Alliance to curb flow of funds, fighters to Islamic State

Updated 12 September 2014
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Alliance to curb flow of funds, fighters to Islamic State

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and nine other Arab states agreed Thursday to join a coordinated military campaign against Islamic State militants who have seized parts of Iraq and Syria to try to create a jihadist hub at the heart of the Arab world.
“The participating states agreed to do their share in the comprehensive fight” against IS, said a statement at the conclusion of a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Arab counterparts.
In addition to Saudi Arabia, the other Arab states are Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Although Turkey was represented in the meeting, it was not mentioned in the final communique and a Turkish government official said Ankara has refused to take part in combat against the militants.
Kerry is to fly on Friday to Ankara for urgent talks with officials in Washington’s key ally.
The United States has pressed Arab nations to join a coalition aimed at supporting the US campaign against the jihadists.
In the final statement, the 10 countries and Washington declared their “shared commitment to stand united against the threat posed by all terrorism, including the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.”
Participation in the fight will include “as appropriate, joining in the many aspects of a coordinated military campaign against ISIL,” said the statement.
The fight will include “stopping the flow of foreign fighters through neighboring countries, countering financing of ISIL and other violent extremists, repudiating their hateful ideology, ending impunity and bringing perpetrators to justice.”
It will also include “contributing to humanitarian relief efforts, assisting with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of communities brutalized by ISIL, supporting states that face the most acute ISIL threat.”

Russian perfidy
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Kerry lambasted as laughable Russian claims that US strikes against the Islamic State in Syria without approval by the UN Security Council would be tantamount to aggression and violates international law.
On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama announced extended bombing raids against Islamic State targets in Iraq and authorized them in Syria for the first time. He said the United States would work with regional allies to tackle the threat.
“I must say if it weren’t so serious what’s happening in Ukraine one might almost laugh at the idea of Russia raising the issue of international law or any question of the UN,” Kerry told reporters.
“I am really rather surprised that Russia would dare to assert any notion of international law after what has happened in Crimea and eastern Ukraine,” Kerry added.
Russia said Thursday that unilateral US airstrikes on jihadists in Syria would be a crude violation of international law, a day after President Barack Obama said such action was possible.
“In the absence of an appropriate decision of the UN Security Council, such a step would become an act of aggression, a crude violation of the norms of international law,” said Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry.
Lukashevich said Moscow welcomed the fact that Washington had acknowledged the threat from the radical Islamists.
“Better late than never, as they say,” he said.
But he accused the United States of “double standards” over its support for the opposition in Syria.

(Additional input from Agencies)


Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

Updated 18 February 2019
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Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

  • ‘We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible’
  • The minister noted that there is ‘no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship’

BERLIN: Germany vowed Monday to prosecute German Daesh fighters but warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria, after US President Donald Trump called on allies to take back alleged militants.
Syria’s US-backed Kurdish forces, which are battling Daesh group militants in their last redoubt in eastern Syria, hold hundreds of suspected foreign Daesh fighters and the calls for their reluctant home countries to take them back have grown in urgency.
“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild daily.
Underlining the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial, the minister noted that there is “no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship.”
President Bashar “Assad cannot be our counterpart, the Syrian-democratic forces are not a unity government,” she added, stressing that proof and witness statements needed to be secured in Syria if the militants are to be put on trial.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said separately that a return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained.”
For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” Maas told ARD television late Sunday. Under such conditions a repatriation would be “extremely difficult to achieve.”
Berlin wants to “consult with France and Britain ... over how to proceed,” he said.
The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues “the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground,” according to an agenda for the talks.
Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back alleged militants captured in Syria.
Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border.
After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, as well as their wives and children.
Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for their countries of origin to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.
After initial reluctance, Paris appears ready to consider the return of its nationals.
In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution” on Sunday, calling for “calm reflection and looking at what would be the least security risks.”