Monday, March 30, 2015

Saudi war on Yemen: 195 killed and injured at camp where displaced people sought refuge

    Monday, March 30, 2015   No comments
War on Yemen
An air strike at a camp for displaced people and refugees in Houthi-controled northern Yemen on Monday killed 45 people and wounded 65, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. (figures were revised to 45 and 150).

The strike hit the vicinity of the Mazraq refugee camp in northern Yemen, spokesman Joel Millman said, citing IOM staff at the scene. He said it was not immediately clear how many of the casualties were civilians or armed personnel.

Another humanitarian official said earlier that the strike had hit a truck full of Houthi militiamen at the gate to the camp, killing nine residents, two camp guards and an unknown number of fighters.

A Saudi-led coalition was bombing Yemen for a fifth day Monday to try to weaken the Iranian-allied Houthi militia and allied military units.

The air attacks have also targeted their southward advance on the port city of Aden, the last bastion of the Saudi-backed president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Yemen's foreign minister blamed Iranian-allied Houthi fighters for the airstrike, denying any link to Saudi-led military operations.

Riyadh Yaseen, speaking to reports in Saudia Arabia, said the explosion on the camp was not from Arab coalition forces but by "artillery strikes" by the Houthis.

Saudi officials were not immediately available for comment.

Mazraq, in the province of Hajja next to the Saudi border, is a cluster of camps home to thousands of Yemenis displaced by over a decade of wars between the Houthis and the Yemeni state, as well as East African migrants.

Over the last five days of Saudi-led bombing, around 750 families have been displaced to the camps from the Houthi heartland region of Saada in the far north. Another air strike in the vicinity on Saturday killed several soldiers, the official added.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Qatar emir buys 100-mln-euro Bosporus mansion for wife

    Saturday, March 28, 2015   No comments
Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has paid a staggering 100 million euros to purchase a house located on the banks of İstanbul's Bosporus Strait for his second wife, a Turkish newspaper reported on Saturday.

The purchase took place during a visit by the Qatari emir to Turkey two weeks ago, Vatan newspaper said. Reports earlier this week said the house, Erbilginler Yalısı --which is professed to be the most expensive residence in Turkey and the fourth most expensive globally -- had been sold to a Qatari businessman named Mana bin Abdul Hadi Al Hajri.

Vatan said, however, that the secret owner of the mansion is the emir's 25-year-old wife Sheikha Anoud bint Mana Al Hajri, who happens to be the daughter of Mana bin Abdul Hadi Al Hajri.

The purchase was made by a London-based real estate company owned by Mana bin Abdul Hadi Al Hajri in order to conceal the Qatari emir's involvement, according to Vatan.

The daily said emir's family saw the 5,800-square-meter, 64-room mansion, as they were touring İstanbul while the emir was having talks with Turkish leaders. The emir then agreed to give the house to his young wife as a gift.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen without UNSC authorization

    Thursday, March 26, 2015   No comments
Saudis Target Houthi Positions In Yemen

Saudi Arabian warplanes pounded Houthi rebels overnight in an effort to stop their advance on southern Yemen. The Saudis and nine other allies launched airstrikes Wednesday after the Shiite militants captured airstrips around the southern port city of Aden, and fired on the residence of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The embattled president had fled the palace ahead of the rebel advance; it's unclear where he is.

The U.S. said late Wednesday that it is providing logistical and intelligence support to the military effort by Yemen's allies.

Shiite Iran, which backs the Houthis, called the operation the operation "dangerous" and likened it to an invasion. NPR's Deborah Amos reports that Iran complained that the air campaign against the rebels was a U.S.-backed operation.

The Guardian reports that the Al-Arabiya news channel said Saudi Arabia had lined up 150,000 soldiers in preparation for a ground offensive, and that Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan and Jordan were prepared to commit troops.

The increasing chaos in Yemen could set up a new front between the Middle East's Sunni powers and Shi'ite Iran. The New York Times reports that the Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen immediately raised the threat that Iran might retaliate by increasing its own support for the Houthis with weapons and money.

Yemen has been spiraling into chaos since February when the Houthis took control of Sanaa, dissolved Parliament and seized power. The Houthis wants greater autonomy for the north of Yemen.

