Stop NATO News: February 25, 2012: Syria: Clinton Calls China, Russia “Despicable,” Demands Regime Change

25 February 2012 — Stop NATO News

  • Syria: Clinton Calls China, Russia “Despicable,” Demands Regime Change
  • Two NATO Soldiers Killed In Afghan Capital
  • U.S. Increases Military Presence In Strait Of Hormuz
  • Kyrgyz President: U.S. Air Base Should Not Be Used Against Iran
  • U.S. Leads Airborne Exercise In Mali
  • Saakashvili: Georgia Finds Safety In European Family, NATO

Syria: Clinton Calls China, Russia “Despicable,” Demands Regime Change

Azeri Press Agency February 25, 2012

Clinton rips Russia, China for U.N. veto on Syria

Baku: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton blasted Russia and China as “despicable” for opposing U.N. action aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria, and more than 60 nations began planning a civilian peacekeeping mission to deploy after the Damascus regime halts its crackdown on the opposition, APA reports quoting Associated Press.

In his most forceful words to date on the Syrian crisis, President Barack Obama said the U.S. and its allies would use “every tool available” to end the bloodshed by the government of President Bashar Assad.

“It is time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government,” Obama said in Washington, adding that it “absolutely imperative for the international community to rally and send a clear message to President Assad that it is time for a transition. It is time for that regime to move on.”

…Clinton went on to predict a military coup inside Syria of the kind that ended the old regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.

“We saw this happen in other settings last year, I think it is going to happen in Syria,” she told reporters at the end of the meeting…

Assad allies Russia and China, which blocked U.N. action on Syria and are eager to head off any repeat of the kind of foreign intervention that happened in Libya, gave no sign they would agree to peacekeepers. Moscow and Beijing have vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions…

Their vetoes prompted a particularly strong reaction from Clinton.

“It’s quite distressing to see two permanent members of the Security Council using their veto while people are being murdered — women, children, brave young men — houses are being destroyed,” she said. “It is just despicable and I ask whose side are they on? They are clearly not on the side of the Syrian people.”

The Friends of Syria group also vowed to step up ties with the Syrian National Council, an opposition umbrella group. They took a tentative step toward recognition by declaring the council to be “a legitimate representative” of the Syrian people, a possible precursor to calling it “the legitimate representative.”

On the sanctions front, France said the European Union would on Monday freeze assets of Syria’s national bank held in EU jurisdictions while Clinton vowed that already tough U.S. penalties would be strengthened.

Highlighting the divisions, though, Saudi Arabia called publicly for weapons and ammunition to be sent to the opposition, including the Free Syrian Army, a Turkey-based outfit made up largely of Assad regime defectors.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters before meeting Clinton on the margins of the conference…

The Obama administration initially opposed arming the opposition but has recently opened the door to the possibility by saying that while a political solution is preferable, other measures may be needed if the onslaught doesn’t end.

The Syrian National Council, for its part, said it would be grateful for help in any area.

Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, who has been a driving force to unite Arab opinion against the Syrian regime, directly called on Assad to step down. And, together with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he called for the creation of humanitarian corridors to get aid to embattled citizens.

… Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, the host of Friday’s conference who only recently assumed power after his country became the first in the Arab Spring to topple its longtime leader last year, called for an Arab peacekeeping force to ensure stability during an eventual transition.

The Friends group [gave] a green light to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to start drawing up plans for such a joint Arab League-U.N. peacekeeping operation that would be comprised of civilian police officers. Ban is expected to begin recruiting possible contributors to the mission and preparing its mandate.

Such an operation would not be a military intervention but would still require authorization from the U.N. Security Council, where it will likely face opposition from veto-wielding members China and Russia, neither of which attended the Tunis conference, and Iran…

As the conference began, about 200 pro-Assad demonstrators tried to storm the hotel. The protest forced Clinton to be diverted briefly to her hotel. The protesters, waving Syrian and Tunisian flags, tussled with police and carried signs criticizing Clinton and President Barack Obama. They were driven out of the parking lot by police after about 15 minutes.


Two NATO Soldiers Killed In Afghan Capital

Xinhua News Agency February 25, 2012

NATO confirms 2 service members dead in Kabul

KABUL: The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed that two of its service members were killed in Kabul on Saturday.

“Initial reports indicate an individual turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in Kabul City today, killing two service members,” the short statement added.

However, it did not identify the nationalities of the victims, saying it is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.

Meantime, the Afghan Interior Ministry in a statement confirmed the incident by saying, “Two international colleagues of the Interior Ministry were killed in the premise of the ministry today afternoon. Investigation has been initiated into the case.”

Meanwhile, a source with the Interior Ministry said on the condition of anonymity that an Afghan police opened fire and killed two American advisors.


