Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts

Friday, September 01, 2023

Presidential elections in Singapore.. Tharman is the likely successor to Halima Yaqoub

    Friday, September 01, 2023   No comments

Since its secession from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965 until today, Singapore has known only 3 prime ministers, while 8 presidents have succeeded in that small country in Southeast Asia, which is described as a "city-state"; With an area of 710 square kilometers, and a population of 5 million people, half of whom are foreigners coming to work, making it the fourth country in the world in terms of population density.

Singapore is a country of many races, ethnicities and religions, 3 quarters of its citizens are of the Chinese race, while the rest of the population belongs to the Malay race or mixed Indian or Eurasian race. As many ethnicities as there are many religions in Singapore as well and include Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism and Christianity.

All three prime ministers that Singapore has known came from ethnic Chinese - the largest of Singapore's ethnicities - and from one party, the People's Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore continuously since 1959.


And while the presidency of the government remained confined to the Chinese ethnicity, the ethnicities of those who assumed the position of head of state, which is an honorary position, varied, as they include, in addition to the Chinese ethnicity, the Malay and Indian ethnicities, and others of mixed ethnicities as well.


The religions of these presidents also varied between Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. The first president of the state was Youssef bin Ishaq, whose image is placed on the country’s banknotes. He is a Malay Muslim who held the position for 3 consecutive terms from the founding of the state until his death in 1970. While it was Executive power is in the hands of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and builder of Singapore and its first prime minister, who has been in office for 3 continuous decades.


The current president, Halima Yaqoub, 70, is a Muslim of the Malay ethnicity. She took office in 2017 after winning by acclamation, without a competitor, declaring that she was satisfied with one 6-year term that ends on September 17. Then, today, Friday, multi-party elections will be held to choose a successor.

In contrast to the position of prime minister, which the parties compete for in general legislative elections; The position of the president is non-partisan under the constitution, and the parliament remained the one who elects the president, until the constitution was amended in 1991, allowing him to be elected through presidential elections. Today's elections, Friday, are only the third since the constitutional amendment that transformed this position into a position elected by the public and gave the public the right to choose.


What is unique to Singapore in the requirements for a candidate for the presidency is that he has worked either as a senior government employee or CEO of a company whose shareholders have a value of at least 500 million Singapore dollars (370 million US dollars).


Although the role of the president in Singapore is largely ceremonial, there are strict requirements for the position, which formally oversees the country's accumulated financial reserves that can only be relied upon in exceptional circumstances, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2009 global financial crisis. With the power to veto certain actions and to approve anti-corruption investigations.


Three candidates who meet the conditions are competing in the elections taking place today, namely the Deputy Prime Minister and former Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is the youngest of the three candidates (65) and the most fortunate, compared to his competitors; They are Ing Kok Song, 75, and Tan Kin Lien, 75.

Economic backgrounds and a major public position appear to be the common denominator among the three contenders, who the election administration announced that they met the strict criteria for competition among the applicants for candidacy.


The announcement of their official acceptance of the candidacy came less than two weeks before the elections were held today, which is a very short period compared to the rest of the world, and was the object of the complaint of the candidate, Tan Kin Lien, who saw it as an insufficient period for the electoral campaign that ended last Wednesday before the election day of silence yesterday, Thursday.


The nominee, Ing Kok Song, is a former chief investment officer at the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund that manages the country's foreign reserves, and spent more than 4 decades working in public service until his retirement in 2013. Ing is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of Avanda Management Corporation. Investments worth billions of dollars.


Having spent years working closely with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Eng admitted he might be seen as "part of the establishment". However, he believes that the lack of direct political affiliation makes him an independent candidate. He never joined the Popular Action Party, which has ruled the country since its independence six decades ago. He believes that his long experience in the financial sector puts him in a good position to protect the national reserves.


As for Tan Kin Lien, a former presidential candidate in Singapore, this is his second attempt to win the position. Having come last out of 4 candidates in the 2011 presidential election, he is a former chairman of one of Singapore's leading insurance companies and has the support of several opposition leaders.


Layan presided over the International Federation of Cooperative and Mutual Insurance from 1992 to 1997, and the federation was an international organization that at that time represented 123 insurance groups in 65 countries, and employed 260,000 people. The total assets of the members of this international association amounted to 1.5 trillion US dollars in 1997.

As for the most likely candidate, Deputy Prime Minister and former Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, he is a multi-ethnic Singaporean citizen (Tamil-Indian-Ceylon) who is known as a supporter of the ruling People's Action Party, but he submitted his resignation before his candidacy. He is widely seen as having the support of the government, and has been questioned about his independence during the election campaign.


