ABC NEWS, CNN (USA), BBC NEWS (UK),
WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has recognized the leading Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the country's people.
"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Barack Obama said in interview with ABC News on Tuesday night.
"So we will provide them recognition and obviously with that recognition comes responsibilities on the part of that coalition," he said. "It is a big step," President Obama added.
The statement came as foreign ministers from 70 countries are meeting today in Morocco to discuss the situation in Syria.
The UK, France, Turkey and Gulf states have already given their recognition after the coalition group was formed at a meeting of opposition representatives which took place in Qatar last month.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the US had decided to place all its bets on the coalition achieving an "armed victory," writes BBC News.
Russia has been supporting Bashar al-Assad's regime since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011.
Obama's announcement follows his administration's blacklisting of a militant Syrian rebel group -the al-Nusra Front- with links to al-Qaida as the US is trying to blunt the influence of extremists amongst the opposition.
The US state department estimates that the group is responsible for more than 500 violent attacks in major Syrian cities in the past year.
"Not everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with," Obama said. "There are some who, I think, have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-US agenda, and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements."
Activists say more than 40,000 people have died in the conflict. More than half a million Syrians have now fled to neighboring countries, according to the UN's refugee agency.
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Welcome to Wednesday, where the first war crimes trial against a Russian soldier since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine gets underway in Kyiv, Kim Jong-un slams North Korean officials’ response to the coronavirus outbreak and Mexico’s National Registry of Missing People reaches a grim milestone. Meanwhile, Ukrainian news outlet Livy Bereg looks at the rise of ethnic separatism across Russia’s federal regions.
[*Choctaw, Native American]
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• Man pleads guilty in first Russia war crimes trial: The first war crimes trial of a Russian soldier begins in Kyiv today. The 21-year-old has pleaded guilty of shooting an unarmed 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian while he spoke on the phone.
• Mariupol defenders fate in limbo: At least 694 Ukrainian fighters who were holed up at the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol have surrendered in the past 24 hours. It is unclear what will befall the fighters, 1,000 in total, who were sent to a prisoner camp in Russian-controlled territory in Donbas.
— Read all the latest at War in Ukraine, Day 84 —
• India top court frees ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi's killer: The Indian Supreme Court has released AG Perarivalan, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1991 for taking part in the suicide bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and 14 others. Perarivalan has always claimed his innocence.
• China Eastern plane crash likely intentional: U.S. investigators suggest that the crash of the China Eastern plane in March was caused by someone in the cockpit who put the plane into a nosedive. The Boeing 737-800 plunged inexplicably into a mountainside in southern China, killing all 132 people onboard. Chinese authorities deny that the crash was deliberate.
• Kim Jong-un blames COVID outbreak on “lazy” officials: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has condemned the negligence and laziness of state officials who did not do enough to contain the spread of the pandemic. The country reported its first ever COVID-19 case last week, which rose to 1.72 million cases and 62 deaths.
• Netflix job cuts: Netflix has decided to let go 150 (2%) of its employees, most of them in the U.S., as the company suffers from a drastic decline in subscribers since the start of the year. The streaming giant has been looking for ways to cope with its slowing revenue growth, including cracking down on password sharing.
• Spain approves menstrual leave bill: The Spanish government cabinet has approved a bill allowing workers with severe period pain to take medical paid leave financed by the state. If the bill is approved by the Spanish parliament, it would become the first country in Europe to grant such leave.
“Wheat, a luxury good,” titles Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung, reporting on prices of wheat that hit a new record high in Europe, jumping to 435 euros ($453) per ton, up from the previous record of 422 euros last week. Prices have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which previously accounted for 12% of global exports.
Mexico has recorded more than 100,000 people as missing or disappeared since 1964, according to new data from the Interior Ministry's National Registry of Missing People — with the figure rising by 20,000 in the past two years alone. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said only 35 of disappearances registered have led to a conviction.
Fall of the empire? Ethnic separatism on the rise in Russia
Far from being a unified state, Russia is full of federal subjects — many of which have spawned separatist movements. Moscow, far from Siberia or the Caucasus and focused on Ukraine, is finding it harder to contain them, writes Pavel Lysyansky in Ukrainian news outlet Livy Bereg.
🇷🇺➗ The Russian Federation consists of 85 federal subjects. Each one has its own head, a Parliament and Constitutional Court. The system is an attempt made in Soviet times to solve the problem of the country's ethnic and economic diversity by forming national republics. So, the population of the Russian Federation does not consider a federal center or federation as a core value. For that reason, in some territories people may perceive their separation from Russia as quite possible.
🤝 In the Russian regions, traditionally inhabited by Muslim ethnic groups, Islamic radicalism and ethno-national separatism are closely related. For example, in the Russian Altai in southern Siberia, the idea of creating a common ethnic state of all Turkic peoples is widespread. Siberian regional separatism is also actively developing near Russia. It is based on Siberian Russians as a distinct nation suppressed by the federal center and the European part of the Russian Federation.
💥 Since the Kremlin launched the large-scale military aggression against Ukraine, socio-economic and political tensions have been growing in Russia, increasing the probability of a revolutionary situation. Russian political and business elites in the regions are not consolidated in solving general national problems because some of them have long been waiting for the possibility of confederalism or separatism processes with the subsequent secession of some territories.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
We are in total political isolation and the whole world is against us.
— Former Russian colonel and military analyst Mikhail Khodarenov publicly criticized Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Russian state TV and conceded that the country is losing in Ukraine, adding “An armed conflict with Ukraine is not in Russia’s national interest.”
✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger
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