Archive for February, 2014


NOUAKCHOTT – The United Nations envoy on modern-day slavery said on Thursday Mauritania had agreed to adopt a roadmap for eradicating the trade, which campaigners say remains widespread in the west African nation.

The country was the last in the world to abolish slavery, in 1981, and since 2012 its practice has been officially designated a crime, but campaigners say the government has failed in the past to acknowledge the extent of the trade, with no official data available.

Gulnara Shahinian, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on contemporary slavery, announced as she ended a four-day visit that Mauritania would adopt a roadmap on March 6 which had been prepared with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

She said the plan was “an important step in eradicating slavery in the country” and would include “a number of economic projects” to help victims out of the trade.

Shahinian added she was “satisfied with the action of the government, which has taken important steps towards the eradication of slavery” since her last visit in 2009.

Forced labor is a particularly sensitive issue in Mauritania, where anti-slavery charities are very active, especially SOS Slaves and the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Struggle against Slavery (IRSS), which supports victims in court.

Shahinian told reporters she had obtained a commitment from the government to appoint lawyers specifically trained to represent slaves in the courts, however, rather than leaving the work to charities.

She praised the “political will displayed by the authorities” in introducing anti-slavery legislation but called for better enforcement of the law.

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is in the process of setting up a special tribunal to prosecute suspects accused of involvement in slavery and various social security programs have helped former slaves in the past.

But the beneficiaries were never recognized as such, with schemes officially targeting other disadvantaged groups.

In March last year Mauritania announced the launch of its first government agency charged explicitly with helping former slaves.

“While the train is certainly in motion, much needs to be improved, but as long as the will is there, the rest will follow in time,” Shahinian said.

The envoy, a lawyer with extensive experience as an expert consultant on children’s rights, migration and trafficking, was appointed as the first Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery in 2008.

Her findings and recommendations will be presented at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in September.

Source: Middle East Online.


February 13, 2014

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Heavily armed militants attacked Yemen’s main prison in central Sanaa on Thursday, killing seven people and helping 29 inmates escape, many of them convicts in terrorism-related charges, the country’s state news agency reported.

The attack started with a car bomb explosion, then militants exchanged heavy gunfire with the guards at the Sanaa Central Prison, and a number of prisoners fled amid the chaos, according to SABA. A security official said authorities suspect it was an inside job.

Among the 29 who fled, 19 are convicted al-Qiada prisoners including those plotting the assassinations of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and western diplomats, the official said. He said those killed in the exchange of gunfire were mostly security forces.

Witnesses said earlier that explosions rocked the capital and smoke billowed into the sky. Security forces and army troops have been deployed to the site of the attack and sealed off the whole area. The prison, housing thousands of inmates, is on the main road leading to the airport, which was closed.

Security officials say that the attackers came in three groups and three cars, including the car bomb. One group detonated the car bomb, the second joined the first and engaged with prison guards at the front gate while the third dispersed throughout the prison, engaging with security forces outside. Other militants were firing from the rooftops of houses surrounding the prison.

Authorities suspect the attackers received help from inside the prison in order to allow the inmates to break free, one security official said. He added at least three of the prison officials and guards were detained.

They also said that authorities received information of possible attack on Interior Ministry, in charge of police, and Defense Ministry. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party said it fears that those who fled were involved in an attempt to assassinate him in 2011. Abdu al-Janadi, Saleh’s party spokesman said, “we are warning of helping prisoners to escape. We are waiting for a transparent investigation into the incident.”

Saleh was removed from power in a yearlong uprising that started in 2011 and ended after he signed a power transfer deal that gave him immunity from prosecution in return for leaving power in 2012. During the uprising, he came under attack in his presidential palace that left him with severe injuries requiring surgeries in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Yemen has witnessed major jailbreaks in the past that have fueled militancy, including one in February 2006 when 21 al-Qaida militants dug a tunnel and fled the intelligence prison in Sanaa. Many of those who fled at that time are now the group’s most wanted and dangerous men, including its military commander Qassim al-Raimi who is believed to have been behind a series of foiled attacks against Americans.

