Provocative, dangerous: Russia intensifies airstrikes along Turkish border, killing 30

Aircraft Russia Raids
November 2015 SYRIA Air strikes believed to have been carried out by Russian jets killed at least 30 people in the town of Ariha in northwestern Syria on Sunday, rescue workers in the rebel-held area said, part of an escalation of Russian strikes near the Turkish border. In separate air strikes closer to the frontier with Turkey, jets believed to be Russian hit a truck depot that was also struck on Thursday, destroying 10 trailers and killing five people, a rebel in the area said. Officials at the Russian defense ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Syrians in rebel-held areas of northwestern Syria near the Turkish frontier have reported intensified air strikes in the days since Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the border.
The air strike on Ariha in Idlib province wounded dozens more people, striking a market place, the rescue workers said. Mohamed Queissi, a rescue worker with the Civil Defense service which operates in rebel-held areas, said the bodies of 31 people had been identified, with 12 more awaiting identification. “The vendors were shouting loudly as people were buying and selling and suddenly we heard the sound of the planes and in less than a second the jets struck and there was deadly silence. I saw people thrown in the street, strewn corpses and terrified children crying and shouting for their parents,” said Mohamed Amine Qurabi, 25, a second Civil Defense worker.
 Both were contacted by Reuters and spoke from Ariha.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reports on the war, gave an initial death toll of 18 people including four children and “a leading opposition” member. It said the toll was likely to rise, with a total of 60 killed and wounded.  Ariha fell to rebels in May during an advance that resulted in the whole of Idlib province falling to the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. Rebels in Idlib include the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. The province is not a stronghold of the Islamic State group that controls wide areas of eastern Syria. Russia began a major aerial campaign on Sept. 30 to help its ally Assad, who suffered a series of setbacks earlier this year including the loss of Idlib province and areas near the coast which is of crucial strategic importance.
 Moscow says its target is Islamic State but the overwhelming majority of its strikes have been against other opponents of Assad. The Syrian army, backed by Iranian and Hezbollah fighters, have in tandem launched ground offensives across areas of western Syria that are mostly controlled by insurgents other than Islamic State, including groups backed by Assad’s foreign enemies, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. One of these offensives is south of Aleppo, around 50 km (30 miles) east of Ariha, where government forces backed by Iranian fighters are seeking to advance westwards toward the main Damascus-Aleppo highway. Ariha is located on the main road linking Aleppo to the coast.
 Residents and rebels say warplanes believed to be Russian have stepped up raids on residential areas in several major cities in northwestern Syria that are within a radius of 10 to 30 km from the Turkish border. These towns, where Turkish goods are sold, have helped to sustain the economy of rebel-held northwest. They are also home to functioning hospitals and councils that run the rebel-held areas. Towns hit in recent days include Sarmada and Dana, and others in the northern and western Aleppo countryside near the Turkish border such as Azaz and Atareb, residents say. The targets have included areas close to two main border crossings between the rebel-held northwest and Turkey. The Syrian army said on Saturday that Turkey had increased weapons supplies to rebels recently, saying that they were being smuggled into the country in shipments claimed to be humanitarian aid. –Reuters
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The world economic order is collapsing, and this time there seems to be no way out

