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The Germans have a plan to save Syria
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Germany's defense minister presented to NATO her proposal for a security zone in northern Syria on Thursday, receiving support from Turkey and the United States but also a warning from the alliance's chief it may involve the United Nations.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told allies that an internationally controlled zone would also need Russia, now the dominant power in Syria, if it was to protect displaced civilians and ensure the fight continues against Islamic State militants, diplomats said.
But she insisted at the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels that the task of patrolling the Turkish-Syrian border could not fall to Russia and Turkey alone, telling reporters: "The status quo is not a satisfactory solution."
The idea, the first time Berlin has proposed a military mission in the Middle East, has at least served to steady an alliance that is badly shaken by U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Turkey's ensuing military operation launched on Oct. 9, diplomats said.
Europe were incensed by Turkey's cross-border offensive against Kurdish forces, which once fought along side the United States against Islamic State, while European Union governments have frozen arms sales in protest at Turkey's actions.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, in Brussels on Thursday, said the Turkish incursion was "unwarranted".
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer, center, arrives for a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. NATO defense ministers gather for a two-day meeting to discuss the invasion of northern Syria by alliance member Turkey(Associated Press/Virginia Mayo)
Under Tuesday's deal between Russia and Turkey in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Ankara has agreed to restrict its military operations in northern Syria to the border region. But European allies are still anxious about Turkish plans to remove Kurdish YPG fighters and their weapons from the border.
Ankara views the YPG as terrorists linked to Kurdish insurgents in southeast Turkey.
European allies, who need Turkey's help to prevent Islamic State fighters in Syria fleeing to Europe, have long supported efforts to give the Kurds more cultural rights with the prospect of greater autonomy in the regions where they constitute a majority.
Kramp-Karrenbauer she had received reassurances from Ankara that the Turkish military would not result in a mass population resettlement or ethnic cleansing
"The Sochi agreement has not brought peace and it doesn't offer a basis for a political solution in the long run. We are looking for a solution that includes the international community," Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters.
UN process required?
While few details were available, Turkey, Esper and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the German minister's plan, a rare proposal by a country wary of military missions in the Middle East.
"More talks are necessary, but the Turkish minister said he is open to the proposal," one NATO diplomat said, referring to bilateral talks Kramp-Karrenbauer held with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, who later also briefed all NATO ministers on Turkey's operations in Syria.
A second diplomat said German Chancellor Angela Merkel could discuss it with her Turkish, British and French counterparts at the NATO summit in London on Dec. 4, although there was no date for any meeting.
Stoltenberg said there was no call for a NATO mission in northern Syria and added that his understanding was that there could be a need for "a process in the U.N.".
"Of course it's not possible today to say whether that will be easy or very difficult so I think this is a proposal which has to be discussed more in detail," he said.
Esper said before the NATO meeting got under way that while he had not taken a detailed look at the German proposal, he was supportive, though Washington did not intend to contribute ground forces.
"I think it's fine. I think it is good for those countries who want to step up and help improve security in that part of the world," Esper said.
"It is something that we've been calling on our European partners to do for quite some time: it is to step up and do more," he added. Esper will be meeting his Turkish counterpart later on Thursday.
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.