Three years earlier, 11 al-Qaida militants escaped during another prison break took place when 11 of al-Qaida militants fled, including the suspected perpetrators of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor that killed 17 American sailors.

Washington considers al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s Yemeni offshoot, its most dangerous branch. It seized large swaths of lands in the south before the military launched a major offensive in the summer of 2012, driving many of them out. The group has continued to carry out ambitious and deadly attacks, including storming the Defense Ministry headquarters leaving 56 dead last month, including foreigners.


January 30, 2014

Sana’a: Pro-government tribes battled Al Houthi rebels north of the Yemeni capital on Wednesday taking the death toll from three days of heavy clashes to 38, tribal and medical sources said.

The deadliest fighting raged in the Arhab region just 40 kilometers north of Sanaa, where tribesmen said they had recaptured high ground overlooking the international airport.

The rebels have been pushing out from their stronghold in the mountains of the far north to other areas nearer the capital, where most of the population follow the Zaidi branch of Shiite Islam, to lay a stake to their own autonomous unit in a promised federal Yemen, political sources say.

But their fighters, known as Al Houthis from the name of the rebels’ leading family, have faced stiff resistance from pro-government Zaidi tribes, as well as from Sunni hardliners from elsewhere in Yemen who have established religious schools in parts of the north.

“The men of the Arhab tribe pushed the Al Houthis back from Mount Nisr and three adjacent hills in fighting that erupted on Tuesday evening, inflicting 10 dead in Al Houthi ranks and at the cost of seven dead among our own men,” a tribal spokesman said.

A little farther north in Omran, which borders Sana’a province, fighting between the rebels and pro-government tribesmen on Wednesday left nine people dead, tribal and medical sources said.

President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has pledged that Yemen will adopt a federal constitution to tackle the grievances of its disparate regions.

But at a ceremony on Saturday to mark the conclusion of a troubled 10-month national dialogue, he put off any decision on the thorny issue of how many component units it will have, promising that a special commission will decide.

The prospect of a federal Yemen, originally mooted as a solution to the grievances of the formerly independent south where secessionist violence has been on the increase, has spawned demands for autonomy from other discontented regions, including the rebel-held far north.

Source: Gulf News.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rima Khalaf, is urging both Egypt and Jordan to boycott Israeli settlement products. “Boycotting the settlement products will not hurt Arab countries, including the least advantaged like Egypt and Jordan,” Khalaf stated on Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference in Tunis, the UN official advised the Arab states, many of which are secretly importing goods from Israel, to at least boycott the settlement products, pointing out that “many European countries are already boycotting them.”

“The Israeli settlements are established on occupied Palestinian land and Israel encourages the Jewish population to settle there while depriving the original Palestinian owners of living there,” Khalaf added.

ESCWA presented its “Arab integration” report in Tunis on Tuesday, which experts took two years to prepare. The report calls to revive Arab integration based on the recommendations and proposals formulated during the Arab summits, starting with reducing the tariff for transporting goods by 50 per cent and boycotting the Israeli settlement products.

According to the report, 350 million people live in the Arab region, where a quarter of its young people and one fifth of women are unemployed, and about 50 million are suffering from malnutrition.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


5 October 2011

Turkish press reports that the country’s security services declared wanted Ziyauddin Makhayev, the closest Kadyrov’s assistant, who was among the group of killers who murdered the three Chechens in Istanbul on September 16, 2011.

According to the information from local sources, it was Ziyauddin Makhayev who finished off the wounded Chechens with control shots in the head, after they were fired at from a car.

Journalists found that Makhayev is well known in Turkey. He studied at Istanbul’s Marmara University. The future killer graduated from the theological faculty of the university in 2005.

Makhayev first appeared in Turkey in 1994 as a supporter of the Chechen independence. However, later he was recruited by Russian secret services and was actively working for them.

During his studies and after graduating from the Marmara University, Ziyauddin Makhayev gathered information about Chechens, mostly about the Mujahideen and their supporters, on instructions of Russian intelligence.

He soon became a confidant of Kadyrov. The confidence is demonstrated by the fact that Makhayev was appointed the chief coordinator of a mosque “named after Akhmad Kadyrov” in occupied Jokhar, which was built by the Turks.

