US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

The Independent


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"America’s persecution of Julian Assange has everything to do with Yemen"

Patrick Cockburn führt die hartnäckige strafrechtliche Verfolgung Julian Assanges durch die US-Regierung auf die Bedrohung zurück, die WikiLeaks und andere Informationsquellen für Washingtons Kontrolle der "Nachrichten-Agenda" darstellen. Als Bestätigung seiner These verweist er auf den Umgang der US-Behörden mit dem jemenitischen AP-Reporter Maad al-Zikry, der über US-Drohnenangriffe in Jemen und über den Umgang mit Häftlingen in Gefängnissen der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate berichtet hat. "The US government clearly did not like this type of critical journalism. When the Pulitzer was awarded last Tuesday in New York, Zikry was not there because he had been denied a visa to enter the US. There is no longer a US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, but two months ago he made his way to the US embassy in Cairo where his visa application, though fully supported by AP and many other prestigious institutions, was rejected. (...) Can what Assange and WikiLeaks did in 2010 be compared with what Zikry and AP did in 2019? Some commentators, to their shame, claim that the pursuit of Assange, and his current imprisonment pending possible extradition to the US or Sweden, has nothing to with freedom of expression. In fact, he was doing what every journalist ought to do and doing it very successfully. (...) Revealing important information about the Yemen war – in which at least 70,000 people have been killed – is the reason why the US government is persecuting both Assange and Zikry."

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"The evidence we were never meant to see about the Douma ‘gas’ attack"

Robert Fisk berichtet über ein vertrauliches Dokument der Organisation für das Verbot chemischer Waffen (OPCW), das offenbar der offiziellen Schlussfolgerung des OPCW-Untersuchungsberichts zum mutmaßlichen Giftgasangriff in der syrischen Stadt Duma widerspricht. "For in the last few days, there has emerged disturbing evidence that in its final report on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime in the city of Douma last year, the OPCW deliberately concealed from both the public and the press the existence of a dissenting 15-page assessment of two cylinders which had supposedly contained molecular chlorine – perhaps the most damning evidence against the Assad regime in the entire report. (...) the dissenting assessment, which the OPCW made no reference to in its published conclusions, finds there is a 'higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft'. (...) as for the gullible, viewing, reading public – us – this outrageous deceit by this supposedly authoritative body of international scientists can lead to only one conclusion: that we must resort once more to the Assanges and the Chelsea Mannings – 'traitors' who harm western security in the in the eyes of their enemies – and the revelations of groups like Wikileaks, if we want to know the truth of what happens in our world and the real story behind the official reports."

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"Four times the US has made the same mistake in the Middle East. Now Trump is making it yet again over Iran"

Patrick Cockburn, langjähriger Nahost-Korrespondent des Independent, meint, dass US-Präsident Trump mit seiner aggressiven Iran-Strategie die Fehler früherer US-Regierungen im Nahen Osten wiederhole. "In its escalating confrontation with Iran, the US is making the same mistake it has made again and again since the fall of the Shah 40 years ago: it is ignoring the danger of plugging into what is in large part a religious conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims. (...) Now the same process is under way yet again, and likely to fail for the same reasons as before: the US, along with its local allies, will be fighting not only Iran but whole Shia communities in different countries, mostly in the northern tier of the Middle East between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean. (...) A little-noticed feature of the US denunciations of Iranian interference using local proxies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is not just that they are exaggerated but, even if they were true, they come far too late. Iran is already on the winning side in all three countries."

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"Trump doesn't want a war with Iran — but he might get one anyway"

Negar Mortazavi ist davon überzeugt, dass US-Präsident Trump nicht an einem Krieg gegen den Iran oder einem Regimewechsel in Teheran, sondern vor allem an einer Neuverhandlung des Atomabkommens interessiert sei. Trumps außenpolitisches Team könne ihn allerdings in einen offenen Konflikt drängen. "John Bolton was one of the main architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by George W Bush. And today he seems to be playing a similar tune about Iran. However, President Trump does not want another war in the Middle East. He constantly criticized his Republican and Democratic predecessors for waging costly conflicts in the region, and ran an election campaign on the promise of ending those wars and avoiding new ones. Trump does not seem to have an obsession with regime change in Iran, either. What he really wanted was to tear up the Obama-era nuclear deal and negotiate a 'better' deal (or perhaps just a new deal with his name on it, as some critics have suggested). (...) It is clear that even John Bolton knows that it is not easy to sell a full-on war with Iran to the American public today. But it’s also clear that he would be quick to strike in the case of any 'accident' which occurs, thus plunging the US into conflict with its Middle Eastern counterpart — a conflict that would be much worse than the Iraq war and a disaster for both the Iranian and the American people."

