• 17 Aug 2017 14:51 Lebanese Army advances against ISIL near Syrian border-crossing

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    The Lebanese Army has intensified their assault against the Islamic State (ISIL) forces near the Syrian border these past 48 hours, scoring a new advance north of the ‘Arsal Barrens.

    Backed by heavy artillery, the Lebanese Army killed scores of Islamic State militants while attacking the terrorist group’s posts near the recently liberated Wadi Hmeid area.

    According to a Lebanese military communique, their forces liberated several points from the Islamic State militants along the Ras Ba’albak-Jaroud ‘Arsal axis, killing a terrorist commander in the process.

    The Lebanese Army is currently attacking the Islamic State’s positions in Ras Ba’albak, hoping to liberate more ground  as they continue to tighten the grip around the Syrian border.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:50 Iraq’s Expects ‘Easy’ Battle for ISIL-Held Tal Afar after Liberating Mosul

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    Iraqi Interior Ministry said it expected to easily liberate the Northern city of Tal Afar from ISIL militants, as they appear to be demoralized by the crushing defeat in Mosul.

    The military operation aimed at liberation of the Northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar from the ISIL terror group, will be easier than the battle for Mosul, Lt. Col. Abdel Amir Mohammadawi, a spokesman of the elite units of the country’s Interior Ministry, RIA Novosti reported.

    Tal Afar, located 30 miles away from recently liberated Mosul, is the last ISIL stronghold in Northern Iraq.

    “The battle will be easier comparing with the battle for Mosul. The morale of ISIL elements in Tal Afar is low after the liberation of Mosul,” Mohammadawi said.

    The official pointed out that the theater of operations was larger in Mosul with ISIL terrorists fiercely fighting for the city.

    “The battle for Tal Afar will also be easy as our forces became much more skilled and experienced in determining the rival’s tactic,” Mohammadawi explained, adding that the Iraqi forces are waiting for an order to start the operation.

    Mosul was declared liberated on July 9 by Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi after months of fighting against ISIL.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:49 Iraqi Mobilization Forces Kill 7 ISIL Members Escaping toward Syrian Borders

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    Iraq’s Popular Mobilization troops killed seven ISIL militants escaping toward the Syrian borders, the troops’ media service said Thursday.

    The Popular Mobilization Forces said that troops also destroyed three vehicles of the militants while they were trying to escape the town of Tal Afar towards the borders with Syria at Ein Tallawi region, Iraqi News reported.

    Tal Afar is 65 kilometers West of Mosul, and is home to a mixed Turkmen and Arab population. Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, ISIL’s former capital, early July after more than eight months of offensives.

    Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi and his defense officials have marked Tal Afar as their next target of anti-ISIL action. Iraqi defense officials said recently that warplanes were carrying out raids on the enclave in preparation for the ground invasion which is yet to be scheduled.

    Tal Afar has reportedly seen divisions among ISIL leaderships, with occasional news telling of power conflicts and dissents among leaders, as well as attempts by some militants to flee the anticipated battle field.

    Since Iraqi forces launched a wide-scale campaign to retake Mosul in 2016, the popular troops managed to isolate the town from the Syrian borders and from the rest of Nineveh.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:48 Bolivian FM Rejects Intervention in Venezuela

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    The Bolivian foreign minister firmly rejected Washington’s hegemonic ambitions as manifested in Donald Trump’s latest threat of a military intervention in Venezuela, while underlining Caracas’ right to self-determination without outside meddling.

    Speaking in Moscow following his meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, Fernando Huanacuni Mamani emphasized that any foreign meddling in Venezuela’s domestic affairs is unacceptable, RT reported.

    “Our countries, Russia and Bolivia, also agree that we firmly reject any kind of meddling with or encroachment on the sovereignty of Venezuela. If we want to help, we should respect the democratic process launched in Venezuela, it’s very important to preserve harmony in the region,” Mamani said.

