Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New York Times

How The Map Of Europe Would Be Redrawn If All The Separatist Movements Get Their Way

The Scottish independence movement will embolden other active separatist groups in Europe to win their freedom, whether or not Scotland votes to secede from the UK on Thursday.
From Catalonia and Basque Country in Spain to Veneto, South Tyrol, and the island of Sardinia in Italy to Flanders in Belgium, "the precedent of the vote on self-determination will reverberate around the Continent," The New York Times writes.
If you want a rough idea of how European borders would have to be redrawn if regions with a separatist agenda got their way, you can look at the map below, put together by the European Free Alliance, to which "40 progressive nationalist, regionalist and autonomous parties throughout the European Union" belong.
European Free AllianceEuropean Free Alliance

US will have ‘many more’ 9/11s if it fails to act against Islamic State – House Rep

USA - Albanian Lobbyist Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee expressed his support for President Barack Obama’s plan to combat IS
Published time: September 17, 2014 02:32
Reuters / Eduardo Munoz
Reuters / Eduardo Munoz

If the US fails to attack Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria, the country could face the prospect of “many” terrorist attacks similar to September 11, a top-ranking Democrat says. It comes as the House debates arming Syrian rebels to fight IS.

Speaking during a floor debate at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee expressed his support for President Barack Obama’s plan to combat IS (previously known as ISIS/ISIL) and said that failure to authorize the plan would lead to devastating consequences for the US.
“I understand that my colleagues are war weary. I’m war weary. I understand the American people are war weary,” Engel said, as quoted by The Hill. “But I think doing nothing would invite something very similar that happened to my city, New York City, on that fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001.”
“If we do nothing, ISIS (IS) will plot and plan and we’ll have many more 9/11s in the United States, in Europe, in the Middle East,” he claimed.

The House is currently debating whether or not to pass an amendment that would allow President Obama to direct the military to arm and train rebel factions in Syria in order to fight the Islamic State.
 Terrorism in Kosovo, five imams arrested including a politician ....

In the eve of the Pope's visit in Tirana

policia kosove

PRISTINA - About 15 people, among them five imams and a politician were arrested this morning by Kosovo police, suspected of incitement to hatred participants interfaith and sending the Albanians in Syria and Iraq wars, arm terrorist organizations.

In addition police arrested Imam of the Grand Mosque in Pristina, Shefqet Krasniqi, accused of inciting religious hatred and Islamic extremism. For the same reason, was also arrested Imam of Peja, Anas Goga. Another  imam is arrested, Enis Rama, an imam at the mosque 'Isa Beg "in Mitrovica and the TV editor of' "Peace TV " in English language. It was also arrested Ekrem Avdiu, who currently serves as imam of the mosque and lecturer in the neighborhood 'Tavnik' in Mitrovica.

Alsois arrested the leader of  Islamic Movement Join Party, Fuad Ramiqi after allegedly manipulated and encourage young people to fight in Kosovo Syria and Iraq. Kosovo media during this action taken by the police, was arrested also another friend of the Albanian jihadist Lavdrim Muhaxheri.

The police action, confirmed by the structures of the order who have announced for Kosovo media that this action will continue. Baki Kelani, Kosovo police spokesman, confirmed that since the early morning hours, police are conducting this action across the country.

The arrests come at a time when Kosovo is on the verge of passing a law which condemns to 15 years imprisonment participation in foreign wars, terrorist connotations.

Islamic extremism headed terrorist organization "Islamic State of Iraq and Levan" is regarded as a global threat, where democratic countries, led by the United States, urged all countries of the world to join forces in the fight against terrorism .

A month ago, forty people were arrested on suspicion of having taken part in fighting in Syria and Iraq announced support terrorist organizations, ISIL and Al-Nusrat, performing this act offenses against national security and constitutional order of the Republic of Kosovo .

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pope at risk of assassination by ISIS during forthcoming visits to Albania and Turkey following 'credible threats', claims Iraq ambassador

    Pontiff due to visit Albania, which is majority Sunni Muslim, this Sunday
    Iraq's ambassador to Holy See warned nowhere is safe - including Britain
    'I think they could try to hit him during his travels or even in Rome', he said
    But Vatican has insisted Francis will not use bulletproof Popemobile
    Spokesman said security officials are 'calm' about one-day weekend visit

By Dan Bloom for MailOnline
Warning: The Pope will use the open-top car (pictured) from which he greets the faithful in St Peter's Square when he visits Albania on Sunday, despite Iraq's ambassador saying his life is in danger from ISIS extremists
Published: 19:12 GMT, 16 September 2014

ISIS has made 'credible threats' to kill Pope Francis, a top Iraqi diplomat has warned just days before the Pontiff visits the mainly Muslim nation of Albania.

Habeeb Al Sadr issued the stark warning today after Vatican officials insisted there was no threat to his safety - and said he will not ride in the bulletproof 'Popemobile' of his predecessor Benedict XVI.
Habeeb Al Sadr, said: 'Threats against the Pope are credible. Public statements and crimes against Christianity by Isis are a fact. Just put two and two together.' But the Pope calls his bulletproof glass vehicle a 'sardine can'
Mr Al Sadr, Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See, admitted he knew of no 'specific facts' or 'operational projects' but said: 'Just put two and two together... They want to kill the Pope.'

Scroll down for video
Warning: The Pope will use the open-top car (pictured) from which he greets the faithful in St Peter's Square when he visits Albania on Sunday, despite Iraq's ambassador saying his life is in danger from ISIS extremists

Warning: The Pope will use the open-top car (pictured) from which he greets the faithful in St Peter's Square when he visits Albania on Sunday, despite Iraq's ambassador saying his life is in danger from ISIS extremists
Habeeb Al Sadr, said: 'Threats against the Pope are credible. Public statements and crimes against Christianity by Isis are a fact. Just put two and two together.' But the Pope calls his bulletproof glass vehicle a 'sardine can'

Habeeb Al Sadr, said: 'Threats against the Pope are credible. Public statements and crimes against Christianity by Isis are a fact. Just put two and two together.' But the Pope calls his bulletproof glass vehicle a 'sardine can'
Beloved: The Pope pictured at a Mass to celebrate several weddings at St Peter's Basilica on Sunday

Beloved: The Pope pictured at a Mass to celebrate several weddings at St Peter's Basilica on Sunday

The ambassador said the spread of extremists across the world meant Pope Francis is at risk anywhere - in Muslim countries, on trips to Britain and the U.S. and even in Rome.

