism and abandon the Muslim Brotherhood project, but he's gone so far already that he can't retreat without betraying the influential base that he's nurtured for over a decade and possibly producing violent pro-Islamist protests.

Turbulent Times Ahead

The societal divisions that he's created might eventually lead to a large disruptive movement in one shape or another (be it secular/pro-democracy or Islamist/pro-autocracy), and in the end, he might be urgently compelled to call the military into the streets and inadvertently facilitate the very same coup scenario that he's trying so desperately to avoid.

No matter what form it takes, it's very likely that the myriad of opposing identities actively organizing within the Turkish state will find a pretext to clash with one another and take the country down a very turbulent path in the near future. The civil war against the Kurds is a major destabilizing factor, but one shouldn't overlook the other less known but equally impactful conflicts that could predictably pop up sometime soon.

Secular and Islamist protesters (politically represented by the CHP and AKP, respectively) could come to blows as social tension reaches an all-time high, and the MHP-affiliated "Grey Wolves" (a hyper-nationalist organization that Russia is mulling to ban as a terrorist group) are the ultimate wildcard in this scenario. Extreme left-wing organizations like the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU, and the US) could also more assertively rear their head amidst any unfolding pandemonium, and the shadowy supporters of Fethullah Gulen (presently in self-imposed exile in the US) might make their presence known and engender an intra-Islamist split within the AKP. Finally, the 2 million Syrian refugees in the country might finally get fed up enough with their living conditions that they riot and trigger even more unrest.
If Erdogan is a Sultan like some have justifiably likened him, then he looks to be following more in the footsteps of Mehmed VI, the last Ottoman ruler, than those of Suleiman the Magnificent when the Empire was at its strongest.

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#CaliforniaShooting - Female Terrorist Tashfeen Malik's journey from Pakistan to mass murder

Tashfeen Malik's path to accused mass killer in California began in a small city on the Indus River in Pakistan's Punjab province.

It was from here, when she was a toddler, that she moved with her father Gulzar 25 years ago to Saudi Arabia, where he became more deeply religious, more conservative and more hardline, according to a family member.

A picture slowly emerged on Friday of the role and possible motivations of 27-year-old Malik in this week's killing of 14 people in California, including her apparent pledge of allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State militant group, according to U.S. officials.

Malik, with her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, is accused of storming a holiday party on Wednesday in San Bernardino, California, and opening fire in America's worst mass shooting in three years.

The intensive search for clues, extending to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, could help U.S. investigators piece together what drove Malik and her husband to leave their infant daughter with his mother, don assault-style clothing and carry out the shooting.

Malik, who entered the United States on a fiancée visa, and Farook, the son of immigrant parents from Pakistan who had worked as a health inspector, were killed in a shootout with police just hours after the attack.
U.S. investigators were evaluating evidence that Malik, a Pakistani native who had been living in Saudi Arabia when she married Farook, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, two U.S. government sources said. They said the finding, if confirmed, could be a "game changer" in the probe.
CNN reported that one U.S. official said Malik had made the pledge to al-Baghdadi in a posting on Facebook on Wednesday, the day of the attack, under an account that used a different name.
Though large information gaps remain, it appeared to be the strongest evidence so far that the attack may have been inspired by Islamic State. But U.S. government sources said there was no sign that it had been directed by the militant group, which has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq and claimed the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.
Two Pakistani officials said Malik was from Karor Lal Esan, a city on the west coast of the Indus River in southern Punjab province. She moved to Saudi Arabia with her father, an engineer, 25 years ago, they said.
She returned home five or six years ago to study at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan to become a pharmacist, they said.
The area in Punjab where she spent her early years and later went to university is a "recruitment ground" and stronghold of Islamist groups with ties to al Qaeda, said Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States. Among the militant groups with a presence there is Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has been blamed for the November 2008 killing spree in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai.
"Our brother changed a lot since he went to Saudi," Malik's uncle, Javed Rabbani, said of Malik's father. "When relatives visited him, they would come back and tell us how conservative and hardline he had become," he said in an interview with Reuters.
A source close to the Saudi government said that during Malik's time in Saudi Arabia nothing came to authorities' attention there that suggested she was involved with radical Islamic groups. Malik was not on any Saudi law enforcement or intelligence watchlist, the source said.
Malik's father, Gulzar, had built a house in Multan, where he stays when he visits Pakistan, according to another uncle, Malik Anwaar.
He said Gulzar had a falling-out long ago with the rest of the family, citing a dispute over a house among other matters. "We are completely estranged," Anwaar said.
Rabbani said he had been contacted by Pakistani intelligence as part of the investigation into the San Bernardino shooting.
Malik had two brothers and two sisters and was related to Ahmed Ali Aulak, a former provincial minister, the Pakistani officials said.
The exact circumstances of how Farook and Malik met remained unclear but they had apparently been married for two years. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Malik was in the United States on a visa under a Pakistani passport.
While Farook had an active presence online, Malik's digital footprint is harder to trace. A Facebook profile established under an alias by Malik was removed by the company for violating its community standards, which prohibit praise or promotion of "acts of terror," a spokesman said on Friday.
But her name was attached to a gift registry for their baby hosted by the website According to the registry, Malik's baby had been due on May 17.
Just hours before the couple opened fire on Farook's co-workers in a government building in San Bernardino, they had dropped off their daughter at his mother's house, telling her they had a doctor's appointment.

