US takes custody of IS ‘beatles’
BBC News, the Times, Independent, ITV News and Sky News report that President Donald Trump has confirmed that two of the so-called “IS Beatles” have been taken out of Syria to “a secure location controlled by the US”. El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are accused of being part of an IS cell which kidnapped and murdered Western hostages in Syria. In a tweet, Trump said the decision to remove them from Syria had been taken “in case the Kurds or Turkey lose control”.
BBC News, the Guardian, Telegraph, Times, Independent, Financial Times, ITV News, Channel 4 News, Sky News and Reuters report that Turkey has launched an assault on territory held by Kurdish-led forces. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denied that the US gave Turkey a “green light” for its offensive in Syria, defending President Trump’s widely criticised decision to withdraw US troops from the northern border area. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists the aim is to “prevent the creation of a terror corridor” on the border and create a “safe zone” cleared of Kurdish militias which will house Syrian refugees. The Independent reports that the operation has prompted numerous voices of dissent in Turkey.
The Guardian reports that President Trump has defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and enable a Turkish offensive against US-backed Kurdish fighters by noting that the Kurds did not fight alongside the US in the Second World War. Trump told reporters that the Kurds “didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us with Normandy”.
Reuters reports that Turkey told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that its military operation in northern Syria would be “proportionate, measured and responsible” ahead of a closed-door meeting of the 15-member body to discuss Ankara’s offensive.
The Financial Times reports that European officials have warned that Turkey’s military incursion in north-east Syria risks sparking an IS resurgence. The Guardian reports that women and children in the largest IS detention centre in Kurdish-controlled Syria are expecting to be freed in the wake of a Turkish assault on the area. Reuters reports that US-backed Kurdish fighters have halted operations against IS.
BBC News examines which countries are repatriating their nationals held on terror-related offences by Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria.
In the Times, Richard Spencer examines whether IS still poses a threat in Syria.
Reuters reports that the Arab League will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday, following a call by Egypt for the body to meet over Turkey’s offensive into Syria.
The Telegraph interviews a British woman volunteering with the Kurdish militia: “a British volunteer with the Kurds in Syria has described chaotic scenes on the border of Turkey on Wednesday as civilians fled a Turkish military offensive launch”.
In the Guardian, Simon Tisdall maintains that “Erdogan’s Syrian incursion could be his biggest gamble yet”: “Turkey’s president faces some difficult choices after being given the green light by the US”.
In the Independent, Richard Hall argues that “after Trump’s go-ahead for Turkey to invade Syria, the Kurdish population is in for even more upheaval”.
In the Times, Richard Spencer contends that an “ambitious assault on Kurds in Syria could suck Turkey in for decades”.
In ITV News, John Irvine states that “our Syrian Kurd allies are under fire, this Turkish offensive was made possible by the withdrawal of just a few dozen American soldiers who were positioned close to the border on the Syrian side. They weren’t officially peacekeepers, but their presence was keeping the peace there”.
In the Independent, Patrick Cockburn maintains that “Kurdish soldiers I spoke to feared Trump would be a treacherous ally. But the scale of his betrayal is terrifying”.
In the Guardian, Michael H Fuchs argues that “unless Trump is called to account, expect more policy lurches like on Syria’s Kurds”.
In the Financial Times, Edward Luce says that President Trump is “hastening America’s decline”: “The president is only part of the reason why US power is waning”.
The Financial Times reports that the US has accused Iran of delivering oil to Syria despite denials from Tehran that the Adrian Darya 1 had been sailing to Syrian ports to sell crude in violation of US and EU sanctions.
BBC News, the Telegraph, Times and Independent report that Fifa will “stand firm” in ensuring women have access to all football matches in Iran despite claims that the world governing body could have prevented the death of an activist. Fifa said it has been “assured” by Iranian authorities that women will be able to attend matches. Amnesty has accused Iran of staging a “cynical publicity stunt” by allowing a “token” 3,500 women into Thursday’s international against Cambodia.
Reuters reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has announced a cabinet reshuffle, declared three days of national mourning and said those who shot protesters would be punished as he sought to quell anti-government unrest that has roiled Iraq for days.
Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia’s deputy defence minister has discussed regional security and military cooperation with senior US government officials.
Reuters reports that Saudi Aramco’s chief executive has claimed that there would be no impact on the stock market listing plans of the state oil giant after attacks on its installations last month.
The Times reports that a human rights organisation supported by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has received more than £1m in cash despite being run by self-declared Islamist revolutionaries closely aligned to Iran who say that the West is “the enemy” and Britain a “Stasi state”.
Reuters reports that Afghanistan’s intelligence service has claimed that that a top al Qaeda militant commander was among those killed during an operation last month in Helmand province.
The Times reports that the UN is facing a severe financial crisis after member states failed to pay contributions on time, leaving it unable to meet the cost of wages, including for peacekeeping forces. The US is the only permanent member of the Security Council that has failed to pay its dues. It is in arrears of $750 million to peacekeeping operations out of the total $1.3 billion shortfall.
Two killed in German synagogue attack
All the Israeli media report the attack yesterday on a synagogue in Halle during Yom Kippur prayers. Two people were killed, with two more seriously injured. German media identified the attacker as Stephan Balliet a 27 year old neo-Nazi. According to the commentary in Israel Hayom: “Germany once again has become a place that is dangerous for Jews… Barely a week goes by without violent attacks on Jews, across the entire country. In Berlin alone, more than 400 antisemitic assaults were recorded in the first half of 2019, and not every attack is reported.” Haaretz suggests it: “Wasn’t just an antisemitic attack. It was also an attack against immigration and values that have been identified with Jews.”
Arab-Israeli protestors head to Jerusalem
Israeli media report that thousands of Arab citizens are expected to take part this morning in two protest convoys to Jerusalem that will converge outside government offices demanding action to deal with violent crime in their communities. Also today, members of the Joint List will meet with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and acting Police Commissioner Motti Cohen to discuss the issue.
Israeli politicians support the Kurds
The Times of Israel quotes the head of Yamina, Ayelet Shaked, who said: “It is in the interest of both Israel and the United States, for the security and stability of the region, that a Kurdish state be established…. They are an ancient people that share a special historical connection to the Jewish people.” Similarly Blue and White MK Tzvi Hauser wrote: “As a nation-state of an ethnic minority in the Middle East, Israel cannot close its eyes to the suffering of the Kurds in the region.” The commentary in Yediot Ahronot notes that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah predicted the fate of the Kurds a few months ago, when he said: “The Americans will ultimately sell you on the slave market.” The newspaper adds: “The Iranians realised which way the wind was blowing even before Erdogan did, and upped the ante in the Persian Gulf on the assumption that Trump wouldn’t respond. At the current stage of things, even the last of the Trump supporters, from Riyadh to Jerusalem, ought to realise that the President of the United States is a broken crutch and is gradually spinning out of control.”