Its members are anti-U.S., but are also battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. They are also likely to take on the self-described Islamic State. Both AQAP and ISIS are Sunni and regard Shiites as heretics.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S. officials: Saudi Arabia building up military near Yemen border

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015   No comments
Saudi Arabia is moving heavy military equipment including artillery to areas near its border with Yemen, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, raising the risk that the Middle East’s top oil power will be drawn into the worsening Yemeni conflict.

The buildup follows a southward advance by Iranian-backed Houthi Shi'ite militants who took control of the capital Sanaa in September and seized the central city of Taiz at the weekend as they move closer to the new southern base of U.S.-supported President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The slide toward war in Yemen has made the country a crucial front in Saudi Arabia's region-wide rivalry with Iran, which Riyadh accuses of sowing sectarian strife through its support for the Houthis.

The conflict risks spiraling into a proxy war with Shi'ite Iran backing the Houthis, whose leaders adhere to the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam, and Saudi Arabia and the other regional Sunni Muslim monarchies backing Hadi.

The armor and artillery being moved by Saudi Arabia could be used for offensive or defensive purposes, two U.S. government sources said. Two other U.S. officials said the build-up appeared to be defensive.

One U.S. government source described the size of the Saudi buildup on Yemen's border as "significant" and said the Saudis could be preparing air strikes to defend Hadi if the Houthis attack his refuge in the southern seaport of Aden.

Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington had acquired intelligence about the Saudi build-up. But there was no immediate word on the precise location near the border or the exact size of the force deployed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Report: Israel Spied On U.S.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015   No comments
Israel spied on talks the U.S. and its allies are having with Iran over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Espionage among friends is not exactly new. In fact, the newspaper reported that the White House discovered the operation when U.S. intelligence agencies "spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks."

The current and former officials who revealed Israel's spying to the newspaper did not object to Israel's actions. But what they did object to was, in the words of the Journal, "Israel's sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran's nuclear program."
"It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy," a senior U.S. official, briefed on the matter, told the newspaper.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Obama Sends Iran a Nowruz Message, Calls Nuclear Talks a 'Historic Opportunity'

    Friday, March 20, 2015   No comments
President Barack Obama, in a message to Iran's people and leaders on Thursday, said this year represented the "best opportunity in decades" to pursue a different relationship between their two countries.
Obama said nuclear talks with Iran had made progress but that gaps remained.
"This moment may not come again soon," Obama said in his message celebrating Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. "I believe that our nations have an historic opportunity to resolve this issue peacefully -an opportunity we should not miss"

Video with Persian subtitles:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Islamic State blamed for Tunisia attack after killing of Libyan cell leader

    Thursday, March 19, 2015   No comments
A total of 22 people, including South African, French, Spanish, Polish and Italian holidaymakers, were killed when gunmen disguised as soldiers stormed the museum in the capital, Tunis.

Armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades, the terrorists sprayed gunfire at tourists getting off buses outside the museum and then charged inside. The Western tourists had apparently got off cruise ship buses and were deliberately targeted.

Other people in the Bardo museum fled the scene in terror while some were taken hostage inside.

The building was then surrounded by heavily-armed security forces. After a two-hour stand-off, they attacked the gunmen and killed two of them, freeing the captives. At least two of the gang escaped and were being hunted by police on Wednesday night.

 A Tunisian tourist guide told how he had “stared death in the face” as the terrorists opened fire in the museum.

“They opened up on anything that moved,” said Walid, who only gave his first name.

“The choice was to run away, or face certain death or injury. I helped my clients find shelter as best I could,” he said, explaining that he knew where the nearest emergency exits were.

The random savagery of the attack bore all the hallmarks of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), which set up its first North African cell last year in neighbouring Libya, vowing it to be a staging post for strikes on Europe.

As of Wednesday night, no group had issued a claim of responsibility. But speculation was growing that it was linked to the death of Ahmed al-Rouissi, Tunisia’s most-wanted terrorist, who had become a senior leader in Isil’s Libya group.

Accused by the Tunisian government for a string of terrorist attacks in his home country, he was killed last weekend in a clash with Libyan militiamen.

The slaughter at the museum was also seen as a deliberate attempt to destabilise Tunisia, which was the birthplace of the Arab Spring four years ago, and which has so far managed to avoid the turmoil that has engulfed other Arab Spring countries like Libya, Syria and Egypt.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Instability in Libya and fighters trained in Syria and Iraq returning to Tunisia might be behind the attack that killed 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians in national museum in Bardo

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015   No comments
Gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed Tunisia's national museum, killing 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians on Wednesday in one of the worst militant attacks in a country that had largely escaped the region's "Arab Spring" turmoil.

