Turkey plea for Syria buffer zone meets cool response Turkey plea for Syria buffer zone meets cool response By Stuart Williams9 hours agoIstanbul (AFP) – A proposal by Turkey for a buffer zone inside Syria has met with a guarded response from the international community, despite being a key condition for Ankara to step up its support for the fight against jihadists.Related Stories
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the last days has repeatedly called for the creation of a buffer zone to protect Turkey’s security and house some of the over 1.5 million Syrian refugees who fled to the country.The details of the plan have remained nebulous but reports suggest Turkey wants the enforcement of a zone extending several kilometres into Syria from the Turkish border, backed up by a no-fly zone.The West is keen to engage Turkish support in the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists, with the key NATO member’s well-trained and experienced army so far only looking on from the sidelines.In a phone call with Erdogan earlier this week, French President Francois Hollande gave his support to the creation of the buffer zone, the French presidency said.But since then, Western capitals have largely poured cold water on the idea while appearing careful not to offend the Turks by rejecting it out of hand.A handout released by the Turkish Presidential Press Office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erd …NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he discussed the idea of the buffer zone in talks Tuesday with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.But he cautioned: „It has not been on the table of any NATO discussions yet and it is not an issue which is discussed in NATO.”Meanwhile the White House spokesman Josh Earnest insisted that the idea of a buffer zone is „not something that is under consideration right now.”This statement went back on earlier comments by US Secretary of State John Kerry who said said „the buffer zone is an idea that’s out there, it’s worth examining, it’s worth looking at very, very closely.”British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in an interview with BBC Radio Thursday that this idea of a buffer zone „is something we will certainly look at”, without committing further.Smoke rises from an airstrike on the outskirts of the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, seen from the Turk …- Russia wants UN resolution -Another potential problem for agreeing a buffer zone emerged Thursday when the Russian foreign ministry said any decision would have to be taken by the UN Security Council.Foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said any unilateral attempts by one nation or a coalition to create a buffer zone would be „illegitimate”.Russia is a permanent, veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council as well as an ally of President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow would not respond positively to what it would likely regard as a grab of Syrian territory.Turkey has come under increasing pressure from the West to help in the fight against jihadists seeking to capture the border town of Kobane currently held by Kurdish fighters.The New York Times reported on Tuesday that far from seeing the buffer zone suggestion as a serious idea, some in the US administration see it as a time-wasting tactic by Turkey.It said officials note that the US-led coalition has effectively imposed a no-fly zone over northern Syria already with its air bombing campaign.US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki emphasised that „there are many challenges to implementing a buffer zone” and noted pointedly that „we have not been the country advocating for that.”However Ankara believes it is time the West listened to Turkey after it opened its borders to the refugees throughout the three-and-a-half year conflict in Syria.”Those who were silent in the face of the missiles and barrel bombs (used by the Assad regime) are now creating a global perception that Turkey should instantly solve the issue of Kobane by itself,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said late Wednesday.
Ukraine could sack up to million officials with ties to Russian past By Dmitry Zaks4 hours ago Kiev (AFP) – Ukraine’s president approved a disputed anti-graft measure on Thursday that could see up to a million civil servants with alleged links to past Soviet or pro-Russian governments immediately sacked.The so-called „lustration law” follows the example of other eastern European nations that broke free of decades of Moscow’s domination at the end of the Cold War.It was also a rallying cry of the protests that convulsed Kiev last winter and led to the ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych and a secretive band of Ukrainian tycoons.The law removes anyone who held a federal or regional government position for more than a year under Yanukovych, who is now in self-imposed exile in Russia.It also sets up a special commission to investigate judges and law enforcement agents suspected of living lavish lifestyles on humble government wages.Another provision prevents anyone unable to explain their sources of income or assets from holding office for five to 10 years.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gestures as he answers questions during a press conference in K …Lawmakers’ initial failure to adopt the legislation last month sparked violent protests outside parliament that engulfed the building in the black smoke of burning tyres and brought riot police out on the streets.The bill itself says it was drafted to help „restore trust in the authorities and create a new system of government that corresponds to European standards”.”This is a historic day for Ukraine,” President Petro Poroshenko posted on his Facebook account.”The state machine will be cleansed. Glory to Ukraine!”- Way to settle scores? –Pro-Russian separatist soldiers take a break in Donetsk, where fighting continues between Ukrainian …But the legislation has been bitterly fought by lawmakers representing Russian-speaking eastern regions — the powerbase of the former regime and now partially controlled by separatist rebels.Its legality has also been questioned by the Council of Europe and business leaders who fear it will lead to a damaging exodus of competent bureaucrats.Even the president’s own special representative on children’s issues complained that it „violates basic rights and freedoms of citizens, is anti-constitutional and does not correspond to European judicial procedures or standards.””It provides a way to settle scores with your (political) opponents,” children’s ombudsman Yuriy Pavlenko wrote on his Facebook account.Other clauses in the law bar anyone found guilty of backing separatist causes and anyone who worked as a prosecutor or held a top office when state agents shot dead nearly 100 protesters during the Kiev unrest.Members of the pro-Ukrainian Azov regiment take part in a training session near the eastern city of …The commission can additionally probe civil servants’ links to the Soviet-era secret service and Communist Party.The measures have already prompted the resignation of two top finance and economy ministry officials who are respected by the business community but were hired during Yanukovych’s 2010-2014 presidency.A succession of recent governments have been riven by squabbles and business clan rivalries that stalled the adoption of crucial economic restructuring measures and left the country nearly bankrupt and dependent on foreign help.Yanukovych and his allies were accused of persecuting their predecessors and jailing former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for political reasons.Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko — his post-Soviet group facing a nationwide ban in court — said the law „subjects almost any civil servant to repression”.
