Sunday, August 30, 2015

Amnesty International: Saudi strike "kills 36 civilians" In Yemen, adding to the "bloody trail of civilian death"

    Sunday, August 30, 2015   No comments
A bottling plant in Hajjah province is hit as Amnesty International warns of a "bloody trail of civilian death" in Yemen.

Issa Ahmed, a resident in Hajjah province, told the Reuters news agency the bottling plant was hit on Sunday morning.

He said: "The process of recovering bodies is finished now.

"The corpses of 36 workers, many of them burnt or in pieces, were pulled out after an airstrike hit the plant this morning."
...
On Friday, air raids killed 65 people in Taiz - most of them civilians - and last month 65 people including 10 children were killed after a milk factory was hit in western Yemen.


Human rights group Amnesty International said earlier this month that the Saudi-led campaign has left a "bloody trail of civilian death", which could amount to war crimes.

More than 4,300 people have been killed in five months of conflict in Yemen.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The U.S. government knows that Saudi Arabia has Used Cluster Bombs in Yemen

    Thursday, August 27, 2015   No comments
The U.S. knows the Saudi government has employed cluster bombs in its ongoing war against Shiite Muslim rebels in neighboring Yemen, but has done little if anything to stop the use of the indiscriminate and deadly weapons during what has become a human rights catastrophe in one of the Arab world's poorest countries.

With watchdog groups warning of war crimes and attacks striking civilians in Yemen, the Pentagon declined to comment publicly on whether it has discussed cluster bombs with Saudi Arabia or encouraged its military to cease using them, deferring all such questions to the State Department. But a Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, tells U.S. News "the U.S. is aware that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions in Yemen."

Deferrals by the Pentagon on the topic are nothing new, though the use of the weapons by the Saudis – some of which were reportedly supplied by the U.S. – appears to be only a recent tactic. Former spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters in May the Defense Department was looking into claims the Saudis were using cluster munitions and called on all sides to "comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to take all feasible measures to minimize harm to civilians." Warren's successor, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, was asked about similar reports in July and did not at that time have any new information. 
 ...

Human Rights Watch reported that "Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces appear to have used cluster munition rockets in at least seven attacks in Yemen’s northwestern Hajja governorate, killing and wounding dozens of civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks were carried out between late April and mid-July 2015."

...



 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

European companies beat US to Iran business after nuclear deal reached

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015   No comments
The ink was barely dry on the agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear programme before a German government plane packed with the nation’s economic elite touched down in Tehran.

The trip was the first in a rush of European ministers and business people flocking to a market poised to reopen after years of grinding sanctions. Upscale Tehran hotels are packed and tables at trendy restaurants are scarce as foreigners jostle for bargains, even amid uncertainty over whether President Obama can overcome US congressional opposition to the deal.

The stream of visitors to Tehran is the latest sign of the Atlantic-wide divide between the US and Europe, where there is scant opposition to the pact that aims to crimp Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Barack Obama and secretary of state John Kerry have warned detractors that they would be unable to reimpose a multinational trade embargo if congress rejects the plans. The other five countries that helped broker the deal have also told congress they will not return to the negotiating table. The trips show that US leaders can’t keep Europeans from flying to Tehran ahead of the congressional vote, which must take place by 17 September.


“We are talking here about 80 million people who need energy supplies, who naturally also need healthcare, who want to get back off their knees in the oil and gas businesses. There are opportunities and chances,” Joe Kaeser, chief executive of Siemens, the German industrial conglomerate, told German television last month.

Siemens sent a top official to Tehran with the German vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, last month. Their government plane touched down at the Imam Khomeini international airport five days after world powers agreed on the nuclear deal on 14 July. “The agreement reached between the E3/EU+3 and Iran in Vienna has laid the foundations for a normalisation of economic relations with Iran,” Gabriel said, using another term for the group of six world powers that negotiated the deal. The vice chancellor was accompanied by a delegation of top officials from some of Germany’s largest companies, including Daimler, Volkswagen and ThyssenKrupp.

Since Gabriel’s visit, top ministers from France and Italy have visited Tehran. British foreign secretary Philip Hammond was there last weekend to reopen his nation’s embassy. Spain, Sweden and Poland plan to follow in the autumn. Next month Austrian president Heinz Fischer plans to be the first European head of state to visit Tehran since 2004. Vienna hosted an EU-Iran trade conference just a week after the deal was signed.



