Hamas on Saturday night rejected an Egyptian proposal for a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Spokesman Osama Hamdan said Israel must either accepts its demands — including for a lifting of the security blockade on Gaza — or face “a war of attrition.” At the same time, Hamas’s military wing in Gaza declared, “We are continuing our struggle.”
The Egyptian proposal speaks of lifting the Israeli and Egyptian security blockade on Gaza, but any such easing of restrictions would apparently be overseen by Israeli and Egyptian forces on their sides of Gaza’s borders, and by the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas on the Gaza side. The PA would also play a dominant role in the reconstruction of post-conflict Gaza. The Egyptian formula also pushes off negotiations on the opening of a Gaza seaport and airport — key Hamas demands in recent weeks — to a month’s time.
Negotiations on the long-term deal, 40 days after Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Hamas, were set to resume in Cairo on Sunday morning. It was not clear how Hamas’s declared rejection of the Egyptian terms would affect the planned resumption of talks. A five-day truce agreed by Hamas and Israel is to expire at midnight on Monday.
Abbas on Saturday publicly broke ranks with Hamas, declaring in Ramallah that there was no alternative but to “stick to” the Egyptian proposal.
Mashaal said Hamas was not withdrawing any of its demands, and insisted on the full lifting of the blockade, and the establishment of a Gaza seaport and airport.
Spokesman Hamdan warned earlier that the terror group’s tunnels will be a “strategic threat” to Israel and its rockets will be more precise “next time.”
Another Israeli official was quoted saying that the chances of reaching a long-term ceasefire deal by the end of Monday, when the current truce expires, were very faint. Consequently, he said, according to the Walla news site, the government is considering a unilateral move to ease some restrictions on access to the Gaza Strip and provide its residents with funds for rebuilding
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) expressed solidarity with jihadists in Iraq — pledging to kill as many Americans as possible — and called on all Islamic jihadist organizations and Muslims everywhere to do the same, especially in the United States.
In an August 14 communiqué, AQAP said the US is leading a war against Muslims and that Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri “always advised to crush the head of the American serpent, in order to make it easier to eliminate its agents, the leaders of the Muslim countries.”
In its message, AQAP assured jihadists fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq that experience teaches that airstrikes “cannot defeat those who place their trust in Allah,” and that jihad continues from generation to generation.
“It should be noted that this communiqué, like the August 12, video by AQAP’s mufti, Sheikh Ibrahim Al Rubaish, indicates AQAP support for the IS (though this organization is not mentioned by name),” said the Middle East Media Research Institute which monitors jihadist websites. “At the same time, here too the organization is careful to maintain a balance between the IS and Al Qaeda by mentioning Al Qaeda leaders bin Laden and Al Zawahiri as sources of authority and guiding lights.”
The following are excerpts from the communiqué, posted on the jihadi website alplatformmedia.com.
“Hence, we declare our solidarity with our Muslim brethren in Iraq in [their struggle against] this Crusade. Their blood is our blood, their wound is in our hearts, and we have a duty to defend them. With Allah’s help, we will employ every means to cause the US as many casualties as possible, as part of jihad for the sake of Allah and in order to realize what our Sheikh Osama [bin Laden] vowed [to achieve].
“We call upon all the Islamic organizations to support our brethren, cause the US many casualties, and wage military, economic and media jihad against it. We also call upon Muslims everywhere – especially those who can enter the West – to support their brethren and fight the US in every way they can … for the US is the main barrier to liberating the Muslim peoples and instating shari’a rule, as we have seen in more than one country.
Islamic extremists in Iraq killed 80 Yazidi men and abducted their wives and children, officials and eyewitnesses said Saturday, insisting the religious community is still at risk after a week of US and Iraqi airstrikes on the militants.
Friday afternoon Islamic State fighters who had surrounded the nearby village of Kocho 12 days ago, demanding its Yazidi residents convert or die, moved in.
'Anti-Putin' Alliance Fraying: Germany, Slovakia, Greece, Czech Republic Urge End To Russian Sanctions
Last week Germany reported that in the second quarter, its GDP declined by 0.2%, worse than Wall Street consensus. This happened a few shorts days after Italy reported a second consecutive decline in its own GDP, becoming the first Europen country to enter a triple-dip recession. What's worse, Europe's slowdown took place before the brunt of Russian sanctions hit.
Surely in the third quarter the GDP of Germany, a nation whose exports accounts for 41% of GDP, will be even worse, with whisper numbers of -1% being thrown casually around, but one thing is certain: Europe is about to enter its third recession since the Lehman collapse just as we forecast at the end of 2013, a "triple-dip" which may become an outright depression unless Draghi injects a few trillion in credit money (which will do nothing but delay the inevitable and make it that much worse once the can can no longer be kicked), and unless normal trade ties with Russia are restored.
Which means one thing: for Europe to resume the status quo, it needs to break away from the "western" alliance and the sanctions imposed upon the Kremlin which solely benefit the populist agenda of Washington, and certainly not Europe proper, which it is now quite clear, is far more reliant on Russia than vice versa. it is also something Putin apparently was aware of from the very beginning.
And now, that realization is starting to spread to Europe's own countries, which - while the new cold war was only one of rhetoric were perfectly happy to go for the ride - but now that trade war has finally broken out, suddenly increasingly more want out.
As we reported previously, it all started with the Greeks, a nation of heavy food exports into Russia, who were the first to announce their displeasure with the "Stop Putin" coalition:
the moment Russia retaliated, the grand alliance started to crack. Enter Greece which has hundreds of millions in food exports to Russia, and which was the first country to hint that it may splinter from the western "pro-sanctions" alliance. According to Bloomberg, earlier today the Greek foreign minister and former PM said that "we are in continuous deliberations in order to have the smallest possible consequences, and if possible no significant impact whatsoever."
Then it was most vibrant economy in central Europe, the Czech Republic, where overnight the finance minister voiced the loudest anger at Russian sanctions yet. From Bloomberg:
SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA MAKE NO SENSE, CZECH FINANCE MINISTER SAYS
And finally, it is the country whose fate is what this conflict is all about, because should Germany decide it has had enough of DC's geopolitical brinksmanship, one which always "costs" European allies far more than it does the US, and aligns with the Russia-China-India axis, then the "Eurasian Crescent" will be complete, and the countdown to reserve currency transition may officially begin.
Sure enough, Bloomberg reports that sanctions against Russia are hurting sentiment at German companies, according to Focus magazine which cites the BGA Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade, and the DIHK German Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The implications are clear: cost-benefit analysis has shifted too far to the left, and while Germany was ok with supporting the "west" in its game of escalating sanctions vs Putin, at this point there is no further support, and in fact the pendulum is starting to swing in the opposite direction.
So with increasingly more eastern and central European nations vocally opining against Russian sanctions, and with the Ukraine government now clearly engaging in open provocations to curry popular support for some "unfathomable" warmongering cause (unless of course it can provide evidence it did indeed destroy a Russian military convoy on its territory), how long until the "western" alliance finally folds under its own weight and has no choice but to roll back the sanctions and de-escalate, in the process handing Putin the biggest diplomatic knockout round yet?
European leaders on Saturday scrambled to ease tensions over claims that Ukrainian forces had destroyed Russian military vehicles as Kiev inched closer to allowing a mammoth aid convoy from Moscow over its border.
While a diplomatic push sought to defuse the rhetoric, deadly shelling pummelled besieged pro-Russian rebel strongholds and a top separatist leader claimed he had received a fresh injection of troops trained "on Russian territory".
Moscow and Kiev's foreign ministers geared up for an urgent meeting with their French and German counterparts Sunday as Ukraine's boasts that it had destroyed a small military convoy from Russia ramped up the stakes.
Russia dismissed the claims as "fantasies", but resisted the urge to strike back, as it again denied the persistent allegations from the West that it is arming the rebels.
Western leaders also tried to douse the flames with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holding phone talks with US Vice President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The West and Kiev fear the convoy could be a "Trojan horse" to bolster the flagging pro-Kremlin rebellion in eastern Ukraine, or provide Moscow with an excuse to send in the 20,000 troops that NATO says it has massed on the border.
Poroshenko told Biden Saturday that the separatists had yet to grant safe passage for the aid.