    Venezuela has been gripped by violent street protests since April which has already led to over 100 deaths. Amid the ongoing crisis in the South American country, the Trump administration blacklisted a number of senior Venezuelan officials, including president Nicolas Maduro, freezing their assets in the US and banning American citizens from doing business with them.

    The sanctions were imposed following last month’s Constituent Assembly elections which the US branded “illegitimate.” According to Caracas, approximately 8 million people voted for the 545 candidates who will now draft a new constitution for the country.

    On Friday, Trump called Maduro a “dictator” and blamed him for the worsening humanitarian situation in the country, further escalating the tensions between the two nations. To put an end to the crisis, a “military operation, a military option, is certainly something we could pursue,” Trump added.

    The Bolivian foreign minister, whose country is closely allied with Venezuela, said negotiations are the only way to achieve peace in the oil-rich country Latin American country.

    “Dialogue is the only way, allowing to resolve the crucial domestic issues. Venezuela elected the National Constituent Assembly, it is an excellent opportunity to reach a consensus and discuss the perspectives of the further development for Venezuela,” Mamani said, adding that Bolivia has vast experience in solving problems through dialogue.

    The Constituent Assembly, the diplomat noted, is the “best format” to have a nationwide dialogue which encompasses all levels of society. “It’s a format created democratically as a tool for decision-making, conducting debates within the framework of the constitution and for devising constitutional solutions,” Mamani said.

    Pointing to the disastrous history of US-led and supported interventions across the globe, including in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, Mamani noted that intervention only leads to the “collapse of these countries.”

    Emphasizing that foreign intervention is an “inefficient way” to achieve stability in any state, Mamani called on Washington to abandon their hegemonic ambitions and recognize the existence of a multipolar world where nations can determine their own future.

    “The hegemony of the Western world and the [US] empire has come to an end,” Mamani told RT.

    “Today, a new multipolar world order emerges, in which all peoples can choose their own way, establish their own democracy in a completely different format, trying to build a balanced relationship with other countries, instead of the hegemony sought by the United States.”

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:47 ISIL’s Tal Afar Mayor, Police Chief Killed Fleeing Enclave

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    Iraqi forces killed ISIL’s new mayor of Tal Afar town and the group’s area police chief while they were fleeing the enclave, a security source said.

    The source saying that army troops shot dead the so-designated mayor, Abu Fatema al-Jaafari, and the police chief, Zahed Khedr, along with six other companions while sneaking outside Tal Afar for an attack on the forces, NINA reported.

    The news agency also said the group executed 20 members late Tuesday for attempting to flee the town, and had formed special patrols to capture and execute runaway militants.

    Tal Afar is 65 kilometers West of Mosul, and is home to a mixed Turkmen and Arab population. Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, ISIL’s former capital, early July after more than eight months of offensives.

    Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi and his defense officials have marked Tal Afar as their next target of anti-ISIL action. Iraqi defense officials said recently that warplanes were carrying out raids on the enclave in preparation for the ground invasion which is yet to be scheduled.

    Tal Afar has reportedly seen divisions among ISIL leaderships, with occasional news telling of power conflicts and dissents among leaders, as well as attempts by some militants to flee the anticipated battle field.

    Since Iraqi forces launched a wide-scale campaign to retake Mosul in 2016, popular troops managed to isolate the town from the Syrian borders and from the rest of Nineveh.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:46 Saudi-led coalition killed over 500 Yemeni kids in 2016: UN draft report

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    A new draft report by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Saudi-led coalition committed “grave violations” of human rights against Yemeni children in 2016, killing 502 and injuring 838 others during their brutal military campaign there.

    “The killing and maiming of children remained the most prevalent violation” of children’s rights in Yemen, the 41-page confidential draft report obtained by Foreign Policy said.

    “In the reporting period, attacks carried out by air were the cause of over half of all child casualties, with at least 349 children killed and 333 children injured,” the draft report said.

