Archive for November 4, 2014

By Joshua Philipp, Epoch Times

October 26, 2014

A new recruiting magazine for al-Qaeda has a two-page spread that lists China’s abuses of Uyghurs in its far-west region of Xinjiang, which the Uyghurs call East Turkestan.

The magazine, “Resurgence,” was just launched by al-Qaeda’s propaganda branch, al-Sahab media organization. The inforgraphic appears in its first edition.

The infographic features “10 Facts” about Xinjiang. It says the region “remained independent of China for more than 1800 years” yet for the last 237 years it has been “under Chinese occupation at various intervals.”

It continues, noting that after the Chinese Communist Party took over the region in 1949, more than 4.5 million Muslims were killed by the Chinese regime. It claims the regime has burned close to 30,700 Muslim religious texts, turned 28,000 mosques into bars, turned 18,000 mudrassas into warehouses, and executed more than 120,000 Muslim scholars and imams.

The list of China’s crimes against the Uighurs could go on for some time, including its nuclear weapons tests close to populated areas and its often violent suppression of the Uyghur people.

The magazine stops short of calling for attacks on China, but does claim in a different section that Islamic uprisings will bring “bitter defeat for America, Iran, Russia, China and all those who have fought this war by proxy against Muslims.”

It also states that if the Sykes-Picot Agreement is abolished, people in Pakistan, Xinjiang, and other Muslim countries will be able to live under the Islamic Caliphate. The Sykes-Picot Agreement was passed in 1916 and divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

The magazine is the first English-language magazine from al-Qaeda central, according to The Diplomat. It appears to pull influence from “Inspire” which is a similar English-language magazine published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Both magazines seem to share a similar goal, which is to recruit lone-wolf terrorists to launch their own attacks.

The articles focusing on China could be part of al-Qaeda’s attempts to regain some authority, as attention has shifted towards ISIL, also called ISIS or the Islamic State.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, called for revenge against several countries including China in July 2014, and his speech made the rounds in the news in early August, according to Foreign Policy.

Baghdadi allegedly said “Muslim rights are forcibly seized in China, India, Palestine.” Chinese media were also circulating a map with unconfirmed origins, which allegedly shows countries ISIL plans to conquer over the next five years. It includes Xinjiang.

As Foreign Policy notes, threats against China from terrorist groups “may constitute a welcome opening for Chinese authorities.” The Chinese regime may, it says, use the threats to help legitimize its suppression of Muslims in Xinjiang.

“In any case, Beijing is likely alarmed by IS’s criticism of its treatment of the Muslim Uyghurs and the group’s alleged plan to seize Xinjiang, no matter how far-fetched the idea might be,” states Foreign Policy. “But just how actively authorities will deal with any [ISIL] threat remains to be seen.”

Source: The Epoch Times.


October 28, 2014

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Suicide bombers, roadside bombs and rocket attacks on the Afghan capital have intensified in the one month since President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai took office as the Taliban are sending a message that they disapprove of his tough stance on ending the insurgency and close security ties with Washington, officials, analysts and the Taliban said.

In recent days, central Kabul’s diplomatic neighborhood has been shaken by late night rocket attacks. On both Friday and Sunday nights, rockets were fired into the heavily fortified “green zone,” sending locals running for cover and international residents into basement safe rooms to await the all clear.

According to an Associated Press tally, there have been at least 10 incidents in Kabul since Ghani Ahmadzai’s inauguration on Sept. 29, killing 27 people. These include six suicide bombings, two roadside bombs and two rocket attacks. Just hours after Ghani Ahmadzai took the oath of office, seven civilians were killed by a suicide bomber near Kabul airport. On Oct. 1, seven Afghan soldiers and one civilian died in a suicide attack on an Afghan National Army bus.

In the same month last year, six people were killed in five incidents, which included an insider attack on an army base in which an Afghan soldier opened fire on foreign troops and was shot dead. Rocket attacks have been relatively rare in recent years.

The Taliban said they were responsible for sending the rockets into the city and that they would continue doing so following an intense summer of fighting. “The tactics of our attacks have changed because of the weather, the season. The recent rocket attacks were by us and our aim is to destroy this government,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

He said the attacks were in retaliation for Ghani Ahmadzai’s decision to sign a bilateral security agreement with Washington, permitting a residual force of 9,800 U.S. troops to remain in the country after the end of the year. “These attacks will continue because this government has signed the (agreement). There will be more attacks, as we seek to strike at the head of the enemy,” Mujahid said.