He told the Italian newspaper La Nazione: 'Threats against the Pope are credible. Public statements and crimes against Christianity by Isis are a fact. Just put two and two together.

Isolated: The militants have declared Christians, Yazidi people and even other Sunni Muslims as their enemies

    Top general admits that US could put boots on the ground for 'close combat advising' in fight against ISIS in Iraq
    U.S. launches new phase of mission to 'destroy' ISIS with offensive airstrike to protect Iraqi forces near Baghdad
    Who betrayed Brit hostage Alan Henning? Tip-off led to kidnap by ISIS just 30mins after he arrived in Syria

'Let me be clear, I am not aware of specific facts or operational projects. But what has been said by the self-declared "Islamic state" terrorists is clear. They want to kill the Pope.

'I think they could try to hit him during his travels or even in Rome, because there are members of ISIS who are not Arabs but also Canadians, Americans, French, British and Italian.

'This gang of criminals does not merely threaten. In Iraq they have violated or destroyed some of the holiest sites of Shia Islam. They have hit places of worship in the Yazidi religion and Christianity. They forced 150,00 Christians to flee Mosul.'
'Sardine can': An armoured Popemobile was introduced after the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul II (pictured in Nigeria) but Pope Francis has said he dislikes the vehicle and would prefer not to use it

'Sardine can': An armoured Popemobile was introduced after the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul II (pictured in Nigeria) but Pope Francis has said he dislikes the vehicle and would prefer not to use it
Outdated: Pope Benedict XVI waves from the armoured vehicle in 2006 on a visit to Munich, Germany. The Iraqi ambassador warned the current Pontiff is at risk everywhere - including in Britain and the U.S. or even Rome

Outdated: Pope Benedict XVI waves from the armoured vehicle in 2006 on a visit to Munich, Germany. The Iraqi ambassador warned the current Pontiff is at risk everywhere - including in Britain and the U.S. or even Rome

The ambassador said the ethos of the terrorists was 'convert or be killed' and described their murderous spread through Iraq as a 'genocide'.

But he added Christians could not be 'prisoners of fear' and called on the Pope to send 'a message of hope to the Christians of the Middle East and around the world'.

He added: 'With his wisdom and his courage could make this visit a bridge between our religions, a message of peace in the name of Abraham.'
I think they could try to hit him during his travels or even in Rome, because there are members of ISIS who are not Arabs but also Canadians, Americans, French, British and Italian

Iraq had among the first Christians in the world, in the form of Assyrians who have faced centuries of persecution since.

Up to a million Christians are thought to have fled the country since British and U.S. troops invaded in 2003, with the violence of Islamic State militants triggering a new exodus.

The terrorists follow an extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam, declaring Shia Muslims and Sunnis who refused to kill as sworn enemies.

Pope Francis will make a brief 11-hour visit to Albania, more than half of whose citizens are Sunni Muslims, this Sunday to mark the rebirth of religion after Communism fell in the early 1990s.

He will celebrate Mass in a square named for Albania's most famous Catholic, Mother Teresa, in a bid to show how Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims now live in harmony in the country where Catholics were once executed and sent to work camps.

He is also due to visit Turkey at the end of November.

Italian newspapers have claimed security sources fear violent jihadis previously in Iraq and Syria could return to their home countries and carry out an attack.
UN chief urges nations to act decisively on Islamic State
Marauders: Self-styled Islamic State terrorists have swept through Iraq and Syria committing mass murder

Marauders: Self-styled Islamic State terrorists have swept through Iraq and Syria committing mass murder
Isolated: The militants have declared Christians, Yazidi people and even other Sunni Muslims as their enemies

Isolated: The militants have declared Christians, Yazidi people and even other Sunni Muslims as their enemies

But the Vatican insisted security officials were 'calm' about the visit this Sunday.

Spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi said the Pope will greet the crowds from the same open-top white car he uses in St Peter's Square.

It makes a striking change from the moving bulletproof glass booth which entered regular use after the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981.

While his predecessor Benedict XVI regularly appeared behind the glass, the Argentinian Pontiff ditched the 'sardine can' vehicle in June after saying it kept him too far from the faithful.

Mr Lombardi said officials were concerned about ISIS, but added: 'There are no specific threats or risks that would change the pope's behaviour or the way the trip is organised.'
Read more:

    L'INTERVISTA L'ambasciatore iracheno: "Il Papa è in grave pericolo" - QuotidianoNet - Notizie in tempo reale
Rasmunssen calls Russia for  “annexation” of Crimea

NATO does not recognise the reported elections held on 14 September in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine

We continue to condemn Russia’s illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea and its continued and deliberate destabilization of eastern Ukraine in violation of international law.
We call on Russia to reverse its illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognise. We stand united in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

Ambassador warns of ISIS threat for Pope Francis' Albania visit

Sept. 14, 2014: Pope Francis waves from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square during his Sunday Angelus, at the Vatican. (AP)
Iraq’s Ambassador to the Holy See is warning that Pope Francis could be targeted by ISIS militants ahead of the pontiff’s first visit to Albania this weekend.
The Vatican is not beefing up security to protect Francis during his upcoming trip to the majority Muslim country on Sunday, despite warnings from Habeeb Al Sadr, who said there are credible threats against the pope’s life, according to an Italian newspaper cited in The Telegraph.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said Monday that Francis would use the same open-topped vehicle he uses in St. Peter's Square when he greets crowds in the poor Balkan nation. Vatican security officials are "calm" ahead of the 11-hour visit, he said.
Lombardi said that while there is general concern about the Islamic State threat, "there are no specific threats or risks that would change the pope's behavior or the way the trip is organized."
But Al Sadr says the pope has made himself a target by speaking out against ISIS and the atrocities suffered by Christians in Iraq and Syria.
"What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the pope. The threats against the pope are credible," he told La Nazione on Tuesday, according to The Telegraph. "I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of ISIL who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians.”
Francis has said he wanted to visit Albania to highlight the rebirth of Christianity that was brutally wiped out during communist rule, and to showcase how Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims are working together now to govern the country.
Italian news reports, citing unnamed sources, have said Albanian law enforcement had flagged to Interpol concerns that Muslim militants who trained in Iraq and Syria had returned and might pose a threat to Francis.
Francis' decision to visit tiny Albania before any major European capital is in keeping with his desire for the church to go to the "periphery." It also confirms his desire to encourage once-persecuted Christian communities.
Like other religions, Catholicism suffered gravely under Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha, who declared Albania the world's first atheist state in 1967. Many Catholics were killed, tortured, imprisoned or sent to labor camps. The ban on religions ended in the early 1990s and St. John Paul II visited in 1993.
During his brief visit, Francis will address Albanian authorities and an interreligious gathering, celebrate Mass in a square named for Albania's most famous Catholic — Mother Teresa — and greet children cared for by charitable groups.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The White House Is Clarifying Its Top Military Officer's Suggestion There Could Be Ground Troops In Iraq

