Posts Tagged ‘About Israel grossman’

Former Ambassador: It’s Not Too Late To Arm Syrian Rebels

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 14 2014

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WADE GOODWYN, HOST:

There are, of course, many who are not opposed to the president’s plan for military intervention. Ambassador Frederic Hof is one of them. He’s a former special advisor for transition in Syria and has been making the case for some of the points in the president’s plan for a long time now. He told me was mostly pleased with what he heard on Wednesday night.

FRED HOF: I think the president, in the course of 14 minutes, made a very effective case for a counterterrorism strategy against the Islamic State. I’m not so sure that counterterrorism will address the entirety of the problem, but he certainly said the right things about aiding the Syrian opposition and about refraining from any kind of cooperation or collaboration with the Assad regime.

GOODWYN: You, of course, know that the argument against arming the Syrian rebels is that their day has passed. It’s too late for them. They’re marginalized and weak. Arm them now and those arms will eventually fall into the hands of ISIS. You disagree?

HOF: I disagree with that. And look, this is going to be incredibly difficult, undoubtedly much more difficult than it would’ve been two years ago had a different decision been made. But if you are going to engage these Islamic State forces militarily, it will not be enough simply to do so with airstrikes. There has to be a ground component. There is a ground component of sorts on the Iraqi side with the Iraqi Army, such as it is, with the Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces. You need something on the Syrian side.

GOODWYN: Do you have evidence that there’s enough there there when it comes to the Syrian rebels left?

HOF: I think the view of people in the United States government who have the actual responsibility is that yes, there is some there there. It’s not as good as it was two years ago. In the time that’s expired over the past two years, these Islamic State people, these Nusra Front people, all of these descendants of al-Qaida in Iraq have had enormous resources. They’ve had a lot of money. They’ve been able to pull young Syrian rebels away from these more nationalist – some people use the phrase moderate – forces. They’ve had a magnetic effect. They’ve pulled people away. We need to try, even at this late date, to reverse that magnetic flow.

GOODWYN: Do you think the president’s words on Bashar al-Assad were strong enough?

HOF: My sense is that what the president had to say about Bashar al-Assad was quite welcome. I mean, he really put the spike into the idea that there could be some form of collaboration or cooperation between Assad and the United States. Personally, I would’ve preferred had the president gone a bit farther – had he taken note of the huge portfolio of war crimes and crimes against humanity that Assad has committed. I would have welcomed the president of the United States saying that if the sidelining of Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister in Iraq, was essential to getting on the path to defeating the Islamic State in Iraq, you could multiply that by 1,000. And there you would have a description of the role of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. As long as he is in power, he will be a major obstacle to the accomplishment of American and coalition objectives in Syria and in Iraq, for that matter. Bashar al-Assad’s dream from the beginning of this crisis has been for all of his opposition to be basically terrorist in nature so that he could make the case that he should be admitted, that he should be returned to polite society politically. But this is just – this is just not going to happen. It can’t happen.

GOODWYN: Ambassador Fred Hof is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States. He joined us in our Washington studios. Thanks so much.

HOF: It’s been my great pleasure.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/13/348181035/former-ambassador-its-not-too-late-to-arm-syrian-rebels?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Ukraine: Peace Disrupted By Barrage; Russia Sends New Aid Convoy

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 14 2014

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A convoy of Russian trucks crosses the Ukrainian border at the Donetsk-Izvarino custom control checkpoint as Ukrainian refugees look on, Saturday. Russia says the trucks are carrying aid; Ukrainian officials say they don’t know what’s inside.

SERGEI VENYAVSKY/AFP/Getty Images


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SERGEI VENYAVSKY/AFP/Getty Images

A convoy of Russian trucks crosses the Ukrainian border at the Donetsk-Izvarino custom control checkpoint as Ukrainian refugees look on, Saturday. Russia says the trucks are carrying aid; Ukrainian officials say they don't know what's inside.

A convoy of Russian trucks crosses the Ukrainian border at the Donetsk-Izvarino custom control checkpoint as Ukrainian refugees look on, Saturday. Russia says the trucks are carrying aid; Ukrainian officials say they don’t know what’s inside.

SERGEI VENYAVSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Rocket fire tested — but didn’t break — a week-old cease-fire between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists Friday night. The deal has brought the release of dozens of prisoners and cut the number of casualties from fighting, even as both sides have reportedly violated its rules in skirmishes.

Russia has sent a second convoy of trucks bearing what it says is humanitarian aid into Ukraine. Similar to an August operation, neither Ukraine nor the Red Cross reportedly received an early warning about the trucks, and the AP says they crossed the border without being inspected.

