Sunday, April 6, 2014

War Watch April 6 , 2014 ..... Ukraine -- From Russia with love - Eastern Ukraine in uproar ........ EU to Rethink Sanctions War With Russia Pushed Toward Confrontation, Some in EU Urge Caution , Raiffeisen Bank subsidiary to close Crimea branches , Russia seeks over $11bn in 'debt' from Ukraine , Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk rallies in favor of independence referendum ....... Syria -- Locals rise up in central Syria against islamists and allegedly kill 50 fighters , US allegedly finalizing plans to aid Syrian Rebels ( training and small arms ) ...... Iraq death dealing as Iraqi Election loom later this month..... Iran upbeat on nuclear talks with P5 + 1 Group ( 4/8 and 4/9 ) after allegedly helpful expert talks



Ukraine...... eastern Ukraine map shows what the next step could be...... click on image to enlargen

























Recent history rhymes.......



Ukraine Loses State Buildings In Key Eastern Cities To Protesters; Blames Putin - Live Webcast

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Earlier this morning we reported that "Pro-Russia Protesters Seize Government Building In East Ukraine, Demand Autonomy." We suggested that this was only the first city in eastern Ukraine that would see this kind of internal revolt. Sure enough, hours later, the largest city in East Ukraine and one located in close proximity to Russia, Kharkiv, also saw its state building fall to what appear to be pro-Russia protesters, making it the third major city after Donetsk and nearby Luhansk. This coordinated and largely unexpected pro-Russian action triggering accusations from the pro-European government in Kiev that President Vladimir Putin was orchestrating "separatist disorder."
From Reuters:
Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind the seizure of state buildings by pro-Russia protesters in eastern Ukraine on Sunday and promised that police would restore order peacefully.

He also accused Ukraine's ousted president Viktor Yanukovich of conspiring with Putin to fuel tensions in the region.

Earlier, pro-Russian protesters demanding a referendum on whether to join Russia seized a regional government building in the city of Donetsk and the offices of security services in nearby Luhansk.

"Putin and Yanukovich ordered and paid for the latest wave of separatist disorder in the east of the country. The people who have gathered are not many but they are very aggressive," Avakov said in a statement on his Facebook page.

"The situation will come back under control without bloodshed. That is the order to law enforcement officers, it's true. But the truth is that no one will peacefully tolerate the lawlessness of provocateurs," he said.
As expected, Kiev is scrambling to restore the semblance that it is under control,which as we noted earlier, it isn't:
Acting President Oleksander Turchinov called an emergency meeting of security chiefs in Kiev and took personal control of the situation, the parliamentary press service said.
The problem for Kiev is that suddenly the scramble for a referendum is reminiscent of what happened in Crimea. And everyone knows how that ended. Which means the acting government has to promptly halt the momentum toward sovereign independence or else East Ukraine is about to become a separate country, if not the latest annexation success for Russia.
Around 1,500 people protested in Donetsk on Sunday before breaking into the regional administration building, where they hung a Russian flag from a second-floor balcony, a Reuters witness said. Protesters outside cheered and chanted "Russia! Russia!".

In the Luhansk protest, Ukrainian television said three people had been injured. Police could not confirm the report. Talking to the crowd over a loudspeaker, protest leaders in Donetsk said they wanted regional lawmakers to convene an emergency meeting to discuss a vote on joining Russia like the one in Ukraine's Crimea region that led to its annexation.

"Deputies of the regional council should convene before midnight and take the decision to carry out a referendum," one of the protest leaders said, without identifying himself.

A local Internet portal streamed footage from the seized building, showing people entering and exiting freely. Soviet-era music was being played over loudspeakers outside. The building houses the offices of Serhiy Taruta, a steel baron recently appointed by the interim government in Kiev as governor of a region with close economic and historical ties to Russia.

"Around 1,000 people took part (in the storming of the building), mostly young people with their faces covered," said Ihor Dyomin, a spokesman for Donetsk local police. "Around 100 people are now inside the building and are barricading the building," he added.
News of the mini coups quickly spread like wildfire across tiwtter and YouTube.

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Поступила информация что обл. взята под контроль протестующими


Pro-Russian protesters seize govt buildings in Ukraine's Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov

Published time: April 06, 2014 15:44
Edited time: April 06, 2014 19:01

Thousands of people waiving Russian flags have flooded streets in eastern Ukraine Sunday. In the cities of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov demonstrators seized state offices and demanded independence referendums.
Over 2,000 people gathered in Lenin Square in the center of Donetsk to petition for the Berkut officers, who – they believe – are falsely accused of using fire arms against the rioters during the Maidan standoff.

