‘Stop Islamization’: AfD supporters march through Germany’s Rostock amid massive counter-protests

Supporters of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have staged a rally to protest against the alleged “Islamization” of Germany’s city of Rostock. Thousands of people took part in counter-protests.

The protesters carrying German national flags and holding banners and placards that read “Come, we save Rostock!” and “Stop Islamization!” marched through the city center to the square outside the city hall.

The event was organized by the AfD under the slogan “For our country and our children!” The rally was attended by Bjoern Hoecke, a regional MP and the leader of the AfD branch in the German state of Thuringia. Hoeke is known for his hardline anti-immigration stance and is considered to be one of the leaders of the nationalist wing of the party.

Some 700 people took part in the AfD rally, according to police. The AfD itself put the number of demonstrators at 400, according to the German media. At the same time, the rally sparked a series of counter-protests, which were joined by almost ten times as many people.

As many as seven counter-protests have been announced in the city. Some 4,000 people joined the rallies organized by various anti-fascist groups, NGOs and trade unions. Between 2,500 and 3,500 people took part just in one such protest organized by the groups “Rostock Helps” and “Rostock Nazifrei” (Rostock free of Nazis). A sit-in organized by some 150 counter protestors forced the AfD march to change its route.

Yet all demonstrations were peaceful, although the police reinforced by officers from other German states were ready to deploy water cannons in case of any riots.
The protest came just a day after a far-right pro-Chemnitz group staged another rally in the German eastern city of Chemnitz. The demonstrators were protesting the release of an Iraqi, who was earlier suspected of fatally stabbing a local German man.

The incident triggered a wave of far-right and right-wing rallies, some of which escalated into skirmishes between riot police and protesters, resulting in multiple arrests and injuries. The right-wing rallies were also met with counter protests from the left, who opposed the “hatred” against the migrants. The rival protesters clashed with each other on several occasions.

READ MORE: German domestic spy chief removed, set to take up Interior Ministry post amid migrant row

This time, some 2,000 people took part in the rally, which was mostly peaceful. The rally was met by a 400-strong counter-protest while some 800 police officers were deployed to protect the public order in the city. At the same time, a group of people, who are suspected to be part of the far-right demonstration, reportedly chased a journalist covering the event and attacked a local center, hosting offices of various left-wing organizations, including the local office of the German Left Party. The assailants threw eggs at the doors of the building and broke a window, according to the German media.

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Labour to challenge May on Brexit deal and will trigger general election if it fails – Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn says the Labour party will call for a national election if any Brexit deal struck by Prime Minister Theresa May with Brussels fails to meet his party’s ‘six tests.’

“We will challenge this government on whatever deal it brings back on our six tests, on jobs, on living standards, on environmental protections,” Corbyn  said at a rally in Liverpool, confirming an earlier report that his party plans to call for an election if the deal is defeated in the parliament.  

“And if this government can’t deliver, then I simply say to Theresa May the best way to settle this is by having a general election,” he said.  

On Friday Theresa May demanded that the EU bring to the negotiating table a new set of proposals to break the “impasse,” declaring she will not “overturn the result of the referendum nor will I break up my country.”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain would not “capitulate” to the EU’s demands and urged the bloc to engage with May’s proposals. 

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Ahvaz was ‘soft target’ for terrorists, likely backed by Saudi – Iranian experts

Lower security than capital Tehran and a close proximity to Iraq made the Iranian city of Ahvaz an easier target for terrorists, experts told RT, noting the alleged perpetrators have Saudi backing.

The militants opened fire at the parade because they “wanted to find a soft target,” Foad Izadi, professor of political communication at the University of Tehran, told RT.

“Many ordinary people show up for the military parade… and the attack was indiscriminate,” he said, adding that “four or five children” were among the victims of the incident, which left more than 20 dead and over 50 others injured.

Geography also played a role in Ahvaz being hit by terrorists, Abas Aslani, Iranian journalist, told RT.

“That is close to the Iraqi border and that can be easy for them in order to have better logistics,” he said.

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Iranian soldiers at the scene of an attack on a military parade, Ahvaz © Behrad Ghasemi

Parades dedicated to the end of the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War in 1988 took place in many cities across the country. “In Tehran, the security situation would be stronger,” Izadi said, explaining the choice of Ahvaz as the target.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that Tehran “holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attack.” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later also linked the Ahvaz attack to the US allies in the region as he ordered security forces to swiftly track down the “criminals” responsible for the act and bring them to justice. And the experts said that the accusations coming from the country’s top officials were far from groundless.