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"Revolutionaries in the Middle East have learnt crucial lessons since the Arab Spring"

Patrick Cockburn, Nahost-Korrespondent des Independent, kommt in seiner Analyse der Revolten in Algerien und Sudan zu einem vorsichtig optimistischen Ergebnis. Die Demonstranten in beiden Ländern hätten offenbar wichtige Lektionen des weitgehend gescheiterten Arabischen Frühlings gelernt. "The success of popular action and civil disobedience in Sudan and Algeria has been treated sceptically by commentators speaking in gloomy tones of a rerun of the 2011 protests, which began in Tunisia and sparked further protests in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. In these last five countries, a brief democratic spasm was followed by savage repression (Egypt and Bahrain) or permanent war (Libya, Yemen, Syria). The pessimists might just be getting it wrong this time round, just as the optimists did eight years ago. The revolutionaries have learned from their past defeats. There are no chants in Khartoum today, as there were in Cairo in 2011, that 'the army and the people are one'. More realise that armies in the Arab world are parasitic entities, bloated maggots that live off the flesh of the rest of the population."

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"Trump aide John Bolton reveals notepad reading '5,000 troops to Colombia', as US announces fresh Venezuela sanctions"

John Bolton, Nationaler Sicherheitsberater im Weißen Haus, hat während einer Pressekonferenz scheinbar zufällig eine Notiz enthüllt, die vermuten lassen könnte, dass die US-Regierung die Verlegung von 5.000 Soldaten nach Kolumbien für einen späteren Einsatz in Venezuela plant. "The Pentagon has not announced any plans to send US troops to Colombia. When asked to explain the words in Mr Bolton’s notepad, the White House said that 'as the president has said, all options are on the table'. Colombia said it could not explain the provocative note. Foreign minister Carlos Holmes said he did not know the 'importance and reason' for Mr Bolton flashing it and added that Colombia planned to continue 'acting politically and diplomatically' in relation to its neighbour."

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"'Colombia of Europe': How tiny Albania became the continent’s drug trafficking headquarters"

Albanien könne heute mit einiger Berechtigung als "Narco-Staat" und als Drogen-Hauptquartier Europas bezeichnet werden, schreibt Borzou Daragahi in seiner Reportage für den Independent. "Albanian gangs are considered among the world’s top heroin, cocaine and cannabis traffickers. Both US and European law enforcement officials have described Albania as the largest provider of cannabis to the EU, as well as an important transit point for heroin and cocaine. Based on the value of drug seizures, some estimate that the marijuana alone generates up to $4bn (£3bn) a year, half of Albania’s GDP. (...) In just a few years, say diplomats and officials, Albania has become the narcotics trafficking headquarters of the continent, and many fear the money has thoroughly infected the political elite, making it harder to shake off even with the lure of EU membership. 'It’s the Colombia of Europe,' said one Western diplomat. 'It’s the drug producer and distributor of Europe. It is a narco-state, and they’d lose too much money getting out of trafficking to get into the EU.'"

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"Tulsi Gabbard: Democrat rising star, presidential hopeful and defender of dictators"

Richard Hall und Andrew Buncombe halten Tulsi Gabbard dagegen für eine "kontroverse" Präsidentschaftskandidatin, da sich die Kongressabgeordnete mit Syriens Präsident Assad und Ägyptens Staatschef al-Sisi getroffen habe und Diktaturen im Nahen Osten unterstütze. "In an effort to burnish her foreign policy credentials, she has taken a proactive approach to international diplomacy that has brought her into contact with some prolific human-rights abusers. Not only that, she has often found common cause with them. Evan Hill, writing in The Nation, succinctly described her foreign policy as 'a Trumpism of the left that would restore the Middle East’s dictators club as long as it benefits the United States'."

