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What follows are stories from around the world that caught my eye this morning. I’m listing them, with an extract or a comment or two, in case anyone missed them. I haven’t offered any analysis: I’ll leave that to you, and I hope good posts on the Member Feed result from it.
I was inspired to do this by a comment MikeHs left yesterday in a thread about France’s position on the nuclear deal. He linked to a story in Breitbart headlined, “There was a significant terrorist attack in France this week and the mainstream media hasn’t even bothered telling you.” I searched the international press and saw that indeed, while that story had been widely reported around the world — from Sydney to Tahiti — it really didn’t catch the attention of the US media.
I don’t know whether the stories below are getting much attention, but I think they should be. If I were editing the International Section of the Mainstream Media, I’d include them.
Russia looks for new regional footing post-Iran deal, writes al-Monitor:
In what seemed for years to be a nuclear deadlock, Moscow was believed to be less disturbed than most about the prospects of Iran getting the bomb. Some even opined that it could “live with it.” Indeed, Russia never emphasized the danger as a direct threat, as Washington saw it. Nevertheless, the Russian attitude to this issue was partly dictated by security concerns of another nature: Moscow feared the “export of insecurity” to its own boundaries, should another big war in the region have ignited — partly because the Kremlin probably overestimated its own relationship with the Islamic Republic. In any case, if the deal holds firm, the idea of a non-nuclear Iran is indeed a decent diplomatic achievement for all involved, including Russia.
It is more nuanced on a bilateral level, and the buzz is about arms sales. Russia and Iran are most likely to come up with a new contract that would have Moscow supply Tehran with its S-300 surface-to-air missile systems. Lifting of the sanctions may — and probably will — revise the provisions of the previous deal signed in 2007, under which Russia was to sell six S-300 batteries for a total of $800 million. Lifting the arms embargo was one of Moscow’s top demands for its Western counterparts during the Vienna negotiations, and Russian arms manufacturers and exporters are among the winners of the deal.
Now that the issue is on a settlement path, Russia’s role as wielder of important leverage over Tehran seriously diminishes. But ironically, it gives more leverage to the Kremlin elsewhere. At the press conference, Lavrov reminded listeners of President Barack Obama’s remarks in 2009: “If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security. And the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe will be removed.”
“Today,” said Lavrov, “we drew the attention of our American colleagues to this. We’ll see what they have to say.” In other words, Moscow regards the deal on Iran not only as a bargaining chip but as a key component for strengthening its security standing in Europe.
Russia, China to conduct first joint amphibious assault drill in Far East, reports the Russian news agency TASS:
Russian and Chinese navy men signed in Vladivostok on Friday a protocol on the Join Sea-2015(II) drills. These maneuvers will for the first time involve a joint amphibious assault drill in Russia’s Primorsky territory with the participation of carrier-based aircraft, Russian Pacific Fleet spokesman Roman Martov told TASS. …
He said that the exercise would be held in the Sea of Japan and off the coast of Russia’s Primorsky territory in late August.
… The YPG said it was investigating Islamic State’s use of chemical weapons with help from international experts from UK organizations Conflict Armament Research and Sahan Research.
In a separate statement, those organizations said the three attacks – two in northeastern Syria and one in Iraq – were “the first documented use by (Islamic State) forces of projectile-delivered chemical agents against Kurdish forces and civilian targets”.
In the attack in Iraq, Islamic State forces had fired a projectile “containing a liquid chemical agent at the peshmerga Mosul Dam checkpoint”, they said. “The characteristics and clinical effects of this substance are consistent with a chlorine chemical agent,” the statement said.
Islamic State detonates massive car bomb in Khan Bani Saad, north of Bagdhad on Eid ul-Fitr feast day, via AP and AFP, and published in Australia’s news.com.au:
RESCUERS in the Iraqi town of Khan Bani Saad were searching collapsed buildings for bodies on Saturday after a car bomb ripped through a busy market, killing at least 115 people.
The suicide attack by the Islamic State group was one of the deadliest since it took over swathes of Iraq last year and came as the country marked Eid ul-Fitr, the Muslim feast that ends the fasting month of Ramadan.
Residents recounted scenes of horror in the aftermath of the attack, in which officials said at least 15 children were killed.
Car bomb explodes in Saudi capital Riyadh, reports the Guardian:
A car bomb has exploded at a security checkpoint in the Saudi capital Riyadh, killing the driver and wounding two policemen, the interior ministry said.
The blast came with the kingdom on alert for attacks by Isis, who have been blamed for killing policemen members of the minority Shia community.
The Star reports that in an online statement ISIS claimed responsibility for the the attack, celebrating it a “double operation.”
Car bomb hits Sanaa mourners as Houthis launch Scud at Saudi Arabia, from France 24:
… In a statement posted online, the IS group said it had organised the attack on what it called a “Shiite nest” in the Yemeni capital. …
In a new sign that three months of war in Yemen was ratcheting up, a Houthi military spokesman said the rebels had launched a Scud missile at a Saudi military base on Tuesday. …
Despite the months of Arab air strikes backing up the Houthis’ armed opponents in Yemen, the Houthis have not lost ground on the battlefield and have stepped up their exchanges of artillery and rocket fire with Saudi forces along their border.
Yemen ministers back from Saudi exile in ‘liberated’ Aden, reports AFP, via India’s NDTV:
ADEN: Yemeni ministers have arrived back in Aden from Saudi exile after the government announced the “liberation” of the country’s second city from Iran-backed rebels, the interior minister said today. …
“The government announces the liberation of the province of Aden,” Vice President Khaled Bahah said on Facebook.
But witnesses said that rebels remained in control of the city’s Al-Tawahi district today and that heavy fighting was continuing there.