The participants in the event called on the “illegal junta in Kiev” to end political repressions and persecution of dissidents, the Itar-Tass news agency reports.

They demanded their right for self-determination to be respected, pushing for a Crimea-style referendum on independence from Ukraine.

The protesters carried Russian national flags, chanted “Russia! Russia!” and displayed banners urging the new Donetsk Region governor, Sergey Taruta, who was recently appointed by Kiev, “to get out.”

An effigy of a Nazi zealot was also burnt in the square, with the action labeled “an act of annihilation of fascism” by the protesters in view of neo-Nazi radicals playing a key role in the Ukrainian coup this February.

The people then moved out towards the regional administration’s headquarters, carrying a giant Russian flag.

The confrontation with the police broke out on the porch of the government building, with the pro-Russian protesters depriving a dozen officers of their riot shields.
Pro-Russian supporters deploy a Russian flag and the flag of the so-called Donetsk Republica as they storm the regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on April 6, 2014 (AFP Photo / Alexandr Khudoteply)
Pro-Russian supporters deploy a Russian flag and the flag of the so-called Donetsk Republica as they storm the regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on April 6, 2014 (AFP Photo / Alexandr Khudoteply)

The demonstrators used the confiscated shields to make their way through the main entrance of the building and occupied the balcony. The Ukrainian flag in front of the administration was replaced by a Russian standard.
Eventually, police blocked the demonstrators inside.
The violence in Donetsk might’ve been provoked by a banner saying “Goodbye, Russia,” which was placed on the administration, Life-News reports.
The administration headquarters were empty, with only guards inside, as Government officials don’t work on Sundays.

Lugansk

The events evolved in a similar way in Lugansk where around a thousand people rallied in front of the local Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) office.

They demanded the release of protest leader, Aleksandr Kharitonov, who has been in detention since mid-march, as well as 15 pro-Russian activists detained on Saturday.

The people carried Russian flags and chanted “Shame on the SBU!” and “Freedom to political prisoners.”
Pro-Russian activistshold a rally in front of Ukraine's regional security service of Ukraine in Lugansk on April 6, 2014 (AFP Photo / Igor Golovinov)
Pro-Russian activistshold a rally in front of Ukraine's regional security service of Ukraine in Lugansk on April 6, 2014 (AFP Photo / Igor Golovinov)

According to the Russian Spring website, a policeman was injured and hospitalized as the protesters stormed the SBU building. One of the demonstrators also reportedly suffered a head injury.
The governor of Lugansk region and the local Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) chief went out to talk to the demonstrators, which resulted in six of the detained anti-Maidan activists being released from custody.
Kharkov
Violence also broke out in the city of Kharkov where pro-Russian protesters clashed with alleged activists from the far-right Right Sector movement.

Fireworks were used as weapons during the scuffle, with several explosions heard. However, there were no reports of injuries as the police managed to quickly separate the sides.
Following the incident, the Maidan activists had to crawl inside the corridor, erected by police for their protection, as the crowd threw foreign objects at them.

Following the rally, around 1,500 pro-Russian activists have made their way to Kharkov’s regional administration headquarters, UNIAN news agency reports.

Despite the administration being guarded by police in riot gear, a group of protesters have managed to penetrate the building.

The storm began after the organizers of the protests urged participants “to support Donetsk and Lugansk where government buildings were seized earlier in the day.”

According to anti-Maidan activists, around 10,000 people participated in the protest in Kharkov on Sunday.
Pro-Russian rallies are taking place almost every weekend in major cities in the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine since the nationalist coup ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, in late February.

One of the first laws the new government revoked was the regional status of the Russian language, which sent a clear message to the people in the country’s east.

The Republic of Crimea refused to recognize the change of power in Kiev and declared its independence from Ukraine, following the March-16 referendum, in which 96.77 percent of the voters chose to rejoin Russia.







Pro-Russia Protesters Seize Government Building In East Ukraine, Demand Autonomy

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While the general sentiment may be that Russia has put its territorial expansion plans vis-a-vis Ukraine on hold, if only for the time being, pro-Russian protesters in East Ukraine, whether premeditated or spontaneous, seem to have not gotten the memo. Earlier today, in a repeat of events that took place just as the pre-Crimea annexation plotline hit a fever pitch,dozens of pro-Russia protesters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk stormed the regional government building on Sunday and hung a Russian flag, demanding once again for autonomy from Ukraine.
The hometown of pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovich, Donetsk has seen tensions rise, as they have across mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, since his ouster and the installation of a pro-European government in Kiev.

