Missile Strikes on 2 Syrian Military Base’s Kills Dozens

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

 

Missile Strikes on Syrian Military Base Kills Dozens

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 27 people were killed in Hama, the majority of whom were Iranian

A Syrian fighter in Tadef in Aleppo province on Friday.
A Syrian fighter in Tadef in Aleppo province on Friday. PHOTO: SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

BEIRUT—Missile strikes on Syrian government bases overnight killed dozens of pro-regime forces, including Iranians, according to a monitoring group, in what could mark an escalation of hostilities between foreign powers fighting for influence.

“Enemy missiles” targeted military bases in Aleppo and Hama, Syrian state news agency SANA reported Monday. Footage circulated on social media showed a large ball of fire, purportedly from an explosion at a military base in Hama believed to house Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces.

There were conflicting reports about the death toll. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 27 people were killed in Hama, the majority of whom were Iranian, without providing further details. There were no immediate details about casualties in Aleppo.

Some Iranian media outlets, citing local sources, reported that 18 Iranians were killed in the strikes, but the reports later omitted the Iranian death toll. The semiofficial Iranian Students’ News Agency, which carried the original report, later quoted an intelligence source saying that no Iranian forces were killed in the attack outside Hama.

It wasn’t immediately clear who carried out the attack. Israel has conducted dozens of strikes against Syrian government positions, some of them targeting Iranian personnel. Israeli military declined to comment. It has a policy of neither confirming nor denying strikes in Syria.

Addressing allegations that Israel was behind the strikes, the country’s Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Army Radio: “The policy is clear: Iran won’t be allowed to establish a northern front [on Syria’s border with Israel].”

The explosions occurred hours after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. On Saturday, Mr. Netanyahu also spoke with President Donald Trump by phone.

Syria’s Chemical Weapons and the West: From Diplomacy to Military Action

The airstrikes against the Syrian regime, in response to a suspected poison gas attack, underscore the West’s shift from pursuing a diplomatic solution to a militaristic one. Will this approach work?

The attack comes on the heels of U.S.-led airstrikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities, in retaliation for an alleged attack with chlorine and nerve gas in a Damascus suburb earlier in April.

In the wake of the attacks, Syrian regime forces have continued to bomb areas outside of their control, in a push to continue gaining ground and end the seven-year war.

Iran has been a vital ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the war, sending thousands of elite Revolutionary Guard forces into Syria and training and arming foreign militias.

The semiofficial Iranian Labor News Agency reported that none of Iran’s Afghan Shiite troops were killed in the strikes on Aleppo. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the target in Aleppo was the Nayrab military airport.

“The base of this division near Aleppo is safe and none of the forces of this group have been martyred in the media-claimed strikes,” an unnamed commander of the troops was quoted as saying.

As Mr. Assad has gained ground—in part due to Russia’s intervention in 2015—Iran has extended its presence in Syria, causing concern in Israel, which views Tehran as its main regional adversary.

Israel for years largely stayed neutral in the Syrian war, launching airstrikes only against weapons convoys bound from Iran to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia supported by Iran, which helps prop up Mr. Assad. But fearing that Tehran would establish weapons factories and military sites in Syria, threatening Israeli territory, Mr. Netanyahu’s stance has shifted, ordering the Israeli air force to repeatedly hit sites in Syria, raising the prospects of a wider regional war.

On April 9, in a strike that Russia blamed on Israel, missiles struck another Syrian base, killing at least 14 pro-regime forces, including seven Iranians.

Referring to the most recent attack, Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told The Wall Street Journal that, “The magnitude and accuracy of the attack in Northern Syria is the capability of a state and not the Syrian opposition.”

“From the Iranian perspective, there is an open account with Israel. If they blame Israel for this attack, there is a higher risk of retaliation,” Mr. Yadlin said.

After the latest attack, an Israeli open source intelligence site posted purported satellite imagery on Twitter, saying that the target of the attack was an Iranian base recently erected north of Hama airport.

