Archive for July, 2012

Written by Abdullah Omar
Monday, July 23, 2012

Earlier this month, dozens of students used guns, knives and Molotov cocktail during a brawl in Muta university in Karak. The incident highlighted how fragile security is in a country that prides itself as a safe heaven in a region bubbling with uncertainty.

Thousands of students from the Gulf and other areas are currently studying in Jordan, which has a long tradition of excellent universities. Officials fear that if the fighting continues, the Gulf countries will stop sending students, an important source of revenue for the financially-strapped kingdom.

At least 20 people were injured during the melee in the southern city of Kerak when dozens of students from two East Bank (Native Jordanian) tribes, the al-Bararsheh and the Hamaydeh fought after one student accused another of stealing his cell phone.

A deputy dean was stabbed in the back and a number of buildings were reduced to ashes before security forces intervened to contain the situation, said eyewitnesses.

“An argument developed into a fist fight. Within minutes several people from both tribes were at each other throats,” Ali Abdul Rahman Jabari, an engineering student told The Media Line.

He said the situation spiraled out of control after one student began bleeding after being stabbed in the back. Students from both tribes called for reinforcements from relatives living in nearby villages.

The university this week suspended 17 students who took part in the fighting. University officials say they are concerned that the incident could have a negative impact on the country’s reputation as a regional hub for higher education.

The fight is the latest episode in a series of brawls on both private and public universities campuses. Most of the fights begin over issues such as insulting a girl’s honor, or allegations of theft.

At the University of Jordan, the kingdom’s largest university, there have been several tribal related fights.

Abdul Rahman Shasheer, a member of the student council said tensions over internal elections or insults to girls have sparked fighting.

“Most fights develop between students coming from small villages who are very conservative and others from the city with a more open minded approach,” he told The Media Line. “They start as a confrontation between two people and develop into mass brawls.”

Officials, psychologists and social activists are struggling to come up with an explanation.

They blame blind allegiance to tribes, deteriorating living standards, and political repression. There are also clashes between modern and conservative approaches to the relations between men and women.

Psychologist Hussein Khuzay believes the absence of the rule of law in Jordan and widespread nepotism and favoritism have created a crisis of confidence between the public and the government.

“People no longer believe that official channels can protect people’s rights,” he said.

“Favoritism is now deeply rooted in universities and other public institutions, which leads to putting incompetent people in sensitive posts.”

Khuzay says the rising number of brawls clearly shows authorities are unable to control the students on campuses.

Students from the University of Jordan say there is no discipline in the university and no consequences for fighting.

They say most students who have been involved in clashes have not been punished or had their punishment suspended after interference from influential figures in the security apparatus, the royal court or the parliament.

“We have in our universities students who do not deserve to be in here, but were allowed in because they have ties with influential figures universities but are granted seats due to their links to influential figures.,” Fakher Daas, the coordination of the national committee for students rights told The Media Line. “Most fights are initiated by these groups.”

Meanwhile, Mohammad Khatib, the spokesman of the public security department blamed the universities for not being able to stop students from carrying weapons.

“It is not the responsibility of the police to prevent students from carrying weapons inside universities,” he said. “The police can not enter these sacred sites.”

Khatib said the government is concerned that such fights could spill over to nearby towns and cities.

Students from the oil-rich Gulf often pay full tuition, and universities are called “the oil of Jordan.” In Muta, officials from the Saudi embassy said at least 700 Saudi students applied to be transferred following the surge in level of violence.

Officials from the Ministry of Higher Education expressed concern that a bad reputation will encourage new students to apply to other countries and not to come to Jordan.

The kingdom generates hundreds of millions of dollars by providing education to foreign nationals, but the rising violence could push students to look elsewhere, says economic expert Hussam Ayesh.

“University violence will dent Jordan’s reputation as a safe heaven for students and this well translate into heavy financial losses to a major contributor to the national economy,” he said.

He also believes that the brawls among educated young Jordanians could discourage foreign investors from opening projects in Jordan, particularly in areas hit by violence.

Source: The Media Line.

Thursday 15 September 2011

AMMAN: About 2,000 Jordanians demonstrated outside the Kaluti Mosque in Rabia neighborhood here Thursday night urging the closure of the Israeli Embassy and the abrogation of the peace treaty with Israel.

