BACKGROUND BRIEFING: U.S. Official On Syria

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 BACKGROUND BRIEFING

May 9, 2016

U.S. Official On Syria

May 9, 2016

Via Teleconference

MODERATOR:  Good morning, everyone, and thanks for joining us on such short notice.  We don’t have a lot of time today, so I’m going to get straight to the point.  Today we will have a background briefing and an update on Syria by [U.S. Official].  He is also engaged on the ceasefire task force and various aspects of the cessation of hostilities.  From here on out he will be known as a U.S. official.  That’s a U.S. official.  I want to reiterate that this call is on background.

With that, I’ll turn it over to our U.S. official.

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Hi, everyone.  Nice talking to you.  You have the statement in front of you so I’m not going to speak for long, but I would just highlight some main points.  First is that the statement with Russia affirms our shared understanding of efforts to revitalize the nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria, and that’s opposed to reverting to local ceasefires.  It also explains our commitment to making particularly intensive efforts in specific hot spot areas of Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, and Latakia.  It has a clear demand which Russia joins on parties to cease any indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including civilian infrastructure and medical facilities.  It has a commitment for undertaking a joint assessment where such incidents are reported to have occurred with casualties, as well as to share that with the members of the task force and through the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to the UN Security Council. 

There’s also a commitment by Russia to work with the Syrian authorities to minimize aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians or parties to the cessation.  There’s also a clear call on the parties for ensuring continuous delivery of humanitarian access including to besieged areas that haven’t been reached yet, and those are specifically named, and for unconditional delivery without obstruction of medical personnel and equipment, having access to those areas as well.

So those are some highlights, but I’ll stop there.  I’m happy to take questions.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  And ladies and gentlemen, if you do wish to queue up for a question you may press * followed by 1.  You will hear a tone indicating that you have been placed in queue, and you may remove yourself from the queue at any time by pressing the # key.  If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing the number.  So again, for your questions you may place yourselves in queue by pressing * followed by 1, and please allow just a few moments as questioners do queue up.

All right, I’ll take our first question in queue from Felicia Schwartz with The Wall Street Journal.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for doing this.  On the part about Nusrah and seeking an understanding about where they are, is that different than – is this a fresh or different effort than what you’ve been trying to do in the past?

And then the second question is the Aleppo ceasefire is going to expire at 5:00 today Eastern Time, so is there a reason that there wasn’t a fresh commitment from U.S. and Russia to extend that ceasefire today?  Thanks.

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Sure, thanks.  On the Nusrah piece there’s an emphasis on it because both Nusrah and ISIL are, of course, excluded from the cessation of hostilities, but Nusrah is present in areas where they are proximate to civilians or and/or parties to the cessation.  And over the last several weeks of the cessation the presence of Nusrah has been a complicating factor, and so we’re making a fresh commitment to look at that in relation to the cessation of hostilities and try to come to a clearer shared understanding of where they’re operating and what threat they pose to the cessation.

On Aleppo on the ideas that the particular special measures that we had in place for these specific areas or hot spots is making sure that it’s understood they’re folded in within a commitment to a renewal of the cessation nationwide.  So the intention is for that very much to be extended.

OPERATOR:  Thank you.  The next question will come from Bill Faries with Bloomberg News.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks again for having this. Could you – can you give us – can you say anything more about – you said the intention is very much for this ceasefire to be extended in and around Aleppo.  Is there going to be another time period set on that or – and what has the status been, I guess, over the last 12 to 24 hours?  Thank you.

U.S. OFFICIAL:  There has been a reduction in violence in various parts of Aleppo.  We’ve seen a decrease, although there are pockets where that has not been the case.  There has been fighting in the southwest, for example, fairly intensive, although that fighting is involving Nusrah and other groups that are not party to the cessation.  So fighting there shouldn’t be seen as indicative of the cessation not being in effect or being extended in Aleppo.  We are fully committed to its extension in Aleppo.  Each side has communicated with commanders, saying that the other side is called upon to honor the cessation and that they should reciprocate. 

So the cessation of hostilities is in effect in Aleppo, but there are periods – pockets where there has been fighting, certainly in the last 12 to 24 hours.  One would like to see a decrease there, but in the areas I just mentioned where Nusrah is operating we may not see that right away.

OPERATOR:  All right, thank you.  The next question will come from Curt Mills with U.S. News & World Report.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Thank you, thank you.  So is it the U.S.’s current contention that there is currently a ceasefire in Aleppo, just to be clear?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  And next in queue is Rosiland Jordan with Al Jazeera English.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for the call.  I want to go to the section of the statement that deals with the COH item number three:  “The Russians will work with the Syrians to minimize aviation operations over areas that are currently inhabited by civilians.”  Does this mean that Russia has committed, one, to compelling the Assad government to stop airstrikes over areas such as large parts of Aleppo, and does that mean that the Russians themselves will not be carrying out airstrikes, as has been alleged by some in the opposition?  Thanks.

U.S. OFFICIAL:  So the language in that paragraph is “to work with the Syrian authorities to minimize aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians or parties,” so I think the words are carefully chosen.  What we would like to see as a result of that work is a real reduction in Syrian authorities’ or Syrian air force overflights of those areas.  Even if they’re not dropping ordnance, just the mere hovering of a helicopter overhead has had a particularly worrying effect for understandable reasons for civilians who have witnessed that over the last years of the conflict.  So the commitment, however, is quite specifically related to the Syrian authorities. 

As for Russia, they are a party to the cessation with respect to not striking parties to the cessation, and in the actual terms of the agreement it makes clear that neither Russian nor Syrian air forces should be striking either civilians targets or parties to the cessation.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  The next question will come from Margaret Warner with PBS NewsHour.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for doing this.  This is actually a follow-up to the question just asked.  Obviously, the Russian Federation had made some commitments to you all to try to restrain the Syrian authorities from bombing, and the same for themselves.  And so what is new about this?  Are the Russians now more committed?  Is this just kind of a shell game on their part?  I mean, what makes you think this will work any better than before?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Well, I think that what it is a – the commitment, as you say, has been there in effect since the cessation went into effect on the 27th of February as far as not striking parties to the cessation or civilians.  I think we’ve raised serious concerns about the strains and the very real strains the cessation underwent and violations that we’ve seen in recent weeks, and so we believe that it was quite important to renew the commitment with a particularly intensive focus on areas or hot spots where we’ve seen more violence, Aleppo being among them. 

Now, there is no prohibition on overflight or general air operations, so an undertaking on their part to work with minimizing air operations over these areas is an additional measure that, if implemented, would strengthen the COH.  They are not restricted from striking Nusrah, but minimizing air operations even where Nusrah is present, if in an area that’s predominantly inhabited by civilians or the parties to the cessation would help with implementation of the cessation more generally.

OPERATOR:  Thank you.  And next is Nike Chang with Voice of America.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi.  It’s Pam Dockins, actually, with Voice of America.  But a question about section four of the joint U.S.-Russian statement.  Down in the bottom of that paragraph it says the U.S. is committed to intensifying its support and assistance to regional allies.  Can you elaborate on that and indicate whether or not that indicates some type of new commitment or any additional material support to allies, and if so, what is that?

And then secondly, concerning the localized ceasefires such as the one in Aleppo and Latakia:  Is there concern that at some point it’s going to get overwhelming or too difficult to continue to try to maintain these 48, 72-hour ceasefires?  The overall goal, of course, is the nationwide ceasefire, but as you look at these localized attempts, at what point does it become too cumbersome to try to keep up this pace?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  So I’ll take the last question first.  The use of these 24, 48-hour periods in places like Latakia, Eastern Ghouta, and Aleppo were because the exchanges of fire on both sides had become quite intense, particularly in Latakia and Aleppo.  And so it was a means by which to get local commanders to be assured of the other side’s readiness to renew the implementation of the cessation.  In Latakia I think we’ve seen the violence come down quite significantly through the result of those efforts, and therefore folding it into the normal order with the nationwide cessation makes eminent sense, and that’s what we’re doing with the other two areas as well.  Aleppo, there is still work to be done to bring the violence down in pockets of the city, so – in pockets of the – in the environment, and so that’s what we’re working on now.

As concerns your first question, we’re not right now announcing or indicating any fresh or additional specific measures, just a willingness at this stage to intensify efforts in that direction as needed.

OPERATOR:  Thank you.  Next question will come from Michele Kelemen with NPR.  Please go ahead.

QUESTION:  All right, thanks.  I’m wondering about this question of Nusrah in the Aleppo area.  Can you explain how the U.S.-Russian task force works?  Are they actually looking at maps and deciding which group holds which block?

And then, secondly, do you have a shared understanding with the Russians as to the consequences for violations of the ceasefire?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Yeah, so – I mean, we have had multiple conversations in various fora, both in Geneva and in the region and between our capitals, because we have multiple channels of communication to exchange information on our views on where Nusrah and the parties are located.  The challenge is, of course, where Nusrah and parties to the cessation may be located quite closely together.  And there our view is that while Nusrah is excluded from the cessation and therefore it is permissible to take action against them, you nonetheless are also required under the terms of the COH to ensure any action you take does not harm civilians or parties to the cessation, and that’s where we believe additional work is needed to reach a shared understanding on how you honor that fully.  And in some cases it’s not simply a matter of having a general understanding, but you have to get more granular, and so we’re making a commitment to try to deepen our understanding of that challenge.  And it’s different in different specific locations of the country, so there isn’t a – one approach that applies equally to all, because it depends on the disposition of forces on the ground in specific areas and also the extent to which areas are more densely populated versus more remote.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  And we do have time for one final question.  That will come from Lesley Wroughton with Reuters.  Please go ahead.

QUESTION:  Yeah, hi.  It’s got to do with the political process.  How realistic is it that you can actually, as you say, redouble efforts to reach a political settlement when these sides are still in battle?  And if you think that you – do you think that you can realistically actually get the parties together this month, as suggested last week?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  So our view is that the renewal of the cessation of hostilities coupled with humanitarian access – indeed being allowed in the besieged and hard-to-reach areas and for the assistance to be continuous – these things create a much better – a far more conducive environment towards the parties being able to tackle very difficult political issues. 

The statement points to the mediator’s summary that was issued following the last round of talks between the 13th and the 27th of April, which in its annex listed many different issues that the parties need to tackle for the political transition to be viable.  And it’s important to note in there that among the things it covers are how is power to be exercised in practice by the transitional governance, including in relation to the presidency, executive powers, control over the government’s own security institutions. 

And so by making clear that these things are very much the subject of discussion, it certainly clarifies for those who were wondering, well, is this a real discussion on political transition, to make clear that the co-chairs’ shared understanding as these things are front and center on the table for discussion.  So to the extent that there was any lack of clarity among some of the parties as to what are the items that are meant to be discussed, having a list of issues spelled out as to what will inform the agenda for the talks going forward can help.  But they’re very, very difficult issues, to be certain.  So the issues are difficult, and equally the cessation – it’s going to face – when it went into effect, we knew that it would face setbacks and that it would take strenuous efforts to get it back on track.  The same remains today.  But the commitment that we have from both co-chairs is to work through those challenges – indeed, to try to get it back on track.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  At this time we’ll turn the conference back over to our presenters for any closing comments.

