Category Archives: Politics

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UK: Islamic State targeted air strikes could be extended to Syria, PM hints | #ISIS #Syria #Iraq #ISIL


David Cameron indicates only lack of political consent at Westminster is holding government back.

Patrick Wintour, political editor.
David Cameron said on the Andrew Marr Show that he was sympathetic with the view that Isis had to be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq.David Cameron said on the Andrew Marr Show that he was sympathetic with the view that Isis had to be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq. Photograph: Handout/Reuters.

David Cameron has given his broadest hint yet that he wants to extend the fight against Islamic State (Isis) to Syria and that only a lack of political consent at Westminster is holding the government back.

The prime minister said on Sunday he was sympathetic to the argument mounted by former chief of the defence staff Sir David Richards, that Isis had to be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq.

The former army general had told the Sunday Times: “You cannot possibly defeat IS [Isis] by only tackling them in Iraq. How the hell do you win the war when most of your enemy end up in a country you cannot get involved in?”

Cameron said on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “I have a lot of sympathy with that view, which is why I have said we support what the Americans and the five Arab nations have done in Syria. We have a Syria strategy which is to build up the Free Syrian Army [and] the Syrian National Coalition to achieve a political transition in Syria. But I wanted to take the House of Commons proposals that I could achieve consensus with to make sure Britain was playing its role in this coordinated action across both parties.”

Cameron said he agreed that boots on the ground were needed but insisted they must not be British ones. “We are not trying to defeat Isil [Isis] from the air alone. We believe you do need troops on the ground but they should be Iraqi troops, they should be Kurdish troops. We are part of a large international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy this organisation. But it can’t be done unless the countries where this organisation has grown up play their part in destroying it.”

Cameron hit back at critics such as the Respect MP George Galloway who have warned that the nature of the Isis positions mean many civilians will be killed.

“I do not accept that. There have been occasions when [Isis] are out in the open, threatening Christian communities, Yazidi communities, other Muslim communities, and they can be struck and stopped and that’s exactly what’s happened.

“But if what you are saying is that we need an uprising of the Sunni tribes rejecting these extremists and saying ‘we want to be part of a democratic pluralistic Iraq’, then yes, of course we do need that. Our strategy here is not some simplistic ‘drop a bomb from 40,000 feet’ and think you can solve the problem.

“It isn’t. This is one part of a comprehensive strategy to build an Iraq that has a democratic, inclusive government for everyone and, in time, Syria needs exactly the same thing.”

The defence secretary, Michael Fallon, said on Sky’s Murnaghan programme that UK Tornados were ready to be called in to help troops on the ground.

“There is nothing token about this, quite the contrary. They need our help, not just with the Tornados flying daily from Cyprus, but also from the surveillance equipment overhead – to add to the operations of the Iraqi and Kurdish forces. We need to think about how we beat IS. IS is based in Syria and IS needs to be defeated in Syria as well as in Iraq.”

Fallon warned that driving out Islamic State (IS) militants will not be a “weekend campaign”, saying that the operations could continue for weeks or even months.

“This is not a weekend campaign,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend. “This is going to take a long time.”

William Hague, the leader of the House of Commons and former foreign secretary, hinted there would be a stepping up of UK action beyond the six Tornados, saying there may be further announcements.

He admitted a proposal to fight Isis in Syria could “at the moment easily be defeated” in the Commons,and said: “That would not be a very wise thing to do.”

He hinted at Labour opposition, saying: “The Labour party is a very, very large part of the House of Commons”. He said the government would not bring a new motion spreading military action to Syria “if we thought we would be defeated as we were last year”.


The Guardian.

Ed Miliband: Lord Cashman will be my LGBT rights envoy #Labour #LGBTRights #LGBT


Lord Michael CashmanLord Michael Cashman.

Labour leader Ed Miliband says Lord Michael Cashman will serve as the party’s LGBT rights envoy – at a time when LGBT rights “are going backwards” abroad.

Mr Miliband made the announcement this afternoon in his speech to the Labour Party Conference in Manchester.

