The British foreign office is urgently investigating claims that the radical Islamist group, Ansaru, holding seven construction workers since February have killed the hostages.
Gunmen attacked the Lebanese-owned firm Setraco, which is in the area building a road, in early February. One security guard was reportedly killed in the attack. Initially the suspects were hard-line Islamist militant group, Boko Haram
, which operates in Nigeria. They have launched many attacks, resulting in deaths, during the last year. Boko Haram held to blame for killing at least 729 people, in 2012 alone.
Within a couple of days Ansaru, an Islamist militant group with links to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The group issued a statement which read, "By Allah's grace (we) have the custody of seven persons, which include Lebanese and their European counterparts working with Setraco." The statement continued by saying the kidnapping was, "based on the transgression and atrocities done to the religion of Allah by the European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali."
The British foreign secretary, William Hague
, stayed silent and there was no confirmation if a Briton was one of the hostages, as claimed. News has been scarce until Saturday. Saturday 10:10pm GMT
The BBC evening news reports that the UK foreign office is urgently trying to verify the claim that all seven hostages are dead. Ansaru used the Internet to post claims that all seven hostages died as a rescue mission was launched. For the first time the news reporter said "seven hostages, including one Briton"
. Sunday 12noon GMT
"The group, Ansar al-Muslimeen (widely known as Ansaru), released video stills of some of the bodies and blamed the deaths on a joint Nigerian-British military operation intended to free the hostages. Neither of those governments confirmed the purported operation", reports CNN.
The UK foreign secretary, William Hague, has made no announcement but it must now be fair to assume that one Briton was among the hostages, which reportedly included women and at least one child. A brief foreign office statement read, "We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in Nigeria and are urgently investigating. We urge the media not to speculate at this extremely sensitive time."
Friday a Special Forces operation resulted in the death of kidnapped British hostage Chris McManus. Chris and Italian Franco Lamolinara were kidnapped in May. The rescue mission was launached as, according to UK PM David Cameron, their lives were in imminent danger. Both hostages died. There are conflicting reports Sunday as to whether these two hostages were caught in cross-fire or executed. Sunday evening British constructin worker Brendan Vaughn is "likely to have been killed" by his captors, said British Foreign Secretary William Hague. He called the murder of Mr Vaughn and the other six hostages "an act of pure cold-blooded murder".
Another failed rescue attempt results in death. Would the outcome have been the same without intervention? Sadly we will never know.
Sources: Daily Mail CNN
This report is going to sound harsh but it is not. It is realistic. British news channels Wednesday ran images of just a few of the refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war. The old, young and vulnerable left homeless due to the ongoing crisis in Syria.
As the images touch your heart remember that it is part of the media bandwagon to ease us into war.
UK foreign Secretary William Hague today pledged an increase in aid to the Syrian rebels, insurgents, opposition, free Syrian army, or call them what you will. The UN is pleading with countries to send aid to help the humanitarian aid effort in Syria but Hague is opting to send military style vests and armoured vehicles. According to the BBC,
The UK is to provide armoured vehicles and body armour to opposition forces in Syria "to help save lives", Foreign Secretary William Hague has said. It will offer millions of pounds in "non-lethal" equipment, including search and rescue, communications, and disease-prevention materials.
Mr Hague said it was a "necessary, proportionate and lawful" response to "extreme human suffering". But some MPs said they feared being drawn into a military intervention.
Will this help the refugees? It may if Syrian President Assad is ousted but that will depend on who or what replaces him. Hague did not have a free ride in parliament and his announcement of aid to the rebels angered some. That will not prevent him acting to help the rebels though. Hague has already said that armoured vehicles and protective clothing for the rebels are only a first step.
Certainly some of the political talk is spin and propaganda aimed at outfoxing Assad but make no mistake Britain is upping its involvement in Syria. Is it about oil, money and power rather than humanitarian aid?
At time of writing a breaking news story by the BBC
that around 20 UN observers are being held by armed Syrian rebels speaks oodles, if it is true. Yet these are the people the West wants to support and fund.
How about sending humanitarian aid and leaving the Syrian civil war to play out? That is without covert interference also.