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"'We are the ones who are made to suffer': South Sudan sees ‘shocking’ number of women and girls raped in continuing civil war"

Das Ausmaß sexueller Gewalt im Bürgerkrieg Südsudans habe "schockierende" Ausmaße angenommen, berichtet Kim Sengupta in seiner Reportage aus Malakal. "'We fetch the water, we fetch the food, we fetch the firewood, and we get attacked when we are doing that, we are shown no mercy,' Dominica reflected. 'It is the men who start the fighting and we live with the damage, I don’t know if that will ever change'. The 49-year-old mother of six children was speaking at a refugee centre in one of the few 'safe spaces' for women amid a conflict in South Sudan which has become particularly notorious for the shocking volume of sexual violence, with rape being used with seeming impunity as a weapon of war. (...) Rape has been a terrible factor in many wars. But there is recognition that it is an endemic problem in both Sudan and South Sudan."

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"Donald Trump's actions in the Middle East will damage his position far more than the Russia probe ever could"

Patrick Cockburn meint, dass die Nahost-Strategie von Präsident Trump dessen politische Position in Washington weitaus mehr gefährde als die Ermittlungen zu Trumps angeblichen Russland-Verbindungen. "Just for once, Trump’s highly developed survival instincts may be at fault. His close alliance with Saudi Arabia and escalating confrontation with Iran is the most radical new departure in Trump’s foreign policy. (...) The White House evidently calculates that if it draws out the crisis by systematic delaying tactics, it will eventually disappear from the top of the news agenda. This is not a stupid strategy, but it may not work in present circumstances because the Saudi authorities are too inept – some would say too guilty – to produce a plausible cover story. The mystery of Khashoggi’s disappearance is too compelling for the media to abandon and give up the the chase for the culprits. Above all, the anti-Trump portion of the US media and the Democrats smell political blood and sense that the Khashoggi affair is doing the sort of serious damage to the Trump presidency that never really happened with the Russian probe."

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"Idlib: Residents of last rebel stronghold declare their hatred for all sides in Syria's civil war"

Viele Zivilisten in Idlib distanzieren sich dieser Reportage von Patrick Cockburn zufolge von allen Konfliktparteien in der syrischen Provinz. "'People in Idlib hate all those with power over them,' says Ahmad Abu Omar, 33, a history teacher living in the province, the last opposition enclave in the west of Syria. He says that the three million people of Idlib fear a return of government forces, but are almost equally hostile to the armed opposition groups now ruling Idlib because they have spread violence and chaos. He sees Turkey and Russia, who this week started implementing their ceasefire agreement to prevent a government offensive into the province, as acting solely in their own interests. Abu Omar, in an exclusive interview with The Independent from Idlib city via Whatsapp, describes the mood as war weary and disillusioned."

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"How the disappearance of a journalist and a humiliating remark by Trump shows Saudi Arabia's weakness"

Patrick Cockburn meint, dass die für Saudi-Arabien wenig schmeichelhafte Bemerkung Donald Trumps, dass das Königshaus ohne amerikanischen Schutz innerhalb von zwei Wochen kollabieren würde, durch das Verschwinden des regimekritischen Journalisten Jamal Khashoggi größere Bedeutung erhalten habe. "The fate of Khashoggi, whatever the outcome of the present furore, carries an important message about the present state of Saudi Arabia. If he has been forcibly detained, as the Turkish government says, then it is a self-harming act of stupidity. It elevates him from being a minor irritant to a cause célèbre and a continuing mystery about his whereabouts ensures that the story is not going to go away. (...) The list of failures is impressive: Saudi-led bombing in Yemen since 2015 has not defeated the Houthis, but it has produced the greatest manmade famine on earth; increased help for the Syrian armed opposition the same year provoked Russian military intervention and has brought President Bashar al-Assad close to victory; the quarrel with Qatar has weakened all the Gulf monarchies; confrontation with Iran is a conflict that can never be won. As Mikhail Gorbachev discovered after the first heady days of trying to change the Soviet Union, reforms are more likely to capsize an existing systems of government than improve it."

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"Two-state solution: What is the answer to the Israel-Palestine conflict Donald Trump allegedly favours?"