Martin Dempsey Chuck Hagel
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testify during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the U.S. policy toward Iraq and Syria and the threat posed by the Islamic State.
The White House on Tuesday sought to clarify from the Obama administration's top military officer, firmly stating that President Barack Obama would not insert US ground troops into combat in Iraq. "As was clear from General Dempsey's remarks, he was referring to a hypothetical scenario in which there might be a future situation in which he might make a tactical recommendation to the president as it relates to ... the use of ground troops," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, according to a pool report.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told a Senate panel earlier Tuesday that he would advise Obama to use ground troops in the US mission against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) if the extremist group evolves into a threat against the US homeland while the current strategy fails.
He also said he might advise Obama to aid the Iraqi Security Forces in certain theoretical missions. For example, one theoretical mission in which he suggested US military advisers currently in Iraq join the ISF to retake Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul. 

"To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president," Dempsey said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

"My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward," he added. "I believe that will prove true. If it fails to be true and there are threats to the US, then of course I would go back to the president and make the recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces."

dempsey obama
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Barack Obama (L-R) is greeted by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he takes the stage for remarks at the Memorial Day observances at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, May 27, 2013.

Dempsey's comments ran contrary to what Obama has said repeatedly over the past few months — that American ground troops won't have a combat role in Iraq.
During a primetime speech from the White House last Wednesday when he laid out his strategy, Obama said US airstrikes on the group would support partners on the ground, including the Iraqi Security Forces and moderate rebels fighting ISIS in Syria.
"I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," Obama said. "It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground."
The US went on offense with Iraqi forces against ISIS for the first time Monday night as part of its expanded mission against the group, striking a target southwest of Baghdad. US airstrikes are expected to ramp up in both Iraq and, eventually, in Syria, where it will work with rebels of the Free Syrian Army.
The House of Representatives is expected to soon pass legislation that would give Obama the authority to train and equip the rebels in Syria. Both Hagel and Dempsey said the US was prepared to conduct airstrikes in Syria.
"This will not look like 'shock and awe' because that is not how ISIL is organized," Dempsey said, referring to the start of the 2003 campaign in Iraq. "But it will be persistent and sustainable."

Special status to E. Ukraine regions, amnesty to combatants - parliament

Published time: September 16, 2014 09:33
Edited time: September 16, 2014
Captured Ukrainian soldiers taken out of the encirclement in Ilovaisk, near Donetsk.(RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)
The Ukrainian parliament has approved laws on special status for the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, as well as amnesty for those participating in the hostilities.
The special status law has received 277 ‘yes’ votes from a total of 450 MPs, while the amnesty law was approved by 287 parliamentary members. The session of the Verkhovna Rada is underway during which MPs are to ratify an agreement with the EU.
The law on the special status of Lugansk and Donetsk Regions guarantees the right to use and study Russian or any other language in Ukraine.
It also states that local elections are to take place in the regions on December 7.
The head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, Igor Plotnitsky, earlier welcomed the law on special status for Ukraine’s eastern regions proposed by President Poroshenko.
“The law on the special status of Donbass generally reflects the priorities we voiced at the September 1 negotiations. That’s why, even though a lot remains unclear, we may say that a peaceful solution has received its first chance of being implemented,” Plotnitsky told RIA Novosti.
Minsk protocol: Ukraine to be decentralized, special status for Lugansk, Donetsk
The PM of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko has reacted to the news of the law being passed by saying it should first be signed by President Poroshenko, RIA Novosti reports.
“First let Poroshenko sign it, let it be published and come into force. Then we’ll translate it into Russian, read it and give an assessment,” Zakharchenko said.
The law on ‘Prevention of prosecution and punishment of participants of events in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions’ offers amnesty to those anti-government fighters who release all prisoners, hand in all weapons and vacate all occupied government buildings within a month following the law’s enactment.
The laws have been part of a peace roadmap negotiated by Poroshenko and representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The roadmap also included an agreement to a ceasefire, which came into force September 5.

The truce has been barely holding with numerous reports on violations and both the troops and the anti-government fighters blaming each other for sporadic shootings.

Another part of the peace plan – a prisoner exchange – has been gradually implemented.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Anti-ISIS Coalition Meets in Paris to Formulate Battle Plan

France Iraq Diplomacy
Iraq President Fouad Massoum, center, followed by Iraq Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, left, arrive with Iraqi officials at Orly airport south of Paris, on Sept. 14, 2014 . Francois Mori—AP

Delegates from more than 20 countries have descended on the French capital to discuss how best to tackle the Islamist terrorist group

Representatives from across the Middle East and Western nations are convening Monday in Paris, where an emerging coalition will begin formulating a strategy to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
Before flying to France on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry canvassed American allies in the Middle East, aiming to rustle up support for military operations targeting the extremist Islamist group that continues to hold sway over large areas of eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq.
“I can tell you right here and now that we have countries in this region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes, if that is what it requires,” Kerry told CBS’s Face the Nation from Cairo on Sunday.
Kerry’s interview appeared to be part of an all-out media blitz by the Obama Administration following the U.S. President’s pledge last Wednesday to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS.
However, after issuing plenty of tough talk earlier this week, the White House has continued to remain adamant that no major deployment of U.S. combat troops will be used against the radical Sunni militants on the ground.
Instead, the Administration hopes to recruit and bolster Sunni proxy forces in the Middle East, including opposition groups currently fighting inside Syria.
“Ultimately, to destroy [ISIS], we do need to have a force, an anvil against which they will be pushed, ideally Sunni forces,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. This was the thinking, he said, behind the “proposal that the President has sent to Congress to authorize us to train and equip the Syrian opposition that’s on the ground fighting [ISIS] today.”
During an address on Sunday, President Barack Obama called for “a targeted, relentless counterterrorism campaign against [ISIS] that combines American airpower, contributions from allies and partners, and more support to forces that are fighting these terrorists on the ground.”
However, the President’s critics in Congress blasted the White House for failing to mobilize the necessary force to confront ISIS.
“You cannot create an army to destroy [ISIS] without an American component,” said Senator Lindsey Graham during an interview on Fox News. “This is war.”
Meanwhile, ISIS posted another video over the weekend showing the third brutal execution of a Western hostage, British aid worker David Haines.
Following the release of the video, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the murder of Haines — calling ISIS the “embodiment of evil.” Cameron went on to vow to “hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice, no matter how long it takes.”

