Connect with us

World

U.S. considers air strikes on Iraq, holds talks with Iran

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

U.S. considers air strikes on Iraq, holds talks with Iran | Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

U.S. considers air strikes on Iraq, holds talks with Iran
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: President Barack Obama considered options for military action to support Iraq’s besieged government on Monday, and U.S. and Iranian officials held talks to stabilise the region, which has been roiled by the advance of Sunni rebels toward Baghdad.

Obama, who was being presented with recommendations from his top national security advisers on Monday evening, has made U.S. action contingent on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s taking steps to broaden his Shi’ite-dominated government.

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have routed Baghdad’s army and seized the north of the country in the past week, threatening to dismember Iraq and unleash all-out sectarian warfare with no regard for national borders.

The fighters have been joined by other armed Sunni groups that oppose what they say is oppression by Maliki. The United Nations human rights chief said forces allied with ISIL had almost certainly committed war crimes by executing hundreds of non-combatant men in Iraq over the past five days.

U.S. and Iranian officials discussed the crisis in Vienna on the sidelines of separate negotiations about the Iranian nuclear program, the two sides each said. Both ruled out military cooperation.

A U.S. official said the talks did not include military coordination and would not make “strategic determinations” over the heads of Iraqis.

“Iran is a great country that can play a key role in restoring stability in Iraq and the region,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters. But he added: “Military cooperation was not discussed and is not an option.”

Any joint action between the United States and Iran to help prop up their mutual ally in Baghdad would be unprecedented since Shi’ite Iran’s 1979 revolution, a sign of the alarm raised by the lightning insurgent advance.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the advance an “existential threat” for Iraq. Asked if the United States could cooperate with Tehran against the insurgents, Kerry told Yahoo News: “I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive.”

As for air strikes: “They’re not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important,” he said. “When you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that. And you do what you need to do if you need to try to stop it from the air or otherwise.”

Iran has longstanding ties to Maliki and other Shi’ite politicians who came to power in U.S.-backed elections.

POINT MAN

In Baghdad, Brett McGurk, the State Department’s point man on Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft, met with Maliki on Monday, U.S. officials said. The meeting is part of a U.S. effort to prod Maliki to govern in a less sectarian manner.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said President Barack Obama had not yet decided on political demands to be presented to Maliki.

ISIL seeks a caliphate ruled on medieval Sunni Muslim precepts in Iraq and Syria, fighting against both Iraq’s Maliki and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, another ally of Iran. It considers Shi’ites heretics deserving death and has boasted of massacring hundreds of Iraqi troops who surrendered to it last week.

Its uprising has been joined by tribal groups and figures from Saddam’s era who believe Maliki is hostile to Sunnis.

ISIL fighters and allied Sunni tribesmen overran another town on Monday, Saqlawiya, west of Baghdad, where they captured six Humvees and two tanks.

Eyewitnesses said Iraqi army helicopters were hovering over the town to provide cover for retreating troops.

A security officer said he saw a helicopter that was shot down by an anti-aircraft machine gun. There was no official comment from the government.

Overnight, the fighters captured the city of Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq, solidifying their grip on the north.

“Severe fighting took place, and many people were killed. Shi’ite families have fled to the west and Sunni families have fled to the east,” said a city official.

Tal Afar is near Mosul, the north’s main city, which ISIL seized last week. Fighters then swept through towns on the Tigris before halting about an hour’s drive north of Baghdad.

Iraq’s army is holding out in Samarra, a city on the Tigris river that is home to a Shi’ite shrine. A convoy sent to reinforce troops there was ambushed on Sunday by Sunni fighters near Ishaqi. Fighting continued through Monday morning.

An Iraqi army spokesman reported fighting also to the south of Baghdad. He said 56 of the enemy had been killed over the previous 24 hours in various engagements.

OBAMA WEIGHING OPTIONS

Obama pulled out all U.S. troops in late 2011 and rules out sending them back, although he is weighing other options such as air strikes. A U.S. aircraft carrier has sailed into the Gulf along with a warship carrying 550 marines.

The only U.S. military contingent is the security staff at the U.S. embassy. Washington is evacuating some diplomatic staff and is sending up to 275 support and military personnel to help safeguard the facilities.

The United Nations said it had relocated 58 staff to Jordan.

Potential cooperation between the United States and Iran shows how dramatically the ISIL advance has redrawn the map of Middle East alliances in a matter of days.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate elected last year, has presided over a gradual thaw with the West, including secret talks with Washington that led to a preliminary deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. But open cooperation against a mutual threat would be unprecedented.