Ukrainian defense spokesman Andriy Lysenko called the convoy a “violation of the established procedure of border and customs clearance,” according to Ukraine’s Interfax agency. He also added, “Representatives of the Red Cross do not accompany the cargo, its contents are unknown.”

The incident came as insurgents mounted a fresh attack near the airport in Donetsk, which is under the central government’s control.

From Donetsk, NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports:

“Volleys of GRAD rockets rang out in the night Friday to Saturday in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk, underscoring the difficulties of enforcing the ceasefire a week after it was signed. Later, separatist military trucks were seen driving through the town carrying the rocket launchers.

“Still, 67 prisoners were released in an exchange between the Ukrainian army and the separatists on Friday, proving that other points of the ceasefire agreement are being adhered to.

“Despite the progress, the U.S. and European Union hit Russia with tough new sanctions this week in a coordinated response to what they said was Moscow’s ‘unacceptable behavior’ in Ukraine. Russia is accused of supporting the separatists with arms and fighters.”

Negotiations for a more permanent peace are continuing. And on Friday, the EU announced it had reached a compromise deal over its plan to expand a trade partnership with Ukraine that has alarmed Russian leaders. The new agreement postpones the full trade pact’s implementation until 2016, Ukraine’s Kyiv Post reports.

Ukraine’s leader criticized Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Saturday, calling him a threat to both Ukraine and Europe.

“Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said only membership of NATO would enable Ukraine to defend itself from external aggression,” Reuters reports.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/13/348191985/ukraine-peace-disrupted-by-barrage-russia-sends-new-aid-convoy?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

ISIS Video Purports To Show Beheading Of British Aid Worker

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 14 2014

Update at 8:50 p.m. EDT

The militant group that calls itself the Islamic State has released a video that purportedly shows the beheading of British aid worker David Haines.

The authenticity of the video, which appeared online Saturday, has not been independently confirmed by NPR.

The organization, also known as ISIS, had threatened to kill Haines just under two weeks ago, in an earlier video that showed the beheading of an American journalist. This weekend, Haines’ family had issued a public plea to his captors through the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The family asked ISIS to make contact with them.

Haines, an international aid worker, was abducted in Syria in 2013. “The British government had managed to keep his kidnapping secret out of concern for his safety until the most recent video Islamic State video identified him as a captive,” the AP writes.

The BBC reports that the 44-year-old father of two from Perth, Scotland, was kidnapped shortly after he began working with a French relief agency called ACTED. At his posting there, Haines was “working in the Atmeh refugee camp … supplying water, food and tents.”

Over the past decade and a half he’d worked with a variety of aid agencies, writes the BBC: “He had worked with a German charity on post-war reconstruction projects in Croatia, including housing and demining. He was also involved in efforts to help displaced people to return to their homes. In 2011 he became Head of Mission in Libya for Handicap International,” an organization that works to help vulnerable people with disabilities.

“The following year he joined another agency, the Nonviolence Peaceforce (NP), and went to South Sudan,” where he worked as an unarmed civilian peacekeeper.

ISIS previously released two videos showing the beheadings of two American journalists, which were confirmed by U.S. officials to be authentic. The first video, which showed the killing of James Foley, was released on August 20. The second, which showed the beheading of Steven Sotloff and contained the threat directed towards Haines, was released on Sept. 2.

The newest video, like those previous videos, appears to name another Western hostage as a future target.

NPR’s correspondent Alice Fordham, reporting for our Newscast unit, says the video begins with footage of British prime minister David Cameron. The two previous videos began with footage of President Obama.

The man identified as Haines, Alice reports, is shown “kneeling in a featureless desert in an orange robe.”

The video appears to be recent, Alice says: “The assailant refers to the bombing of Iraq’s Haditha dam a week ago. Another man identified as a British hostage appears at the end as the masked man exhorts Prime Minister Cameron to stop fighting the Islamic State.”

Cameron has tweeted a response, writing, “We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes.”

President Obama said in a statement that the U.S. “strongly condemns the barbaric murder of UK citizen David Haines by the terrorist group ISIL,” and pledged to work with the U.K. and other nations to “bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/13/348292090/isis-video-purports-to-show-beheading-of-british-aid-worker?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Border Crossings Slow But Immigration Courts Still Face Backlog

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 13 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The number of unaccompanied Central American children who are able to duck Mexican authorities and cross into the U.S. illegally may be down, as we just heard. But that decrease has not yet translated into a lighter caseload for immigration court judges. That’s according to Dana Leigh Marks who was an immigration judge as well as the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. We spoke with her in early July at the height of the migrant crisis. And we’re going to talk again now. Welcome to the program once again.