November 2015GLOBAL ECONOMYEurope has seen nothing like this for 70 years – the visible expression of a world where order is collapsing. The millions of refugees fleeing from ceaseless Middle Eastern war and barbarism are voting with their feet, despairing of their futures. The catalyst for their despair – the shredding of state structures and grip of Islamic fundamentalism on young Muslim minds – shows no sign of disappearing. Yet there is a parallel collapse in the economic order that is less conspicuous: the hundreds of billions of dollars fleeing emerging economies, from Brazil to China, don’t come with images of women and children on capsizing boats. Nor do banks that have lent trillions that will never be repaid post gruesome videos. However, this collapse threatens our liberal universe as much as certain responses to the refugees. Capital flight and bank fragility are profound dysfunctions in the way the global economy is now organized that will surface as real-world economic dislocation.
The IMF is profoundly concerned, warning at last week’s annual meeting in Peru of $3tn (£1.95tn) of excess credit globally and weakening global economic growth. But while it knows there needs to be an international coordinated response, no progress is likely. The grip of libertarian, anti-state philosophies on the dominant Anglo-Saxon political right in the US and UK makes such intervention as probable as a Middle East settlement. Order is crumbling all around and the forces that might save it are politically weak and intellectually ineffective.
The heart of the economic disorder is a world financial system that has gone rogue. Global banks now make profits to a extraordinary degree from doing business with each other. As a result, bankers’ power to create money out of nothing has been taken to a whole new level. That banks create credit is nothing new; the system depends on the truth that not all depositors will want their money back simultaneously. So there is a tendency for some of the cash banks lend in one month to be re-deposited by borrowers the following month: a part of this cash can be re-lent, again, in a third month – on top of existing lending capacity. Each lending cycle creates more credit, which is why lending has always been carefully regulated by national central banks to ensure loans will, in general, be repaid and sufficient capital reserves are held.
The emergence of a global banking system means central banks are much less able to monitor and control what is going on. And because few countries now limit capital flows, in part because they want access to potential credit, cash generated out of nothing can be lent in countries where the economic prospects look superficially good. This provokes floods of credit, rather like the movements of refugees. The false boom that follows seems to justify the lending. Property prices rise. Companies and households grow overconfident about their prospects and borrow freely. Economies surge well above their trend growth rates and all seems well until something – a collapse in property or commodity prices – unravels the whole process. The money floods out as quickly as it flooded in, leaving bust banks and governments desperately picking up the pieces.
Andy Haldane, Bank of England chief economist, describes the unfolding pattern of events as a three-part crisis. Act one was in 2007-08 in Britain and the US. Buoyed for the previous decade by absurdly high inflows of globally generated credit that created false booms, they suddenly found their overconfident banks had wildly lent too much. Collateral behind newfangled derivatives was worthless. Money flooded out, leaving Britain’s banking system bust, to be bailed out by more than £1tn of liquidity and special injections of public capital.
Act two was in Europe in 2011-12, when it became obvious that the lending had been made on the incorrect assumption that all eurozone countries were equal. Again, money flooded out and Europe only just held the line with extraordinary printing of money by the European Central Bank and tough belt-tightening measures in over-borrowed countries such as Portugal, Greece and Ireland. It might have been unfair, but it worked.
Now act three is beginning, but in countries much less able to devise measures to stop financial contagion and whose banks are more precarious. For global finance next flooded the so-called emerging market economies (EMEs), countries such as Turkey, Brazil, Malaysia, China, all riding high on sky-high commodity prices as the China boom, itself fuelled by wild lending, seemed never-ending. China manufactured more cement from 2010-13 than the US had produced over the entire 20th century. It could not last and so it is proving. –Guardian
Global Crisis
French unemployment hits record high: The number of registered job seekers in France jumped in October, reversing declines in September to set a new record high, figures showed Thursday. The number of categories a job seekers–defined as registered job seekers who are fully unemployed–rose by 42,000 in October from September to reach 3,589,800. That marked increases of 1.2% on the month and 3.7% on the year. The rebound in the number of unemployed people casts doubt over the strength of the economic recovery in the eurozone’s second-largest economy.
 After a week second quarter, recent figures showed gross domestic product expanded in the third quarter, putting the French economy on track to record its strongest year since Francois Hollande took office in 2012. But Thursday’s unemployment figures indicate that the job market isn’t following suit. The constant rise in unemployment is a thorn in Mr. Hollande’s side just as opinion polls show his popularity is increasing after he implemented hard-line security measures and stepped up a bombing campaign against Islamic State in response to this month’s Paris terror attacks. –Market Watch