US-Präsident Trump hat angekündigt, in seinen Bemühungen um eine Beilegung des Nahostkonflikts nun doch eine Zweistaatenlösung anzustreben. Joe Sommerlad zufolge will Trump innerhalb der kommenden vier Monate einen entsprechenden Plan vorlegen. "Quite what form Mr Trump's eventual plan will take remains unknown but American relations with the Palestinian camp will need to improve drastically before he has any realistic hope of achieving his stated aim and succeeding where so many before him have failed."

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"What becomes of the jihadi orphans?"

Bel Trew hat ein Waisenhaus in Mossul im Norden Iraks besucht und Kinder von getöteten IS-Kämpfern getroffen, die von Verwandten aufgrund ihrer Herkunft abgelehnt worden sind. "Isis conscripted thousands of children into its ranks, often forcing them to fight, take part in extrajudicial executions and even be suicide bombers. In Mosul, residents told The Independent how the group targeted children and youths with propaganda campaigns at 'media points' throughout the city that played videos on loop glorifying slaughter and battles. The orphanage’s team, which includes psychologists, monitors newcomers for a month and then puts the children through a psychosocial support programme. Bed-wetting, anger issues, muteness, violence and sleeplessness are common. 'Some are very aggressive and refuse to come to class, some do not want to eat,' Abdullah continues. 'The children who have been brainwashed refuse to participate in the parties or games we organise because they believe they are forbidden. It’s tough work undoing the damage.'"

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"How British prisons became a breeding ground for Islamist extremism"

Eine neue Untersuchung bestätigt Lizzie Dearden zufolge, dass Kriminelle und Extremisten in britischen Gefängnissen häufig zusammenfinden und einen gefährlichen "Nährboden" für den radikalislamischen Extremismus bilden. "The government has been intensifying efforts to prevent jihadis from spreading their influence on the inside, and monitor them when they are freed, but the methods have not been tested. Rajan Basra, a research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London, said it was 'very difficult to gauge what’s happening inside prisons'. The academic, who has carried out research on the interplay between criminality and terrorism across Europe, said Britain is among several countries working to disperse low-level terror offenders throughout jails, while putting the most dangerous prisoners in separation units. 'We are seeing a great experiment take place where we’ve got more extremists behind bars than ever before, they’re often on pretty short sentences and no one knows what is the most effective way of managing them,' Mr Basra told The Independent."

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"British public to be given knife, bomb and shooting first aid training for terror attacks"

Die britische Regierung plant dem Independent zufolge, Erste-Hilfe-Kurse mit besonderem Augenmerk auf Verletzungen durch Terroranschläge anzubieten. "Members of the public will be trained to treat victims of terror attacks in the aftermath of incidents, under a nationwide programme launched by the police, The Independent can reveal. With security sources continuing to warn of an unprecedented threat, the first aid courses will focus on wounds caused by bombings, shootings and knife attacks. Defence minister Tobias Ellwood, who attempted to save the life of the police officer killed in last year’s Westminster attack, this week called for members of the public to 'step forward' during incidents."

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"Battle for Syria's last major rebel bastion on hold as Putin and Erdogan meet to discuss next moves"

Borzou Daragahi berichtet über die Versuche von Präsident Erdogan und Präsident Putin, im Streit um die Zukunft der syrischen Idlib-Provinz doch noch eine gemeinsame Position zu finden. Die zuletzt verstärkten türkischen Stützpunkte in Idlib könnten demnach von syrischen Regierungstruppen leicht überrannt werden. Ankara habe allerdings mit seinen Gegenmaßnahmen die geopolitischen Kosten einer Offensive zur Rückeroberung der Provinz erhöht. "In addition to a possible confrontation between pro-Assad forces and Turkey, Idlib could be the flashpoint for a conflict with jihadi forces that dominate parts of the province. In recent days, al-Qaeda’s international supporters on social media have also blasted fellow jihadis in Idlib for allowing Turkey to dispatch armoured vehicles and trucks carrying tanks into Syria, as depicted in videos posted on social media. A 13 September statement signed by 15 prominent al-Qaeda supporters questioned Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the jihadi group that is a dominant player in Idlib, for granting Turkey access to the province. [Nawar Oliver, a Syria specialist at the Omran Institute for Strategic Studies,] suggested Turkey could be bolstering the observation points for fear of attacks by jihadis as well as to stymie Damascus’s offensive. 'The internal problems for Idlib are huge,' he said. 'We are talking about an area that has FSA factions, HTS, you have Isis cells, you have other small entities.'"