The security authorities cordoned off the area and set up metal barricades outside the mosque to prevent protesters from proceeding to the Israeli mission which was earlier evacuated of its staff by the Israeli government.

Participants, mainly belonging to the Islamic-led opposition, trade unions and Pan-Arab groups, chanted slogans and raised placards urging the government to cancel the peace pact Jordan signed with the Zionist state in 1994.

Activists earlier called on Facebook for a demonstration of one million participants, but the call apparently failed possibly because of unprecedented security measures taken by the authorities.

One of the slogans during the protest was: “The Qur’an is our constitution and Jihad is our path.”

Another slogan was: “No to the alternative homeland and we are going to burn Israel.”

The slogan referred to suggestions by extremist Israeli politicians for the setting up of a homeland for Palestinians in Jordan instead of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“The grudge against Israel is rapidly building up in the country because of its crimes in Palestine and elsewhere,” said Hamzeh Mansour, secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front, the country’s main opposition party.

“The Jordanian people are against the establishment of normal ties with this enemy,” he told Arab News.

Responding to Israel’s decision to evacuate the embassy in Amman, Mansour said: “The Zionist enemy is feeling further isolation as a result of the Arab Spring.”

“It also feels that its existence is no longer safe and stable, particularly after what happened in Cairo last week,” he added.

Thursday’s rally found inspiration from a demonstration in Cairo that ended last Friday when the Israeli diplomatic mission was stormed and the staff was evacuated by commandos.

Source: Arab News.

By Duraid Al Baik
September 16, 2011

United front will work with people within the country and with international community to stop the killings.

Dubai: Syrian opposition figures marked the start of the seventh month of the people’s uprising against the rule of President Bashar Al Assad’s regime by forming a 140-member Syrian National Council. The group includes 70 exiled opposition figures and 70 from inside the country, according to Paris-based Dr Basma Kodmani, secretary of the council.

She said the council will act as a united front against the brutality of the regime and will work with people inside Syria and with the international community to stop the killings. The council consists of various political groups with different ideological backgrounds. It has a majority of secular representatives in addition to Islamists and leftists. Sources close to the steering committee of the council told Gulf News that hectic efforts were invested for the formation of the group. “Meetings were held in Turkey, Egypt, Belgium and in the UK to come up with a unified front capable of representing Syrians inside the country and abroad. The council would hopefully be a turning point in the struggle against the regime which has killed more than 3,500 people and injured 20,000 in its full-scale war against civilians,” Dr Ammar Qurabi, head of the Council for Change in Syria, told Gulf News.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Syrian opposition members were meeting in Paris with French officials on Thursday and Friday.

Source: Gulf News.

JAKARTA (BNO NEWS) — The Indonesian government will monitor developments around a Dutch court ruling on the 1947 Rawagede massacre, a presidential spokesman said on Thursday.

A Dutch court ruled on Wednesday that the Netherlands was responsible for the massacre carried out by its colonial troops in the town of Rawagede, east of Jakarta, on December 9, 1947. It said the victims’ families should be compensated, although it is not known how much they will be paid.

Teuku Faizasyah, the president’s special aide on international affairs, declined to comment on what the government would do next to follow up on the ruling, the Jakarta Globe reported. He only said the government hoped the ruling could meet the people’s sense of justice.

In 2008, the widows of eight victims and one survivor from Rawagede filed a lawsuit against the Dutch state to demand compensation for the massacre. The Netherlands has admitted the executions in the past but had insisted that no claim could be lodged due to the expiry of the statute of limitations of five years in Dutch law.

Dutch authorities say that 150 were killed, while a victims’ association claims that 431 people lost their lives.

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Tunis on Wednesday (September 14th), accompanied by a large delegation of government officials and business leaders, TAP reported. Erdogan’s two-day visit includes meetings with Interim Prime Minister Béji Caïd Essebsi, President Fouad Mebazaa and political party representatives. Erdogan’s North African tour began in Egypt. The next stop is Libya.

Source: Magharebia.

With little progress from Maghreb governments on regional unity, young activists are taking the issue into their own hands.

By Jemal Oumar for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 15/09/11

Members of the Euro-Maghreb Youth Union (UJEM) wrapped up a three-day visit to Nouakchott on Wednesday (September 14th), in which they pressed their call for a united, democratic Maghreb.