Airstrikes against ISIS in Syria ‘illegal’ without Assad’s OK – report

Published time: September 15, 2014 15:56
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad heads a meeting of his new cabinet in Damascus August 31, 2014. (Reuters/Handout via Reuters)
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad heads a meeting of his new cabinet in Damascus August 31, 2014. (Reuters/Handout via Reuters)

UK airstrikes against Islamic State extremists in Syria could be illegal without the agreement of President Bashar Assad’s government or a UN Security Council resolution, according to a House of Commons Library assessment.
Prime Minister David Cameron will recall MPs to parliament to outline his plans for deeper military intervention in Iraq and Syria when he returns from the UN General Assembly in New York next week.
The House of Commons Library paper, however, says air strikes in Syria “will be difficult to justify legally” unless the Syrian president requests assistance from Western powers, as Iraqi President Fuad Masum has.
“Any action against ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq will be inadequate without action against them in Syria and the rhetoric against the Assads may be toned down,” the paper notes.
“Action in Syria will be difficult to justify legally without a request for assistance from the Assad government, and it is unlikely that the West could be seen to be responding to such a request.
“The British government has said that any action in Syria will comply with international law, and the most likely way to achieve this would be to claim that military action is for humanitarian purposes, using the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. This remains controversial, however, without a United Nations Security Council resolution to authorize it.”
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was in Paris on Monday, meeting leaders and foreign ministers from over 30 countries to discuss plans to fight ISIS militants.
The summit focused on US plans to weaken the militant group by offering military support for Iraq, together with plans to stop foreign fighters joining the group, cutting its funding streams and trying to counter its ideology.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he speaks during a visit to the Scottish Widows building in Edinburgh, Scotland September 10, 2014. (Reuters/Andrew Milligan)
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he speaks during a visit to the Scottish Widows building in Edinburgh, Scotland September 10, 2014. (Reuters/Andrew Milligan)
Cameron says he has not “ruled anything out” and Britain could still take part in US-led airstrikes.
A number of British MPs have voiced concerns about UK military intervention in Syria, as they fear such action could be construed as tacit support for the Assad government.
Former British defense chief, Lord Richards, however, recently said the UK should work with Assad, Moscow and Iranian authorities to defeat Islamic State.
His statement followed a previous call from Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who urged the UK government to collaborate with Damascus to defeat jihadist militants in Syria and Iraq.
The UK’s hardening line on military intervention follows the execution of British aid worker David Haines, who had been held hostage by Jihadists since his abduction last year.
The masked killer in the latest video, which appeared on the Internet on Saturday, claims that Haines was killed because of Cameron’s pledge to arm Kurdish forces to battle the jihadist group.
The militants also threatened to kill a second British hostage, Alan Henning.
Cameron said he has an “iron determination” to destroy ISIS and pledged to “hunt down” Haines’s killers.
“David has been murdered in the most callous and brutal way imaginable by an organization which is the embodiment of evil,” Cameron said on Sunday. “We will hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice no matter how long it takes.”

‘Stick your license fee up your a***!’ Pro-indy Scots denounce ‘liar’ BBC journo in protest

Published time: September 15, 2014 13:14
Edited time: September 15, 2014 15:51
'Yes' campaign people gather for a rally outside the BBC in Glasgow, Scotland September 14, 2014. (Reuters/Paul Hackett)

Pro-independence Scots rallied outside the BBC’s Glasgow headquarters on Sunday to protest the public broadcaster’s pro-union “bias” and demand the resignation of political editor Nick Robinson.
Waving Scottish flags and “Yes Scotland” banners, protesters chanted, “You can stick your license fee up your a***!” while banners read “Auntie Beeb, anti-democracy, anti-truth”.
One giant banner read: “Sack Nick ‘The Liar’ Robinson, a totally corrupt journalist, these days typical of the British Biased Corporation.”
View image on Twitter
Bank Governor released on house arrest, Inspector General remains in prison
Bank Governor released on house arrest, Inspector General remains in prison
The Court of Appeal gave a “house arrest” security measure for the former Governor of the Bank of Albania, Ardian Fullani. The former Inspector General, Elivar Golemi, remained in prison. The Court also issued an arrest measure for another employee.

Fullani declared in Court that his work was led only by the law, dedication and passion. “I worked for raising an institution based on the law, a model for central and european banks. The theft was a low and isolated act. As soon that it was identified, we cooperated with the Prosecution”, Fullani declared.

The defensive lawyer of Fullani, Maks Haxhia, declared that his client has not violated the law. “The law says that the Bank should function even without the Deputy Governor”, Haxhia says. For the journalists he said that he wasn’t happy with the Court decision, claiming that Fullani should have been free.

The former Governor was discharged by the Commission of Economy, a decision that will be voted in Parliament on September 18th. Fullani’s arrest was seen as something positive by the public opinion, who asked for his resignation. It was also seen as positive due to the fact that during eight years of right wing rule, despite the promises for “clean hands” and fight against corruption, there have been no arrests for corruption higher than the level of a Deputy Minister.

Fulani is being investigated for other violations. Only a few days ago, the Supreme State Audit has filed another case for abuses with public funds.

