Middle East Updates Germany Pledges Half a Billion Euros for Syrian Refugees

Germany warns security situation 'critical' due to radical Islam; Iraqi Kurdish fighters to travel to Kobani via Turkey; Turkey PM: Only Syrian opposition and peshmerga can save Kobani.

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Displaced Syrian children attend a class in the Bab Al-Salama camp for people fleeing the violence in the Syria on October 27, 2014 on the border with Turkey.
Displaced Syrian children attend a class in the Bab Al-Salama camp for people fleeing the violence in the Syria on October 27, 2014 on the border with Turkey. Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

Haaretz's latest Middle East analyses and opinions: Israeli citizens fighting for Islamic State: a small, yet worrying trend (Jack Khoury)

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9:20 P.M. Germany warns security situation "critical" due to radical Islam

Radical Islam poses a critical security threat to Germany, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned on Tuesday, saying the number of people capable of staging attacks in the country stood at an all-time high.

People watch as smokes rises from the town of Kobani, on October 26, 2014.Credit: AFP

Besides the risk posed by German jihadists returning from Syria, there was also the danger of violent clashes on German streets as rival extremist groups turn on each other - mirroring the conflicts of the Middle East, he told a security conference. (Reuters)

7:00 P.M. Egypt orders Sinai evacuations to create buffer zone along Gaza border (AP)

Egyptian authorities on Tuesday ordered residents living along the country's eastern border with the Gaza Strip to evacuate so they can demolish their homes and set up a buffer zone to stop weapons and militant trafficking between Egypt and the Palestinian territory, officials said. (AP)

6:20 P.M. Libya getting 'very close' to point of no return, says UN envoy

Factional warfare in Libya is pushing the nation "very close to the point of no return," the U.N. special envoy to the country said on Tuesday, commenting on flagging efforts to bring about a ceasefire and political dialogue.

The North African country has had two governments and parliaments since an armed militia from the western city of Misrata seized the capital Tripoli in August, setting up its own cabinet and assembly.

The internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni had to move 1,000 km (625 miles) to the east where the elected House of Representatives is also now working, effectively splitting the vast desert nation.

Last month, UN Special Envoy Bernadino Leon started an initiative to bring together both sides for a dialogue and ceasefire. But fighting has worsened in the past two weeks in the eastern city of Benghazi as well as in western Libya. At least 130 people have been killed alone in Benghazi, where warplanes bombed suspected Islamist militants on Tuesday. (Reuters)

6:00 P.M. Germany pledges funds for Syrian refugees

Germany is pledging an extra 500 million euros (635 million dollars) to assist refugees from the Syrian conflict, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says.

He spoke at the end of an international conference in Berlin on aid to refugees. The sum, embracing both humanitarian aid and development aid, will be spread over the next three years. (DPA)

2:09 P.M. Iraqi Kurdish fighters to head to Syria via Turkey

A spokesman for Iraq's Kurdish peshmerga fighters says dozens of them will fly to Turkey and from there cross into the Syrian border town of Kobani.

The spokesman, Halgurd Hekmat, says the peshmerga fighters will leave the city of Irbil, in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, later on Tuesday.

Last week, the local Iraqi Kurdish government authorized the peshmerga forces to go to neighboring Syria and help fellow Kurds combat Islamic State militants in Kobani.

A total of 150 peshmerga fighters were authorized to go to Kobani through Turkey. (AP)

2:02 P.M. Bahraini opposition group says suspended for three months

Bahrain's main opposition movement Al Wefaq said on Tuesday authorities had suspended its activities for three months, ahead of a November parliamentary election which the group has already pledged to boycott.

The reported move appeared to be the result of a court case brought by the government in July against the organization, arguing it had broken the law and its own statutes.

Wefaq said two weeks ago it would not take part in the November poll because the elected parliament would not have enough power and because voting districts favored the Gulf Arab kingdom's ruling Sunni minority.

But it still condemned the suspension as "irrational and irresponsible." In a statement in English it said the government appeared to be "moving to destroy political and social life by blocking the people out." (Reuters)

12:41 P.M. Turkey PM: Only Syrian opposition and peshmerga can save Kobani

Turkey cannot be expected to send troops to defend the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani and only Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Syria's own moderate opposition can save it, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

U.S. warplanes have been bombing Islamic State positions near Kobani for weeks, but air strikes alone will not be enough to repel the insurgents, Davutoglu said.