MODERATOR:  I just want to thank our U.S. official for taking time out today, and thank you all for calling in.  This will conclude today’s call.

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Executive Summary Sample

Executive Summary for the Week of 16/5/2012 – 23/5/2012

Egypt: Elections

All of the Think Tanks summarized below hold very different viewpoints concerning the same issue, the Egyptian elections; although, there are some statements that hold true throughout all of the think tanks. All believe that this is a very important time for Egypt and that the outcome of this election is very detrimental, possibly even predictive of the future of Egypt. The pieces primarily examine parliament and the role of the Islamists in Egypt. The Brookings Institution conducted a poll that is telling of what Egyptians want and see in their future, which shown alongside the Gallup poll can be disconcerting. The Gallup poll shows a more pessimistic view of the current political climate, whereas The Brookings Institution is more optimistic, this however can be attributed to the types of questions asked, as well as the depth of the questions. Both the Center for American Progress and Washington Institute for Near East Policy examined the role America can play in the transition process. The Center for American Progress, being more progressive, took a centrist approach to reinstating ties with the new Egyptian government; it was also the only report to provide more detailed background knowledge about the candidates. In contrast, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, under the guise of fostering stability, took a very American Exceptionalist approach to the elections, assuming the worst and even regretting the inability for the Obama administration to get involved. The second report from WINEP also indicates concern with the ability of Egyptians to monitor the elections for fairness and vote rigging. The Plofchan report from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, although not the first to talk about the Salafis and The Muslim Brotherhood, it was the first to chronicle, however briefly, the beginnings of the split between the two groups, as well as state some of the differences in beliefs amongst the two. Lastly, the Council on Foreign Relations report was the only report to put a face to a people, speaking of the obstacles Egypt may face and providing a more in depth look at what many Egyptians may be feeling.

Think Tank: Brookings Institution

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 21/5/2012

Author: Shibley Telhami

Type: Report

Title: What Do Egyptians Want? Key Findings from the Egyptian Public Opinion Poll

Address: http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2012/05/21-egyptian-election-poll-telhami

The Brookings Institution has conducted a poll surveying the Egyptian public about political preferences, leaders and regional issues, during May 4-10, 2012 in light of the first presidential election. The Brookings Institution places great emphasis on the importance of the inaccuracies of probable predictions, as there is no analytical model of voting behaviour as of yet. Egyptian voters have also shown a difference in criteria by which they judge parliamentary and presidential candidates.

Poll Results:

  • Abul-Fotouh led the polls with 32%, followed by Mousa (28%) then Shafiq (14%), Morsi and Sabahi at (8%).
  • In parliamentary elections, 24% a favoured political party determined their vote, whereas in presidential elections, personal trust is a determining factor for 31%.
  • Christians supported Mousa the most, with 43%, as well as voters outside of cities with 31% of the vote.
  • Abul-Fotouh led among university graduates with 35% and among youth, under age 25, with 36%.
  • 54% believe Turkey to be the model reflection in terms of Islam in politics, followed by Saudi Arabia with 32%
  • A majority of those polled hold very unfavourable views of the U.S., with 68% and 73% support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.
  • 66% of Egyptians support Sharia as the basis of Egyptian law, but 83% believe Sharia should be adapted to modern times.
  • A majority of Egyptians admired the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, with 63%. When asked to include Egyptian leaders, Erdogan fell to 15%, with Sadat at 35% and Abdel Nasser at 26%.
  • Brokering Middle East peace and establishing a Palestinian State ranked highest (66%) in regards improving U.S. favourability, followed by stopping military and economic aid to Israel as 46%.
  • While 55% believe there will be no lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis, 46% would like to maintain the peace treaty with Israel and 44% would like to see it cancelled.
  • The two countries that pose the biggest nuclear threat are Israel (97%) and the U.S. (80%).
  • Egyptians have been in support of the rebels against Assad and the Syrian government, but only 18% wish to see external military interventions, 15% support a Turkish Arab military intervention and 43% wish to see no military intervention.

Think Tank: Center for American Progress

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 23/5/2012

Author: Brian Katulis

Type: Brief

Title: Previewing Egypt’s 2012 Presidential Elections

Address:  http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/05/egypt_elections.h tml/#1

This report by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank dedicated to public policy research, provides a brief description of Egypt’s first democratic presidential election since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, as well as recommendations for the American government to restore and reinforce ties with the new Egyptian government. In addition, the brief lists and describes the presidential candidates.

According to the report, it is believed that “no candidate will receive more than 50% of the vote,” which would lead to run-off elections in mid-June between the two top candidates. By June’s end a new president will be sworn in for a four-year term and military rulers will hand over power to the new government. However, the transition is still incomplete as a new constitution is to be written and their remains questions over:

  • The economy- Candidates have addressed unemployment and inflation, but have yet to address public-sector debt, the currency crisis, and energy and food subsidies.
  • Security, Law and Order- The drafting of the new constitution has been halted due to Egypt’s disunities over the identity of their new political system; ie. The role of Islam in the government and legislation.

The drafting of the constitution is set to take six-months to draft, although it could take longer to get approved and gain public support. The new constitution may also address a checks and balances system, as well as the role of parliament. The role Egypt is to take in the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional security is also a source of debate amongst the candidates.

The report suggests that the American government conduct a “major interagency review of its Egypt policy.” This review will prepare the U.S. administration for dialogue with the new Egyptian administration later this year. The dialogue should consist of:

  • A renegotiation of “basic terms of the relationship.”
  • Enhance bilateral relationship through common interests.
  • “Build a more stable foundation for U.S.-Egyptian bilateral ties.”

Results of these dialogues would redefine ties and include more parts of the Egyptian government that were not included in past years.

Egypt Presidential Candidate Profiles

  • Amr Moussa- He served under the Mubarak regime as Egypt’s Foreign minister, as well as the secretary general of the Arab League. His platform consists of a centrist political strategy. He has been labelled as a remnant of the Mubarak regime. He is known for his anti-Israel and America statements and has campaigned as the “alternative to Islamist candidates.”
  • Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh- His candidacy is opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood. He is an Islamist activist and “would implement Sharia as a formal legal code.” His platforms are “populist economics and “people first” economics.” He served on the Muslim Brotherhoods decision-making council for twenty-two years. He has the support of leaders from the Salafi Nour Party.
  • Ahmad Shafiq- He has served as prime minister, and air force commander under Mubarak, causing him speculation amongst “revolution minded voters.” His platform is to “restore law and order within 30 days of being elected.” Public perception of him has been negative. He is running as an “alternative to Islamist candidates. “
  • Hamdeen Sabbahi- He has nationalist ideologies, basing his campaign on criticism of the U.S. and Israel. He founded social and political organizations and worked as a journalist, in which he was arrested for his “public confrontation” with former President Sadat concerning “rising food prices.” He did not serve under the Mubarak regime and is not an Islamist. He has proposed an alliance with Iran and Turkey and severing ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
  • Muhammad Mursi- He is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party Leader. He has served in Egypt’s Parliament and is the Brotherhood’s leading spokesman. He plans to amend the peace treaty with Israel “to create a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and have Israel recognize the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees.”

Think Tank: Council on Foreign Relations

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 21/5/2012

Author: Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh

Type: Expert Brief

Title: A New Presidential Authority in Egypt

Address: http://www.cfr.org/egypt/new-presidential-authority-egypt/p28308

This brief takes a more optimistic approach to the Egyptian elections, summarizing the possible obstacles for the newly elected official, obstacles pertaining to religion in politics, and while also providing a look at the voters’ demands and desire for dignity.

While Egypt has witnessed violence, protests and authority turnover in the last sixteen months, it has empowered Egyptians to take part in their political system. Current polls show “a clear majority of Egyptians continue to hold the military in high regard,” although not nearly as many Egyptians “support a military-dominated political system.” The SCAF has been contested by the public for the “Selmi principles,” granting “autonomy from elected civilian officials,” as well as for their “application of the State of Emergency.”

The Muslim Brotherhood votes are split between two candidates, Aboul Fotouh, who was expelled from the Brotherhood, and Morsi, who has been behind in the polls. Despite the parliament being a Brotherhood majority, the Brotherhood is not leading in the presidential polls, possibly due to a Brotherhood announcement against running in the presidential race, that was later followed by Morsi’s presidential bid.

Egyptians demand more accountability of politicians. Although economic strife “helped create an environment of misery,” in years prior to the uprising, “Egyptians were demanding freedom, justice, and dignity when they brought Hosni Mubarak down.”

One thing that may delay the transition process will be the role of Islam in politics. Within that lies the issue of whether the Salafis or the Islamists are to speak for Islam. It is anticipated that whomever wins the election must negotiate between different religious groups. If the organised labour parties can emerge in large-scale, they can be very influential in the economic and social policymaking.

Think Tank: Gallup World via The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 18/5/2012

Author: Mohamed Younis and Ahmed Younis

Type: Report

Title: Support for Islamists Declines as Egypt’s Election Nears

Address: http://www.gallup.com/poll/154706/Support-Islamists-Declines-Egypt-Election-Nears.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=World

According to the Gallup poll, spanning from July 2011 until April 2012 the Islamists have seen a steady increase, followed by a sharp decline in overall support as well as in the areas of prime minister appointment and constitution drafting.

  • July 2011 saw Muslim Brotherhood support at 17%, steadily increasing and peaking at 63% in February, then sharply declining to 42% in April.
  • In July 2011 Salafi support was at 5%, steadily increasing and peaking at 37% in February, then sharply declining to 25% in April.
  • The Nour Party saw 5% support in July, peaking at 40% in February and declining to 30% in April.
  • The Freedom and Justice Party saw 15% support in July, peaking at 67% in February and declining to 43% in April.
  • In February 2012, 62% of Egyptians felt comfortable with parliament writing the constitution, in April 2012 that percentage fell to 44.
  • In February 2012, 46% of Egyptians believed the party that wins the most seats in the parliament should appoint the prime ministers. Egyptians supporting the newly elected president appointing the prime minister next summer was 27%.
  • In April 2012, 27% of Egyptians believed the party that wins the most seats in the parliament should appoint the prime ministers. Egyptians supporting the newly elected president appointing the prime minister next summer was 44%.
  • In February 2012, 62% of Egyptians thought a parliament influenced by the Brotherhood was a good thing; 27% thought it was a bad thing.
  • In April 2012, 36% of Egyptians thought a parliament influenced by the Brotherhood was a good thing; 47% thought it was a bad thing.

This dissatisfaction can be attributed to the economic decline and bouts of violence. The transition has been twisted by power struggles within parliament, as opposed to reversing “financial decline and working to hold former regime members accountable.”