Pro-Russia protesters, who had been protesting on Sunday stormed the administrative building in Donetsk, hung a Russian flag over a second-floor balcony. Around 1,500 protesters who had surrounded the building cheered, chanting "Russia!".

A Reuters reporter said around 500 police stood by without interfering.

In the nearby city of Lugansk, protesters also stormed the offices of the state security services. No injuries were reported at either location.

Pro-Russian demonstrators have held rallies in eastern Ukrainian cities in recent weeks, not far from the border with Russia where Moscow has gathered troops and boosted their numbers to tens of thousands.
That this is happening days after Gazprom announced it would hike Ukraine gas prices by 80%, effectively launching the nation into energetic, pardon the pun, and hyperinflationary turmoil, is hardly a coincidence: after all what better way to capitalize on what is certain to be a broad popular revulsion against the new "hope and change" government (which is the same as the government from years ago) which is squeezing the last hryvnia from the embattled population, than to remind the furious population that Uncle Vlad can make it all better, if only the various regions hold a referendum to secede from Ukraine and re-enter the second coming of the USSR.
After all, it worked without a hitch in Crimea.
And this is how it may work in the first major city in Eastern Donetsk that appears set to shift to a Russian allegiance.

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Pro- demos in , - 1000s on the streets, clashes reported - Interfax pic.twitter.com/VL0idm7hJB @aleksiskander | PR News


Essay from Bill Holter.....






A good question...the blame game



While reading in the comments section of a Zerohedge article I came across the following question/quote regarding U.S. response to the situation between Russia and Ukraine: 

"why, pray tell me why, US is shooting itself in the foot ?

Maybe this is how they planned to exit the QE - by hyperinflation in the US (diluting the debt) and throwing the blame to the rest of the world (namely Russia, China, Iran). Of course the regular Joe will pay a hefty price, but hey Joe, Russia is to blame for your misery (sarcastic).
:) just occured to me...".

  I think I would tweak the initial question just a little bit and add the word "continually" because it seems as if each and every U.S. response has been one where the downside for the U.S. is far greater than any pain it could ever impose on Russia financially.  In fact, just 2 days ago JP Morgan refused to clear a payment on behalf of a Russian consulate http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/04/01/ukraine-crisis-russia-usa-banking-idUKL5N0MT4HU20140401 to an insurance company.  What was the upside here?  Jim Sinclair correctly termed this action as an act of war.  Did JP Morgan do this on their own in interpretation of "sanctions"?  Are you kidding?  Didn't anyone in Washington think this through as the "blockage" was being carried out?  Apparently not.  How do you think we would react if one of our ambassadors checks was "bounced" for an insurance premium ? 

  We are clearly painting Russia into the very corner that they WANT to be in!  Our actions of placing "timid" sanctions on Russia are doing two things.  First it is displaying and revealing our "weakness" (the dollar) which invites further "pushes" and secondly is giving Mr. Putin "cause" to abandon the dollar...which we really cannot afford.  By pushing Russia away from the dollar we are showing the world that business CAN be done without using dollars and Mr. Putin is showing the world exactly "how" it can be done.  

The latest deal between Russia and Iran worth "$20 billion" is an examplehttp://www.businessinsider.com/r-iran-russia-working-to-seal-20-billion-oil-for-goods-deal-sources-2014-02#ixzz2xkdALyFo .  First, notice that the press uses a "$" sign where no dollars will be involved in any way.  

Secondly, this deal will be a "barter" deal or possibly use rubles but is certainly a "template" if you will of how a deal can be struck without using dollars.  Oh, and a little side benefit is that Iran now gets to "sell" their oil as Russia will import it...stir it up and mix it in with their own oil and presumably then be used in Europe.  

What happened here you ask ?  We have allowed Russia off of the dollar standard, displayed a template of how to not use dollars and lifted the sanctions on Iran.  Do you think that maybe our "allies" in Israel and Saudi Arabia might have slightly elevated blood pressures ?

