Monday, March 30, 2015

Saudi war on Yemen: 195 killed and injured at camp where displaced people sought refuge

    Monday, March 30, 2015   No comments
War on Yemen
An air strike at a camp for displaced people and refugees in Houthi-controled northern Yemen on Monday killed 45 people and wounded 65, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. (figures were revised to 45 and 150).

The strike hit the vicinity of the Mazraq refugee camp in northern Yemen, spokesman Joel Millman said, citing IOM staff at the scene. He said it was not immediately clear how many of the casualties were civilians or armed personnel.

Another humanitarian official said earlier that the strike had hit a truck full of Houthi militiamen at the gate to the camp, killing nine residents, two camp guards and an unknown number of fighters.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Qatar emir buys 100-mln-euro Bosporus mansion for wife

    Saturday, March 28, 2015   No comments
Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has paid a staggering 100 million euros to purchase a house located on the banks of İstanbul's Bosporus Strait for his second wife, a Turkish newspaper reported on Saturday.

The purchase took place during a visit by the Qatari emir to Turkey two weeks ago, Vatan newspaper said. Reports earlier this week said the house, Erbilginler Yalısı --which is professed to be the most expensive residence in Turkey and the fourth most expensive globally -- had been sold to a Qatari businessman named Mana bin Abdul Hadi Al Hajri.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen without UNSC authorization

    Thursday, March 26, 2015   No comments
Saudis Target Houthi Positions In Yemen

Saudi Arabian warplanes pounded Houthi rebels overnight in an effort to stop their advance on southern Yemen. The Saudis and nine other allies launched airstrikes Wednesday after the Shiite militants captured airstrips around the southern port city of Aden, and fired on the residence of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The embattled president had fled the palace ahead of the rebel advance; it's unclear where he is.

The U.S. said late Wednesday that it is providing logistical and intelligence support to the military effort by Yemen's allies.

Shiite Iran, which backs the Houthis, called the operation the operation "dangerous" and likened it to an invasion. NPR's Deborah Amos reports that Iran complained that the air campaign against the rebels was a U.S.-backed operation.

The Guardian reports that the Al-Arabiya news channel said Saudi Arabia had lined up 150,000 soldiers in preparation for a ground offensive, and that Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan and Jordan were prepared to commit troops.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S. officials: Saudi Arabia building up military near Yemen border

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015   No comments
Saudi Arabia is moving heavy military equipment including artillery to areas near its border with Yemen, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, raising the risk that the Middle East’s top oil power will be drawn into the worsening Yemeni conflict.

The buildup follows a southward advance by Iranian-backed Houthi Shi'ite militants who took control of the capital Sanaa in September and seized the central city of Taiz at the weekend as they move closer to the new southern base of U.S.-supported President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The slide toward war in Yemen has made the country a crucial front in Saudi Arabia's region-wide rivalry with Iran, which Riyadh accuses of sowing sectarian strife through its support for the Houthis.

The conflict risks spiraling into a proxy war with Shi'ite Iran backing the Houthis, whose leaders adhere to the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam, and Saudi Arabia and the other regional Sunni Muslim monarchies backing Hadi.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Report: Israel Spied On U.S.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015   No comments
Israel spied on talks the U.S. and its allies are having with Iran over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Espionage among friends is not exactly new. In fact, the newspaper reported that the White House discovered the operation when U.S. intelligence agencies "spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Obama Sends Iran a Nowruz Message, Calls Nuclear Talks a 'Historic Opportunity'

    Friday, March 20, 2015   No comments
President Barack Obama, in a message to Iran's people and leaders on Thursday, said this year represented the "best opportunity in decades" to pursue a different relationship between their two countries.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Islamic State blamed for Tunisia attack after killing of Libyan cell leader

    Thursday, March 19, 2015   No comments
A total of 22 people, including South African, French, Spanish, Polish and Italian holidaymakers, were killed when gunmen disguised as soldiers stormed the museum in the capital, Tunis.

Armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades, the terrorists sprayed gunfire at tourists getting off buses outside the museum and then charged inside. The Western tourists had apparently got off cruise ship buses and were deliberately targeted.

Other people in the Bardo museum fled the scene in terror while some were taken hostage inside.

The building was then surrounded by heavily-armed security forces. After a two-hour stand-off, they attacked the gunmen and killed two of them, freeing the captives. At least two of the gang escaped and were being hunted by police on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Instability in Libya and fighters trained in Syria and Iraq returning to Tunisia might be behind the attack that killed 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians in national museum in Bardo

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015   No comments
Gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed Tunisia's national museum, killing 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians on Wednesday in one of the worst militant attacks in a country that had largely escaped the region's "Arab Spring" turmoil.

Visitors from Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain were among the dead in the noon assault on Bardo museum inside the heavily guarded parliament compound in central Tunis, Prime Minister Habib Essid said.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ring brings ancient Viking, Islamic civilizations closer together

    Tuesday, March 17, 2015   No comments
More than a century after its discovery in a ninth century woman’s grave, an engraved ring has revealed evidence of close contacts between Viking Age Scandinavians and the Islamic world.

