US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

The Independent


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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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"Metropolitan Police's facial recognition technology 98% inaccurate, figures show"

Das von der Londoner Polizei verwendete System zur Gesichtserkennung hat sich Jon Sharman zufolge offenbar als ungeeignet herausgestellt. "The Metropolitan Police’s system has produced 104 alerts of which only two were later confirmed to be positive matches, a freedom of information request showed. In its response the force said it did not consider the inaccurate matches 'false positives' because alerts were checked a second time after they occurred. (...) The system used by another force, South Wales Police, has returned more than 2,400 false positives in 15 deployments since June 2017. The vast majority of those came during that month’s Uefa Champion’s League final in Cardiff, and overall only 234 alerts – fewer than 10 per cent – were correct matches. (...) Campaigners said the 'intrinsically Orwellian' facial recognition software should be scrapped, while a senior academic warned that governments faced 'grave challenges' in preventing potential abuse of the technology."

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"Trump made a savvy psychological evaluation of Kim Jong-un – so should we trust his judgment on Iran?"

Mary Dejevsky meint, dass sich die aggressive Strategie von US-Präsident Trump im Fall Nordkorea als durchaus effektiv herausgestellt habe. Es sei jedoch fraglich, ob dieser Ansatz gegenüber dem Iran ebenso erfolgreich sein werde. "Before Trump, successive US presidents had tried to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula with varying degrees of success. But none were willing to take the triple gamble that Trump took: first, that the aggressive bark of the young North Korean leader disguised a far weaker bite; second, that the nuclear belligerence was born not of strength, but of insecurity; and third, that what young Kim was after above all was acceptance for himself and his country, and that he would be prepared to make significant concessions for that. (...) Before Trump is fast-tracked (courtesy of Boris Johnson) to a Nobel peace prize, however, for services to detente in Northeast Asia, there is another example of Trump’s instinctive diplomacy that has to be considered, and here – to put it mildly – the outlook does not look so good. (...) if the model for Pyongyang is no longer a compliant Iran, but an Iran that feels it has no alternative but to resume its nuclear ambitions, all prospect of that Nobel peace prize will be lost. Showmanship may be part of being an effective American president, but judgement belongs in the equation, too, and a sound reading of North Korea will not, by itself, be enough."

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"We should be sceptical of far-away governments who claim to know what is happening on the ground in Syria"

Patrick Cockburn, Nahostkorrespondent des Independent, erinnert an frühere Narrative zu Ereignissen in Irak, die sich manchmal erst Jahre später als falsch herausgestellt hätten. Kritische Analysen oder Zweifel an offiziellen Darstellungen westlicher Regierungen seien auch im Fall Irak oft angegriffen, diskreditiert und denunziert worden. Dies wiederhole sich nun im Fall Syrien. "There is much tut-tutting in Britain by the commentariat about the spread of authoritarianism in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but less so about the growing limitation on what can be freely expressed at home. Increasingly, anything less than full endorsement of the government line about the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury or the suspected gas attack on civilians in Douma in Syria is characterised as support for Putin or Assad. (...) None of the arguments currently being used in Britain and the US to smear those sceptical of the governmental and media consensus are new. The Bolsheviks used to denounce people who said or did things they did not like as 'objectively' being fascists or counter-revolutionaries. When those being denounced, often only a preliminary to being shot, replied that they were no such thing, the Bolsheviks would reply: 'tell us who supports you and we will tell you who you are'. In other words, the only thing that matters is what side you are on."