“We’ve made extraordinary progress on lesbian and gay rights over the last 20 years. When I think about the transformations, growing up into adulthood? It’s the biggest transformation,” Mr Miliband said.

“We’ve made such progress on equality. But we have to face the fact that internationally things, if anything, are going backwards.

“We can’t just let that happen. We can’t just say that’s okay. The next Labour government will fight to make sure that we fight for our values and human rights all around the world.”

The Labour leader said Lord Cashman would stand up for LGBT rights abroad.

“So today I can announce that I am appointing Michael Cashmann, Lord Cashmann, as our envoy on LGBT rights all around the world.”

It would mean that the gay peer would become a diplomat to the UK Government – if Labour wins next year’s general election.

He retired from the European Parliament in June, after a 15-year stint as a West Midlands MEP.

In August, he was elevated to the House of Lords.

At the time, Lord Cashman told PinkNews.co.uk: “It’s a huge and humbling honour, and if anything it just brings me closer to my roots, closer to where I began. I just wish my old Mum and Dad were alive to witness it.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair personally congratulated Lord Cashman for his long service to politics and LGBT rights at a central London reception earlier this summer.

The peer is a highly-regarded figure in the Labour Party.

A video tribute from all four surviving Labour leaders, Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock, was played out in front of the former MEP who was visibly moved by the testimony.

Lord Cashman co-founded gay rights charity Stonewall in 1989.

Before going into politics Michael Cashman had long been a household name.

As a child actor he was cast in the role of Oliver Twist in the original run of Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver!

However, he is possibly best known for his role as Colin Russell in the BBC’s long-running soap Eastenders.

His character is best remembered for taking part in the first ever same-sex kiss in a British soap.


PinkNews.co.uk.

Partner of #Chechen accused of plotting against #Putin runs for #Ukraine’s parliament


by Oksana Grytsenko.

Amina OkuyevaAmina Okuyeva © Amina Okuyeva/facebook

Out of dozens of soldiers running for parliament on Oct. 26, one stands out. 

Her name is Amina Okuyeva, she is a member of the Kyiv-2 volunteer battalion who poses on her Facebook page in a Muslim headscarf and camouflage fatigues while holding a Kalashnikov rifle in her hands. Quotes from the Koran adorn the top of the photograph.

Okuyeva is a surgeon by training, and is the battalion’s paramedic. The ethnic Chechen said she put the Kalashnikov shown in the picture to good use while serving for over a month on the front lines near Debaltseve in Donetsk Oblast.

Now she believes she has to take her fight to the legislature because “the war is not only happening on the front lines.”

Okuyeva, 31, has personal reasons to take up the political fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin. She was born in Odessa but spent some five years in Chechnya in the early 2000s, where she felt what the Second Chechen War was like when Chechen rebels and the Russian army clashed.

In February 2012, her common law husband Adam Osmayev was arrested in Odesa and accused of plotting, along with two accomplices, an assassination attempt on Putin before his re-election. At the time, the story sparked speculation that it was a ploy to boost Putin’s performance in polls.

Osmayev initially confessed, but then retracted his statement, saying he made it under police pressure. Although Ukraine has refused to extradite him, Osmayev has been kept in a pre-trial detention center in Odessa. Okuyeva has written stacks of appeals to the government, but the case has not moved since May.

Okuyeva took part in the EuroMaidan Revolution and then went to fight against Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine after a month of military training.

She believes that many of the Maidan’s aspirations are yet to be achieved, and being in parliament is a way to do it. So she decided to run as an independent candidate in a single-mandate constituency in her home city of Odesa.

“The Maidan stood not only for the ouster of criminals in power but also to make changes in the entire system,” she said. “These things need to be done not by standing with posters by the Verkhovna Rada but inside.”

She wouldn’t provide any details of her program but promised she would do it after the Central Election Commission registers her candidacy. The deadline for registration runs out at the end of the month.