The commander of Afghan National Army ground forces, Gen. Murad Ali Murad, said the recent addition of rocket attacks to the Taliban arsenal was an attempt “to show the international community that they are still a force to be reckoned with,” as they appeared aimed at the diplomatic district of Wazir Akhbar Khan.

Security in the capital — already fortress-like — had been stepped up, he said. Ghani Ahmadzai’s first month in office has coincided with Muharram, a month of mourning by Shiite Muslims for the death in 680 of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. It climaxes with the Ashoura festival, which this year falls in early November. In 2011, at least 54 people were killed in a suicide attack on a Kabul shrine on Ashoura day.

Afghanistan’s Shiite minority is estimated to comprise between 10 percent and 30 percent of the population. The true number is subject to speculation since no proper census has been conducted. Wahid Mozhdah, a political analyst and former foreign ministry official in the Taliban’s 1998-2001 government, said he believed the insurgents were paying residents of villages outside the capital to enter the city to fire the rockets. “Slowly, slowly the tactics of the Taliban are changing, because now they are paying people to fire rockets for them — it’s easy, they just fire the rocket and run away,” he said. “The Taliban are not happy with this government because it has made it clear that it does not want to talk with the Taliban.”

Ghani Ahmadzai’s attitude toward the Taliban has been a departure from that of his predecessor, Hamid Karzai. While Karzai habitually referred to the insurgents as his “brothers” and castigated the United States for its military presence in Afghanistan, Ghani Ahmadzai has not mentioned the Taliban by name in public statements, referring instead to “political opponents.”

In response, analysts say the Taliban have adopted a strategy that emphasizes the vulnerability of Kabul and gives the impression that Ghani Ahmadzai’s government can’t protect the capital. “Rocket attacks create a sense of crisis among the capital’s residents and force a deterioration of the security situation,” said Jawed Khoistani, a political analyst.

He suggested that the accuracy of the rockets that have landed in the green zone pointed to some degree of cooperation with the security forces that are supposed to be guarding the city perimeter. “Rockets are more dangerous than terrorist attacks in Kabul because it is clear there is help from within the capital itself,” he said.

Kabul shop keeper Ghulam Farooq said that while suicide attacks generally happened during daylight hours, the rocket attacks meant that “now Kabul is not safe at night either … I hope the Ghani government can put a stop to these night-time rocket attacks, so at least we can get some sleep.”

By Monia Ghanmi in Tunis for Magharebia


Campaigning for Tunisia’s presidential election kicked off on Saturday (November 1st), just a week after Nidaa Tounes won the legislative vote.

Twenty-seven candidates are running in the November 23rd election, including President Moncef Marzouki, former premier Beji Caid Essebsi, National Constituent Assembly chief Mustapha Ben Jaafar, and former Ben Ali regime ministers Kamel Morjane and Mondher Zenaidi.

Also vying for the post are magistrate Kalthoum Kannou and former central bank governor Mustapha Kamel Ennabli.

In the event no candidate secures an absolute majority, the vote will head to a runoff.

The candidates chose symbolic places for the start of their campaigns. Caid Essebsi launched his campaign at Bourguiba’s Mausoleum in Monastir, while Hachmi al-Hamdi began his campaign from the tomb of Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid.

Interim President Marzouki inaugurated his campaign on Sunday in downtown Tunis by organizing a popular meeting.

The campaign is an opportunity for Tunisians to hear the platforms and compare their options.

Ali Boufaress, a 37-years-old from Gabes, said, “I am waiting for the campaign to decide who I will give my voice to; it is true that there are many candidates, but I will try to see all the programs, and then choose the best.”

“We are hungry for these elections. This time, we will choose our next president in a transparent, democratic and fair way. The most suitable will win,” Tunis resident Aicha Mahfoudhi told Magharebia.

Some candidates may have had a change of heart after the legislative election, said Tarek Omrani, a 27-year-old employee of a private company.

“I think that the chances of some candidates for the presidential race have diminished after the poor results of their parties in the parliamentary elections,” Omrani said.

“Yet, who knows, my expectations may turn out to be wrong, because everything is possible,” he added.

Source: Magharebia.