Before resigning his government positions to contest this election, Tharman spent more than two decades in office with the People's Action Party, rising to the position of Deputy Prime Minister.


He was first elected to Parliament in 2001 and was Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He also served as the Coordinating Minister for Social Policy, and provided economic advice to Prime Minister Lee.


He said that if given the opportunity to lead, he would be "total and impartial in the discharge of the constitutional duties of office in respect of the prudent use of the country's reserves".


While his rivals seemed preoccupied with their party independence, Tharman urged voters to judge candidates on their record, rather than their past affiliations.


"If I am lucky enough to be elected president, I will represent the unity of Singaporeans, of all races, religions, social backgrounds and political leanings, at a time when views among the population are becoming more diverse," he said.


Since Tharman entered Singaporean politics just over two decades ago, he has avoided constant calls from the public that he should become the next prime minister of the Southeast Asian country.


Tharman - who is very popular and has risen in the ranks of the ruling People's Action Party, and is very popular among members of the opposition - insists that he is not suitable for the position of prime minister. He even likened his refereeing skills to those of a soccer goal-maker, saying that he is better as a team player who can provide assists than a superstar who scores goals. "I enjoy making long passes," he said. "But I'm not the striker."


His candidacy is thus a far cry from the quest for the premiership currently held by Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Singapore's founding prime minister. He is expected to retire and choose his successor before the country's next general election in 2025.


But it is a step that helps avoid the looming question of whether the Chinese-majority country (or the ruling party) that promotes its multi-ethnic and pluralistic society is ready or reluctant to elevate someone from an ethnic minority to the position of prime minister.


Also unique to Singapore is voting, which is compulsory for more than 2.7 million eligible citizens of Singapore. Those who do not vote without valid reason are subject to being removed from the voter list.


He also notes the absence of long, orderly lines at polling stations, as well as the raucous atmosphere that can accompany elections in other countries, with supporters cheering or handing out flyers to push for last-minute votes. And "presidential elections are increasingly being treated as a general election."


Today's presidential elections are being watched closely as an indication of support for the ruling Popular Action Party after a rare series of political scandals that rocked the party recently, which is rare in a country that has benefited from the reputation of its clean government, and has become an international center for a group of industries such as finance and aviation, especially since the party has suffered from its worst electoral performance ever in 2020; However, he maintained his majority of more than two-thirds.

Observers said the vote could indicate the level of support for the PAP ahead of general elections scheduled for 2025 or discontent after recent scandals that include a corruption investigation into the transport minister and the resignation of two PAP lawmakers over an affair.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Philippines: Muslims affirm that the first dictionary of Islamic law will be issued bearing the slogan of justice and mercy

    Wednesday, August 30, 2023   No comments

With the Philippines achieving the achievement of publishing the first dictionary of Islamic law, Muslims expressed their happiness that the aforementioned book promotes neutrality and moves for it and benevolence.

Attorney Maysara Dandamoon Latif, a former Member of Parliament who is now the head of a local council, emphasized that the newly released dictionary enhances appreciation between different cultures.


He added, “The dictionary embraces the spirit of inclusiveness that welcomes individuals of different religions and ethnicities to enrich their understanding of Islamic concepts.


Latif emphasized that Sharia guides have never had dictionaries, and that the newly launched Islamic Sharia Dictionary is the first of its kind.


The responsible authorities stressed that the reader will understand that Sharia promotes justice and mercy instead of hatred and that it enhances understanding because Islamic Sharia teaches mercy, kindness and humanity.


Former Muslim Senator Sameera Gutuk said that the Dictionary of Islamic Law is a wonderful contribution to literature.


And she stressed, "Those who stand behind the completion of this book were not just authors and writers, but rather advocates who gathered together as one community."


Thursday, June 01, 2023

The quiet rise and rule of Singapore that cannot be unnoticed by its loud neighbors and distant friends

    Thursday, June 01, 2023   No comments

Singapore is rarely in the news. Countries, other than Western countries, are usually in the news because bad things are happening in them. That is one of the persistent biases of Western media. Here, we review several news stories covering events in Singapore, this multiethnic and multireligious countries, with its Muslim woman president, Halimah Yacob, though the position of the President of Singapore is ceremonial, her presence in the presidency will be useful in integrating Singapore's economy with that of Muslim-majority neighbors like Indonesia and Malaysia as well as the 57-nation bloc of Muslim-majority countries around the world.

