Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ukraine 'Truce' Fails, Debaltseve Situation Deteriorating. Putin Says U.S. Already Supplying Arms To Ukraine

Ukraine 'Truce' Fails: Withdrawal Deadline Passes, Debaltseve Situation Deteriorating

As the game of chicken between Greece and the Eurogroup hots up, it appears another - potentially far more deadly - is escalating in Ukraine as neither side is willing to follow through on the terms of the Minsk Summit peace deal - removing heavy weaponry from the frontlines - as a key deadline passes without agreement. 
As The Guardian reports, The Ukrainian military have stated that "as soon as the militants cease fire, the Ukrainian side will begin to withdraw heavy weaponry from the frontline," and the pro-Russian separatists proclaim, "We do not have the right [to stop fighting for Debaltseve]," adding that as far as the truce, "we have everything ready for a mutual withdrawal. We will not do anything unilaterally – that would make our soldiers targets."
As The Guardian reports, and Interfax confirms, the situation in Debaltseve is deteriorating...

Kiev on Tuesday reported artillery strikes overnight around the key transportation hub of Debaltseve while the situation in the rest of the conflict zone appeared to be calm.

An Associated Press reporter heard sustained shelling around Debaltseve – where government troops are encircled – on Tuesday morning, some coming from Grad rocket launchers.

A senior rebel representative told Reuters that the separatists cannot “morally” stop fighting for control of the town.

Denis Pushilin also said rebels could not withdraw heavy weaponry, as set out in the deal, unless Ukrainian forces did so as well.

“We do not have the right [to stop fighting for Debaltseve]. It’s even a moral thing. It’s internal territory,” Pushilin said in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

“We have to respond to fire, to work on destroying the enemy’s fighting positions.”

Asked about plans to carry out the agreement to withdraw big guns, he said: “We are ready at any time, we have everything ready for a mutual withdrawal. We will not do anything unilaterally – that would make our soldiers targets.”

As AP reports, Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine claimed Tuesday to have taken the key transportation hub of Debaltseve as both parties faced a deadline to start pulling back heavy weapons from the front line.

Fierce fighting on Tuesday appeared to be focused on Debaltseve, a government-held town surrounded by rebel forces that both sides claim to be on their side of the cease-fire line. The issue was not resolved under a cease-fire agreement negotiated last week by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.

Separatist leaders said in remarks carried by the rebel mouthpiece Donetsk News Agency on Tuesday afternoon that their forces have pushed the Ukrainian army out of Debaltseve, gaining control over most of the town.

'Optimistic' Putin Says U.S. Already Supplying Arms To Ukraine

Vladimir Putin says he is "more optimist than pessimist" on Ukraine, but warns that there will be "no end to war if Kiev believes in a military solution." Noting that he believes there has been an "overall decrease" in military activity, he notes that Debaltseve was "possible to forecast," and then proclaims:
Of course, we already have "YouTube" proof of American military presence in Ukraine (which for Washington would have been good enough to wage war) but Putin offers no specific proof and adds rather pointedly that "most Ukraine troops want no part of fractricidal war."

And here's why - because Debaltseve is really just a front guard staging point:

Russian President Vladimir Putin calls upon Ukrainian soldiers encircled in the eastern city of Debaltseve to surrender.

"I expect that those responsible in the Ukrainian leadership won't hinder the soldiers to lay down their arms," Putin says in Budapest.

He adds that he hopes that the separatists surrounding them will let the soldiers return home and not take them prisoner.

And finally:

Christian Slaughter In Libya

The disputed fate of the 21 Coptic Christians abducted in Sirte, Libya, is now clear and visible for all to see on video: while holding them down, Islamic State members shove their fingers in the Christians’ eyes, crane their heads back, and slice away at their throats with knives—all in the name of Allah and Islam, all as the slaughtered call out on the “Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the video, the lead executioner waves his dagger at the camera while boasting of the Islamic State’s savagery: “Oh people, recently you have seen us on the hills of as-Sham and Dabiq’s plain [Syrian regions], chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross for a long time.  And today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message.”

Far from being satisfied with the slaughter of these 21 Christians, the Islamic State is calling on Muslims to find and slaughter more Coptic Christians. (Copts make for the majority of Christians in Libya, having migrated there from neighboring Egypt to find work during the Gaddafi years; most of them are desperate to return but need aid from the Egyptian government to cross the Libyan desert.)