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Anti-migrant sentiment in Germany takes a right turn – Populist Party calls for Merkel’s resignation

Far Right Germany
November 2015 HANOVER, GermanyThe far-right Populist Party Alternative for Germany has held a two-day convention in the northern city of Hanover. Its leaders have called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to step down. At its annual two-day convention in Hanover on Sunday, the leaders of far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) predicted a high voter turn-out, while also calling for Merkel’s resignation. Jörg Meuthen, co-chair of the party, said as many as two-fifths of German voters could throw their support behind the party for the parliamentary elections in 2017.
“We have a voter potential of as much as 20 per cent,” Meuthen said to an audience of some 590 AfD delegates. At its annual two-day convention in Hanover on Sunday, the leaders of far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) predicted a high voter turn-out, while also calling for Merkel’s resignation. Jörg Meuthen, co-chair of the party, said as many as two-fifths of German voters could throw their support behind the party for the parliamentary elections in 2017. “We have a voter potential of as much as 20 per cent,” Meuthen said to an audience of some 590 AfD delegates.
Despite some internal struggles – including the resignation of the party’s founder, Bernd Lucke – AfD has seen a notable resurgence in recent months, fueled by German anxiety over the influx of refugees from the Middle East. A polling organization in November showed AfD to be at the third largest political party in Germany, at 10.5 percent. –DW
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World War III – storm clouds gathering over Middle East? Kuwait Times warns of growing dangers of next world war

World War 3 Middle East
November 2015MIDDLE EAST Is the world about to change the slogan of the war on terrorism to World War III? Will we hear the drums of war again after 70 years of world peace since the last world war? Is it going to reshape the world map? Clearly there are different views and scenarios for the world’s major powers that manage crucial decisions on how the situation must end or be controlled in the light of the proliferation of terrorist organizations, their branches and agents around the world, all posing a major threat to everyone. It seems until there is understanding of the beneficiaries of these organizations, the announcement of a new war is inevitable.
Some believe that the shooting down by Turkey of a Russian fighter jet was like pouring oil on fire that created extra tension in the region that may lead to a new war. But I don’t believe in this view, because Turkish foreign policy has had a fixed principle for centuries, whereas Russian ambitions in the region are the greatest threat to Turkey. So Russia and Turkey are in different camps and an international consensus broker is essential, of course. The United States of America is playing this role now.
Even if we assume that this incident hadn’t occurred, the heated conditions are not going to calm down nor peace achieved as long as there is almost an international cover for unknown organizations calling themselves Islamic. But the truth of the matter is that the Islamic religion is innocent. And whether these militants declare themselves moderate, opposition, extreme or by any other name, they are still eyeing a spot in a rich and strategic area like Syria or Iraq, which is a real disaster for us in this region.

ISIS flags Iraq

Right now there is a state of global alert against IS in the wake of the recent Paris attacks and the downing of a Russian passenger aircraft over Sinai. Turkey seems concerned that the Russian position will increase stiffness in the war on terror, whether it is done with the consent of the US, Saudi Arabia and other countries or not, especially now that Russia has a strong hand in the region and major allies. So events may evolve in the coming days faster than we expect, especially with the elimination of large terrorist organizations such as IS and others. This is not a controversial topic, bearing in mind the possibility of all terror groups uniting together. Interests unite enemies.
This matter does not require a lot of intelligence. Every world war needs a conflict somewhere for the interests of greater powers to create a new world order. And with the large number of terrorist organizations inside Syria, the land is ready. Even if an alliance is formed now between the great powers to destroy IS, it may result in a conflict between the major powers on how to do so. It appears that both Russia and the United States are holding different views about the way the future of Syria must be shaped and the role of terrorist organizations. It seems clear that Russia finds these organizations a threat to be eliminated, but the United States’ statements do not seem agreeable to this scenario, especially with the US election coming soon.
No country is safe today from the possibility of a world war. Any fighting here could spread to other parts of the world, even to faraway countries such as India, Pakistan or the East China Sea region, for example, especially if China conducts preemptive strikes on US military installations. The US will be forced to respond, and the entire Pacific region will then fall into a quagmire of chaos.
Henry Kissinger, former US national security adviser, said in an interview recently: “The view of World War III appears on the horizon with its two ends, which are the United States on the one hand and China, Russia and Iran on the other”. He added that this war will be a draconian one with one victor – the United States. That was his point of view. But we are no longer in the era of World War I and II, and in light of the overlapping of ideologies and global pandemonium, I do not think that there will be any victors. –Kuwait Times
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Why you should be worried about a Russo-Turkish conflict – dozens of U.S. tactical nukes are sitting in Turkey