“A separatist terrorist group, called Al-Ahwaz [Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz], has claimed responsibility for the attack. This group has been fighting against Iranian soldiers… and killed some in the past, seeing backing from the Saudi side,” Aslani said.

The leader of this group congratulated Saudi Arabia on its National Day and wanted help from the Saudi side against Iran.

Izadi also said that the terror group “is funded by the intelligence services of the countries that are Iran’s enemies – the US, the Israeli regime, the Saudis.” The professor reminded that “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman some time ago said that he would want to take the fight inside the Iranian territory and I think you’re seeing the results of this project today.”

In May 2017, Salman delivered a televised address, in which he did say that struggle for influence between Riyadh and Tehran should take place “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia,” but didn’t elaborate on his words.

READ MORE: Iran blames ‘regional terror sponsors & their US masters’ after military parade attack

There has so far been no official reaction to the Ahvaz attack and the Iranian accusations from Saudi Arabia or Israel.

The experts have said that Tehran will hit back against the group responsible for the attack, and work towards curbing support to the terrorists by foreign intelligence services. The control of the border between Iran and Iraq where security situation is till turbulent will also be tightened, they added.

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Russia’s largest energy companies preparing to substitute petrodollar in settlements

Oil firm Surgutneftegas has joined a list of Russian energy companies that are ready to get rid of the US dollar in favor of the euro and other currencies in international settlements, Reuters reports.

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© Thomas Mukoya

According to a message sent by Surgutneftegas to one of its customers, the oil company wants to “avoid any possible problems with payment in USD,” the news agency reports. “We do not comment on our commercial activity,” replied the company, Russia’s fourth largest by output.

The reported move comes in line with the recent comments from the Kremlin. Last month, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Russia could reject the greenback in oil trade.

“It is not ruled out. We have significantly reduced our investments in US assets. In fact, the dollar, which was considered the global currency, becomes a risky instrument for settlements,” he told Russian TV.

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak has said that the government is considering the possibility of oil settlements in national currencies, especially with Turkey and Iran.

Who else is ready to cut dollar dependence in Russian oil sector?

Gazprom Neft

Surgutneftegas is not the only Russian energy company that is reported to be working to reduce dependence on the dollar. A Reuters source in Gazprom Neft, Russia’s third-biggest oil company by output, said its contracts already have a clause to trade without the US dollar. Gazprom’s oil subsidiary has not commented on the issue yet.

Rosneft

The largest Russian oil company Rosneft is also interested in diversifying. The firm has opened banking accounts in Hong Kong dollars and Chinese yuan. Rosneft has also prepared itself for the shutdown of SWIFT interbank cash transfer services, should Russia be shut out of the system as part of Western sanctions. A Russian equivalent of SWIFT was tested by Rosneft in December.

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Americans save $9 on sushi but aren't ready to demand for affordable healthcare – RT’s Keiser Report

US citizens are joining up to save a few bucks on food, but when it concerns unity over affordable healthcare they call it socialism, says Max Keiser of Keiser Report. He thinks they are brainwashed by the mainstream media.

In this episode of the Keiser Report, the show’s hosts, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, discuss the storm brewing over poor elderly citizens in the US and how Latin America blames the US for Chinese entry into the region.

In the second half, Max interviews Domenic Thomas of Worbli.io, ‘where fintech and blockchain meet,’ about the EOS network and why his company is building on it rather than Ethereum.

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‘Manifestation of hegemony’: China slams US sanctions over its Russian arms deal

China has hit back at US attempts to force it out of multiple billion-dollar arms deals with Russia, with a defense spokesperson stating that Washington has “no right to interfere” in the dealings of two sovereign states.

Wu Qian’s comments come after the US State Department imposed sanctions on Thursday against Beijing’s defense procurement agency, the Equipment Development Department (EED), for its “significant transactions” with Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

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© Damir Sagolj

“The US approach is a blatant violation of the basic norms of international relations, a full manifestation of hegemony, and a serious breach of the relations between the two countries and their two militaries,” Wu said in a notice posted on the Chinese Defense Ministry’s official Wechat account, Reuters reports.

Reiterating a demand made by the foreign ministry on Friday, Wu warned that Washington would face “consequences” if it doesn’t revoke the sanctions immediately.

China’s EED was added to the sanctions list alongside 33 Russian defense and intelligence officials and entities. The Kremlin called the sanctions an attempt by the US to squeeze its main competitor out of competing arms markets.

The US restrictions on China were triggered by two major arms deals agreed between China and Russia – a 2017 agreement for 10 Su-35 fighter aircraft, and a 2018 deal to supply the S-400 air defense system.

READ MORE: President Erdogan: Turkey’s S-400 purchase a ‘done deal’, will get them soon

Beijing seems to be the first export customer of the S-400 to be slapped with US sanctions over its planned purchase of the system after months of failure by Washington to persuade allies to drop interest in similar deals.

NATO member Turkey has regularly refused to adhere to US demands to drop its S-400 purchase. India – a long-time buyer of Soviet defense equipment and a market Western arms firms are seeking to dominate – has also refused to drop its S-400 deal despite hints that it could result in sanctions.

READ MORE: India to go ahead with S-400 deal with Russia despite threat of US sanctions – reports

Even markets long dominated by the US are looking more at Russian-made equipment, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar also mulling a purchase of the system.

Speaking to Russian media this week, Saudi Ambassador Raid bin Khalid Krimli quipped: “I hope nobody will impose any sanctions on us,” upon announcing that Moscow and Riyadh were discussing technical details over the deal.

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Russia turned tide of war when ISIS was about to ‘roll over Damascus’ – top Israeli commander

Russia’s military presence in Syria has effectively turned the tide of war back in 2015, the year Islamic State was about to “roll over Damascus,” the head of Israeli Air Force intelligence said in an interview.

The Aerial campaign Russia started against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in 2015 had “categorically” decided the fate of war in President Bashar Assad’s favor, Brig. Gen. Uri Oron, head of the Israeli Air Force Intelligence, told Haaretz newspaper. He acknowledged the Russians came at the time when Syrian defenses were on the brink of collapse. 

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Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu © Mikhael Klimentyev

“In the summer of 2015 everyone was sure that ISIS was about to roll over Damascus too,” Oron opined. The Russian deployment in Syria “was one of the strongest things to shape reality in the area in recent years,” along with the milestone nuclear deal the six major world powers signed with Iran the same year.

Dozens of Russian warplanes, including the state of the art fighter jets, tactical bombers and attack helicopters, are now stationed at Khmeimim airbase in Syria’s Latakia province. The fortified compound is protected by S-400 air defense systems.

In Oron’s view, the situation is changing rapidly on the ground, and Damascus secured huge strategic wins over the past months after it regained sovereignty over militants-held parts of Syria. “In south Syria, the story is over,” Oron said.

Asked if Russian presence constrain Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) operations, Oron said: “It challenges us. We have to be very precise.” Nevertheless, he stated that does not mean “the IAF only flies in Israeli skies.”

Russia and Israel established a military-to-military hotline to prevent dangerous encounters in Syrian airspace, yet an incident involving both sides still occured just recently.

A Russian Ilyushin Il-20 surveillance plane, with 15 crew on board, was shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile earlier in September. Syrian air defenses were trying to repel an Israeli attack in Latakia province, and the Russian military said Israel’s jets were using the Russian plane for “cover” during the strikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “regret” over the loss of lives and promised to assist in investigating into the incident. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the downing of the plane as a tragedy, but noted the incident “looks like a chain of tragic circumstances, because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet.”

Israel rarely acknowledges carrying out raids in Syria, but recently the Israeli military revealed that it carried out at least 202 attacks on Iranian targets in the war-torn country. A total of 792 bombs and missiles were launched at Syria since 2017, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) informed, saying the strikes were to hamper Iran’s influence in the region. Damascus has repeatedly branded such sorties “a violation” of its sovereignty. 

The intelligence chief casually claimed Tehran is striving to dominate the country, despite Iran says its military advisers are present on Syrian soil upon an official request from the Syrian government.

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Iran: We won’t let OPEC boost production

It’s about that time again. WTI hits $ 70 per barrel and the tweet-rage is back. OPEC does have a meeting in the coming days in Algiers to assess the state of the oil market, and decide on next steps.

But one of the largest near-term challenges for OPEC is balancing the oil market in the wake of lost barrels from Iran – a key factor driving up prices and also a fact that seems to be lost on the American President.

There are no clear solutions for OPEC+ that leave the oil market satisfied while also maintaining group cohesion.