Political consultant Taras Berezovets says that while war combatants in new the Verkhovna Rada are set to radicalize it, they will not reinforce it with new ideas – and Okuyeva is not an exception.

Okuyeva said she plans to spend a minimum amount of money on her campaign and will rely on volunteers and donations. “If I had money I would rather spend it on the needs of my battalion,” she said.

If she gets elected Okuyeva said she would cooperate with other EuroMaidan activists and members of volunteer battalions, without mentioning any particular political force. In case she fails, Okuyeva said she would definitely go back to the embattled east of Ukraine since she fears that fuller-scale warfare will restart soon.

Okuyeva said that in Ukraine, the Kremlin is using methods similar to those used in Chechnya in previous decades to quash attempts of the Chechen people led by their ex-President Dzhokhar Dudayev to gain independence from Russia. Initially Russian intelligence orchestrated opposition to Dudayev and supplied it with money and weapons. Then it secretly sent Russian experts to train the anti-Dudayev forces, and after that it brought the regular Russian army troops to support them.

Thus, many Chechens are now trying to support Ukraine in its war against Russia.

“These (Chechen) guys are coming from all over the world to help Ukraine against the Russian aggression as it is our common enemy now,” Okuyeva said.

Recently, a group of Chechens organized their own unofficial Dudayev peacekeeping battalion to train and support Ukrainian troops.

(Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached at grytsenko@kyivpost.com).


Kyiv Post.

Scottish independence: Voting under way in referendum #ScottishIndependence


by BBC News.
Voting got under way across Scotland at 07:00 on ThursdayVoting got under way across Scotland at 07:00 on Thursday.

People in Scotland are voting on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent nation.

Voters will answer “Yes” or “No” to the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

With 4,285,323 people – 97% of the electorate – registered to vote, it is expected to be the busiest day in Scottish electoral history.

Votes will be cast at 5,579 polling stations until 22:00 on Thursday. The result is expected on Friday morning.

Strict rules mean the BBC – in common with other broadcasters – is not allowed to report details of campaigning until after the polls close.

Voters formed a queue outside the polling place in Portobello, Edinburgh, before voting beganVoters formed a queue outside the polling place in Portobello, Edinburgh, before voting began.Voters queue up in West Glasgow to answer the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?Voters queue up in West Glasgow to answer the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?These voters in the south of Edinburgh were among the first to have their say on Scotland's future.These voters in the south of Edinburgh were among the first to have their say on Scotland’s future.

Once the polls have closed, ballot papers will be counted in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

These will include votes cast from the 789,024 postal vote applications, which was the largest volume of registration for postal votes ever in Scotland.

After votes have been tallied, the counting officer in each area will communicate the result to the chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly in Edinburgh.

With her approval they will then make a declaration of the result.

Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond voted in the Aberdeenshire village of Strichen.Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond voted in the Aberdeenshire village of Strichen.Former prime minister Gordon Brown cast his vote in North Queensferry.Former prime minister Gordon Brown cast his vote in North Queensferry.

Once the results from all 32 local authority areas are known, Ms Pitcaithly will declare the result of the referendum at the Royal Highland Centre outside Edinburgh.

Ms Pitcaithly has said she will announce the result at “breakfast time” on Friday.

The result is most likely to be between 06:30 and 07:30, according to Elections Scotland.

That is because the final Scottish declarations in the 2010 UK parliamentary elections and the 2011 Scottish parliamentary elections declaration were made at those times respectively.

However, running totals – which can be made from the first declaration onwards – may indicate a result earlier in the morning.

Local recounts
Guide to referendum nightThe bulk of these are expected to come in between 03:00 and 06:00.

Because the polling stations are expected to be so busy, counting officers have put measures in place to reduce the risk of queuing.

The remote nature of some Scottish regions also means bad weather could delay the receipt of ballot boxes at counting centres, in turn delaying the national result.

Helicopters and boats are being used to transport ballot boxes to counts in areas such as Argyll and Bute.

Elections Scotland said recounts will only be allowed at a local level on the basis of concerns about process, not the closeness of a result.