Singapore overtakes Hong Kong as the most expensive Asia-Pacific city for private homes

Singapore’s private homes are now the most expensive in Asia-Pacific, having overtaken Hong Kong, according to a new report.

Data from the Home Attainability Index from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Asia Pacific Centre for Housing showed the median price of Singapore’s private homes was $1.2 million in 2022, compared to Hong Kong’s $1.16 million.


Private rental homes in Singapore also had the highest monthly rent in the region at $2,600 — “far exceeding” other cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong, according to the report...

Read the full article here.


The article below makes the case for Singapore as being better in more than just one aspect.


Why Singapore is superior to Hong Kong in almost every way

It’s amusing to read comments by local property tycoon Ronnie Chan Chi-chung about places such as Singapore being “artificial”, “charmless” and “super boring”. Hong Kong, on the other hand, has the six “Gs” that are its unique advantages: genetics, geography, a culture of giving, the GBA (Greater Bay Area), its government and grey matter.

Really? The problem with tycoons everywhere, and not just in Hong Kong, is that they feel free to pontificate because they are rarely challenged, well, not in their face anyway. So I am glad reader John Chan of Singapore has written a rebuttal, pointing out that the city state enjoys both higher per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and median monthly household income. It’s doing very well, thank you very much!

Maybe Ronnie Chan can counter, as you would if you are a tycoon, that the capitalisation of Hong Kong’s stock market far exceeds that of Singapore or that the latter’s IPO market is minuscule compared to his city’s. Hong Kong has Disneyland, but hey, they have Universal Studios.

But all these comparisons are superficial.

The fundamental fact is that Singapore is a city state, rather than... read article


Politically, Singapore is oftten courted by other countries to take side in relation to global matters. This article is one example.


Europe sends big hitters to Singapore to rally Asian allies against Russia


Europe is fretting that Asia isn’t doing enough to condemn Russia and support Ukraine — and it’s revving up efforts to sway Asian officials in person. 

On Friday, an unprecedentedly high-profile European delegation will converge in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security forum. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will be there, as will EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, flanked by Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov. 

U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is also expected to attend in person — as are Boris Pistorius, Kajsa Ollongren and Pål Jonson, the defense ministers from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Their goal: Rally more Asian countries to help Kyiv.

While many Asian nations initially joined in condemning Russia’s invasion at the United Nations, countries like India and Vietnam continue to count on Russian military or energy supplies, while Western allies Japan and South Korea are unable to... read article








Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Germany: The first cause of Europe's crisis is the rise of Asia, not the Ukraine war

    Tuesday, November 22, 2022   No comments

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed that "the past 30 years of low inflation and stable economic growth in Europe were exceptional," stressing that "the conflict in Ukraine is not the main reason for the end of this era, but it has accelerated it."

Today, Tuesday, during an economic forum that brought together representatives of economic companies in Berlin, Scholz said: "Today we are in a new stage of globalization, and over the past 30 years, here in Europe and North America, we have witnessed stable growth, low inflation and high employment rates." And the conflict in Ukraine It hastened the end of this era, but it's not the main reason."

"The real reason is the growth of Asian economies, which compete with Europe in energy, raw materials and technology," Scholz said, warning "once again of a decline in globalization" and calling for "economic diversification."

"The real reason is the growth of Asian economies." German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.


He stressed that "Germany will not make the mistake of entering into an energy dependency, such as the one that has arisen in recent years with Russia with regard to natural gas supplies for the second time," and added, "What I understood after holding a number of talks with representatives of the German economy is that this mistake It won't happen to us again."


During the forum organized by the Bavarian daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" newspaper, Scholz explained the types of challenges facing the German economy, and his ambition to diversify its sources of energy supply in multiple regions, from now on. He promised the Germans that he would "work so that the German economy and Germany can regain its place as a place for business, and get through the hard times."


Friday, July 22, 2022

Lavrov before his African tour: Russia and Africa continue to reduce the shares of the dollar and the euro in their dealings; military missions in Ukraine is now beyond Donbass region

    Friday, July 22, 2022   No comments

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has had a very busy month in July. He has visited a number of Asian and African countries mainly to explain Russia's position on the war in Ukraine and to thank some states for not joining the sanctions imposed against his country. It would seem that his trip was successful to the extent that he was able to even revise the mission of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, it is now about more than the Donbass region. Here is a rundown of key events and statements.

___________________________

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to report on his recent foreign tour.