SAUDI FEARS

Any rapprochement between Washington and Tehran over Iraq could anger U.S. allies Israel and the Sunni Gulf Arab states. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s main Sunni power, said it rejected foreign interference in Iraq, and blamed Baghdad’s “sectarian and exclusionary policies” for fuelling the insurgency.

ISIL fighters’ sweep through the Tigris valley north of Baghdad included Saddam’s hometown Tikrit, where they captured and apparently massacred troops at Speicher air base, once one of the main U.S. headquarters.

Pictures distributed on a purported ISIL Twitter account appeared to show gunmen from the Islamist group shooting dozens of men, unarmed and lying prone. Captions said they were army deserters captured as they tried to flee fighting.

ISIL said it executed 1,700 soldiers out of 2,500 it had captured in Tikrit. Although those numbers appeared exaggerated, the total could still be in the hundreds. A former local official in Tikrit told Reuters ISIL had captured 450 to 500 troops at Speicher and another 100 elsewhere in Tikrit. Some 200 troops were still believed to be holding out in Speicher.

U.N rights chief Navi Pillay said corroborated reports showed that soldiers, military conscripts, police and others who had surrendered or been captured had been summarily executed.

“Although the numbers cannot be verified yet, this apparently systematic series of cold-blooded executions, mostly conducted in various locations in the Tikrit area, almost certainly amounts to war crimes,” she said.

Despite Washington’s calls for Maliki to reach out to Sunnis to create unity, the prime minister has spoken more of retaliation than reconciliation.

“We will work on purging Iraq of the tra

— Phuket Gazette Editors

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Find more SE Asian News courtesy of Thaiger.

Broke? Find employment in Southeast Asia with JobCute Thailand. Rich? Invest in real estate across Asia with FazWaz Property Group. Even book medical procedures worldwide with MyMediTravel, all powered by DB Ventures.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs

Avatar

Published

on

Covid-19 vaccine CEOs say 3rd dose may be needed along with annual jabs | Thaiger
Stock photo of Pfizer vaccine via Flickr

The CEO for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines says it is likely that people will need a 3rd dose of the vaccine and to receive it annually. Albert Bourla, told CNBC, that the booster, or 3rd dose, will be needed less than a year after being fully vaccinated.

“A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a 3rd dose, somewhere between 6 and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role. It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus.”

Bourla’s comment echoes that of Johnson & Johnson’s CEO when he stated in February, that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually, just like seasonal flu shots. Both statements reflect the fact that since the vaccine is new, and testing periods are shorter than most vaccines in the past, researchers are still unclear about how long the vaccine will protect against the virus.

Pfizer says that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 91% effective at protecting against the coronavirus and more than 95% effective against severe diseases up to 6 months after the 2nd dose. Moderna’s vaccine, which uses technology similar to Pfizer’s, was also shown to be highly effective at 6 months.

Just yesterday, the Biden administration’s Covid response chief science officer, David Kessler, noted that new Covid variants could “challenge” the effectiveness of the shots.

“We don’t know everything at this moment. We are studying the durability of the antibody response. It seems strong but there is some waning of that and no doubt the variants challenge … they make these vaccines work harder. So I think for planning purposes, planning purposes only, I think we should expect that we may have to boost.”

Late last month, the National Institute of Health started testing a new Covid vaccine from Moderna in addition to the one it already has, designed to protect against a problematic variant first found in South Africa. The variant is similar to that of the UK one that has recently made landfall in Thailand.

Recent findings, by The Lancet, however, have stated that the UK variant, known as B117, has a higher reproductive rate than other strains, and it’s more transmissible. However, it refuted earlier reports that the strain is more severe. Meanwhile, Thailand’s health minister is confirming his commitment to making AstraZeneca the nation’s chosen vaccine.

SOURCE: CNBC

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Continue Reading

Economy

China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020

Avatar

Published

on

China grows 18.3%, the only major economy to grow in 2020 | Thaiger
PHOTO: China - the second largest economy, and only major economy to grow last year.

China’s economy set a record for growth in Q1, 2021, marking an 18.3% jump in year-on-year figures, the biggest quarterly growth in almost 30 years. China only started publishing growth statistics in 1992, and this drastic increase is the fastest growth recorded since then.

The figures, however impressive, are mainly due to what is called a “low base effect” where the change from a low starting point translates into big percentage statistics. Because of the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Q1 2020 figures were dismal, allowing the big gain over the last year.