Think Tank: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 22/5/2012

Author: Eric Trager

Type: Policy Analysis

Title: Presidential Elections Will Not End Egyptian Instability

Address: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/presidential-elections-will-not-end-egyptian-instability

This WINEP analysis focuses on American interests within the Egyptian elections and states that given the economic situation of Egypt and the lack of clarity in the role of a new president, the elections will not provide stability in Egypt, but could further instability. Trager states that Sabahi is considered a favourite amongst expatriate voters, and while Mousa appears to be leading in the polls, there is no anticipated winner. With 75% of the parliament being Islamists, “ongoing instability has damaged the Islamists’ popularity and raised the profile of former regime candidates,” such as Shafiq, who has sought the votes of former Mubarak supporters.

The analysis concentrates on the shift from an American friendly regime to the current stance of the candidates that express anti-Western platforms, with the exception of Shafiq who is the only candidate who is not anti-Western or pro-Sharia. 

Fair elections will not likely cause stability as the parameters of the role of the newly elected president are undefined, as the new constitution has not been drafted. The proposals to allow the SCAF “to retain absolute powers in reviewing its internal affairs, including its budget,” and the ability of the president’s power to dissolve parliament, are likely to “ignite a severe confrontation between the military and the Islamists.”

The Obama administration has not declared support for any candidate. Washington should insist the SCAF conduct the elections fairly and to “follow a credible constitutional process,” otherwise mass protests could occur. Such protests could suppress stability restoration. Concerned that Islamists may play a role in an uprising against the SCAF, Washington should “use its $1.3 billion in military aid as leverage,” to ensure proper SCAF administration.

Think Tank: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 22/5/2012

Author: David Schenker

Type: Policy Analysis

Title: Egyptian Elections: Beyond Winning

Address: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/egyptian-elections-beyond-winning

This policy analysis of the Egyptian elections by WINEP, often criticised for being pro-Israel, discusses the credibility and speculation surrounding the actual voting process in Egypt. Concern is raised over an Islamist sweep within the new government, as Islamists are the majority of the new parliament. WINEP believes that regardless of the election process, a group of Egyptians may not accept the results if their candidate does not win.

Egyptians have been to the voting polls four times in fifteen months, causing concern that Egyptians may be losing their enthusiasm to vote. The constitutional referendum in March 2011 saw 41.2% of eligible voters vote, but Shura Council elections in January and February 2012 saw only 6.5% of voters in the first round and 12.2% voters in the second. About 54% of voters cast their ballots for the People’s Assembly elections. The high turn out rate is thought to be because some Egyptians believed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would fine them for not voting. The threat of SCAF imposing an “interim constitution” could discourage voters or encourage voters to vote.

The Carter Center, the only American based democracy promotion organisation currently in Egypt  “will not be allowed to observe any single polling station for more than thirty minutes.” Thousands of Egyptians have volunteered to monitor the polling stations.

WINEP believes that in the event Shafiq or Mousa win, there may be “claims of SCAF fraud,” accompanied by mass protests. The key to stabilizing Egypt is in the credibility of the voting process.

Think Tank: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 16/5/2012

Author: Thomas K. Plofchan III

Type: Report

Title: Egypt’s Islamists: A Growing Divide

Address: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/islamists/egypt’s-islamists-growing-divide

This report chronicles and examines the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi rivalry from the fall of Hosni Mubarak until more recently into the elections. The two organisations originally held similar positions on issues after the fall of Mubarak, although began to divide mid-2011.

Three Salafi organisations, The Nour Party, being the biggest, joined the Brotherhood led Democratic Alliance that soon dissolved afterwards. The Salafis then formed the Islamic Bloc that won approximately 27% of the parliament vote, despite political inexperience. “The Nour Party won 111 of the 508 parliamentary seats, making it the second largest part in the People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament.” The Brotherhood won 40% of the vote. Both parties have stated little interest in forming an Islamist alliance in the parliament.

The media has recently depicted the Brotherhood in a negative light due to entering the presidential candidacy after stating they wouldn’t. The Salafi party supports Aboul Fotouh, an expelled Brotherhood leader, while the Brotherhood’s Morsi is behind in the polls.

Salafis “oppose the use of alcohol and exposure of women’s bodies,” in regards to tourism standards; The Nour Party encourages cultural tourism contrasting to resort tourism and the Brotherhood “have distinguished between Egyptians and foreigners traveling in the country.” The biggest contrast deals with the role of Sharia in the new political system. The Brotherhood supports the principles of Sharia in legislation, whereas the Salafis support Sharia judgment.

Towards Coexistence: An Analysis of Resolutions of the Palestine National Council

A presentation of the Muhammad Muslih Article from 1990 can be found here

 

http://prezi.com/j5ouue-shgk7/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

CAIR Condemns Paris Terror Attacks

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    • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      CAIR Condemns Paris Terror Attacks

      (WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/13/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned terror attacks in Paris that left many people dead and injured.
      In a statement, CAIR said:
      “These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are outrageous and without justification. We condemn these horrific crimes in the strongest terms possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured and with all of France. The perpetrators of these heinous attacks must be apprehended and brought to justice.”
      CAIR has consistently and repeatedly condemned all acts of terrorism wherever they have occurred.
      SEE: CAIR’s Condemnation of Terrorism
      CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
    • – END –

      CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171, nnaeem@cair.com

    •  

  •  

 

Council on American-Islamic Relations

453 New Jersey Ave, S.E., Washington, D.C., 20003

Council on American-Islamic Relations Copyright © 1994. All rights reserved.

MEDIA NOTE: U.S. Treasury Sanctions Major Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Leaders, Financial Figures, Faciliatators and Supporters

 

U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

 

September 29, 2015                          

 

 TREASURY SANCTIONS MAJOR ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND THE LEVANT LEADERS, FINANCIAL FIGURES, FACILITATORS, AND SUPPORTERS

Coordinated Treasury, State, and United Nations Designations in Advance of the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism Underscore an International Focus on Defeating ISIL

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of 15 key Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorism facilitators pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. These designations focus on attacking ISIL’s finances by inhibiting ISIL’s financial leaders and facilitators from using the international financial system, and support President Obama’s strategy to disrupt and ultimately destroy ISIL. The State Department concurrently announced 15 additional ISIL-related designations, and amended the designations of two additional groups, under E.O. 13224. Demonstrating international resolve to counter ISIL, the United Nations (UN) today also added some of these domestic ISIL designations to the UN al-Qaida Sanctions List. These designations precede the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism to be held later today on the margins of the UN General Assembly meetings, and which will bring together leaders from more than 100 countries, 15 multilateral bodies, and 120 civil society and private sector organizations to review progress on and announce initiatives to counter ISIL, the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, and violent extremism.

As a result of today’s actions, any property or interest in property of the individuals and entities designated by Treasury or State within U.S. jurisdiction is frozen. Additionally, transactions by U.S. persons involving the designated individuals and entities are generally prohibited.

“Treasury remains relentless about depleting ISIL’s financial strength and denying this violent terrorist group access to the international financial system,” said Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “We will continue to hinder ISIL’s ability to gain, move, and use funds, and will work closely with our partners across the U.S. government and the international community to destroy this brutal organization.”

Treasury designated domestically the following ISIL officials and facilitators: Hasan al-Salahayn Salih al-Sha’ari, Ali Musa al-Shawakh, Tarad Mohammad Aljarba, Morad Laaboudi, Mu’tassim Yahya ‘Ali al-Rumaysh, Mounir Ben Dhaou Ben Brahim Ben Helal, Sami Jasim Muhammad al-Jaburi, Tuah Febriwansyah, Muhammad Sholeh Ibrahim, Nasir Muhammad ‘Awad al-Ghidani al-Harbi, Hafiz Saeed Khan, Muwaffaq Mustafa Muhammad al-Karmush, Bajro Ikanovic, Aqsa Mahmood and Omar Hussain. Several of these individuals were also included today on the UN al-Qaida Sanctions List. Consequently, all member states of the United Nations are obligated to deny these individuals access to the international financial system and prohibit any travel. 

The designations announced today also support the efforts of the Counter ISIL Finance Group (CIFG), which was formed in March 2015 in Rome and is co-led by Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. The CIFG, which focuses on disrupting the financial and economic activities of ISIL, is one of five working groups that were established by the Coalition to Counter ISIL. The CIFG seeks to prevent ISIL’s use of the international financial system; counter ISIL’s extortion and exploitation of economic assets; deny ISIL funding from abroad; and prevent ISIL from providing financial or material support to its foreign affiliates. The third CIFG meeting is scheduled to take place in Washington, DC on October 6 and 7, 2015.

 

Hasan al-Salahayn Salih al-Sha’ari (al-Sha’ari)

Salih al-Sha’ari is being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Libyan national al-Sha’ari is an ISIL facilitator who has previously been associated with the group’s predecessor, the U.S. and UN-designated al-Qaida in Iraq. Now-deceased former AQI leader Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi trained al-Sha’ari. In mid-2012, al-Sha’ari was released from an Iraqi prison and returned to Libya, where he continued to support ISIL, subsequently starting a branch of ISIL in late 2014. From late 2012, al-Sha’ari provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to several individuals, including senior ISIL member and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) Tariq Bin al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi (AKA Tariq Abu Umar al-Tunisi), and provided experienced, trusted personnel to aid al-Harzi. By early 2014, al-Sha’ari and other associates had sworn themselves to ISIL and in the fall of 2014 he led ISIL convoys in Darnah, Libya.

Ali Musa al-Shawakh (al-Shawakh)

Al-Shawakh is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of mid-2015, Syrian national al-Shawakh served as ISIL’s governor for Raqqah, Syria, after previously serving as ISIL’s senior security official for Syria and as governor in Aleppo, roles in which he directed combat assignments for foreign fighters.  Al-Shawakh was in charge of ISIL’s detention of foreign hostages, and oversaw the appointment of other ISIL leaders. Al-Shawakh supervised security matters, including executions, interrogations, and transfers of ISIL prisoners, at an al-Raqqah detention facility used to hold foreign hostages and ISIL foreign recruits who had refused to fight. In mid-2014, al-Shawakh ordered the beheadings of two ISIL hostages. Al-Shawakh also served on a governance council chaired by ISIL leader and U.S. and UN-designated SDGT Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (AKA Dr. Ibrahim al-Badri).

Tarad Mohammad Aljarba (Aljarba)

Aljarba is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of April 2015, Saudi Arabian national Aljarba was ISIL’s senior Syria-Turkey border and logistics official. In 2014, Aljarba facilitated the travel from Turkey to Syria of prospective ISIL fighters from Australia, Europe, and the Middle East and managed ISIL’s processing center for new recruits in Azaz, Syria. As of mid-2014, Aljarba was also ISIL’s leader for operations outside of Syria and Iraq. He facilitated the travel to Syria of several European ISIL members in 2013.

Morad Laaboudi (Laaboudi)

Laaboudi is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Moroccan national Laaboudi is an ISIL-affiliated extremist, and as of early 2015, a Gaziantep, Turkey-based travel facilitator for ISIL, assisting fighters in crossing the Turkish-Syrian border into Syria.

