`Government and Opposition in Syria Has Failed to Agree List’s for Exchange of Prisoner’s’


#AceNewsServices says `Lists for Exchange of Syria prisoners not agreed upon yet’

Unrest in DamascusThe government and the opposition in Syria had failed to agree on the lists for the exchange of prisoners, Gatilov said.

“The opposition has handed the list of persons detained by the government. But the government has also requested the opposition to produce a list of persons who are detained by them. So far, the opposition has not presented such a list. But we believe that this issue could be resolved with the good will of both parties,” the senior diplomat said.

Exchange of prisoners between the government and opposition forces is considered as one of the stages at the negotiations of the parties. This issue was discussed at the first round of the inter-Syrian discussions in the framework of the Geneva-2 conference. Russia, the USA and the UN took part in this work, too.

Voice of Russia, RIA

 

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#Syria : ” Kerry Apologises or there will be `No Direct Talks’ with Opposition”


#AceNewsServices says ‘No direct US Syria talks unless Kerry apologizes’according to Syrian FM.

Published time: February 02, 2014 11:36

 
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (AFP Photo / SANA)Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (AFP Photo / SANA)
The Syrian FM claims to have rejected a US offer of direct talks without the involvement of the opposition “tools” during the Geneva conference over John Kerry’s refusal to apologize for his biased speech. US officials denied seeking such a meeting.

On his way back to Syria, the country’s foreign minister Walid Muallem was asked why hadn’t the Damascus delegation spoken directly with the US without intermediaries from the opposition delegation. 

“Frankly, the Americans have asked for that in Montruex and I refused unless Kerry apologizes for the speech he made in the conference,”
 Walid Muallem told Syrian state media on board a plane bound for Damascus. 

Syria’s foreign minister was apparently referring to the opening remarks of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech made in Montreux, Switzerland on January 22, who said that President Bashar Assad lost all legitimacy and cannot be a part of any transitional government. 

“There is no way, not possible in the imagination, that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain legitimacy to govern,” Kerry said in that speech. Walid Muallem rebuffed him at the time, saying no outside force had the right to “withdraw legitimacy” from the president or government except for the people of the country.

The US officials were quick to deny claims by Syria’s foreign minister that US diplomats were seeking direct negotiation with the Syrian delegation. 

“At no point did the United States offer to negotiate directly with the Syrian regime,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, though clarifying that the US indeed offered to connect with Syrian officials “on a staff level” through the United Nations and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi.

Psaki added that the State Department will never apologize for the views expressed by the top US diplomat. “At no point will Secretary Kerry ever apologize for speaking the truth about the brutality the Assad regime has inflicted on the people of Syria,” she said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)US Secretary of State John Kerry (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

The peace talks that ended in Geneva on Friday producing no concrete results and no official commitment from Damascus delegation to return to the negotiation table on February 10. The government and opposition were unable to bridge their differences on cease fires, humanitarian corridors or the question of a transitional governing body. 

In a security conference in Munich, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry “to use their influence to ensure the talks proceed as scheduled on February 10.”

Lavrov insisted that “Russia can do nothing alone” as he asked the US to apply their influence on the Syrian opposition

Muallem, meanwhile, warned the opposition will eventually suffer a “reality shock” unless they abandon their “illusions” and drop unrealistic demands. 

The Assad delegation has sought to focus the discussions on brutal acts of terrorism, and Muallem accused the opposition delegation for refusing to sign a declaration condemning such activity in Syria. 

“This rejection is a smirch on the forehead of the coalition’s delegation, and as I said yesterday that any person in the world who suffered from terrorism would adopt this draft statement,”
 Muallem said, adding that the foreign-based coalition who “live in 5-star hotels” knowing nothing about the Syrian reality.

The Syrian foreign minister also lashed out against the “unjust” international community that impose sanctions on a war-torn country. 

“It is an ‘international community’ that adopts double standards policy and mostly dominated by the US… they dominate the UN Security Council and the UN,” Muallem said. 

“When they say ‘international community’ we laugh as they do not represent the international community, for if we consider the population of Russia, China, India and the BRICS countries, we find that they are the international community.” 

Muallem questioned how could the West want to be involved Geneva dialogue and at the same time “impose sanctions on the Syrian people and children?”He asked European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton to explain how can the West can sanction a ban on food products yet at the same time discuss the issue of humanitarian aid shipments.