Hundreds rally in Saudi Arabia for death row Shiites: Witness

Hundreds of Saudi Shiites rallied in the east of the kingdom on Friday to support activists whose execution they fear could be imminent, a witness said.

It was the second Friday in a row that a mass gathering had been held in solidarity with Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and other death row detainees.

Activists say three of them were minors at the time of their arrest after protests that began in 2011 in eastern Saudi Arabia, where most of the country's Shiite minority live.

Nimr was a driving force behind the protests that developed into a call for equality in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, where many Shiites have complained of marginalization.

Friday's prayer gathering in an open area of Shiite-majority Qatif, on the Gulf coast, aimed "to show solidarity with Sheikh Nimr and the rest of the detainees," said Hussein al-Nemr, who is no relation.

He estimated the crowd at 600 or 700 and said they carried pictures of the detained cleric.

"It was a big one," he said of the rally, which followed a similar gathering in the Eastern Province town of Awamiya last week.

Amnesty International said in late November that Nimr al-Nimr and five other Shiite activists were at imminent risk of execution and were "clearly convicted in unfair trials".

The London-based human rights group said the six were among more than 50 people who could soon be put to death in a single day.
Media "close to the Saudi Arabian authorities" had reported on the execution plans and said Al-Qaeda "terrorists" would also be among those put to death, Amnesty said.

Shiites accuse authorities of issuing such reports in an effort to gauge public reaction.

So they have turned out in public to show they are siding with the "innocent" detainees, Nemr said.


The Saudi-led coalition has bombed a clinic related to MSF in southwest Yemen, wounding nine people, Aid agency Doctors without Borders (MSF) on Thursday has announced.
Two MSF staff were among those wounded when the clinic in Taez, Yemen's third-largest city, was struck by coalition jets on Wednesday, it said.
The agency said it had repeatedly shared coordinates of the clinic with Riyadh in the days before the strike.
“There is no way that the Saudi-led coalition could have been unaware of the presence of MSF activities in this location,” said Jerome Alin, MSF mission head in Yemen.
"The bombing of civilians and hospitals is a violation of international humanitarian law. Civilians seeking health care and medical facilities must be respected," Alin said in a statement.
The United Nations says more than 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen since then, nearly half of them civilians.