DANA LEIGH MARKS: Thank you so much, Robert.

SIEGEL: Crossings are down, but I gather the immigration courts still have a huge backlog. Is that right?

MARKS: That’s correct. It takes a long time for cases to work through our system. And even though there appears to have been a dip at the present time, we still are working on cases that had come in in the spring and the summer.

SIEGEL: Well, there was much talk in July about trying to ease the burdens on immigration courts. Is there anything different about the workflow there now than there was in early July?

MARKS: What’s happening is that the administration has decided that we should prioritize cases in terms of last in, first out, whereas in the past we would handle cases in according to the order that they came into our system. So that change has been implemented. And now we are working on more recent arrivals rather than working on cases that have been in our system for a longer period of time.

SIEGEL: So you’re saying – well, let’s say in the past week – cases that you’ve heard in your court – when did some of those people enter the U.S.?

MARKS: Well, my court is not a great example because I haven’t been assigned yet to these new surge dockets. But maybe it’s good by comparison. In San Francisco I’m dealing with cases that have been on my docket for three to four years before they come to a final conclusion. And some of them it goes up to five. In contrast, we are seeing cases of newly arrived, unaccompanied juveniles coming into our courts within 21 days of the filing of the charging document.

SIEGEL: You’ve called for more judges to be named. The administration didn’t get the amount of money it wanted, but it did move around some money. Have they flooded the zone near the Mexican border to at least add more judges to lighten the docket load a bit?

MARKS: What’s happened is that existing judges have been assigned in different ways to try to address the caseloads differently. But no additional judicial capacity has been added to the system. So by scheduling these newly arrived juvenile’s cases sooner, they are being handled more quickly but to the detriment or delay of the cases that are left behind by the fact that a judge is taken out of their existing docket – out of their existing courtroom and assigned to a courtroom along the border.

SIEGEL: Do you think that the shift to the last in, first out schedule is intended as a deterrent to Central American immigration? That is, to send a message to people who have been coming over this year, that they will be dealt with more promptly than perhaps their relatives who came over five years ago were dealt with.

MARKS: Well, it’s not really the role of the association to speculate with regard to political overtones and what messages are being sent. We do know that the administration has chosen to take this approach in response to the surge of cases at the border.

SIEGEL: And that’s a shift?

MARKS: And that that is a shift. That is correct.

SIEGEL: When it’s reported that the immigration court backlog is at 400,000, we’re not talking about people who are sitting in immigration detention facilities, are we?

MARKS: No. That is correct that the number one priority in our system has always been the cases of detained individuals to assure that they are processed through the system as quickly as possible.

SIEGEL: Judge Marks, thank you very much for talking with us today.

MARKS: Thank you so much, Robert.

SIEGEL: Dana Leigh Marks is an immigration judge in San Francisco and president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/12/348010261/border-crossings-slow-but-immigration-courts-still-face-backlog?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Ian Paisley Was ‘Powerful In The Pulpit’ And On Political Platforms

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 13 2014

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Ian Paisley died today. He was a preacher and politician in Northern Ireland – a Unionist. That meant he was determined to keep Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. Like most unionists, he was a Protestant – a fire and brimstone fundamentalist. Here, he was railing against British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1991 for negotiating with the Republic of Ireland.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

IAN PAISLEY: We hand this woman, Margaret Thatcher, over to the devil that she might learn not to blaspheme. And, oh, God, in wrath, take vengeance upon this wicked, treacherous, lying woman. Take vengeance upon her, oh, Lord.

SIEGEL: Fast-forward to 2007. Paisley, by then, was first minister Northern Ireland, working hand-in-glove with Catholic Republicans – people who allied with the Republic and its capital, Dublin. The booming voice was still there, but the belligerence was gone.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PAISLEY: From the depths of my heart, I can say to you today that I believe Northern Ireland has come to a time of peace – a time when hate will no longer rule. How good it will be to be part of a wonderful healing in this province.

SIEGEL: Ed Moloney has given a lot of thought to this remarkable turnaround. He’s the author of “Paisley,” and we have him on the line with us. What happened to Ian Paisley?

ED MOLONEY: Well, there are various theories. One is that his wife, who was very ambitious, urged him to take power and make the necessary concessions. There are others who believe that he had a St. Paul to Damascus type of conversion. And then there are others who say that he was cynical and pragmatic for most of his political and religious life. And he exploited the extremism that he preached, but he didn’t really believe it towards the end. But he saw this – these qualities as necessary to get to the top of the heap. And of course, the top of the heap is where he ended up.