B61 nukes in Turkey
November 2015TURKEY If everything goes to plan, Turkey will receive the United States’ newest nuclear weapon in 2019. Turkey currently hosts between 60 and 70 B61 gravity bombs at Incirlik air force base. During the Cold War, Turkish aircraft were on full nuclear alert status – meaning that Turkish aircraft were loaded with nuclear weapons and ready to take to the air in minutes, should NATO give the order. Now Turkish F-16 are only nuclear certified and would have to fly to Incirlik and pick up the bombs.
(An interesting side note – During Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus, the Americans apparently got so nervous that they removed the warheads from Greece’s alert fighter aircraft and its squadron of nuclear armed Nike air defense missiles. In Turkey, the United States also opted to remove the weapons from Turkish alert fighters. These concerns, along with many others, led to the use of Permissive Action Links (PALs) on American nuclear weapons in Europe.)
The B61 is a family of five nuclear weapons (The B61-3, 4, 7, 10, and 11 – dubbed mods). The United States only deploys the B61-3 and 4 in Europe. The B61-3 has a dial-a-yield ranging from .3 to 170 kt, while the B61-4′s yield ranges from .3 – 50 kt. These weapons, because they are deployed in Europe and carried by fighter bombers, are dubbed to be strategic. (The range of the delivery vehicle matters for classification purposes)
The new weapon, dubbed the B61-12, will cannibalize parts from all of the B61 mods and consolidate them into a new bomb. The new bomb will use the B61-4 explosive package, meaning that the future B61-12′s maximum yield will be 50 kt. Critically, the Department of Defense has mandated that the new bomb be able to perform all of the mission requirements assigned to the old mods. Therefore, it must be able to be used on the battle field (.3 kt yield), for bunkers (B61-11), and for strategic missions (Thus, designed for delivery by the B2 bomber, which is classified as a strategic delivery vehicle) requiring a larger yield (B61-7).  However, the United States has pledged not to build new nuclear weapons, nor to augment the capabilities of its current stockpile whilst undertaking a program to modernize and extend the life of its current stockpile. (For the record – I believe that the B61-12, especially when paired with the F-35 augments the bombs current capabilities).
Enter the guided tail kit. The new B61-12, in order to perform all of the previously allotted missions, will be outfitted with a guided tail kit – thus making the future bomb America’s first “smart” nuclear weapon. The bomb is being designed for delivery by the F-35, the B-2, and the B-52. Turkey is a partner on the international F-35 program and has indicated, on multiple occasions, that it intends to purchase 100 aircraft. The tail kit will allow mission planners to rely on the weapons accuracy, rather than a larger yield, to hold deeply buried targets at risk. NATO signed off on these changes in 2010 and the U.S. Department of Defense and National Nuclear Security Administration are busily trying to get this bomb out on time. –Europe Hub
Nuclear vaults reinforced