Two Yemen tribesmen Killed by ISIS Terrorists

Terrorists have killed two members of an influential tribe in southeastern Yemen, tribal sources said Thursday, accusing the terrorists of carrying out the executions.
"Supporters of Daesh on Wednesday executed members of the Awlaki tribe after kidnapping them," a senior tribesman told AFP.
Another tribal source said Hashem and Ahmed Maklam al-Tunssi were killed in Seiyun, the second largest town in Hadramawt province, where Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has a significant presence.
The announcement comes a day after AQAP fighters drove pro-government forces out of a town in southern Yemen that could potentially open up a supply route between their stronghold of Mukalla, in Hadramawt, and second city Aden.
At least 15 people were killed when AQAP fighters swept into Jaar, in Abyan province, before appearing to withdraw from the town. AFP reported.

Video - Turks say Erdogan won’t go despite promise, media crackdown to resume

Video - RT talks to both sides of Turkish media for reaction to crackdown

‘Only I and my paper were prosecuted’ – journalist who exposed Turkey’s hospitality for jihadists

There were numerous reports of Islamist fighters injured in Syria finding shelter and treatment in Turkish hospitals. Dogu Eroglu, a journalist who broke one such story, told RT it resulted in only him and his newspaper being prosecuted.
Eroglu is an investigative journalist working for the opposition BirGun (One Day) newspaper. In September last year he wrote an expose on a medical facility in Gaziantep, a town in southeastern Turkey about an hour’s drive from the Syrian border. The hospital treated fighters who had been injured in the neighboring country with the tacit approval of the Turkish authorities.
“I was told by the hospital administration that they are jihadist fighters and do not have any other profession,” he told RT, adding that after recovering the fighters went back to Syria to fight more battles.
“They also said that the food and sanitation services are provided by the city of Gaziantep, and without the government help it wouldn’t be possible to bring all these injured fighters from Syria to Turkey,” he said.
The Turkish journalist found evidence that fighters from the Islamic Front group were treated at the clinic. The Sunni umbrella group adheres to radical Islamist ideology and is seeking to turn Syria into a state ruled by Sharia law, not a secular constitution. The goal is shared by the notorious Islamic State group, but the two are hostile toward each other, competing for territory, resources and recruits. Some of the militant groups comprising Islamic Front are reported to ally themselves with Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, which also clashed occasionally with ISIS.
are protected by military of entire nation[Turkey]. That is why they are acting so boldly & blatantly – Putin 
After the expose was published, the facility relocated and various parties involved gave conflicting denials, Eroglu told RT.
“The immediate response from the authorities to our report was to close [the facility] down and transferring patients to other locations. The city of Gaziantep immediately denied our report and told the press that this facility doesn’t exist. The medical organization responsible for running the hospital then confessed that there was such a hospital, but it didn’t serve to cure the jihadists.” he said.
What the Turkish authorities didn’t do is try to prosecute anyone involved in assisting jihadists. Instead, BirGun was accused of false reporting and a Turkish court ordered that the newspaper retract the report.
“I and my newspaper were the only ones who faced prosecution,” Eroglu said. “Under the court decision, we were ordered to put the city’s denial under the story, which made it look like the whole story was false,” Eroglu said.
Eroglu’s story is far from the only example of extremist fighters from various groups reported as being sheltered in Turkey. An Islamic State commander, Emrah Cakan, was confirmed to have received medical attention in a hospital in Denizli. The news triggered a nationwide scandal as opposition MPs demanded that the government explained how a known terrorist leader could get a hospital bed in Turkey.
Hospitals treating militants were identified all across Turkey’s border Hatay Province, Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, who represents the area in the Turkish parliament, told RT.
“There are more than 50 state, university and private hospitals in border cities and jihadists have been treated in these hospitals for five years,” he said. “Wounded Nusra Front and Islamic Front militants are brought there.”
“They are fighters, not civilians. Two or three months ago two militants were brought to Hatay hospitals and there were bombs on them,” Ediboglu said, adding that ambulances taking fighters to hospitals are often escorted by armed jihadists.
Apparently, not all fighters injured in Syria are equal in Turkey. Members of the Kurdish YPG militia injured during the fight for the city of Kobani, when ISIS besieged it last year, told RT they had to be smuggled into Turkey for treatment, because traveling openly there could lead to their arrest.
Turkey, a NATO member, is part of a US-led coalition that is pledged to destroying Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. In practice, however, Turkish warplanes have been targeting Kurdish forces, including those fighting against ISIS, rather than the Islamists.
Russia believes that elements of the Turkish government, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are profiting from the plundering of Syria and Iraq by terrorist groups and provide material support to them.
Two prominent journalists were arrested in Turkey last week on espionage allegations after exposing an alleged Turkish special service operation to smuggle arms to Syrian militants. RT

