The appearance of a man identified on US TV channel Fox News as a "Swedish defense and national security adviser" and introduced in the same way by the conservative host Bill O'Reilly has Swedes scratching their heads. The man, Nils Bildt, spoke about crime and "socially deviant activity" in Swedish cities and decried the authorities' alleged failure to integrate immigrants in the European country. Bildt also slammed the "completely false" debate on migration in Sweden. The segment on Thursday also featured a US correspondent for the Swedish "Expressen" newspaper, Anne-Sofie Naslund. 'We don't know who he is' On the next day, however, both the Swedish Defense Ministry and the nation's Foreign Office denied any links with Bildt. "We have no spokesman by that name," Marie Pisäter at the Defense Ministry told the newspaper "Dagens Nyheter," adding that no one under the name of Nils Bildt worked there. The Foreign Office stated the same. "We do not know who he is," it told … [Read more...] about US’ Fox News features mysterious ‘security adviser’ from Sweden
Foreigners name us states
With all the coverage of the recent US election, people around the world are quite familiar with the term "swing states": those US states which could go either way, voting either a Democrat or Republican into the White House. These are the states in which presidential candidates intensify their campaign efforts because they generally carry the election. Now, experts at two Washington-based think tanks have applied this principle to the international stage, and have recommended that the US focus on Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey. Daniel M. Kliman, of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Richard Fontaine, of the Center for a New American Security, say the US should work with these nations, in conjunction with the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to maintain international order. Why these four countries? They fulfill the criteria established by the experts: they are democratic, big and growing economic powers - allowing them to contribute the … [Read more...] about Should the US focus on ‘global swing states’?
For most Americans, the Iraq War ended when its last troops were withdrawn at the end of 2011. But the violence in the country has barely relented since then, and last week's outbreak of fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi was only the latest eruption of long-lasting sectarian tensions. Plenty of media reports have compared the latest resurgence of al Qaeda-related groups in the al-Anbar region west of Baghdad with the sectarian conflict that erupted in the country in 2006 and 2007. At the time US troops (and money) helped to quell what many feared could develop into a full-scale civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Those sectarian tensions remained unresolved when US troops forces pulled out four years later, and last week's violence was triggered by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's decision to break up a year-old protest camp outside al-Anbar capital Ramadi. Al-Maliki's Shiite-led government has taken a draconian approach to Sunni discontent over the past year, and this, many … [Read more...] about US failures in Iraq seeded al Qaeda resurgence
Washington announced on Tuesday that it would allow the export of armed drones to some allied countries as part of its counterterrorism program. According to the US State Department, the US is the world leader in the development and deployment of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones. "As other nations begin to employ military UAS more regularly and as the nascent commercial UAS market emerges, the United States has a responsibility to ensure that sales, transfers and subsequent use of all US-origin UAS are responsible and consistent with US national security and foreign policy interests," the State Department said. US officials did not specify the names of countries wanting to buy their drones, but a report from the Washington Post said that Italy, Turkey and US allies in the Persian Gulf were interested. The US was already exporting unarmed drones for surveillance purposes to NATO allies. The strategy was part of the US' bigger plan to coordinate with other countries selling … [Read more...] about US to allow widespread export of armed drones to allied countries
Security officials in Iraq confirmed Monday that the town of Jalawla, about 115 kilometers (70 miles) northeast of Baghdad, had been captured by fighters belonging to the "Islamic State" group. The seizure of Jalawla followed weeks of clashes between IS and the Kurdish peshmerga forces in the town, culminating in two days of fierce fighting which saw at least 10 Kurdish fighters killed and 80 wounded. Kurdish forces moved in to Jalawla after Iraqi government troops fled in June under the threat of the rapid advance of IS, formerly known as "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), over large parts of northern Iraq. Jalawla is south of the Kurdish autonomous zone of Iraqi Kurdistan. Weapons help The Kurdish region's president Masoud Barzani has called on international allies to send weapons to help his forces in their fight against the IS group. On Monday a US State Department official said the Iraqi Kurds were "being armed by various sources," though the official refused to name … [Read more...] about Weapons for Iraq’s Kurds requested as ‘Islamic State’ wins strategic town