Members of the UJEM Follow-up Committee said the visit was in part to help plan for the group’s general conference this December in Nouakchott, as well as a chance to explain their hopes for a united Maghreb and review recommendations made at last April’s UJEM conference in Tunis.

UJEM is based on a new and different approach to build a unified and democratic Maghreb Union (UMA) in which borders and visas between the countries of the Maghreb disappear and in which intellectual, political and cultural pluralism is respected,” said the group’s Morocco representative, Rabaii El Ouafoudi.

El Ouafoudi, said that the association was founded “with consensus and the participation of youth organizations from the Maghreb countries and a number of political officials, academics and Maghreb citizens, after the organization of many round tables and brainstorming workshops”.

“The Arab Maghreb Union is obsolete and moribund,” El Ouafoudi said in explaining why the youth movement was founded. He said civil society took the initiative to push for a Maghreb Union after “official failure”.

Abdessamad Filali, the head of the Tunis Conference Follow-up Committee, said that current situation in the region with democratic revolutions serves the youth movement’s purpose and fits with their goals.

“We realize we are still in the framework of building the Maghreb Union and still have a lot of work to do, because things remain ambiguous in the countries changed by revolutions,” Filali said. “This is what we are working to guide and to rectify its course through our community youth work.”

Ahmed Ould Mouhamedou, with the Mauritanian Youth Movement Party, said that his group backed the idea of a Maghreb Union.

“We recognize that the founding fathers of the Arab Maghreb Union were advocating the same thing we are calling for today, with different circumstances and facts, but the veteran political class that came thereafter abandoned that approach,” Ould Mouhamedou said. “This prompted us to call for getting rid of that political class, because we believe its ideas are what prevented formation of a unified Maghreb Union based on democracy, human rights and economic integration.”

Abdullah Ould Sid Mohamed, a member of the February 25th Youth Movement, said he attached high hopes to the UJEM Nouakchott conference set for December.

“We appreciate this initiative for Arab Maghreb unity as long as its source is independent of the current Maghreb governments, because those governments do not seek to achieve unity for fear of compromising their own narrow interests,” Ould Sid Mohamed said. “Meanwhile, the youth of Arab Maghreb countries share in the daily concern of searching for work and making a living, and they also share ambitions and aspirations.”

Mohamed Vall, an independent youth, does not stray far from that proposition, saying that “young people can achieve what official governments have failed to do, because there are facts helping that, such as a unified sense of belonging, facing the same challenges and the intersection of contemporary culture, all of which encourage unity. But the role of governments is still necessary to overcome other obstacles.”

“Economic integration can only be achieved with the desire of the rulers, as well as open borders and abolition of the visa,” Vall added. “There thus must be pressure on governments to respond to such demands.”

Source: Magharebia.

Though Libyan rebels liberated most cities from Moamer Kadhafi’s grip, tough living conditions continue to force masses of people to flee.

By Monia Ghanmi for Magharebia in Tunis – 15/09/11

More than 9,000 refugees from Libya cross the Ras Jedir border into Tunisia every day, according to customs and security officials.

Rebel victories in the conflict-ridden country have not helped ease the refugee flow. Due to the war basic supplies are running low, essential services are intermittent and food costs are on the rise.

Most Libyans come to Tunisia for medical treatment, especially after the National Transitional Council (NTC) pledged last month to help Libyan families by bearing treatment expenses.

“Hospitals suffer from shortage of medical crews after all foreign employees left the country,” said Abdel Majid Buerriche, who arrived from Tripoli. “Hospitals also suffer from shortage of medical supplies and scarcity of medicines. In addition, the existing medical crews now direct most of their attention to emergencies and ignore the rest of sicknesses that we suffer from.”

Tunisian hospitals are overflowing with patients from Libya. The health sector is facing a crisis, Buerriche added, and is no longer capable of meeting the needs of people wounded in war as well as regular patients.

Salim Fkih, a commercial manager of a private clinic in Sfax, confirmed that about 90% of visitors to his clinic these days were Libyan patients. They mostly suffer from injuries from missiles and shrapnel from bombs that were used in the conflict. This is in addition to some other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and renal failure, he added.