Did Turkey tip off al Qaida in Syria about U.S.-trained group of Syrian fighters?

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015   No comments

GAZIANTEP, Turkey: The Turkish government Tuesday denied accusations by Syrian rebels that its intelligence service had tipped off an al Qaida-linked group that then abducted the commander and 20 members of a U.S.-trained group of Syrian fighters about to confront the Islamic State.

In a statement to McClatchy, which first reported on Monday the allegations from multiple Syrian rebel groups that the Nusra Front had been alerted by the Turkish government, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office said it denied “the allegations in the strongest terms possible. The idea that Turkey, a key supporter of the Train and Equip Program, would seek to undermine its own interests in Syria is ludicrous.”

The statement was attributed to a senior member of the prime minister’s office.

The dispute centers around the arrival into Syria of the first 54 members of a program by a coalition of anti-Islamic State members – including the U.S., Jordan, the United Kingdom and Turkey – to train and equip carefully vetted Syrian rebels for the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The so called “T&E” group is part of a moderate Syrian rebel group known as Division 30, which has drawn members from a variety of units that were once under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. The FSA led the initial military uprising against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad before being eclipsed by a number of jihadist and Islamist groups, including the Islamic State.


On July 29, the 54 fighters and their commander, Col. Nadim Hassan, arrived in Azaz, along the Turkish border, where they were immediately abducted or attacked by the Nusra Front. Hassan and about 20 of his men remain held by Nusra, which has declared the group an American front designed to target Islamists, despite the group’s repeated insistence that it would only participate in operations against the Islamic State, which Nusra, despite sharing a common ideology and origins in al Qaida in Iraq, also fights.

U.S. airstrikes have mostly concentrated on the Islamic State but at times have targeted Nusra Front facilities because of the group’s open allegiance to al Qaida.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/middle-east/article32378286.html#storylink=cpy

read more >>

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Saudi rulers are not interested in fighting Al Qaeda and ISIL in Yemen

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015   No comments
Dubai (AFP) - Al-Qaeda has gained more ground amidst the chaos in Yemen -- this time in second city Aden -- but for now Saudi Arabia is turning a blind eye to its longtime enemy, experts say.

Supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, forces loyal to Yemen's exiled government retook Aden last month from Iran-backed Huthi rebels who have seized large parts of the country including the capital Sanaa.

As authorities work to reassert control over Aden, the capital of formerly independent South Yemen, Al-Qaeda has moved into the gap.


The jihadist group's militants, already in control of other parts of southern Yemen, are reported to have taken up positions in several strategic parts of the city.

But experts say that while Saudi Arabia may turn eventually to tackling Al-Qaeda in its southern neighbour, Riyadh's focus now is purely on stopping the Huthis.

"I don't think Saudi Arabia's main priority in Yemen is Al-Qaeda... The Huthis are more of a high priority," said Ibrahim Fraihat, a senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.

"That's probably another reason why we saw Al-Qaeda flourishing" in the south, he said.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Turkish mourners blame Erdogan, AKP for rise in violence

    Monday, August 24, 2015   No comments
Mourners slam Erdoğan, Turkish gov’t at funeral ceremonies for slain soldiers

A lieutenant colonel’s angry rebuke during the funeral ceremony for his soldier brother has been added to the increasing number of protests by mourners accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government over the spike in violence ahead of early elections in Turkey.

A lieutenant colonel’s angry rebuke during the funeral ceremony for his soldier brother has been added to the increasing number of protests by mourners accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government over the spike in violence ahead of early elections in Turkey.

Army Captain Ali Alkan was killed after PKK militants attacked a military outpost in southeastern Şırnak province’s Beytüşşebap district late Aug. 21.

More than 15,000 people, including several members of parliament, participated in the funeral ceremony for Alkan in the southern province of Osmaniye on Aug. 23.


Tensions ran high when Justice and Development Party (AKP) politicians attempted to take a place in the front row during the prayer service for Alkan. “You have nothing to do here. Get out,” an infuriated mourner shouted at AKP deputies Suat Ünal and Mücahit Durmuşoğlu.