The obvious course of action is to allow for higher production levels. But there is no way to do this while also getting all parties on board. Iran’s oil minister said that any change to Tehran’s allotment would be blocked.

Read more on Oilprice.com: Mexico aims to become the energy hub of Latin America

“I will definitely veto any decision that threatens our national interest,” Bijan Zanganeh said in an interview with reporters from S&P Global Platts and Bloomberg News. “Anyone who says they will compensate for the shortfall in the market is speaking against Iran. This is a 100 percent political statement, not economic.”

Because any OPEC agreement requires unanimous consent, Iran could block any changes to the formal oil production cut deal.

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© Gleb Garanich

Iran still holds a little bit of leverage because the specifics of the June agreement, which called for increased production on the order of one million barrels per day (mb/d), were not hammered out. In all likelihood, Saudi Arabia and Russia would realistically take on a greater share of output, mostly because they are the only ones that have the ability to choose to produce substantially more.

But formalizing those increases is politically tricky. After all, Iran is taking tangible losses because of US sanctions. Those missing barrels have to be made up elsewhere. Saudi Arabia, Russia and a few Gulf States are the only countries that can increase output on a large scale. But even if Riyadh can physically replace the gap left over by Iran, Iran would never vote in favor of such a scenario.

“No consensus on this issue is likely,” Commerzbank wrote in a note.

Nevertheless, a de facto increase in Saudi production in lieu of supply losses from Iran is the only realistic outcome. The end result could be no formal agreement on specific allotments that take into account falling production from Iran and Venezuela. But the shift in market share may happen anyway, whether or not OPEC+ approves it.

It amounts to a sort of co-presidency between Riyadh and Moscow, the two largest producers within the OPEC+ group, but it certainly will diminish group cohesion.

“They are sacrificing OPEC, they are destroying OPEC and slowly, slowly, without directly saying so, they want to gather some names together to create a forum to replace OPEC and manage the market,” Zanganeh said.

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© Nick Oxford

He also said that Saudi officials should fess up to their real motivations. “If they want to produce excessively, we cannot stop them,” Zanganeh said. “There is no forcible instrument in OPEC. But they shouldn’t do it in the name of OPEC. They should come out and say, ‘The US has phoned and told me to increase output. And I have no other way but to do so.’”

Not only are Saudi Arabia and Russia taking on a greater role in the current moment to ensure market stability, but they are also looking to institutionalize the arrangement for the long-term.

In the near-term, the US seems to be counting on Saudi Arabia and Russia, along with American shale drillers, to offset the losses from Iran. Saudi Arabia has added about 400,000 bpd since May, while Russia has added about 300,000 bpd. But covering the accelerating losses from Iran won’t be an easy task. Iran could lose as much as 1.4 mb/d by the end of the year, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. Venezuela could lose another 250,000 bpd.

Saudi Arabia is the only country with the ability to increase production on the scale of what we are talking about here, but any ramp up in production necessarily cuts into spare capacity, which is already at relatively low levels. The oil market will welcome more barrels from Saudi Arabia, but oil traders will nonetheless grow jittery as spare capacity dwindles.

Read more on Oilprice.com: Tesla ‘Headed for the graveyard’ – ex GM boss

Reports from earlier this week that Riyadh was content letting oil prices rise above $ 80 per barrel are perhaps a sign that Saudi officials are acknowledging the challenge of keeping a lid on prices at a time when Iran is seeing significant disruptions. As a result, it won’t be surprising if Saudi Arabia increases output in the months ahead, but that the effort fails to prevent oil from moving higher. 

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

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Iran blames ‘regional terror sponsors & their US masters’ after military parade attack

Following a deadly attack on a military parade in southern Iran, the country’s foreign minister said that regional sponsors of terrorism and their “US masters” are to be held accountable for such assaults.

Top Iranian diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif vowed to respond “swiftly and decisively” after gunmen opened fire in Ahvaz on Saturday leading to multiple casualties. The minister claimed that the terrorists were sponsored and trained by “a foreign regime.”

Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks.

There are conflicting reports on the death toll and wounded in the carnage. Iran’s Irna news agency says that 10 people were killed and over 20 injured. While Tasnim reports the death toll has reached 12. 

According to Irna, the assaults have been claimed by the “Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz” group, but officials have yet to release information confirming that. 

On Saturday, Iran was holding parades in several cities, including the capital Tehran, commemorating the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq conflict.

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