Mu’tassim Yahya ‘Ali al-Rumaysh (al-Rumaysh)

Al-Rumaysh is being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Yemeni national al-Rumaysh is a financial and foreign fighter facilitator for ISIL who also has held membership in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Rumaysh also helped an ISIL member procure funds for the travel of foreign fighters from Yemen to Syria transiting Turkey. As of December 2013, al-Rumaysh coordinated with SDGT entities AQAP and Al-Nusrah Front to facilitate the travel of ISIL members. In November 2013, al-Rumaysh sent a group of Yemeni extremists to Turkey to U.S.-designated SDGT and UN Security Council Resolution 1267 designee Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah al-Juburi, who brought them to an AQAP facilitator in Syria.  

Mounir Ben Dhaou Ben Brahim Ben Helal (Helal)

Helal is being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, and for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, AQIM, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Tunisian national Helal facilitates the travel and activities of foreign terrorist fighters, utilizing his experience in establishing and securing travel routes. As of late 2012, Helal was involved in a Tunisia-based terrorist facilitation network that recruited and transported volunteers to Syria, and supplied arms to U.S. designated SDGT al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Helal has provided material support to AQIM in North Africa and worked to assist foreign terrorist fighters’ travel throughout North Africa to Syria to join ISIL.

Aqsa Mahmood (Mahmood)

Mahmood is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

United Kingdom national Mahmood is an ISIL recruiter and member of an ISIL all-female police unit, who as of 2015, used social media to lure foreigners, especially Western women, to travel to Syria and join ISIL. In February 2015, Mahmood helped recruit three UK minors to travel to Syria, where they joined ISIL. At least one of the three minors had been in direct contact with Mahmood via social media in the days prior to their departure. As an ISIL recruiter, Mahmood posts practical information and advice to young women interested in joining ISIL on her blog. In blog posts, Mahmood has described the benefits of living under ISIL and urged individuals in the West to travel to Syria before it became difficult, among other topics.

In addition to recruiting for ISIL, as of September 2014, Mahmood served in the al-Khansaa Brigade, an all-female ISIL police unit enforcing the ultra-strict brand of sharia law imposed by ISIL in Raqqa, Syria. As of August 2014, Mahmood received a monthly salary for her role as an enforcer in the al-Khansaa Brigade, which imposes beatings, lashings, and executions for infractions of ISIL’s laws and manages ISIL’s brothels of Yazidi sex slaves in Raqqa, Syria.

Omar Hussain (Hussain)

Hussain is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of September 2015, UK national Hussain (AKA Abu Sa’eed al-Britani) was considered to be one of ISIL’s most prominent recruiters. As an ISIL fighter, he offered tips on evading British security to individuals interested in leaving the United Kingdom to fight with ISIL. In July 2015, Hussain confirmed that he had joined ISIL and was in Aleppo Province, Syria. Via his blog, he provided guidance about traveling to Syria to fight with ISIL and described alternate occupations to support the group for those unable to fight.

Sami Jasim Muhammad al-Jaburi (al-Jaburi)

Muhammad al-Jaburi is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224, and providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL.

As of March 2015, Iraqi national al-Jaburi supervised ISIL’s oil and gas, antiquities, and mineral resources operations. In April 2015, al-Jaburi and now-deceased ISIL oil and gas official Fathi ben Awn ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi (AKA Abu Sayyaf) worked to establish a new funding stream for ISIL from increased production at oil fields held by the organization. In August of 2014, al-Jaburi was ISIL’s shari’a council chief and second in command in southern Mosul, Iraq.

Tuah Febriwansyah (Febriwansyah)

Febriwansyah is being designated for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Indonesian national Febriwansyah is the leader of an Indonesia-based ISIL-aligned organization and has provided support to ISIL in the areas of recruitment, fundraising, and travel. The organization led by Febriwansyah has publicly sworn allegiance to ISIL.

On March 21, 2015, Indonesian police arrested Febriwansyah and five other Indonesian citizens for recruiting and funding Indonesians to travel to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIL. Febriwansyah and his accomplices were accused by Indonesian police of facilitating travel for as many as 37 Indonesians on behalf of ISIL. Indonesian police charged Febriwansyah with terrorism offenses, including funding terrorism and violating the country’s “Information and Electronic Transactions Law.”

As of mid-2014, Jemmah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) leaders sought Febriwansyah’s support to bolster JAT during a schism over allegiance to ISIL. JAT, which seeks the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia, and has carried out numerous and deadly attacks against Indonesian government personnel, police, military, and civilians, was designated an FTO and SDGT on February 23, 2012.

Muhammad Sholeh Ibrahim (Ibrahim)

Ibrahim is being designated for acting for or on behalf of JAT, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Indonesian national Ibrahim has served as the acting emir of JAT since 2014. Ibrahim has supported ISIL and swore allegiance to the group in 2014. Ibrahim has also been involved in raising funds for JAT. As of 2014, Ibrahim served as a leader of JAT’s Solo (or Surakarta), Indonesia office. He previously was responsible for the JAT Solo office’s planning and strategy.   In mid-2011, Ibrahim organized buses to transport JAT supporters from Central Java to Jakarta for the trial of JAT founder Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, designated as an SDGT in April 2006. Additionally, Ibrahim was involved in registering new JAT paramilitary recruits in 2010 and took part in JAT paramilitary training in 2008.

Nasir Muhammad ‘Awad al-Ghidani al-Harbi (al-Harbi)

Al-Harbi is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

In mid-2015, Saudi Arabian national al-Harbi, an ISIL leader in Yemen, allegedly recruited for ISIL’s military forces in Yemen. Around 2014, al-Harbi received funding to implement ISIL’s strategy in Yemen. In late 2014, al-Harbi, the self-proclaimed ISIL leader in Yemen, facilitated the movement of people and material for ISIL operations in Saudi Arabia. He was in Yemen with a group that pledged allegiance to ISIL and received significant funding from either ISIL or an unidentified donor. As of September 2014, al-Harbi and others established contact with ISIL, and sought pledges of allegiance on ISIL’s behalf. Al-Harbi was commissioned by ISIL in Syria to gather pledges of allegiance in Yemen. He declined to recruit and facilitate efforts in Yemen on behalf of AQAP in favor of an alleged promise of 4,000 AQIM fighters by U.S. and UN-designated SDGT and ISIL leader Dr. Ibrahim al-Badri (AKA Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi). As of 2014, al-Harbi had provided funds to ISIL.

Hafiz Saeed Khan (Khan)

Khan is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of early 2015, ISIL leader al-Badri (AKA al-Baghdadi) appointed Pakistani national Khan as the emir of ISIL in the Khorasan (ISIL-K), the organization’s branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khan was recruited to ISIL by al-Badri and pledged allegiance to him in October 2014.

Khan, as leader of ISIL-K, plays a central role in expanding ISIL’s operations in the region, commanding militants and coordinating the delivery of supplies and munitions, the travel of associates, and other arrangements. In mid-2015, Khan appointed ISIL representatives in Kunar Province and Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan and approved funding for the establishment of a training camp for ISIL fighters in western Afghanistan. ISIL militants under Khan’s command had taken control of several districts in Nangarhar Province in mid-2015. Khan in early 2015 claimed ISIL was responsible for the April 18, 2015 suicide attacks in Jalalabad City, Nangarhar Province which killed approximately 33 people. Khan formerly served as a senior commander in Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, an SDGT designated by the U.S. government in September 2010.

Muwaffaq Mustafa Muhammad al-Karmush (al-Karmush)

Al-Karmush is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

As of December 2014, al-Karmush supervised ISIL’s financial affairs, including salary payments. He previously oversaw ISIL’s military financial affairs and served as one of AQI’s financial chiefs.

Bajro Ikanovic (Ikanovic)

Ikanovic is being designated for acting for or on behalf of ISIL, an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Bosnian national Ikanovic has held various leadership positions within ISIL in Iraq and Syria over the past several years, including on ISIL’s Shura Council in 2014. In December 2013, ISIL commander and SDGT Tarkhan Teymurazovich Batirashvili (AKA Abu Omar al-Shishani) promoted Ikanovic to head of the largest ISIL training camp in northern Syria.

 

For the identifying information regarding today’s action, click here.

 

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TRANSCRIPT: Foreign Press Center Briefing with John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security

 

 

FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING WITH JOHN P. CARLIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

TOPIC:  UPDATE ON U.S. GOVERNMENT COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2015, 4:30 P.M. EDT

NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon.  Welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center.  This is an on-the-record briefing on Department of Justice measures to combat violent extremism with Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin.  We’re very pleased to host him today.  I would like to ask, after his initial remarks we’ll go to Q&A, and please wait for the microphone and please identify yourself. 

Thank you.  Mr. Carlin.

MR CARLIN:  Thank you.  Good afternoon.  At the Department of Justice, the National Security Division was the first new litigating division created in about 50 years.  And we were created in 2006 as one of the post-9/11 reforms.  And our number one mission, simply, is to prevent terrorist attacks here inside the United States.  And our mission, first and foremost, when it comes to ISIL is to prevent attacks against U.S. citizens here in the United States and abroad.  And we work in coordination with our law enforcement intelligence community partners and with countries around the world to ensure that we can disrupt terrorist actors before they commit those acts. 

This is a good week with UNGA in town and the Global Counterterrorist Forum to take a step back and talk a little bit less about our efforts to protect U.S. citizens and more about our responsibilities as global partners to prevent terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world.  We have a fundamental responsibility to prevent ISIL from having U.S. citizens join ISIL in its campaign to rape, to commit sexual slavery, and to murder innocent civilians, including children, as tactics.  And so together last year, when I was here in New York for these same events, we worked on the UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which was an unprecedented mandatory resolution for every country around the world to work to put laws on the books to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from their country from going to join the fight and also to make – take steps to keep them from returning to commit terrorist attacks once they left the battleground in Iraq or Syria. 

Since that resolution last year, we commend the over 20 nations that since last year have put new laws on the books that are specifically designed to combat the support for these foreign terrorist organizations either through actual citizens from their countries or from providing material or financial support.  And among those since last year, over three dozen nations have taken law enforcement actions, have arrested individuals before they could go join these foreign terrorist organizations. 

At the Justice Department we’ve provided assistance both in the legislation and as some countries try using these statutes for the first time.  And we’ve sent our prosecutors over the last year on countless trips to work hand-in-hand with foreign partners all over the world as they draft these new laws. 

We also house and support Interpol.  And since last year, when there was a commitment by countries at this very event – and in conjunction with 2178 and also with the Global Counterterrorism Forum that consists of over 30 countries, there was a new commitment to provide information to Interpol, which we house and support.  And since last year, that has resulted in six times the amount of information being shared, approximately 4,000 new profiles on foreign terrorist fighters, from over 45 countries.

