Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency » Middle East http://www.khaama.com The largest news and information source in Afghanistan Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:56:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 ISIS (Daesh) executes 100 of its own fighters for desertion http://www.khaama.com/isis-daesh-executes-100-of-its-own-fighters-for-desertion-8871 http://www.khaama.com/isis-daesh-executes-100-of-its-own-fighters-for-desertion-8871#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:55:54 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=43151 Read the full article...]]> isis execute own fightersAccording to reports, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group has executed around 100 of its foreign fighters who tried to flee their headquarters.

The execution was carried out in the Syrian city of Raqqa, according to an activist opposed to ISIS and President Bashar al-Assad.

The activist quoted by The Financial Times said he had “verified 100 executions” of foreign Islamic State fighters trying to leave the jihadi group’s de facto capital.

“Local fighters are frustrated they feel they’re doing most of the work and the dying . . . foreign fighters who thought they were on an adventure are now exhausted,” the activist told FT.

According to paper, quoting Islamic State fighters in Raqqa, a military police has been formed to clamp down on foreign fighters who miss duty.

According to the reports, large areas in northern and eastern parts of Syria are under the control of the ISIS militants. The group claims to have fighters from European countries, including UK, France, Germany, as well as the U.S., the Arab world and the Caucasus.

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ISIS (Daesh) publishes guide authorising fighters to rape children http://www.khaama.com/isis-daesh-publishes-guide-authorising-fighters-to-rape-children-9125 http://www.khaama.com/isis-daesh-publishes-guide-authorising-fighters-to-rape-children-9125#comments Sun, 14 Dec 2014 06:40:12 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=42713 Read the full article...]]> ISISIslamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has published a shocking guidebook for its fighters on how to treat captured Yazidi women, allowing its followers to beat and trade them, and authorising them to rape slave girls – even if they have not reached puberty.

The manual, titled Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves, has been reportedly drawn up by the Islamist group’s research and fatwa department.

The document justifies the taking of non-Muslim women as sabaya (sex slaves) and gives detailed answers to 29 questions as to how fighters should behave with them.

Senior Islamic State leaders started circulating the document on Twitter accounts on Friday and was distributed by masked IS fighters outside a large mosque in Iraq’s second city Mosul.

The document asserts that the women from other faiths such as Christians, Jews and polytheists and that “there is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women.”

It is further added in the document that the female captives and slaves can be both, sold, or given as a gift, “for they are merely property, which can be disposed of as long as that doesn’t cause the Muslim ummah [COMMUNITY]any harm or damage.”

According to the guidelines of the document, the women can be beaten but only to discipline them and the virgins can be raped after their “masters” have purchased them.

Approval of sex with the girls who have not reached puberty, is the most chilling with the guidelines asserting: “It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who has not yet reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse, “it says. “However, if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”

The Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute translated the Arabic manual into English after obtaining the document.

The document provides an insight into the likely fate of 5,000-7,000 Yazidis, mostly women and girls, who were kidnapped by the Islamic State fighters this summer.

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Syrian Moderate Rebels Faces Extinction http://www.khaama.com/syrian-moderate-rebels-faces-extinction-9119 http://www.khaama.com/syrian-moderate-rebels-faces-extinction-9119#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 05:57:01 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=42625 Read the full article...]]> Syrian rebelsBy Manish Rai

The moderate Syrian rebel groups are caught between a rock and a hard place, pilloried by radical factions for taking Western weapons but failing to get enough of them (or quickly enough) to become serious players. Moderate groups also suffer from poor morale and a lack of resources which is leading to large scale dissertation. The forces that the U.S. and west has nominally been backing have suffered losses at the hands of the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra (al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise) and the regime. The current trajectory means the moderate opposition remains marginal and incapable of shaping the battlefield in any material way. US and coalition airstrikes against ISIS had allowed President Bashar al-Assad to refocus on hitting mainstream rebels, and the regime had made gains around Hama and Aleppo. Combined with al-Nusra’s advances in Idlib and the threat of a renewed offensive by ISIS, moderate groups were now in danger of a rapid decline. Making things still worse for moderates there appears to be at least a truce between al-Nusra and ISIS, allowing each to focus on other enemies, whether moderate groups, the regime or the Kurds, and consolidate control over their respective strongholds. The bottom line is that the pace and scale of U.S. and west support is not sufficient to halt, let alone reverse, the erosion of moderate forces in Syrian arena.

Most territory in Syria is essentially shared by the “big three”: Islamic state, al-Nusra and its allies, and the regime. Assad’s forces control Damascus, the Mediterranean coast and much of the area in between. Islamic State, controls the east, while Nusra controls much of the northwest and is expanding at the expense of moderates. Syrian regime is after the moderate rebels which it wants to vanished out from the scene as soon as possible. Assad regime is working on the strategy of killing off the mainstream groups and leaves the West with a stark choice: Bashar al-Assad or ISIS and other jihadist groups turning Syria into an Islamic state. On the other hands the jihadists group are also attacking moderates and taking territory from them as they consider them soft targets as compared to Syrian regime. During a key battle in the rugged mountains of northern Idlib province this month, US-backed Syrian rebels collapsed before an assault by Nusra fighters. Some surrendered their weapons and others outright defected to the militants. At the same time, a string of assassinations has targeted some of their most powerful moderate’s commanders. This is the end of the Free Syrian Army, said Alaa Al Deen, an opposition activist in Idlib, referring to western-backed rebel groups. “It’s the beginning of an Islamic emirate. Al Nusra drove US-backed factions almost completely out of Idlib provience where they had been the predominant force since from the start of the Syrian conflict. Two of the strongest western-backed forces, the Hazm Movement and the Syrian Revolutionary Front, were defeated and several other allied groups simply vanished.