To spare Libyan patients the troubles of travel, Tunisia’s health ministry on Thursday (September 8th) sent a medical team of 15 doctors and paramedics, along with a supply of medicines and medical devices to the central hospital in the Libyan city of Gharyan. The move aims to help Libyan doctors perform surgeries and treat patients, affected by the war.

Others leave Libya to escape exorbitant food prices and a continued shortage of basic supplies.

“The condition is still bad,” Om Radhouane told Magharebia. “Getting some food items is an extremely difficult thing. Unfortunately, this tough condition will need several weeks to return to what it was before the war.”

Milk, gas and bread are in short supply and costly, she added. Still, optimism prevails among some citizens.

“Now that we have removed the main obstacle that has so far hindered the development of our country, we have a chance to change our country and put it on the right path,” said Khaled Nassar. “In spite of all the difficulties that we’re facing, I’m sure that the Libyan people will succeed in building the new, real Libyan state that we are dreaming of.”

Source: Magharebia.

Thursday 15/09/2011

AMMAN (AFP) — Around 200 Jordanians demonstrated near the Israeli embassy in Amman on Thursday, demanding that the government expel the state’s envoy and scrap the joint 1994 peace treaty.

“The people want to shut down the embassy. Amman must be liberated from the embassy and ambassador,” the protesters chanted outside al-Kaluti mosque near the embassy, where 1,500 anti-riot policemen stood guard, a security source said.

“The people want the downfall of Wadi Araba (peace) treaty,” read a banner carried by the demonstrators, including opposition Islamists, leftists and youth groups, who waved national and Palestinian flags.

Some set the Israeli flag ablaze while others tried to get closer to the embassy but were prevented from doing so by police.

Ambassador Danny Navon returned earlier to Israel with his staff ahead of the demonstration, Israeli public radio reported.

“The fact that the Israeli ambassador and his staff left the country is a victory for us,” one demonstrator told AFP.

Earlier, a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP: “We have not been officially informed of anything.”

Last weekend, a mob ransacked Israel’s mission in Egypt and the ambassador and his staff were evacuated from the country. Six Israeli security guards were besieged in the embassy building for several hours before being rescued by Egyptian commandos.

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states to have signed peace treaties with Israel.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Sept. 14, 2011

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Sept. 14 (UPI) — Tens of thousands of people in Sudan’s border state of Blue Nile have been displaced by conflict between Sudanese forces and rebels, a U.N. agency said.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in a report on Sudan, said it wasn’t able to get an accurate assessment about the situation in Blue Nile state because of lack of access.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir recently called for a cease-fire in South Kordofan and denied reports of mass graves and ethnic violence in the area bordering South Sudan. Conflict, however, has spread to Blue Nile state.

OCHA in a statement said that fighting between Sudanese forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North is estimated to have displaced around 100,000 people.

Sudan claims the reports of violence along the border are overblown. OCHA in its update said that while the situation in Blue Nile state was improving, the situation remains tense.

Displacement continues in South Kordofan, the U.N. agency said but humanitarian groups were able to get some assistance to refugees in the area.

OCHA said, however, that the Sudanese government has restricted the movement of U.N. staff in Blue Nile state.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Thu Sep 15, 2011

Yemeni security forces open fire on anti-government protesters in the southern city of Taizz as the nation renew calls for an end to the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Press TV reports.

One protester was killed and 23 others were injured on Thursday in clashes between peaceful demonstrators and Yemen’s Republican Guards, who are commanded by Saleh’s son Ahmed Ali.

The new outbreak of violence comes after a series of explosions and heavy gunfire hit the capital, Sana’a, and the southern port city of Aden earlier in the day and left at least three civilians killed and five others wounded.

Yemen has been swept up by almost daily protests against Saleh, who refuses to release his three-decade long grip on power.

The Yemeni dictator has been in Saudi Arabia recovering from injuries he sustained in a rocket attack by pro-opposition tribal fighters on his palace in June.

On Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report calling on the Yemeni regime to immediately release all prisoners detained during peaceful protests that erupted in the country in late January.

Navi Pillay also urged Sana’a to put an end to attacks and the use of live ammunition against civilians.

According to local reports, hundreds of Yemenis have been killed and thousands more have been injured since the outbreak of the popular uprising against the US-backed Saleh regime.

Source: PressTV.