  Getting back to the comment quote that I started with, maybe this is exactly how QE is ended.  Maybe this is how the game is ended and the tent collapsed.  Maybe we really are that close to the complete loss of control in the financial markets (I believe we are).  But, there MUST be a "reason" or something to point at to blame.  The system can't just collapse all on its own for no reason because then the guillotines will be rolled out.  Those in charge of the system cannot be seen as "fraudsters", they must be able to point at something, anything, and be able to say "look, if XYZ didn't happen we would be fine.  Our policies were working, 'they' did it".  In a sense, "they" will do it.  "They" being the Russians, the Chinese, Indians, Brazilians etc. but "we" are the ones who originally set up the system and made the rules (back when we had the gold) which were fraudulent from the inception. 

  The average person must be fooled into thinking that his "situation" is not the fault of U.S. policymakers.  The average person will be wiped out financially and will look for retribution.  Banks will close and dollars will devalue leaving anyone who had saved all their life holding the bag but they must be made to believe that it all happened from "external" sources.  I truly believe this.  The dollar will collapse completely on its own if left alone but then the populace will call for "blood".  By pushing Russia into a corner we will force them to "pull the plug" for us.  Brilliant !

  I do want to say that this "thought process" didn't just recently hit the scene.  This was the plan going all the way back to 1971 (maybe even 1913).  When Nixon shut the gold window, we truly from both a legal and moral standpoint defaulted to (on) the world.  Henry Kissinger cutting the deal with the Saudis where only dollars could buy oil was merely a "band aid" that bought some time (40 years).  They knew then, they have known all along and they now know that system itself would need to be changed because it was fraudulent.  The system as I see it was designed to never ever "settle" and thus the term "never pay".

  I have used the term "everything is worth nothing" and this is where we are headed once the knees are cut out from under the dollar.  Think about it, your bank accounts, insurance policies etc. are all based in dollars, what will they be worth should the world one day wake up and say "we don't want dollars"?  Actually, they are already saying this, the better phrase is "we will not accept dollars".  Our foreign policy now seems to be pushing the world toward this eventuality.  I cannot believe that this was by mistake or that stupidity in Washington is this widespread (well, yes I can)...it had to be the plan all along as far as I'm concerned. 

 Regards,  Bill Holter















Raiffeisen Bank subsidiary to close Crimea branches

SIMFEROPOL, Crimea/MOSCOW Sat Apr 5, 2014 2:45pm EDT

RELATED TOPICS


(Reuters) - A subsidiary of Raiffeisen Bank International will close all its branches in Crimea by mid-month, the bank said on Saturday, following Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula.

Ukraine and the West do not recognize Russian of Crimea and companies that have been active in the region do not know how the change could affect their business.

Raiffeisen Bank Aval, in which Austrian Raiffeisen Bank International holds 96.41 percent of shares, will close the last remaining six of 32 branches the bank had in Crimea by April 15, a spokeswoman told Reuters.

"We will indeed close all our Crimean branches," she said, without providing any further detail.

Four representatives at Aval in Kiev told Reuters that it is impossible for the bank to continue its operations for geopolitical and legal reasons.

"Because of the changes in the region's geopolitical situation, there has been a decision to close the branches," one representative said on conditions of anonymity.

The impact of Russia's annexation of Crimea on companies with assets in the peninsula is yet to be fully estimated, but many banks have closed and many worried businesses have switched to cash-only operations.
On Friday, McDonald's Corp said it had closed its restaurants in Crimea, although it said the decision had "nothing to do with politics".
FEAR OF SANCTIONS
Russia's lenders, including the top two Sberbank and VTB banks, are wary about starting direct business in Crimea. Sberbank and VTB said that for now they will be represented there only through their Ukrainian subsidiaries.
Russian banks are afraid to move to Crimea because they fear possible penalties from the West, Alexei Simanovsky, a first deputy governor of the central bank, said on Friday.
The European Union and the United States have warned that economic sanctions are possible if Moscow causes further escalation of the crisis.
Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, is working on a bill that would give the central bank the right to close Ukrainian banks in Crimea that refuse to meet their obligations to customers.
"We are well aware that those institutions that are present there now may be pressured from the Ukrainian side," Deputy Central Bank Governor Mikhail Sukhov told the Duma in late March.
Privatbank, Ukraine's biggest bank that had the largest banking services network in Crimea, closed all of its 339 branches last month. The bank had invested more than $300 million in the region and had $700 million in issued credits.
According to estimates by the National Bank of Ukraine, there had been 1,022 branches of more than 20 Ukrainian banks working in Crimea before the annexation, with assets and liabilities worth 20-22 billion hryvnia ($1.7-$1.9 billion).
QUEUES AND NO BANKS
Worried customers have been queuing for days in the regional capital Simferopol in front of the very few banks that deal in ruble transactions and accept tax payments. The Russian currency became official in Crimea at the beginning of April.
Lubov Radionova, 60, was in line at the Chernomorskiy Bank of Development and Reconstruction to pay for a new birth certificate. She travelled to the capital from a nearby village for the second straight day.
"I'll come back on Monday, if I can't get to the counter today," she said. "It is awful. There are only two working banks. But it is all temporary, the important thing is we are back with Russia. That is a holiday for us."
The Chernomorskiy Bank of Development and Reconstruction is one of two independent banks that have been operating in Crimea. Last month the National Bank of Ukraine banned its banks from conducting any transactions with the bank.
A representative at Aval bank in Kiev, who declined to be named, said that the current situation in Crimea and the changes in the legal system make it "very difficult to operate" for Raiffeisen Bank Aval.
Signs from the bank's branches have been already taken down in Simferopol, a Reuters photographer said.
"The branches are closing because they will have to operate under Russian law and there are contradictions between Russian and Ukrainian law," said another Aval representative.
Last month, the bank said it was committed to its Russian business, but said that there are risks for its Ukrainian unit Aval. The bank is Russia's 10th largest lender with 2.6 million customers and a 10 billion euro loan book.