Iran trying to convince Turkey to save Kobane 7 hours agoView photoSmoke rises after an airstrike on Syria’s Kobane, October 9, 2014. A US-Turkish team will meet to discuss the fight against IS (AFP Photo/Aris Messinis)Tehran (AFP) – Iran has begun talks with Turkey aimed at convincing it to help stop Islamic State group jihadists from taking the key Syrian border town of Kobane, an official said Thursday.”Iran will take any action to help the Kurdish (people) of Kobane in the framework of the support that it provides to the Syrian government to combat terrorism,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.Abdollahian said Tehran was in talks with Turkey.”In our initial talks with Turkey, we found out that this country is not in favour of an aggravation of the crisis in the region and we hope that will play a positive role.”He also said Ankara can „play the most important role to help Syrian refugees go back home.”IS jihadists seized a third of Kobane Thursday in fighting that killed dozens, as calls grew for ground action to support Kobane’s beleaguered Kurdish defenders.But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after meeting the head of NATO that it was „not realistic” to expect Ankara to „lead a ground operation on its own”.Ankara is under pressure over its inaction, and protests in Kurdish areas of Turkey have sparked clashes that claimed at least 23 lives and forced authorities to impose a curfew in six provinces.The world’s most numerous stateless people, Kurds are spread across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Kurdish militants have waged a deadly insurgency for three decades for self-rule in Turkey.
Iran trying to convince Turkey to save Kobane 7 hours agoSmoke rises after an airstrike on Syria’s Kobane, October 9, 2014. A US-Turkish team will meet to discuss the fight against IS (AFP Photo/Aris Messinis)Tehran (AFP) – Iran has begun talks with Turkey aimed at convincing it to help stop Islamic State group jihadists from taking the key Syrian border town of Kobane, an official said Thursday.”Iran will take any action to help the Kurdish (people) of Kobane in the framework of the support that it provides to the Syrian government to combat terrorism,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.Abdollahian said Tehran was in talks with Turkey.”In our initial talks with Turkey, we found out that this country is not in favour of an aggravation of the crisis in the region and we hope that will play a positive role.”He also said Ankara can „play the most important role to help Syrian refugees go back home.”IS jihadists seized a third of Kobane Thursday in fighting that killed dozens, as calls grew for ground action to support Kobane’s beleaguered Kurdish defenders.But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after meeting the head of NATO that it was „not realistic” to expect Ankara to „lead a ground operation on its own”.Ankara is under pressure over its inaction, and protests in Kurdish areas of Turkey have sparked clashes that claimed at least 23 lives and forced authorities to impose a curfew in six provinces.The world’s most numerous stateless people, Kurds are spread across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Kurdish militants have waged a deadly insurgency for three decades for self-rule in Turkey.
Gorbachev hospitalised, ‘determined to fight for life’ 5 hours agoFormer Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has been hospitalised but is determined to fight for his life, Russian press agencies reported Thursday (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)Moscow (AFP) – Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 83, has been hospitalised but is determined to fight for his life, Russian press agencies reported Thursday.”My state of health has been moderate for a week and today I am in hospital. My health is deteriorating,” Gorbachev was cited as saying by Ria Novosti agency.”I’m hooked up to a monitor,” he added, without saying where or why he was hospitalised.”You know my character. I am determined to fight for my life,” he told Interfax news agency.The last leader of the Soviet Union was hospitalised in June 2013 for a general check-up.The Nobel Peace laureate has in recent years appeared tired during public appearances. He is diabetic, according to media reports.Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985 and instituted the sweeping political and economic reforms that became known as glasnost („openness”) and „perestroika” (rebuilding).In 1991 his reforms gave the Moscow-controlled republics enough strength to declare independence, and for Russia together with Belarus and Ukraine to sign an agreement on the Soviet Union’s dissolution.He has since lamented the Soviet Union’s collapse, explaining that his reforms were meant to save the crumbling country through modernisation instead of breaking it apart.Despite his broad global recognition, in recent years Gorbachev has played only a marginal role in Russian politics, though he has criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin and called for him to give up power.He presides over the Gorbachev Foundation for research and charitable programmes.
Putin dismisses critic Kasparov’s political skills 14 hours ago Katie Couric News Video Garry Kasparov calls Vladimir Putin the most ‘dangerous’ man in the worldKatie Couric InterviewsRussian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the State Council Presidium on the road network …NOVOCHEBOKSARSK Russia (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin questioned Garry Kasparov’s skills as a politician on Thursday after the former world chess champion described him as the most dangerous man in the world.”He’s not made a very good politician, but he’s a great chess player,” Putin told sports officials during a visit to Novocheboksarsk city in Russia’s Volga region.He was replying to a comment by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the head of the International Chess Federation, that a foreign Grandmaster had refused to play in a tournament in Russia because of concerns over political stability.In reply, Putin said everyone was welcome to come and play including Kasparov, who left Russia in 2013, saying he feared political persecution. The Kremlin leader rarely refers to his critics and opponents by name in public.The chess player described Putin as a „greater threat” to the United States than Islamic Stateduring an interview with Yahoo News last week.WATCH the full Yahoo News interview with Kasparov here.Kasparov has become one of Putin’s most vocal critics but political movements in which he has been involved have failed to attract mass support. He announced plans to run in the 2008 presidential election but later withdrew, blaming „official obstruction”.(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Polina Devitt and Crispian Balmer)