“I am a relative of our martyr and I am not standing in the front row. What are these marauders doing there?” another person in the crowd asked angrily. Then the crowd began to boo the local religious head who conducted the ceremony for making a place for AKP deputies.

As AKP deputies were forced to leave the ceremony grounds, a cousin of the slain soldier yelled in protest, targeting Erdoğan. “What kind of deal have you made that the children of our homeland are going like this? Why doesn’t Turkey stand up? Why does Turkey sleep? Is it the solution process? The solution is now lying here,” Ahmet Şahin said.

read more >>

Friday, August 21, 2015

Competing narratives of armed conflicts: Turkey corrects the BBC, "members of PKK are not militants, they are terrorists"

    Friday, August 21, 2015   No comments
Turkey has accused the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of “openly supporting terrorism” by making “written and visual propaganda” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during a broadcast on Aug. 20.

“Such broadcasting about an organization which is listed as a terrorist [organization] by many countries, particularly EU countries, is open support for terrorism,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Aug. 21.

The broadcast, which portrayed the PKK as “an innocent organization struggling against another terrorist organization and encouraged [people] to join the PKK, is not acceptable in any way,” the ministry said in a written official statement.

This is not the first time that Turkish authorities have targeted U.K. media outlets’ reporting on the PKK, which is listed as terrorist organization by a large portion of the international community including the European Union and the United States, in addition to Turkey.

In 2005, then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan harshly criticized the BBC and Reuters for describing PKK members as militants and guerillas instead of terrorists.

Watch a report on 60 Minutes:



read more >>

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Acknowleding Turkey's role in allow weapons and fighters to flow to ISIL, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter now says, "More needed from Turkey in Islamic State fight"

    Thursday, August 20, 2015   No comments
Turkey needs to do more in the fight against Islamic State militants and has indicated it is willing to go beyond its recent decision to allow U.S. planes to conduct air strikes from Turkish bases, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday.

Carter said Turkey had agreed in principle to participate in the coalition bombing campaign against the militants, but the United States also needed Ankara to step up its efforts to control its long border with Iraq and Syria.

"It's a border over which logistics for ISIL and the fighters cross," Carter said, using an acronym for the militant group. "So we're looking for them to do more in that regard as well and are in active discussions with them about that."

Turkey was expected to participate in air strikes against Islamic State in Syria after it reached a deal with the United States on greater participation in the campaign against the group. But Turkish bombing efforts have primarily focused on the Kurdish PKK, which it considers a terrorist group.

Carter told a Pentagon news conference he didn't think the Turks were "dragging their feet" on joining the bombing campaign.

"Their leadership has indicated that this needs to be done," he said. "It's long overdue because it's a year into the campaign, but they're indicating some considerable effort now, including allowing us to use their air fields. That's important, but it's not enough."

"They need to join the (air strike rotation) and they need to work more on controlling their border," Carter said.

read more >>


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

ISIL calls for conquest of İstanbul, war against ‘treacherous’ Erdoğan

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015   No comments
The people of Turkey have been called to war against the “treacherous” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and to conquer the city of İstanbul, according to a video released by extremist terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Reciting verses from the Quran, a militant clad in grey combat gear and sporting an ashen beard said that on the command of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “amīr al-mu'minīn,” translating to “commander of the faithful,” also used to signify caliphs, “all believers should conquer İstanbul, [the city] that the treacherous Erdoğan is trying, day and night, to give to the crusaders.”

The militant making a call for war in the video is claimed to have joined ISIL in 2014, according to a report in the Milliyet daily on Tuesday.

The unnamed militant, who has a Kalashnikov rifle resting between his arms at all times during the video footage, speaks fluent Turkish. He calls on the people of Turkey to “rise up and fight” against the infidels, crusaders and those “taghuts” -- idolaters of false gods -- who trick people into becoming the slaves of the crusaders.

The ISIL militant also calls on the people to repent from the sins that caused the people of Turkey to be governed by such taghuts, referring to Erdoğan, and his friends. He also calls on the people to refrain from democracy, secularism, man-made laws and all idolaters of false gods.


ISIL militants had vowed to ‘liberate' İstanbul in past

A threat was previously made by an ISIL militant to “liberate” İstanbul if the Turkish government refused to release more water from the Euphrates River to Syria.