"Saving Kobani, retaking Kobani and some area around Kobani from ISIS, there's a need for a military operation," he said in an interview with the BBC broadcast on Tuesday. But made clear neither Turkey nor Western allies would commit troops.

"If they (international coalition) don't want to send their ground troops, how can they expect Turkey to send Turkish ground troops with the same risks on our border," Davutoglu said. (Reuters)

12:30 P.M. Syria's neighbors risk 'host-country fatigue,' conference hears

Jordan and other countries neighboring Syria are approaching "host-country fatigue" because of huge demand from refugees for housing, schools, jobs and healthcare and scant resources like water, Jordan's foreign minister told a conference on Tuesday.

"We are approaching host-country fatigue in which the limit of our ability to address the needs of Syrian refugees is being tested and has already been reached," Jordan's Nasser Judeh told an international conference in Berlin, adding that his country alone hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees and economic migrants.

The message was echoed by other countries being overwhelmed by Syrian refugees, such as Lebanon and Turkey, and by the UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres, who called it "the most dramatic humanitarian crisis the world has faced in a very long time." (Reuters) Read full story

11:30 A.M. Turkey: Suspicious packages contained chalk dust

An official says the suspicious powdery substance that was sent to six consulates in Istanbul, leading to the hospitalization of more than 30 staff members, was a material similar to chalk dust.

Health Ministry Undersecretary Eyup Gumus said Tuesday that the powder tested negative for biological and toxic agents.

The consulates of Canada, Belgium, Germany, France and the United States were sent envelopes containing the powder Friday, leading to the evacuation of some of the missions and the hospitalization of 25 staff. The Hungarian Consulate received a similar package on Monday and six staff members were hospitalized.

Gumus said the 25 were discharged Monday after authorities determined that the material was non-toxic. Six Hungarian consulate workers were being released Tuesday. (AP)

8:10 A.M. Merkel calls for aid to Syrian refugees ahead of Berlin conference

Germany is urging the European Union to release funds to help the millions of Syrian refugees. The German government on Tuesday is hosting an international conference in Berlin, where representatives of 40 donor nations and envoys from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey were to confer on how to help Syrian refugees through the upcoming cold season.

Speaking on the eve of the conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "I hope a strong signal of solidarity comes from this conference."

There are more than 3 million Syrian refugees from the conflict, mostly in neighboring countries. Another 6 million have been displaced within Syria, making it one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. (DPA and AP)

1:24 A.M. UN rights expert alarmed over surge in Iran executions over past year

A surge in the number of executions in Iran over the past year signals a concerning trend in the country where the human rights situation has continued to deteriorate, a UN rights expert said Monday.

Ahmed Shaheed, special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said that Iran executed at least 852 people in the 12-month period between July 2013 and June this year, including journalists and political activists.

"The concern really is that there is a clear surge in the executions taking place in the country," Shaheed said as he introduced his latest report.

Iran executed 580 people in 2012 and 676 people in 2011.

The special rapporteur noted that the trend was occurring parallel to Iran sending mixed signals about its intentions to amend its human rights policies, including having taken "baby steps" to improve the situation.

Shaheed also said that restrictions on the right to assembly, freedom of expression and women's rights are also rampant in the country.

The comments came two days after Rayhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year-old Iranian woman, was executed by hanging Saturday for the murder of a man she said she had killed while defending herself from an attempted rape.

12:51 A.M. Australian teen features in second ISIS propaganda video

An Australian teenage runaway, dubbed the Ginger Jihadist by the media, has been featured in a second Islamic State propaganda video.

Australian media reported the latest YouTube video of 17-year-old Abdullah Elmir dressed in Arabic garb and clutching an assault rifle on Tuesday as the Senate prepared to debate legislation that would simplify prosecuting Australian extremists who fight in the Middle East.

Abdullah vanished from his Sydney home in June, telling his family he was going fishing.

He appeared in his first Islamic State video last week warning that the movement won't stop fighting until the extremists' notorious black flag is flying above every nation.

News Corp. Australia newspapers reported In the latest video was shot on a bank of the Tigris River in Mosul in Iraq. (AP)

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