It’s July 2014 – Are We Already in WWIII?
If you’ve paid any amount of attention to the news in July 2014, the world experienced some very history-shifting, major events. Here’s a summary for those who need to see the top major news condensed into one article…
1,600 Hundred Deaths in Syrian Crisis, Severed Heads Raised on Poles by Syrian Rebels
(CNN) — In some of the most gruesome images yet to emerge from the latest mass violence in Syria, videos show militants raising their victims’ severed heads on poles.
The amateur videos emerged as a Syrian human rights group reported 1,600 deaths in just 10 days this month.
The latest images come from an area taken over by the militant terrorist group the Islamic State, which recently changed its name from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The group is known for killing dozens of people at a time and beheading some.
At least three videos posted on YouTube by different people show the grisly scene at a roundabout in the city of Reqqa, where Islamic State militants have been carrying out public executions, crucifixions and other acts decided by its Sharia, or Islamic law, court.
A narrator in one of the videos says the bodies are of Syrian soldiers who were killed by Islamic State fighters.
The videos surfaced online along with news that Islamic State took over the Syrian army’s 17th Division headquarters, which was considered the Syrian regime’s last remaining military base in Reqqa.
How the West Chose War in Gaza
Gaza and Israel: The Road to War, Paved by the West
JERUSALEM — AS Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities and Israel follows up its extensive airstrikes with a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the most immediate cause of this latest war has been ignored: Israel and much of the international community placed a prohibitive set of obstacles in the way of the Palestinian “national consensus” government that was formed in early June.
That government was created largely because of Hamas’s desperation and isolation. The group’s alliance with Syria and Iran was in shambles. Its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt became a liability after a July 2013 coup replaced an ally, President Mohamed Morsi, with a bitter adversary, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Hamas’s coffers dried up as General Sisi closed the tunnels that had brought to Gaza the goods and tax revenues on which it depended.
Seeing a region swept by popular protests against leaders who couldn’t provide for their citizens’ basic needs, Hamas opted to give up official control of Gaza rather than risk being overthrown. Despite having won the last elections, in 2006, Hamas decided to transfer formal authority to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. That decision led to a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization, on terms set almost entirely by the P.L.O. chairman and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel immediately sought to undermine the reconciliation agreement by preventing Hamas leaders and Gaza residents from obtaining the two most essential benefits of the deal: the payment of salaries to 43,000 civil servants who worked for the Hamas government and continue to administer Gaza under the new one, and the easing of the suffocating border closures imposed by Israel and Egypt that bar most Gazans’ passage to the outside world.
Dozens, including 2 children, die as Kiev troops shell Gorlovka in E.Ukraine
At least 13 civilians and likely dozens more have been killed by continuing artillery barrages, as government troops close in on militia positions around the city of Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine.
A 1-year old – killed next to her parents – and a 5-year old are among the dead, according to information published by the Donetsk regional administration. Several local journalists on the ground have reported that as many as 30 have been killed, as fighting continues.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised that the Ukrainian army – which had been under-equipped and under-trained at the start of the conflict – has now reached battle capacity, and promised that “new tactics” have been adopted that will allow “large-scale civilian losses” to be avoided.
While comprehensive data on casualties during the conflict has been hard to obtain, the Russia-based IGCP monitoring group has concluded on the basis of collated OSCE and ATO data that over 1,100 Ukrainians have died in the conflict since the toppling of Viktor Yanukovich in February.
U.S. Embassy in Libya evacuates personnel
updated 10:47 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
(CNN) — The U.S. Embassy in Libya evacuated its personnel on Saturday because of heavy militia violence raging in the capital, Tripoli, the State Department said.
About 150 personnel, including 80 U.S. Marines were evacuated from the embassy in the early hours of Saturday morning and were driven across the border into Tunisia, U.S. officials confirm to CNN.
U.S. officials stress that this is a relocation of embassy personnel and the operations have been “temporarily suspended” until “the security situation on the ground improves.” The embassy will continue to operate from other locations.
A senior State Department official said some of the staff from Libya will be sent to other U.S. embassies in the region and others will come back to Washington.
The United Nations and other international organizations and businesses temporarily evacuated staff from Libya earlier this month.