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"The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack"

Robert Fisk, Nahost-Korrespondent des Independent, ist mit weiteren internationalen Journalisten in die syrische Stadt Douma gereist. Neben widersprüchlichen Aussagen syrischer Zivilisten über den mutmaßlichen Chemiewaffeneinsatz berichtet er über den Zustand der Stadt nach den langen Kämpfen und Luftangriffen. "How could it be that Douma refugees who had reached camps in Turkey were already describing a gas attack which no-one in Douma today seemed to recall? It did occur to me, once I was walking for more than a mile through these wretched prisoner-groined tunnels, that the citizens of Douma lived so isolated from each other for so long that 'news' in our sense of the word simply had no meaning to them. Syria doesn’t cut it as Jeffersonian democracy – as I cynically like to tell my Arab colleagues – and it is indeed a ruthless dictatorship, but that couldn’t cow these people, happy to see foreigners among them, from reacting with a few words of truth. So what were they telling me? They talked about the Islamists under whom they had lived. They talked about how the armed groups had stolen civilian homes to avoid the Syrian government and Russian bombing. The Jaish el-Islam had burned their offices before they left, but the massive buildings inside the security zones they created had almost all been sandwiched to the ground by air strikes."

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"Syria air strikes: Only a quarter of Britons back Theresa May's decision to launch military operations against the Assad regime, new poll reveals"

Nur ein Viertel der Briten unterstützen einer Umfrage zufolge die britische Beteiligung an den Raketenangriffen in Syrien. "The survey was carried out during days in which Ms May made the case for action in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma during a repeatedly broadcast interview, but it seems to have had little impact. Asked to what extent people would back 'UK forces conducting targeted air or missile strikes on Syrian government military targets', just 28 per cent supported them, while 36 per cent opposed, 26 per cent neither opposed nor supported the strikes and 11 per cent did not know. (...) the BMG poll results could temper Ms May’s approach, as she now faces having to spend political capital to justify the attacks in the Commons – where some Tories and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were angry at being denied a vote in advance of the strikes."

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"Salisbury poisoning: UK experts cannot prove novichok nerve agent used on Skripals came from Russia, MoD says"

Den britischen Experten des militärischen Chemielabors Porton Down ist es bisher nicht gelungen, die Herkunft des beim Angriff auf den Ex-Doppelagenten Sergej Skripal verwendeten Nervengiftes nachzuweisen. "The admission comes the day before Moscow convenes an emergency meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague in which it is expected to demand access to samples from the Salisbury poisoning for analysis by Russian scientists. Russia’s embassy in London responded that Porton Down’s assessment 'proves that all political declarations on the Russian origin of the crime are nothing but assumptions not stemming from objective facts or the course of the investigation'."

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"Diplomatic hostility towards Russia will 'erode away' within months, says former British ambassador"

Der frühere britische Botschafter in Moskau Tony Brenton ist sicher, dass sich die diplomatischen Beziehungen zwischen Russland und dem Westen innerhalb weniger Monate wieder normalisieren werden. "'These high-level freezes tend to erode quite rapidly because the world has to do its business.' 'We will be slow to resume our ties, but we will in a few months’ time as we need to get back to being able to do business with the Russians.' Although Sir Tony said he supported the actions taken by the Government, he warned that the language that had been used thus far by government ministers had been 'unnecessarily virulent'. He said in the wake of the Litvinenko poisoning there was an active effort to ensure political language was 'very guarded' – an approach that has not been mirrored in 2018 by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson."

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"Fears Russia could move to unmask British spies in bitter 'tit-for-tat' over poison attack"

Britische Sicherheitsexperten fürchten Kim Sengupta zufolge, dass Russland die Ausweisung russischer Diplomaten mit der Enthüllung der Identität britischer Spione beantworten könnte. "The disclosure could start, it is feared, with those who work for MI6 and the 23 British diplomats being thrown out of Moscow in retaliation for the same number being expelled from the UK. Doing so would break standard protocol in place to protect spies from opposing sides, in recognition that exposing personal details may put them in danger including from terrorist attacks. It has been the normal practice since the end of the Cold War to avoid leaking such information in these circumstances. (...) There is also the worry that Moscow may want to carry out a wider dissemination of British security and intelligence information, possibly using a platform like WikiLeaks which had, in the past, been used to expose Western secrets. (...) A senior Whitehall official stated that Russian threats to disclose the identities of British intelligence officers were 'utterly unjustified and irresponsible. They know we did not make public the names of those working under diplomatic credentials we expelled from this country. That list was carefully calibrated and we intend to maintain channels of communication.'"

