Archive for April 22, 2016


20 April 2016

Khartoum — The strike by the students of the University of Khartoum, in protest against a government decision to move faculties to the outskirts of the city, is now into its third consecutive day. All classes have been suspended as lecturers and professors have joined in solidarity with the students.

The strikers demand the release of the students who were detained during the demonstrations over the past week. They also continue to protest the sale of university premises, ostensibly “to make way for tourist attractions”.

A student from the University of Khartoum told Radio Dabanga that classes have been halted at all the faculties because of the sit-in and explained that university professors have taken-up the strike in solidarity with the students.

The student added that on Tuesday, in the medical complex, students carried out a sit-in inside the compound buildings demanding the release of the detained students.

He said that on Monday, the security forces arrested students Sharafuldin Adam and Mohammed Saleh Abdul Raheem and took them to an unknown destination.

He added that the arrest of the students came against the backdrop of the Darfuri students association organizing of political gathering at the University of El Nilain to speak out about the current political situation in Darfur.

The Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) in Khartoum announced that the head of the party in Khartoum North Locality, Abdul Rahman Mahdi, was subjected to an attempted attack by an unidentified vehicle in Shambat on Monday evening. In a statement on Tuesday. The SCP explained that the attempted attack was by a truck without plates. The Party considered that as “representing a new phase in the authorities’ confrontation with the opposition in the country”.

Source: allAfrica.

Link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201604210467.html.

April 15, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia deported 20 Taiwanese criminal suspects to Taiwan on Friday despite Beijing’s request that they be sent to China, amid an ongoing battle over jurisdiction involving the self-ruled island. A Malaysia official said another 32 Taiwanese suspects sought by China also will be sent to Taiwan.

A Taiwanese Foreign Ministry statement said the 20 suspects, who were detained on suspicion of committing wire fraud, had boarded a plane bound for Taiwan on Friday. Malaysian officials had delayed the flight, saying they were awaiting legal approval, but the Taiwanese foreign ministry said the plane was allowed to take off late Friday afternoon.

Taiwan’s statement Friday evening said its officials were actively engaged in talks to pressure Malaysia to allow another remaining 32 suspects to be deported to Taiwan for investigation. Later Friday, a Malaysian government official said the country has decided “to send the suspects back to their respective countries to be dealt with accordingly.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

The latest battle over Taiwanese deportations came after Kenya sent 45 Taiwanese suspects to China instead of Taiwan. Beijing wants to investigate them for defrauding victims in China by posing as police officers and insurance agents over the phone in order to obtain banking details.

China claims jurisdiction in such cases where the victims are Chinese, and says the perpetrators aren’t given due punishment when they are returned to Taiwan. The Malaysian official said a total of 120 foreigners — 68 from China and 52 from Taiwan — were detained last month in connection with a scam. He said two masterminds from China were deported April 13.

China then requested for all the remaining 118 to be sent to the mainland, on grounds that the scam involved 600 victims in China, the official said. The official said China reiterated its request to Malaysia on Friday after the 20 Taiwanese were deported to Taiwan. But he said Malaysia, which has no extradition treaty with China or Taiwan, is not obliged to accede to Beijing’s request.

Taiwan has protested that Kenya violated the legal process and accused Beijing of violating a tacit agreement not to interfere in each side’s citizens’ legal affairs abroad. A Taiwanese delegation is expected in Beijing soon to negotiate the matter.

Some see China’s moves as attempting to assert its claims to sovereignty over the island and legal authority over its residents. The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and China has long sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically by preventing it from maintaining formal ties with most countries, including Malaysia and Kenya. China’s economic cloud lends it political influence.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has covered the Kenya deportations extensively, with suspects shown being led from the plane in prison smocks with bags over their heads. Others were shown in front of police and television cameras confessing to their crimes and apologizing to their victims.

Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and video journalist Johnson Lai in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.

By Amy R. Connolly

April 15, 2016

BAGHDAD, April 15 (UPI) — Iraqi forces reclaimed the city of Hit from the Islamic State, taking back the last IS stronghold in that region and severing an important IS supply route between Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service spokesman Sabah al-Noman said the city “is cleared of any Daesh gunmen,” using another name for the militant group. It is also known as ISIS and ISIL.

Coalition forces have been fighting to recapture the city, located about 90 miles outside Baghdad, since March. Forces entered Hit on April 4 after recapturing the nearby city of Kubaysah.

Backed by U.S. airpower and using a single M1 Abrams tank, nicknamed “The Beast,” forces killed IS militants. The American-made tank tore through IS fighting positions, destroying vehicles and improvised explosive devices.

Coalition forces conducted four airstrikes, hitting three IS tactical units. The strikes destroyed four machine gun positions and IS equipment that included a boat and boat dock.

“The joint forces had inflicted heavy human and material losses on ISIS gangs,” officials said.