The foreign minister concluded by saying that in the negation process, Syria will refuse anything that contradicts the constitution. 

“This constitution was reached by a referendum and no one can reach or even think that the presidency is a topic of discussion.”

 

 

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Sochi Winter Olympics: “Russia’s Hidden Agenda”


#AceWorldNews says following Monday’s terrorist bombings only 400 miles away from the site of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, have a geopolitical back story involving implied threats from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan to Russian President Vladimir Putin last summer when Bandar was pressing Putin to withdraw his backing for the #Syrian government.

Bandar bin Sultan, Secretary-General of the Na...

Bandar bin Sultan, Secretary-General of the National Security Council of Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a diplomatic leak detailing the Bandar-Putin meeting in Moscow on July 31, Bandar suggested that Putin’s agreement to abandon the #Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad would lead Saudi Arabia to restrain its Chechen terrorist clients who have attacked Russia targets for years. Putin reportedly grew furious, interpreting Bandar’s offer as a warning that the Sochi games would be threatened by terrorism if Putin didn’t comply.

At the time, I was even told that Putin warned Saudi Arabia of potentially severe consequences – suggesting military retaliation – if Bandar’s implied warning was followed up by actual terrorist attacks like the ones in Volvograd on Monday, killing more than 30 people.

Of course, it is always hard to trace specific terrorist acts back to their origins and many terrorist cells operate with much autonomy. But Putin has staked much of his prestige on a successful Olympics in Sochi, and he also would risk losing face if it were perceived that Bandar had executed a terrorist plan to disrupt the Winter Olympics and that Putin was powerless to stop it.

According to the leaked diplomatic account of last summer’s meeting, Bandar sought Russia’s cooperation on several Mideast concerns, including Syria, and told Putin, “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”

English: RIYADH. Before the beginning of the R...

English: RIYADH. Before the beginning of the Russian-Saudi talks. Русский: ЭР-РИЯД. Перед началом российско-саудовских переговоров. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Putin reportedly responded, “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism that you mentioned. We are interested in developing friendly relations according to clear and strong principles.”

Besides safety for the Sochi Olympics, Bandar raised the potential of Saudi cooperation with Russia on oil and other investment matters, saying, “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets,” according to the diplomatic account.

I was told by a source close to the Russian government that this mix of overt inducements and implied threats infuriated Putin who barely kept his anger in check through the end of the meeting with Bandar. Putin viewed Bandar’s offer to protect the Sochi Olympics as something akin to a Mafia don shaking down a shopkeeper for protection money by saying, “nice little business you got here, I’d hate to see anything happen to it.”

Putin then redoubled his support for the Syrian government in response to Bandar’s blend of bribes and warnings. The source said Russia also issued its own thinly veiled threats against the Saudis. The Saudis may have substantial “soft power” – with their oil and money – but Russia has its own formidable “hard power,” including a huge military, the source said.

Osama bin Laden compound

Osama bin Laden compound (Photo credit: Sajjad Ali Qureshi)

Bandar and Terrorism:

Over the years, Bandar has often treated the issue of “terrorism” as a situational ethic, an ambivalence well-honed since the days when Saudi Arabia and the Reagan administration teamed up to pour billions of dollars into the Afghan mujahedeen and their Arab jihadist allies fighting Soviet troops in the 1980s.

The anti-Soviet effort in Afghanistan brought to prominence Saudi national Osama bin Laden and the terrorists who later consolidated themselves under the global brand, al-Qaeda. In the 1980’s, these roving jihadists’ were hailed as brave defenders of Islam and even “freedom fighters,” but – in the 1990’s – they began targeting the United States with terrorist attacks, leading up to 9/11 in 2001.

At the time of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, Bandar was the Saudi ambassador to the United States and was so close to the Bush family that he was nicknamed “Bandar Bush.” Bandar was also very close to the bin Laden family. After the attacks, Bandar even acknowledged having met Osama bin Laden in the context of bin Laden thanking Bandar for his help financing the Afghan jihad project.

“I was not impressed, to be honest with you,” Bandar told CNN’s Larry King about bin Laden. “I thought he was simple and very quiet guy.”