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"After my recent trip to Syria, I knew Afrin's fall was inevitable – now we must concern ourselves with the next phase of war"

Patrick Cockburn, Nahostkorrespondent des Independent, ist von der türkischen Einnahme der syrischen Stadt Afrin nicht überrascht. Die abziehenden kurdischen Milizen hätten erkannt, dass die Stadt nicht zu verteidigen war. Nun drohe eine ethnische Säuberung und die "Arabisierung" der Enklave. "A crucial question is where Erdogan goes from here. He may have got Afrin, but the main Syrian Kurdish zone stretches from the Arab city of Manbij, just west of the Euphrates to the Iraqi border, is still where it was. Here, unlike Afrin, the Kurdish and Kurdish-linked forces are under US protection. Very visible patrols of US armoured vehicles patrol the front line around Manbij. It will also be easier for the YPG to fight close to their main territorial bases."

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"Jeremy Corbyn points to Iraq WMDs mistake as he casts doubt on Russian culpability for nerve agent attack"

Der Anführer der Labour-Partei Jeremy Corbyn hat im Fall des vergifteten Ex-Spions Sergej Skripal Zweifel an den Vorwürfen der britischen Regierung gegen Russland geäußert. "Jeremy Corbyn has cast doubt on evidence that led the Government to blame Russia for the Salisbury attack, pointing instead to the 'WMD' saga before the Iraq War as reason to be suspicious of Theresa May’s approach. After the Labour leader refused to blame Moscow in the Commons, his spokesman said ministers’ use of intelligence on Iraq’s weapons programmes in 2003 meant accepting the Government’s position on Russia now is 'problematic'."

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"Raqqa: 'Liberated' former Isis capital still gripped by fear, full of booby traps and bombed to oblivion"

Patrick Cockburn stellt bei seiner Rückkehr nach Raqqa ernüchtert fest, dass die einstige syrische Hochburg des "Islamischen Staates" vier Monate nach Beendigung der Kämpfe immer noch völlig zerstört sei. "The destruction is apocalyptic. Houses, hospitals, bridges, schools and factories are gone, turned into heaps of broken masonry. There is no electricity and little water. 'After the war we were at zero and we are still at zero,' says Dr Saddam al-Hawidy. He complains that foreign aid organisations come and look at the ruins of the city, but then leave and are never seen again. The final siege was only the devastating culmination of years of degradation that predates Isis rule. (...) Another danger faces those whose homes were not hit in the battles: Isis was notorious for its copious use of mines and booby-traps. (...) A reason why so little aid is distributed is the difficulty of finding distribution points for food and medicine that have been declared safe. Sarbast Hassan, an electrical technician working to restore the electricity supply, says that 'we can’t even work in the city because of the mines'."

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"If Trump succeeds where Obama failed on North Korea, maybe he will get Nobel Peace Prize – and deserve it"

Sollte der aktuelle Annäherungskurs zwischen Nord- und Südkorea tatsächlich zu einem diplomatischen Durchbruch führen, wäre die Verleihung des Friedensnobelpreises an US-Präsident Trump möglich und nicht einmal unverdient, meint David Usborne. "We don't know what will happen next. But we can say this with some degree of confidence: we wouldn’t be where we are now were it not for the extreme pressure applied by Trump, pressure, by the way, which the Obama administration chose, for whatever reasons, not to apply. (...) This may yet all fall apart. But if this proves to be the beginning of the end of what was rapidly shaping up to be the most serious international security crisis of our times, then a tremendous amount of credit will be due Trump. Whether or not he always knew what he was doing, his instinct was clear: there will no more pussyfooting around Pyongyang. A dangerous strategy for sure, but one that just may be about to bear fruit. Obama won the Peace Prize and subsequently got precisely nowhere resolving the North Korea conundrum. Suddenly, Trump getting it down the road doesn’t seem so implausible."

