Archive for December 18, 2014

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

SANAA – Yemeni Prime Minister Mohamed Salim Basindawa on Tuesday congratulated Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for recent gains by the latter’s Justice and Development (AK) Party in Turkey’s local elections.

In a cable of congratulations, Basindawa wished Erdogan’s AK Party further electoral successes, according to Yemen’s official news agency.

The Yemeni premier also reiterated his keenness to bolster his country’s relations with Turkey in all fields.

According to preliminary vote results, Erdogan’s AK Party garnered 45 percent of the vote, putting it well ahead of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, which secured around 28 percent.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency

Source: Turkish Press.


Wed Apr 2, 2014

A new organization has been founded in Yemen, seeking to bring an end to the deadly US drone program in the country, Press TV reports.

According to the report, the National Organization for Drone Victims has been established by the families of drone victims and rights activists.

They have formed the organization which they say seeks to criminalize the use of US drone strikes in Yemen and to prosecute any official who supports such a policy. They say any government official supporting the US drones should be tried in a criminal court.

“Today, we launch the start of this new organization which will be the starting point for us to get justice and to take legal measures on a national and international scale against anyone who is aiding these crimes,” Mohammad Ali al-qwali, a Yemeni anti-drone activist, said on April 1.

According to the organization, 13 US drone operations were conducted last month in the country, killing over 20 Yemenis.

Earlier this week, a US assassination drone targeted a vehicle in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, killing an unknown number of people there.

The US administration is under heavy criticism for launching drone raids in Yemen and several other Muslim countries. The airstrikes were initiated under former US president, George W. Bush, and have been stepped up under incumbent President Barack Obama.

Washington claims that the unmanned US aircraft attacks target al-Qaeda militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned airstrikes.

On December 15, 2013, the Yemeni parliament strongly condemned the US drone strikes inside the country. The legislature also passed a law banning the drone attacks.

Last October, Human Rights Watch said US killer drone strikes in Yemen have led to the deaths of many civilians over the past years in a blatant violation of international law.

Source: PressTV.



SANAA – Six Shiite rebels and two soldiers were killed near Sanaa on Thursday as Huthis continue to push south towards the Yemeni capital, tribal and security sources said.

Eight of the Huthi rebels, also known as Ansarullah (Partisans of God), were wounded in the fighting in Qaratel, a mountainous area 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Sanaa, the sources said.

The firefight followed a rebel ambush, and came after days of bloody clashes between Ansarullah and tribesmen backing the influential Sunni Al-Islah (reform) party in which at least 22 people have reportedly been killed since the weekend.

Last month, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and the main parties agreed to transform the unrest-riven country into a six-region federation as part of a political transition.

The rebels, who complain that Yemen would be divided into rich and poor regions under the plan, have been trying to enlarge their zone of influence by pushing out from the mountains to areas closer to Sanaa.

In early February, the rebels seized parts of the northern province of Omran in clashes that left more than 150 people dead.

They also overran the home base of the Al-Ahmar clan which is highly influential within Al-Islah and which heads the powerful Hashid tribal confederation.

Source: Middle East Online.


December 05, 2014

MOSCOW (AP) — Following a rebel raid that left 25 people dead, Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed strongman said Friday the families of rebels who take part in killings will now be punished by being deported and having their houses destroyed.

Thursday’s clashes in Grozny dented a carefully nurtured image of stability created by Chechnya’s regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov after two separatist conflicts. The violence raised fears of more attacks in Chechnya and widening unrest in the rest of Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region.

Kadyrov, who has relied on his feared security force of former rebels like himself to pacify the province, said he would avenge the deaths of 14 police officers, including his relative, who died in clashes with the Islamic rebels. He said 11 attackers were killed and 36 policemen were wounded. Earlier official reports had said 10 police officers and 10 rebels were killed.

In a message Thursday on his Instagram account, which Kadyrov uses to issue public statements, he said that “the time when they said that parents can’t be held accountable for the action of their sons and daughters has come to an end.”