SIEGEL: People were always at pains to say that the conflict in Northern Ireland was a dispute between Unionists and Republicans, not really between Protestants and Catholics. But here was a man who called the Roman Catholic Church the whore of Babylon. I mean, was the conflict essentially religious for him, do you think?

MOLONEY: I think it was to begin with, but I think as time moved on and his views matured, you know, I think he dropped a lot of the overt anti-Catholic stuff. I mean, in his early days, when he was running his newspaper, they were full of stories of Jesuits and nuns having sexual affairs in the Vatican and stuff like that. But after few years and particularly after he got elected, he dropped that. And indeed, he earned the reputation for being a very good constituency politician – someone who looked after his Catholic constituencies every bit as avidly as he looked after his Protestant constituents. But he never dropped the political extremism. Even when he became the first minister in Northern Ireland, his unionism was untouched by that.

SIEGEL: When I was in Britain in the early 1980s, Ian Paisley struck me as one of the most American-like figures on the British political landscape. That was no accident. He spent a lot of time here.

MOLONEY: No, that was – absolutely. That’s because America played a very large part in his life. I mean, he’s Dr. – or was Dr. Ian Paisley. He got that PhD from Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones, Sr., the founder of the dynasty, if you like, was a very close personal friend who opened his church in Belfast. When Ian Paisley started off as a preacher and a politician, he had a very thick rural country accent. He got that softened and reshaped, thanks the training he got in America. And he was regarded by American Baptists as one the best preachers they had ever heard. And he was mesmerizing. He was extraordinarily powerful in the pulpit and also on the political platform.

SIEGEL: Ed Moloney, thanks for talking with us.

MOLONEY: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: Ed Maloney is the author of a biography of the Reverend Ian Paisley, who died today at the age of 88.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/12/348010233/ian-paisley-was-powerful-in-the-pulpit-and-on-political-platforms?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Free Syrian Army Struggles To Maintain Control In Two-Front War

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 13 2014

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Beside the air campaign, President Obama’s plan to combat ISIS involves training and equipping what he spoke of as the Syrian opposition to take part in the fight. That was a reference to the loose array of rebel groups called the Free Syrian Army. How strong a fighting force are those rebel groups? How do they stack up against ISIS or against the Syrian army? Why Noah Bonsey of the International Crisis Group follows the Syrian war and he joins us now. Welcome to the program.

NOAH BONSEY: Thanks for having me.

SIEGEL: And first can we speak of a coherent force called the Free Syrian Army?

BONSEY: Well, no. As you alluded to there’s no single organization that we can really call the Free Syrian Army. It’s an array of rebel groups and organization among them varies from place to place. However when people in Washington talk about supporting the Free Syrian Army what they generally are referring to is to moderate or non-ideological groups within that wide array of rebel factions. And those very much do exist and their power has steadily risen, relative to more Islamist rebels over the last few months.

SIEGEL: Well, let me ask you this. I know this is a very tough question. The CIA yesterday upped its estimate of how many fighters ISIS or as they say ISL has, it’s over 30,000 now they say. Do you have any idea of how many fighters there are in the more moderate rebel groups that the U.S. would want to aid?

BONSEY: Well, talking about numbers is always difficult. What we can say, I mean, if you break it down by area in the areas that remain under anti-ISIS rebel control they’re the dominant force. But what they’re struggling to do is maintain control of areas they have, while fighting a two front war against both the regime and ISIS. So one place we see that, especially – dramatically is the crucial battle for Aleppo right now. Where you have regime forces seeking to encircle and eventually besiege rebels inside the city of Aleppo. Meanwhile the same rebel groups are fighting ISIS just roughly 15 miles to the north. And it’s in places like that were rebels are fighting this two front war at the very same time, that you see the most struggling for resources – short of resources.

SIEGEL: When they say they don’t have enough – we’ve been hearing for a couple of years now that these rebel forces don’t have enough arms – what is it that they don’t have enough of? What kind of weapons is it that they lack.

BONSEY: Well, one key thing they lack if we’re talking about the fight – that’s relevant to the fight against both ISIS and the regime are anti-tank weapons. They have some and that’s the change we’ve seen in 2014, the United States has allowed American made anti-tank weapons to be provided to vetted rebel groups and that has made a difference. However they need more of them and they also need more ammunition, more cash which can purchase ammunition and weaponry on the black market. So it’s a matter of quantity – it’s also a matter of quality. The rebel fighting force is often less than the sum of its parts because of the disorganization within its ranks, poor training. There’s a role for the opposition’s backers, including the United States, to help improve the organization of these forces. That will require an improvement of coordination among the opposition state backers themselves, you know, between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the United States primarily.