‘No extra security for Pope in Albania’

iol pic wld Vatican Weddings~3
Vatican City -
The Vatican says it's not taking any extra security measures to protect Pope Francis during his upcoming trip to majority Muslim Albania despite reports of Islamic militants returning from the Mideast.
Vatican spokesman the Reverend Federico Lombardi said on Monday that Francis would use the same open-topped vehicle he uses in St Peter's Square when he greets crowds in Tirana on Sunday.
Francis has said he wanted to visit Albania to highlight the rebirth of Christianity that was wiped out during communist rule, and to showcase how Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims are working together to govern the country.
Lombardi said that while there is general concern about the Islamic State threat, “there are no specific threats or risk that would change the pope's behaviour or the way the trip is organised.” - Sapa-AP

Serbs in Bosnia "closely watching" Scottish referendum

Bosnian Serbs are "closely watching Scotland's independence referendum," the French agency AFP is reporting on Monday.
According to this, they are hoping that if Scots vote to break away from Britain "it would set a precedent that could boost their own chances of proclaiming a separate state."
President of the Serb entity, Serb Republic (Republika Srpska, RS) Milorad Dodik "has not hesitated to evoke the spectre of separation," in the wake of Crimea split from Ukraine and joined Russia following a disputed referendum in March, said the agency, and quoted him as saying:

"We are following what is going on in Italy (South Tyrol), in Scotland and even in Catalonia. These are crucial experiences for the RS."

But according to the article, "In multi-ethnic Bosnia, with the bloody legacy of its 1992-1995 war during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, observers say talk of independence also raises the danger of a new armed conflict."

The article noted that Serbs boycotted Bosnia's 1991 referendum to break away from Yugoslavia which was successful thanks to the votes of Muslims and Croats, but that the independence came after a war that broke out in 1992 "pitting Serbs against Muslims and Croats" and claiming more than 100,000 lives.

The peace agreement reached in Dayton, Ohio in 1995 created the Serb entity, and the Muslim-Croat Federation (FBiH), both described as "highly autonomous and inked by a loose central government in charge of foreign matters, finance and defense."

To this day many Serbs have never really accepted the new post-war Bosnian state, despite the level of autonomy they have in the RS, said the French agency, and quoted Miloš Šolaja, professor of international relations at the University of Banja Luka:

"If a referendum was organized tomorrow, most of the Serbs would be in favor of independence. The RS has gradually become a solid political entity that most of its inhabitants, Serbs, identify with."

Šolaja was also quoted as saying that he thought "secession was not realistic at this moment" but that the RS is "de facto already a state given its huge statehood attributes."

Ahead of the October 12 elections Dodik made talk about independence "part of his campaign speeches," while the main Muslim party, the SDA, said that "Bosnia will never be put into question."

High Representative Valentin Inzko, however, was quoted as saying that "the country's constitution allows no possibility for either entity to secede":

Radio Free Europe analyst Dragan Štavljanin told AFP that Dodik's statements "amount to electoral rhetoric," but added there would be "a much stronger reaction if the threat of independence became more concrete."

"I believe that it could not happen without a new war in Bosnia," he said, and added that "such a conflict would risk attracting Muslim extremists who, as they did in the 1990s, would come to help fellow Muslims in Bosnia."

The agency also quoted Hajrudin Caluk, "a Muslim and Bosnian war veteran," as saying that "Serb separatist politics paralyse the functioning of the state," and an unnamed European diplomat in Sarajevo who said the situations in Bosnia and Britain were "completely different as the September 18 Scottish referendum was to be held with the consent of the British government."

Will Scottish Independence Give Putin Pretext to Annex Eastern Ukraine?

Scottish independence would be a disaster for NATO, putting the UK nuclear deterrent in jeopardy. It would also put into question national borders all over Europe, including Catalonia, Belgium, France's Brittany and Corsica, Italy's South Tyrol -- and Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in 2008 that Kosovo's independence "would be the beginning of the end for Europe."
Crimea's recent secession from Ukraine was justified with a reference to "the Kosovo precedent," which Putin pointed out, "our Western partners created with their own hands."
This Thursday, Scotland will be holding a referendum on independence. Polls predict that it may go either way; a narrow victory for those who want Scotland to become an independent nation or for those who want it to remain a part of the United Kingdom. While in most European capitals, governments are hoping that the 'No' side will win the day, Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin has several reasons to cheer if the Scots decide to go their own way.
Scottish independence would be a disaster for NATO. The Scottish nationalists have made it very clear that they want all British nuclear weapons to be removed from Scottish soil. This will put the UK nuclear deterrent in jeopardy. But Scottish independence is also likely to bring national borders into question all over Europe, including the fragile boundaries of the Ukraine.
The United Kingdom flag, flag of Scotland, and European Union flag flying outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Calum Hutchinson)
Last week, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier broke with Germany's postwar policy of not interfering in British domestic politics. In an unprecedented statement, he made clear that Berlin hoped that the Scots would vote 'No' and Great Britain would remain together. Yet, as an interesting article in the London Daily Telegraph pointed out last Thursday, Germany is one of the European countries that will be least affected by the repercussions of a Scottish 'Yes' vote.
Next November, the Spanish region of Catalonia wants to hold its own referendum on secession. The Catalan separatists will be greatly boosted by a Scottish "Yes." If, on Thursday, Great Britain unravels, then Spain is almost certain to follow. The next domino might be Belgium, where last June a party of Flemish regionalists became by far the biggest party in the country. Scottish and Catalonian independence will pressure Flanders to follow. And that will probably not be the end of it. France has separatist movements in Brittany and Corsica. Italy has a problem with German-speaking South Tyrol, where the majority in the region feels more affinity with Austria than Italy. There are Swedes in eastern Finland and large Hungarian minorities in most of Hungary's neighboring countries. And there are the Russians in the Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin is a shrewd Machiavellian, who aims to reunite all Russian ethnic minorities in former Soviet republics with the Russian Motherland. While NATO has refused to recognize the separation of Crimea from Ukraine, Scottish independence from Britain following a referendum deprives NATO of an important argument.
Peace and stability in Europe since 1945 is built on the sanctity of the postwar boundaries. Although the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia broke up following the fall of Communism in 1989, the principle is still adhered to. The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were three relatively young federations, all of them created after 1918, which broke up along the existing borders within the federation. The only exception to the rule so far, was the independence of Kosovo from Serbia in 2008. It is significant that Kosovo's independence was opposed by both Spain, which feared a precedent for Catalonian independence, and by Serbia's traditional ally Russia, which cited the sanctity of postwar boundaries as one of its arguments. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov even warned in 2008 that Kosovo's independence "would be the beginning of the end for Europe." It was clear that Russia would not hesitate to use the precedent to its own advantage when the time would be ripe to do so.
And so it did. Crimea's recent secession from Ukraine was justified with a reference to "the Kosovo precedent," which, as Putin pointed out when signing the treaty to incorporate Crimea into Russia, "our Western partners created with their own hands."
There is little doubt that if this week's referendum allows Scotland to become independent from Britain, the West loses the argument to deprive Crimea or Eastern Ukraine of the right to become independent after referendums. Kiev, obviously, will have to accept such referendums, because if London has allowed a referendum, what argument could Kiev invoke to refuse it?
If the Scots vote 'Yes' on Thursday, the repercussions will be felt as far as Donetsk. Putin will certainly use the Scottish precedent in an attempt to try to gain the moral high ground in the conflict over Russian ethnic minorities in Eastern Ukraine.
Along with the Russian threat to retaliate to Western economic sanctions by reducing gas supplies to countries such as Germany (which is dependent on Russia for 40% of its gas supply), Poland (54%) and Finland and the Baltics (100%), a Scottish precedent would seriously handicap European governments in their attempts to convince public opinion of the need for a strong stance against Russia.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