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"9/11 anniversary: Rare images show aftermath of World Trade Center attack that killed 2,997"

17 Jahre nach den Anschlägen des 11. Septembers 2001 veröffentlicht der Independent Archivbilder von den unmittelbaren Nachwirkungen des Angriffs. "The worst domestic attack the US had ever experienced, it directly led to then-President George Bush launching the 'War on Terror', which continues to have ramifications today. The Independent is now publishing archive images showing the immediate aftermath of the attacks."​

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"The major uprising in Basra and southern Iraq is what the world should be worrying about in the Middle East right now"

Die aktuellen Proteste im Süden Iraks könnten eine schwere innenpolitische Krise auslösen und sollten auch im Westen stärker beachtet werden, meint Patrick Cockburn. "The current protests in Iraq are the most serious seen in the country for years, and are taking place at the heart of some of the world’s largest oilfields. The Iraqi government headquarters in Basra was set ablaze, as were the offices of those parties and militias blamed by local people for their wretched living conditions. (...) Iraq has once again fallen off the media map at the very moment when it is being engulfed by a crisis that could destabilise the whole country. The disinterest of foreign governments and news outlets has ominous parallels with their comatose posture five years ago when they ignored the advance of Isis before it captured Mosul. President Obama even dismissed, in words he came to regret, Isis as resembling a junior basketball team playing out of their league."

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"Even the White Helmets have been rescued from Syria – so are we about to see the final battle of the war?"

Robert Fisk erwartet, dass der Krieg in Syrien mit der zu erwartenden Schlacht um die Rebellenprovinz Idlib in seine abschließende Phase treten wird. Hier hätten sich in den letzten Monaten viele extremistische Kämpfer versammelt, die sich nach Niederlagen in anderen Teilen des Landes für einen kampflosen Rückzug entschieden hätten. Dieser Ausgang der Kämpfe erscheine diesmal unwahrscheinlich. "Certainly, Nusrah’s siege of the government-held Jisr al-Shugour military hospital in Idlib – and the massacre of many of its army defenders and their families three years ago – is unlikely to be forgotten when the last battle begins. Moscow is not going to welcome any Islamists 'home' to Chechnya. And Ankara will not want to scatter Idlib’s veterans across the plains of Anatolia (...). Certainly, the west won’t want the detritus of the Islamist army which it helped to arm. Political asylum for the White Helmets is likely to be the full extent of its generosity, along with the usual aid to refugees. (...) So if they won’t surrender militarily, can the Idlib 'rebels' be bought off? Not least by the Arab nations which supported them in the first place. These are early days. But all wars come to an end. And that’s where history restarts."

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"A Bosnian signs off weapons he says are going to Saudi Arabia – but how did his signature turn up in Aleppo?"

Zufällig gefundene Dokumente in Ost-Aleppo vermitteln Robert Fisk zufolge einen Eindruck davon, auf welchen Wegen Waffen aus Bosnien über Saudi-Arabien in die Hände extremistischer Gruppen in Syrien gelangt sind. "Five-hundred mortars is a massive shipment of weapons – most European armies don’t have that many in their individual inventories – and some of them at least appear to have ended up in the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s Islamist Nusrah Front/al-Qaeda enemies in northern Syria within six months of their dispatch from Bosnia 1,200 miles away. Because the mortars left Bosnia on 15 January 2016 under a BNT-TMiH factory guarantee for 24 months - numbered 779 and with a weapons series number of 3677 - the documents now in The Independent’s possession must have reached Aleppo by late July of 2016, when Syrian government troops totally surrounded the enclave held by armed factions including Nusrah, Isis and other Islamist groups condemned as 'terrorists' by the United States. (...) These papers, some of them lying amid smashed guns and pieces of shrapnel, provide the most intriguing paper trail yet discovered of just who is producing the weapons that have armed the Assad regime’s most ferocious Islamist opponents – and how they apparently reach the fighters of Syria via countries ‘friendly’ to the west."

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"Syria conflict: After series of calamitous defeats, is Isis about to lose its last town?"