Excavators of a Viking trading center in Sweden called Birka recovered the silver ring in the late 1800s. Until now, it was thought that it featured a violet amethyst engraved with Arabic-looking characters. But closer inspection with a scanning electron microscope revealed that the presumed amethyst is colored glass (an exotic material at the time), say biophysicist Sebastian Wärmländer of Stockholm University and his colleagues.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Iraqi Kurds say Islamic State used chemical weapons against them

    Sunday, March 15, 2015   No comments
Iraqi Kurdish authorities said on Saturday they had evidence that Islamic State had used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against their peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq in January.

The Security Council of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region said in a statement to Reuters that the peshmerga had taken soil and clothing samples after an Islamic State car bombing attempt on Jan. 23.

It said laboratory analysis showed "the samples contained levels of chlorine that suggested the substance was used in weaponized form." The Kurdish allegation could not be independently confirmed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sweden has ended a military deal with Saudi Arabia over human rights issues, Saudi Arabia pressured Arab League to cancel Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström's speech

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015   No comments
Sweden has ended a military deal with Saudi Arabia over human rights issues. The break comes after the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was allegedly prevented from making a speech at an Arab League meeting.

Arms Exports
Sweden cancels Saudi arms deal after human rights row

Sweden has ended a military deal with Saudi Arabia over human rights issues. The break comes after the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was allegedly prevented from making a speech at an Arab League meeting.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Full Interview With Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

    Thursday, March 05, 2015   No comments
Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spoke with NBC News' Ann Curry Wednesday. Below is the complete interview:

ANN CURRY: Foreign minister, thank you so much for being here.

JAVAD ZARIF: Happy to be with you.

ANN CURRY: We've noticed a sudden flurry of meetings - is this a sign that things are getting-- bogged down or moving forward?

JAVAD ZARIF: Well-- it's a sign that we are very serious. And we want to reach a conclusion. We suggested that we needed to raise the level of technical discussions. And so we had our head of an atomic energy organization and United States for-- the secretary of energy, both-- very well known nuclear physicists-- in order to reach-- some sort of a technical understanding. And that proved to be a-- very important, useful-- step. And we have been able to move forward with a good number of-- issues dealing with the-- with the technicalities. Because we were-- said all along that our nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. And when we have experts sitting together they can ascertain that, rather easily. And I'm-- I'm very happy that that has gone well. Of course that doesn't mean that we have resolved all the issues. We have a number of issues, both technical as well as political, that still need to be resolved. But we-- we've made good progress. But long way to go.

ANN CURRY: Where's the area of the major stumbling block?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Forms of cruel and unusual punishment in Saudi Arabia

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015   No comments
The country’s interpretation of Wahhabism demands capital punishment for a wide range of crimes, including murder, rape, armed robbery and drugs smuggling.

Death can also be the sentence for internationally condemned religious “crimes”, including apostasy, sorcery, blasphemy and idolatry.

Executions are often carried out by public beheading. That was the fate of a Burmese woman in May who was dragged through the streets of Mecca and killed in front of crowds of people in January.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Warming World: Is Capitalism Destroying Our Planet?

    Monday, March 02, 2015   No comments
World leaders decided in Copenhagen that global warming should be limited to 2 degrees Celsius. Achieving that target, though, would take nothing less than a miracle. With another round of climate negotiations approaching, it is becoming increasingly clear that mankind has failed to address its most daunting problem.
Humans are full of contradictions, including the urge to destroy things they love. Like our planet. Take Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Like everyone living Down Under, he's extremely proud of his country's wonder of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. At the same time, though, Abbott believes that burning coal is "good for humanity," even though it produces greenhouse gases that ultimately make our world's oceans warmer, stormier and more acidic. In recent years, Australia has exported more coal than any other country in the world. And the reef, the largest living organism on the planet, is dying. Half of the corals that make up the reef are, in fact, already dead.

Libye: le général Khalifa Haftar nommé commandant général de l'armée

    Monday, March 02, 2015   No comments
Le général Khalifa Haftar a été nommé à la tête de l'armée libyenne, a annoncé lundi le président du Parlement reconnu par la communauté internationale, Aguila Salah Issa.

"J'ai choisi le général de division Khalifa Belgacem Haftar pour le poste de commandant général de l'armée après l'avoir promu lieutenant-général", a déclaré Aguila Salah Issa. Le porte-parole du chef d'état-major de l'armée, le colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari, a

Turkey, Saudi Arabia agree to boost support to Syria opposition

    Monday, March 02, 2015   No comments
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who met in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, have agreed to boost support to the Syrian opposition.

The two leaders discussed a range of regional issues, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Egypt, during a meeting accompanied by their delegations, Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported citing presidential sources.

Erdoğan and the Saudi king particularly put emphasis on “the necessity of enhancing support to the Syrian opposition in a way that aims at yielding results,” the agency stated.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Who speaks for whom or for what: As the U.S. expresses concern over ‘deteriorating rights’ in Turkey, Turkish President Erdoğan slams Austria's controversial Islam law

    Sunday, March 01, 2015   No comments
 U.S. concerned over ‘deteriorating rights’ in Turkey

People in a democratic country should be able to express criticism of their leaders, a senior U.S. official has said, voicing Washington’s concern over Turkey’s human rights situation, amid a series of recent cases in which senior elected officials have opened cases against citizens upon alleged “insults.”

“We are very concerned about this. People have been prosecuted for speaking their mind. In a democratic country that respects freedom of expression, people should not be prosecuted for expressing their views on the government of the day or public officials,” said Thomas O. Melia, the deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL).

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