During his meeting with members of the Russian Security Council, Putin said: "Today, we will discuss some issues on the international agenda, and I ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to talk about the results of his foreign tour. I have read his written reports, but I would like to share these results and impressions from your tour with colleagues." .


Besides Lavrov, the meeting was attended by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishusti, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev, Presidential Administration Head Anton Vaino, Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov, as well as Special Presidential Envoy for Environmental Protection and Transport Sergei Ivanov .


Lavrov recently completed a foreign tour that included Mongolia and Vietnam, as well as Indonesia, where he participated in the meeting of foreign ministers of the "Group of Twenty", and met a number of its foreign ministers, with the exception of foreign ministers of Western countries and the United States.


The "Group of Twenty" meeting represents a prelude to the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Group of Twenty to be held next November in Indonesia, which it invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend.


Next week, Lavrov will tour a number of African countries, starting next Sunday in Egypt, where he will deliver a speech before the League of Arab States.


Earlier, the Russian Foreign Minister noted that "Russia and African partners are constantly working to reduce the dollar and euro shares in their mutual trade."


*****

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov start an African tour, starting with a visit to Egypt, on Sunday, in an effort to benefit from the desire of some countries to join non-Western alliances.


In Egypt, Lavrov would meet officials who are trying to raise the level of strong relations with Russia to the level of their close relationship with the United States, which sought with other Western powers to isolate Russia by imposing severe sanctions on it, after its military operation in Ukraine, on February 24.


After meeting with members of the Arab League in Cairo, Lavrov is  heading to Ethiopia and Uganda, the two countries whose relations with the West have recently been strained, and then to the Republic of the Congo.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "Russia and African partners are constantly working to reduce the shares of the dollar and the euro in their mutual trade."


"The current geopolitical situation requires a certain adjustment of our interaction mechanisms, first of all, we are talking about the need to ensure uninterrupted logistics and the creation of financial settlement systems that are protected from external interference," added Lavrov.


"Russia, in cooperation with partners, is taking steps to expand the use of national currencies and payment systems, and is constantly working to reduce the share of the dollar and the euro in mutual trade," Lavrov said.


The minister noted that Russia "supports the creation of an independent and efficient financial system that is not vulnerable to possible influence from unfriendly countries."


He added, "Developing a comprehensive partnership with African countries remains among the important priorities of Russia's foreign policy. We are open to its further construction in line with the strategic decisions taken at the first Russia-Africa Summit at the end of October 2019 in Sochi."


The Minister stressed that Russia is open to building a comprehensive partnership with African countries, and will continue to fulfill its obligations to provide these countries with food, fertilizers and energy carriers, noting at the same time that Western sanctions against Russia have exacerbated the difficult situation in the food market.


In a related context, the Russian Foreign Minister expressed his country's appreciation for the balanced position of Africans regarding what is happening in and around Ukraine. "We know that African colleagues do not agree with the overt attempts of the United States and its European subordinates to dictate their will to everyone, to impose a unipolar model of world order on the international community," he said. "We appreciate the balanced position of Africans."


"Despite unprecedented external pressure, our (African) friends did not join the sanctions against Russia. Such an independent line deserves deep respect," he added.


*****


On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly talked about sanctions on "North Stream-2" and reducing the share of gas supplies through "North Stream-1" to reach 50% of its capacity, considering that "therefore, Europe is responsible for the energy crisis, not Russia."


In an exclusive interview with "Sputnik" and "RT", Lavrov said that "in principle, his country will not abandon the old economic chains, and will work to build new, more reliable chains, and this is what Russia is doing in the current circumstances."


Lavrov noted that "there are a number of new economic initiatives, including the "North-South" corridor extending from St. Petersburg to the Indian Ocean and from India to Vladivostok, adding that "there are a whole number of projects, which are now at a high degree of implementation." ".


He pointed out that Russia has "excellent and distinguished relations with Africa since the era of the Soviet Union," adding: "We participated in the construction of giant industrial projects on the African continent, in addition to the role of the Soviet Union in liberating many African countries from colonialism."


Lavrov revealed the expected visits to Africa this year, explaining that "it will include Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and Congo. He considered Africa, India and China as very promising markets."


Since the launch of the Russian special military operation on February 24, Western countries have imposed severe and unprecedented economic and financial sanctions on Russia.


Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that "Russia does not plan to occupy Ukrainian territory," explaining that "Russia's goal is to protect people who, for 8 years, have been subjected to persecution and genocide by the Kyiv regime."