Keep up to date on Twitter via @BBCPolitics and @BBCScotlandNews.


BBC News.


It’s time to say goodbye Scotland, time to show the world that you are a strong and proud nation, The time for independance is Now!

#Ukraine: Parties plan to include fighters, Maidan activists to boost election lists


by Oksana Grytsenko.
Ukrainian Colonel Yuly Mamchur salutes soldiers of the Belbek military base. After Russian troops stormed the base on March 22, they kidnapped Mamchur.Ukrainian Colonel Yuly Mamchur salutes soldiers of the Belbek military base. After Russian troops stormed the base on March 22, they kidnapped Mamchur. © Anastasia Vlasova

Crimean colonel Yuly Mamchur, who impressed many with his bravery when he marched unarmed with his men Ukrainian flag in hand through Russian ranks in March, is likely to be included in President Petro Poroshenko’s party list, party head Yury Lutsenko announced on Sept. 12. 

“We want to emphasize the importance of the regular Ukrainian army for Ukraine’s future,” Lutsenko wrote on his web-page.

With parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 28 coming closer political parties are rushing to pack their lists with popular Ukrainian heroes who rose to prominence during the Euromaidan Revolution and the ongoing war with Russia.  The trend, however, is likely to lead to radicalization of the Verkhovna Rada according to experts.

The Petro Poroshenko Bloc is planning to reinforce its ranks with prominent journalists Sergiy Leshchenko, and Mustafa Nayem,  as well as Svitlana Zalishchuk, head of the Chesno civic movement, a Kyiv Post sources said.

Leshchenko neither confirmed nor denied this information, but Zalishchuk told the Kyiv Post she had discussed this issue, but that there was no final decision so far.

By law political parties must submit their full party lists by Sept. 15.Kyiv Post+ offers special coverage of Russia's war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.Kyiv Post+ offers special coverage of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.

The People’s Front Party headed by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Turchynov is expected to include the names of several military commanders and prominent EuroMaidan activist Tetiana Chornovol.

At the party congress held on Sept. 10 Chornovol was chosen as a member of the party’s Coordination Council along with prominent military blogger Dmytro Tymchuk.

Since soldiers are banned from being members of political parties the People’s Front formed a special party Military Council to get around the restriction that includes commanders of six volunteer battalions, including Andriy Biletsky from Azov and Yury Bereza from Dnipro 1 and also Sergiy Sydorin, commander of special brigade of National Guard. Many of these people are also likely to appear on the party list.

Party Union Samopomich led by Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovy will reinforce its list with Semen Semenchenko, head of Donbas battalion, in the second spot on the list after a decision made at the party’s conference on Sept. 12.

“There were many aims and tasks realized and announced recently. To implement them I took a decision to run for parliament with Union Samopomich,” Semenchenko wrote on his Facebook page.

Other member of Donbas battalion responsible for the “information war” will also appear on the list. Pavlo Kishkar was announced as seventh on the party list, and the tenth place will be given to Natalia Veselova, head of charity foundation supporting the battalion.

Oleksandr Chernenko, head of Committee of Voters of Ukraine, an influential election watchdog, said that is was not a bad sign for a country fighting a war on its soil to have people with military experience in the new parliament.

“They will be better than actors, singers, drivers and massage therapists,” he said, alluding to the notorious tradition of putting people from those fields on party lists to grab votes.

Political consultant Taras Berzovets said the trend will help parties to lure in the so called “patriotic electorate” while “leading to a radicalization of the new parliament.”

It will be hard for people with war experience to sit patiently and work at the main legislative body. Many of them will probably decide to leave Verkhovna Rada and go back to the war zone, he said.

Berezovets is also cautious concerning how effectively civil activists will be able to work in the new parliament, even if they are in opposition and not the ruling coalition.

“In 90 percent of cases when journalists showed up in parliament it was a failure,” he said. “But maybe this generation of young journalists will be better able to resist the temptations of power,” he added.

(Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached at grytsenko@kyivpost.com).


Kyiv Post.