The militant, who introduced himself as ISIL press officer Abu Mosa in a Vice News documentary on ISIL put out in August 2014, urged Turkey to release more water from the Euphrates River, warning that otherwise the group would do so from İstanbul when it "liberates" the city.

Mosa was later killed during air strikes by the Syrian government forces on ISIL militants attacking an air base in northeast Syria.

With regard to reduced water supplies from the Euphrates River to the province of Raqqa, which is ISIL's self-declared capital, he said, "I pray to God that the apostate [Turkish] government reconsiders its decisions. Because if they do not reconsider it now, we will reconsider it for them by liberating İstanbul."

“God willing, if they don't open it [the dam], we will open it from İstanbul,” he said. When asked if this is a threat, he said: “Yes, it is a clear threat.”


Monday, August 17, 2015

U.S. trained Division 30 declares its loyalty to al-Qaeda branch in Syria

    Monday, August 17, 2015   No comments
ISR comment: As the U.S. trained Division 30 declares its loyalty to al-Qaeda branch in Syria, its $36 million program initially aimed at moderate Syrian opposition fighters ends up being a training program for future Nusra or ISIL fighters.
...

The meagre American foothold in the fight for northern Syria shrank further on Tuesday as Division 30 rejected a US promise to defend the brigade against Jabhat al Nusra with airstrikes. On Friday, US warplanes bombed al Nusra positions after the jihadist group stormed Division 30’s headquarters and killed five of its members.

In its statement, Division 30 denied its "connection to the operations of the coalition against any faction on Syrian lands".


It said "it would not be dragged into any side battle with any faction" and that "it did not and will not fight Jabhat al-Nusra".

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Turkey, Iran relations tested by media wars

    Sunday, August 16, 2015   No comments
When Iran's Press TV ran a story* accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan of visiting wounded militants from the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in southern Turkey near the Syrian border, it prompted the Turkish president to cancel his scheduled meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was about to visit Ankara on Tuesday.

While officials from both the Turkish and Iranian foreign ministries carefully scripted the reasons for the abrupt postponement, citing Zarif's busy schedule ahead of his visit to Turkey, the real reason was the Press TV story, which was among a barrage of critical reports in the Iranian media about Turkey's alleged support of radical groups in Syria, diplomatic sources said.


Erdoğan reportedly reacted to the story about his daughter by canceling the meeting with Zarif. When the Iranian foreign minister was unable to secure a meeting with President Erdoğan, in addition to his already scheduled meetings with senior Turkish officials focused on finding mutually acceptable solutions for resolving the prolonged Syrian conflict, he cancelled the entire visit.



On Thursday, however, Zarif said he is planning to visit Turkey next week.

On Tuesday, when Zarif was originally scheduled to attend meetings in Ankara, an article he wrote about regional affairs was published in the Cumhuriyet daily, a newspaper that is highly critical of Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government's Syria policy. In his article he defended the idea of regional cooperation to resolve regional problems rather than allowing outside intervention by the US and other countries that are doomed to fail.

The state-run Anadolu news agency also ran a story titled "Lies about Turkey in the Iranian media,” accusing Iranian media outlets of spreading disinformation.

*ISR Editors' Note: The original story was actually published on Canada's Global Research site under this URL: http://www.globalresearch.ca/turkish-presidents-daughter-heads-a-covert-medical-corps-to-help-isis-injured-members-reveals-a-disgruntled-nurse/5462896; and picked by by many other news sites.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

U.S.: We really can’t succeed against ISIL without Turkey

    Saturday, August 15, 2015   No comments
ISR Comment: Turkish AKP leaders should not feel flattered when U.S. administration officials say, "We really can’t succeed against ISIL without Turkey." Such statements underscore Turkey's role in facilitating the rise of ISIL, not highlight Turkey's capacity to fight ISIL. Turkey allowed fighters, weapons, and space for ISIL to emerge as the global threat it now is. Turkish leaders, motivated by nationalism and sectarianism thought they could use ISIL, the "Sunni" potent fighting force that is motivated by its puritan creed, to remove an Alawite Syrian president. That strategy failed and Turkey, and to some extent the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, have no plan B at this point. It is doubtful that Turkey, under Erdoğan and AKP rule can shift its strategy and cooperate with U.S. to fight ISIL.