President Obama defends his strategy against ISIS

The U.S. is intensifying its fight against ISIS as President Obama ordered the deployment of about 200 Special Operations forces to Iraq and Syria.
Speaking to "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell Wednesday in the White House Cabinet Room, Mr. Obama said that while he sticks to his promise of no "Iraq-style invasion," military intervention is necessary to defeat the terror group.
"What I've been very clear about is that we are going to systematically squeeze and ultimately destroy ISIL and that requires us having a military component to that," Mr. Obama said.
The president also defended the United States' current strategies, including its membership in a 65-country coalition against ISIS and local partnerships within Iraq and Syria.
"We have been able to push back ISIL from territory that we had taken, but in Iraq and Syria and we are developing partnerships - although they are not as strong as we want yet - with local tribes and Sunnis who are willing to fight ISIL," Mr. Obama said. "And what I've said is we're going to continually modify and adjust our strategy based on those things that work and those things that may not work."
The president expressed confidence that the U.S. Special Forces would add to these measures. While he admitted they could not "single-handedly destroy ISIL," he said the additional forces would offer "greater situational awareness on the ground, generate additional intelligence, work with local forces to develop smarter strategies, (and) help direct where airstrikes are going to make the most difference,"
"We're going to continue to push hard and the good news is, coming out of Paris, we're seeing countries like Germany and Great Britain that had been hesitant about getting too actively involved in Syria, realizing that they have to be part of the solution here," Mr. Obama said.
With the FBI conducting active investigations into ISIS sympathizers in all 50 states and more terrorism-related arrests than in any in one year since 9/11, President Obama said there's "no doubt" that Americans have some fear that attacks like th"What I try to do is to make sure that people understand the threat is real, we have to vigilant, but we also can't panic and we can't respond out of fear. We have to make sure that we keep a clear-eyed view about what needs to be done," Mr. Obama said. "ISIL is not going to pose an existential threat to us, they are a dangerous organization like al Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses, our homeland has never been more protected by more effective intelligence and law enforcement professionals at every level than they are now. The coordination is much better than it is now. If you look at the number of successful terrorist attacks that have occurred, you know, we have disrupted a lot of them, but the dangers are still there and so we just have to keep things in perspective"
The president said the American people should feel confident about the country's defense and go about their lives.
"I said this repeatedly overseas, ISIL only wins if we react out of fear and start changing how we live, violating our values, they can't win on the battlefield. They can kill some innocent people, but that's not a victory for them if we respond appropriately," Mr. Obama said.e recent ones in Paris could happen in the U.S.

Video - FBI: San Bernardino Mass Shooting Now a Terrorism Investigation

Building trades union, women's economic group back Clinton

 Hillary Clinton has won the endorsements of North America's Building Trades and the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, giving her the public backing of two large organizations as she works to make rebuilding roads and bridges and women's economic issues central to her campaign.
The building trades, an alliance of 14 national and international unions representing 3 million skilled craft professionals, announced its support on the heels of Clinton's plan to spend $275 billion to fix the nation's aging transportation system. The plan includes $25 billion for a national infrastructure bank, which has been blocked by Republicans during PresidentBarack Obama's administration.
"Her infrastructure plan is further proof that she understands that the state of our nation's infrastructure is a bellwether for the health of the American economy and for the economic prospects of American workers," said Sean McGarvey, the organization's president.
Clinton, who was campaigning Thursday in New Hampshire, has largely swept the support of organized labor in her primary campaign against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. The unions represent some of the Democratic party's most loyal supporters and the endorsements can bring organizational strength and voter outreach in the primaries and caucuses.
The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, represents about 500,000 female business owners, executives and workers. Their support for Clinton marks their first public endorsement of a presidential candidate. Much of the group's work focuses on increasing capital and access to federal contracts for female-owned companies as well as the number of women in leadership positions.
"For our detailed review, one candidate — Hillary Clinton — stands head and shoulders above the rest," said CEO Margot Dorfman, in a statement. "The election of Hillary Clinton as President of the United States will unleash the economic power of women and forge a bold new potential for every woman in America."
The endorsement comes as Clinton holds a female-focused campaign event in New Hampshire, a state where many of the top political positions are held by women.
Clinton has made expanding the economic clout of women with policies like paid family leave and equal pay a central theme of her campaign. Unlike during her 2008 presidential campaign, when Clinton shied away from focusing heavily on her gender, she often touts her potential to make history as the nation's first female president on the campaign trail.