Thousands of people fled the city in October 2014 when the IS moved in. Forces are now preparing to recapture Fallujah, the second largest city in the province and Mosul.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/04/15/Iraqi-forces-reclaim-Islamic-State-held-town-of-Hit/6151460713284/.

By Ammar Karim and Salam Faraj

Baghdad (AFP)

April 12, 2016

Iraq’s premier presented a new list of cabinet nominees on Tuesday that angered some lawmakers, who criticized it as perpetuating the system of ministries being distributed according to political quotas.

Parliament descended into chaos after the session was postponed to Thursday, with lawmakers shaking fists and chanting against political quotas and then beginning a sit-in.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called for a government of technocrats to replace the current party-affiliated ministers, but has faced major resistance from powerful parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.

He presented a list of 13 cabinet nominees to parliament on March 31, but lawmakers later said that the political blocs would nominate other candidates, a process that apparently resulted in the current list of names.

Abadi gave the new list of candidates to parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi, then met with him and leaders of the political blocs, according to posts on their official Twitter accounts.

But with major disagreement over the proposed list of candidates, the session was postponed until Thursday, Juburi’s office said.

Lawmakers chanted “The people want the fall of the quotas!” after the session ended, according to video shot inside parliament.

The phrase is a variation on “The people want the fall of the regime”, which was chanted at Arab Spring protests against despots across the region.

More than 100 MPs then began a sit-in inside parliament to protest against the delay of the session, lawmakers Haider al-Kaabi and Iskander Witwit told AFP by telephone.

“We announced an open sit-in inside parliament because of the postponement of the session until Thursday,” Kaabi said, adding that they are demanding an emergency session on Wednesday.

According to the new list of 14 names, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, most of Abadi’s original nominees did not make the second cut.

The nominees for water resources, health and transport stayed the same, while a fourth nominee from the original list became a candidate for the planning ministry.

– ‘Ministries for them’ –

The new list also includes Faleh al-Fayad, a long-time member of the Dawa party who served as national security adviser under former premier Nuri al-Maliki and then Abadi, as the nominee for foreign minister.

Sunni lawmaker Ahmed al-Juburi said that the new list is opposed by almost a third of MPs.

The MP said he had gathered 98 names of lawmakers who are against the list and who reject the “principle of (political) quotas that was agreed upon by the leaders of the blocs”.

“The blocs and the parties do not want to give up their gains and their ministries,” said Shiite MP Hassan Salem.

“They do not consider them ministries of the people as much as they consider them ministries for them,” Salem said.

And MP Zainab al-Tai, from the bloc affiliated with powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has called for a government of technocrats, threatened a no-confidence vote in Abadi.

“We demand the formation of an independent government, and if not, we will go to withdraw confidence from Abadi’s government,” Tai said.

Abadi called in February for “fundamental” change to the cabinet so that it includes “professional and technocratic figures and academics”.

That kicked off the latest chapter in a months-long saga of Abadi proposing various reforms that parties and politicians with interests in the existing system have sought to delay or undermine.

Sadr, the scion of a powerful clerical family from the Shiite holy city of Najaf, later called for his supporters to protest and then stage a sit-in at Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where the government is headquartered.

Sadr relented after Abadi presented his list of nominees at the end of March, calling off the sit-in.

But efforts to change the government have run up against entrenched political interests that do not want to cede the power and funds that controlling ministries confers.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Iraq_PM_delivers_new_cabinet_list_angering_some_MPs_999.html.

By Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Some 1,500 Sunni families complain that the Iraqi government and its Shiite militias are preventing them from returning to their homes in Salahadin province that have been liberated from the Islamic State (ISIS).

“Our areas (in Salahadin province) have been liberated from ISIS for almost a year and seven months, but there is not even a glimmer of hope of returning to our homes because the Iraqi government is fighting a sectarian war with us,” an elderly Sunni man based at the Lailan refugee camp in Kirkuk, claimed to Rudaw.

At least 7,500 displaced people live in miserable conditions at the Lailan refugee camp, complaining that they do not have money even to by the most basic foods.

“If anyone has the money to buy even a kilo of tomatoes, they can survive. But those who can’t are left to begging,” said another displaced person at the camp, complaining that there are no facilities at the camp, which is “drowning in filth.”

Salahadin province has been cleared of ISIS for more than 18 months. During the militants’ sway over the province, hundreds of thousands of residents fled to other Iraqi cities, many to Kirkuk.

Refugees who fled are now living in refugee camps, where they complain there are no schools, work, healthcare or clean water.  The refugees call on the Shiite militia, known as Hashd al-Shaabi, to allow them return to their lands.

“The Iraqi government has not aided us, now we only want to return to our areas. We do not want anything else,” said one refugee.

Provincial authorities in Kirkuk have thrice urged Baghdad to help return the displaced people to their homes, but the central government has not made any move.

An estimated 500,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in central and southern Iraq have taken shelter in the north, most in the autonomous Kurdistan Region.

Source: Rudaw.

Link: http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/12042016.