Patrick Cockburn berichtet über die Kämpfe um die Stadt Hajin, die letzte große IS-Hochburg in Syrien. "The town is the last stronghold of the Islamic State, the militarised Islamic cult that three years ago controlled territory the size of Great Britain. The struggle for Hajin comes exactly a year after Isis suffered a decisive defeat with the capture of Mosul on 10 July 2017 by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition. Multiple anti-Isis forces are now closing in on Hajin, which is on the east bank of the Euphrates in Deir ez-Zor province, says a local eyewitness who spoke to The Independent after escaping to Kurdish-held territory."

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"For this Iraqi tribe massacred by Isis, fear of the group's return is a constant reality"

Patrick Cockburn berichtet im zweiten Teil einer neuen Artikelserie über einen Stamm im Westen Iraks, der durch den "Islamischen Staat" fast ausgerottet worden sei. "They faced thousands of better armed Isis fighters. When resistance finally collapsed in October 2014 those who could not flee fast enough 'were slaughtered, many of them elderly, disabled or very young children. They even killed our farm animals.' There is little violence today in Hit, a city with a population of 90,000 people. But the hatred and fear generated by the savage rule of Isis still divides its people. Borhan Khalil, a local journalist, says that 'there is still this division between pro- and anti-Isis families'. Foreign fighters may have belonged to Isis, but the great majority were locals and longtime neighbours of those they killed."

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"Amid a fractured political and military landscape, Isis are quietly regrouping in Syria"

Die offiziell bereits besiegte Terrormiliz "Islamischer Staat" bereite ihre "Comeback" in Syrien vor, berichtet Kim Sengupta aus dem türkischen Urfa. "The return of the jihadists, once supposedly comprehensively defeated, is taking place amid rapidly changing dynamics. The Independent has spoken to Syrian and Kurdish militias, and Western and Turkish officials who have provided a complex canvas of manoeuvrings by groups on both sides of the conflict: shifting alliances and betrayals which have helped the resurgence of the most bloodthirsty of Islamist terrorist groups. There are believed to be between 8,000 to 10,000 Isis fighters remaining in Syria and Iraq. (...) 'We kept on being told by the Western countries how Daesh (Isis) has been beaten, finished, that it was all over,' said Sami Abdullah Abdo, a rebel fighter who had fought against Isis with a number of rebel battalions, including Ahrar al-Sham. 'But we who are on the ground could see that was not the case. So many of them got away, with their cars, their weapons: now Daesh are here again. Conditions have changed and they are using this, doing well and increasing power.'"

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"'If US and North Korea can, why not India and Pakistan?' Could Trump-Kim summit inspire wave of unlikely peace talks?"

Das Gipfeltreffen zwischen Donald Trump und Kim Kong-un wird in Pakistan als mögliches Modell für neue Gespräche mit dem Erzfeind Indien betrachtet, berichtet Adam Withnall. "If historic enemies like the US and North Korea can come together to forge a fresh start after months of escalating threats, what is there to stop any other bickering countries in the world from burying their own differences? That’s the message from a senior politician in Pakistan, who suggested the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore could be a model for new talks with India. (...) Mr Sharif’s statement appeared 'more rhetorical than practical', Dr Jagannath Panda, research fellow at the India-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, told The Independent. While a 'constructive dialogue' would be equally valuable in the India-Pakistan case, Dr Panda said, it was unrealistic to collate the two crises."

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"US, Britain and France inflicted worst destruction 'in decades' killing civilians in Isis-held city of Raqqa, report says"

Amnesty International wirft den USA und ihren Verbündeten in einem neuen Bericht vor, im Kampf um die damalige syrische IS-Hochburg Raqqa im vergangenen Jahr verheerende Luftangriffe mit unpräzisen Waffen durchgeführt zu haben. Damit widerspricht die Organisation Patrick Cockburn zufolge den offiziellen Angaben, IS-Positionen seien während der Belagerung nur gezielt angegriffen worden sind. "'On the ground in Raqqa we witnessed a level of destruction comparable to anything we have seen in decades of covering the impact of wars,' says Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty. She says that the coalition’s claim that it had conducted a precision bombing campaign that caused few civilian casualties does not stand up to scrutiny. She quotes a senior US military officer as saying that 'more artillery shells were launched into Raqqa than anywhere since the end of the Vietnam war'."