    According to Foreign Policy, the chief author of the new UN draft report, Virginia Gamba, intends to recommend the Saudi-led coalition be added to a list of countries and entities that kill and maim children. Guterres, who will make the final report public in late August, will make the final decision about the issue.

    Saudi officials, under US support, are privately lobbying the UN to hold high-level meetings before publishing the report, calling on the world body not to list the Saudi-led coalition in the report, Foreign Policy said.

    The Saudi mission to the UN refused to respond to a request for comment.

    In 2016, Saudi Arabia was included on the list which said that the Riyadh-led coalition was responsible for over half of the 1,953 child casualties in the Yemen war.

    In response, Saudi Arabia threatened to stage a walk-out by Arab countries from the UN and cut hundreds of millions in aid to the international organization if the coalition was not omitted from the rogues list.

    The then UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, agreed to temporarily delist the coalition, citing concerns that the loss of donations by Persian Gulf kingdoms could harm the UN’s anti-poverty programs.


    The photo shows a five-year-old malnourished child at a hospital in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, On September 9, 2016. (Photo by AP)

     

    The Saudi-led war is aimed at reinstating the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and undermining the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

    The Houthi movement has been running state affairs since 2014, when Hadi resigned and fled to Riyadh before returning to Aden later. The movement has also been defending the country against the Saudi-led offensive.

    The protracted war, which has also been accompanied by a naval blockade, has already killed over 12,000 Yemenis, according to the latest figures released by a local monitoring group.

    More than two years in the Saudi war, Yemen is now dealing with “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”

    On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report that over half a million Yemenis have been affected by cholera since the epidemic broke out in late April, as the waterborne disease has killed nearly 2,000 others in the impoverished nation during the past four months.

    Last month, the UN announced that more than 17 million people in Yemen were food-insecure, of whom 6.8 million were severely food-insecure and in need of immediate aid.

    Buy food or treat cholera?

    In a Wednesday report, the UK-based charity organization Oxfam warned that the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Saudi-led war has forced many Yemenis to make life or death choices between treating cholera and buying food.

    “Yemenis, already on the tipping point after more than two years of war, are now being forced to choose between treating cholera and putting food on the table,” said Oxfam titled “Yemen: Catastrophic Cholera Crisis.”

    Millions of Yemeni people have been forced to sell their personal belongings and borrow to buy food and pay for cholera treatment, the report said.

    Many seek medical treatment only when it is already too late, and those who are affected by the disease are only able to afford the costs by further cutting the amount of food they buy, the report added.


    Yemeni children suspected of being infected with cholera receive treatment at a hospital in the capital Sana’a, on August 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

     

    “Each day that passes brings more suffering to the unbearable lives of the Yemeni people. The world is shamefully failing them. A new disaster after another is leading to a man-made catastrophe in Yemen and thousands of people face stark live or die choices every day. What more needs to happen in Yemen for the international community to properly respond?” said Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen Shane Stevenson.

    “It is now or never the time to bring back [warring] parties to the negotiations table and to fully fund the humanitarian response. Waiting any longer will lead to more death and devastation of which the world will be shamefully complicit,” he added.

    The cholera outbreak in the country is now spreading at a slower rate, but the situation is likely to deteriorate during the current rainy season in the country. Moreover, several factors directly caused by the Saudi-led war, including lack of clean water and healthcare infrastructure as well as prolonged period of hunger and malnutrition, have paved the grounds for outbreak of other diseases, Oxfam said.

    Hajjah and Al-Hudaydah governorates are among the four worst regions in terms of food insecurity and among the three governorates with the highest numbers of suspected cholera cases, the report added.

    The report warned the Yemeni people’s ability to make a living has “collapsed as the economy has been decimated,” noting that salaries in the public sector have not been paid for nearly a year and over 30,000 health workers have not been paid or paid only partially.

    The crisis has led to “devastation of the health sector” with only 45 percent of the health facilities fully functional, the report added.