Quarter to quarter, the last 3 months saw only a 0.6% growth, but in the last quarter of 2020 China recorded an economic boom of 6.5% according to the Chinese government. Still, the figures are admirable, as China was the only major economy in the world to achieve growth in 2020. Most of the planet struggled to contain global Covid-19 outbreaks, crippling economies across the globe. But China, now the second-largest economy in the world, managed a 2.3% overall expansion. Even Chinese officials called the impressive statistics “better than we had expected.”

China has been growing in terms of imports and exports as well, with exports expanding nearly 31% and imports up 38% by price over last years.

SOURCE: CNN

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Continue Reading

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Denmark becomes first country in Europe to ditch AstraZeneca vaccine

Maya Taylor

Published

on

Denmark becomes first country in Europe to ditch AstraZeneca vaccine | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

Denmark has announced that it is abandoning the AstraZeneca vaccine, the first European country to do so, amid concerns about very rare but serious blood clots. The rollout of the vaccine has run into problems in several countries, with its use either temporarily suspended or restricted to older age groups.

When concerns first arose over the vaccine’s rare side-effects, Denmark was the first country in Europe to suspend its use. In Thailand, use of the vaccine was suspended last month, before officials judged it safe to proceed, with Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul going on to confirm it would become the Kingdom’s primary Covid-19 vaccine.

Both the European drugs regulator and the World Health Organisation are standing by the jab, saying the benefits outweigh the risks. However, health officials in Denmark have now decided to ditch it for good.

“Denmark’s vaccination campaign will go ahead without the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Denmark has reported 2 cases of thrombosis (blood clotting) linked to administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine, one of which proved fatal. The blood clot incidents arose after 140,000 people had received the jab. The Bangkok Post reports that 8% of Denmark’s 5.8 million inhabitants have been fully vaccinated and 17% have received their first dose.

The country plans to continue its rollout using the Modern and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Officials say they are confident that the availability of other jabs, coupled with the fact that Covid-19 is relatively under control in Denmark, means the country’s mass inoculation can continue without issue.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has released a statement acknowledging the decision taken by Danish health authorities.

“We recognise and respect the decision taken by the Danish Health Authority. Implementation and rollout of the vaccine programme is a matter for each country to decide, based on local conditions. We will continue to collaborate with the regulators and local authorities to provide all available data to inform their decisions.”

SOURCE: Euro News | Bangkok Post

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Continue Reading
Songkran’s 7 dangerous days: 2,365 road accidents, 277 deaths | Thaiger
Road deaths1 hour ago

Songkran’s 7 dangerous days: 2,365 road accidents, 277 deaths

Officials not worried Thailand remains on US currency watch list | Thaiger
Economy3 hours ago

Officials not worried Thailand remains on US currency watch list

Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals

Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break. | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break.

Covid UPDATE: 1,547 new infections, restrictions start after midnight tonight | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: 1,547 new infections, restrictions start after midnight tonight

No Covid-19 national curfew or lockdown yet for Thailand | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

No Covid-19 national curfew or lockdown yet for Thailand

Covid-19 brings surge in gold and cryptocurrency investment | Thaiger
Thailand8 hours ago

Covid-19 brings surge in gold and cryptocurrency investment

Nightlife venues ordered to close after midnight tonight, nationwide ban on serving alcohol | Thaiger
Thailand9 hours ago

Nightlife venues ordered to close after midnight tonight, nationwide ban on serving alcohol

Covid-19 vaccinations for June still on schedule | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Covid-19 vaccinations for June still on schedule

Thai government hospital staff forced to quarantine after patients lied about Covid-19 contacts | Thaiger
Thailand10 hours ago

Thai government hospital staff forced to quarantine after patients lied about Covid-19 contacts

Thailand’s Gulf islands not immune to 3rd wave as infections rise | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Thailand’s Gulf islands not immune to 3rd wave as infections rise

Khon Kaen University terminates well-known American scholar after he allegedly participates in decentralisation workshop | Thaiger
Expats11 hours ago

Khon Kaen University terminates well-known American scholar after he allegedly participates in decentralisation workshop

Songkran road deaths, injuries cut in half thanks to Covid surge | Thaiger
Thailand12 hours ago

Songkran road deaths, injuries cut in half thanks to Covid surge

Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp” | Thaiger
Tourism12 hours ago

Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp”

New restrictions start from midnight tonight (Saturday), more could come later | Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

New restrictions start from midnight tonight (Saturday), more could come later

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4 | Thaiger
Thailand1 month ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism2 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | Thaiger
Phuket2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism2 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23 | Thaiger
Thailand2 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO | Thaiger
Tourism2 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8 | Thaiger
Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Follow Thaiger by email:

Trending