__
U.S. President Barack Obama’s Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Anti-ISIL Coalition, Brett McGurk, who was in Ankara this week to finalize the Incirlik agreement between Turkey and U.S., has said Washington “can’t succeed against Daesh without Turkey,” speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News in an exclusive interview via Skype.


“The threat of Daesh is extremely serious. It’s not going away. It’s growing. It’s a challenge the world has never seen before,” McGurk said, emphasizing the two countries’ close collaboration up to now.

He aslo said Turkish F-16’s will fly with U.S. jets from Incirlik very soon and the only reason Turkey is not yet engaged in anti-ISIL airstrikes are “technical arrangements” that are soon to be finalized.

Here is the full text of the interview:

read interview >>

Friday, August 14, 2015

ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape

    Friday, August 14, 2015   No comments
Claiming the Quran’s support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery
QADIYA, Iraq — In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.


“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Did Sergey Lavrov call Saudi diplomats, including Adel al-Jubeir, F**** morons?

    Thursday, August 13, 2015   No comments
The rulers of Saudi Arabia are blinded by wealth to see their real place in global political scale. The images and sounds emerging out the recent visit by the Kingdom's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, drew a stunning picture of a regime unable to see the contradictions of its logic and actions.

al-Jubair, with a very short resume when it comes to the complex business of diplomacy, insisted that Syria's war will continue unless Bashar Assad is out of power. He argued
that Assad lost legitimacy because of the violence he allegedly unleashed on his people and that Assad, not Saudi brand of Islam, produced ISIL. In other words, Saudi Arabia will not support the war on ISIL unless Russia supports its war on Assad. The rulers of Saudi Arabia, who are not elected, who are waging a savage war against another sovereign country--Yemen--killing thousands of civilians, and who produced the ideology espoused by ISIL is lecturing the world about legitimacy and war.

The Saudi rulers know that before the Syrian crisis, ISIL, and its precursor, al-Qaeda, was already bombing markets, mosques, and public squares and beheading people. To link the existence of these genocidal fighters to Assad is indeed an insult to his Russian host and his host's country, which had a its share of terror attacks carried out by followers of the brand of Islam incubated and nurtured in the kingdom.

Perhaps Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declarative statement, f****** morons, is not directed at al-Jubair, but perhaps it should be. Given their meddling in other countries, their irrational fears, and their role in producing ISIL and ISIL's brand of Islam, such a comment seems highly appropriate.




Monday, August 10, 2015

Turkey: At least 6 security personnel killed in attacks in Istanbul, southeast region

    Monday, August 10, 2015   No comments
comment: AK Party leaders decided to put their weight behind the Syrian opposition and allow money, arms, and fighters to enter that country to speed up the fall of Assad. Five years later, Turkey is facing its own security threats. Some of the deadliest attacks are carried out by the same extremist groups the Turkish governing authorities armed and trained: ISIL. Now Turkey is facing the prediction it was warned about since the early days of Syrian crisis: being Pakistanized.




watch a video of a recent attack: 




Sunday, August 09, 2015

Turkey’s top religious body releases report on ISIL, names it ‘terrorist organization’

    Sunday, August 09, 2015   No comments
Turkey’s top religious affairs body has released a report on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), where it defined the group as a terror organization for the first time.

The report, which was prepared by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), was highly critical of ISIL, denouncing its actions.

“All the deeds of this anomalous armed group which is targeting non-Muslims and the rules of Islam is terrorism,” a part of the report said, adding people who conducted the acts of threatening, killing, injuring and abducting were terrorists.


Diyanet also described ISIL’s “twisted” portrayal of Islam and the Quran to further its violent agenda in the Middle East.

Diyanet head Mehmet Görmez said Aug. 8 the new research was aimed at informing the public about ISIL’s tactics, slogans, operations and interpretation of Islam.

Calling all Islamic scholars and institutions to stand against ISIL, Görmez said, “The Islamic world should focus on nothing but this group who uses Islam as a tool [but] ignores Islamic methodology and principles.”

Friday, August 07, 2015

The U.S. picked the wrong ally in the fight against Islamic State

    Friday, August 07, 2015   No comments
Selahattin Demirtas
When Turkey finally agreed to join U.S.-led efforts to fight Islamic State, Ankara was supposed to make the battle against the extremist group more effective. Yet within days, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, bombed not just Islamic State forces but also, with even greater fervor, the one group showing some success in keeping them at bay: the Kurds.