Turkey Nukes

FAS researcher Hans M. Kristensen said commercially available aerial photos showed new perimeter construction works around 12 aircraft shelter-vault complexes at the US Aviano air base in Italy and 21 such aircraft shelters at Incirlik, where the perimeter had double fencing and intrusion detection equipment. Special weapons maintenance trucks were also being replaced and upgraded, he said. Incirlik, close to war-torn Syria, has been used in recent months for US-led airstrikes on jihadist IS militants in Syria.
Incirlik is the hub for U.S. attack aircraft flying out of Turkey to bomb ISIS. It’s a key strategic military asset, which just so happens to be one of the most logistically valuable in the Middle East. If Russia launched an attack on Turkey – the base would certainly be on the Putin’s high list of military targets Russian jets would try to incapacitate or destroy. If ISIS militants ever overran the Turkish base, all hell would break loose if radical Islamic militants, threatening an apocalypse, ever got their hands on 50 nuclear bombs.
Those activities have coincided with a Russian military buildup via Tartus, a Soviet-era naval base in Syria’s coastal Mediterranean region of Latakia. Kristensen estimated that Incirlik’s vaults currently held 50 B61 nuclear weapons. For the anti-IS operation, US F-16 jets had been relocated from Aviano, Italy to the Turkish NATO base under a “unique” arrangement. “The Turks have declined US requests to permanently base a fighting wing at the [Incirlik] base,” he wrote. The FR said the B61 nuclear bomb – first devised in the 1960s – had been “modernized” so it could be set to explode at various strengths of up to ten-times the devastation inflicted at Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. –DW, UTC

Incirlik ISIS

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Putin says Russian military now fully mobilized to tackle any threat from Turkey

Russian Soldiers mobilized
November 2015MOSCOW President Vladimir Putin is fully mobilized to tackle what the Kremlin regards as an unprecedented threat from Turkey following the shooting down of one of its warplanes by a Turkish F-16, the Russian leader’s spokesman said on Saturday. In comments which underscore how angry the Kremlin still is over the incident, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, called the behavior of the Turkish air force “absolute madness” and said Ankara’s subsequent handling of the crisis had reminded him of the “theater of the absurd. Nobody has the right to traitorously shoot down a Russian plane from behind,” Peskov told Russia’s “News on Saturday” TV program, calling Turkish evidence purporting to show the Russian SU-24 jet had violated Turkish air space “cartoons.”
In another sign of tensions after its shooting down of the Russian plane on Tuesday, which resulted in the death of one of the pilots, Turkey’s foreign ministry advised people on Saturday to postpone all non-urgent travel to Russia. Peskov said the crisis had prompted Putin, whose ministers are preparing retaliatory economic measures against Turkey, to “mobilize” in the way an army does in tense times. “The president is mobilized, fully mobilized, mobilized to the extent that circumstances demand,” said Peskov. “The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat.”
President Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will not apologize for downing the jet, but he said on Saturday that the incident had saddened him and that the climate change summit in Paris next week could be a chance to repair relations with Moscow. “Confrontation will not bring anyone happiness. As much as Russia is important for Turkey, Turkey is important for Russia,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in the western city of Baliksehir. Peskov said Putin was aware of a Turkish request for him to meet Erdogan on the sidelines of the Paris conference but gave no indication of whether such a meeting would take place.
Peskov denied Turkish press reports which said Moscow and Ankara had struck a deal for their warplanes to stop flying along the Syrian-Turkish border, saying military ties between the two countries had been severed and a hot line meant to avoid misunderstandings among their pilots dismantled. Peskov, according to the TASS news agency, also spoke of how Erdogan’s son had a “certain interest” in the oil industry. Putin has said oil from Syrian territory controlled by Islamic State militants is finding its way to Turkey. Erdogan has spoken of slander and asked anyone making such accusations to back up their words with evidence.
Peskov said he “noted” that Turkey’s newly-appointed energy minister, Berat Albayrak, was Erdogan’s son-in-law. He added that there could be up to 200,000 Turkish citizens on Russian soil. “What’s important is that everyone who is able to use their influence to guarantee at least some predictability in the pattern of Turkey’s behavior,” Peskov said. “Russian planes should never be shot down.” –Yahoo News
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Turkey’s Erdogan warns Russia not to ‘play with fire’