#CaliforniaShooting - Remembering the San Bernardino victims

#CaliforniaShooting - Tough Talk and a Cowardly Vote on Terrorism

Investigators now believe that what initially seemed a workplace shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., was a well-planned attack by a married couple with at least some contact with Islamic extremists.
The evolving situation has forced Republican leaders and presidential candidates to contort themselves: talking tough on terrorism, yet ignoring the fact that the two were armed to the teeth with two .223-caliber assault rifles and two 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols, and hundreds of rounds, all purchased legally. While the nation suffered through the shock of another bloody massacre, on Thursday every Senate Republican except Mark Kirk of Illinois voted against legislation to prevent people on the F.B.I.’s consolidated terrorist watchlist from purchasing guns or explosives.
The measure has been introduced repeatedly since 2007. The Government Accountability Office has documented that over years of congressional blockage, hundreds of suspected terrorists on the watchlist bought guns.
Another bill that would have expanded background checks to gun show and online firearms sales to screen out convicted felons and the mentally ill also failed on Thursday. The four Republican senators running for president — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham — all turned up to vote against these common-sense measures.
“If you need proof that Congress is a hostage to the gun lobby, look no further than today’s vote,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sponsored the terror watchlist measure.
In the hours after the attack in San Bernardino on Wednesday, President Obama specifically mentioned that legislation as an important security measure. “Those same people who we don’t allow to fly can go into a store in the United States and buy a firearm, and there’s nothing that we can do to stop them. That’s a law that needs to be changed,” he said on CBS News. The George W. Bush administration backed the terrorist-list bill in 2007.
No matter. The House speaker, Paul Ryan, issued his party’s weak defense of arming potential terrorism suspects on Thursday morning: “I think it’s very important to remember people have due process rights in this country, and we can’t have some government official just arbitrarily put them on a list.” Mr. Ryan’s Senate colleagues demonstrated that they are more worried about the possibility that someone might be turned away from a gun shop than shielding the public against violent criminals.
At the Republican Jewish Coalition’s conference on Thursday, the Republican presidential candidates offered little but political attacks. Senator Cruz immediately blamed Mr. Obama: “Coming on the wake of the terror attack in Paris, this horrific murder underscores that we are at a time of war, whether or not the current administration realizes it or is willing to acknowledge it, our enemies are at war with us and I believe this nation needs a wartime president to defend it.”
Gov. Chris Christie injected more fear: “The president continues to wring his hands and say ‘we’ll see,’ but those folks dressed in tactical gear with semiautomatic weapons came there to do something. We need to come to grips with the idea that we are in the midst of the next world war.”
From Jeb Bush, a bizarre slam: “The brutal savagery of Islamic terrorism exists, and this president and his former secretary of state cannot call it for what it is.”
And Donald Trump, true to his birther views, insinuated that Mr. Obama was hiding something: “Radical Islamic terrorism. We have a president that refuses to use the term. He refuses to say it. There’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.”
Since the Paris attacks, Republicans have been trying to outdo each other in describing how they’d crack down on global terrorism. But when a mass shooting at home calls attention to laws that put guns into the hands of suspected terrorists, they ask for a moment of silence, while taking action that speaks volumes.