He warned that a father who sees that his son has joined the rebels should report him to the authorities or stop him by any other means before he spills blood. “If a militant in Chechnya kills a policeman or any other person, the militant’s family will be immediately banished from Chechnya without the right to come back, and their house will be razed to the ground,” Kadyrov said.

He said he wouldn’t care about criticism from rights activists. International human rights groups long have accused Kadyrov of rampant abuses, including arbitrary arrest, torture and extrajudicial killings.

Kadyrov said he also warned local administrators and police officials that they would have to resign if any local man joins the militants.

December 04, 2014

GROZNY, Russia (AP) — A gun battle broke out early Thursday in the capital of Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, leaving at least three traffic police officers and six gunmen dead, authorities said. The fighting punctured the patina of stability ensured by years of heavy-handed rule by a Kremlin-appointed leader.

Security officials and the leader of Chechnya said militants traveling in several cars killed three traffic police at a checkpoint in the republic’s capital, Grozny. State news agency RIA-Novosti cited an unidentified law enforcement source as saying that five police officers were killed.

More than six hours after fighting broke out, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said a multi-story building the militants had occupied in central Grozny had been destroyed by fire and six of the gunmen had been killed.

He later said several other gunmen had been found in a city school and an operation was underway to “liquidate” them, the Interfax news agency reported. There was no indication that any children were in the school in the early morning.

Although unrest is common across the North Caucasus, forceful security measures adopted by Kadyrov have spared Grozny significant violence for several years. That has allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to claim success in subduing an Islamic insurgency in Chechnya after years of war.

Dmitry Trenin, who heads the Carnegie Moscow Center, wrote in a Twitter post that “the night attack in Grozny looks senseless, except as an attempt to embarrass Putin hours before his annual address to parliament.” Putin, who is to give his state of the nation address on Thursday, already was under pressure to reassure Russians as fears grow over soaring inflation and a plummeting ruble.

An Associated Press reporter saw the building — a publishing house — in flames and heard the sound of heavy-caliber gunfire before dawn, several hours after the unrest erupted. The AP reporter also saw the body of someone in civilian clothing in the street near the publishing house as fighting continued, but it was not clear how and when the person had been killed.

The Moscow-based National Anti-Terrorist Committee, a federal agency, announced that it had imposed a counterterrorism regime on the center of Grozny. This officially allows heightened security measures to be enforced, and typically indicates the imminent use of heavy force to quash unrest.

Life News, a news outlet believed to have links to Russian security services, cited law enforcement officials as saying about 15 people seized three cars late Wednesday in the village of Shalazhi and drove to Grozny, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.

Kadyrov said on his Instagram account, which he uses to issue public statements, that the traffic police officers were shot dead as they attempted to stop the cars carrying the gunmen. Kadyrov said the situation was calm and that all essential public services were operating, but he urged Grozny residents to be cautious.

“I ask residents in areas where (security) operations are being carried out to abide by safety measures, and not to go out onto the streets without cause or to go near their windows,” he wrote. “All the talk about the city being under the control of the military is absolutely false.”

In a message posted several hours later, Kadyrov said that six militants were killed in the standoff at the publishing house. “Not one bandit managed to get out. I directly ran the operation myself,” he wrote.

Kadyrov posted a picture showing the lower half of an apparently dead gunman lying beside a rifle, but it was not immediately clear if it showed one of the presumed attackers. The Kavkaz Center website, a mouthpiece for Islamic militant groups operating in Russia’s North Caucasus, carried a link to a video message by an individual claiming responsibility for the attacks. The man in the video claimed to be operating under orders from Chechen Islamist leader Aslan Byutukayev, known to his followers as Emir Khamzat.

The video could not immediately be verified. A few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Chechnya was plunged into a full-scale war when separatist rebels pursued independence for the republic. The violence was largely confined to that small republic, but rebels ventured into other parts of Russia.

A fragile peace settlement was reached with Moscow until 1999, when an insurgency movement increasingly inspired by radical Islamist ideas reignited the conflict. A military crackdown succeeded by years of aggressive rule by Kadyrov has quietened the region, pushing unrest to neighboring provinces.