Nearly three years after the revolution and NATO military intervention that overthrew the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, central government has been outgunned by increasingly powerful militias.
The civil war that culminated in Moammar Gadhafi’s 2011 death has given way to warring militias fighting over Tripoli’s international airport.
The State Department “recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately” in a travel warning issued on Saturday.
This comes nearly two years after attacks on U.S. government facilities in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
The assaults of September 11-12, 2012, left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, and spawned political controversy in Washington. Republican lawmakers have claimed the Obama administration tried to mislead the public about the cause of the attacks and should have done more to prevent them.
Warships parade across Russia on Navy Day
People across Russia gathered for Navy Day festivities on Sunday, showing their support to naval soldiers. Ships, submarines, aircraft, troops, and even robots were paraded at harbors in Vladivostok, Sevoromorsk, St. Petersburg, and Sevastopol.
Navy Day, which commemorates the victories of Russian sailors, is celebrated each year on the last Sunday in July.
Russia President Vladimir Putin went to the northern city of Severomorsk aboard the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov. There, he congratulated military sailors and pledged more investment into the Navy.
“The might and glory of our fleet will only increase. Its defenses readiness and mobility will be boosted; its material and technical base will be strengthened; its coastal infrastructure will be modernized. New ships will be built,” Putin said.
Twenty-six new warships have been built in the country, seven of which have already been passed to naval forces, he said. The construction of 60 military vessels is currently underway at shipyards across Russia, he added.
In his speech, Putin paid special attention to the Black Sea Fleet. Moscow acquired its main base in March, following the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol’s accession to Russia.
2 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan
updated 7:17 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
(CNN) — Two U.S. Army soldiers were killed Thursday in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin G. Prange, 30, of Hickman, Nebraska, and Pfc. Keith M. Williams, 19, of Visalia, California, were killed by an IED blast in Mirugol Kalay in Kandahar Province, the DOD said.
Also on Thursday, Pfc. Donnell A. Hamilton, 20, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, died at Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, from an illness he contracted in Ghanzi Province in Afghanistan.
With combat operations in Afghanistan ending this year, President Barack Obama has announced he plans for almost 10,000 American troops to remain in the country in 2015 if the Afghan government signs a security agreement.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently brokered an agreement between the nation’s two presidential candidates — Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani — to accept the outcome of an audit of the recent election. Preliminary results from the June runoff showed Ghani in the lead, but Abdullah alleged massive election fraud.
Mideast gets a breather as 12-hour cease-fire holds
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Gaza (CNN) — The end of a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas approached Saturday as diplomats worked to create a longer truce in a conflict that has killed more than 1,000 people — mostly civilians.
The cease-fire started at 8 a.m. Saturday (1 a.m. ET). The 12-hour cease-fire enabled Palestinians to move medical supplies into Gaza, families to emerge from shelters and people to dig the dead from piles of rubble.
Palestinians found more than 100 bodies in areas that have been too dangerous to enter in recent days because of Israeli bombardment, Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra from the Gaza Ministry of Health told CNN Saturday.
More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 5,840 wounded since the start of an Israeli operation, al-Qedra said.
The violence has also expanded to the West Bank. At least four Palestinians were killed in outbreaks of violence in several parts of the West Bank, according to medical sources.
A 23-year-old man was shot near Huwara village outside Nablus by Jewish settlers, a doctor at the Rafidia Hospital said. The circumstances of his death are unclear, but it led to clashes between protesters and the Israeli military in which another man was killed, medical sources said.
Two more men were killed during clashes with Israeli troops at a checkpoint north of Hebron in Beir Ummar in the West Bank, according to Palestinian medical sources.
The violent protests came after the U.N. shelter in Gaza was hit, killing 16 people and wounding a couple hundred more — most of them women and children.
Video from the school showed chaos amid pools of blood. There were so many victims than many gurneys included two wounded children.
The bloodshed left the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon exasperated.
“I am telling to the parties — both Israelis and Hamas, Palestinians — that it is morally wrong to kill your own people,” Ban said. The “whole world has been watching, is watching with great concern. You must stop fighting and enter into dialogue.”