SIEGEL: Should the U.S. assume that the moderate Syrian rebels whom it intends to train more and assist more, will inevitably be working in concert with say, the Nusra Front, which we describe as being related to al-Qaeda – that is, are we just one ally away from al-Qaeda in Syria at this stage?

BONSEY: For now in certain parts of the country, on certain fronts, we can expect even moderate rebel groups to continue to cooperate with al-Nusra, especially where they’re fighting the regime and ISIS in the same place at the same time. But over time one would expect that through increasing and improving support to moderate rebel groups one could wean them off of their dependence upon collaboration with al-Nusra. But that’s not something that will happen prior to improving support to these groups.

SIEGEL: Well, Noah Bonsey of the International Crisis Group, thanks for talking with us.

BONSEY: Thanks so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/12/348010298/free-syrian-army-struggles-to-maintain-control-in-two-front-war?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Yemen May Not Offer Best Model For Obama’s ISIS Plan

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 12 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

When the president laid out his plans to destroy ISIS – or, as he says, ISIL – last night, he compared the effort to U.S. strikes against suspected terrorists in Yemen and Somalia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL, wherever they exist, using our air power. And our support for partners – forces – on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

SIEGEL: Well, Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen argues that this may be a flawed model. He’s the author of “The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaida and America’s War In Arabia.” And he joins me on the line from Istanbul, Turkey. Welcome to the program once again.

GREGORY JOHNSEN: Thanks so much.

SIEGEL: Gregory, the target in Yemen has been al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Recently, you wrote this (reading) The more men the U.S. killed, the stronger al-Qaida seemed to grow.

And as you observe, the U.S. killed some al-Qaida leaders in the process. What’s going on?

JOHNSEN: Yeah, so what the president referred to last night is a campaign that the U.S. has been waging, really, since late 2009. The problem, however, is that in Yemen at least, the U.S. has confused killing with winning. So when the U.S. started this campaign in 2009, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the group in Yemen, numbered about 200 or 300 individuals. Now we’re four years into a bombing campaign, and instead of al-Qaida getting smaller, the group’s actually getting bigger. So it’s at least three to four times what it was when the U.S. started bombing.

SIEGEL: You relate a sequence of events in the new epilogue to your book that happened last December – al-Qaida attacked a hospital. People there saw security footage on television of a massacre of ordinary Yemenites. And it cost al-Qaida much in the way of public tolerance. Then, a few days later, the U.S. staged a drone attack that mistakenly hit a wedding convoy and everything was back to the way it was, I gather.

JOHNSEN: Yeah, this is a problem that the U.S. has had in Yemen. So really one of the fundamental truths of a war like this is that the side that kills the most civilians loses. Al-Qaida carried out a bloody assault on a hospital and for days, people in Yemen were up in arms. People were talking about what a horror, what a menace al-Qaida was. Then, only a few days later, the U.S. carried out a drone strike that seemed to be based on faulty intelligence. And instead of killing the target, the U.S. actually hit several cars that were in a wedding convoy. And just like that, all of the goodwill that the U.S. had garnered by al-Qaida making its mistake was lost. The difference in this is that al-Qaida apologized for the hospital attack. The U.S. never apologized for the wedding attack. And in fact, it continues to this day to say that it was a clean strike and that only terrorists were killed – a claim that no Yemini believes.

SIEGEL: Is the position of al-Qaida in Yemen analogous to the spread of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria?

JOHNSEN: Well, there are some similarities. So al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has, like ISIS up in Syria as well as in Iraq, taken over some territory and controlled towns. But ISIS is much bigger. It has much more men and it controls much more territory than does al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. So I think one of the problems that the U.S. is going to get into when it starts bombing targets in Iraq more than it has been and even into Syria, as the president suggested last night, is that it’s going to be very, very difficult for the U.S. to limit civilian casualties. So in a place like Yemen where the U.S. is using drones, in which drones can stay up in air for hours at a time, in which they can track a single target over days and days, the U.S. still makes mistakes and civilians are killed. What’s going to happen when the U.S. is bombing into urban areas in which ISIS is melding in with the civilian population? What we’ve seen in Iraq and in Syria is that ISIS has grown out of al-Qaida in Iraq. And the group has gotten bigger, it’s gotten more menacing and it’s become more and more of a threat. So I think the real concern for the U.S. moving forward is how can you tamp down this problem without actually making it worse?

SIEGEL: That’s Gregory Johnsen, author of “The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al- Qaida And America’s War In Arabia.” He was speaking to us from Istanbul. Gregory Johnsen, thank you.