The sanctions range from banning oil exports, tying up the banking sector, and preventing companies from major countries from dealing with the Russian market, in addition to banning dealing through the “Swift” system for international banking transactions, freezing the assets of the Russian Central Bank in Western countries, as well as closing the airspace to Russian aircraft. And he imposed direct sanctions on deputies and the circle surrounding the Kremlin, right up to Russian President Vladimir Putin personally.


On the other hand, the sanctions imposed on Russia cast a shadow on international supply and supply chains, and confused the European economy first, especially in the sectors of energy, trade, manufacturing, banking and markets, in addition to their repercussions on global food prices.


*****


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow's military missions in Ukraine have gone beyond the eastern Donbass region.


Lavrov: "The facts of geography have changed since officials from Russia and Ukraine held negotiations in Turkey in late March that failed to achieve any breakthrough."

"Now the geography has changed, and it is no longer related to the two republics, but also to the Kherson and Zaporizhzh regions and a number of other regions," Lavrov added, referring to lands outside the two republics that were completely or partially controlled by Russia.


"The process continues in a logical and diligent manner," he added, noting that "Russia may need to go deeper."


At the beginning of this month, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced "the liberation of the territory of the Lugansk People's Republic", and Russian forces took control of areas outside Donbass, especially in the southern regions of Zaporizhia and Kherson.


Lavrov: Peace talks with Ukraine are useless

With regard to peace talks with Ukraine, Lavrov said that it was "useless to conduct them" for the time being. Lavrov noted that the first rounds of talks with Ukraine proved that Kyiv "does not want to discuss any issue seriously."


"They will not be able to formulate anything that deserves serious attention from serious people," the Russian foreign minister added, "and we have already realized that."


Talks between Russia and Ukraine stalled in mid-April, Lavrov said, explaining that Western arms supplies to Ukraine had altered the Kremlin's calculations.


Lavrov also stated that the United States of America and the United Kingdom want to push Russia to confront Europe, by providing them with arms to Ukraine.


It is noteworthy that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, had confirmed, last June, that "the Russian air defense systems will break down the weapons obtained by Ukraine from the West like nuts."


Thursday, March 24, 2022

In the first visit of its kind... the Chinese Foreign Minister arrives in Kabul

    Thursday, March 24, 2022   No comments

 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Kabul today, according to a Taliban official, a week before Beijing hosts a meeting between Afghanistan's neighbors to discuss ways to help the country after the Taliban seized power.

In the context, a government official, Ahmed Yasir, wrote in a tweet, that "the Chinese Foreign Minister arrived in Kabul to meet officials from the Islamic Emirate."

The minister arrived in Kabul from Islamabad, where he participated, over two days, in a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

It is noteworthy that China shares with Afghanistan a small part of its border, 76 kilometers at a very high altitude, but Beijing has long feared that its neighbor could become a base for separatists and Islamists from the Uighur ethnicity.

Before the Taliban seized power on August 15, Beijing sought to maintain its ties with the hardline Islamic movement, at a time when US and NATO forces were withdrawing from Afghanistan.






Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hiroshima survivors look to Obama visit for disarmament, not apology

    Thursday, April 14, 2016   No comments
Progress on ridding the world of nuclear weapons, not an apology, is what Hiroshima would want from a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to the Japanese city hit by an American nuclear attack 71 years ago, survivors and other residents said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to the city on Monday that Obama wanted to travel there, though he did not know if the president's schedule would allow him to when he visits Japan for a Group of Seven summit in May.

No incumbent U.S. president has ever visited Hiroshima.

A presidential apology would be controversial in the United States, where a majority view the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and of the city of Nagasaki three days later, as justified to end the war and save U.S lives.

The vast majority of Japanese think the bombings were unjustified.

"If the president is coming to see what really happened here and if that constitutes a step toward the abolition of nuclear arms in future, I don't think we should demand an apology," said Takeshi Masuda,
a 91-year-old former school teacher. source

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rulers of Saudi Arabia "gifted" Malaysia's PM Najib Razak to support him in his "election campaign" against the Muslim Brotherhood

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016   No comments
During an investigation of allegations of corruption charges of Malaysian PM, investigators revealed evidence of Saudi interference in internal affairs of other Muslim countries.  

It was discovered that the $681m (£479m) deposited in the bank account of Malaysian PM Najib Razak by Saudi Arabia was to help him win the 2013 elections, a Saudi source says.