William Hague and his government ministers expect the British people to endure a new bedroom tax, austerity and more but there is always money for conflict. It will be sold to Brits as indirect humanitarian aid but it is not. Few people in the UK wuld object to direct help to ease the suffering of the refugees, that will not be the case for rebel support.Related reading:Britain's "Nasty Party" pushes for secret courts Syria's Assad accuses Britain of bullying, as Hague considers arming rebelsUK foreign secretary William Hague: Don't mention the Iraq war
The U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry
, is on an 11-day European tour
which begun Monday, with a visit to the UK. On Thursday Kerry and U.K. foreign secretary William Hague
will, along with other leaders, attend a meeting in Rome, Italy. The scheduled meeting will discuss the Syrian crisis.
Representatives of the Syrian “opposition” were invited to attend but until a short time ago vowed they would not do so. As a form of protest, against what they view as the “silence of the world”, opposition members insisted they would not attend.
Within the last couple of hours they have changed their mind.
According to a report in the Guardian the leader of the opposition National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, has persuaded his partners to attend a "Friends of Syria" meeting in Rome, Thursday. This change is due to a promise of increased aid to the Syrian rebels.
John Kerry reportedly called al-Khatib on the phone, promising that by the time they meet in Rome new American support would be on the table. If Khatib and his partners attend Kerry has said other help will be discussed at the meeting.
British foreign secretary William Hague said, "An appalling injustice is being done to the people of Syria, which the world cannot ignore.That is why in the United Kingdom, we believe we must significantly increase our support for the Syrian opposition, on top of our large contributions to the humanitarian relief effort, and we are preparing to do just that.
"In the face of such murder and threat of instability, our policy cannot remain static as the weeks go by, and it is an important opportunity in Rome on Thursday to discuss this with our allies and partners." Opinion:
John Kerry’s Europe
an trip was always going to be about Syria, war, money, weapons, aid and the military. Take your pick which he wants and from whom. With Mali and North Korea up for discussion European leaders face tough talks. Europe is in the economic doldrums, with little money for matters at home let alone elsewhere. Will Americans, Britons and Europeans want to commit financially to the civil war of Syria?
There is no doubt that ordinary people in Syria are hurting but replacing President Assad with “more of the same” should not be an option. After such a long and bitter struggle surely the people deserve the chance of a better future?
Don’t kid yourself that Kerry, Hague and others are simply acting because there is a huge humanitarian crisis in Syria. That is not their real concern. It could be given as a reason for any action that is forthcoming but their main aim is to rid Syria of Assad and weaken links to Russia in the Middle East.
Whilst world leaders procrastinate about Syria, and act selectively, people will continue to die. The Syrian people need decisive action but they need to know their future will not be in the hands of extremists.
Just who are the Syrian opposition? You tell me.
Sources: The Guardian Allvoices The BBC
The Israel and Gaza recent hostilities may be ended, at least for now, but the region remains volatile. Last week Palestine's status in the UN was upgraded
and |sraeli leader Benjamin Netanyahou showed his displeasure by announcing a range of building projects
. The new builds would encroach on Palestinian land and effectively cut that country in two.Whilst many countries in the West voiced concerns over Israel's new building plans no action has been taken, other than by the diplomatic route. That could be set to change.The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague is considering withdrawing the British Ambassador from Israel. He is also looking at putting in place a temporary suspension of trade agreements with Israel. Today Hague and other Ministers will consider what will be the best way forward. Whilst he has not committed to any sanctions or the like yet an announcement is expected.Germany and France have voiced concerns over the new settler homes which Israel plan to build
but as yet have not made further announcements. The US is keeping quiet.Yesterday the UN representative Ban ki-Moon said in a statement that the announcement of new settler homes being built on the controversial E1 district had ended any chance of peace talks resuming.As Europe decides how to respond it is claimed that France will be crucial in coordinating any response. That country is loathe to consider the options which Mr Hague is doing. OPINIONJust one question-What would be the West's response if the roles were reversed and it was Palestine following such a building project on disputed land?Updates will follow................
