US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

Associated Press



"Iran’s seizure of UK tanker in Gulf seen as escalation"

Auch die Associated Press berichtet über den jüngsten Vorfall in der Straße von Hormus. "The seizing of the British tanker marked perhaps the most significant escalation since tensions between Iran and the West began rising in May. At that time, the U.S. announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and additional troops to the Middle East, citing unspecified threats posed by Iran. The ongoing showdown has caused jitters around the globe, with each maneuver bringing fear that any misunderstanding or misstep by either side could lead to war."

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"Top US and Russian diplomats discussed ways to end Syria war"

Hochrangige russische und amerikanische Diplomaten haben Edith Lederer zufolge in Sotschi über mögliche Wege zur Beendigung des langjährigen Kriegs in Syrien beraten. "The United States initially insisted that any future Syrian government must not include President Bashar Assad, but it appears to have dropped that demand. Jeffrey’s comment wasn’t clear on whether Assad could remain in power if he adhered to Resolution 2254 and won a U.N.-monitored election. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin called the Sochi talks 'positive and constructive.' (...) [U.N. special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen,] said the U.S.-Russia meeting in Sochi was 'extremely important and is a positive opening for a way to move forward on the political front.' 'I believe that cooperation between Russia and the U.S. is essential for us to be able to move forward in the political process, and that’s what I’m hearing from both my Russian friends and my American friends,' he said."

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"Russia raises alarm about Islamic extremists in Afghanistan"

Der Chef des russischen Geheimdienstes FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, hat vor einer Destabilisierung früherer Sowjetrepubliken an der Nordgrenze Afghanistans durch den "Islamischen Staat" gewarnt. "Alexander Bortnikov, chief of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, said on a visit to Tajikistan that some 5,000 fighters of an Islamic State group affiliate have gathered in areas bordering on former Soviet states in Central Asia, saying that most of them fought alongside IS in Syria. Bortnikov, in comments carried by Russian news agencies, called for tighter border control to prevent a spillover. (...) Russia has been expressing concern about the IS insurgency spilling over into Central Asia for several years. But some experts say the Kremlin is exaggerating the number of extremists to justify its outreach to the Taliban."

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"Venezuela’s Guaidó asks for relations with US military"

Venezuelas Oppositionsführer Guaidó hat angekündigt, in direkten Kontakt mit dem US-Militär treten zu wollen, um den Druck auf Präsident Maduro weiter zu verstärken. "The leader said he’s asked Carlos Vecchio, who the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s ambassador, to open 'direct communications' toward possible military 'coordination.' The remarks, at the end of a rally Saturday, mark one of his strongest public pleas yet for greater U.S. involvement in the country’s fast-escalating crisis. While Guaidó has repeatedly echoed comments from the Trump administration that 'all options' are on the table for removing Maduro, few in the U.S. or Venezuelan opposition view military action as likely nor has the White House indicated it’s seriously considering such a move. But with tensions between the U.S. and Maduro running high, the saber rattling is getting louder."

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"Qatari official: Afghan talks postponed indefinitely"

Die geplante erste Runde direkter Friedensgespräche zwischen Vertretern der afghanischen Regierung und der Taliban in Katar ist aufgrund eines Streits um die Teilnehmerliste auf unbestimmte Zeit verschoben worden. "The senior official said negotiations went awry after President Ashraf Ghani opposed a list of participants announced by [Qatar’s Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, the organization sponsoring the talks]. A list of 243 people was announced by Qatar on Thursday. That list differed from Ghani’s list of 250 people, which included many more women, according to a senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. (...) Kabul’s many groups, including opposing warlords, political opposition and even feuding government officials have made the task of finding representatives everyone can agree on a difficult one. The government’s list of 250 participants is a reflection of its 'inability to gather the various political parties together and form a team that can speak with one voice,' said Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal. 'There is much distrust amongst the political parties and other groups, particularly after some groups met the Taliban in Russia without the permission of the Afghan government,' said Roggio."

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"US-Russia chill stirs worry about stumbling into conflict"

Der demnächst aus dem Amt scheidende Nato-Oberbefehlshaber Curtis Scaparrotti hat in einem Interview seine Sorge über die mangelnde Kommunikation zwischen dem amerikanischen und dem russischen Militär ausgedrückt. "Unlike during the Cold War, when generations lived under threat of a nuclear Armageddon, the two militaries are barely on speaking terms. 'During the Cold War, we understood each other’s signals. We talked,' says the top NATO commander in Europe, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who is about to retire. 'I’m concerned that we don’t know them as well today.' Scaparrotti, in his role as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, has met only twice with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian general staff, but has spoken to him by phone a number of other times. 'I personally think communication is a very important part of deterrence,' Scaparrotti said, referring to the idea that adversaries who know each other’s capabilities and intentions are less likely to fall into conflict."