    Oxfam urged on all warring parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire and called on the global community to ensure that humanitarian plans for Yemen are fully funded and that both the cholera and food crisis are urgently tackled.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:45 Daesh cannot get near Iran’s borders even in mind: Commander

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    Iranian armed forces’ show of power proved that the terrorist group of Daesh (ISIS) is incapable to get close to Iran’s borders even by conceiving it in mind, Iran’s military official announced here on Tuesday.

    ‘Readiness of the Iranian forces in borders is at the excellent level,’ Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army, said in a meeting held in this western Iranian province with local military officials.

    He further stressed that the intelligence forces should be well aware of and vigilant for the conditions in and out of the country in order not to be blindsided.

    Pourdastan visited capabilities of a garrison here and reviewed a group of soldier

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:44 Leaked Defeat: Saudi Arabia “Wants Out of Yemen”

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    The House of Saud behind the catastrophic ongoing war on Yemen is desperate to stop it as quickly as possible.

    Mohammed bin Salman, a member of the Saudi royal family who effectively rules the country, has told two influential foreign policy figures in Washington that he wants out of Yemen and that he’s OK with the US engaging Iran as long as it’s coordinated in advance and the objectives are clear.

    Salman made the comments to Martin Indyk and Stephen Hadley this spring. Indyk was a high-level diplomat during both the Clinton and Obama administrations and Hadley a top adviser to former President George W. Bush. Indyk relayed the conversation to Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, and the man most responsible for aiding bin Salman’s rise in Washington.

    “I think MBS is far more pragmatic than what we hear is Saudi public positions,” Otaiba wrote to Indyk on the morning of April 20. Indyk replied quickly, “I agree on that too. He was quite clear with Steve Hadley and me that he wants out of Yemen and that he’s OK with the US engaging Iran as long as it’s coordinated in advance and the objectives are clear.”

    “I don’t think we’ll ever see a more pragmatic leader in that country. Which is why engaging with them is so important and will yield the most results we can ever get out of Saudi,” Otaiba confided.

    The messages between Indyk and Otaiba were obtained independently by The Intercept. The exchange was discovered in a cache of correspondence pilfered by hackers from Otaiba’s Hotmail account, which he used regularly for official business.

    By Salman’s own account:

    1-An outright military victory by the Saudi-led alliance is no longer a realistic possibility, and it is time to bring justice to Yemen.

    2-The Saudi-led air campaign failed to regime change Yemen, all while violating the laws of war with impunity. They are still subjecting the people of Yemen to a humanitarian catastrophe — and children are bearing the brunt of it.

    3-The Saudi-led air campaign, while devastating to Yemeni infrastructure and civilians, has failed to dent the political will of the Ansarullah-Saleh alliance to continue the resistance.

    4-The Saudis failed to provide any evidence to prove any large-scale supply of arms from Iran to the Ansarullah or Saleh forces. This is still being used as pretext to prolong the humanitarian catastrophe.

    5-The Saudis have admitted to using internationally banned and Western-made cluster and incendiary munitions on civilian areas.

    6-The Saudis backed terrorist groups – including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIL – to actively exploit the changing political environment and governance vacuums in Yemen, while systematically terrorizing anybody who represents a legitimate form of opposition at home.

    In effect, if the Saudis – explicitly a member of the royal family who effectively rules the country – are found guilty of all these atrocities and more, they should have everything thrown at them, the full weight of International Law.

    They have waged an unjustified bombing campaign that has killed thousands of civilians with US and UK assistance. The UAE is also participating in the war, allied with Saudi Arabia, which is the cradle of Wahhabism, a violent ideology that has inspired horrific attacks on civilians in the Middle East, Africa, the US and a string of European capitals.