By Mona Yahia in Tunis for Magharebia


With Tunisia’s parliamentary poll concluded, the country is set for the next stage in its democratic transition.

Nidaa Tounes topped Tunisia’s parliamentary election, followed by Islamist party Ennahda, the Free Patriotic Union (UPL) and the Popular Front finished fourth, officials confirmed Thursday (October 30th).

All eyes are focused now on the new government to come – sometime after a new president is elected on November 23rd.

The Tunisian constitution provides that the president assign the party with the largest representation the task of forming a government.

That would be Nidaa Tounes.

Potential alliances and coalitions are already the topic of much debate.

Ennahda Vice-President Abdelhamid Jlassi said that the country’s situation was difficult and required a broad alliance between the main powers to form a strong government of national unity.

However, Nidaa Tounes official Khémais Ksila said his party would only ally itself with those that shared the same social and economic visions.

Abdelaziz Kotti, another leader in Nidaa Tounes, said that his party was waiting for presidential elections to determine its position in future negotiations.

The Popular Front, meanwhile, ruled out a coalition with Ennahda after the assassinations of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi during the Islamists’ time in power.

Some Tunisians see a way to move forward.

According to Jawher Ben Mbarek, a law professor, Tunisia is heading towards a government of technocrats.

“This is what Beji Caid Essebsi wants, because Nidaa Tounes does not have a comfortable majority and is forced to form a coalition with at least five small parties in order to form a government of national unity,” he explained.

“This government does not have to be political, but can be a government of technocrats in exchange for the support of Beji Caid Essebsi in the presidential elections,” Ben Mbarek continued. “Hence he could be a president with broad consensus.”

The professor continued: “On the other hand, if Nidaa Tounes wants to form a government of national unity, it can only form it with an alliance with Afek Tounes, the Party of Initiative and the Popular Front.”

“Yet these parties have completely different social and economic agendas and this will take us back to the failed experiment of the troika,” he added.

Most of the parties that campaigned against Ben Ali were absent from the political scene, as were the parties that participated in the Ennahda-led troika – the Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol.

Hichem Guerfali, who heads a polling institution, has a possible explanation.

“The Parties that are considered militant were removed from the political scene because they did not conduct deep reviews of their performance and continued to depend on their historical depth and their images,” he told Magharebia.

“The emerging parties,” he added, “are characterized by pragmatism.”

Source: Magharebia.



According to Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda, Nidaa Tounes won more seats in the parliamentary elections on Sunday.

“Nidaa Tounes will have between 10 and 12 lawmakers more than us in the parliament,” Ennahda Spokesman Zied Ladhari told Mosaique FM on Monday (October 27th)

Ennahda would not dispute the results, but would support a government of national unity, Ladhari said.

In other news Monday, El-Mahaba party chief Hachmi Hamdi withdrew from the November 23rd presidential race.

He explained that his decision was due to his party’s performance in the legislative election, TAP reported.

Source: Magharebia.



Africa’s first “supersonic drone” will see the light in Algeria in 2016, APS reported Sunday (November 2nd).

The 18-month collaborative project with South Africa will be hosted at the Blida Aeronotics University, where a team from both countries will start work on January 1st, 2015.

The announcement was made in Oran during the closing ceremony in Oran for the International Salon on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Source: Magharebia.


Abu Dhabi (AFP)

Oct 22, 2014

Abu Dhabi energy company Masdar said Wednesday it will build a 50-megawatt wind farm in neighboring Oman that will provide 16,000 homes with clean energy.

The $125-million project, the first large-scale wind farm in the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, would be constructed in the southwestern region of Dhofar, Masdar said in a statement.

Masdar signed a joint development agreement with Oman’s Rural Areas Electricity Company to build the farm, which would mitigate 110,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly, it said.

Masdar is overseeing Abu Dhabi plans to generate seven percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

It said last month it was partnering with Norwegian firms Statoil and Statkraft to build a multi-billion dollar offshore wind farm in Britain, big enough to power 410,000 homes.

The company already has a 20-percent stake in the 630-megawatt London Array project, the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

Abu Dhabi is the wealthiest of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the federation of the United Arab Emirates.

It sits on proven oil reserves totaling 98.2 billion barrels — 95 percent of the UAE’s reserves, which are the world’s seventh largest. It also has a large gas reserves.

Source: Wind Daily.