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"Why Arkady Babchenko's strange resurrection is a PR gift for the Kremlin"

Die Ukraine habe Russland mit der vorgetäuschten Ermordung des Journalisten Arkady Babchenko einen Propagandasieg verschafft, stellt Oliver Carroll fest. "This was, after all, a country that had claimed to be somehow more truthful than its eastern neighbour. There may well be serious evidence to come out of this as-yet-unclear special operation. But the fake story has other, rather more obvious consequences. First, journalists will no longer accept Ukrainian official statements on face value. This is good practice anyway, given the increasingly creative endeavours emerging from the government in Kiev. Second, news of threats to journalists will now be doubted at every turn. As foreign correspondent Lindsey Hilsum tweeted: 'Thanks, Ukrainian security services. That’s really helpful to all who care about journalists’ safety.' Third, the Kremlin has a new get-out-of-jail-free card: Ukraine is now a storyteller; nothing that comes out of Ukraine is really how it seems; everything Ukraine says is to show Russia in a bad light."

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"Battle for Hodeidah: How the destruction of one Yemen port could send millions into famine"

Die von Saudi-Arabien angeführte Militärkoalition könnte demnächst die Hafenstadt Hodeidah in Jemen unter ihre Kontrolle bringen. Experten warnen Bethan McKernan zufolge, dass die Art und Weise der wohl bevorstehenden Kämpfe weitreichende Folgen für die Bevölkerung und den Krieg haben könnte. "Hodeidah is Yemen’s lifeline. Even before the war, it handled most imports in a country where a staggering 90 per cent of food had to be imported. Seized by the Iran-backed Houthis early in the now three-year-old war, the city has been subject to a Saudi-led coalition blockade since 2015, which humanitarian organisations say is largely responsible for the fact eight million Yemenis are now living on the brink of famine. A total sealing off of the port in November 2017 – retaliation for a Houthi ballistic missile that landed near the Saudi capital of Riyadh – is estimated to have pushed an additional 3.2 million people into hunger, the World Food Programme says. (...) The Arab coalition, which has been criticised over the unnecessary loss of civilian life in bombing campaigns in other Houthi areas, is well aware the international community is watching the Hodeidah offensive. 'It is in the coalition’s interests to make sure Hodeidah isn't destroyed,' said [Adam Baron, a visiting fellow with the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR)]. 'They used to be able to blame the Houthis in control of the city for aid flow problems. If they’re in charge, it will be on them.' The port must remain open at all costs, [Bhanu Bhatnagar, a Save the Children spokesperson,] said."

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"British police could be 'routinely armed' to respond to terror threat in rural areas"

Die britische Polizei könnte sich angesichts der Terrorgefahr zumindest in bestimmten Teilen des Landes bald von ihrer Tradition unbewaffneter Beamter verabschieden. "Police chiefs said the radical step is being considered for areas that cannot be reached quickly enough by dedicated armed response vehicles (ARVs), after it emerged that a government recruitment target has been missed. The controversial prospect of arming officers in remote areas, or giving then easy access to guns, will be opposed by many and prompt concerns that core principles of British policing are being undermined."

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"John Bolton could face the same fate as Steve Bannon now Kim Jong-un is threatening to pull out of his meeting with Trump"

Der Nationale Sicherheitsberater im Weißen Haus John Bolton hat mit seiner Forderung, dass eine atomare Abrüstung Nordkoreas nach dem Vorbild Libyens erfolgen müsse, eine scharfe Reaktion Pjöngjangs hervorgerufen. Kim Sengupta schreibt, dass Bolton möglicherweise versuche, Präsident Trump in eine bestimmte Richtung zu lenken und eine Art "Schattenpräsident" zu werden. Der Fall Steve Bannons zeige, wie solche Manöver enden könnten. "Trump genuinely seems to believe that a North Korea deal would get him the Nobel Peace Prize. This is something that Pyongyang seems to have realised, pointedly stating that if the Bolton approach scuppers the deal then Trump 'will be recorded as a more tragic and unsuccessful president than his predecessors, far from his initial ambition to make an unprecedented success'. Overplaying his hand, Bolton may find, could mean that he suffers the same fate as Bannon, sinking back into the shadows rather than becoming the 'shadow president' of the US, wielding real power behind the scenes."

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