According to Reuters and other media sources the UK has now officially recognised the Syrian rebels as the opposition in Syria
. Britain has joined countries such as France that have already taken this course. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague made the necessary statement in Parliament today. Earlier today TEK reported on the story that Radical Islamists in Aleppo
Syria had voiced concerns over the opposition. They have rejected them as nothing more than puppets of the west.
You can understand where they are coming from. Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan quickly springs to mind. He holds court over a fragile government. He is politically propped up by the West. Do the people really want him? Only they know.
Currently Karzai is flexing what political muscle
he has over a dispute with the US. He wants the transfer of US built prisons to Afghans to be completed as soon as possible. He claims that the US are back pedaling. In the prisons are a number of Afghans being held by the US forces. Afghan courts have acquitted the 57 prisoners at the heart of this disagreement but the US has failed to follow an agreed timescale to release the prisoners and hand over the prisons.
As the West increases its support for the Syrian opposition the next step could be sending them arms. France has been pushing for this for some time. The UK to date has been reticent to do so. Now it has recognised the rebels as a legitimate opposition weapons could be on the way.
"Her majesty's government has decided to recognize the national coalition of Syrian revolution and opposition forces as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people," Hague told parliament.
The national coalition of Syrian revolution was formed with the purpose of securing foreign aid and weapons to help their fight against Assad and his regime. They remain a farily uknown quantity. Many in Syria believe they are part of a Western Conspiracy.
Islamist rebel groups in the Syrian city of Aleppo say they reject the new Western-backed opposition coalition. In an internet video, they denounced what they called "the conspiratorial project" and said they intend to establish an "Islamist state" in Syria.
The UK Coalition government were not formed with a large enough majority to make such decisive decisions as recognising revolutionaries abroad.. It may not be the will of the British people who after all they are supposed to represent. Our government keeps takng the side of rebels, insurgents by any other name, as long as it is useful for us to do so.
We should all look to Libya in order to see what can happen. Are we gong to help another country during a civil war. Taking sides sets precedents. A civil war is just that not a gkoal conflict. We are in danger though of creating a global conflict. Of course Israel and Gaza's current alrercation could be part of a wider conspiracy.
Perhaps elections in various countries and uprisings are all part of the same plan. Far fetched? Yes of course it is but something is going on. Are we looking at becoming embroiled in yet anther conflict? More money thrown here and there whilst the people of the UK are told to tighten their belts? What is really at stake? We will have our own agenda when all is said and done.
According to the BBC Hague said:
I was impressed with [the coalition leaders'] objectives, with their clarity, with the breadth of their support, their determination to be inclusive in Syria of all communities and groups within Syria”
Hague may be impressed but he is not Syrian. That says it all.
Mr Smith goes to Washington was a classic, black and white movie from an era of relative innocence. These days were are much more cynical about politics and politicians. Whilst deep down most of us hope that somewhere amongst our leaders there is an idealist come realist working for the good of all we tend to know our dream will not be fulfilled.
Cynicism from voters with more than a dash of hypocrisy from politicians appears to be the 21st Century way. Perhaps it always was. But we have to keep hoping that we are wrong.
UK PM David Cameron and US President Obama are due to meet in Washington this week. Mr Obama has an election on the horizon, and so has one eye on November 2012. David Cameron is not in that precarious position but he is the leader of a government which is a Coalition. The UK coalition between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives makes for a bumpy political ride.
At the top of this week's Washington agenda must be Afghanistan. That country lately lurches from one disaster to another, all too often due to NATO foreign troops. That does not mean that there is not fault on both sides. However as NATO are the occupying force it is easy to see why the West must lead by example.
Today, March 13, 2012, UK PM David Cameron, wife Samantha and Foreign Secretary William Hague will set off for Washington. Ahead of their visit to the US the Washington Post
carried a jointly written statement by Mr Obama and Mr Cameron. It reads:"Seven decades ago, as our forces began to turn the tide of World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill traveled to Washington to coordinate our joint efforts. Our victories on the battlefield proved “what can be achieved by British and Americans working together heart and hand,” he said. “In fact, one might almost feel that if they could keep it up, there is hardly anything they could not do, either in the field of war or in the not less tangled problems of peace.”