Malaysia's attorney general cleared Mr Najib of allegations of corruption on Tuesday after ruling that the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.

Mr Najib had denied that the money came from state-owned investment fund 1MDB.

The Saudi source said the donation was made amid concern in Riyadh about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

At the time, Malaysia's opposition alliance included the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). Its founders were inspired by the Brotherhood, although there is little evidence the Brotherhood actually has much support in Malaysia.

Mr Najib's coalition went on to win the election, but with one of its poorest showings in more than 50 years in power.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin: 40 countries, including those among the G-20, finance ISIL

    Monday, November 16, 2015   No comments
Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed some 40 countries, including those among the Group of 20 nations, for financing Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, Russia Today reported Nov. 16.

“I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State [ISIL] units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries, and there are some of the G-20 members among them,” Putin told the journalists during a briefing on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Turkey’s Mediterranean city of Antalya.

“I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” the Russian leader was quoted as saying.


“The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon,” Putin said, comparing the convoy to gas and oil pipeline systems.

“I can confirm that we have established contacts with... Syrian opposition on the battlefield which asked us to conduct air strikes,” Putin also said.

The Russian leader’s harsh criticism came one day after his brief meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, on the sidelines of the summit.  

Monday, November 02, 2015

Kuwait Court Jails Five over ISIL Fundraising

    Monday, November 02, 2015   No comments
A lower court in Kuwait on Monday sentenced five men to 10 years in jail each for raising funds for the ISIL group.

Three of those convicted were Kuwaiti citizens, according to the court ruling.

The court ordered that the remaining two, who were foreigners, be deported after serving the jail term. Their nationalities were not immediately clear.

It also acquitted two others, AFP reported on Monday.



The men were charged with raising about 400,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($1.3 million) and transferring the funds to ISIL, which has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq and carried out attacks throughout the Middle East.

Over the past year, Kuwaiti courts have issued several rulings against ISIL supporters.


In September, a lower court sentenced seven people, including five in absentia, to death for helping a Saudi suicide bomber carry out an attack on a Shiite mosque in Kuwait that killed 26 worshipers and wounded hundreds.


 Dozens of Kuwaitis have fought alongside armed groups operating in Syria, and a number have been killed in the conflict.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Point of View from China: Despite refugee crisis, wrangle over Syria sadly continues

    Thursday, September 10, 2015   No comments
By Sun Xiaobo

A wave of mainly Syrian refugees has overwhelmed European countries and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced on Wednesday plans to distribute about 120,000 additional asylum seekers. But meanwhile, the US, which has been shielded from the situation due to its geographic advantages, continued to wrestle with Russia over the Syrian issue.

Amid recent allegations of a Russian military buildup in Syria, the US asked Bulgaria and Greece to deny permission to Russian military transport planes bound for Syria to fly over their territories. US Secretary of State John Kerry even called his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, warning that Russian actions could "risk confrontation" with the US-led coalition.


The burgeoning refugee crisis has prompted reflection. It is rooted in the attempt by the US and its Western allies to topple the Assad regime, which has plunged the country into long-term chaos and fostered the rampant Islamic State (IS). More than four years of civil war has killed more than 300,000 Syrian people, displaced over 7.6 million and made 4 million flee the war-torn country.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Wealthy Gulf Nation Official: "We should never allow refugees in our country"

    Sunday, September 06, 2015   No comments
Humanitarian crisis: Syrian child washed ashore
The Arab nations of the Persian Gulf have some the world’s highest per capita incomes. Their leaders speak passionately about the plight of Syrians, and their state-funded news media cover the Syrian civil war without cease.

Yet as millions of Syrian refugees languish elsewhere in the Middle East and many have risked their lives to reach Europe or died along the way, Gulf nations have agreed to resettle only a surprisingly small number of refugees.
Protesters accuse Saudi King of committing war crimes

As the migration crisis overwhelms Europe and after images of a drowned Syrian toddler crystallized Syrian desperation, humanitarian groups are increasingly accusing the Arab world’s richest nations of not doing enough to help out.

Accenting that criticism are the deep but shadowy roles countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia have played in Syria by bankrolling rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

And wealthy Gulf citizens — with or without their governments’ knowledge — have helped fund the rise of Syria’s jihadists, according to American officials.



Kuwaiti Official: "We Should Never Allow Refugees in our Country" 

 


Thursday, July 16, 2015

WikiLeaks Cables Show a Saudi Obsession With Iran and interference in business of academic institutions around the world

    Thursday, July 16, 2015   No comments
Saudis wanted to fire university president
For decades, Saudi Arabia has poured billions of its oil dollars into sympathetic Islamic organizations around the world, quietly practicing checkbook diplomacy to advance its agenda.