President Obama confirms death of Osama bin Laden

However, immediately after 9/11, Bandar undermined the FBI’s opportunity to learn more about the connections between Osama bin Laden’s relatives and the perpetrators of 9/11 when Bandar arranged for members of the bin Laden family to flee the United States on some of the first planes allowed back into the air – after only cursory interviews with FBI investigators. The only segment of the 9/11 Commission’s report to be blacked out was the part dealing with alleged Saudi financing for al-Qaeda.

Now, as chief of Saudi intelligence, Bandar appears to be back in the game of coercive geopolitics, arranging weapons for some of the most brutal Syrian rebels and Arab mercenaries operating inside Syria, while offering carrots-and-sticks to foreign leaders who are seen are malleable toward Saudi regional interests. The technique may have failed with Putin but had greater success in lining up the French behind Saudi opposition to a negotiated agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

As a repressive monarchy that preaches the ultra-conservative Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam, Saudi Arabia is bitterly opposed to the democratic reforms of the Arab Spring and the growing influence of Shiite Islam, which now stretches from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah enclaves of Lebanon.

President Mohammed Morsi

Saudi Arabia backed the military coup in Egypt that ousted the elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi. The Saudis also have stepped up assistance to Sunni-dominated rebels in Syria seeking to overthrow the Assad dynasty that is based in the Alawite religion, a branch of Shiite Islam.

The commonality of interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel has given rise to a de facto alliance between the Saudi monarchy and the Jewish government of Israel. Though historically enemies, Israel and Saudi Arabia are now on the same page in backing Egypt’s military regime, in viewing Iran as their principal adversary, and in wanting a rebel victory in Syria.

The shifting sands of Middle East interests also have pushed the United States and Russia closer together, with the former Cold War rivals sharing an interest in tamping down disorder across the region. President Putin and President Barack Obama cooperated in reaching a tentative nuclear deal with Iran and in convincing Syria’s Assad to surrender his chemical weapons. Putin and Obama are pressing for Syrian peace talks, too.

Now, however, a new complication has been introduced: Islamist terrorist attacks aimed at undermining the Sochi Olympics. If Putin concludes that the Saudis are behind these bombings – that the attacks are the equivalent of a Mafia don having a store torched after the owner rebuffed an offer of “protection” – then the issue of Russian retaliation could suddenly be on the table.

Courtesy of and by Robert Parry

This article has originally appeared on Consortium News 

[NOTE: Alawites are not a Shiite branch. In fact, the two Islamic sects are different in form and content. Alawites’ are as much different from Shiites as they are from the Sunnis and this can even be observed in the form of daily prayers.]

#AceRelatedNews: Rivers of Hope 

 

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Ex-ISIL detainees tell horror stories of captivity in Aleppo


Ace News Group:

#AceNewsServices says #Syria “Horror Stories of Captivity in Aleppo” #Peace

Originally posted on Friends of Syria:

Horror stories have begun to emerge in the wake of the freeing of several hundred captives of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Aleppo.

Militants gesture next to the bodies of handcuffed and blindfolded dead men laying on the ground of the Aleppo headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after they were allegedly executed by the al-Qaeda-linked group, in the northern city of Aleppo, on January 8, 2014

Militants gesture next to the bodies of handcuffed and blindfolded dead men laying on the ground of the Aleppo headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after they were allegedly executed by the al-Qaeda-linked group, in the northern city of Aleppo, on January 8, 2014

Other terrorist groups from the so-called Free Syrian Army, the extremist Islamic Front, and several independent groups have been locked in a campaign against the hardline Al-Qaeda militants of ISIL over the past week.

Wednesday’s rebel capture of a central detention facility used by ISIL in Aleppo – a children’s eye hospital in the neighborhood of Qadi Askar – led to freedom for several hundred people, who have begun to tell their…

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#Syria’s First Chemical Arms Materials are Taken Outside Country for Destruction #Peace


#AceWorldNews

says The process of removing #Syria’s most critical chemical weapons material outside of the country for destruction began on the 7th January 2014, the head of the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations confirmed.

“A first quantity of priority chemical materials was moved from two sites to the port of Latakia for verification and was then loaded onto a Danish commercial vessel today,” OPCW-UN Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag said in a <"http://www.un.org/sg/offthecuff/index.asp?nid=3233">statement from the Joint Mission.

