Excerpts: Russia tired of amateurish U.S. hacking claims.Truck bomb in
Egypt's Sinai kills 8 police. Assad prepared to negotiate everything January
+++SOURCE:Naharnet(Lebanon)9Jan.’17:”Russia ‘Tired’of ‘Amateurish’
U.S.Hacking Claims”,by Agence France Presse
SUBJECT:Russia tired of amateurish U.S.hacking claims
The Kremlin on Monday[9Jan] slammed a hacking report by US intelligence as
baseless and amateurish, saying Moscow is growing tired of denying the
Russian government's involvement in US election meddling.
"These are baseless allegations substantiated with nothing, done on a rather
amateurish, emotional level that is hardly worthy of professional work of
truly world class security services," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told
US intelligence agencies on Friday[5 Jan] released a report saying that
Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered a campaign of hacking
and media manipulation to upend the campaign of Democratic presidential
candidate Hillary Clinton.
The Kremlin's comments were the first official reaction by Moscow to the
public report, which was half the length of the classified version presented
to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.
"We still don't know what data is really being used by those who present
such unfounded accusations," Peskov said.
"We are still categorically denying any implication of Moscow and any
accusations that officials or official government agencies have anything to
do with hacking attacks."
"We are growing rather tired of these accusations. It is becoming a full on
witch hunt," Peskov said, echoing Trump's claim ahead of the briefing by spy
chiefs Friday[5 Jan] that the hacking revelations were a "political witch
hunt" aimed at discrediting him.
+++SOURCE:Naharnet(Lebanon)9 Jan.’17:”Truck Bomb Kills 8 Police in Egypt’s
Sinai”,by Agence France Presse
SUBJECT:Truck bomb in Egypt’s Sinai kills 8 Police
FULL TEXT:A truck bomb attack on an Egyptian security checkpoint in the
Sinai Peninsula killed at least eight policemen on Monday[9 Jan], officials
and state media said.
Police officials said a suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with explosives
into the checkpoint in the north Sinai city of El-Arish and gunmen then
opened fire on the security post.
The Islamic State group's Egyptian branch in the Sinai Peninsula has carried
out several such attacks over the past two years.
Eight people were also wounded in the attack, state newspaper Al-Ahram
reported on its website.
Jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the 2013
military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, which unleashed a
bloody crackdown on his supporters.
Most of the attacks have taken place in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders
Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
In November, a car bomb attack on a checkpoint in Sinai killed eight
+++SOURCE:Naharnet(Lebanon)9 Jan.’17:”After Aleppo Victory,Syria’s Assad
Seeks Proposed Talks”,by Associated Press
SUBJECT:Assad prepared to negotiate everything
FULL TEXT:Syrian President Bashar Assad said in remarks published on
Monday[9 Jan] that he was prepared "to negotiate everything" at talks set to
begin in later this month in Kazakhstan, seeking to cast himself as a
peacemaker after his forces' recapture of Aleppo last month.
However the upcoming talks, brokered by Ankara and Moscow, are still in
doubt as Syrian opposition groups have yet to confirm their participation.
In comments to French press from his Damascus palace, Assad also defended
his troops' deadly bombardment of eastern Aleppo, saying the alternative
would have been to leave the city's civilians to the mercy of "terrorists" —
a term the government uses for all opposed to Assad's rule.
Assad questioned the credibility of Syrian opposition groups backed by the
West and Saudi Arabia, which make up the bulk of the armed and political
opposition to his rule.
"There's no limit to negotiations," Assad said. The remarks were carried by
the Syrian state media. "But who is going to be there from the other side,
we don't know yet. ... The viability of the conference depends on that."
Past Syrian peace talks have run aground on the question of Assad's future
and whether he is to continue as president, with the opposition insisting
his departure is the precondition for any reforms.
Assad insisted the matter could only be resolved through a constitutional
"My position is related to the constitution," he said. "If they want to
discuss this point, they need to discuss the constitution. You need a
referendum for every (constitutional amendment). This is one of the points
that could be discussed in the meeting" in Kazakhstan.
The talks are scheduled to begin in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Jan. 23.
They follow a lengthy rapprochement between Russia, a key backer of Assad,
and Turkey, a main sponsor of the opposition, that culminated in a
cease-fire agreement that came into force on Dec. 30, but that has already
started to erode.
The U.S. is excluded from the talks, and Russian officials have suggested
U.S. officials could be invited at a later date.
As for Aleppo, Assad said the government forces were forced "to liberate"
"And there is a price, sometimes, but at the end the people are liberated
from the terrorists," he added.
Once Syria's largest city and industrial hub, Aleppo has been devastated by
nearly six years of war. Rebels took control of its eastern districts in
2012, before surrendering it to government authority last month.
The U.N. said the government's relentless military campaign, which displaced
tens of thousands of civilians, could have violated the laws of war.
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA