Archive for June 24, 2012

Mon Sep 12, 2011

Kuwait’s young activists have urged profound reforms in the emirate in efforts to make it a constitutional monarchy instead of a fiefdom of Al-Sabah family.

The activists, known as September 16 Youths group, also called for the dismissal of the current government, the dissolution of parliament, the holding of fresh elections, and the appointment of a prime minister from outside the House of Al-Sabah, AFP reported on Sunday.

Kuwaiti youth groups have been periodically calling for protests in the emirate since the Arab Spring hit the Middle East and North Africa earlier this year. The protesters are demanding the removal of the prime minister and for more political freedom in the state, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter.

The young activists want Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah to be replaced and demand the appointment of a politician from outside the Al-Sabah family, which has ruled Kuwait for 259 years.

The youth group has also called for achieving a constitutional monarchy, under which the Al-Sabah family will have the emir and crown prince, as stipulated by the constitution. The Kuwaiti people will then have the right to run the affairs of the state and the government.

The activists have called for a demonstration on Friday to push their demands.

Kuwait was the first Arab state in the Persian Gulf to establish an elected legislature in 1962, and the 50-seat parliament has some good legislative powers. However, the Al-Sabah family remained in control of most key posts, including the premiership and the ministries of defence, interior and foreign affairs.

Source: PressTV.

Sun Sep 11, 2011

Jordan’s largest opposition party, Islamic Action Front (IAF), has called on the government to close the Israeli embassy in the kingdom.

“The government should take a fast step in removing the Israeli embassy from Amman in light of continued Zionist violations against the sovereignty and interests of Jordan,” the IAF said in a statement published on its website.

The IAF emphasized that the Arab world rejects any relations with Israel and urged Arab leaders to take heed of their nations’ demand in this regard, Xinhua reported.

The Jordanian opposition group also praised the protests by the Egyptians against the Israeli embassy in the capital Cairo.

Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli embassy premises in Cairo after the Friday prayers to call for the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador.

Angry Egyptians also destroyed parts of the protective cement wall around the embassy and broke into the building, despite the presence of heavily armed Egyptian security forces.

According to medical sources, three people were killed and more than 1,000 people were injured in what has been described as the worst anti-Israeli outburst in Egypt in many years.

Many observers compare the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo with the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran following Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Source: PressTV.

Sun Sep 11, 2011

Two main opposition parties in Turkey have criticized the government over its decision about hosting a NATO missile defense system.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) accused the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “protecting the interests of other countries rather than the national interests,” according to a report by Turkish Sunday’s Zaman newspaper on Sunday.

NATO claims that the radar component of the missile system will be used against “missile threats from Iran.”

“The government has to explain to us where the threat is coming from and the necessity of such an involvement in the missile defense system. Both NATO and the US sources are saying that the system is being formed in response to threats from Iran. Unfortunately, the government is not giving us any explanation on these issues,” said Oktay Vural of the MHP.

“This system is directly designed as a shield against missile systems targeting Israel. Taking this step without informing the public sufficiently shows that Turkey’s foreign policy is now not centered in Ankara but instead the government is assuming a foreign policy based on international interests,” Vural added.

Vural went on to say that the move “is related to Washington’s interests rather than Turkey’s security and that this step is being taken in line with Israeli demands.”

CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman, Muharrem Ince, also said the ruling Justice and Development Party is “a party which on the one hand threatens Israel, while on the other protects Israel.”

Ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv frayed after the Israelis attacked a Turkish-flagged Gaza-bound aid convoy in international waters in 2010 which left nine Turkish activists dead and many others wounded.

Source: PressTV.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Associated Press

MANAMA, Bahrain — The harsh crackdown on anti-government protests in Bahrain has failed to silence people’s demands for greater rights, a senior Shiite cleric in the Gulf kingdom said Friday as thousands of opposition supporters rallied on the outskirts of the capital.

The latest demonstration was staged by people who say they were unfairly fired from their jobs simply for being members of the island nation’s Shiite community, which led the months of protests. Thousands of Shiite professionals accused of having a role in the protests have been fired from their jobs.

Shiites make up a majority of Bahrain’s people, but they have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the country’s ruling Sunni dynasty and a lack of economic opportunities.

A police helicopter flew over the large demonstration, which was backed by Bahrain’s biggest opposition party, Al Wefaq. The crowd chanted slogans against Bahrain’s 200-year-old Sunni monarchy. Some protesters demanded their jobs back and others urged opposition leaders not to compromise with the monarchy.

“Our revolution will continue,” the protesters chanted. They warned the rulers: “If you don’t want to listen then you have to leave.”

Bahrain is a strategically important nation in the Persian Gulf and is the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The U.S. has appealed to its ally to listen to protesters’ demands for more political freedoms, but a government-led national dialogue produced no compromise with the Shiite opposition, which only had token representation at the talks.

Bahrain’s senior Shiite cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, said the “politics of fear” and the Sunni rulers’ refusal to reform has strengthened the resolve of Shiites.

“Those who refuse to reform and continue to ignore the people’s demands for rights should know that the masses will not submit to despots,” the cleric said during Friday’s sermon in the opposition stronghold of Diraz, northwest of the capital, Manama.

More than 30 people have died since February when protests inspired by other Arab uprisings began in Bahrain.