The United States miscalculated by bringing in Erdogan. Turkey’s embattled and volatile leader looks far less interested in combating Islamic State than in reclaiming his power at home. Erdogan’s personal agenda, however, cannot be allowed to alienate U.S. partners and prolong the conflict.


Washington’s first priority here should be to preserve its constructive alliances with Kurdish groups in the fight against Islamic State. It must also prevent Turkey from further undermining the key strategic goal of defeating the jihadists.

So U.S. officials should be taking a far stronger stance against Erdogan’s attacks on the Kurds. One complicating factor is that both Ankara and Washington have labeled the target of Turkish operations — the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — a terrorist organization. But there are related Kurdish organizations that U.S. leaders can and should approach, publicly reassure and privately work with to maintain their cooperation against Islamic State.

First, the Syrian Kurdish political movement, the Democratic Union Party, though ideologically related to the PKK, is considered a separate organization and not designated as a terrorist group under U.S. law. Its leader, Saleh Muslim, should be invited to Washington expeditiously for high-level consultations with government officials. These meetings could publicly demonstrate Washington’s continued commitment to the Syrian Kurds.

Judge Permits Professor Steven Salaita's Free Speech Case Against University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to Proceed

    Friday, August 07, 2015   No comments
University’s Attempt to Dismiss Salaita Suit Over “Uncivil” Tweets Rejected by Court                    

August 6, 2015, Chicago, a federal judge rejected efforts to throw out a lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for firing Professor Steven Salaita from a tenured position based on his personal tweets criticizing Israel’s military assault on Gaza last summer.  The university has admitted that it based its decision on Salaita’s tweets, calling them “uncivil.”   The court firmly rejected the university’s claim that it did not have a contract with Professor Salaita, stating, “If the Court accepted the University’s argument, the entire American academic hiring process as it now operates would cease to exist.” The court further rejected the university’s attempt to dismiss Professor Salaita’s First Amendment claims, finding that his tweets “implicate every ‘central concern’ of the First Amendment.”

“Given the serious ramifications of my termination from a tenured professorship to a wide range of people, I am happy to move forward with this suit in the hope that restrictions on academic freedom, free speech, and shared governance will not become further entrenched because of UIUC's behavior,” said Steven Salaita.


The lawsuit, brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Loevy & Loevy on Prof. Salaita’s behalf, argues that UIUC violated Salaita’s rights to free speech and due process and breached its employment contract with him. It seeks Professor Salaita’s reinstatement and monetary relief, including compensation for the economic hardship and reputational damage he suffered as a result of the university’s actions. Shortly before the lawsuit was filed, UIUC rejected a recommendation from the university’s own Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT) that the university reconsider its decision.

“The court’s ruling clears the way for Professor Salaita to seek redress for the wrongs done by the university, including violating his right to speak freely on issues of public concern without being fired,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood. “The university must finally face the facts of what it has done to Professor Salaita and principles of academic freedom.”  

Today’s ruling comes on the heels of an Illinois state court’s decision in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on June 12 ordering university officials to turn over emails related to Professor Salaita’s firing that they had refused to divulge, as well as a vote by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to censure the university on June 13. The AAUP issued a report in April that concluded UIUC had violated academic freedom and due process.

The university’s leadership has faced increasing nationwide criticism over Salaita’s firing, particularly within the academic community.  Sixteen academic departments of the university have voted no confidence in the UIUC administration, and prominent academic organizations, including the American Historical Association, the Modern Language Association and the Society of American Law Teachers, have publicly condemned the university’s actions. More than 5,000 academics from around the country, including Dr. Cornel West and Angela Davis, have pledged to boycott UIUC, resulting in the cancellation of more than three dozen scheduled talks and conferences at the school. Last September, UIUC students staged a silent walk-out to protest what they said was the university’s silencing of Salaita.

“In its effort to have Professor Salaita’s lawsuit thrown out before discovery into the reasons for its decision, the university’s administration took a number of positions that showed contempt for its constitutional obligations, and raise serious doubts about the university’s commitment to academic freedom and its willingness to honor contractual commitments to its scholars,” said Anand Swaminathan of Loevy & Loevy. “We are extremely pleased that the court has rejected the university’s dubious arguments.”