In addition, Kadyrov charged Makhayev with less sensitive tasks. For example, in the offseason Ziyauddin Makhayev personally delivered to Chechnya from Turkey watermelons and other fruits for Kadyrov and his mother.

Turkish press also reports that security services are investigating ties between the Turkish journalist Seyfullah Turksoy and the killer Makhayev. Nespaper Sabah published a photo of Kadyrov, Turksoy and the killer Makhayev, made in 2009 in occupied Jokhar.

It is to be recalled that Seyfullah Turksoy is one of the most active pro-Kadyrov’s activists of Russian propaganda in Turkey.

The Turkish press also confirmed with reference to the security services that a person involved in the murder of three Chechen in Istanbul, a certain Maria M., is a member of the group of killers and entered and departed from Turkey as Ziyauddin Makhayev’s fake wife.

Turkish television gave details of Kadyrov’s assistant Ziyauddin Makhayev, saying that the security services of Turkey are very much interested to arrest the Kadyrov’s killer. The TV report also details notorious bloody crimes of Russian secret services in other countries that took place during the Putin’s presidency.

Department of Monitoring

Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.


25 February 2014

Sources in Syria reported that units of Ahrar Sham, Islamic Front and Jabhat an-Nusrah had joined forces in the battle for Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Assad’s troops continue to try to advance in Aleppo region.

Assadites bombed apartment houses with barrel bombs from Russian-made helicopters. On February 23, such bombs were dropped on north-western suburbs of Aleppo, Hreitan and Al-Ansari. Bomber jets attacked the outlying airfield of Quieres where Mujahideen keep Assadites under siege.

In the area of Damascus, on the outskirts of the town of Yabrud, there has been an increase in fighting between Shiites from Hezbollah on the one side, and Mujahideen on the other. Assadites bombed the town from the air and also used artillery for shelling. Several clashes occurred west of Yabrud near Qalamoun.

Skirmishes also took place south of Mlehi near the location of an air defense brigade of Alawite troops and Shiite militants. Aviation of Assad bombed positions of the Mujahideen in town of Khan al-Shih.

Sources in Syria report that Mujahideen continue to attack Assadites in Quneitra. During a two-day assault operation, significant success has been achieved. This operation is aimed on a complete cut-off of supply routes for Assadites between Damascus and Quneitra.

Assadites suffered heavy losses in Quneitra – dozens of their soldiers were eliminated after the Mujahideen took the town of Masirah.

Battles are ongoing in Deir ez-Zor. Assadites tried to advance in the village of Al-Omal, but were repulsed, suffering losses. Assad’s aviation struck on villages of Al-Bolil and Al-Mreyya. Many civilians-mostly women and children-have been killed.

Heavy clashes took place in the vicinity of the military airport of Deir ez-Zor. Assadites tried to dislodge Mujahideen from their positions near the airfield, but were stopped.

In Deraa, Assad’s artillery has been shelling the cities of Nava and Naima. Meanwhile, Mujahideen of Jabhat an-Nusrah, Ahrar Sham, Ansar al-Sunna, Umar al-Khattab announced a new joint operation to liberate the rural province of Deraa.

Department of Monitoring

Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.


Wed Feb 26, 2014

Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip have turned to solar power as the Israeli-blockaded sliver is grappling with severe fuel and electricity shortage.

“We were forced to consider relying on solar power alone after the energy crisis that events in Egypt brought about,” AFP quoted Nabil al-Burqani, the director of Gaza City’s children’s hospital, as saying.

In recent months, fuel and electricity shortages in Gaza have worsened as the Egyptian military has blocked supply tunnels leading into the region. The tunnels were the only lifeline for Palestinians living under the Israeli siege.

“We need solar energy in order to keep up care for babies in the maternity ward,” said Burqani, adding, “If there’s just a minute-long cut to the electricity that runs the baby incubators, a child could die.”

The humanitarian crisis facing Gaza has escalated as the only power plant in the Palestinian territory has stopped working since November 1, 2013 due to severe fuel shortage.