JOHNSEN: Thanks so much, Robert.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/11/347738154/yemen-may-not-offer-best-model-for-obamas-isis-plan?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Obama’s ISIS Plan A ‘Sunni Awakening: Part Two’

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 12 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. We begin this hour with a closer look at one element of President Obama’s strategy to take on the so-called Islamic State. Along with airstrikes and weapons and training for fighters in Syria and Iraq, the president described last night this component of his plan.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’ll also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL’s control.

CORNISH: Working with Sunni communities is something the United States did once before, during the Iraq War. The effort was called The Awakening and to explore whether the idea might work again and why it’s so important, I’m joined now by NPR’s Alice Fordham in Baghdad. Hey there, Alice.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: Good afternoon.

CORNISH: And NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman here with me in the studio. Hi Tom.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Good to be with you.

CORNISH: So I’m going to start with you Tom and the president’s plan. What is the idea behind what they are calling a National Guard?

BOWMAN: Well, the Iraqi army is basically a Shiite army so it’s made up of the largest ethnic group in the country, but it does not represent the Sunnis. So to draw them into the fight against the Islamic State, Iraq is creating Sunni units – basically National Guard units in the areas where they live. So the idea is they’ll have these separate units and not have to fight alongside an Iraqi army they frankly just don’t trust.

CORNISH: And Alice, we’ve been talking about northern and western provinces in Iraq where ISIL, or the Islamic State, has taken territory essentially by exploiting the dissatisfaction of the local population, who are the Sunnis, right?

FORDHAM: Right. So in addition to the firepower that they used to blast their way into cities like Fallujah and Mosul, Tikrit; Sunni cities – they found a degree of support among the local population because that population was largely Sunni and had complained and protested for years against what they saw as a highly sectarian Shiite government. So many people there were open to the idea of an alternative, any alternative, to that government. And if they were Sunni, the Islamic State militants usually let them be, to a certain extent.

CORNISH: And Tom, what the administration is planning now is basically a new version of what happened back in 2006 and 2007. You covered that at that time. I mean, how did it work?

BOWMAN: Well, that’s right. First of all, one of the big threats back then was a group called al-Qaida in Iraq, basically the forerunner of the current group now called ISIS. Now, back then, the Sunni groups were allied with al-Qaida in Iraq. But over time, al-Qaida was too heavy-handed. They tried to take over some of the more lucrative illicit businesses the sheikhs had, like oil and gas smuggling. They were also brutal towards those who crossed them. There were instances where they killed sheikhs and left their bodies out in the desert. So over time, Sunnis started working with the Americans against al-Qaida in Iraq and the American military paid these Sunni fighters around $300 per month. They were formed into units that became known as the Sons of Iraq and it was pretty effective.

Now with this whole effort was accelerated by the surge of American troops in 2007. That’s when, if you remember, some 30,000 more U.S. forces went to Iraq under General Petraeus. I was there at the time with American units and working with some of these guys in the Sons of Iraq. And the sense was that once the Americans leave, this whole thing’s going to fall apart. The Shiite government wouldn’t support them anymore, wouldn’t pay them and they would even face arrest, or worse. And that’s precisely what happened.

CORNISH: Alice, you’ve been speaking to people who actually helped America fight al-Qaida during the Sunni Awakening back then. Do you sense that they will help again now in this fight against ISIS?

FORDHAM: So I reached out to some of these tribal leaders, mostly from Sunni areas here in Baghdad, from Anbar Province in the West and from around Saddam Hussein’s hometown near Tikrit.

And as you say Tom, that exactly the way that they predicted it, has happened. There’s a constant complaint among these people that they were picked up by the U.S. to fight against al-Qaida, they were paid and they were promised that they would continue to be paid. But as you say, as the U.S. slowly withdrew and the Iraqi authorities took over they usually weren’t. And they were sometimes arrested and intimidated, according to their allegations. So the sheikh near Tikrit that I spoke to, who’s an old army colonel – he was fired the United States invaded – he told me the families of those who died fighting al-Qaida were never compensated, they were left destitute.

But what was interesting about talking to people is that this ire was directed less at the Americans for abandoning them, then at the government here for not continuing the support.

CORNISH: So it is more about the Iraqi government, not necessarily the relationship with the Americans?

FORDHAM: That’s what I’m picking up here. And I think the rifts between the government and most Sunnis have only gotten wider since the Americans left. And what’s changed now is that to help fight the Islamic State, the government has recruited Shiite militias who the Sunnis are afraid of in general. The men I’ve spoken to seem to be prepared to be on board with the Americans in many cases, but not with these groups that the United States has now de facto sided with.