    Their guilt does not end there. The war on Yemen has sparked mass hunger and a cholera outbreak of historic proportions. Change in attitude, style, or approach does in no way mean they can now shrug off responsibility. In the face of such suffering, the people of Yemen have been prevented from accessing the food, medical supplies and aid they desperately need. Ships bringing vital help cannot get through the ports, which have been blocked off by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

    One way or another, the Saudis and their allies, who have committed war crimes and fractured Yemen into a point of no return, will be forced to call it quits. The Saudis repeatedly advertise the backing they are getting from the US and Britain. This has put the UK and US, who have lent, to differing degrees, political and military support to the Saudi-led campaign, in a difficult position, with rights groups accusing them of helping facilitate breaches of International Law by the Saudi air force and of not doing enough to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

    Strange enough, none of the alliance members seem to fear being held to account for violating the laws of war. This more than doubles the responsibility of the Human Rights Council and UN members. They must shake up the war. They need to press the alliance to end the slaughter and the suffering of civilians. They need to hold to account Saudi Arabia and those who are partnering with Saudi Arabia to carry out war crimes, and force them to compensate the victims.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:43 Iran to bolster missile power, deterrence: General

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    ‘Iran will follow up its naval deterrence,’ Brigadier General Amir Hatami who is the Iranian president’s pick for the post of defense minister announced at the parliament open session this morning.

    Elaborating on his plans, General Hatami said Iran has achieved the ‘power of deterrence’ and could use it later.

    Pointing to the threats and the proxy wars being followed by the enemies, Hatami underlined Iran’s effective role in both world and region.

    He went on to say that the enemies have in vain hatched plots against the country in the international arenas.

    He added that Iran has been successful in returning stability back to the region.

    President Hassan Rouhani did give the list of his proposed ministers to Majlis (Parliament) few days after taking office on August 5 for the second time.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:43 Syrian Army kills scores of jihadists near Aleppo

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    At least 10 jihadi fighters have been killed in a rocket attack launched by the Syrian Army against their positions in the southeastern countryside of Aleppo.

    According to a military source, the government forces fired a barrage of surface-to-surface missiles targeting outposts for the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham group; the al-Qaeda offshoot in Syria.

    The attack killed at least 10 jihadi militants and injured several more.

    This comes as a response for the indiscriminate shelling conducted by the ultraconservative group on Aleppo in the past two days which killed 5 civilians and wounded dozens.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:41 Terrorist civil war rages as rival factions attack each other in East Ghouta

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    For the fourth day in a row, the terrorist infighting has plagued the East Ghouta region of east Damascus, as rival actions trade attacks in the Al-Asha’ri Farms.

    Militants from Faylaq Al-Rahman and Al-Qaeda linked Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham launched a powerful attack on Jaysh Al-Islam’s positions in the Al-Asha’ri Farms this morning, resulting in a violent battle for control of this rural area.

    While no ground has been reportedly captured these past four days, the two sides have mistakenly paved the way for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to advance in the east Damascus suburbs.

    Jaysh Al-Islam has repeatedly called on Faylaq Al-Rahman to expel HTS from the area; however, the latter refuses to adhere to any of their former ally’s demands.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:40 Syria: US, allies supplying terrorists with toxic agents

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    Syria says the US, Britain and their allies are supporting terrorists in the war-torn Arab country by supplying them with toxic agents and other kinds of weapons.

    During a press conference in the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s main office in the capital Damascus, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said on Wednesday that toxic agents found in the cities of Aleppo and Damascus were made by US and UK companies, Syrian’s official news agency SANA reported.

    He also called on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate those countries’ actions in his country.

    Mekdad added that since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, the West, based on false allegations made by the terrorists they support, has usually blamed the government in Damascus for various incidents of the use of chemical weapons throughout the country.

    He stressed that the US has even used those “fabrications” as a pretext to attack the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province without launching an investigation into the terrorists’ claims.

    He stressed that the Syrian government has thoroughly investigated the incident and offered the results to the OPCW.


    A Syrian man collects samples from the site of a suspected toxic gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, in Syria’s Idlib province, on April 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

     

    “Syria has received the fact-finding committee of the OPCW and opened all doors in front of them for investigation, but they refused,” the Syrian official said, stressing that as the results do not support the US’ agenda they will be rejected.