At UNGA, Afghanistan says Pak using terrorists as violent proxies

Perhaps, the first time Kabul has raised before the international forum Islamabad’s motives for backing Taliban and other terror outfits.

Hitting out at Pakistan for using terrorists as “violent proxies,” Afghanistan has blamed Islamabad’s “unnecessary anxiety” over its ties with India for a sharp spike in civilian and military casualties that made 2015 the bloodiest year since 2001.
“External support to the Taliban and other terrorist groups is primarily motivated by regional rivalry, with excessive and unnecessary anxiety and suspicion of one state over its rival’s otherwise ordinary relations with Afghanistan,” Mahmoud Saikal, Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative, told the United Nations General Assembly without directly mentioning India.
‘Unsavoury policy’
“This has resulted in an unsavoury policy of using violent proxies in pursuit of political objectives, which has created a significant trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan and provides oxygen for terror to breathe,” he added.
Mr. Saikal was making the remarks at Monday’s Plenary Session on the Situation in Afghanistan.
“This year has been the bloodiest in Afghanistan since 2001, with a sharp increase in civilian and military casualties. We have come under high levels of attacks from foreign-based Taliban including the Haqqani network, Al-Qaeda, ISIS (Daesh), Hekmatyar’s faction, and other extremist groups,” he said.
The Haqqani network is blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, including the Indian embassy bombing and the attack on Kabul Serena Hotel in 2008.
Capture of Kunduz
The peak of this was the Taliban’s temporary capture of Kunduz city in late September, during which together with hundreds of international terrorists they unleashed their reign of terror on the population, he added.
Mr. Saikal said the “foreign” orchestrators of this year’s ferocious attacks had taken advantage of three factors, including the withdrawal of international forces, and the strong belief of the terrorists that their attacks would make the political system collapse.
Lack of coordination of Pakistan’s untimely counter-terrorism operations with Afghanistan, allowing part of international terrorists to enter Afghan soil; and Kabul’s preoccupation with its 2014 political transition, involving two rounds of elections, which slowed down governance were the other two reasons he listed.
Regular attacks this year
“Alongside these threats, in 2015 Afghanistan continued to face regular attacks across the Durand Line by Pakistani security forces in clear violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“As a result of heavy artillery shelling in the eastern provinces many civilian and border police lives have been lost, and our citizens live in fear,” he said in his strongly- worded speech which is perhaps the first time Afghanistan raised before the international forum Pakistan’s motives for backing Taliban and other terrorist organisations. He said these issues were discussed with the Pakistan government “yet no action has been taken to rectify the situation.”
Pakistan’s U.N. envoy Maleeha Lodhi said that while Pakistan remained ready to assist in reviving an Afghan-led and owned peace process, it would do so only once requested by the Afghan government.
“But anti-Pakistan rhetoric from Kabul must cease.
“Pakistan remains committed to the principles of a peaceful neighbourhood and peace for development,” she said.

Afghanistan - Ashraf Ghani: 'This is part of our shame'

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says women’s rights are a priority commitment. But how is he planning on ensuring them and how will he fight corruption, security threats and human rights violations in his country?