Keep it up we have — not only winning that war for our survival but also building the institutions that undergird international peace and security. The alliance between the United States and Great Britain is a partnership of the heart, bound by the history, traditions and values we share. But what makes our relationship special — a unique and essential asset — is that we join hands across so many endeavors. Put simply, we count on each other and the world counts on our alliance. As leading world economies, we are coordinating closely with our G-8 and G-20 partners to put people back to work, sustain the global recovery, stand with our European friends as they resolve their debt crisis and curb the reckless financial practices that have cost our taxpayers dearly. We’re committed to expanding the trade and investment that support millions of jobs in our two countries.As the two largest contributors to the international mission in Afghanistan, we’re proud of the progress our troops have made in dismantling al-Qaeda, breaking the Taliban’s momentum and training Afghan forces. But as recent events underscore, this remains a difficult mission. We honor the profound sacrifices of our forces, and in their name we’ll carry on the mission.
Over the next few days, we will consult about preparations for the NATO summit in Chicago, where our alliance will determine the next phase of the transition that we agreed to in Lisbon. This includes shifting to a support role in advance of Afghans taking full responsibility for security in 2014 and ensuring that NATO maintains an enduring commitment so that Afghanistan is never again a haven for al-Qaeda to launch attacks against our citizens.As members of the international community, we have been united in imposing tough sanctions on the Iranian regime for failing to meet its international obligations. We believe there is time and space to pursue a diplomatic solution, and we are coordinating our diplomatic approach with China, France, Germany and Russia, our P5+1 partners. Meanwhile, as the United States imposes its strongest sanctions to date and the European Union prepares to impose an embargo on Iranian oil, the choice for Tehran will be sharpened — meet your international obligations or face the consequences.
As two nations that support the human rights and dignity of all people, we continue to stand with those brave citizens across the Middle East and North Africa who are demanding their universal rights. Having joined in the mission to protect the Libyan people last year, we support Libyan efforts to build democratic institutions and hold free and fair elections this year. We condemn the Syrian regime’s horrific violence against innocent civilians, and we are focused on the urgent humanitarian task of getting food and medicine to those in need. With our international partners, we’ll continue to tighten the noose around Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts, and we’ll work with the opposition and the United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to plan for the transition that will follow Assad’s departure from power.
As two of the world’s wealthiest nations, we embrace our responsibility as leaders in the development that enables people to live in dignity, health and prosperity. Even as we redouble our efforts to save lives in Somalia, we’re investing in agriculture to promote food security across the developing world. We’re working to improve maternal health and end preventable deaths of children. With a renewed commitment to the lifesaving work of theGlobal Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, we see the beginning of the end of the AIDS pandemic. Through our Open Government Partnership, we’re striving to make governments more transparent and accountable.
Finally, as two peoples who live free because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, we’re working together like never before to care for them when they come home. With new long-term collaborations to help our wounded warriors recover, assist in veterans’ transition back to civilian life and support military families, we recognize that our obligations to troops and veterans endure long after today’s battles end.
Our troops and citizens have long shown what can be achieved when British and Americans work together, heart and hand, and why this remains an essential relationship — to our nations and the world. So like generations before us, we’re going to keep it up. Because with confidence in our cause and faith in each other, we still believe that there is hardly anything we cannot do."Opinion:
A good read but is it any more than that? Do these two men believe in their rhetoric? This close bond was said to be disappearing but suddenly it is hot news again? You have to wonder why. We should not however simply belittle all of what is said. The problem is that the article appears to be looking at the world through rose coloured glasses. Through the glasses of politicians with their own agendas and spin doctors. As the UK struggles to financially survive how can we be such a wealthy country for example? If we are how come Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne want to cut, cut and cut again?.The only conclusion you can then draw is that there is wealth out there, but it depends on the governments spending priorities.
With the terrible recent events in Afghanistan,
world economic woes, Israel, Iran
and so much more to cause concern the meeting of these two leaders will not be easy. It has to be more than spin though or else what is the point. It should also be honest and open.
Those of us old enough to have heard of Neville Chamberlain, a UK Conservative PM resigned to history, know all to well that such meetings can be either fruitful or pointless. Chamberlain arrived back from Germany in 1938 full of hope, waving a piece of paper and saying, "We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe."
"My good friends this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace in our time."
As they say the rest is history.