But a trove of thousands of Saudi documents recently released by WikiLeaks reveals in surprising detail how the government’s goal in recent years was not just to spread its strict version of Sunni Islam — though that was a priority — but also to undermine its primary adversary: Shiite Iran.

The documents from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry illustrate a near obsession with Iran, with diplomats in Africa, Asia and Europe monitoring Iranian activities in minute detail and top government agencies plotting moves to limit the spread of Shiite Islam.



read more >>

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pakistani minister rejects Gulf States' criticism of his country's neutral Yemen stance

    Sunday, April 12, 2015   No comments

Pakistan's interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, on Sunday rejected as "against diplomatic norms" remarks by a UAE minister that Pakistan "will have a heavy price to pay" for its neutral stand in the conflict in Yemen.

Pakistani parliament has unanimously urged the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to remain neutral in the Yemen conflict.

Saudi Arabia, which is a long-standing ally of Pakistan and has led a coalition to launch airstrikes on Shiite Houthis in Yemen, has not yet commented on the parliament resolution; however, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash condemned the Pakistani decision.

Gargash said Pakistan is required to show a clear stand in favor of its strategic relations with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, as contradictory and ambiguous views on this serious matter will have a heavy price to pay.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson avoided comments on the statement when the media sought response to the UAE minister.

The interior minister; however, dismissed what he called a " threatening approach."

"Pakistan nation has brotherly sentiments for Saudi Arabia and UAE. But the threats by the UAE minister are unfortunate and a matter of concern," the Pakistani minister said in a statement.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

ISIL kills 3 of its Chinese members who attempted to leave

    Thursday, February 05, 2015   No comments
The Islamic State (IS) has killed three Chinese militants who tried to leave the group, an official from the Kurdish security force in Iraq told the Global Times.

The Kurdish security official  said Wednesday that in the past six months, IS has executed 120 of its members who attempted to escape from the group and leave Iraq and Syria. Among the 120, three were Chinese citizens and were members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a terrorist organization that is also known as the Turkistan Islamic Party.


One of the Chinese militants was seized and executed last September, according to the official. He became disillusioned with IS after arriving in Syria, but was later caught and executed after an unsuccessful attempt to flee to Turkey.

The official said the other two Chinese militants were executed last December in Iraq along with 11 other IS members from six countries. They were executed for "treason."

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Who’s Killing Pakistan’s Shia and Why?

    Monday, May 26, 2014   No comments
C. Christine Fair

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in 2013 nearly 700 Shia were killed and more than 1,000 were injured in more than 200 sectarian terrorist attacks. Over 90 percent of those attacks occurred in Quetta, Karachi, Kangu, Parachinar, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Since the beginning of 2000, nearly 4,000 persons have been killed and 6,800 injured (see figure below).  Who is hunting Pakistan’s Shia and, most importantly, why?


The explanation for Pakistan’s deadly sectarian present lies in the communal politics of Pakistan’s pre-history and the subsequent decisions that Pakistani elites made in the early years about nation building in the new state.  The current path of violence and intolerance may have been paved well before Pakistan became independent in 1947.

Pakistan: Born to Other

As the British appetite for maintaining the Raj declined after World Wars I and II, it became increasingly clear that the declining imperial power would accede to mounting Indian nationalist demands to quit the subcontinent. However, it was not clear what political order would rise from the detritus of the erstwhile Raj.  Some Muslims associated with the All India Muslim League feared that, in a Hindu-majority state, Muslims would be subjected to separate and unequal status.  The Congress Party, which claimed to represent all groups in India and which enjoyed a pan-Indian presence, challenged these claims. However, some within the Congress Party increasingly began to evidence communal sentiments which further discomfited some Muslims in India.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who is...

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Death Stalks Muslims as Myanmar Cuts Off Aid

    Tuesday, May 06, 2014   No comments
SITTWE, Myanmar — By the time the baby girl was brought to the makeshift pharmacy, her chest was heaving, her temperature soaring. The supply of oxygen that might have helped was now off limits, in a Doctors Without Borders clinic shut down by the government in February.


A hospital visit was out of the question; admission for Rohingya Muslims, a long-persecuted minority, always requires a lengthy approval process — time that the baby, named Parmin, did not have. In desperation, the pharmacy owner sent the family to the rarely staffed Dapaing clinic, the only government emergency health center for the tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims herded into displaced people’s camps. Although it was just 4 p.m., the doors were shuttered.