Visitors from Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain were among the dead in the noon assault on Bardo museum inside the heavily guarded parliament compound in central Tunis, Prime Minister Habib Essid said.

"They just started opening fire on the tourists as they were getting out of the buses ... I couldn't see anything except blood and the dead," the driver of a tourist coach told journalists at the scene.

Scores of visitors fled into the museum and the militants took hostages inside, government officials said. Security forces entered the building, a former palace, around two hours later, killed two militants and freed the captives, a government spokesman said. A police officer died in the operation.

The attack on such a high-profile target is a blow for the small North African country that relies heavily on European tourism and has mostly avoided major militant violence since its 2011 uprising to oust autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

Authorities did not immediately identify the gunmen. But several Islamist militant groups have emerged in Tunisia since the uprising, and authorities estimate about 3,000 Tunisians have also joined fighters in Iraq and Syria -- raising fears they could return and mount attacks at home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ring brings ancient Viking, Islamic civilizations closer together

    Tuesday, March 17, 2015   No comments
More than a century after its discovery in a ninth century woman’s grave, an engraved ring has revealed evidence of close contacts between Viking Age Scandinavians and the Islamic world.

Excavators of a Viking trading center in Sweden called Birka recovered the silver ring in the late 1800s. Until now, it was thought that it featured a violet amethyst engraved with Arabic-looking characters. But closer inspection with a scanning electron microscope revealed that the presumed amethyst is colored glass (an exotic material at the time), say biophysicist Sebastian Wärmländer of Stockholm University and his colleagues.

An inscription on the glass inset reads either “for Allah” or “to Allah” in an ancient Arabic script, the researchers report February 23 in Scanning.

Scandinavians traded for fancy glass objects from Egypt and Mesopotamia as early as 3,400 years ago (SN: 1/24/15, p. 8). Thus, seagoing Scandinavians could have acquired glass items from Islamic traders in the same part of the world more than 2,000 years later rather than waiting for such desirable pieces to move north through trade networks.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Iraqi Kurds say Islamic State used chemical weapons against them

    Sunday, March 15, 2015   No comments
Iraqi Kurdish authorities said on Saturday they had evidence that Islamic State had used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against their peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq in January.

The Security Council of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region said in a statement to Reuters that the peshmerga had taken soil and clothing samples after an Islamic State car bombing attempt on Jan. 23.

It said laboratory analysis showed "the samples contained levels of chlorine that suggested the substance was used in weaponized form." The Kurdish allegation could not be independently confirmed.

Chlorine is a choking agent whose use as a chemical weapon dates back to World War One. It is banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits all use of toxic agents on the battlefield.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sweden has ended a military deal with Saudi Arabia over human rights issues, Saudi Arabia pressured Arab League to cancel Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström's speech

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015   No comments
Sweden has ended a military deal with Saudi Arabia over human rights issues. The break comes after the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was allegedly prevented from making a speech at an Arab League meeting.

Arms Exports
Sweden cancels Saudi arms deal after human rights row

Sweden has ended a military deal with Saudi Arabia over human rights issues. The break comes after the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was allegedly prevented from making a speech at an Arab League meeting.

Sweden announced that it would not be renewing its military cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia, effectively ending the 10-year-old defense ties due to mounting concerns over rights issues.

"It will be broken off," Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said on Swedish public radio. The Social Democrat premier's comments came a day after Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström accused Saudi Arabia of blocking her speech at an Arab League meeting in Cairo.

The government made the official announcement Tuesday evening about the termination of the trade agreement, which includes the export of military arms to Saudi Arabia.

Speech row

Relations between the two countries have grown frosty in the last 24 hours after Wallström said Riyadh had stopped her from making her opening address to the meeting on Monday because of her stance on human rights.


Thursday, March 05, 2015

Full Interview With Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

    Thursday, March 05, 2015   No comments
Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spoke with NBC News' Ann Curry Wednesday. Below is the complete interview:

ANN CURRY: Foreign minister, thank you so much for being here.

JAVAD ZARIF: Happy to be with you.

ANN CURRY: We've noticed a sudden flurry of meetings - is this a sign that things are getting-- bogged down or moving forward?

