United Nations (United States) (AFP) - New extremist networks in Europe and the Middle East may emerge from the war in Syria as thousands of foreigners fight alongside local militants, the UN Security Council heard Wednesday. A report from the UN's Al-Qaeda sanctions committee raised specific fears of large numbers of A1-Qaeda affiliated foreign fighters teaming up with Syria's branch of Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front. "Ties are established that the monitoring team predicts could lead to new pan-Arab and pan-European networks of extremists," said the head of the committee, Gary Quinlan. "Furthermore, the return of these battle hardened foreign fighters to their countries of origin, or to third countries, with new ideas and skills is a cause for concern," said Quinlan.
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose new rules to crack down on power plant emissions, part of President Barack Obama's efforts to combat global climate change. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report Wednesday that predicted the yet-to-be-announced regulations will cost consumers $289 billion more for electricity through 2030, and crimp the economy by $50 billion a year. The chamber hired energy research firm IHS to model the costs, based on a regulatory approach promoted by the Natural Resources Defense Council which the chamber expects to be the foundation for the new EPA regulations. In March, Sheehan's group, which represents coal mining companies as well as owners of coal-fired plants like American Electric Power AEP.N and Southern Co SO.N, released a report warning that the EPA plan may kill more than 2.85 million jobs.
Fresh from victory in European elections in France, far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Wednesday she was confident of creating a new eurosceptic group within weeks inside the European Parliament. After driving her National Front (NF) to first place with 25 percent of the vote in France, Le Pen hopes to form and take command of a far-right grouping of parties in the Parliament, a move that would boost both her influence and financial clout. But Le Pen appeared at a press conference in Brussels with allies from only four countries at her side, short of the seven-nation representation required under EU rules to be considered a group. With her were leaders of Belgium's far-right Vlaams Belang (VB), the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) and Italy's Lega Nord.
Syria's opposition National Coalition welcomed a pledge from US President Barack Obama on Wednesday to ramp up support for rebels fighting the Damascus regime of Bashar al-Assad. "This additional support highlights the partnership between the United States and the Syrian people in ending the humanitarian disaster and putting Syria on the path to genuine democratic transition," the bloc's US representative, Najib Ghadbian, said in a statement. "I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator," said Obama.
The EU expressed "great concern" Wednesday over tighter restrictions in Sudan since ex-premier Sadiq al-Mahdi was detained in mid-May after reportedly accusing a counter-insurgency unit of abuses against civilians in Darfur. But Mahdi was arrested on May 17 for alleged treason after he reportedly accused the Rapid Support Forces of rape and other abuses of civilians in Sudan's western Darfur region. "The arrest and continued detention of opposition leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi in particular risks having an adverse effect on the process of national dialogue.
Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who led the United Nations mission that failed despite his desperate efforts to prevent the 1994 Rwanda genocide, resigned from Canada's Senate on Wednesday. Senator Dallaire, now 68, told a press conference: "I have submitted my resignation yesterday to the governor-general with a torn heart." Dallaire campaigns for child soldiers, advises the United Nations on genocide prevention, takes part in war crimes investigations and helps research post-traumatic stress disorder, from which he suffers. The former commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, Dallaire was named to Canada's Senate in 2005 after four decades in the military.
Israeli officials denounced as "political" Wednesday attempts by a Turkish court to secure an international arrest warrant for four former Israeli military commanders over a deadly 2010 maritime assault. But the court ruling, issued on Monday, was unlikely to have a "significant effect" on attempts to restore full diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, which were badly damaged by the raid, officials said. It seems more political than legal," said Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon during a tour of the Jordan Valley Tuesday, in remarks relayed by his office. "We were ready to set things right with Turkey and regulate relations with them," he said.
Attacks across Iraq, including a spate of car bombs in Baghdad, killed 38 people Wednesday, the latest in a months-long surge in violence that has left more than 4,000 dead this year. Shootings and bombings, which left dozens more wounded nationwide, also struck in restive areas of the north and west, fuelling fears Iraq is slipping back into the sectarian war that killed tens of thousands in 2006 and 2007. In the deadliest attack, a suicide car bomb exploded in the mainly Shiite neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah in north Baghdad, killing at least 16 people and wounding 50, security and medical officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The blasts were the latest in a trend of militants setting off vehicles rigged with explosives during the evening, when Baghdad's residents visit markets, restaurants and cafes.
A takeover battle for parts of French power and rail group Alstom heated up on Wednesday, with US group General Electric promising to create 1,000 jobs in France, a source close to the matter said. The two bidders, General Electric and German group Siemens, now have two to three weeks to complete their moves to win Alstom's power generation division which they value in the range of 10.5-12.5 billion euros ($14.3-17 billion). After a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and GE head Jeffrey Immelt, the source said that "General Electric has undertaken to create 1,000 jobs in France."
Government-mediated talks will start on Thursday to try to break a deadlock between a South African union and top global platinum producers over a crippling four-month strike, the mining ministry said. A panel drawn from the mining, labour and finance ministries will take up the baton dropped by the Labour Court earlier this week when wage talks between the parties collapsed. New mining minister Ngoako Ramathlodi set up the team after meeting executives of Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin on Wednesday. South Africa's platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have been holding on-off talks since 80,000 workers went on strike on January 23.
Suspected Islamist gunmen killed four policemen at the family home of Tunisia's interior minister, officials said Wednesday, describing it as a "revenge" attack for progress in the fight against jihadists. The overnight assault on Lotfi Ben Jeddou's home at Kasserine, in the western border region, was reminiscent of violence in 2013, when two politicians were assassinated and jihadists killed 20 security force members. The assault by about a dozen gunmen shortly before midnight left dead four policemen and wounded two, interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told AFP. "The terrorist group had infiltrated from Mount Salloum to target the house of the interior minister," Aroui said on national television.
By Daniel Trotta HAVANA (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce defended his visit to Cuba on Wednesday after coming under fire from critics in the U.S. Congress who contend the trip is a publicity coup for the communist government. Chamber President Thomas Donohue said his agenda was unhindered by the Cuban authorities and he was confident he was getting a "fair look" at Cuba, after which the influential lobbying group would report its findings to its "friends" in the United States. He and small group of U.S. business leaders are in the middle of a three-day visit, in part to support the market-oriented reforms enacted by President Raúl Castro that have created a fledgling private sector. I think we'll get a fair look and we're enjoying ourselves." Upon the announcement of the trip a week ago, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from south Florida, blasted the visit as "just another Potemkin village tour." As Donohue began his tour on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, expressed concerns it would strengthen a government that "jails foreign business leaders without justification, violates international labor standards and denies its citizens their basic rights." Donohue countered that many others in Congress and the private sector differ from the pro-embargo lobby, which has sought to undermine and isolate Cuba since its 1959 revolution.