Russia seeks over $11bn in 'debt' from Ukraine


April 05, 2014 - 1:00:16 pm
MOSCOW: Chairman of Russia's Gazprom Alexei Miller on Saturday said that Ukraine must pay back the full discount it has been granted on Russian gas over the past four years, worth $11.4 billion.
Miller said this week's annulment of the so-called Kharkiv accords, which gave Ukraine cut-price Russian gas until 2017 in exchange for access to the Crimea's port facilities, means that Kiev should pay the sum total of this discount back.
"The sum of the discount granted in the time that the Kharkiv accords were valid was $11.4 billion or 8.32 billion euros." 
"That is the sum that the Russian government, the Russian budget did not receive," Miller told Russian television.
The discount was a de-facto advance payment by Moscow for the future lease on Black Sea Fleet's facilities in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, annexed by Russia with the rest of the peninsula and so must be paid back, he added.
"Russia was paying for the Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine towards prolonging the agreement." 
"That is, Russia was paying an advance. Therefore, the $11.4 billion is a debt that Ukraine has accrued to Russia," he said.
Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have been running high since Russia annexed Crimea last month in defiance of the international community after pro-European demonstrators ousted Ukraine's pro-Kremlin leaders.
Cutting discounts which had been in place, Russia hiked its gas price for Ukraine by 80 percent last week to $485.50 per 1,000 cubic metres, reflecting its deep displeasure with the ex-Soviet nation's new westward course.
Gazprom is also seeking immediate payment for all recent gas deliveries to Ukraine, valued at over $2.2 billion.
Moscow has repeatedly shown readiness to use gas as a lever in conflicts with Ukraine, which remains dependent on imports from its resource-rich former Soviet master to keep the country running. (AFP)













EU to Rethink Sanctions War With Russia

Pushed Toward Confrontation, Some in EU Urge Caution

by Jason Ditz, April 05, 2014
Today’s Athens talks saw European Union foreign ministers meeting to discuss Russia sanctions. While we saw the typical push for more confrontational measures from Western members, the broad consensus seems to be for a rethink of the policy.
Officially, the rethink was about “preserving stability” in the eastern EU membership bloc, where a trade and sanctions war with Russia threatens economic ruin. There’s more to it than that, however.
The unspoken reality is that the push for a sanctions war was built around a narrative of imminent Russian invasions across Europe, and despite continued predictions from hawks of an invasion of Ukraine any minute, the situation really does seem to be stabilizing.
While those officials continued to give lip-service to the idea Russia is becoming “more confrontational,” German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier and others conceded that it is not a time for aggressive action, but a time to wait and see exactly what Russia is doing, and how their relationship might be salvaged.

http://rt.com/news/ukraine-donetsk-rally-referendum-601/



Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk rallies in favor of independence referendum




At least 1,000 protesters have gathered in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the industrial capital of the region, demanding that authorities respect their right for self-determination by allowing them to stage a Crimea-style referendum.

The rally was held in the city's central Lenin Square. Demonstrators held Russian flags and signs which read, “The Republic of Donetsk.”

The protesters called for a general all-Ukrainian strike and distributed leaflets declaring April 18 a referendum day.

"Today a referendum remains a sharp political and social issue in Donbass region. People do not leave squares and require to hold [a referendum]. The fight for a referendum is accompanied by protests against rising prices for gas, electricity and food. The socio-patriotic movement 'Eastern Front' offers trade unions to hold a general strike on April 18. The goal of the strike is to require that the authorities hold a referendum and introduce a moratorium on the increase of tariffs and utilities," said the leaflet, according to local media reports.

Residents then marched from the square to the city council building. Law enforcement officers in riot gear gathered near the building. The protesters demanded that local authorities meet them at the location. According to reports, a group of city council deputies came out of the building.


Demonstrators wave Russian flags during a rally of pro-Russia supporters outside the regional government administration building in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk during on April 5, 2014. (AFP Photo)
Demonstrators wave Russian flags during a rally of pro-Russia supporters outside the regional government administration building in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk during on April 5, 2014. (AFP Photo)


Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Referendum” and "Berkut,” as well as "Russia" and“Taruta (the new Donbass governor recently appointed by the Kiev government) needs to go!”

Earlier, the press service of the city council reported that authorities had not received any requests or notifications from social organizations or political parties about the Saturday rally.

Deputies of the city council, Igor Ponomarenko and Igor Sviridov, promised to meet residents at Lenin Square on Sunday, according to local media.

On March 1, Donetsk City Council made a decision to support the residents in their calls for a referendum. The deputies of the city council said that the decision on whether to hold a referendum is currently being considered by the court prosecutor, and the next hearing will take place on April 22. On Friday, a group of people gathered at the German consulate in Donetsk to protest against what they say is German interference in Ukraine’s domestic affairs. They have signed a petition asking Berlin to stop meddling.


A demonstrator holds a flag with the portrait of deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych during a rally of pro-Russia supporters outside the regional government administration building in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk during on April 5, 2014. (AFP Photo)
A demonstrator holds a flag with the portrait of deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych during a rally of pro-Russia supporters outside the regional government administration building in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk during on April 5, 2014. (AFP Photo)


“We ask you to convey to the leadership of your country our request of non-interference in Ukrainian internal affairs by Germany,” the petition reads.

“We ask you, based on Germany’s international authority, to warn other countries from this, not to enkindle war and not to support fascism in Ukraine,” said the people’s statement, as quoted by local media.

After President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by an armed coup in February, the Donbass region has been gripped by protests against Kiev’s coup-imposed government. Thousands of demonstrators have been demanding to hold a referendum to decide on the future of the region – just like in Crimea, which refused to recognize the country's new authorities. The Republic of Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine following the March 16 referendum, in which 96.77 percent of the voters chose to rejoin Russia. Despite calls to boycott the vote and provocation attempts, 83.1 percent of Crimeans took part in the poll.
A man holds a Russian flag as police officers stand guard outside the regional government administration building in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk during a rally of pro-Russia supporters on April 5, 2014. (AFP Photo)
A man holds a Russian flag as police officers stand guard outside the regional government administration building in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk during a rally of pro-Russia supporters on April 5, 2014. (AFP Photo)





















Syria  .......



Turkish diplomat says Reyhanlı attack carried out by al-Qaeda

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6 April 2014, Sunday /İSTANBUL, TODAYSZAMAN.COM
In a stunning revelation, a Turkish diplomat has for the first time admitted that the bloody Reyhanlı attack, which ravaged the border town of Reyhanlı on May 11, 2013, leaving 53 people dead and scores wounded, was carried out by Syrian elements of al-Qaeda, not by groups, as is widely believed in Turkey, affiliated with the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The remarks came at a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on March 27. In response to a comment by an Armenian diplomat, Turkey's OSCE representative, Tacan İldem, said that al-Qaeda elements operating from Syria carried out the attack, abandoning the long-standing Turkish line that Damascus was responsible for the atrocity in the border town.
İldem spoke on the issue when the Armenian diplomat called on Turkey to take effective measures against radical groups using the Turkish border as a conduit to stage attacks against Christians, especially Armenians in the town of Kessab, the site of bitter fighting between regime troops and opposition forces.