And another thing to take into consideration is that this fight is bigger and it’s more daunting than it was previously. Because they’re not asking Iraq’s Sunnis to fight small armed groups. They’re asking them to fight a powerful enemy that’s holding territory.

CORNISH: So Tom, how does the Obama administration create National Guard units comprised of Sunnis if the Sunnis are so suspicious of the whole idea?

BOWMAN: Well, it’s going to be very difficult and very delicate situation. There’s been outreach to the Sunnis in recent months by U.S. diplomats, military personnel and others. And they say some of the Sunni sheikhs are willing to work with the Americans. But as Alice said, they’re very, very wary of the Iraqi government. So this is going to take a while to get this thing together.

And part of this, you know, a big part of it really, is the political part of it. I talked to a Pentagon official. I said, what do you worry most about this whole effort? And this official said, the political part of getting the Sunnis on board. That was the most difficult part of all this. Not getting ISIS out of Mosul or some of these other cities. And another part of this is, of course, the U.S. will have to train some of these Sunni units, these National Guard units. The question is, the United States doesn’t seem to be sending enough trainers over to make this happen, only a few hundred.

So that’s another issue as well. But the political part of this, that’s going to be the hardest part.

CORNISH: That’s NPR’s Pentagon correspondent, Tom Bowman. And NPR’s Alice Fordham in Baghdad. Thank you both.

BOWMAN: You’re welcome.

FORDHAM: Thanks for having me.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/11/347738168/obamas-isis-plan-a-sunni-awakening-part-two?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Oscar Pistorius Found Not Guility In Girlfriend’s Shooting Death

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 12 2014

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Olympian Oscar Pistorius, who shot and killed his girlfriend last year, has been found not guilty of premeditated murder. That’s what South African judge Thokozile Masipa said today when she read out a portion of her ruling.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THOKOZILE MASIPA: I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. In the circumstances, it is clear that his conduct was negligent.

CORNISH: But that isn’t the end of her judgment. In a dramatic turn, the judge halted proceedings before making a ruling on a lesser charge, culpable homicide. Joining us from South Africa is the BBC’s Audrey Brown, who’s been following the case. She joins us from a cafe in Johannesburg.

Welcome to the program, Audrey.

AUDREY BROWN, BYLINE: Thank you very much.

CORNISH: So what did the judge have to say? Tell us more about what she said about why Pistorius was not found guilty.

BROWN: The judge made very clear that she was not going to rely on the evidence of various witnesses. She said that she believed that even though they were not deliberately misleading the court, they did rely on memory, which is fallible as you know, human beings are. And so she said she’s going to rely on a timeline that had been established by technology and by forensic evidence. So for instance, phone records that indicated clearly, you know, when Oscar Pistorius made the first call, who that call was to, you know. And there was one witness that she felt in particular was more reliable than the others because she said when that witness walked in, he was one of the first people to walk in as Oscar Pistorius was carrying the almost certainly lifeless body of Reeva Steenkamp down the stairs. He was absolutely beside himself with grief and you know, he was distraught. And I think that, for me, was the first indication that she was probably going to dismiss the initial charges; the strongest charges that the state had brought against Oscar.

CORNISH: And we should remind people here that there is no jury in this case. This is all on the judge. And as you said, she did not indicate that she thought this was premeditated. But help us understand this culpable homicide. What does that mean?

BROWN: I must just point out that the judge actually, in this particular instance, had two assessors. And they basically help the judge to sift through the evidence. They bring particular expertise to the court as well. As to culpable homicide, which is essentially saying that you negligently caused the death of a person – the unlawful death of a person. So that’s what the judge will be discussing when she continues delivering her verdict or, as we say in South Africa, handing down judgment.

CORNISH: So much has been made of the reactions of Oscar Pistorius in the courtroom over the course of trial. What was he like today?

BROWN: While the judge was reading her sentence and while, you know – when she was delivering judgment on the charge of murder, Oscar Pistorius was sobbing. He was sobbing uncontrollably. You know, he basically almost melted into a puddle of grief.

CORNISH: You’ve been also reporting throughout the day on reactions around the country. You’re at a cafe now. What have you been hearing from people?

BROWN: People were stunned. They were surprised. And they were extremely vocal in expressing their surprise. And, you know, in a case like this where it’s had its own special channel on radio and on television, you know, everybody is now a legal expert. Everybody speaks with great ease, you know, about dolus directus and dolus eventualis and it must be this, and it must be that. You know, we’ve become a nation of legal experts.