And we recognize, to talk a little bit about what we face in the United States versus other countries as they face this foreign terrorist fighter threat, although the overall number some put at 25,000 or 30,000 individuals – and that’s higher than what we saw even at the height of the conflict in Afghanistan and the FATA – that when it comes to the numbers that are from the United States, our numbers are lower, particularly even compared to our Western partners.  And we have about – we estimate around 250 U.S. citizens who have either attempted to or gone over to fight or who have gone over and returned.  That number also includes those we’ve arrested.

Since about last year, we’ve brought criminal cases against 70 individuals.  Sixty of those individuals, it was for conduct related to either supporting foreign terrorist fighters or attempting to join the group.  The other 10 is a trend that we’ve started to see here in the United States since ISIL changed its tactics and called on individuals to commit terrorist attacks where they live, particularly in Western countries.  We have over 10 criminal cases brought to date of individuals inspired by ISIL or other terrorist groups to commit attacks here in the United States.  So between the 60 who wanted to join the foreign terrorist fighter groups and the 10 who wanted to commit attacks here in the United States, that’s how we have over 70 cases.

In terms of trends inside the United States, in almost every case social media is involved.  Unlike some other countries, we’re not seeing it in any particular geographic part of the United States nor confined to any ethnic group.  The FBI currently has open investigations in all 50 states, and we have brought criminal cases in 25 different jurisdictions to date across the United States, so places that have not traditionally confronted a foreign terrorist threat.

Consistent with the fact that this is a social media-driven threat here, in over 50 percent of the cases the defendants are 25 years or younger, and in over a third of the cases they are 21 years or younger.  And for us in confronting the terrorist threat, that is different than the demographic we saw who went to support core al-Qaida in the Afghanistan FATA region. 

I think what you’ll hear tomorrow under the President of the United States leadership is the summit that he’s convening of countries throughout the world – over 60 countries – dedicated to combating this terrorist threat.  And what you’ll see is a focus – in addition to the efforts that I’ve talked about to date, the law enforcement criminal justice efforts – is a focus on efforts to prevent it from ever reaching the law enforcement system in the first place.  And that means working on countering the message and propaganda that ISIL uses to draw recruits from our communities, and it means exposing ISIL for what it really is and not what it pretends to be.

They put out images of child soldiers handing out candy to children, but in reality they’re a group that beheads and kills Muslims and non-Muslims alike with equal impunity, that rapes and sells women and children into sexual slavery, and that deliberately looks to destroy the cultural heritage of the countries in which it resides.  So a law enforcement response is essential, and we need to continue the progress that we’ve made since last year’s resolution.  But it also can only be part of the answer, and others need to dissuade would-be foreign fighters from joining ISIL in the first place. 

You’ll see the attorney general of the United States convene a first-of-its-kind Safe Cities Forum tomorrow as well that will consist of mayors across the United States but also from other countries across the world, because fundamentally to dissuade individuals in the first instance from joining these types of groups is going to require local-level, community-driven engagement.  And so I think tomorrow’s forum, the Safe Cities Forum, is going to work and introduce mayors to each other so they can talk about best practices at keeping these individuals from ever going down the path of radicalization.

I will stop there and open it up for questions.

QUESTION:   Hajime Matsuura, Japan, Sankei’s columnist here based in New York.  A question about the most – the breakdown of the social media ISIL is using.  Do you have the breakdown of which social media is popular and how you’re working with the host of or owners of the social medias?

 

MR CARLIN:  So when it comes to social media, I think you see ISIL use pretty much every available service that they can find, and they target people according to who uses the service.  So – and it’s different depending on which country that you’re in, although it is a global problem.  So here in the United States, we’re seeing it with those who are using sites that are frequented by English-language speakers or are popular in the United States.  And that really ranges through the most familiar names, be it Twitter to Facebook to YouTube videos. 

And what they do is they blast out these often slickly produced propagandistic messages using the same type of techniques that Madison Avenue advertisers use to put out images like handing out candy to children, or they’ll have an ISIL soldier in the caliphate with a kitten in one hand and a gun in the other and they’ll say, “Come join the caliphate.”  They bombard the internet with thousands and thousands of these messages a day, and the number of people who respond to them is a tiny, tiny percentage of those who they reach with that message, but it only takes a very small number from each country to either prevent – present a terrorist threat our home country, but also to reach the numbers that they’re reaching of getting people to join the fight when you’re talking about having that message reach 100 different countries.

So to the extent they’re able to get people who are language or cultural experts, then they will use those individuals who have joined ISIL already to target a particular country or audience.

QUESTION:  Hi, thank you.  Diego Senior from Caracol Radio in Colombia.  I know you’re focusing on ISIL, but this is a question that I have to ask, and it’s about a terrorist organization – deemed terrorist organization by the U.S. Government in Colombia.  And they just reached this peace accord – not a complete peace accord, but one regarding transitional justice in our country.  I’m wondering what the strategy from your department or from wherever within the Justice Department is capable of doing.  What are you guys doing or thinking to do facing terrorism – that terrorism threat which it might stop be or at some point – when will you stop calling them terrorists since they’re going to give in their weapons?

MR CARLIN:  So I’ll describe generally.  In the American legal system, the model that we’ve used to confront the international terrorist threat is using a statute called the material support to terrorism statute.  As we’ve discussed, as countries around the world are putting new statutes on their books, this is one model that they’ve – that some countries have elected to follow.  And what it hinges upon is there’s a formal process for the designation of a group or an individual as an international terrorist organization, and then the criminal consequences of that designation follow.  So to the extent that there is an armistice, what would be the key for those of us in the prosecution and law enforcement community would be whether or not they remove the FARC as a designated terrorist organization as part of the reconciliation process, and so we’ll wait and see what occurs in that regard. 

And obviously, long-term, and this includes ISIL, the endgame – we need to use law enforcement and prosecution as a tool to prevent these terrorist attacks from occurring, but we recognize that the long-term solution is one that requires the participation of states and local governments to prevent these groups from existing in the first place, and that’s what success looks like.  And that’s why I think you’ll see the President tomorrow emphasize the need to combat violent extremism and the attorney general at the Safe Cities event talk to mayors about getting rid of those root causes to that these groups don’t exist in the first instance.

MODERATOR:  We have a question from Washington.  Washington, please go ahead.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  My name is Anatoly Bochinin, TASS News Agency, Russia.  Sir, as you said today, this ISIL problem affects many countries – also Russia.  So my question is:  Do you cooperate with Russian security services?  And are you going to work with this new informational center in Baghdad which will be established these days?  Thank you.

MR CARLIN:  So I’ll say that generally, that the FBI has partnerships with law enforcement agencies throughout the world, and some countries have made a real dedicated push to share intelligence or law enforcement information regarding the terrorist threat.  Some countries have work to do in that regard, but it’s going to take a partnership when it comes to combating these foreign terrorist organizations.  And we’ve seen improvements, like I discussed in terms of INTERPOL and sharing information about terrorist identities, or since last year, with a dedicated focus on this, the number of terrorist identities has increased six times.  We have 4,000 identities into that system. 

It needs to improve further, and we hope it will.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Harriet Alexander from The Telegraph.  You spoke about the 250 estimated citizens who’ve gone or attempted to go, and those against which you’ve got criminal cases.  I wondered if you’d talk a little bit more about the backgrounds of those people, just generally, because – I ask because in Europe, we find that an awful lot of people who are going to join these organizations have already got criminal records and have previously spent time specifically in prison.  That was very much the case in France with the Paris attacks and with the Toulouse attacks.  And I just wondered if you could talk a little bit about any de-radicalization programs that you may have in prisons.

MR CARLIN:  That’s a good question, Harriet.  So I’d say in terms of the trends that what we’ve seen is there isn’t a particular profile other than the common factors that I discussed, which is, one, in almost every case there’s some connection to social media; and two, the general demographic trending young.  And as you can imagine, as it trends younger and younger, these are not people with long criminal histories inside the United States.  And although we remain very much vigilant and concerned about the issue of prison radicalization and what occurs to individuals when they are released, that has not comprised currently the majority of the cases that we’ve seen.

What we are seeing is with this new focus on targeting the young or the unstable, that you’ll – they’ll attract individuals who you would not necessarily think of as being ISIL adherents but end up getting – going down the process of radicalization after being exposed through one of these general social media sites.  And then what they do often is once they have someone on the hook, if you will, they end up in direct communication in some of these cases – so the terrorist overseas is in direct communication with the young person or troubled person here, personally walking them down the path towards radicalization using social media.  And this is new, I know, for the United Kingdom, having talked to counterparts there, and for the United States.  In terms of a trend, I think both our countries together are struggling on new approaches to combat what is a new strategy or tactic by the terrorist group.

It is different than – although we still remain concerned, and al-Qaida still has the intent to commit the large-scale spectacular attack against a Western target, as does al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Nusrah, the al-Qaida franchise in the Syria region.  So we remain concerned and need to disrupt that large-scale spectacular attack, but this new tactic of urging people to commit the attack, even small-scale, immediately – we use the expression sometimes “the short flash to bang,” which is social media-driven, which means if you think about a fuse of dynamite, the time between when you light the fuse and when the dynamite explodes is very, very short.  That’s a hard problem for the intelligence community and law enforcement to crack and really is going to rely on partnerships.

QUESTION:  Hi there.  Justin Fishel with ABC.  I have two quick questions.  The first is about the migration issue and the refugee crisis.  As you know, the U.S. wants to bring in 85,000 refugees from Syria next year, and there are some sort of opposing views about whether this – there’s risks associated with this and risks of ISIL infiltration.  So what’s your assessment of that risk and plan to combat it?  Then I have one more other question.

MR CARLIN:  Look, our job in the law enforcement/intelligence community is to see what the decision is by policymakers to try to accommodate those who are in a terrible situation and who are facing unbelievable brutality, both by the regime and by ISIL.  And whatever decision is made, then we need to work and apply the resources to make sure that the terrorist groups don’t try to take advantage of a humanitarian gesture to get individuals predisposed to commit terrorist attacks either into Europe or the United States.  And we’ve faced that sort of challenge before and we’ll apply the resources necessary to combat it.

QUESTION:  Okay.  My last question, more a domestic politics issue.  Your division of the Justice Department is overseeing the email review, and the one piece of clarification I think – and one of the things that got really confused throughout this whole thing was why this is not a criminal probe but the – there are federal – there are people like yourselves involved in it, so how is it that it is not criminal?  That’s something that I think a lot of people are confused about, and I apologize to my colleagues for the domestic nature of this question.

MR CARLIN:  Well, I’m going to stick to the foreign press questions for this event.

QUESTION:  I’m Sajidu Haque from Bangladeshi television channel.  Do you think Bangladesh fall in high risk in near future?  Because some existing terrorist group like ISIL and al-Qaida, they are all in Pakistan, and Bangladesh, Pakistan, India fall in high risk.

MR CARLIN:  I’m sorry, I didn’t fully catch the question.

QUESTION:  Do you think near future, Bangladesh fall in high risk for terrorism – in terrorism?

MR CARLIN:  Oh, do I – do I think that there’s a high risk of terrorism occurring in Bangladesh?