Kadyrov has been widely denounced for human rights abuses, including allegations of killing opponents. He has also imposed some Islamic restrictions on the region, including mandatory public headscarves for women.


KHARTOUM – Sudanese opposition parties and rebels meeting in Addis Ababa agreed to form a new alliance Wednesday, one of the groups said, urging the creation of a transitional government in Khartoum.

The agreement is the first to include as wide a range of political parties and armed groups as it does, working together against the 25-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

An alliance of insurgents from the war-torn Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur regions known as the Sudan Revolutionary Front signed the agreement with the opposition Umma Party, a grouping of smaller parties and civil society groups, the SRF said.

“The SRF, Sudanese political forces and civil society organisations signed the Sudan’s Call today in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa,” said Nur al-Daim Mohamed, a spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Army-Minnawi.

The document said the groups wanted a “transitional government to manage the interim term” before a new government could be elected.

Unlike previous agreements, it did not call for the overthrow of Bashir.

The document was signed by Umma Party head Sadiq al-Mahdi, Darfur rebel commander Minni Arku Minnawi, and Farouk Abu Issa, head of the opposition grouping.

Bashir seized power in a 1989 coup and won a 2010 election largely boycotted by the opposition. He said last month he would stand for reelection for his National Congress Party in April.

Wednesday’s agreement said the election was a “falsification.”

In January, Bashir announced a national dialogue aimed at ending the conflicts wracking South Kordofan and Blue Nile in southern Sudan and Darfur in the west, as well as tackling the troubled economy.

In 2003 ethnic insurgents in Darfur rebelled against Khartoum’s Arab-dominated government, a conflict that has killed 300,000 and displaced two million, the UN says. The government put the casualty figure at 10,000.

Former rebels from the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army-North in Blue Nile an South Kordofan also took up arms against the government in 2011, complaining of their regions’ neglect.

Source: Middle East Online.


04 December 2014 Thursday

A spectrum of Sudanese political and armed opposition groups put aside differences to sign a unity agreement Wednesday night that they hope will strengthen a group’s hand in talks with the regime in two days.

The government has categorically refused to deal with its armed and unarmed adversaries at the same forum and the opposition has been unable to overcome differences to present a unified front.

The signatories hope it will send a message to the government that it must deal with the opposition as one, although some large parties did not sign the agreement.

“Solving Sudan’s problems… would not be possible without (the opposition) reaching a unified political platform,” said the statement, which suggests the closest coordination between the political and armed groups since the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

The major political groups participating were the Umma party and the National Consensus Forces, an alliance of mostly secular parties.

They were joined by a group representing the armed movements of three war-torn regions: Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile and a group representing civil society.

But despite the agreement, the government broadly expects it will not change the status quo and a spokesman said “there would be a price” to pay for cooperating with the rebels.

The government is negotiating with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, and the opposition hopes its hand will be strengthened by the agreement in negotiations set to resume on Friday.

When the south seceded, it took with it both the oil wealth and the biggest counterweight to the ruling coalition in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which now rules South Sudan.

Clashes have been reported for the last several days in Sudan as the SPLM-N negotiations with the government are suspended.

Source: World Bulletin.


20 June 2014 Friday

Sudanese and Turkish officials on Thursday attended the reopening of several Ottoman-era historical sites in northeastern Sudan’s port city of Suakin after they were renovated by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA).

“These buildings are witnesses to the brotherhood and cordial ties inherited by our ancestors, who lived here together hundreds of years ago,” Turkish Ambassador in Khartoum Jamal-al-Eddin Aiden said at a ceremony held to mark the occasion.

“This cordiality and history encouraged several Turkish investors to come here and take the Sudanese nationality; now they live here as in their homeland,” he added.

The $9-million renovation project included a massive facelift for Suakin’s Al-Hanafi Mosque, Al-Shafei Mosque and an old customs building, all of which date to the Ottoman period.