On Monday, the US military announced that the focus of its air campaign against the "Islamic State" (IS) would remain the protection of Washington's own interests and providing humanitarian assistance. Lieutenant General William Mayville told reporters at the Pentagon that there were no immediate plans to engage in a more offensive strategy against IS. "There are no plans to expand the current air campaign beyond the current self- defense activities," Mayville told reporters at the Pentagon. "We are right now gripped by the immediacy of the crisis, and our focus right now is to provide immediate relief to those that are suffering," Mayville said. President Barack Obama said last week that he had authorized two military air missions in Iraq: the protection of US interests in the Kurdish city of Irbil and the defense and provision of assistance to the Yazidi religious minority in the Sinjar region (pictured). "We are looking at the effect that we're having on those fixed sites, … [Read more...] about US: ‘No plans’ to expand ‘Islamic State’ air campaign
The US Treasury on Monday added five Russian officials to the Magnitsky Act sanctions list. Among the names are Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the federal Investigative Committee, Russia's equivalent to the FBI, and alleged assassins Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun. The US has now listed 44 Russians under the act, which calls for sanctions on Russian human rights offenders. Those listed see their assets under US jurisdiction frozen, and are barred from doing business with Americans or from receiving US visas. While the US State Department did not detail what the five new targets are accused of, the latest round of sanctions are not related to US intelligence findings last week that Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin were directly involved in cyber espionage and sought to influence November's US presidential election in favor of eventual victor, Republican Donald Trump. However, the symbolic effect and timing are clear amid increasing diplomatic … [Read more...] about US sanctions five Russians over human rights violations
The leader of IS' North Caucasus branch was killed on Saturday along with four other militants, Russia's Federal Security Service, the FSB, said in a statement. Rustam Asildarov, an "emir" who swore allegiance to IS in 2014, was killed in a raid in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, after he and his fellow militants refused to surrender. Police stormed the single-family home where the militants were hiding after they opened fire on the police during the negotiation process. The FSB said that Asildarov was behind several attacks, and some plots that were never carried out, such as one meant to target New Year's Eve revelers in Moscow in 2010. IS named Asildarov the governor of a newly declared Caucasus province and has claimed responsibility for attacks in Dagestan. When he was declared the group's leader in the region, the US State Department officially labeled him a "foreign terrorist fighter." Many foreign jihadist fighters in Syria and Iraq are known to come … [Read more...] about ‘Islamic State’ militant killed in North Caucasus, Russian security forces report
Lebanon hasn't had a president since May 2014. Its paralyzed and overwhelmed government hasn't passed a budget since 2005. Simultaneously, the country has taken in nearly two million Syrian refugees. Lebanon only has a population of 4.5 million. Regular car bombs hit the capital Beirut, the terrorist group 'Islamic State' (IS) captured Arsal in the country's north-east in 2014. The Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam in August 2015 said in a television speech that his country risked becoming a failed state. "I warn we are moving towards collapse if matters continue." A bigger problem than the trash crisis (#YouStink) was Lebanon's "political garbage". In an exclusive DW interview, the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil was now being confronted with his country's inability at managing the chaos. Part of that is being closely affiliated with Hezbollah. DW's Tim Sebastian asked Bassil, "You claim to be fighting terrorism, why are [you] allied then with a group that is apparently … [Read more...] about Lebanon, the next failed state?
DW:Ambassador Volker, your recent appointment was seen by many as a sign of the U.S. administration's desire to facilitate its role and involvement in finding a political accommodation in the Ukrainian crisis. Do you believe that the European initiative, the Minsk accords, so far did not deliver? Kurt Volker: Right now all we have is an agreement and a framework supposed to lead to the restoration of Ukraine's international border. It's supposed to have the withdrawal of all foreign forces, it's supposed to have a ceasefire. It's supposed to have a political process underway as well. None of those things are really in place. What I would say is that the Minsk agreement is not working today in the sense that it hasn't produced the peace and the restoration of Ukraine's territory, which is the goal. At the same time it plays a very important role in that it is a vehicle by which Russia, as recently as just a few weeks ago, reaffirmed its support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and it … [Read more...] about US Special Rep to Ukrainian negotiations Kurt Volker: ‘The status quo is not good for anybody’