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"Withholding medical supplies is particularly vicious and shows the Syrian government's determination to reclaim Eastern Ghouta"

Patrick Cockburn berichtet, dass die syrischen Regierungstruppen bei der Belagerung Ost-Ghoutas einer ähnlichen Strategie folgten wie in Aleppo vor über einem Jahr. Dazu gehöre auch die Verweigerung von medizinischen Hilfslieferungen, wie die World Health Organisation nun bestätigt habe. "As a UN aid convoy entered Eastern Ghouta, the World Health Organisation said that Syrian government security had forced the removal from its trucks of 'all trauma kits, surgical, dialysis sessions and insulin'. Some 70 per cent of the medical supplies being sent were rejected according to a WHO official. (...) The Syrian government is determined to retake the rebel-held zone by indiscriminate shelling and bombing combined with cutting off all supplies of food, fuel and medicine. It is making a ground assault that is crumbling the edges of the beleaguered enclave which is being systematically squeezed to death. The aim of the multiple assaults is to chop the area into smaller pieces that can be dealt with separately."

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"Inside Syria: With its enemies diverted or fighting each other, Isis is making a swift and deadly comeback"

Die militärische Niederlage des "Islamischen Staates" in Irak und Syrien ist in den vergangenen Monaten mehrfach verkündet worden. Patrick Cockburn berichtet allerdings, dass die Kämpfe zwischen den einstigen Verbündeten der Anti-IS-Allianz die Terrormiliz erneut gestärkt hätten. "Isis was supposed to have been decisively defeated last year when it lost Raqqa and Mosul, its de facto capitals in Syria and Iraq respectively. The self-declared Isis caliphate, the size of Great Britain only three years ago, had shrunk to a few enclaves in the deserts of eastern Syria and western Iraq. But it is turning out that the enemies of Isis had written it off too early. (...) There are other signs of an Isis resurgence in its old strongholds. A recent visitor to Deir Ezzor province warned that 'local people talk of an Isis comeback and you should not be on the roads after 3pm, because that is when the SDF [the mixed Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces] abandon their checkpoints for the night'."

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"Syria: Attack on Afrin will bring devastation and suffering like that seen in Eastern Ghouta, Kurds warn"

Patrick Cockburn hat sich für den ersten Teil seiner neuen Artikelserie über die "Kriege in Syrien" mit kurdischen Offiziellen unterhalten, die den Angriff türkischer Truppen gegen Afrin mit der Offensive syrischer Regierungstruppen gegen Ost-Ghouta vergleichen. "Aldar Khalil, co-chair of the Movement for a Democratic Society, the Syrian-Kurdish dominated organisation that controls 30 per cent of Syria, also predicted that the war in Syria may last 'another four years until a new balance of forces becomes clear'. In an exclusive interview with The Independent in the city of Qamishli in north-east Syria, Mr Khalil says there are signs of a resurgence by Isis, whose fighters have taken advantage of the diversion of Kurdish forces to face the Turkish invasion of Afrin on 20 January, to make attacks in Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria."

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"Western howls of outrage over the Ghouta siege ring hollow – we aren't likely to do anything to save civilians"

Robert Fisk ist dagegen der Ansicht, dass die von westlichen Kommentatoren wie Jonathan Freedland geäußerte Entrüstung über das Blutvergießen in Ost-Goutha "hohl" klinge, da die radikalislamischen Gruppen in der Stadt in der Regel nicht erwähnt würden. "This is an important omission – because the key to any end of this civilian killing-zone and its latest 250 dead lies in the ability to open some form of immediate contact between the armed besiegers and the armed attackers. Lavrov’s comments in the past two days suggest that the Russians had agreed a return to the weirdly-named 'deconfliction' status of Ghouta, an effective ceasefire in which aid could be sent in to Ghouta and the wounded taken out. But – this, of course, according to Lavrov – al-Nusrah broke the deal. Well, maybe. Yet how can we complain when we will not ourselves deal with the armed Islamist opposition to Assad (I am not at this point talking about Isis) or try to arrange our own ceasefire, even with Russian help? After all, we’ve been arming these people for years!"

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