Turkey Warning
November 2015 TURKEY Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan warned Russia on Friday not to “play with fire,” citing reports Turkish businessmen had been detained in Russia, while Moscow said it would suspend visa-free travel with Turkey. Relations between the former Cold War antagonists are at their lowest in recent memory after Turkey shot down a Russian jet near the Syrian border on Tuesday. Russia has threatened economic retaliation, a response Erdogan has dismissed as emotional and indecorous. The incident has proved a distraction for the West, which is looking to build support for the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State in Syria. The nearly five-year-old Syrian civil war has been complicated by Russian air strikes in defense of President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey, which has long sought Assad’s ouster, has extensive trade ties with Moscow, which could come under strain. Erdogan condemned reports that some Turkish businessmen had been detained for visa irregularities while attending a trade fair in Russia. “It is playing with fire to go as far as mistreating our citizens who have gone to Russia,” Erdogan told supporters during a speech in Bayburt, in northeast Turkey. “We really attach a lot of importance to our relations with Russia … We don’t want these relations to suffer harm in any way.” He said he may speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a climate summit in Paris next week. Putin has so far refused to contact Erdogan because Ankara does not want to apologize for the downing of the jet, a Putin aide said.
Erdogan has said Turkey deserves the apology because its air space was violated. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday Moscow would suspend its visa-free regime with Turkey as of Jan. 1, which could affect Turkey’s tourism industry. Turkey’s seaside resorts are among the most popular holiday destinations for Russians, who make up Turkey’s largest number of tourist arrivals after Germany. An association of Russian defense factories, which includes the producers of Kalashnikov rifles, Armata tanks and Book missile systems, has recommended its members suspend buying materials from Turkey, according to a letter seen by Reuters. That could damage contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Turkey vs Russia

Russia’s agriculture ministry has already increased checks on food and agriculture imports from Turkey, in one of the first public moves to curb trade. Turkish government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said on Friday Turkey’s council of ministers was also discussing which measures to take, but that he hoped that these would not last long. “I couldn’t imagine that Russia would completely abandon its relations with Turkey over such an incident,” he told a news conference. “For us it’s impossible for Turkey to abandon its relations with Russia over such an incident.”  Erdogan said that Turkey did not go looking to shoot down a Russian jet but acted after it strayed into Turkish air space.
It was, he said, an “automatic reaction” to standing instructions given to the military. Moscow insists the jet never left Syrian air space. Lower house speaker Sergei Naryshkin called the incident an “intentional murder” of its soldiers, saying Russia had the right to mount a military response. –Reuters
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‘Christian state’ group threatens to kill Belgian Muslims, destroy their businesses

Belgium Mosque
November 2015 BELGIUM A menacing letter from the group called ‘Christian state’ has been sent to the major Belgian mosque Attadamoune. It threatens all Muslims will be killed, and their businesses destroyed. The anonymous letter – printed out and full of spelling mistakes – said that “no mosque and none of your businesses will be safe” and threatened that “brothers [Muslims] will be slaughtered like pigs and crucified as our Lord converts their souls.” The document was found in the mosque’s mailbox by Jamal Habbachich, one of the local Muslim leaders and the president of Molenbeek’s mosque association, and he is set to address the government about the issue.
“We will turn to the authorities of our country and complain to the police, naturally. Because there are two situations when you receive this kind of letter: it is a document written by someone wacky unbalanced, or it’s a very serious threat,” Habbachich told the local media outlet RTBF. “What also concerns me is the name of the author of the letter which we do not know, and who uses similar terminology to that of the Islamic state,” he added. Given the context, Jamal Habbachich is also worried about a possible increase in Islamophobic acts, be it verbal or physical abuse. “This letter is one of the elements,” he said. “In the current climate, with fear in everyone’s minds, it is disturbing,” he also told Le Parisien.
Two other mosques in the region also got threats like this, getting similar letters. The Attadamoune mosque is considered a key Muslim institution in the Molenbeek district, an area near the Belgian capital that is connected with the attacks in Paris on November 13 that left 130 people dead. Last week, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that the government may close “certain radical mosques” in the Molenbeek district over fears that it was the place where the Paris attacks were orchestrated. Belgian capital Brussels was on a lockdown for four days last week, too, over concerns that Paris-like attacks would occur there. –RT
Terrorism to incite a war: antagonism between Christianity and radical Islam is growing

