U.S. Sends Advisers to Jordan in Preparation for Syrian Spillover
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has revealed that American military advisers had been sent to Jordan and that assistance had been offered to Turkey in preparation for a possible spillover of the conflict in neighbouring Syria. “We have been working with Jordan for a period of time to try and develop their own military and operational capabilities in the event of any contingency”, said Panetta. The New York Times reported today that about 150 U.S. military planners had been dispatched to a site near the Jordanian capital, Amman, to help the country plan accommodation for more than 180,000 refugees that have crossed into the kingdom from Syria. The advisers would reportedly also help prepare plans in case Syria lost control of its chemical weapons arsenal.
British Prime Minister Says Conservatives Not “The Party of the Better Off”
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a largely defensive speech to his Conservative party’s conference in Brighton on Wednesday. Shying away from policy announcements, Cameron decided to confront the accusations most commonly directed at his government, such as that his party was more concerned with the well-being of the upper classes. “They call us the party of the better-off. No, we are the party of the ‘want to be better off’, those who strive to make a better life for themselves and their families, and we should never, ever be ashamed of saying so”. Cameron also acknowledged that economic growth was “taking longer than we hoped”, but put the blame squarely on the Eurozone crisis. “I can’t tell you that all is well, but I can say this: Britain is on the right track”, said the Prime Minister.
Bomb-Making Material Found by Police in Parking Lot Near Paris
French anti-terror officers have discovered bomb-making material in an underground parking lot near Paris and made 12 arrests relating to an alleged Islamist terror cell. The arrests were made over the weekend and were part of an investigation launched over evidence found after a grenade attack on a kosher grocery shop in Paris in September. One of the alleged terrorists was killed by police after resisting arrest and shooting at officers in Strasbourg. “We can say that we are clearly and objectively facing an extremely dangerous terrorist cell”, said state prosecutor François Molins, who said that officers had recovered items including potassium, sulphur, potassium nitrate, a pressure cooker and two weapons from the parking lot in Torcy, east of Paris. Authorities said the 12 suspects will be detained for questioning over the normal limit of 96 hours.
Terror Suspects Arrested at Heathrow in Connection to Syrian Kidnapping
British police have arrested two 26-year-old British residents over links to Islamic radicals that kidnapped a British photographer in Syria in July. The suspects, a man and a woman, were returning to London from Syria via Egypt. Police were first alerted to the pair after the British photographer, John Cantlie, said that one of his kidnappers had claimed to be a National Health Service (NHS) doctor. The pair were arrested by the Metropolitan Police on arrival at Heathrow airport on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The arrests were related to an investigation over travels to Syria in support of alleged terrorist activity in the war-torn country. British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme on Wednesday that “there are people here who want to join the fighting, we could strongly advise them not to do so”.
Europe’s First Hijab-Wearing Mayor Elected in Bosnia
The first hijab-wearing mayor to be elected in Europe was voted into office in Bosnia. Amra Babic, a 43-year-old woman who regularly wears the veil, won 30 percent of the votes in the mayoral race for Visoko, a town of 40,000 people to the north of the capital Sarajevo. The elections took place on Sunday, but results were only announced on Tuesday. “This is a model for Europe, but even beyond, for the East and the West which meet here in Bosnia”, said Babic in an interview to Agence France Presse. “I believe my headscarf should not be a hindrance, Europe will understand that it has to do with people who respect their own identity, but who are tolerant enough to respect the rights of others”, continued Babic. She had previously served as finance minister in her local administration.