Southern militiamen of the Popular Resistance launched Operation Golden Arrow against the rebels on Tuesday, boosted by reinforcements freshly trained and equipped in Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led coalition has also kept up the air campaign it launched in March.
At dawn today, coalition aircraft bombed a rebel reinforcement convoy east of Aden, killing 25 fighters, a military official said.
On the ground, Sunni Arab residents of Tal Abyad minced no words about the Kurdish fighters who seized the city.
Seyh Deham Haseki, 60, described IS as a “much lesser evil compared to the Kurdish militants”.
“We won’t accept the Kurds because this isn’t their land. It has always been the Arabs’ land. We will stand against them until the very end.”
One of the three men suspected of planning an attack against a French military base had been asked by an Islamic State group militant in Syria to “strike” France, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Friday. The youngest of the three suspects, aged 17, received the request when it became clear he could not go to Syria to fight alongside jihadist groups because he was under surveillance. …
The three suspects told investigators they planned to behead a senior officer of a military base in southern France and record the scene with a GoPro camera.
The oldest of the group, aged 23, served as a navy signalman at the base around the southern town of Collioure, which is also used for training by elite commando forces.
Identified as Djebril, he was discharged from the navy in January for back problems, a source close to the investigation told AFP. The target is thought to have been his former boss.
The 17-year-old suspect had been under close surveillance by authorities due to his activities on social media and connections to French jihadists in prison.
All three had been planning to travel to jihadist-controlled areas of Syria.
In an ISIS training camp, children told: Behead the doll, via AP and published in Al Arabiya:
… When Islamic State extremists overran Yazidi towns and villages in northern Iraq last year, they butchered older men. Many of the women and girls they captured were given to ISIS loyalists as sex slaves. But dozens of young Yazidi boys like Yahya had a different fate: The group sought to re-educate them. They forced them to convert to Islam from their ancient faith and then tried to turn them into jihadi extremist fighters.
It is part of a concerted effort by the extremists to build a new generation of militants, according to a series of AP interviews with residents who fled or still live under ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The group is recruiting teens and children, using cash, gifts, intimidation and brainwashing. As a result, children have been plunged into the group’s atrocities. Young boys have been turned into executioners, shooting captives in the head in videos issued by the group. Last week, for the first time, a video showed a child involved in a beheading: a boy who appeared younger than 13 decapitating a Syrian army captain. Kids have also been used as suicide bombers.
In schools and mosques, the militants infuse children with their extremist doctrine, often turning them against their own parents. Fighters in the street befriend children with toys. ISIS training camps for children churn out the Ashbal, Arabic for “lion cubs,” young fighters for the “caliphate” that ISIS has declared across the regions its controls.
Russian MP who opposed Crimea annexation arrested in absentia, via AFP and published in Hürriyet Daily News:
A Russian court on July 17 authorised the arrest in absentia of the only lawmaker who voted against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, in what his supporters say is a politically motivated case.
Ilya Ponomaryov, who currently lives in the United States, has been accused of complicity in the embezzlement of $750,000 from the Skolkovo Foundation, a high-tech project the Kremlin had hoped would be its answer to Silicon Valley.
Senior Cleric: US Bowed to Iranian Nation’s Resistance in N. Talks, via Iran’s Fars News Agency:
TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran’s Provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani said the Iran-world powers deal came after the arrogant powers eventually bowed to the resistance shown by the Iranian government and nation.
Addressing a large and fervent congregation of the people on Tehran University campus on Friday, Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani said, “The US grew disappointed after it saw the resistance of the Iranian nation against the economic sanctions and pressures, and Washington realized that it cannot make the Iranian nation withdraw; it also came to realize that it should respect the Iranians.”
Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani thanked the Iranian negotiating team for their relentless efforts which led to striking a final agreement with the world powers.
He pointed to the anger of the Israeli officials at the powers’ agreement with Iran, and said, “The Zionist regime and its supporters, specially the Saudi regime, are highly displeased with this agreement and we should tell them be angry at the Iranian nation and die of this anger.”
Ayatollah Khamenei, Backing Iran Negotiators, Doesn’t Fault Nuclear Deal, via the United States’ New York Times:
TEHRAN — In his first speech since his country’s nuclear agreement with world powers was announced, the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, voiced support for the negotiators and did not criticize any details of the agreement.
Speaking on Saturday after a special prayer marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Ayatollah Khamenei concluded by saying that Iran now had thousands of centrifuges spinning and that research and development would continue.
It is not certain yet whether the agreement struck in Vienna on Tuesday between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, will be ratified, he said without elaborating. “Whether this text will be approved or not, we will not allow them by divine help to abuse it,” Ayatollah Khamenei told thousands of worshipers in a speech broadcast live on state television.
The nuclear agreement will now most likely be approved by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, whose members in many ways have helped Ayatollah Khamenei engineer the deal. It is headed by President Hassan Rouhani, who was one of the main promoters of the nuclear agreement.
(Do read both articles in full, the difference in emphasis is fascinating.)
And I suppose I’d be tempted to run this story, too:
Greek PM ‘doesn’t eat or sleep’ from overwork, says mother, via AFP and published in The Daily Star of Lebanon:
ATHENS: Embattled Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras eats and sleeps poorly and rarely manages to see his family, his mother told a tabloid on Saturday.
“Alexis lately does not eat, does not sleep, but he has no choice — he has a debt to the people who put their faith in him,” Aristi Tsipras, 73, told Parapolitika weekly.
“I rarely see him any more. He goes from the airport straight to parliament. He has no time to see his children, how can he see me?” Aristi Tsipras said.
“When we speak, I tell him to do the best for the country and take care of himself. He tells me not to worry, and that everything will be fine,” she said.
(“Don’t worry about me, Alex, I’ll sit here in the dark.”)