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"Banning of manifesto raises free speech debate in N. Zealand"

Das Verbot des Manifests des Attentäters von Christchurch hat in Neuseeland eine Debatte über Zensur und Meinungsfreiheit ausgelöst, berichtet Nick Perry. Neuseeländischen Bürgern, die das Dokument auf ihren Rechnern gespeichert haben, droht künftig eine Haftstrafe von bis zu 10 Jahren. "New Zealanders are debating the limits of free speech after their chief censor banned the 74-page manifesto written and released by the man accused of slaughtering 50 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. The ban, issued Saturday, means anybody caught with the document on their computer could face up to 10 years in prison, while anyone caught sending it could face 14 years. Some say the ban goes too far and risks lending both the document and the gunman mystique. (...) while free speech advocates haven’t questioned banning the graphic video, they said banning the manifesto is a step too far. 'People are more confident of each other and their leaders when there is no room left for conspiracy theories, when nothing is hidden,' said Stephen Franks, a constitutional lawyer and spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition. 'The damage and risks are greater from suppressing these things than they are from trusting people to form their own conclusions and to see evil or madness for what it is.'"

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"China bars millions from travel for 'social credit' offenses"

Das umstrittene Sozialkreditsystem in China hat Joe McDonald zufolge dazu geführt, dass Millionen Chinesen mit offenbar ungenügender Bewertung der Kauf von Flug- und Zugtickets verwehrt worden ist. "Authorities have experimented with 'social credit' since 2014 in areas across China. Points are deducted for breaking the law or, in some areas, offenses as minor as walking a dog without a leash. Human rights activists say 'social credit' is too rigid and might unfairly label people as untrustworthy without telling them they have lost status or how to restore it. (...) The ruling party wants a nationwide system by 2020 but has yet to say how it will operate. Possible penalties include restrictions on travel, business and access to education. A slogan repeated in state media says, 'Once you lose trust, you will face restrictions everywhere.' Companies on the blacklist can lose government contracts or access to bank loans or be barred from issuing bonds or importing goods. (...) 'Social credit' is one facet of efforts by the ruling party to take advantage of increased computing power, artificial intelligence and other technology to track and control the Chinese public."

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"AP Exclusive: Anti-Maduro coalition grew from secret talks"

Die Associated Press berichtet exklusiv über die Entstehungsgeschichte der Anti-Maduro-Koalition in Venezuela, die mit Unterstützung der USA und anderer lateinamerikanischer Länder zustande gekommen sei. "The coalition of Latin American governments that joined the U.S. in quickly recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president came together over weeks of secret diplomacy that included whispered messages to activists under constant surveillance and a high-risk foreign trip by the opposition leader challenging President Nicolas Maduro for power, those involved in the talks said. (...) The decision to confront Maduro directly was only possible because of strong support from the Trump administration, which led a chorus of mostly conservative Latin American governments that immediately recognized Guaido. It was no small diplomatic feat, comparable in recent times only to how the hemisphere in 1994 rallied behind Jean Bertrand Aristide to bring him back to power in Haiti after we was deposed in a coup, given the mistrust of the U.S. in Latin America stemming from U.S. military interventions in the region during the Cold War."

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"'Rage' against elite: Centrist leaders losing Europe’s favor"

Der angekündigte Rücktritt Angelas Merkels als CDU-Chefin wird von Gregory Katz als weiterer Beleg für einen europaweiten Trend betrachtet. In vielen Ländern werden demnach Parteien der traditionellen "Mitte" immer stärker an den politischen Rand gedrängt. "Alice Billon-Galland, a policy fellow with the European Leadership Network in London, says voters in Europe are supporting not only far-right parties but smaller 'anti-establishment' parties from the left as well, such as the Greens, who did well in German voting. (...) The atmosphere is completely different than it was two decades ago in the period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the enlargement of the EU to include former Soviet satellites. Triumphalism reigned, with the perhaps naive belief that the trappings of liberal democracy, including freedom of expression, freedom of movement and free-market capitalism, would carry the day for the foreseeable future. That was before Europe was hit by a series of lethal extremist attacks, a large influx of migrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East and several financial crises that badly shook faith in the euro, the common currency that had been seen by many as the cement that would bind Europe together in an 'ever closer union.'"

