Thursday, 25 September 2014

Middle Eastern news - 08/24/2014

UNSC demands tough global laws to stop foreign extremist fighters

In the wake of the rise of the Islamic State the UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution demanding all member states to make it a serious criminal offense for their citizens to travel abroad to fight with extremists or support them.

The resolution targets fighters traveling to conflicts anywhere in the world.

While expressing concern that "foreign terrorist fighters increase the intensity, duration and intractability of conflicts, and also may pose a serious threat to their states of origin, the states they transit and the states to which they travel," it does not mandate military force to tackle the foreign fighter issue.

It also condemns violent extremism and sectarian violence while demanding that all foreign extremist fighters withdraw immediately from all armed conflict zones.

States are required to prevent any further such movements by foreign fighters - by means of tougher border controls. Travel data and screening can be used for risk assessment.

The document is legally binding for all the 193 UN member states and gives the UNSC authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or force.

The US-drafted resolution was passed Wednesday at the special meeting of the 15-member council chaired by US President Barack Obama. Prior to the meeting, Russian representatives said they would support the document and that Moscow also took part elaborating it.

Oil installations in Syria hit by anti-ISIS coalition

A formation of U.S. Navy F-18E Super Hornets (Reuters/Shawn Nickel/U.S. Air Force)

The United States and its partners launched a new round of strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria on Wednesday, only hours after President Barack Obama called on the world to help end the extremist group’s reign of terror in the Middle East.

I can confirm that US military and Arab partner forces are undertaking additional strikes today against ISIL terrorists in Syria,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said on Wednesday, using the Obama-administration's preferred language for the group formerly known as ISIS that today identifies as the Islamic State. “These operations are ongoing, so we will not provide additional details at this time. We will do so later as operationally appropriate.”

Later, the Pentagon confirmed that less than a dozen aircraft are involved in the latest attack. US Central Command (CENTCOM), meanwhile, confirmed that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also participated.

The latest round of strikes was acknowledged on Wednesday just shy of 12 a.m. local time in Syria and marks at least the third consecutive wave of attacks launched by the US and allied partners since Monday. Prior to then, the US had only attacked Islamic State militants in neighboring Iraq.

Israel gives military 10% spending boost, covers Gaza campaign costs

Israeli tanks (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

On the eve of the Jewish New Year, the Israeli PM and Finance Minister have showered the Defense Ministry with gifts, agreeing to boost the military budget by 10 percent in 2015 and cover the one-time costs of the latest Gaza bombing campaign.

By 2015 the country’s military budget will be increased by 10 percent and will reach 57 billion shekels (or $15.5 billion), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Wednesday.

In addition the government would cover most of the costs from the Gaza war, Netanyahu’s statement issued after talks to head off a fiscal crisis in the governing coalition said.

The 50-day Gaza conflict which ended last month has underpinned hefty budget demands by the Defense Ministry. Israel’s defense chief Moshe Ya’alon says costs of the 50-day campaign, preceded by the operation to return the three kidnapped youths, eventually exceeded $2.5 billion.

That estimate, according to an MoD source, includes operations and maintenance costs, replenishment procurement and expenses associated with more than 80,000 reservists called up for duty.

Highly reliable info’: Israel accuses Iran of nuclear weapons tests ahead of Rouhani’s UNGA speech

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (Reuters/Umit Bektas)

The day before the Iranian president’s address to the UN General Assembly, Israel issued a statement, again accusing the Islamic Republic of allegedly testing technology that could only be used for nuclear bombs.

Based on “highly reliable information,” according to the statement from Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, Tel Aviv has accused Tehran of using internal neutron sources such as uranium in nuclear implosion tests at the Parchin military complex.

The statement claimed that the tests occurred back in 2000-2001, during the construction of what it called a “nuclear weaponization test site in Parchin.”

It is important to emphasize that these kinds of tests can have no 'dual use' explanation, since the only possible purpose of such internal neutron sources is to ignite the nuclear chain reaction in nuclear weapons,” the Israeli statement said, referring to materials that can be applied in both civilian and military nuclear research.

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...and Israel says Iran tested nuke detonators at this base  @DigitalGlobe

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