Christianity and Islam Factoid

The United States, supported by various NATO members and assorted Arab governments, has fought two wars in the Gulf, one to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait and one to create a regime change in Baghdad, another war in Afghanistan, and has been engaged in a long running conflict with various jihadist groups, most notably al-Qaeda and, in the last several years, Islamic State, that has seen U.S. forces intervene directly and indirectly in a broad stretch of Muslim countries from Mali to Pakistan.
At the same time, both al-Qaeda and Islamic State have spread their operations around the world, creating “franchises” in several dozen countries in the Muslim world and setting up cells throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. In the process they have demonstrated a capacity to stage low level, terrorist attacks throughout Europe, especially in France, as well as in Canada and Australia, and have attempted, so far unsuccessfully, to stage a number of attacks in the United States.
According to the website there have been a total of 27,000 incidents of jihadist inspired violence since the attack on September 11, 2001. Another study by the BBC and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at the University of London suggested the numbers were even higher. In November 2014 alone, according to the BBC study, there were a total of 5,042 deaths from 664 incidents of jihadist violence. To put his statistic in perspective, in a typical year there are approximately 9,000-gun related homicides in the United States.
On November 13, a total of eight people from three separate Islamic State cells in Paris launched a series of simultaneous attacks across the city that resulted in the deaths, at last count, of 130 people. French President Francois Hollande described the attack as “a declaration of war” and vowed France would retaliate in kind against the Islamic State capital of Raqqa. –Huffington Post
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Syrian civil war raising risk of a new global conflict: echoes of next World War

November 2015SYRIA Turkish forces shot down a Russian plane near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday, dangerously escalating a conflict that is expanding ever more rapidly and unpredictably.  Take a step back and look at what Syria’s war has wrought: Only days after the Paris attacks — one of the worst terrorist attacks on European soil since World War II — and with the unofficial capital of the European Union, Brussels, still under a partial lockdown, a member of NATO downed a Russia fighter jet.
If this had occurred during the Cold War, we would be bracing for the possibility of a nuclear war. Thankfully, that conflict is over. Instead of dialing nuclear codes, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council while NATO summoned its own emergency meeting. Don’t misinterpret the moves as evidence of calm; a furious Russia has called Turkey “accomplices of terror” and Putin warned of “significant consequences.” And these are just some of the latest developments in the world’s most complicated conflict. Just after the Paris massacres, Pope Francis said the terrorist attacks were part of a piecemeal World War III. But it is the war in Syria itself that is morphing into this century’s world war.