CORNISH: The BBC’s Audrey Brown in Johannesburg. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

BROWN: Thank you.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/11/347738189/oscar-pistorius-found-not-guility-in-girlfriends-shooting-death?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Obama Says U.S. Will ‘Take Out’ Islamic State ‘Wherever They Exist’

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Sep 11 2014

In a prime-time speech on Wednesday, President Obama said the United States plans to “take out” the Islamic State “wherever they exist.”

“With a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Obama said. “Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”

Signaling a broadening of the American offensive so far, Obama said that he would “not hesitate” to order strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.

Obama added that he already has the authorization he needs to conduct that offensive, but he welcomes “congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”

If you remember, the Islamic State came to international prominence over the summer, when it began a brazen and lightning-fast attack on Iraq. Since then, the Sunni militant group has overtaken several Iraqi cities and has taken responsibility for the beheading of two American journalists.

As the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL, moved farther into Iraq, the United States began an air campaign against the group.

President Obama made news late last month, when he admitted that the U.S. did not “have a strategy yet” on how to deal with the Islamic State. Today, Obama was unequivocal.

“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Obama said. “This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Obama reiterated that unlike U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, this operation will not involve “American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” Obama said. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

On the eve of Sept. 11, it’s also important to note that Obama said the U.S. had not detected a specific plot against the United States homeland from the Islamic State. But the group, Obama said, represents a threat against the stability of the Middle East and “if left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States.”

We live blogged the speech as it happened. For a more details on the speech, keep reading.

Update at 9:15 p.m. ET. Welcome Our Responsibility To Lead:

Asking the U.S. public to support this effort, Obama appeals to American exceptionalism. He says:

“It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America – our scientists, our doctors, our know-how – that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so they can’t pose a threat to the Syrian people – or the world – again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.”

Update at 9:11 p.m. ET. Doesn’t Need Authorization:

Obama says he has the authorization he needs to conduct this offensive. But he said he welcomes “congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”

Update at 9:09 p.m. ET. A Broad Coalition:

Obama says that while the U.S. will lead this effort it will be accompanied by a “broad coalition of allies.”

“Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid,” Obama said.

Update at 9:07 p.m. ET. We Will Hunt Down Terrorists:

Obama delivers a strong warning to terrorists saying: “This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Update at 9:05 p.m. ET. No Specific Plot Against U.S.:

“ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East – including American citizens, personnel and facilities,” Obama says. “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.”

Americans, he says, are concerned about the threats.

“Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve,” Obama said.

Update at 9:02 p.m. ET. Remain Vigilant:

Beginning his speech Obama says the U.S. has already had success in fighting terrorists.

“Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat,” Obama said. “We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge.”

One of those threats, Obama says, is the Islamic State, which “has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

Update at 9 p.m. ET. Can Use 2001 Authorization:

During a background briefing previewing President Obama’s speech, a senior administration official said President Obama can use the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress in 2001 to conduct the strikes against the Islamic State.

That authorization was passed shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and authorized the president to “to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States.”

The administration official added that they believe there is national consensus around the need to deal with the Islamic State and that there is also Congressional support.

The administration official also left no doubt that the U.S. is willing to strike Islamic State targets inside Syria.

“The United States is prepared to take action on both sides of [the Iraq/Syria] border,” the official said.

Another senior administration official added that the approach advocated by President Obama today will stand in start contrast to that of other administration in the past.

Obama, the official said, is not talking about fighting the Islamic State using troops on the ground.

Instead, this mission will be marked by a “systematic campaign of air strikes” and working to support allies fighting the Islamic State on the ground.

Update at 7:52 p.m. ET. No Planned Attacks On U.S.:

NPR’s Scott Horsley says that on this eve of Sept. 11, the United States does not believe the Islamic State is currently plotting attacks against the homeland.

“But the group is a threat to stability in the Middle East and over time, it could be a threat to the West,” Scott said.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this speech is coming exactly one year after Obama delivered a prime-time speech in which he asked Congress to authorize the use of force against the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.

Shortly after that speech, it became clear that Congress did not want to go along with that action and Obama backed down.

“That was a body blow for Obama’s prestige and one could argue that it really weakened the president’s hand for all the foreign policy challenges that followed over the last year,” Scott told All Things Considered.

The Obama administration has signaled that it will not ask Congress for authorizations to conduct air strikes in Syria.

Scott says what the Obama administration will ask Congress for is “authorization to train and equip moderate opposition forces in Syria.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/10/347486634/obama-to-say-u-s-will-take-out-islamic-state-wherever-they-exist?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world