Hundreds of activists have been detained and brought to trial on anti-state charges in a special security court.

Bahrain lifted emergency rule in June. Since then, government opponents have clashed with police almost every night.

Friday’s protest dispersed peacefully, although groups of opposition supporters marched to Manama’s Pearl Square, the heavily guarded former epicenter of Bahrain’s uprising.


September 09, 2011

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

KARBALA (BNO NEWS) — An Iraqi woman has given birth to a baby girl who has one eye and no nose, local media reported on Sunday. It is the second time the woman gave birth to a deformed child.

Doctors said the baby was recently born at the Women and Delivery Hospital in Karbala, the capital of Karbala Governorate, according to the Aswat al-Iraq news agency. “One of our women delivery chambers has witnessed a strange birth,” a doctor told the news agency.

Dr. Sabah Nour Hadi al-Moussawi said the 24-year-old mother from Najaf gave birth to a baby girl who has only one eye, no nose and a distorted ear. Moussawi said it was the first such case ever at the hospital, but noted that the woman previously also gave birth to a deformed child who died several years ago.

It was not immediately known what caused the deformations. In March 2010, doctors in the Iraqi city of Falluja reported high levels of birth defects, mainly involving the heart and nervous system.

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.


The Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH) opened its first annual congress in 11 years on Friday (September 9th), TAP reported. The group, which was barred from holding meetings under the regime of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, called on the country’s future leaders to ensure independent courts, women’s rights and the end of capital punishment. The three-day event was attended by Tunisian Interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi and NGOs from several Arab states.

Source: Magharebia.

Najaf, Iraq (AFP)
Sept 11, 2011

Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers not to launch any attacks on US troops before a year-end deadline for their withdrawal, in a statement seen on Sunday.

Sadr’s remarks came just days after he backtracked on a call for popular anti-government rallies. American forces have accused militias linked to the cleric of largely being behind attacks on its soldiers.

“In order that Iraq can recover its independence through the withdrawal of the invaders from our territory, I judge it indispensable to halt all armed resistance operations until the complete withdrawal of the occupying forces,” Sadr said in the statement originally issued Saturday.

“If the pullout is completed and there is no longer a single US soldier on our territory, the military operations will end definitively but if that is not the case and Iraq remains in a state of dependency, they will resume with greater vigor,” Sadr said.

He paid tribute to “the resistance for its actions” and said his movement was now working “hand in hand with the government to achieve the liberation of the country and supporting it against US pressure.”

In July, Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, spokesman for US forces in Iraq, accused three Shiite militia groups of being behind attacks on US troops.

He named them as the Promised Day Brigades, formed by Sadr in November 2008, and Ketaeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, two splinter groups which broke away from Sadr’s former Mahdi Army militia which fought US-led troops from 2004 to 2007.

The cleric’s bloc holds six cabinet posts and has 40 seats in parliament.

Sadr said in a separate statement on Monday that he was giving Iraq’s government a “last chance” to implement reforms, after earlier calling for protests.

His statement comes as Washington and Baghdad deliberate over the size of a US military training mission to last beyond year-end, after Iraqi leaders said last month they were open to such plans.

The new US Army chief warned on Thursday against leaving too large a force in Iraq after 2011, saying too many boots on the ground could feed the perception of an American “occupation.”

General Ray Odierno commanded US forces in Iraq until last year and was one of the senior officers who spearheaded the troop “surge” in 2007, which the military believes turned the tide in the war and reduced sectarian violence.

He spoke amid a debate in Washington over the scale of a possible future US military mission in Iraq and after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta endorsed a tentative plan for a force of 3,000-4,000 troops.

Some US lawmakers have criticized that number of soldiers and say senior officers favor a larger force of at least 10,000, which would include a unit deployed in northern Iraq to defuse Arab-Kurdish tensions.

But Odierno told reporters the United States had to carefully balance how many troops were needed to assist Iraqi forces while scaling back the American profile in a country where anti-US sentiment still runs high.

“I will say when I was leaving Iraq a year ago, I always felt we had to be careful about leaving too many people in Iraq,” said Odierno, who took over as army chief of staff on Wednesday.

“The larger the force that we leave behind … (the more) comments of ‘occupation force’ remain,” he added.

Source: Space War.

Washington (AFP)
Sept 10, 2011

The United States is considering a request from Turkey to base Predator drones there to operate against Kurdish separatists based in northern Iraq, The Washington Post reported late Saturday.

Citing unnamed senior US military officials, the newspaper said a decision to deploy the drones could strengthen the US-Turkish diplomatic alliance but draw the United States deeper into the conflict.

The US military has flown unarmed Predators from Iraqi bases since 2007, sharing their surveillance video with Turkey as part of a secretive crackdown against fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the report said.

But the counterterrorism partnership could end by December 31, when all US forces are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq.

According to The Post, US President Barack Obama’s administration has not yet made a decision on the Turkish request.

Last month, the United States offered Turkey its continued support in the fight against PKK rebels, after they claimed responsibility for the deaths of eight Turkish soldiers in an ambush.

The attack took place in the Cukurca region of Hakkari province, close to the border with Iraq. Eleven others were injured.

Previously undisclosed diplomatic cables show Turkey has become highly dependent on the Predators, U-2 spy aircraft and other US intelligence sources in its military campaign against the PKK, The Post said.

Source: Space War.