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"US military announces plan to add troops in Germany"

Das US-Militär plant der Associated Press zufolge, zusätzliche 1.500 Soldaten in Deutschland zu stationieren. "The military said Friday that the new unit activations are scheduled to begin this year and that the troops and their families should all be in place in southern Germany by September 2020. U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell says they’ll add to more than 33,000 American troops already in Germany and reinforce that the U.S. is 'committed to strengthening the transatlantic alliance and President (Donald) Trump’s promise to increase U.S. defense capabilities means the alliance is stronger today.'"

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"With hugs, leaders of rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea finally meet"

Die Anführer der lange Zeit verfeindeten Länder Äthiopien und Eritrea haben sich der Associated Press zufolge zum ersten Mal seit fast 20 Jahren getroffen und damit das Ende eines der am längsten dauernden Konflikte Afrikas in weitere Nähe gerückt. "The visit comes a month after [Ethiopia’s reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed] surprised people by fully accepting a peace deal that ended a two-year border war between the two East African nations that killed tens of thousands. Ethiopia and Eritrea have not had diplomatic ties since the war began in 1998, with Abiy himself fighting in a town that remains contested today, and the countries have skirmished since then. (...) Abiy’s move broke a long stalemate between Afwerki and the long-dominant Tigrayan party in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition. 'Abiy represents the majority of Ethiopians rather than the Tigrayan ethnic group' and is not beholden to it, [Martin Plaut, author of 'Understanding Eritrea' and a senior research fellow with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London], said, adding that Afwerki accepted the peace gesture 'since it allowed him to portray it as a triumph over his Tigrayan rivals.' Not everyone has welcomed Ethiopia’s embrace of the peace deal, with some residents in the northern Tigray region bordering Eritrea holding protests."

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"Trump pressed aides on Venezuela invasion, US official says"

Diesem Bericht der Associated Press zufolge hat US-Präsident Trump im vergangenen Jahr in vertraulichen und diplomatischen Gesprächen mehrfach die Möglichkeit einer Invasion Venezuelas erwogen. "As a meeting last August in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Donald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country? The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration. This account of the previously undisclosed conversation comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said. (...) Taken together, the behind-the-scenes talks, the extent and details of which have not been previously reported, highlight how Venezuela’s political and economic crisis has received top attention under Trump in a way that was unimaginable in the Obama administration. But critics say it also underscores how his 'America First' foreign policy at times can seem outright reckless, providing ammunition to America’s adversaries."

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"Trump backtracks on Syria after talks with French leader"

Nach seinen Gesprächen mit Frankreichs Präsident Emmanuel Macron sei Donald Trump von seiner früheren Ankündigung eines amerikanischen Rückzugs aus Syrien abgerückt, berichtet Robert Burns. "The president said at a White House news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at his side that before the U.S. withdraws from Syria, 'we want to leave a strong and lasting footprint.' This long-term approach, he added, was 'a very big part' of his conversation with Macron, who told reporters that he and Trump now agree that the Syria problem involves more than Trump’s priority of ridding the country of Islamic State extremists. The two leaders indicated that they see Syria as part of a broader problem of instability in the Middle East, which includes Iran’s role in Syria and Iraq. That kind of strategic thinking bears little resemblance to Trump’s words in late March when he said it was time to leave Syria to others."

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"In Yemen’s secret prisons, UAE tortures and US interrogates"

Einer Recherche der Associated Press zufolge betreiben die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate in Jemen geheime Foltergefängnisse, in denen mutmaßliche Al-Qaida-Mitglieder angeblich auch von amerikanischen Militärexperten verhört werden. "Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the 'grill,' in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found. (...) Amnesty International called for a U.N.-led investigation 'into the UAE’s and other parties’ role in setting up this horrific network of torture' and into allegations the U.S. interrogated detainees or received information possibly obtained from torture. 'It would be a stretch to believe the US did not know or could not have known that there was a real risk of torture,' said Amnesty’s director of research in the Middle East, Lynn Maalouf."

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"Russia, Syria blockade Aleppo, offer corridors out"

Aron Lund von der Carnegie Endowment for International Peace glaubt, dass eine Einnahme der Stadt Aleppo durch syrische Regierungstruppen das Ende des jahrelangen Krieges einleiten könnte. "The encirclement of rebel-held eastern Aleppo sets the stage for a drawn-out siege with potentially huge implications for the future of the armed opposition to President Bashar Assad. The military continued to consolidate its grip Thursday, seizing a district on the northern edge of the city. 'If Assad shows that he is winning Aleppo, and he's now also advancing on the rebels in Damascus, it could trigger a more dramatic shift by finally convincing opposition groups that they have lost the war,' said Aron Lund, nonresident associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace."