Gaza has been under the Israeli siege since 2007, a situation that has made the Palestinians desperately dependent on goods coming through the tunnels.

The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), which represents more than 130 Palestinian civil society organizations, has called on the international community to end the continuous Israeli siege.

Several human rights organizations and civil groups have also criticized the Egyptian army for preventing the people in Gaza from accessing most of their basic goods like construction materials, food, and fuel.

Source: PressTV.


Thu Oct 6, 2011

Palestinians gain a breakthrough in their efforts to win UN recognition after UNESCO’s executive board has agreed to submit the Palestinian bid for full membership to member states for approval.

On Wednesday, Palestinians pressed ahead with their UNESCO membership motion before the body’s executive committee, defying fierce opposition by the United States and France, AFP reported.

The board of the UN cultural agency passed the motion by 40 votes in favor to four votes against and 14 abstentions, agreeing to send the Palestinians’ request to a final vote in the 193-member UNESCO general assembly on October 25.

The Palestinian delegation has held observer status at UNESCO since 1974. Two-thirds of the member states now need to approve the request to enable Palestine’s full membership.

Washington’s envoy to the Paris-based body, David Killion, however, said that “granting the Palestinians full membership now in a specialized agency such as UNESCO is premature.”

US Republican lawmaker, Kay Granger, who chairs the key subcommittee that disburses US sums for diplomatic purposes, had also threatened to back suspension of all the UNESCO-headed funds, if the body admitted Palestine as a state.

France, which abstained on the motion, said earlier on Wednesday that “it was not the time” for Palestine to pursue UNESCO backing, calling instead on them to hold talks with Israel.

The developments came after the acting Palestinian Authority Chief, Mahmoud Abbas, presented the Palestinians’ statehood request to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 23.

The request is likely to be voted on in the coming weeks, while Washington has already threatened to veto the motion.

The UNESCO membership would not only serve as a diplomatic achievement for the Palestinians, but would also allow them to apply to classify their monuments as World Heritage Sites.

Source: PressTV.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A Palestinian prisoner from Jerusalem who was assaulted by Israeli guards while detained at Beersheba prison died on Tuesday morning.

The Wadi Hilwa Center said that Jihad Taweel, a 47-year-old, went into coma for two weeks when Israeli guards attacked him and other inmates and brutally beat them and sprayed them with pepper gas.

Taweel was arrested for driving a vehicle without a license and sentenced to three months in Beersheba maximum security prison.

A resident of Ras Al-Amud neighborhood in Silwan, Jerusalem, Taweel has five children.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Some 47 ministers have called for Jordan to cancel its peace treaty with Israel in response to Israel’s parliament debating sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque, which they considered a breach of the treaty, a newspaper reported today.

Al-Rai newspaper reported that “47 Ministers of Parliament suggested yesterday [Tuesday] at the House of Representatives to prepare a draft law to abolish the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty [Wadi Araba] with a proposal to give the sense of urgency.”

It explained that the proposal comes, according to the signatories of the memorandum, “given the state of play of the Zionist entity and their daily assaults and disregard of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

He said that the signatories believe “what Israel is doing in clear violation of the Treaty of Wadi Araba and an assault on the guardianship of Jordan on the holy sites in Jerusalem.”

Approximately one-third of the members of the House of Representatives of Jordan, which includes 150 members, signed the memorandum.

They allocated today’s parliamentary session to debate the repercussions of the Knesset discussions about canceling the sovereignty of Jordan over Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Israeli Knesset discussed the draft law suggested by the extremist member Moshe Viglin, member of Likud Party headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The discussion ended without being ratified and the Knesset agreed to resume discussion at a later date.

Earlier to this Knesset session, Netanyahu objected to such a law because it did not have enough support in Israel and it would arouse the anger of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinians, at a time when the US is working on reaching a peace agreement in the Middle East.

Israel signed the peace agreement with Jordan in 1994 and it accepted Jordanian guardianship on the Islamic sacred and religious places in Jerusalem.

Israel has been working on a massive network of tunnels beneath the mosque’s yard. The tunnels caused several holes in the yards and weakened the foundations of several of the buildings inside the parameters.

Source: Middle East Monitor.