 Joint Albanian-British Exercise “Albanian Lion”

In Albania, it is being held the Joint Albanian-British Exercise “Albanian Lion”. The exercise began on August 30 and will end on October 16, 2014.

This exercise is divided into two phases, the “Albanian Lion ‘14”, from 30 August - 16 September 2014, and the “Dragon Hammer ‘14”, 16 September - 17 October 2014.
At the opening ceremony of the exercise at the Air Force Command, in Rinas, attended the Land Force Commander, Major General Zyber Dushku, the UK Ambassador in Tirana, Mr. Nicholas Cannon, the Deputy Commander of the Royal Marines Commando, Colonel Kevin Oliver, and other senior officers, participants at this exercise.

In his speech, The Ambassador of the United Kingdom, Nicholas Cannon said that “the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom and Albania will conduct the fourth exercise “Albanian Lion”. These exercises will enable the Air Force, Navy and Land Force units to practice different scenarios learning from each other’s experiences.” The British Ambassador expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces that made possible the use of their excellent facilities for training of the soldiers and sailors. Ambassador Cannon, speaking about the latest security developments in the world, took the opportunity to thank the Albanian Government for its contribution to the joint operation in support of the Iraqi government. For the British Ambassador, it is an excellent example of NATO solidarity.

“Albanian Lion ‘14” exercise will focus on the conduct of civilian evacuation operations, “Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEOs)” through naval, land and air operations. 600 troops will participate in this exercise and they will perform military demonstrations in Biza, Zall-Herr, Kepi i Palit, Kuçova, Pashaliman and Porto Palermo. The troops will be supported from the sea by four military ships. While the exercise “Dragon Hammer ‘14” will take place in Biza, in order to conduct tactical mountain scenarios. During this phase of the exercise, the base of Kepi i Pali will be used as logistic supply base, as well as for the withdrawal of troops and vehicles participating in the “Albanian Lion 2014” exercise.

Albania: The government is preparing to arrest former Prime Minister Sali Berisha

12 September 2014 | 10:34 | FOCUS News Agency
Albania: The government is preparing to arrest former Prime Minister Sali Berisha
Skopje. Government in Albania prepares arrest of former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Macedonian electronic edition Telegraf announced.

According to information Berisha will be arrested for corruption. With his arrest the government wants to prove that they are prepared to deal with this phenomenon. Fight against corruption and organized crime were the main reason for failure of Albania to get a date to start negotiations for EU membership.
A Solution for Slavo Macedonia?

Albanian, Confederation with Slavs - Creating The Albanian Army!


Last week the state Southslavia of Skopje announced, publicly, the announcement of the so-called "Republic of Illyridas" or Albanian «Ilirida Republik», so that the geographical area inhabited by Albanians to have that name.

The notice stated:

"We Inform the Albanian and international public opinion, including the Republic of Kosovo - RKS, the Government of Albania and all the embassies of friendly countries to Kosovo and Albania that soon Albanians in Illyrida will create their government, which will announce occasionally Republic Illyridas in the name of the union confederation Illyridas - Skopje.

The right of peoples to self-determination is guaranteed by the Atlantic Charter of 1941, the Charter of the League of Nations in 1948, the decision of the UN Resolution 1945 (etc., etc..)


Our application is based on the population numbers of Albanians in FYROM, which covers 40% of the total population of the state.

The decision is of our conference will be notified in the USA, CIA, the United States Senate Committee, Brussels etc.

The 'Republic of Illyridas' will be a factor of stability in the Balkans and in the EU, why not infringe or touching the external borders and aims to create a confederation between the two republics Illyridas and Skopje, which will guarantee democracy, the gender minorities under international law.

Army of Illyridas

According to the conference Illyridas, the 'democracy' will have limited military power with conventional weapons and the National Guard (Guard of the Republic of Illyridas) to respond to situations and challenges against those who would violate the democratic order and threaten the population of the Republic of Illyridas.

The text signed by the commander of the Guard of the Republic of Illyridas, Hamdi Ndrecaj - Panteri,.

Read more:

Nearly 1,000 Frenchmen join jihad, dozens of women and kids 'stopped en route'

Published time: September 14, 2014 16:57
AFP Photo / Karim Sahib
AFP Photo / Karim Sahib
About 930 France’s residents and citizens, including 60 women, are either already fighting in Iraq and Syria or are planning to go there, the country’s interior minister said. Dozens of women and children were stopped on their way there.
“930 French citizens or foreigners usually resident in France are today involved in jihad in Iraq and Syria,” France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Le Journal du Dimanche.
According to Cazeneuve, at least 350 people “are on the ground, including 60 women.”
“Around 180 have left from Syria and 170 are en route for the zone,” he said, adding that about 230 people want to get to the areas with Islamic militants.
Also, at least 36 have already died fighting alongside the ISIS jihadists. These numbers are not included in the 930 figure, he added.
15% of French people back ISIS militants, poll finds
There are those who “claim to have left on a humanitarian mission,” said the minister, adding that this is not true as French authorities “have reliable information that they fought in jihadist ranks.”
Cazeneuve added that “at least 70” French citizens and residents were stopped from leaving to Iraq and Syria after the country’s government received around 350 alerts about alleged jihadists.
Among those who were stopped on their way to jihad were 80 children and 150 women.
Earlier, a parliamentary report stated that about 950 people are fighting within the Islamic militants. Among them 350 are already fighting there, 150 are on their way to war-torn zones, 180 came back to France from Syria and Iraq and 220 are planning to depart, French media reported.