    The Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the United States back in 2013.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:37 Venezuela sets up ‘truth commission’ to investigate opposition

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    Venezuela has formed a commission to investigate the opposition candidates running in the country’s October gubernatorial elections to make sure they are not involved in the political unrest plaguing the country.

    The Truth, Justice and Reparation Commission for Victims was set up by Venezuela’s powerful Constituent on Wednesday and assumed its duties in the capital, Caracas, later in the day.

    The panel, led by former foreign minister and the powerful assembly’s head Delcy Rodriguez, is tasked with investigating cases of political violence committed during four months of protests against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

    In a meeting with the commission members, Rodriguez announced the commencement of the first round of investigations into the violent political protests this year, saying she would call on the National Electoral Council (CNE) authorities to provide the panel with information about the candidates running in the October vote.

    “We are going for the determination of the truth, so that the Venezuelans understand the origin and the illicit cause of the facts of violence that have affected peace and the public tranquility,” Rodriguez said, noting that the measure would have a “cleansing effect” on the country.


    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (L) arrives at the Congress with the head of the Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez (R), and other authorities, to address the all-powerful assembly in Caracas on August 10, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

     

    “We have decided to ask the CNE to send a complete list of gubernatorial candidates to the truth commission in order to determine if any of them were involved in incidents of violence,” she added. “We have seen tweets, messages on social networks and photographs of opposition leaders responsible for convening and organizing violent events in Venezuela.”

    Additionally, the assembly is reportedly reviewing a bill that would punish with up to 25 years in jail those who express “hate or intolerance” by staging street protests.

    Critics, however, slammed the investigation as a ploy to sideline the opposition and drum up support prior to the October vote.

    The oil-rich but impoverished country has been convulsed by months of deadly protests against the government in Caracas.

    The political tensions rose after Caracas announced plans to establish the Constituent Assembly to take over the opposition-controlled parliament and rewrite the constitution. The opposition saw the move as an overt attempt by Maduro to accumulate power.

    The unrest, which first broke out in April, has so far led to the deaths of at least 120 people from the two sides.

    Dozens die in jail riot

    In a separate development on Wednesday, officials said at least 37 inmates died in an hours-long jail riot in the town of Puerto Ayacucho in Venezuela’s southern state of Amazonas.

    Provincial Governor Liborio Guarulla said the incident took place after fighting erupted between inmates and their jailers, adding that 14 prison guards had also sustained injuries.

    “The morgue is totally overwhelmed,” he said in an interview with local media, noting that the jail was holding 105 prisoners at the time of the riot.

    Venezuela’s state prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the deadly incident.

    The deadliest riot in a prison in Venezuela was in 2013, when 60 people died and more than 150 were wounded in a facility in Uribana, in the western state of Lara.

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:36 Trump to harm US interests if he reneges on Iran nuclear deal: Analyst

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    US President Donald Trump has accused Iran of violating the spirit of the 2015 nuclear agreement, and has threatened to tear it up. This is while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed that Iran has been living up to its commitments under the accord. Press TV has talked to Catherine Shakdam, director of Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, as well as Jim Walsh, senior researcher at Security Studies Program at MIT, to discuss the issue.

    Shakdam believes US claims that Iran is not committed to the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are an attempt to try to regain relevance in the Middle East, adding that the problem has a lot to do with geopolitics rather than the nuclear deal per se.

    “I think it has to do with the fact that Iran has gained a lot of influence and traction over the past years and that America’s influence in the region, in the Middle East, in Asia is actually waning and so they are trying to use this nuclear deal as some kind of a justification to continue to portray Iran as being a nefarious power in the region,” she stated.

    The analyst also reiterated that the United States is the one who has not abided by the terms of the JCPOA, arguing that Iran’s nuclear issue has become a “political exercise” for President Trump to rally his base and push forward his agenda.