Bombing Syria

The Syrian conflict, which turned deadly in 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad responded to calls for democracy by massacring protesters, has become a global vortex of violence, a black hole that swallows other conflicts. Day after day the number of disputes and rivalries fueling the fighting on that part of the Levant grows, bringing new firepower and more recruits. It started with pro-democracy activists against Assad’s forces; it drew a competing collection of armed opposition groups. It pitted moderates against extremists, and then extremists against ultra-extremists.
It rages with the sectarian fury of Shiites against Sunnis, Arabs against Iranians. Lebanon’s Hezbollah, backed by Iran, fights against militias backed by Gulf Arabs. Al Qaeda’s al Nusra Front competes with ISIS, the Kurds fight against ISIS and against the Syrian military and Turkey fights against the Kurds, while feebly taking on ISIS and viscerally pushing for Assad’s ouster. And there’s much more, with greater geopolitical consequences. There’s Russia, the U.S. and the “anti-ISIS coalition,” and soon a France-assembled bloc to fight ISIS. There is both more and less than meets the eye. While Russia and Turkey have boasted of fighting ISIS, the “civilized” world’s anointed enemy, the fact is that each has other objectives in mind, which is why Tuesday’s shoot down won’t be dismissed as an accident in a crowded theater of war.
Then there is an even larger geopolitical contest at play. Russia is working to erode America’s standing in the Middle East, advancing Putin’s agenda of challenging and defying Washington. While U.S. President Barack Obama was trying to reassure America that its very measured efforts to contain and degrade ISIS were paying off, Putin sent a massive military force to Syria and recast the conflict. Assad may have been about to fall, but Putin, now working on the same side as Iran and Hezbollah, made sure that won’t be happening any time soon. And now that ISIS has launched attacks in Western Europe, Assad’s hold on power looks more likely to survive.
Confused? This is only scratching the surface. Everyone in this fight has enemies and friends on opposing sides. This is what a world war looks like: strange bedfellows, conflicting agendas, alliances of convenience. And if you think the core of the fighting, the issues and ideologies at stake, seem muddled, try to find out what World War I was all about. Clarity is not a requirement for a world war. –CNN
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Russia says it is deploying anti-aircraft missiles to Syria

November 2015 MIDDLE EASTTensions in the Middle East ratcheted up dangerously Wednesday, a day after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, with the Turkish President accusing Russia of deceit and Russia announcing it would deploy anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said, according to the ministry’s Twitter feed, that the country would deploy S-400 defense missile systems to its Hmeymim airbase near Latakia, Syria, on the Mediterranean coast. The missiles have a range of 250 kilometers, according to the website, or 155 miles. The Turkish border, at its closest, is less than 30 miles away. For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned in harsh terms Wednesday what he said was the violation of Turkish airspace a day earlier by Russian warplanes, calling the incident an infringement of his country’s sovereignty.
He charged Russia with being deceitful and with propping up the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad — a regime he said was inflicting terrorism on its own people. His remarks came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of being “the terrorists’ accomplices” for having shot down a plane on an alleged anti-terrorism mission. Erdogan disputed that assertion in a speech Wednesday at an economic forum in Istanbul. In the area where the Russian planes were flying, “There is no Daesh!” Erdogan said, using another name for ISIS. “Do not deceive us! We know the locations of Daesh.”
Erdogan said Turkey had no intention of escalating the situation. But his fiery words highlighted the fact that the conflict in Syria, a years-long maelstrom of death and misery, has now churned up a new and alarming wave of international turbulence after a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian bomber in a border area. The midair clash Tuesday prompted angry words from both sides and underscored the high stakes at play in Syria where the United States, Russia and a swarm of other global, regional and local forces are entangled in the messy civil war. Turkey, a NATO member, said it had repeatedly warned the Russian warplane, shooting it down after it violated its airspace. Russia rejected that version of events, saying the Sukhoi Su-24 bomber posed no threat to Turkey and was attacked 1 kilometer inside Syrian territory.
But Erdogan said Tuesday that parts of the downed plane had fallen inside Turkey, injuring two people. Amid global worries over the incident’s repercussions, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called the downing of the plan “a stab in the back by the terrorists’ accomplices,” predicting “serious consequences” for relations between the two countries. Adding to the tensions were the fates of the two Russian pilots aboard the bomber. Turkmen rebels operating in the area of Syria where the plane went down appeared to claim in a video that they shot both pilots to death as they parachuted toward the ground. CNN couldn’t independently confirm the claim.
The Russian military said it believed one of the pilots was dead. Wednesday morning, though, the Russian Defense ministry said the second pilot had been rescued. The ministry said the pilot was safe at the Hmeymim airbase. The Russian military also said a Russian marine was killed after a helicopter came under attack during the search-and-rescue efforts. –CNN
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