QUESTION:  Yeah.

MR CARLIN:  I confess to not being an expert in terms of what the risks are of terrorist attacks occurring inside Bangladesh.  I’d say more generally, as we’ we’ve seen, this is a phenomenon that has already crossed in an unprecedented way.  It has foreign terrorist fighters from over 100 countries.  I believe Bangladesh is one of those 100 countries.  And there is a concern, certainly, if any citizen goes over to fight with one of those foreign terrorist groups, what happens when they return armed, trained on how to commit attacks, and spending a long time being steeped in this ideology?  So in that sense there’s a concern that cuts across all of these countries.

And the other issue would be the same social media phenomenon of individuals who stay at home and are contacted by this terrorist group and are encouraged to commit, if they can’t travel, terrorist acts where they live. 

QUESTION:  Vasco Jesus, VascoPress Communications, Brazil.  (Inaudible.)  Is there any sharing of information, collaboration, between the Government of Brazil and United States, your department, concerning the threat of international terrorism?  I ask you this because next year – well, Brazil doesn’t have a history of international terrorism on its borders, but next year Brazil is hosting the Summer Games, and our neighbor Argentina in the ‘90s had two huge cases – the AMIA case and the bombing of the Israeli consulate.  I would like you to comment on those, thank you.

MR CARLIN:  I’d say prior to each of the last Olympics – and this is the world in which we live now – I know that we have offered assistance, including the sharing of information, primarily through the channel of the FBI and law-enforcement-to-law-enforcement channels but also in others, to help protect not only our own citizens participating in the Games but to help protect the Games themselves.  And I know we have extended and will extend similar outreach to Brazil and look forward to working as appropriate with their authorities to help protect the Games.

QUESTION:  So far?

MR CARLIN:  I’d have to refer you probably over to FBI or other avenues to talk about current efforts to date. 

QUESTION:  Sorry, me again.  Can I just ask for a bit more information about this Safe Cities Forum?  So what actually do you think will come out of that?  I mean, is that just a talking shop where people are going to be exchanging ideas, or do you think that there’ll be concrete policies and agreements resulting from that?

MR CARLIN:  I think it is both.  It is, one, to make sure to focus individuals’ attention on this issue and to make sure that they – there’s a channel for community-to-community engagement.  But I also think they hope to, if not at that forum, to kick it off into smaller sessions to develop best practices similar to the type of best practices we’ve developed through the Global Combating Terrorist Forum that led to resolutions like encouraging the changes in – certain changes in the criminal code, like protecting classified information and figuring out a way to do that while preserving due process or undercover operations.  That’s been the type of best practice produced in my space, in the space of a group focused on criminal prosecutions.  I think for the mayors, they’re hoping when it comes to combating violent extremism that similarly there may be some community-based, local-oriented best practices for cities to take into account when they’re developing their own programs as to how to keep people from going down this path in the first instance. 

QUESTION:  Alexey Osipov from Israeli Novosti.  Most of the international media and of course politicians are politically correct; they call terrorism as at least international, but for sure 99 percent of terrorism have specific religion or specific nationality.  In your department, in your office, do you use the words like “Islamic terrorist,” anti-Israel terrorism, Palestinian terrorism, et cetera?

MR CARLIN:  So for us as lawyers under our statutes, we have the full remit for the prosecution of terrorist cases.  When it comes to international terrorism, the statute that we use, as I was describing earlier, is based on whether or not the particular group is designated as an international terrorist group.  So it keys off identifying that group and then if you provide any support – financial, even yourself to support to the group – you fall within our criminal laws.  So I wouldn’t – I don’t indict a religion or a nationality, but the name of the designated terrorist group will – will be in the indictment. 

For our domestic terrorism groups, those without an international connection, there is not a similar statute in U.S. law.  There’s a definition of terrorism that works as a sentencing enhancement and for certain evidentiary purposes, but usually what we’re charging will be the actual criminal conduct, because many times under our system – and this is different than most countries throughout the world – because of the First Amendment and our dedication to free speech and free expression and the way it plays out in our legal system, in many instances talking the talk, if you will, in support of these groups is not sufficient for a criminal charge.  You have to show some type of overt act in furtherance of a violation of a criminal statute. 

QUESTION:  Me again.  For domestic enforcement, sort of ethnic or racial profiling has been an issue under scrutiny.  How about your stance with this regard?  And is there any possibility that you’re using that kind of screening? 

MR CARLIN:  So you cannot profile an individual based on their – or target an individual and use legal tools against an individual based on their – solely upon their First Amendment-protected rights under our guidelines.  And as I said, when it comes to who that profile would be, at least with our current version of the ISIL terrorist threat, what we’re seeing is a threat that cuts across all 50 states, where we’ve currently brought criminal cases in over 25 different jurisdictions and where there’s little in common between the 70 individuals who are currently charged other than their – some connection to social media and being connected to one of these groups. 

And so I think we do need to look for – this is a lesson even in the criminal realm – but is to make parents, community members aware of what could be going on with their friend or neighbor when they’re on social media, because it’s new for a lot of parents that they’re facing this type of threat, and look for those signs which both law enforcement but also community organizations are putting out of someone who’s started down this path of radicalization. 

According to one study of cases that did end up in the criminal justice system, in 80 percent of those cases there was someone who saw that process of radicalization occurring, and in over half of those cases they did not take a step to intervene.  So if we can improve those numbers and have people in the community take steps to intervene, hopefully we can reduce the number of people that ever enter the criminal system.

MODERATOR:  We are out of time.  I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there.  Thank you very much.

MR CARLIN:  Thank you.

# # #

TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                                                                                  September 28, 2015

 

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA

TO THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

United Nations Headquarters

New York, New York

 

 

10:18 A.M. EDT

 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen:  Seventy years after the founding of the United Nations, it is worth reflecting on what, together, the members of this body have helped to achieve. 

 

Out of the ashes of the Second World War, having witnessed the unthinkable power of the atomic age, the United States has worked with many nations in this Assembly to prevent a third world war — by forging alliances with old adversaries; by supporting the steady emergence of strong democracies accountable to their people instead of any foreign power; and by building an international system that imposes a cost on those who choose conflict over cooperation, an order that recognizes the dignity and equal worth of all people. 

 

That is the work of seven decades.  That is the ideal that this body, at its best, has pursued.  Of course, there have been too many times when, collectively, we have fallen short of these ideals.  Over seven decades, terrible conflicts have claimed untold victims.  But we have pressed forward, slowly, steadily, to make a system of international rules and norms that are better and stronger and more consistent.

 

It is this international order that has underwritten unparalleled advances in human liberty and prosperity.  It is this collective endeavor that’s brought about diplomatic cooperation between the world’s major powers, and buttressed a global economy that has lifted more than a billion people from poverty.  It is these international principles that helped constrain bigger countries from imposing our will on smaller ones, and advanced the emergence of democracy and development and individual liberty on every continent.

 

This progress is real.  It can be documented in lives saved, and agreements forged, and diseases conquered, and in mouths fed. And yet, we come together today knowing that the march of human progress never travels in a straight line, that our work is far from complete; that dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world. 

 

Today, we see the collapse of strongmen and fragile states breeding conflict, and driving innocent men, women and children across borders on an epoch scale.  Brutal networks of terror have stepped into the vacuum.  Technologies that empower individuals are now also exploited by those who spread disinformation, or suppress dissent, or radicalize our youth.  Global capital flows have powered growth and investment, but also increased risk of contagion, weakened the bargaining power of workers, and accelerated inequality. 

 

How should we respond to these trends?  There are those who argue that the ideals enshrined in the U.N. charter are unachievable or out of date — a legacy of a postwar era not suited to our own.  Effectively, they argue for a return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution: the belief that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force.

 

On this basis, we see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.  We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to this institution’s mission; information is strictly controlled, the space for civil society restricted.  We’re told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder; that it’s the only way to stamp out terrorism, or prevent foreign meddling.  In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse.

 

The increasing skepticism of our international order can also be found in the most advanced democracies.  We see greater polarization, more frequent gridlock; movements on the far right, and sometimes the left, that insist on stopping the trade that binds our fates to other nations, calling for the building of walls to keep out immigrants.  Most ominously, we see the fears of ordinary people being exploited through appeals to sectarianism, or tribalism, or racism, or anti-Semitism; appeals to a glorious past before the body politic was infected by those who look different, or worship God differently; a politics of us versus them.

 

The United States is not immune from this.  Even as our economy is growing and our troops have largely returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, we see in our debates about America’s role in the world a notion of strength that is defined by opposition to old enemies, perceived adversaries, a rising China, or a resurgent Russia; a revolutionary Iran, or an Islam that is incompatible with peace.  We see an argument made that the only strength that matters for the United States is bellicose words and shows of military force; that cooperation and diplomacy will not work. 

 

As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning.  I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.

 

But I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.  We cannot look backwards.  We live in an integrated world — one in which we all have a stake in each other’s success.  We cannot turn those forces of integration.  No nation in this Assembly can insulate itself from the threat of terrorism, or the risk of financial contagion; the flow of migrants, or the danger of a warming planet.  The disorder we see is not driven solely by competition between nations or any single ideology.  And if we cannot work together more effectively, we will all suffer the consequences.  That is true for the United States, as well.  

 

No matter how powerful our military, how strong our economy, we understand the United States cannot solve the world’s problems alone.  In Iraq, the United States learned the hard lesson that even hundreds of thousands of brave, effective troops, trillions of dollars from our Treasury, cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land.  Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed.  And unless we work together to defeat the ideas that drive different communities in a country like Iraq into conflict, any order that our militaries can impose will be temporary. 

 

Just as force alone cannot impose order internationally, I believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed.  The history of the last two decades proves that in today’s world, dictatorships are unstable. The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow.  You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas.  You can try to control access to information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth.  It is not a conspiracy of U.S.-backed NGOs that expose corruption and raise the expectations of people around the globe; it’s technology, social media, and the irreducible desire of people everywhere to make their own choices about how they are governed. 

 

Indeed, I believe that in today’s world, the measure of strength is no longer defined by the control of territory.   Lasting prosperity does not come solely from the ability to access and extract raw materials.  The strength of nations depends on the success of their people — their knowledge, their innovation, their imagination, their creativity, their drive, their opportunity — and that, in turn, depends upon individual rights and good governance and personal security.  Internal repression and foreign aggression are both symptoms of the failure to provide this foundation. 

 

A politics and solidarity that depend on demonizing others, that draws on religious sectarianism or narrow tribalism or jingoism may at times look like strength in the moment, but over time its weakness will be exposed.  And history tells us that the dark forces unleashed by this type of politics surely makes all of us less secure.  Our world has been there before.  We gain nothing from going back.

 

Instead, I believe that we must go forward in pursuit of our ideals, not abandon them at this critical time.  We must give expression to our best hopes, not our deepest fears.  This institution was founded because men and women who came before us had the foresight to know that our nations are more secure when we uphold basic laws and basic norms, and pursue a path of cooperation over conflict.  And strong nations, above all, have a responsibility to uphold this international order.