“We became like crazy people, running everywhere,” the child’s grandmother, Daw Mu Mu Lwin, said. With no good choices left, the family returned to the pharmacy, where Parmin died, untreated, three and a half hours later, cradled in her grandmother’s arms.

The baby’s death was part of a rapidly expanding death toll and humanitarian crisis among the Rohingya, a Muslim minority that Myanmar’s Buddhist-led government has increasingly deprived of the most basic liberties and aid even as it trumpets its latest democratic reforms.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and other "moderate" Arabs meeting Israeli officials

    Monday, April 14, 2014   No comments
Saudi foreign minister
Israel is holding secret talks with some Arab states that do not recognise it, looking to establish diplomatic ties based on a common fear of Iran, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday.
   
Amongst the countries he was in contact with were Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Lieberman told newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth - the first such disclosure by a senior Israeli official.

   
Saudi Arabia denied having any talks with Israel. Kuwait was not immediately available for comment.
   
Both these states, along with most other Arab nations, have traditionally been highly hostile towards Israel, which has only signed peace deals with two neighbours - Egypt and Jordan.
   
However, anti-Israeli sentiment was being superseded by a growing concern over Iran's nuclear programme, Tehran's regional allies, and the menace of Islamist militancy, Lieberman said.
   
"For the first time there is an understanding there that the real threat is not Israel, the Jews or Zionism. It is Iran, global jihad, (Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla group) Hezbollah and al Qaeda," the foreign minister said.
   
"There are contacts, there are talks, but we are very close to the stage in which within a year or 18 months it will no longer be secret, it will be conducted openly," added Lieberman, who is a far rightist in the coalition government.
   
Lieberman said he was in touch with "moderate" Arabs - a term Israelis often use for Sunni states in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Middle East that align with U.S. interests. He also said he would have no problem visiting Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.
   
"I have spent more than a few years of meetings and talks with them. As far as they are concerned, there is only one red rag and that is Iran," he said.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar

    Wednesday, March 05, 2014   No comments
GCC states
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday in an unprecedented public split between Gulf Arab allies who have fallen out over the role of Islamists in a region in turmoil.

Qatar's cabinet voiced "regret and surprise" at the decision by the fellow-members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, but said Doha would not pull out its own envoys and that it remained committed to GCC security and stability.

The Saudi-led trio said they had acted because Qatar failed to honor a GCC agreement signed on November 23 not to back "anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals - via direct security work or through political influence, and not to support hostile media".

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fuming especially over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement whose political ideology challenges the principle of dynastic rule.

They also resent the way Doha has sheltered influential Brotherhood cleric Yusuf Qaradawi and given him regular airtime on its pan-Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera.

The GCC, which normally keeps its disputes under wraps, is a pro-Western alliance of monarchies set up in the 1980s to counter Iranian influence in the Gulf, and includes several of the world's biggest producers and exporters of oil and gas.

Kuwait and Oman did not join the diplomatic rebuke to Qatar. Kuwait's parliament speaker Marzouq al-Ghanim said he was concerned by its implications. Oman has not commented.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

In an exclusive interview to CCTV correspondent Wang Weiwei, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has confirmed that Syria plans to honor its commitment to the chemical weapons disarmament deal

    Monday, September 23, 2013   No comments
In an exclusive interview to CCTV correspondent Wang Weiwei, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has confirmed that Syria plans to honor its commitment to the chemical weapons disarmament deal.
 
But he warned that rebels could throw a spanner in the works when UN weapons inspectors arrive to oversee the destruction of the weapons. Al-Assad gave more details in the exclusive interview.
Reporter: "According to the US-Russia's agreement, after the list is handed in to the OPCW, UN inspectors will enter Syria again this November. And all weapons should be removed from Syria or destroyed by mid-2014. Is the Syrian government able to meet the timeline?"

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said, "For the Syrian government, right now we need to ensure two things: one is to submit necessary information and data to the OPCW. This has been done days ago. It has been completed last week and the information is credible. Second is to facilitate the work of the UN inspectors who will visit the production and restoration sites of the chemical weapons in the coming month. There is no question to that. Now the only obstacle is the security conditions in some areas, which will make it difficult for the inspectors to enter. We know that those terrorist militants in these areas take orders from some countries, who may instigate them to block the visit of the inspector. And they may even shift the blame on to the government."

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