U.S. Increases Military Presence In Strait Of Hormuz

Russian Information Agency Novosti February 25, 2012

U.S. Beefs Up Defenses in Strait of Hormuz – Paper

Moscow: The U.S. plans to strengthen its defenses in the Persian Gulf to repel any attempt by Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz, the Wall Street Journal said on Saturday.

The Pentagon has notified Congress of plans to deploy new mine-detection and clearing equipment in the waterway, through which a fifth of the world’s oil is transported.

The U.S. military are also looking to modify weapons systems on ships and shore-launched cruise missiles, the journal said citing unnamed defense officials.

Surveillance in and around the strait will also be increased. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to mounting international pressure over its disputed uranium enrichment program.

Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to create a nuclear bomb and have tightened sanctions. Tehran insists its nuclear intentions are purely peaceful.

Iran staged military exercises earlier this week in the south which it said was to train protection of its nuclear facilities.

There has been increasing speculation in recent weeks that Israel may carry out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites. The United States has also refused to rule out force.

Mohammad Hejazi, deputy head of Iran’s armed forces, said on Tuesday Iran would take pre-emptive action if it needed to protect its national interests.


Kyrgyz President: U.S. Air Base Should Not Be Used Against Iran

Trend News Agency February 25, 2012

Kyrgyz President: Manas base should not be used against Iran E. Kosolapova

Baku: The U.S. air base located in the Kyrgyz Manas airport should not be used against Iran, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev said.

“The base in Kyrgyzstan should not be used against Iran. That is why we are talking about the necessity to withdraw foreign troops from the civil airport after 2014 and close the base,” Atambaev said in an interview with Voice of Russia radio station.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that the Ministry fears that the Manas air base can be used in the potential conflict with Iran.

The air base at Manas, which was later renamed as the Transit Centre, was opened in late 2001 after the U.S launched its operation in Afghanistan. At present, it accommodates about 1,200 U.S soldiers. According to Pentagon statistics, the base handles up to 15,000 coalition servicemen and 500 tons of cargoes a month. The agreement on deployment of the U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan is valid until 2014.

Atambayev said that the decision on the withdrawal of foreign troops and military bases from the civilian airport is provoked by considerations of the Kyrgyz capital and civilian population.


U.S. Leads Airborne Exercise In Mali

U.S. Africa Command February 23, 2012

Service Members from Mali Take Part in Aerial Resupply and Recovery Exercise By Sergeant Mark A. Henderson 128th MPAD, UTARNG

MOPTI, Mali: U. S. service members joined troops from six partner nations with the purpose of sharing their knowledge of aerial resupply and recovery of as part of exercise Atlas Accord in Mali, February 2012.

Members of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) conducted pathfinder training to locate suitable drop zones, cleared the area to ensure the safety of local residents, marked the drop zones for the aircraft and recovered supplies.

“The training was really interesting,” said Malian Army Sergeant Oumar Traore, as airborne infantryman.

“The 19th SFG taught us to set-up the operational readiness platform, to send out reconnaissance patrols, and establish security at the drop zone. We’ve learned how to conduct these operations under any circumstances. This exercise also helps us work with troops from other nations,” he said.


Saakashvili: Georgia Finds Safety In European Family, NATO

Trend News Agency February 25, 2012

Georgia has never been closer to the long-term security – Mikheil Saakashvili N. Kirtskhalia

Saakashvili criticized those political forces that…throw out the idea of ??neutrality.

Tbilisi: Georgia has never been closer to ensuring its safety for many generations as now, said Saturday at a meeting with the officers, soldiers and cadets at the military base in Gori, Georgian President Mikh?il Saakashvili in connection with day of occupation of Georgia by the Red Army in February 1925, celebrated in the country.

“We will be free and our country will find safety only in the European family, NATO, to which we have already reached more than ever before,” he said.

Saakashvili stressed that it became clear after the visits of the French President and the NATO North Atlantic Council to Georgia, the summits in the Congress of the People’s Party, as well as his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

“He said that Georgia is an example of democracy and freedom in the region and there is some reason someone did not like it,” he said.

The President stressed that EU and NATO are a guarantee of the security of Georgia. “And this our goal is very close and there is no other purpose, there is no other way to ensure the safety of Georgia,” he said.

Saakashvili criticized those political forces that are today if not speaking and do not call themselves pro-Russian as it is unpopular, throw out the idea of ??neutrality.

“Nothing of the sort, even if only one person will say, oblige us to anything the U.S., EU, while Russia is constantly demanded of us is joining the CIS, the signing of agreements during armed conflicts and in the end we loss 20% our territory, our citizens,” he said.

At the same time, the president said, the hand of friendship and assistance to Georgia held out Europe and the United States.

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