JAVAD ZARIF: Well-- it's a sign that we are very serious. And we want to reach a conclusion. We suggested that we needed to raise the level of technical discussions. And so we had our head of an atomic energy organization and United States for-- the secretary of energy, both-- very well known nuclear physicists-- in order to reach-- some sort of a technical understanding. And that proved to be a-- very important, useful-- step. And we have been able to move forward with a good number of-- issues dealing with the-- with the technicalities. Because we were-- said all along that our nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. And when we have experts sitting together they can ascertain that, rather easily. And I'm-- I'm very happy that that has gone well. Of course that doesn't mean that we have resolved all the issues. We have a number of issues, both technical as well as political, that still need to be resolved. But we-- we've made good progress. But long way to go.

ANN CURRY: Where's the area of the major stumbling block?

JAVAD ZARIF: Well-- as we have been saying for the past, I think, year and a half-- nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This is a puzzle. And all pieces of this puzzle should come together in order for us to have a picture of what lies ahead. But I think the major stumbling block-- is a political decision that needs to be made. And-- and that is that we have to choose between-- either pressure or an agreement. And it seems that there is a lot of pressure-- particularly within the United States, from various courses, and we've seen some recently-- not to have an agreement. And-- there are those who simply see their-- hopes-- and-- their political future in conflict, tension and crisis. And as-- as long as that is the case, it's a very difficult environment to make political decisions.

ANN CURRY: Some of the pressure against the deal has come as recently as Tuesday from Ira-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He caused quite a stir in Washington on Tuesday when he told Congress that this deal paves the way to war, not peace, as it would allow Iran to eventually procure nuclear weapons.

JAVAD ZARIF: Well-- Mr. Netanyahu has been-- proclaiming, predicting that Iran will have a nuclear weapon with-- within two, three, four years, since 1992. He has been on the record time and again that Iran will build a nuclear weapon within two years-- since, as I said, 1992. In 2012, he went before the General Assembly and said, "Iran will have a nuclear weapon within one year." It seems that he wants to stick to his one year-- forever. Iran is not about building nuclear weapon. We don't wanna build nuclear weapons. We don't believe that nuclear weapons bring security to anybody, certainly not to us. So-- it's important for everybody to come to the realization that-- this is about nuclear technology, this is about scientific advancement, this is about pride of the Iranian people. It's-- it has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. And once we reach that understanding, once this hysteria is out, one-- once this fear mongering is out, then we can have a deal, and a deal that is not gonna hurt anybody. This deal will help ensure that Iran's nuclear program will always remain peaceful. We have no doubt in Iran that our nuclear program is peaceful, will remain peaceful. There may be people who have concerns. There may be people who-- who may have been affected by the type of-- hysteria that is being fanned by people like Mr. Netanyahu. And it is useful for everybody to allow this deal to go through. As you know, Iran has been under more inspections over the last ten, 15 years than any other country on the face of the Earth, probably with the only exception of Japan. And we have less than a tenth of Japan's nuclear facilities. But we have gone almost through as many inspections. And over the past ten years, time and again, The IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, has come out and said, "There is nothing that is going on behind-- public attention in Iran." And we are confident that, with an agreement, where we will have even more monitoring and more scrutiny-- it will be clear to the international community that our nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. I don't know why some people are afraid of that. I don't know why some people do not want to work to see that all of this hysteria that has been found over the past many years, as I said, since 1992, when we have been at-- one or two or three years away from the bomb and it hasn't materialized, I don't know why they the audacity to continue to-- to make the same statement and nobody questions them, under many times that they have been wrong.

ANN CURRY: You've mentioned the IAEA. As you know-- it says that Iran has been stalling on answering certain questions about past nuclear activities, specifically about whether or not Iran was involved in trying to develop a weapon. So why is Iran stalling on these questions?

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Forms of cruel and unusual punishment in Saudi Arabia

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015   No comments
The country’s interpretation of Wahhabism demands capital punishment for a wide range of crimes, including murder, rape, armed robbery and drugs smuggling.

Death can also be the sentence for internationally condemned religious “crimes”, including apostasy, sorcery, blasphemy and idolatry.

Executions are often carried out by public beheading. That was the fate of a Burmese woman in May who was dragged through the streets of Mecca and killed in front of crowds of people in January.

Although the government has made limited reforms to its judicial system, it has defended it as fair and shows no sign of reducing the number of executions.