In its online English magazine Dabiq, after justifying the slaughter of the 21, the Islamic State concludes by asserting that “it is important for Muslims everywhere to know that there is no doubt in the great reward to be found on Judgment Day for those who spill the blood of these Coptic crusaders wherever they may be found.”

And indeed, spilling Coptic Christian blood in Libya—and being rewarded for it—has been ongoing for some time now.  The fact is that this most recent beheading, which received a decent amount of media attention, is only the latest in a long line of Muslim persecution of Christians in Libya.
A few days before the 21 Christians were abducted (in two separate incidents), a Christian father, mother, and young daughter were slaughtered in the same region, Sirte.  On December 23, Islamic militants raided the Christian household, killing the father and mother, a doctor and a pharmacist, respectively, and kidnapping 13-year-old Katherine.  Days later, the girl’s body was found in the Libyan desert—shot three times, twice in the head, once in the back (graphic images here).
Nothing was stolen from the household, even though money and jewelry were out in the open.  According to the girl’s uncle, the motive was that “they are a Christian family—persecuted.”

As previously mentioned, Muslim slaughter of Christians is the litmus test of how “radical” an Islamic society has become.  In every single Mideast nation that the U.S. and its Western allies have interfered—IraqEgypt (under Morsi), Libya, and ongoing Syria—the slaughter of Christians there is a reflection of the empowerment of forces hostile to everything Western civilization once stood for.
It also means that the barbarous Islamic State—far from waning and being limited to portions of Iraq and Syria—is growing stronger, now well entrenched in Libya too.

Information About The U.S.-Iranian Nuclear Dialogue Is No Longer 'Sensitive' - It's A Done Deal

Some US and Israeli media have reported that the Obama administration reduced the exchange with Israel of sensitive information about its nuclear negotiations with Iran - because Binyamin Netanyahu has leaked “details of the US position to the media.”

This is a skewed account of the situation. The fact is that US President Barack Obama and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani have agreed on the final draft of a comprehensive nuclear accord. Its terms are therefore an open secret. The deal would be in the bag if Iran’s paramount leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could be brought round to endorsing it.

For now, Washington and Tehran are using media spin tactics in an effort to persuade him. Those tactics were dismissed as “unprofessional media games,” by Iranian Foreign Minister spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham Sunday, Feb. 15, when she denied a Wall Street Journal report that Khamenei had answered a letter from the US president.

"There has been no new letter from Iran's side," she asserted in reference to a letter from Obama to Khamenei last October which, according to the US press, suggested cooperation with Iran in fighting the Islamic State.

No reference was made to the nuclear issue in her remarks. The Iranian leader preserves a sphinx-like silence, which has nothing to do with Binyamin Netanyahu, but does in fact refute Obama’s propaganda game that pins the blame on the Israeli prime minister.

For five years, Obama ran a back-channel dialogue with Iran. Then too he kept its content secret not just from Israel but from other closely affected allies, Saudi Arabia and certain Gulf emirates. Israel at times offered Washington relevant intelligence on Iran, but was rebuffed.

The Israeli opposition campaigning against Netanyahu and his Likud party for the March 17 election has seized on this dispute to accuse him of jeopardizing the country’s strong ties of friendship with the United States - when in fact it is a one-on-one brawl with the US president.

Only last week, Washington had to admit that US intelligence had been taken by surprise by the fall of the pro-American regime in Yemen and Sanaa’s takeover by the Iranian-backed rebel Houthis. While reluctant to admit as much, the administration was deeply disappointed by this act of deceit by Tehran, on which the White House counts heavily for military and intelligence cooperation as a trusted ally in the future war against the Islamic State.

Out of Obama’s intelligence loop on Iran, Israel may be equally reluctant to share its intelligence data on Yemen or even on the situation in Syria and Iraq.
Israel’s Netanyahu is not the only Middle East stand-out against Obama’s Iranian policy. Other leaders are in even worse relations with Washington. The Obama administration and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi are not even on talking terms, much like the late Saudi monarch Abdullah who died last month. His successor, King Salman has yet to make his intentions towards the United States known.

Also see:

Will Syriza Become The Saviour Of The EU?

Is America Still On F.A. Hayek's Road To Serfdom?

Drone War Death Count Surpasses Spanish Inquisition

Washington 'Real Danger' Of Cyber Warfare, Not China North Korea - Wikileaks

More Hipster Harf: 'We Can't Stop ISIS By Killing Them, We Need To Give Them Jobs'

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