2015 has been a tough year for Afghanistan. In the first eight months alone, the country saw a spike in the number of civilian casualties and 120,000 Afghans fleeing the country to seek asylum abroad,according to the United Nations.
In an exclusive interview with DW, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani described the year of 2015 as "one of the most difficult years, if not even the most difficult year of the last 15 years."
When asked if things could get worse, the president said it depends on how much regional cooperation Afghanistan could achieve. Ghani said cooperation with neighboring Paksitan was also crucial.
"Sovereignty of Afghanistan must be accepted categorically by Pakistan so that we can move forward."
Women's rights a top priority
According to Ghani, women’s rights are a top priority for him. "As long as I am president, the rights of women will be protected," he said.
When confronted with a photograph published by Human Rights Watch showing a 22-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced to 100 lashes after being accused of sex outside marriage, Ghani held up the photo and said:
"This is part of our shame. We have inherited situations that are shameful, that are absolutely despicable.”
Government-affiliated militia groups violate human rights
Abuse of women isn’t the only problem Afghanistan is facing. According to a report by the United Nations from August 2015, local and national militia groups carried out deliberate killings, assaults, extortion, intimidation and property theft with the backing of the government.
But Ghani rejected these accusations in the interview, saying: "We don’t have militias."
The 65-year-old president, who assumed office in September 2014, then admitted that local police behaved like militias prior to his inauguration, saying the government has "taken systematic measures" to deal with the issue and to remove the powerful political protection these groups have had in the first six months of 2015.
Ashraf Ghani im Interview für DW
"This is our shame," Ghani said, holding up a picture of an Afghan woman being lashed
"We've had a difficult legacy of 40 years, and cleaning up is not going to be a one day job. But we are engaged in a systematic effort, we have not allowed formation of new militia groups, and we are reforming the local police systematically so that there won’t be abuse," Ghani said.
Dealing with impunity and corruption
Reforming local police also means dealing with corruption, Ghani added in the interview.
"The Kabul Bank case that became the emblem of impunity has been dealt with. We’ve already collected 450 million dollars out of the 800 million dollars that was stolen from the public purse."
But just one month ago, the former CEO of Kabul Bank, Khalilullah Frozi, who was supposed to be serving a 15 year sentence for fraud, was released from prison and seen smiling with government officials.
Ghani said he was shocked to see the man free. "My shock didn’t turn into anger, but into action. And it sent a very strong signal that I will not tolerate it. (…) He's back in prison, in solitary confinement and under close attention."
Ashraf Ghani im Interview für DW
"We've had a difficult legacy for 40 years and cleaning up is not going to be a one day job," Ghani told Tim Sebastian
Afghanistan's president added that he's also dismissed the officials that were involved in the scandal and has ordered a full inquiry to deal with the case.
Loss of confidence because of economic instability?
Since Ghani was elected, polls show many Afghans losing confidence in where their country is headed. According to a poll conducted by the Asia Foundation, 54 percent of those surveyed in 2014 thought the country was going in the right direction. This year that figure dropped to just 36 percent.
Ghani explains this loss of confidence from his people with the economic challenges Afghanistan is facing.
"We've had to deal with an economic transition cost by the departure of over 600,000 troops and contractors that were the most important consumers and spenders in the country. We've had to impose an austerity program because the promises of the Afghan government to the national community were not credible.”
Urging Afghanistan's elite to make the most of opportunities at home
What doesn’t help Afghanistan's economy is the fact that the families of elite leaders often live abroad, such as the families of Ghani's vice presidents, who live in Turkey and Iran, and the family of Ghani’s chief executive, who lives in India. In fact, the families of the top cabinet ministers, presidential advisers and deputy ministers all live outside of the country.
In the interview with DW, Ghani urged Afghanistan's elite to make the most of opportunities at home rather than moving abroad.
Österreich Flüchtlinge bei Mistlberg an der Grenze zu Deutschland
According to German authorities, some 31,000 Afghans arrived this year through October
"The privileged elites are part of the globalization moment that we live in. What is significant is to create opportunities for the generations to come. If the families of the privileged live abroad they are not going to have careers abroad. Their careers are back in Afghanistan. (…) If they live abroad they become dishwashers. They don’t become part of the middle class."
Ghani himself, however, did rather well when living abroad in the United States, completing a doctorate in anthropology and becoming a professor at Johns Hopkins University before returning to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.
Confronted with this fact, Ghani said: "The minute opportunity was created in 2001 I returned. I hope that the new generation of our friends will have the same sense of patriotism and respond to the conditions of our country."
The president said he was hopeful the Afghan people would succeed in dealing with the numerous issues the country is facing.
"We are a free society, we engage in debate, and that is our characteristic," Ghani said, adding: "Our job is to heal and to move forward. Not to perpetuate, not to get bogged down."