In 2014 the number of rose to 87, from 78 in 2013, and seven people were killed in the first two weeks of this year alone.

Saudi Arabian ministers will be holding talks with the British government during a UK tour this week.

Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef will have dinner with Foreign Secretary tonight at the start of the three-day visit and is scheduled to meet Defence Secretary tomorrow and then the Prime Minister and Home Secretary on Thursday.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Warming World: Is Capitalism Destroying Our Planet?

    Monday, March 02, 2015   No comments
World leaders decided in Copenhagen that global warming should be limited to 2 degrees Celsius. Achieving that target, though, would take nothing less than a miracle. With another round of climate negotiations approaching, it is becoming increasingly clear that mankind has failed to address its most daunting problem.
Humans are full of contradictions, including the urge to destroy things they love. Like our planet. Take Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Like everyone living Down Under, he's extremely proud of his country's wonder of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. At the same time, though, Abbott believes that burning coal is "good for humanity," even though it produces greenhouse gases that ultimately make our world's oceans warmer, stormier and more acidic. In recent years, Australia has exported more coal than any other country in the world. And the reef, the largest living organism on the planet, is dying. Half of the corals that make up the reef are, in fact, already dead.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wants the best for his country and is loathe to see it damaged by droughts, cyclones and storm surges. Nevertheless, he is planning on doubling India's coal production by 2019 in addition to importing more coal from Australia. It is necessary to do so, he says, to help his country's poor. India is already the third largest producer of greenhouse gases, behind China and the United States. But climate change is altering the monsoon season, with both flooding and drought becoming more common.

And who would accuse the majority of US Senators of being insensitive to the extreme shortage of water afflicting California? Yet the law-making body recently brushed aside everything science has learned about global warming and voted down two measures that attributed the phenomenon to human activity. For Americans and foreign tourists alike, California is a magical place, famous for Yosemite National Park, its Pacific coastline, its golden light. The state also grows around a third of all US produce. For now. An historic drought that has been ongoing for over three years has forced farmers to abandon their fields and to slaughter their animals.

Since 1880, when global temperatures began to be systematically collected, no year has been warmer than 2014. The 15 warmest years, with one single exception, have come during the first 15 years of the new millennium. Indeed, it has become an open question as to whether global warming can be stopped anymore -- or at least limited as policymakers have called for. Is capitalism ultimately responsible for the problem, or could it actually help to solve it?

At the end of November, political leaders from around the world will gather in Paris to once again address the problem of global warming, just as they did five years ago in Copenhagen. Back then, a deep chasm opened up between the rich countries that want to protect the climate and the poor countries who are demanding that the rich countries pay for measures to combat climate change. Participants were hopelessly at loggerheads and proved unable to reach an agreement. The only product of the long days and nights of negotiation was a single number: 2 degrees Celsius.

Since then, politicians around the world have repeated the number like a mantra: Average global temperatures should not be allowed to increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) relative to pre-industrial times. A "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" is to be prevented, reads the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The choice of 2 degrees Celsius as the maximum limit was largely an arbitrary one. Indeed, the 44 members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) believe that, in a world that is 2 degrees warmer, many of their islands would disappear. They are demanding that the upper target limit be reduced to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But as things currently look, the 2-degree target is hopelessly utopian. It is supposed to sound reassuring, but it is little more than hot air. Since 1880, average global temperatures have already increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius, and the consequences have become widely evident.

At the Paris climate summit, leaders will have to reach agreement on questions that led to bitter disagreement five years ago in Copenhagen. Which countries have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and by how much? What does it cost? And most importantly: Who pays? The goal is that of coming up with a successor treaty to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first international agreement aimed at protecting the climate.

Should greenhouse gas emissions continue as they are today, the world will likely reach the 2 degree Celsius maximum within 30 years. Indeed, in order to have any chance at all of stopping global warming at 2 degrees Celsius, emissions would have to fall by 10 percent per year starting in 2017 at the latest, says Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency.

But is that even possible? In 2014, around 60 percent more greenhouse gases were pumped into the atmosphere than in 1990, the year against which most reduction targets are measured. There is little to indicate that the trend might soon change. And if it doesn't, if emissions continue at today's rate, the World Bank calculates that average global temperatures will increase by 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The consequences of so much warming, the World Bank says, would be "extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise."