Reuters / Alaa Al-Marjani
Reuters / Alaa Al-Marjani
In June, the authorities arrested Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French citizen wanted in connection with the shooting in Brussels’ Jewish museum in May.
“The perversity of the terrorist jihadist system means that you do not necessarily have to receive a mission to carry out a terrorist act,” said Cazeneuve, answering a question by Le Journal du Dimanche about Nemmouche.
“When people are psychologically destroyed by daily acts of extreme violence, decapitations or other acts of barbarism, all their moral values fall, all their points of reference are wiped out,” he added.
School out for jihad? Two French 15-year olds 'travel' to Syria to fight
In July France introduced stricter anti-terrorist legislation amid growing concerns that its nationals are fighting abroad alongside Islamic militants.
Muslim barred from France’s nuclear sites due to alleged jihadist ties
Individuals who are suspected of terrorism will be banned from traveling abroad for up to six months. The passports of the suspects may also be confiscated for some time or invalidated.
"The objective of this bill is to increase the number of hurdles to discourage those who want to go and to stop them [from] actually going," the Interior Minister said.

Germany authorities raise alarm over growing number of jihadist-related cases

Meanwhile, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice is alarmed over the growing number of cases connected with jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria, reports Der Spiegel.
There are about 140 cases concerning the terrorists and their alleged accomplices in Islamic State.
On Friday, Germany announced a ban on IS in the country.
"The terrorist organization Islamic State is a threat to public safety in Germany," said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. "We don't know what they are doing, but it could be that they will carry out attacks.”

AFP Photo / Karim Sahib
AFP Photo / Karim Sahib
According to de Maiziere, over 400 Germans have joined IS in Iraq and Syria and about 40 have died.
Teenage jihad: 2 Austrian girls stopped en route to join ISIS

More US women joining jihadists

US authorities are investigating a “curious case” of US women joining the IS (Islamic State). At least three families of Somali origin in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area said that women from their community had gone missing in the last six weeks. According to relatives, they joined the jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
Another example shows a 19-year-old US Somali woman who joined the Islamic militants. She first travelled to Turkey and then joined the IS militants in Syria.
According to Mia Bloom from the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, "ISIS is recruiting these women in order to be baby factories. They are seeing the establishment of an Islamic state and now they need to populate the state," Bloom said.

Austria to ban ISIS symbols

On Friday Austrian authorities announced they are planning to ban terrorist-related symbols, starting with the flag of the IS (formerly ISIS) extremist movement, reported the newspaper Wiener Zeitung.
The authorities agreed on an amendment to the Abzeichengesetz (Badge Law), which bans the display of symbols, flags and uniforms of several organizations, primarily Nazis and extreme far-right race hate groups.
According to a spokesman for Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, a final agreement is not yet confirmed, but will be ready next week, when the authorities agree on sentencing options for courts.

NATO members start supplying weapons to Kiev – Ukrainian Defense Minister

Published time: September 14, 2014 14:10
Members of the military special forces sit on an armoured vehicle near Kramatorsk September 4, 2014.(Reuters / Gleb Garanich)
Members of the military special forces sit on an armoured vehicle near Kramatorsk September 4, 2014.(Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

NATO member states have started supplying weapons to Ukraine, the country’s Defense Minister said on TV. His comments came a few days after a similar statement by a Ukrainian presidential aide sparked a diplomatic scandal and a rash of denials.

In an interview with Channel 5, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valery Geletey said that he had held verbal consultations with the defense ministers of the “leading countries of the world, those that can help us, and they heard us. We have the supply of arms under way.”
“This process has begun, and I feel that this is exactly the way we need to go,” the minister said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who attended the Sept. 4-5 NATO summit in Wales, announced that he had negotiated direct modern weapons supplies with a number of NATO member states.
NATO to give Ukraine 15mn euros, lethal and non-lethal military supplies from members
Poroshenko claimed that some of the NATO member states said during bilateral consultations they are ready to supply Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal arms, including “high precision weapons,” as well as with medical equipment.
NATO has had repeatedly said that the alliance is not going to supply any weapons or military equipment to Ukraine. At the same time, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance would not interfere if member states made decisions of their own regarding arms supply to Ukraine.
When Poroshenko’s aide Yury Lutsenko wrote on his Facebook page that the US, along with France, Italy, Poland and Norway, would supply modern weapons to Ukraine, the news prompted all the countries mentioned in Lutsenko’s post to say they had no information about supplies.
Last Sunday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was the first to deny the arms delivery, saying he was not aware of a secret deal to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons.

Paths to War, Then and Now, Haunt Obama

WASHINGTON — Just hours before announcing an escalated campaign against Islamic extremists last week, President Obama privately reflected on another time when a president weighed military action in the Middle East — the frenzied weeks leading up to the American invasion of Iraq a decade ago.
“I was not here in the run-up to Iraq in 2003,” he told a group of visitors who met with him in the White House before his televised speech to the nation, according to several people who were in the meeting. “It would have been fascinating to see the momentum and how it builds.”
In his own way, Mr. Obama said, he had seen something similar, a virtual fever rising in Washington, pressuring him to send the armed forces after the Sunni radicals who had swept through Iraq and beheaded American journalists. He had told his staff, he said, not to evaluate their own policy based on external momentum. He would not rush to war. He would be deliberate.
“But I’m aware I pay a political price for that,” he said.
His introspection that afternoon reflected Mr. Obama’s journey from the candidate who wanted to wind down America’s overseas wars to the commander in chief who just resumed and expanded one. For Mr. Obama, that spring of 2003, when President George W. Bush sent troops to topple Saddam Hussein, has framed his own presidency. He has spent nearly six years trying to avoid repeating it.
In forming a plan to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria using airpower and local forces, but not regular American ground troops, he searched for ways to avoid the mistakes of the past. He felt “haunted,” he told his visitors, by the failure of a Special Forces raid to rescue the American hostages James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff — “we just missed them,” he said — but their subsequent murders were not the real reason he opted for war, although he noted that gruesome videos released by ISIS had helped galvanize public support for action.

He was acutely aware that the operation he was about to embark on would not solve the larger issues in that region by the time he left office. “This will be a problem for the next president,” Mr. Obama said ruefully, “and probably the one after that.” But he alternated between resolve as he vowed to retaliate against President Bashar al-Assad if Syrian forces shot at American planes, and prickliness as he mocked critics of his more reticent approach to the exercise of American power.