Accompanied by naval escorts from Denmark, Norway and Syria, the ship has now sailed for international waters where it will remain “awaiting the arrival of additional priority chemical materials at the port”, Ms. Kaag added.

“This movement initiates the process of transfer of chemical materials from the #Syrian Arab Republic to locations outside its territory for destruction,” she said in the statement.

Maritime security is being provided by naval escorts from China, Denmark, Norway and Russia.

OPCW-UN encourages Syria “to continue its efforts to complete the removal of chemical materials as soon as possible in a safe and timely manner”, said Ms. Kaag, who is due to report tomorrow to the UN Security Council in New York. The OPCW Executive Council is due to meet at The Hague that same day.

The removal of the chemical agents out of the country involves transporting them from Latakia onto commercial vessels provided by some Member States. They will then be loaded onto a United States ship and destroyed at sea using hydrolysis.

In accordance with the decisions of the Security Council and OPCW Executive Council, #Syria’s chemical weapons will be transported outside its territory to ensure their destruction in the “safest and soonest manner,” and no later than 30 June 2014.

That deadline set will not be met owing to technical difficulties, the Joint Mission announced late last month. It stressed, however, that it would continue to assist Syria as specified under Security Council resolution 2118 and the decisions of the OPCW.

The Joint Mission continues to coordinate with #Syria and the other Member States, Ms. Kaag said, to mobilize resources and undertake all the necessary steps towards the complete removal and elimination of the chemical weapons programme. #Peace

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#Syria Crisis is Tragic Says WFP Chief and it is More Than just Numbers #Peace


#AceWorldNews says with the humanitarian situation in war-torn #Syria “getting more difficult every day”, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is urging the international community to continue supporting the wide-scale relief effort under-way, and calling for increased access so aid workers can deliver basic supplies to families trapped in areas of heavy fighting.

Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director, wrapped up a <"http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/world-food-programme-executive-director-meets-displaced-families-syria">visit to #Syria today after high-level talks with Government officials. She said that as the three-year conflict grinds on, the humanitarian situation is worsening by the day, “as almost half the Syrian people are now food insecure.”

“This month, we scaled up our food assistance to reach 4.25 million people inside #Syria. The challenge is gaining access to the hot spots and besieged areas,” she said, emphasizing that without access, WFP cannot reach the increasing number of families trapped by the fighting and in desperate need of food assistance.

During her one-day visit, Ms. Cousin stopped at a food distribution centre in Damascus where she talked to women and children who were receiving their monthly food rations.

One of the women told her that she lives in an apartment with 32 members of her extended family. She and her family took refuge in Damascus after fleeing different parts of Syria when their homes were destroyed. None have been able to find jobs and they depend on WFP food assistance to put food on the table for the children.

“The #Syrian crisis is more than numbers. Every family that I spoke to shared a sad story of tragedy and loss,” Ms. Cousin said. “I am overwhelmingly moved by the resilience and the spirit of the #Syrian people. It is essential that the international community continues to support the provision of basic humanitarian needs.”

As fighting in Syria continues, WFP is appealing for close to $2 billion to assist more than 7 million #Syrians in urgent need of food assistance in 2014. These include 4.25 million people inside Syria and over 2.9 million refugees in neighbouring countries in need of food, making this WFP’s most challenging, complex and largest emergency. #Peace

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Germany to Help Destroy Syria’s Chemical Weapons


Ace News Group:

#AceWorldNews says Germany agreed on Thursday to aid international effort’s to destroy #Syria’s stockpile of Chemical Weapons #Peace

Originally posted on World:

Germany on Thursday agreed to aid international efforts to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

The government’s announcement that it’s “willing and able” to make a “substantial contribution” in the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, believed to include more than 1,000 tons of toxic agents like sarin and VX, comes days after the first shipment left Syria on a Danish ship, AFP reports. The request for help came from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which are coordinating their destruction.

GEKA, the state-owned company based in northern Munster, will burn the remnants—much like industrial waste—created after the weapons were irreversibly destroyed earlier in the process. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it’s stepping in to help “could be the first, decisive step in defusing the Syria conflict” and that the international community “has a duty to ensure their disposal.”

The move comes five months after rockets…

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