Passenger captures dramatic video of SWAT team storming Toronto plane
updated 4:45 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
(CNN) — A passenger captured dramatic cell phone video of a Canadian SWAT team storming onto a Sunwing flight at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Friday. The video shows the police tactical team swarming onto the plane with their weapons drawn, yelling at passengers to get their hands up, and forcefully removing a 25-year-old man from the aircraft.
The airline said the Panama-bound plane was forced to return to Toronto Friday morning about 45 minutes into the flight after a passenger, identified by authorities as Ali Shahi, made a “direct threat against the aircraft.”
MH17 crash: Investigators must have full access to Ukraine site, Malaysian PM says
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) — More than a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came down in eastern Ukraine, Malaysian investigators have not yet been able to access the entire crash site, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday.
He urged both the pro-Russia rebels and Ukraine’s armed forces to cooperate so investigators can access the site fully.
All 298 people aboard the plane died when it crashed on July 17. Of that number, 43 were Malaysian, including 15 crew and two infants, according to Malaysia Airlines.
Nine days later, some human remains still lie scattered amid the debris.
A statement from Najib’s office said that since a deal was struck with the rebels on access to the crash site, a team of three Malaysian investigators has visited on three separate occasions, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Each visit lasted about three hours, and the team was not able to visit all of the very large site.
Accusations over who was responsible for bringing down the passenger jet, which was headed from Amsterdam to Malaysia, continue to be traded by the Ukrainian government, pro-Russian rebels and officials in Moscow and Washington.
MH17 was downed on July 17 by a suspected surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine, where groups of pro-Russian rebels are fighting Ukrainian government forces. The rebels have denied allegations from Ukraine and the West that they brought down the commercial airliner using equipment supplied by Russia.
Conflict continues to roil the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.
Hundreds of vehicles crawled in heavy traffic Saturday as residents attempt to flee the center of Donetsk city heading south, following a night of intensified shelling and anti-aircraft fire on the northern outskirts of what is a stronghold for the pro-Russia rebels.
According to the Twitter feed for the press office of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic on Saturday, fighting has occurred at five border check points that appear to be on the Russian side of the Ukraine-Russia border.
Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency also reported fighting at five border checkpoints, naming three places on the Russia side of the border, Novoshakhtinsk, Kuybishevo and Gukovo.
Air Algerie crash wipes out entire families
Bamako (AFP) – All passengers and crew on board an Air Algerie jetliner that crashed in Mali died in the tragedy, which completely wiped out several families, France announced.
As the first images emerged of the crash site, showing a charred landscape and debris scattered over a wide area, French President Francois Hollande said in a sombre televised address: “Sadly, there are no survivors.”
France bore the brunt of the disaster, with some 54 French citizens among the overall death toll of between 116 and 118, according to unexplained conflicting figures given by the carrier and French authorities.
Travellers from Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg also died in the crash, blamed on bad weather that forced the pilots to change course.
The French army released initial images of a scene of total devastation, with twisted and charred fragments of the McDonnell Douglas 83 jet littering a scorched earth in what is clearly a barren and remote environment.
Such was the apparent violence of the crash that debris was barely recognisable as parts of an aircraft.
– Airline disaster week –
The Air Algerie crash was the third worldwide in the space of just eight days, capping a disastrous week for the aviation industry.
On July 17, a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down in restive eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
And a Taiwanese aircraft crashed in torrential rain in Taiwan on Wednesday, killing 48.
This year has already seen Algeria mourn the loss of another plane accident when a C-130 military aircraft carrying 78 people crashed in February in the country’s mountainous northeast, killing more than 70 on board.
Boko Haram Opens New Fronts in Lagos and Nigeria’s Middle BeltPublication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 15July 25, 2014 11:37 AM Age: 12 hrs
Since Boko Haram kidnapped more 250 girls from Chibok in Borno State on April 14, new signs have emerged that Ansaru – whose leaders were Nigerian members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – has reintegrated with Boko Haram and its former operatives are carrying out attacks in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region (for Ansaru, see Terrorism Monitor, January 10, 2013). In addition, a new faction connected to Boko Haram deployed a female suicide bomber to attack a fuel tanker at Apapa port in Lagos on June 25 (Sahara Reporters, June 26).
The attack in Lagos was Boko Haram’s first in that city and was claimed by Boko Haram leader Abubakr Shekau, who mocked Nigerian security officers for initially saying it was a “fire accident” (Punch [Lagos], July 14). The attack also realizes the goals of Nigerian AQIM militants, who trained in northern Mali to strike Western interests in southern Nigeria (Vanguard [Lagos], June 7, 2013). The attack was not without forewarning: in the last six months Shekau threatened to attack southern Nigeria three times, Nigerian security forces arrested more than 1,000 Boko Haram suspects in Rivers, Imo, Bayelsa and Abia states in the Niger Delta and in the month prior to the attack Nigeria’s National Information Center and the U.S. Department of State warned of an attack in Lagos (Vanguard [Lagos], January 28; BBC Hausa, February 11; Punch [Lagos], June 18; AFP, May 3).
As a result of the attack in Lagos, there are now three active zones of operation for Boko Haram:
- The border region between Borno State and northern Cameroon, where Boko Haram maintains a safe haven to train militants, hold hostages-for-ransom and launch attacks;
- The Middle Belt, where Boko Haram is carrying out nearly weekly bombings of churches, malls and government facilities; and
- Southern Nigeria, where a network of militants is emerging that likely includes Muslims from southern Nigerian ethnic groups.
Documents uncovered in northern Cameroon, however, reveal that Boko Haram’s networks extend beyond Nigeria.
The bombings in the Middle Belt since April include:
- On April 15 and May 5, Boko Haram bombed a motor park in Abuja, killing more than 100 and 20 people, respectively. The British-born alleged mastermind of the first attack was captured in Sudan and deported to Nigeria (Interpol.int, July 16, Sudan Tribune, July 16);
- On May 21, Boko Haram carried out car bombings in a Christian area of Jos, killing more than 100 people;
- On June 2, Boko Haram bombed a bar and brothel in Mubi, Adamawa State, killing more than 60 people, including soldiers and civilians (Punch [Lagos], June 2);
- On June 9, a female suicide bomber – the first in Nigeria’s history – detonated explosives at a military barracks in Gombe, killing one soldier and herself (This Day [Lagos], June 9);
- On June 25, Boko Haram bombed an elite mall in Abuja, killing 20 people just as the Nigeria-Argentina World Cup match was about to start (Vanguard [Lagos], June 25);
- On June 26, Boko Haram attempted to bomb a police station in a popular market in Mubi (Adamawa State) but missed the target (pmnewsnigeria.com, June 25);
- On June 28, Boko Haram bombed a brothel in Bauchi State, killing 11 people (Vanguard [Lagos], June 29);
- On July 12, Nigerian police uncovered a Boko Haram plan to bomb Abuja’s transport network with suicide bombers and explosives concealed in luggage (The Nation [Lagos], July 12);
- On July 23, Boko Haram bombed Murtala Square in Kaduna after the Ramadan sermon by prominent shaykh Dahiru Bauchi, killing more than 30 people. A second bomb nearly killed former military head-of-state Muhammadu Buhari (This Day [Lagos], July 23; Sahara Reporters, July 23).
Is Lashkar training ISIS militants?July 26, 2014 13:38 ISTThe Lashkar poses a huge threat to India and its nexus with the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq is worrying, warn intelligence sources. Vicky Nanjappa reports
Around 2,000 terrorists of Chechnya and Nigerian origin have joined the Islamic State (earlier known as the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) to fight jihad in Iraq and Syria, according to a United Nations report.
The report comes in the wake of nearly 800 Indians applying for an Iraq visa and insiders said that they intended to join the ISIS in their fight.
The terrorists from Chechnya and Nigeria are trained at Lashkar-e-Tayiba camps. This development is worrying considering the threat the Lashkar poses to India, said sources.
Intelligence Bureau officials warned that the Lashkar-ISIS nexus is a worrying especially after the declaration of the ‘Islamic state’.
“The ISIS is on the look out for Lashkar-trained fighters who are familiar with the region. In addition to this, the Lashkar is more than willing to train Indians who wish to fight alongside the ISIS.