The sheer scope of the destructive effect the production of fossil fuels already has today is visible when you visit places that provide the world with its supplies of coal, oil and natural gas. Louisiana, for example, an oil-rich US state whose coast is sinking into the sea and which is threatened by hurricanes. Or the Chinese coal province Hebei, whose 70 million inhabitants would be better advised not to leave their homes on many days of the year because levels of fine particulate matter go far beyond those considered to be safe.

Is Capitalism the Problem?


Libye: le général Khalifa Haftar nommé commandant général de l'armée

    Monday, March 02, 2015   No comments
Le général Khalifa Haftar a été nommé à la tête de l'armée libyenne, a annoncé lundi le président du Parlement reconnu par la communauté internationale, Aguila Salah Issa.

"J'ai choisi le général de division Khalifa Belgacem Haftar pour le poste de commandant général de l'armée après l'avoir promu lieutenant-général", a déclaré Aguila Salah Issa. Le porte-parole du chef d'état-major de l'armée, le colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari, a
indiqué quant à lui que le général Haftar devrait prêter serment mardi 3 mars à Tobrouk devant les parlementaires.
Mardi dernier, le Parlement avait décidé d'instaurer un poste de chef général de l'armée, créé sur-mesure pour le général Haftar, dont les forces combattent depuis plusieurs mois les groupes islamistes dans l'Est. Général à la retraite, il avait lancé en mai 2014 une opération baptisée Dignité contre les groupes armés qui contrôlent Benghazi.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia agree to boost support to Syria opposition

    Monday, March 02, 2015   No comments
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who met in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, have agreed to boost support to the Syrian opposition.

The two leaders discussed a range of regional issues, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Egypt, during a meeting accompanied by their delegations, Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported citing presidential sources.

Erdoğan and the Saudi king particularly put emphasis on “the necessity of enhancing support to the Syrian opposition in a way that aims at yielding results,” the agency stated.

The leaders also renewed their commitment to bolster bilateral relations, it said.

After the lunch meeting with the delegations, Erdoğan and Salman held a tete-a-tete meeting for around 35 minutes.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Who speaks for whom or for what: As the U.S. expresses concern over ‘deteriorating rights’ in Turkey, Turkish President Erdoğan slams Austria's controversial Islam law

    Sunday, March 01, 2015   No comments
 U.S. concerned over ‘deteriorating rights’ in Turkey

People in a democratic country should be able to express criticism of their leaders, a senior U.S. official has said, voicing Washington’s concern over Turkey’s human rights situation, amid a series of recent cases in which senior elected officials have opened cases against citizens upon alleged “insults.”

“We are very concerned about this. People have been prosecuted for speaking their mind. In a democratic country that respects freedom of expression, people should not be prosecuted for expressing their views on the government of the day or public officials,” said Thomas O. Melia, the deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL).

Melia’s comments came upon a question about people facing criminal charges due to their criticism against Turkish leaders posted on social media.

“People in a free society are allowed to complain about their leaders and their performance,” he told reporters on Feb. 27 after holding meeting with ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials and local civil society representatives, ahead of the release of the State Department’s annual report on human rights around the world.

It is problematic if anyone - whether they are an editor-of-chief a newspaper, a 16-year-old student, or a taxi driver - fears prosecution or imprisonment for expressing criticism in a public meeting or on social media, Melia added. “That’s one of the things that we are concerned in Turkey’s human rights environment today,” he said.



Turkish President Erdoğan slams Austria's controversial Islam law

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan strongly criticized Austria on Feb. 28 for approving a controversial bill that revises the status of Muslims in the European country.

"On the one hand you tell about the EU acquis, but on the other hand you take steps which totally oppose the EU acquis," Erdoğan said at a meeting in Istanbul before his departure to Saudi Arabia for an official visit. 
According to the Europa portal, the community acquis or acquis is "the body of common rights and obligations which bind all the member states together within the European Union… Applicant countries have to accept the Community acquis before they can join the Union."

The Austrian Parliament passed a law on Feb. 25, stirring a debate.

The updated “Law on Islam,” which was prepared by the coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Party, aims to regulate how Islam is managed inside the country, and includes provisions requiring imams to be able to speak German, standardizing the Quran in the German language, and banning Islamic organizations from receiving foreign funding.

Turkey will make every effort to protect Muslims in Austria, especially those of Turkish descent, from being harmed due to a controversial recently approved bill regulating Islam in the country, Turkey’s EU minister said on Feb. 26.



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