After a rigorous year-long national search and interview process, the American Indian Studies program at UIUC offered Professor Salaita a tenured faculty position in Fall 2013, which he promptly accepted. Relying on UIUC’s contractual promise, Professor Salaita resigned from his tenured faculty position at Virginia Tech and prepared to move to Champaign. In August 2014, just two weeks before he was due to begin teaching, UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Vice President Christophe Pierre informed Professor Salaita that it had terminated his appointment. He was not given an opportunity to object or be heard.

Read the Ruling; learn more about the Salaita v. Kennedy, et al.
case
.


_________________
Source: CCR Press release




Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Obama gives a speech about the Iran nuclear deal (Full text)

    Wednesday, August 05, 2015   No comments
President Obama is continuing his push for the Iran nuclear deal, giving a speech at American University. Here is a complete transcript of his remarks.

OBAMA: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you very much.

I apologize for the slight delay; even presidents have a problem with toner.

(LAUGHTER)

It is a great honor to be back at American University, which has prepared generations of young people for service and public life.

I want to thank President Kerwin and the American University family for hosting us here today.

Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy, at the height of the Cold War, addressed this same university on the subject of peace. The Berlin Wall had just been built. The Soviet Union had tested the most powerful weapons ever developed. China was on the verge of acquiring the nuclear bomb. Less than 20 years after the end of World War II, the prospect of nuclear war was all too real.


With all of the threats that we face today, it is hard to appreciate how much more dangerous the world was at that time. In light of these mounting threats, a number of strategists here in the United States argued we had to take military action against the Soviets, to hasten what they saw as inevitable confrontation. But the young president offered a different vision.

OBAMA: Strength, in his view, included powerful armed forces and a willingness to stand up for our values around the world. But he rejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign-policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing.

read more >>

Saudi rulers' strategy is to be against Iran at every turn and to presume that Iran's hand is behind every negative act... this could really come back to haunt them

    Wednesday, August 05, 2015   No comments
TEXT HIGHLIGHTS
Jordan on the motivation behind Saudi Arabia’s recent military actions: “They have not articulated a strategy.  It does appear that they have - their strategy is to be against Iran at every turn and to presume that Iran's hand is behind every negative act, certainly in their eastern province in Bahrain and now in Yemen.  We haven't seen what the political objective is of the adventure in Yemen, and I think this could really come back to haunt them.”
Jordan’s description of Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud: “He was governor for almost 50 years.  Um, and so he had them started in his 20s.  He was and has been considered one of the least corrupt leaders.  He has been considered probably the hardest working member of the cabinet.  He would be in his office at 8 o'clock every morning.  The story goes that when he was appointed defense minister, he went over to the Ministry of Defense at 8 o'clock and the only person there was the gate guard. The next day, everyone was there at 8 o'clock.”

Jordan on how he ended up as the U.S. Amb to Saudi Arabia: “I asked myself that a number of times.  But as it turns out, the Saudis refused to give diplomatic credentials to a career foreign service officer as Amb to the kingdom.  They want someone who is a friend of the president, who can go over the heads of the bureaucracy, who doesn't have a career to protect and who can actually speak for the president with the king and his leadership.”


FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

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Monday, August 03, 2015

Erdoğan is blocking the formation of coalition government to force an early elections that might give his AKP a majority this time

    Monday, August 03, 2015   No comments

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is blocking efforts by political parties to form a coalition, even though Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu genuinely wants to create a government, according to the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“I am saying with all my sincerity: Mr. Davutoğlu really wants to form a government and solve the problems of the country. I sincerely sense it. But the person occupying the presidential seat is not allowing this. He is stirring up trouble,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told private broadcaster Habertürk TV late Aug. 2.

“Are you the prime minister or the president?” asked Kılıçdaroğlu, referring to Erdoğan’s recent statements allegedly infringing on areas of responsibility of the prime minister. 

“It’s the prime minister who is ruling the country. Let him do his job, let him speak. Why are you talking all the time, day and night? He has arrived at such a point that he has become the source of all problems,” he said. “He’s throwing the country into the fire for his own power, for his position. Have a heart!”


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