The site claimed that an Iranian plane had recently arrived from Tehran, likely carrying weapons, and showed images of an alleged Iranian drone at the base.

Write to Sune Engel Rasmussen at [email protected]

Bollywood superstar Sridevi drowned in bathtub after heart attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Bollywood superstar Sridevi, one of the Indian film industry’s most popular actresses, drowned after passing out in her hotel bathtub in Dubai, police said Monday.

The actress, who died on Saturday at the age of 54, was attending a family wedding in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“Following the completion of post-mortem analysis, #DubaiPolice today stated that the death of Indian actress #Sridevi occurred due to drowning in her hotel apartment’s bathtub following loss of consciousness,” Dubai police tweeted.
Police added that the case had been transferred to Dubai’s public prosecution office.

Sridevi, right, with daughters Jhanvi, center, and Khushi in 2012 at the premiere of "English Vinglish."

Bollywood greats and Indian political elites flooded social media with tributes to the actress whose work spanned five decades and included some of the country’s most beloved films.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the many who expressed shock at Sridevi’s death, with a tweet early Sunday extending his condolences to her family.

‘One of India’s first female superstars’

Born August 13, 1963, Sridevi made her film debut as a child actor at the age of four in “Thunaivan,” a Tamil Hindu drama directed by M.A. Thirumugham.
Her first leading Bollywood role came in the 1979 Hindi film “Solva Sawan.” Four years later, Sridevi broke through to the list of Bollywood’s most highly sought-after actresses with the action comedy “Himmatwala.”
Sridevi’s credits include some of the most watched films of the ’80s and ’90s, including “Mawaali” (1983), “Tohfa” (1984), “Nagina” (1986), “Mr. India” (1987), “Chandni” (1989), “Lamhe” (1991) and “Gumrah” (1993).
“I think she really was one of India’s first female superstars,” Bollywood critic Rajeev Masand told CNN. “It didn’t matter who the male actors where, the movies were shouldered by Sridevi.”
Sridevi took a break from the limelight to raise two children with her husband, producer Boney Kapoor, before returning to star in the 1997 film “Judaai.” In the film, she plays an ambitious housewife who inadvertently marries a man who can’t afford the lavish life she aspires to lead.
“Judaai” was a box office hit, but it was Sridevi’s performance in Gauri Shinde’s 2012 hit, “English Vinglish,” that solidified her comeback and confirmed her as one of Bollywood’s most treasured and enduring talents.

A picture of Bollywood actress Sridevi Kapoor is seen put up outside her residence in Mumbai on February 26, 2018, following her death.

Sridevi took the starring role of Shashi, an Indian housewife who only speaks Hindi but is thrust onto the streets of New York to help arrange her niece’s wedding. After a series of humiliations, Shashi decides she needs to learn English and enrolls in a four-week crash course.
“The way the character has been crafted by Shinde, and interpreted by Sridevi, is gloriously feminine, and uniquely Indian,” a review in the Hollywood Reporter said at the time.
Sridevi is credited with inspiring a new generation of Indian actresses by portraying strength with beauty and grace with comedic charm.
“Sridevi is one of the last great heroines of Hindi cinema who could hold her own against any hero,” said Rachel Dwyer, Professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at the SOAS University of London.
“A great beauty, a talented actress, a brilliant dancer, a delightful comedienne, she is a true legend.”

Indian Bollywood actors Akshaye Khanna (L) and Sridevi attend a promotional event for the film "Mom in Mumbai" on June 20, 2017.

Sridevi’s credits span Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada language films. She had broad appeal and was lauded for her captivating screen presence and versatility, even though she was quiet and reserved off-screen.

Stars pay tribute to Sridevi

Some of the country’s most prominent stars took to Twitter to express shock at her death.
Singer Adnan Sami tweeted that he was lost for words at the loss of “India’s sweetheart.”
Actress Kareena Kapoor called Sridevi’s passing “heartbreaking.”
India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi offered their condolences.
Sridevi’s impact was felt far beyond India, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan also paying tribute to the actress, whom he met last December.
Sridevi is survived by her husband, Boney, and daughters Jhanvi and Khushi Kapoor.