Denying allegations that Turkey gives the go-ahead to radical groups coming through its border, İldem deemed the claims nonsensical, saying that Turkey also faces security threats from radical elements. An attack on security forces in the central Anatolian province of Niğde, the Turkish diplomat said, had been carried out by radical elements, leaving three dead -- a police officer, a gendarme and a civilian passerby.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly accused Syria's Assad of using terrorist tactics to foment unrest and disorder in neighboring countries that support the Syrian opposition and provide relief to refugees.
In a September 2012 statement threatening the Turkish government with a series of “suicide attacks” and bombings in İstanbul and Ankara, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the twin car bombings in the town of Reyhanlı.
This statement, however, met with skepticism and denial from Turkish officials. Then-Interior Minister Muammer Güler denied allegations that the perpetrators of the May attack in Reyhanlı were members of al-Qaeda, saying that the real culprits of the deadly explosion are known and under arrest.
The attack highlighted the risk emanating from the prolonged Syrian conflict for neighboring countries, which are struggling to accommodate floods of Syrian refugees. In addition to the unfolding humanitarian tragedy and the refugee issue, neighboring countries face risks of getting dragged into the conflict against their wishes and plans, with border-crossing opposition elements and brief Syrian incursions inviting  military responses, as was the case when the Turkish and Syrian armies exchanged fire several times last year.
The Reyhanlı attack prompted Turkey to revisit its security strategies and policies along the 911-kilometer-long border, beefing up its military presence to establish firm control in the area.
Turkey currently hosts around 900,000 Syrian refugees. Among them, 80,000 are reportedly housed in Reyhanlı.


















50 rebels killed by locals in Syria's central town

English.news.cn   2014-04-05 19:12:01   

DAMASCUS, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Locals of a Syrian central town confronted radical militant groups, killing and wounding over 50 rebels on Saturday, according to the official SANA news agency.

The locals of the town of Taibet al-Emam in the countryside of the central province of Hama confronted rebels from the al-Qaida- linked Nusra Front, who were committing acts of kidnapping and burglary, killing and wounding 50 of them, said SANA, spelling no further details.

Meanwhile, SANA said that rebels fired mortar shells at the town of Muhardeh also in Hama, injuring many people and causing huge property losses. The incidents in Hama came as part of broader violence that has continued in Syria on Saturday.

Rebels' mortar shelling continued on Saturday, slamming into several districts of the capital Damascus, namely Fahameh, Adawi, Tabbaleh, Jaramana, Malki and the Umayyad Square in central Damascus, where the headquarters of the Syrian state TV, the military command and the opera house are located.

The Syria military said its troops on Saturday thwarted the rebels' attack on several military posts in the southern province of Qunaitera, killing and injuring undisclosed number of the assailants.

The military also killed many rebels when the troops foiled another attack against military posts in the coastal town of Kasab, where intense battles are currently ongoing between the Syrian troops and the armed militant groups.






U.S. finalizing plan to boost support for Syrian rebels: sources


WASHINGTON Fri Apr 4, 2014 7:16pm EDT






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(Reuters) - The U.S. government is finalizing a plan to increase training and small-arms shipments for Syrian rebels, two U.S. security sources said on Friday, as Syrian government troops gain momentum following the collapse of U.S.-backed peace talks.
The United States would increase assistance and send the shipments to moderate rebel factions mostly based in Jordan, along Syria's southern border, the officials familiar with the plan told Reuters.
The additional supplies are likely to be modest and will not include surface-to-air missiles, the officials said, raising questions over the impact in a civil war that has killed an estimated 136,000 people, produced nine million refugees and threatens to destabilize the region.
Rebels have urged the Obama administration to provide advanced weapons including surface-to-air missiles and exert greater military pressure on Russia-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has intensified bombings of rebel neighborhoods in recent month.
But the United States fears supplies of advanced weapons to pro-Western rebels could be diverted to Islamic militant groups, who could use them to attack allied, Israeli or civilian aircraft, the U.S. officials said, explaining why the surface-to-air missiles won't be included in the assistance.
President Barack Obama has resisted becoming entangled in Syria's complex, two-year civil war, but has faced criticism for failing to take a tougher stand given the immensity of the humanitarian crisis.
QUESTIONS OVER U.S. ROLE
Details of how much aid will flow to the screened rebel groups are the subject of continuing discussions. It's also unclear, for instance, how much would be covert or whether there would be a U.S. military or special forces role.
U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have provided weaponry to various rebel factions during the conflict, including some Islamist groups now at odds with moderate rebels grouped under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army.
The assistance does not require additional funding from Congress, said the officials, who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak with the media.
"Now we have to finalize the plans," one official said.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment.
A former government official familiar with the plan said that training would be done in small tranches and that U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and France, are likely to participate.
The sources said that while the Obama administration accepts that the plan will not turn the tide of the conflict decisively against Assad, the U.S. assistance could improve the chances that if Assad is deposed the United States will have allies among successful revolutionary forces.
U.S. and European officials say the most powerful anti-Assad factions are militant groups such as the Al-Nusrah and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, some of which either have links to Al Qaeda or are so extreme that even Al Qaeda has denounced them.
The more militant Islamist rebel factions already control swathes of territory in Syria's northeast and along its border with Iraq, according to American officials.