    Shakdam further emphasized that honoring Iran’s nuclear deal is a matter of international law, asserting that Trump does not seem to understand what implications his threats have.

    She went on to say that if Trump reneges on Iran’s nuclear deal, it will not only harm US interests but it will also isolate the country on the international scene.

    “I do not think he [Trump] has a very good grasp of international law or even foreign policies and what that would mean in terms of America’s partnership for example with Europe because he is damaging his partners in Europe by calling for more sanctions and trying to renege on the nuclear deal,” she noted.

    “He is trying to bully people into complying with his wishes but all he is doing is creating more tensions and making people realize that America is actually not a worthy partner when it comes to holding up to its end of the deal,” she added.

    According to Shakdam, if Washington decides to walk away from the nuclear deal, it is going to only damage the United States because the EU would continue to engage with Iran and once again the US would be left out of whatever progress is being made.


    EU senior diplomat Helga Schmid (L), Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi (R) and senior diplomats from other six major powers meet in Vienna, Austria, on April 25, 2017 for a regular quarterly meeting to review adherence to their 2015 nuclear deal, as uncertainty grows about the landmark accord’s future under US President Trump. (Photo by AFP)

     

    Meanwhile, Jim Walsh, the other panelist on the program, expressed skepticism that US claims about Iran’s violation of the nuclear deal is part of a grand strategy to deal with changing regional balance in the Middle East, stressing that it is more a matter of Trump’s personality rather than policy.

    He also opined that Trump “does not often know what his own self-interest is politically and does things impulsively.” Therefore, he said, if the president decides to “wreck” Iran’s nuclear agreement, it will isolate the United States and there will be terrible consequences.

    The analyst further maintained that there are some people in the US administration who support staying in the deal –namely the secretary of state and the president’s national security adviser – but clearly there are those in Congress who are seeking to kill the deal by imposing new sanctions on Iran.

    Walsh further concluded by saying that the reality of Trump’s presidency is that there is just tremendous uncertainty and maybe the best way to get through this difficult time is to try to have the nuclear agreement “on the back burner” and not turn it into a “big ugly fight.”

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  • 17 Aug 2017 14:34 Hundreds attend Charlottesville vigil as outrage over Trump’s remarks continues

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    Hundreds of people in Charlottesville, Virginia have staged a candlelight vigil in memory of a young woman who was killed after being run over by a driver linked to white supremacist groups, amid worldwide outrage over President Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn the perpetrators of the violence.

    The peaceful gathering took place on the University of Virginia campus Wednesday night, five days after hundreds of torch-carrying white nationalists were confronted by a group of anti-racism protesters at the same location.

    The encounter soon turned bloody as a 20-year-old suspected Nazi sympathizer smashed his car into the counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring some 20 others.

    Holding candles and marching through the campus, the crowd observed moments of silence for Heyer and two Virginia state troopers who died after their helicopter crashed while monitoring the white supremacist event.

    Similar vigils were held in Philadelphia; Akron, Ohio; Nassau County, New York; and a number of other cities.

    The event followed a wave of protests against Trump, who has blamed both sides for the outburst of violence.

    Two days after the attack, the Republican president bowed to overwhelming pressure to explicitly condemn the white supremacist groups.

    On Tuesday, however, he provoked further controversy by calling far-right elements partaking in the demonstration as “very fine people,” further noting that those who had been protesting against the seemingly neo-Nazi groups were partly responsible for what happened.

    Trump’s allies disappointed

    Meanwhile, Trump’s major allies including British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have also distanced themselves from him on the issue.

    Speaking in Portsmouth on Wednesday, May said far-right violence needed to be addressed.

    “I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them,” she argued.

    Merkel denounced the deadly violence as “racist,” “horrifying” and “evil,” and called for world-wide condemnation of far-right violence.

    Trump’s reaction sparked a wave of resignations in two of his high-profile business advisory councils the American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum. He said Wednesday that he would dismantle them both.

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