“Oh, it’s a shame when you have a wan, diffident, professorial president with no foreign policy other than ‘don’t do stupid things,’ ” guests recalled him saying, sarcastically imitating his adversaries. “I do not make apologies for being careful in these areas, even if it doesn’t make for good theater.”
Mr. Obama went on to reveal his thoughts on challenges he faces in combating the threat from ISIS. He expressed his frustration with the French for paying ransoms to terrorists, asserted that Americans are kidnapped at lower rates because the United States does not, resisted the idea of Kurdistan’s breaking away from Iraq and even speculated on what he would have advised ISIS to do to keep America out of the war in the region.

This account of Mr. Obama’s thinking as he arrived at a pivotal point in his presidency is based on interviews with 10 people who spoke with him in the days leading up to his speech Wednesday night. In quoting his private remarks, the people were recalling what he said from their best memories.
The president invited a group of foreign policy experts and former government officials to dinner on Monday, and a separate group of columnists and magazine writers for a discussion on Wednesday afternoon. Although three New York Times columnists and an editorial writer were among those invited to the second session, this account is drawn from people unaffiliated with The Times, some of whom insisted on anonymity because they were not supposed to share details of the conversations.
The president they described was calm and confident, well versed on the complexities of the ISIS challenge and in no evident rush to end the discussions. A briefing book sat in front of him during the second of the sessions, but he never opened it. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Secretary of State John Kerry joined him for the dinner, and Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, and Susan Rice, the national security adviser, sat in on the meeting with the journalists, but none of them said very much.

Mr. Obama was relaxed enough, as he discussed the array of foreign policy crises facing him, that at one point he ridiculed President Vladimir V. Putin’s rationale for intervening in Ukraine to protect Russian speakers by saying the United States should intervene in Mexico to protect enclaves of Americans. When a writer jokingly asked if he was announcing plans to invade Mexico, he laughed and said no, Canada, because it has more oil.

The guests came away with different impressions; some said they thought he still seemed ambivalent about the course he was taking in Iraq and Syria, while others said he appeared at peace.
“It’s fair to say when the president imagined where he’d be in this sixth year, I doubt he expected to be here,” said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Bush administration official who was among the guests at the dinner Monday. “But he’s been forced to react to events here.”

Jane Harman, a former Democratic congresswoman from California who now heads the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said she thought Mr. Obama had evolved. “He was all in,” she said. “I don’t know what the definition of reluctant is, but I certainly think he’s totally focused, this man at this time.”
If his thinking has evolved, Mr. Obama admitted no errors along the way. While some critics, and even his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, have faulted him for not arming moderate Syrian rebels years ago, Mr. Obama does not accept the premise that doing so would have forestalled the rise of ISIS.
“I have thought that through and tried to apply 20-20 hindsight,” he told some of his guests, as one recalled. “I’m perfectly willing to admit they were right, but even if they were right, I still can’t see how that would have changed the situation.”
He defended his decision to wait to approve airstrikes until last month in Iraq and last week in Syria, saying he wanted first to force Iraq to replace its government with a more inclusive coalition that could draw disaffected Sunnis away from supporting ISIS and take on the task of combating it.
But while Mr. Obama sees bolstering the new Iraqi government as his path to ultimate success on that side of the border, he struck his guests as less certain about the endgame on the Syrian side, where he has called for Mr. Assad to step down and must now rely on the same moderate Syrian rebels he refused to arm in the past.
Mr. Obama acknowledged it would be a long campaign, one complicated by a dearth of intelligence about possible targets on the Syrian side of the border and one that may not be immediately satisfying. “This isn’t going to be fireworks over Baghdad,” he said.

Asked by one of the columnists what he would do if his strategy did not work and he had to escalate further, Mr. Obama rejected the premise. “I’m not going to anticipate failure at this point,” he said.
He made clear the intricacy of the situation, though, as he contemplated the possibility that Mr. Assad might order his forces to fire at American planes entering Syrian airspace. If he dared to do that, Mr. Obama said he would order American forces to wipe out Syria’s air defense system, which he noted would be easier than striking ISIS because its locations are better known. He went on to say that such an action by Mr. Assad would lead to his overthrow, according to one account.

Mr. Obama dwelled on the killings of the two American journalists, Mr. Foley and Mr. Sotloff, telling guests that he had authorized the Pentagon to develop a rescue attempt this summer on the same day the matter was brought to him. It was conducted within days and executed flawlessly, he said. He noted that the United States does not pay ransom to terrorists, but remarked with irritation that President François Hollande of France says his country does not, when in fact it does.

Mr. Obama had what guests on Wednesday afternoon described as a bereft look as he discussed the murders of Mr. Foley and Mr. Sotloff, particularly because two other Americans are still being held. Days later, ISIS would report beheading a British hostage with another video posted online Saturday.
But the president said he had already been headed toward a military response before the men’s deaths. He added that ISIS had made a major strategic error by killing them because the anger it generated resulted in the American public’s quickly backing military action.

If he had been “an adviser to ISIS,” Mr. Obama added, he would not have killed the hostages but released them and pinned notes on their chests saying, “Stay out of here; this is none of your business.” Such a move, he speculated, might have undercut support for military intervention.
It was clear to the guests how aware Mr. Obama was of the critics who have charged him with demonstrating a lack of leadership. He brought up the criticism more than once with an edge of resentment in his voice.
“He’s definitely feeling it,” said one guest. At one point, Mr. Obama noted acidly that President Ronald Reagan sent Marines to Lebanon only to have hundreds of them killed in a terrorist attack because of terrible planning, and then withdrew the remaining ones, leaving behind a civil war that lasted years. But Reagan, he noted, is hailed as a titan striding the earth.
“He’s not a softy,” Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and attended the dinner Monday, said of Mr. Obama. “I think part of the problem with some of his critics is they think he’s a softy. He’s not a softy. But he’s a person who tries to think through these events so you can draw some long-term conclusions.”
Mr. Haass said attention to nuance was a double-edged attribute. “This is someone who, more than most in the political world, is comfortable in the gray rather than the black and white,” he said. “So many other people in the political world do operate in the black and white and are more quote-unquote decisive, and that’s a mixed blessing. He clearly falls on the side of those who are slow or reluctant to decide because deciding often forces you into a more one-sided position than you’re comfortable with.”