Suakin, one of the oldest seaports in Africa, used to be used by African Muslim on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

The reopening ceremony was also attended by crewmen from the Turkish Maritime Task Group (TMTG) Barbaros, currently on a visit to Sudan.

Aiden lauded TIKA’s efforts to renovate Sudanese historical sites, saying the policy reflected Turkey’s keenness to bolster cultural ties with Sudan.

He also said his embassy was encouraging Turkish investors to launch projects in Sudan’s northeastern Red Sea State.

During the ceremony, TMTG crewmen distributed educational and medical equipment as a gift to city residents. The world-renowned Ottoman band Mehter, meanwhile, gave a performance on the sidelines of the event.

Source: World Bulletin.


By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

August 12, 2014

A 2,000-year-old cemetery with several underground tombs has been discovered near the Nile River in Sudan.

Archaeologists excavated several of the underground tombs, finding artifacts such as a silver ring, engraved with an image of a god, and a faience box, decorated with large eyes, which a researcher believes protected against the evil eye.

Villagers discovered the cemetery accidentally in 2002 while digging a ditch near the modern-day village of Dangeil, and archaeological excavations have been ongoing since then. The finds were reported recently in a new book.

The cemetery dates back to a time when a kingdom called Kush flourished in Sudan. Based in the ancient city of Meroe (just south of Dangeil) Kush controlled a vast territory; its northern border stretched to Roman-controlled Egypt. At times, it was ruled by a queen.

Although the Kushites built hundreds of pyramids, this particular cemetery contains no structures on the surface; the tombs are underground.

“As of now, we don’t know exactly the size of the cemetery,” Mahmoud Suliman Bashir, an archaeologist with Sudan’s National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), said in an interview with Live Science.

NCAM has been working with the British Museum to excavate the cemetery, and the two organizations recently published an online book, called “Excavations in the Meroitic Cemetery of Dangeil, Sudan” (Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project, 2014), describing their findings.

“The funerary tradition of the Kushites demonstrates a widespread belief in life after death. This is why goods and foods usually accompanied the corpse,” Bashir and Julie Anderson, an assistant keeper at the British Museum, wrote in their book. “These items were needed to sustain and provide for the individual in the afterlife.”

Treasures for the afterlife

The team has discovered a wide range of goods meant to aid the deceased in the afterlife, including several large jars that originally contained beer made of sorghum.

In one tomb, they found a silver ring with an image of a horned deity. The ring was conserved and cleaned at the British Museum, and its scholars believe the ring depicts the god Amun, who, in the kingdom of Kush, was often shown with a head that looks like a ram. A temple to Amun dating to the same time period as the cemetery is located in Dangeil.

Ancient officials used rings like this to create seal impressions in pottery, Bashir said, adding that examples made of silver are rare.

The tombs in the cemetery yielded other treasures, including a faience box, decorated with what the ancient Kushites and Egyptians called “udjat” eyes — “a well-known tradition in Egypt,” Bashir said, noting that the Kushites also made use of them. “It had a kind of ritual role to [protect] from the evil eye,” Bashir said.

In the cemetery archaeologists also found an interesting “party tray,” which consists of seven bowls attached together; six of the bowls surround another bowl in the middle. “It’s very unique, and we don’t have any kind of similar object found anywhere else,” Bashir said. “It can be used for food. You can put seven different items in one place.”

An archer’s burial

One tomb yielded arrowheads and the remains of a man wearing a stone ring (also called an archer’s loose) on his thumb. “Thumb rings are well-known objects associated with archery, being used to draw back the bowstring,” Bashir and Anderson wrote in their book.

In Kush, archery played an important role in society, with its kings and queens depicted wearing stone rings on their thumbs, Bashir and Anderson wrote. The Kushite god Apedemak, the lion-headed “god of war,” was also depicted as an archer, Bashir said.

Dangeil is located south of the fifth cataract of the Nile River. Excavations at the cemetery are being carried out by the Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project, a collaboration between NCAM and the British Museum.

The work is supported by the Nubian Archaeological Development Organization (Qatar-Sudan).

Source: Live Science.