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"US takes tougher tone on Israeli settlements in new report"

Die US-Regierung will die israelische Siedlungspolitik in einem neuen internationalen Bericht offenbar in ungewöhnlich offenen Worten kritisieren. "The U.S. approval of the harsh language marks a subtle shift. Washington has traditionally tempered statements by the so-called 'Quartet' of mediators with careful diplomatic language, but the diplomats said the U.S. in this case will align itself closer to the positions of the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, who emphasize Israel's role in the Mideast impasse. The report's release is sure to infuriate Israel, where officials are already bracing for expected criticism. And on the other side, although the mediators will endorse some long-standing Palestinian complaints, the Palestinians are likely to complain the report does not go far enough."

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"Putin jockeying for deal with US on Syria"

Einige Experten glauben Vladimir Isachenkov zufolge, dass Russland mit einem möglichen militärischen Engagement in der Syrienkrise auch die Beziehungen zum Westen reparieren wolle. "By playing with the possibility of joining the anti-IS coalition, Putin may hope to win a few key concessions. His main goal: the lifting of Western sanctions and the normalization of relations with the United States and the European Union, which have sunk to their lowest point since the Cold War amid the Ukrainian crisis. In addition, the Russian leader may be angling to make the West more receptive to Moscow's involvement in Ukraine, while retaining influence in Syria."

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"Despite bombing, Islamic State is no weaker than a year ago"

Trotz der jüngsten militärischen Rückschläge der Terrormiliz glauben Experten nicht, dass der "Islamische Staat" schnell besiegt werden könne. "American intelligence officials and other experts say the Islamic State is in no danger of being defeated any time soon. 'The pressure on Raqqa is significant ... but looking at the overall picture, ISIS is mostly in the same place,' said Harleen Gambhir, a counterterrorism analyst at Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank. Although U.S. officials have said it is crucial that the government in Baghdad win back disaffected Sunnis, there is little sign of that happening. American-led efforts to train Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State have produced a grand total of 60 vetted fighters."

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"As Ukraine erects defenses, critics fear expensive failure"

Inna Varenitsa berichtet, dass die Errichtung der neuen "Grenzmauer" zwischen der Ukraine und Russland in Charkow begonnen habe. Die Bauarbeiten sollen nach Schätzungen der Regierung vier Jahre dauern und etwa 520 Millionen US-Dollar kosten. Die Bevölkerung Charkows habe gemischte Meinungen zum Projekt. "Some in the economic powerhouse of 1.4 million people embrace the idea, and look with distress to the fate that befell the neighboring, mainly Russian-speaking Donetsk and Luhansk regions. More than 6,000 people have died to date as a result of fighting between government and rebel forces. 'We need to protect ourselves somehow,' said Sergei Kotlyar, 46. 'But, of course, this won't give us 100 percent guarantees, even if it holds back the enemy for a little time.' Others believe investing in fences and trenches is a waste of money, noting that anti-tank defenses will be of limited use against the rocket launchers widely deployed over the course of the war. 'Who is it going to stop?' said 22-year old Kharkiv resident Anatasia Duda. 'A country like Russia definitely has the means to deal with slabs of metal. And what's the use of that wall when the border with Donetsk isn't even under control?'"

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"20,000 foreign fighters flock to Syria, Iraq"

Jüngsten Schätzungen der US-Regierung zufolge hat der Islamische Staat in Irak und Syrien weiteren Zulauf durch ausländische Anhänger erhalten. Unter den 20.000 neuen Kämpfern befinden sich demnach auch etwa 3.400 aus westlichen Ländern. "Nick Rasmussen, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the rate of foreign fighter travel to Syria is without precedent, far exceeding the rate of foreigners who went to wage jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any other point in the past 20 years. (...) The estimate of 20,000 fighters, from 90 countries, is up from 19,000, Rasmussen will tell the House committee, according to prepared testimony. The number of Americans or U.S. residents who have gone or tried to go is up to 150 from 50 a year ago and 100 in the fall."

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"20,000 foreign fighters flock to Syria, Iraq"

Jüngsten Schätzungen der US-Regierung zufolge hat der Islamische Staat in Irak und Syrien weiteren Zulauf durch ausländische Anhänger erhalten. Unter den 20.000 neuen Kämpfern befinden sich demnach auch etwa 3.400 aus westlichen Ländern. "Nick Rasmussen, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the rate of foreign fighter travel to Syria is without precedent, far exceeding the rate of foreigners who went to wage jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any other point in the past 20 years. (...) The estimate of 20,000 fighters, from 90 countries, is up from 19,000, Rasmussen will tell the House committee, according to prepared testimony. The number of Americans or U.S. residents who have gone or tried to go is up to 150 from 50 a year ago and 100 in the fall."

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