The Latest: UAE, Egypt cut diplomatic ties to Qatar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

The Latest: UAE, Egypt cut diplomatic ties to Qatar

June 4 at 11:17 PM
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Latest on the Gulf Arab dispute with Qatar (all times local):7:10 a.m.

The United Arab Emirates and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties to Qatar.

The two countries have joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in cutting ties to Qatar amid a growing Arab diplomatic dispute with the small, gas-rich nation.

Both the UAE and Egypt made the announcement on their state-run news agencies within minutes of each other.

Qatari officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf’s Arab countries started over a purported hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency. It has spiraled since.

___

7 a.m.

Saudi Arabia says it is cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar and it has pulled all Qatari troops from the ongoing war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia made the announcement via its state-run Saudi Press Agency early Monday. It appeared to be timed in concert with an earlier announcement by Bahrain similarly cutting ties.

Qatar had no immediate comment.

The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf’s Arab countries started over a purported hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency. It has spiraled since.

___

6:50 a.m.

Bahrain says it is cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar amid a deepening rift between Gulf Arab nations.

Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement early Monday saying it would withdraw its diplomatic mission from the Qatari capital of Doha within 48 hours and that all Qatari diplomats should leave Bahrain within the same period.

The ministry’s statement said Qatari citizens needed to leave Bahrain within two weeks and that air and sea traffic between the two countries would be halted. It wasn’t immediately clear how that would affect Qatar Airways, one of the region’s major long-haul carriers.

Bahrain blamed Qatar’s “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain” for its decision.

Qatar had no immediate comment.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Significant Breakthroughs For Riyadh Diplomacy In China And In The U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Significant Breakthroughs for Riyadh

This has been a significant week for Saudi diplomacy: reinforcing relations with China, the biggest oil importer in the world and opening a new page with US President Donald Trump to mend what has been ruined by former President Barack Obama who strengthened ties with Iran against Gulf and Saudi interests.

Saudi Arabia that has found itself cornered due to wars, oil and geopolitical changes is carrying out a defense campaign in return — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is convening with China leadership that asked to mediate with Iran that is now seeking reconciliation. Meanwhile, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz met with the US president.

A Saudi spokesperson described to Bloomberg the meeting in the White House as “a turning point”, saying: “Today’s meeting has put things on the right track and marked a significant shift in relations, across all political, military, security and economic fields.” There is a clear hinting on fixing what has been ruined by Obama and restoring special relations between the two countries – these relations were established based on the outcome of the meeting held between King Abdulaziz and US President Theodore Roosevelt on board of the Navy cruiser Quincy after the end of World War II.

Officially, little has been said on the meeting of Deputy Crown Prince and Trump, who has become a president two months ago, but the White House showed huge interest. Trump held the meeting two days ahead and included the vice-president in it.

What has been stated by unofficial sources reveals that Washington has changed its policy towards Iran and that it would not sit idle when it comes to Iran’s terrorist activities. Weeks ago, the US administration announced a different stance in which it permitted loading ammunition and providing intelligence information to support Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

Saudi-US relations were tense during the presidency of Obama. In fact, the whole region underwent an unprecedented turmoil because Obama’s openness towards Iran urged its military expansion in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Chaos is one of his tenure consequences, also.

Among the topics raised by Prince Mohammed during his visit was to persuade Trump with a new relation that seeks mending the situation, confronting Iran’s manipulation and fighting terrorism – the common enemy of everyone – via fighting it socially and economically. A spokesperson in the delegation pointed out that the US party is interested in reinforcing participation in the economic vision projects.

In China, Iran was not the only topic on the table especially that relations are good in: oil, economy, military cooperation and critical files, basically the military cooperation. There is also the promising project of China, the Silk Road – a giant economic project of complex political problematic issues because it passes in conflict regions. This road might benefit from Saudi Arabia as a passage or a parallel route.