 

Let me give you a concrete example.  After I took office, I made clear that one of the principal achievements of this body — the nuclear non-proliferation regime — was endangered by Iran’s violation of the NPT.  On that basis, the Security Council tightened sanctions on the Iranian government, and many nations joined us to enforce them.  Together, we showed that laws and agreements mean something.

 

But we also understood that the goal of sanctions was not simply to punish Iran.  Our objective was to test whether Iran could change course, accept constraints, and allow the world to verify that its nuclear program will be peaceful.  For two years, the United States and our partners — including Russia, including China — stuck together in complex negotiations.  The result is a lasting, comprehensive deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, while allowing it to access peaceful energy.  And if this deal is fully implemented, the prohibition on nuclear weapons is strengthened, a potential war is averted, our world is safer.  That is the strength of the international system when it works the way it should.

 

That same fidelity to international order guides our responses to other challenges around the world.  Consider Russia’s annexation of Crimea and further aggression in eastern Ukraine.  America has few economic interests in Ukraine.  We recognize the deep and complex history between Russia and Ukraine.  But we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated.  If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation gathered here today.  That’s the basis of the sanctions that the United States and our partners impose on Russia.  It’s not a desire to return to a Cold War.

 

Now, within Russia, state-controlled media may describe these events as an example of a resurgent Russia — a view shared, by the way, by a number of U.S. politicians and commentators who have always been deeply skeptical of Russia, and seem to be convinced a new Cold War is, in fact, upon us.  And yet, look at the results.  The Ukrainian people are more interested than ever in aligning with Europe instead of Russia. Sanctions have led to capital flight, a contracting economy, a fallen ruble, and the emigration of more educated Russians. 

 

Imagine if, instead, Russia had engaged in true diplomacy, and worked with Ukraine and the international community to ensure its interests were protected.  That would be better for Ukraine, but also better for Russia, and better for the world — which is why we continue to press for this crisis to be resolved in a way that allows a sovereign and democratic Ukraine to determine its future and control its territory.  Not because we want to isolate Russia — we don’t — but because we want a strong Russia that’s invested in working with us to strengthen the international system as a whole. 

 

Similarly, in the South China Sea, the United States makes no claim on territory there.  We don’t adjudicate claims.  But like every nation gathered here, we have an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and in resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force.  So we will defend these principles, while encouraging China and other claimants to resolve their differences peacefully.

 

I say this, recognizing that diplomacy is hard; that the outcomes are sometimes unsatisfying; that it’s rarely politically popular.  But I believe that leaders of large nations, in particular, have an obligation to take these risks — precisely because we are strong enough to protect our interests if, and when, diplomacy fails. 

 

I also believe that to move forward in this new era, we have to be strong enough to acknowledge when what you’re doing is not working.  For 50 years, the United States pursued a Cuba policy that failed to improve the lives of the Cuban people.  We changed that.  We continue to have differences with the Cuban government. We will continue to stand up for human rights.  But we address these issues through diplomatic relations, and increased commerce, and people-to-people ties.  As these contacts yield progress, I’m confident that our Congress will inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore.  (Applause.)  Change won’t come overnight to Cuba, but I’m confident that openness, not coercion, will support the reforms and better the life the Cuban people deserve, just as I believe that Cuba will find its success if it pursues cooperation with other nations.

 

Now, if it’s in the interest of major powers to uphold international standards, it is even more true for the rest of the community of nations.  Look around the world.  From Singapore to Colombia to Senegal, the facts shows that nations succeed when they pursue an inclusive peace and prosperity within their borders, and work cooperatively with countries beyond their borders. 

 

That path is now available to a nation like Iran, which, as of this moment, continues to deploy violent proxies to advance its interests.  These efforts may appear to give Iran leverage in disputes with neighbors, but they fuel sectarian conflict that endangers the entire region, and isolates Iran from the promise of trade and commerce.  The Iranian people have a proud history, and are filled with extraordinary potential.  But chanting “Death to America” does not create jobs, or make Iran more secure.  If Iran chose a different path, that would be good for the security of the region, good for the Iranian people, and good for the world.

 

Of course, around the globe, we will continue to be confronted with nations who reject these lessons of history, places where civil strife, border disputes, and sectarian wars bring about terrorist enclaves and humanitarian disasters.  Where order has completely broken down, we must act, but we will be stronger when we act together.

 

In such efforts, the United States will always do our part. We will do so mindful of the lessons of the past — not just the lessons of Iraq, but also the example of Libya, where we joined an international coalition under a U.N. mandate to prevent a slaughter.  Even as we helped the Libyan people bring an end to the reign of a tyrant, our coalition could have and should have done more to fill a vacuum left behind.  We’re grateful to the United Nations for its efforts to forge a unity government.  We will help any legitimate Libyan government as it works to bring the country together.  But we also have to recognize that we must work more effectively in the future, as an international community, to build capacity for states that are in distress, before they collapse. 

 

And that’s why we should celebrate the fact that later today the United States will join with more than 50 countries to enlist new capabilities — infantry, intelligence, helicopters, hospitals, and tens of thousands of troops — to strengthen United Nations peacekeeping.  (Applause.)  These new capabilities can prevent mass killing, and ensure that peace agreements are more than words on paper.  But we have to do it together.  Together, we must strengthen our collective capacity to establish security where order has broken down, and to support those who seek a just and lasting peace.

 

Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria.  When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs — it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all.  Likewise, when a terrorist group beheads captives, slaughters the innocent and enslaves women, that’s not a single nation’s national security problem — that is an assault on all humanity.

 

I’ve said before and I will repeat:  There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL, and the United States makes no apologies for using our military, as part of a broad coalition, to go after them.  We do so with a determination to ensure that there will never be a safe haven for terrorists who carry out these crimes.  And we have demonstrated over more than a decade of relentless pursuit of al Qaeda, we will not be outlasted by extremists. 

 

But while military power is necessary, it is not sufficient to resolve the situation in Syria.  Lasting stability can only take hold when the people of Syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully.  The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict. But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo. 

 

Let’s remember how this started.  Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife.  And so Assad and his allies cannot simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing.  Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL.  But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild. 

 

We know that ISIL — which emerged out of the chaos of Iraq and Syria — depends on perpetual war to survive.  But we also know that they gain adherents because of a poisonous ideology.  So part of our job, together, is to work to reject such extremism that infects too many of our young people.  Part of that effort must be a continued rejection by Muslims of those who distort Islam to preach intolerance and promote violence, and it must also a rejection by non-Muslims of the ignorance that equates Islam with terror.  (Applause.)   

 

This work will take time.  There are no easy answers to Syria.  And there are no simple answers to the changes that are taking place in much of the Middle East and North Africa.  But so many families need help right now; they don’t have time.  And that’s why the United States is increasing the number of refugees who we welcome within our borders.  That’s why we will continue to be the largest donor of assistance to support those refugees. And today we are launching new efforts to ensure that our people and our businesses, our universities and our NGOs can help as well — because in the faces of suffering families, our nation of immigrants sees ourselves.

 

Of course, in the old ways of thinking, the plight of the powerless, the plight of refugees, the plight of the marginalized did not matter.  They were on the periphery of the world’s concerns.  Today, our concern for them is driven not just by conscience, but should also be drive by self-interest.  For helping people who have been pushed to the margins of our world is not mere charity, it is a matter of collective security.  And the purpose of this institution is not merely to avoid conflict, it is to galvanize the collective action that makes life better on this planet.

 

The commitments we’ve made to the Sustainable Development Goals speak to this truth.  I believe that capitalism has been the greatest creator of wealth and opportunity that the world has ever known.  But from big cities to rural villages around the world, we also know that prosperity is still cruelly out of reach for too many.  As His Holiness Pope Francis reminds us, we are stronger when we value the least among these, and see them as equal in dignity to ourselves and our sons and our daughters.

 

We can roll back preventable disease and end the scourge of HIV/AIDS.  We can stamp out pandemics that recognize no borders. That work may not be on television right now, but as we demonstrated in reversing the spread of Ebola, it can save more lives than anything else we can do.

 

Together, we can eradicate extreme poverty and erase barriers to opportunity.  But this requires a sustained commitment to our people — so farmers can feed more people; so entrepreneurs can start a business without paying a bribe; so young people have the skills they need to succeed in this modern, knowledge-based economy.

 

We can promote growth through trade that meets a higher standard.  And that’s what we’re doing through the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade agreement that encompasses nearly 40 percent of the global economy; an agreement that will open markets, while protecting the rights of workers and protecting the environment that enables development to be sustained.

 

We can roll back the pollution that we put in our skies, and help economies lift people out of poverty without condemning our children to the ravages of an ever-warming climate.  The same ingenuity that produced the Industrial Age and the Computer Age allows us to harness the potential of clean energy.  No country can escape the ravages of climate change.  And there is no stronger sign of leadership than putting future generations first.  The United States will work with every nation that is willing to do its part so that we can come together in Paris to decisively confront this challenge. 

 

And finally, our vision for the future of this Assembly, my belief in moving forward rather than backwards, requires us to defend the democratic principles that allow societies to succeed. Let me start from a simple premise:  Catastrophes, like what we are seeing in Syria, do not take place in countries where there is genuine democracy and respect for the universal values this institution is supposed to defend.  (Applause.)  

 

I recognize that democracy is going to take different forms in different parts of the world.  The very idea of a people governing themselves depends upon government giving expression to their unique culture, their unique history, their unique experiences.  But some universal truths are self-evident.  No person wants to be imprisoned for peaceful worship.  No woman should ever be abused with impunity, or a girl barred from going to school.  The freedom to peacefully petition those in power without fear of arbitrary laws — these are not ideas of one country or one culture.  They are fundamental to human progress. They are a cornerstone of this institution. 

 

I realize that in many parts of the world there is a different view — a belief that strong leadership must tolerate no dissent.  I hear it not only from America’s adversaries, but privately at least I also hear it from some of our friends.  I disagree.  I believe a government that suppresses peaceful dissent is not showing strength; it is showing weakness and it is showing fear.  (Applause.)  History shows that regimes who fear their own people will eventually crumble, but strong institutions built on the consent of the governed endure long after any one individual is gone. 

 

That’s why our strongest leaders — from George Washington to Nelson Mandela — have elevated the importance of building strong, democratic institutions over a thirst for perpetual power.  Leaders who amend constitutions to stay in office only acknowledge that they failed to build a successful country for their people — because none of us last forever.  It tells us that power is something they cling to for its own sake, rather than for the betterment of those they purport to serve.

 

I understand democracy is frustrating.  Democracy in the United States is certainly imperfect.  At times, it can even be dysfunctional.  But democracy — the constant struggle to extend rights to more of our people, to give more people a voice — is what allowed us to become the most powerful nation in the world. (Applause.) 

 

It’s not simply a matter of principle; it’s not an abstraction.  Democracy — inclusive democracy — makes countries stronger.  When opposition parties can seek power peacefully through the ballot, a country draws upon new ideas.  When a free media can inform the public, corruption and abuse are exposed and can be rooted out.  When civil society thrives, communities can solve problems that governments cannot necessarily solve alone.  When immigrants are welcomed, countries are more productive and more vibrant.  When girls can go to school, and get a job, and pursue unlimited opportunity, that’s when a country realizes its full potential.  (Applause.)  

 

That is what I believe is America’s greatest strength.  Not everybody in America agrees with me.  That’s part of democracy.  I believe that the fact that you can walk the streets of this city right now and pass churches and synagogues and temples and mosques, where people worship freely; the fact that our nation of immigrants mirrors the diversity of the world — you can find everybody from everywhere here in New York City — (applause) — the fact that, in this country, everybody can contribute, everybody can participate no matter who they are, or what they look like, or who they love — that’s what makes us strong. 

 

And I believe that what is true for America is true for virtually all mature democracies.  And that is no accident.  We can be proud of our nations without defining ourselves in opposition to some other group.  We can be patriotic without demonizing someone else.  We can cherish our own identities — our religion, our ethnicity, our traditions — without putting others down.  Our systems are premised on the notion that absolute power will corrupt, but that people — ordinary people  — are fundamentally good; that they value family and friendship, faith and the dignity of hard work; and that with appropriate checks and balances, governments can reflect this goodness. 

 

I believe that’s the future we must seek together.  To believe in the dignity of every individual, to believe we can bridge our differences, and choose cooperation over conflict — that is not weakness, that is strength.  (Applause.)  It is a practical necessity in this interconnected world.

 

And our people understand this.  Think of the Liberian doctor who went door-to-door to search for Ebola cases, and to tell families what to do if they show symptoms.  Think of the Iranian shopkeeper who said, after the nuclear deal, “God willing, now we’ll be able to offer many more goods at better prices.”  Think of the Americans who lowered the flag over our embassy in Havana in 1961 — the year I was born — and returned this summer to raise that flag back up.  (Applause.)  One of these men said of the Cuban people, “We could do things for them, and they could do things for us.  We loved them.”  For 50 years, we ignored that fact. 

 

Think of the families leaving everything they’ve known behind, risking barren deserts and stormy waters just to find shelter; just to save their children.  One Syrian refugee who was greeted in Hamburg with warm greetings and shelter, said, “We feel there are still some people who love other people.”

 

The people of our United Nations are not as different as they are told.  They can be made to fear; they can be taught to hate — but they can also respond to hope.  History is littered with the failure of false prophets and fallen empires who believed that might always makes right, and that will continue to be the case.  You can count on that.  But we are called upon to offer a different type of leadership — leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity, and, yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal.

 

That’s what those who shaped the United Nations 70 years ago understood.  Let us carry forward that faith into the future — for it is the only way we can assure that future will be brighter for my children, and for yours.

 

Thank you very much.  (Applause.) 

 

                        END               11:00 A.M. EDT  

 

—–

PSFR Officer (LG – UAE) Job posted by: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Posted on: September 4, 2015

PSFR Officer (LG – UAE)

Job posted by: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Posted on: September 4, 2015

Job description

Grade: P3

Deadline for Applications: 17 September 2015 (Midnight Geneva time)

The Officer would be responsible for the implementation of the PSFR programme in UAE and for strategy and planning. The officer will also manage any Private Sector Fund Raising (PSFR) consultancy and any PSFR staff resources for UNHCR in UAE as well as managing small-scale fundraising activities in other Gulf States as and when required by PSFR. The position’s supervisor will be the Senior Global PSFR Officer (SEMEA) who is tasked with maintaining an organizational overview of all UNHCR offices with PSFR operations and all National Associations in the PSFR region (which currently includes Southern Europe, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Africa). The occupant will work closely with the Head of Liaison Office, Abu Dhabi as part of the external relations hub team and to a work plan agreed with the Head and the supervisor.

  • For UAE it is also intended to include other Gulf States who have small and limited fundraising programmes run through UNHCR (non PSFR), staff, consultancy and suppliers at this time.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Develop, implement and report on the annual plan including its associated income and other goals.
  • Act as a supportive and active contributor to the work of the External Relations Team;
  • Explore and develop sources of funds from Leadership Giving sources (corporate/foundations/wealthy individuals) to increase level of funding.
  • Prepare submissions to the Income Growth Fund to secure funding to increase the donor base of private sector donors in UAE;
  • Develop a strategy and then plan and conduct PSFR campaigns in UAE including in emergencies. This includes managing relations with partners, media, contractors and suppliers;
  • Implement an individual fund-raising programme and full donor communications cycle in line with the agreed regional strategy and annual plans for UNHCR in UAE with the aim of upgrading donors to maximize the income to UNHCR from private sector donors.
  • Manage a programme of monthly donors in UAE using best practices in UAE and in UNHCR international should the regional strategy approve it;
  • Maintain a predictable level of service and value for the donor to ensure a stable level of contributions;
  • Report to the Head of Liaison Office, Abu Dhabi and the Senior Regional PSFR Officer (SEMEA) on activities implemented in UAE, including lessons learned and recommendations for future opportunities and plans;
  • Develop with the Snr Global PSFR Officer a detailed Annual PSFR Plan in close consultation with the Head of Liaison Office, Abu Dhabi;
  • Develop a monthly work plan to be approved by both the supervisor and the Head of Liaison Office, Abu Dhabi.
  • Manage PSFR human resources: supervise all PSFR staff and consultants in line with UNHCR’s staff rules, regulations and policies
  • Manage PSFR financial resources: supervise and monitor PSFR expenditure/budget and income recording and reporting and manage the donor database
  • Develop and implement internet-based fund-raising activities in UAE.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • A university degree (BA) in business/marketing, social sciences or a related discipline plus 8 years’ previous relevant work experience (6 years with advanced university degree) with 5 years private sector fundraising experience in a not-for-profit organisation or an international organisation or a marketing/fundraising consultancy firm in UAE.
  • Proven experience in preparing and implementing PSFR plans and developing plans for annual income growth as well as in strategic planning.
  • Demonstrated ability to meet PSFR targets.
  • Proven experience in developing and delivering Leadership Giving programmes.
  • Proven expertise and up-to-date knowledge in all major existing and new PSFR techniques including direct marketing and direct response fundraising, monthly donor programmes including face-to-face, telemarketing, middle and major donors, legacies, corporate fundraising and new media fundraising.
  • Experience of managing the production of fundraising materials from creative and design to production, print and delivery.
  • Fluent in Arabic and English (verbal and written) essential.

How to apply http://www.idealist.org/view/job/8pHSCMN94sXd

To Apply and Read a Detailed Job Description, Please Visit: http://bit.ly/Careers_UNHCR

Location

Abu Dhabi, Abū Z̧aby, United Arab Emirates

Details

Say His Name, Aylan Kurdi

Aylan, the toddler who drowned yesterday fleeing Syria, was just three years old. His town was under attack by Isis. His five year old brother and his mum also died trying to reach safety. [1]

Yet our Prime Minister has just said ‘we won’t take any more refugees’. [2] He thinks that most of us don’t care.

But 38 Degrees members do care. We don’t want Britain to be the kind of country that turns its back as people drown in their desperation to flee places like Syria.

So let’s stand up for Britain’s long tradition of helping refugees fleeing war. If tens of thousands of us write to our MPs, demanding no more drownings, we can force the government into action.

Please can you email your MP now? It’ll just take a minute but it could be our best chance to force the government to help people fleeing from war and violence. There’s some suggested text to help you write your email if you’re not sure what to say:

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-your-MP-refugee-crisis?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

If MPs hear from lots of their constituents today, they’ll realise that lots of us don’t agree with David Cameron: we want the UK to do its bit to help refugees fleeing war. And if enough MPs start speaking out, Cameron will feel isolated and start to change his tune. Pressure on MPs today could help stop more children drowning as they try to get to safety.

The tide is starting to turn against the government. Some MPs are already starting to call on them to give immediate sanctuary to refugees. [3] Every message we send to an MP today helps pile the pressure on Cameron.

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-your-MP-refugee-crisis?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

Britain has a long tradition of helping people fleeing war. It’s part of being a civilised country. And 38 Degrees members have a strong record of standing up for a Britain we can all be proud to live in – whether that’s through defending the NHS or our countryside, or by making sure we do our bit to help refugees.

So let’s speak up today and tell David Cameron that we won’t stand by while he lets children drown.

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-your-MP-refugee-crisis?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

 

In hope,

Nat, Laura, David, Amy, Megan and the whole 38 Degrees team

PS. Tonight, 38 Degrees members across the country will be lighting a candle in their window as a sign of remembrance for those who have drowned trying to reach safety. Please join in if you feel moved to.

Many of us are also putting signs that say ‘refugees welcome’ in our windows to show the kind of place we want Britain to be. You can find a ‘refugees welcome’ poster to print and put in your front window here:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/refugees-welcome-poster

Or, if you want to donate money, the British Red Cross is running an emergency fundraising appeal to help victims of the Syrian crisis:

http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Emergency-response/Current-emergency-appeals/Syria-Crisis-Appeal

But first of all, please contact your MP and help build pressure on our government to do the right thing:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-your-MP-refugee-crisis

NOTES

[1] The Independent: Refugee Crisis Aylan’s life was full of fear – in death he is part of humanity washed ashore:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/refugee-crisis-aylans-life-was-full-of-fear–in-death-he-is-part-of-humanity-washed-ashore-10483670.html

[2] BBC News: David Cameron: Taking more and more refugees not answer:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34130067

[3] The Guardian: Migration Crisis: Pressure mounts on David Cameron to relent on taking more refugees:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/03/migration-crisis-pressure-mounts-on-david-cameron-to-relent-on-taking-more-refugees

38 Degrees is funded entirely by donations from thousands of members across the UK. Making a regular donation will mean 38 Degrees can stay independent and plan for future campaigns. Please will you chip in a few pounds a week?

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Egyptian Court Verdict on Al-Jazeera Journalists

Dear FPC Journalists,

Sharing below a statement from the Office of the Spokesperson.

Regards,

 

Washington Foreign Press Center

U.S. Department of State

Tel:  (202) 504-6300

 

 

From: State Department Press Office [mailto:usstatebpa@subscriptions.fcg.gov]
Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2015 5:00 PM
To: PA All – FPC
Subject: STATEMENT: Egyptian Court Verdict on Al-Jazeera Journalists

 

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 STATEMENT BY JOHN KIRBY, SPOKESPERSON

August 29, 2015

Egyptian Court Verdict on Al-Jazeera Journalists

The United States is deeply disappointed and concerned by the verdict handed down by an Egyptian court to the three Al-Jazeera journalists – Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, and Peter Greste.

The freedom of the press to investigate, report, and comment – even when its perspective is unpopular or disputed – is fundamental to any free society and essential to democratic development.

We urge the Government of Egypt to take all available measures to redress this verdict, which undermines the very freedom of expression necessary for stability and development.