AIRBRIDGE TRANSPORTING JIHADIS FROM JORDAN TO TURKEY

April 5, 2014




syria war fighters

SOURCE: AL-AKHBAR

Turkey is not alone in supporting jihadis in the battles in Latakia’s northern countryside. Recent information revealed the existence of an airbridge between Jordan and Turkey, transporting jihadis after they are trained on Jordan soil.

Syria’s southern battlefront front has been moved to the north. Al-Akhbar received information suggesting an active and growing Jordanian role in the fight for Kasab and its surrounding territory. The information referred to an airbridge carrying hundreds of fighters from Marka airport in Amman to Antakya in the Iskenderun province in Turkey.

According to a Syrian opposition source, more than a thousand jihadis were transported in the past three days and they immediately joined the fierce battles in Latakia’s northern countryside. The information “was confirmed by accurate Jordanian sources,” the Syrian opposition source maintained.

The jihadis belong to various nationalities, including Saudi, Jordanian, and Syrian. “Some of the airlifted jihadis had undergone extensive training in camps in the al-Rasifa region north of Amman,” the source added.

According to the source, training and transport are coordinated with the Jordanian intelligence services and with direct US supervision. He explained it could be an alternative plan to opening a southern battlefront from Jordan, which has been speculated about for a long time.

READ MORE...





Iraq.......




Iraq Soldiers Caught in Booby-Trap; 72 Killed, 82 

Wounded

by , April 05, 2014

At least 72 people were killed and 82 more were wounded. The violence was heavy across Anbar today
Anbar:
A booby-trapped home in Garma was being searched when explosives were set off. Then, gunmen shot at soldiers who arrived at the blast site. At least 15 soldiers were killed and 24 more were woundedTwo more soldiers were killed when mortars struck a post.
Clashes in Ramadi left 10 dead, including six militants and four security personnel. A voting center was blown up.
The army continued shelling Falluja, where one civilian died and nine more were wounded. A later round of artillery fire left two more dead and six woundedSix militants were also killed.
Elsewhere:
Gunmen killed a colonel and three soldiers in Mahmoudiya.
One person was killed and three more were wounded when a bomb attached to a taxi exploded in Mussayab.
A roadside bomb in Shura killed one soldier and wounded two more.
Police killed a man trying to plant a bomb in Baiji.
In Jalawla, police shot dead a leader of the Naqshabandiya group.
Two soldiers were wounded in a blast in Naft Khana.
Gunmen ordered 20 families to move out of their homes in Jurf al-Sakhar.


Iran.......





Iran upbeat on nuclear talks, says all sticky issues addressed


DUBAI Sat Apr 5, 2014 2:44pm EDT




Iran's deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs Abbas Araghchi speaks during a news conference in Baghdad March 10, 2007. REUTERS/Sabah Arar/Pool
Iran's deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs Abbas Araghchi speaks during a news conference in Baghdad March 10, 2007.
CREDIT: REUTERS/SABAH ARAR/POOL


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(Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it had useful expert-level nuclear talks with world powers in Vienna, addressing all major technical issues in the way of a final settlement.
"The meetings were useful, raised mutual insight into our differing positions," Iranian negotiator Hamid Baeedinejad told the official IRNA news agency at the end of the three-day talks in Vienna. "Everyone came well-prepared ... addressing issues in minute technical details can facilitate hard political decisions."
He said the results would be submitted on Monday to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Who acts on behalf of the six world powers - the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain.
Ashton and Zarif are to hold their third round of high-level nuclear talks on April 8-9 in the Austrian capital, part of efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement by late July. It seeks to limit Iran's controversial uranium enrichment activities in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.
Top Iranian nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, was quoted as saying by IRNA that "all technical issues needing deeper experts' studies, including the heavy-water Arak reactor, are being addressed at the latest round of talks.
"Talks will continue on enrichment and other (sensitive) issues until final settlement," he added.
Western officials say however wide differences remain between the two sides.