Information released by Beijing reveals that it will quietly continue to consolidate its presence in west Asia and east Africa. China is the second strongest economic power after the US and, as major countries, needs raw materials, energy sources, trade passages and a protection for its investments and interests.

Unlike other major countries, China does not rely on military presence to impose its influence but rather uses its economic presence to impose its stances and secure its interests.

There are two models in the Middle East: one that seeks reinforcing relations via economic and development cooperation and another that uses wars and terrorism as a method to impose its relations.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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Iran Is Allowing Russian Bombers To Use Their Airspace And Military Base For Refueling

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Iran allowing Syria-bound Russian planes to use airspace-report

Iran has again allowed Russian planes to use its airspace during recent operations in Syria, a senior Iranian security official was quoted as saying on Saturday.

In August, Russian aircraft for the first time used an Iranian air base to conduct strikes in Syria. The Russian military said its fighters had completed their tasks, but left open the possibility of using the Hamadan base again if circumstances warranted.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said then that Russia had stopped using the base for strikes in Syria, bringing an abrupt halt to the deployment that was criticized both by the United States and some Iranian lawmakers.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, on Saturday told the semi-official news agency Fars: “Their (Russians’) use of Iran’s air space has continued because we have a fully strategic cooperation with Russia.”

“In the recent cases, Russian fighter planes have only used Iran’s airspace and have not had refueling operations,” Shamkhani added.

The agency said Shamkhani was commenting on media reports that Russia’s Tupolev-22M long-range bombers had used Iranian airspace and a base in the country on their missions in Syria, where both Tehran and Moscow back President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

It was not immediately clear if the recent missions were linked to Russian air strikes on Thursday that accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers during an operation against Islamic State in Syria, according to the Turkish military.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Suicide Bomber Kills At Least 50 Yemeni Troops In Aden

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS AND REUTERS)

Suicide bomber kills at least 50 Yemeni troops in Aden

WORLD Updated: Dec 10, 2016 23:35 IST

Reuters
Reuters
Dubai
The attacker blew himself up as the troops were waiting to collect their salaries, the government sources added.
A suicide bomber killed 50 Yemeni soldiers and wounded at least 70 others at a base in the city of Aden on Saturday, a medic at the scene and government officials said, in another major attack on forces allied to a Saudi-led military campaign.The attacker blew himself up as the troops were waiting to collect their salaries, the government sources added.

Islamic State militants have repeatedly claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on troops in the southern port city, which is under the control of the internationally recognized government in exile in Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 to fight the government’s foes in the Iran-allied Houthi movement but have failed to dislodge the group from the capital Sanaa despite thousands of airstrikes on HOUTHI soldiers.

.

Houthi forces were pushed out of Aden and much of Yemen’s south last summer, but the government and coalition troops have struggled to enforce their control as Al Qaeda and Islamic State militants use the security vacuum to carry out attacks.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict which has unleashed a humanitarian crisis on the impoverished country.

Chinese Visitors Given Long Over Due Courtesy In UAE

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)

UAE offers China visa-free privileges

CHINESE visitors to the United Arab Emirates will now be granted visas on arrival, the Gulf state’s prime minister announced yesterday, in a new bid to boost tourism.

“We have approved a decision to grant visas on arrival at the country’s airports to visitors from the Republic of China,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also the ruler of Dubai.

“Our relations with China are strategic and a priority,” he added in remarks published on his official Twitter account.

Chinese tourists previously had to obtain visas before travelling to the UAE.

The UAE has invested billions of dollars over more than a decade to put itself on the map as a regional business and tourism hub.

Among the UAE’s seven emirates, Dubai is the most attractive for tourists.

More than 14.2 million people visited Dubai in 2015, but the target is 25 million by 2020 when the Gulf emirate hosts the global trade fair Expo 2020.

In February, local media quoted Dubai tourism chief Issam Kazim as saying that 450,000 Chinese visitors made the trip to the emirate in 2015, a 29 percent increase over the previous year.

Nationals of 47 countries, mainly western states, can obtain a visa on arrival.

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