Meanwhile, US is also reworking on its strategy to make moderates a prominent force in Syria. The Pentagon plans to train and equip a force of 5,000 fighters in northern Syria to fight the Islamic State. A location south of the Turkish capital, Ankara, has been identified as a base for training the first 2,000 rebels, this training is expected to start from March next year. This new strategy which seems to have very little chance of success is being hastily formulated. The aim is to build a proxy rebel army from scratch to take on the Jihadists, recruiting from the sprawling refugee camps which house millions of displaced Syrians in neighbouring countries. It is unclear how the US will go about convincing Syrians brutalized and displaced by their regime to turn their attention away from battling it, and focus instead on fighting groups which they consider as brothers in arms. The Americans either have to employ some extraordinary powers of persuasion, or otherwise end up with little more than a limited and mediocre mercenary force, motivated by money and lacking any real conviction in its cause. A force like that would stand little chance against the more numerous and better motivated fanatical jihadists, let alone a cornered regime viciously fighting tooth and nail for its very survival.

If the fighting in Syria continues on its current trajectory, the country soon it will be partitioned almost entirely between jihadist forces and those of the Assad regime, leaving the moderate rebels without territory and the United States without allies in the strategically important country. It’s a hard fact that the Free Syrian Army the umbrella group of moderate rebels is currently the weakest force on the ground in Syria, a result not only of inadequate foreign backing compared with that of rival Islamist and extremist factions, but of its own internal divisions, byzantine leadership structure (based in Turkey) and rampant corruption. Over the period of time the moderates have gotten weaker, and are facing a regime that has adapted its military and political tactics. Their morale has gone down and the structural problems have become much more problematic in terms of organizing against the regime. Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State have done a great job at leveraging opposition weaknesses and attracting fighters from other groups into their ranks. It will be true to say that moderate rebel groups inside Syria are facing the prospect of complete annihilation. Moderate opposition groups were never going to survive if they didn’t address some of the core structural issues and challenges it faces in terms of fighting the Assad regime and extremists.

Manish_Rai(Author is a columnist for Middle-East and Af-Pak region and Editor of geo-political news agency www.viewsaround.com can be reached at manishraiva@gmail.com)

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Saudi prince offers $1m to spend night with American model Kim Kardashian http://www.khaama.com/saudi-prince-offers-1m-to-spend-night-with-american-model-kim-kardashian-8852 http://www.khaama.com/saudi-prince-offers-1m-to-spend-night-with-american-model-kim-kardashian-8852#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 18:06:15 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=42612 Read the full article...]]> kim-kardashianAccording to reports, a Saudi prince has proposed $1 million per night to a famous American model and actress Kim Kardashian to spend the night partying with him.

It is rumoured Mrs Kardashian-West is set to fly out to Saudi Arabia in January, as a special guest of the prince.

The rumours were followed after Adel Al-Otaib, allegedly a member of the Saudi royal family commented on one of her many selfies in Instagram, saying: “I’m Saudi and I’ll pay you one million per night Mai”.

According to Media Take Out gossip website, the mother-of-one has accepted the offer, and will fly out to Saudi Arabia early next year.

However, Mrs Kardashian-West has denied she was offered $1m to spend the night partying with a Saudi prince, with her representatives saying the story was false.

The 34-year-old model has one daughter and is married to rapper Kanye West. She has previously been paid $500,000 to attend the 2013 Vienna Ball as the date of 81-year-old billionaire Richard Lugner.

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French lawmakers votes for the recognition of Palestinian state http://www.khaama.com/french-lawmakers-votes-for-the-recognition-of-palestinian-state-8821 http://www.khaama.com/french-lawmakers-votes-for-the-recognition-of-palestinian-state-8821#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 17:14:23 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=42144 Read the full article...]]> Palestine stateThe lawmakers in the National Assembly of France on Tuesday voted to call on the government to recognize Palestine as a state.

The proposal was passed with 339 votes in favor and 151 against is likely to raise domestic political pressure on the government of France to be more active on the issue.

This comes as the lawmakers in Britain, Spain and Ireland have already passed similar proposal in an effort to push forward peace efforts between Israel and Palestine.

Sweden voted to formally recognize Palestine as a state on October 3, becoming the biggest Western European country to diplomatically accept the existence of Palestine.

The text introduced by the ruling Socialists “invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict”.

Israel immediately reacted towards the vote, saying that the motion would “harm the peace process,” AFP reported.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier warned that the move would be a “grave mistake.”

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Abu Bakr al-Badgdai’s wife and son arrested on Lebanon border http://www.khaama.com/abu-bakr-al-badgdais-wife-and-son-arrested-on-lebanon-border-9084 http://www.khaama.com/abu-bakr-al-badgdais-wife-and-son-arrested-on-lebanon-border-9084#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 07:26:24 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=42124 Read the full article...]]> 371210_Al-BaghdadiAccording to reports, the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Badghdadi’s wife and his son have been arrested on Lebanon’s border.

The Lebanese security officials have said al-Baghdadi’s wife and son were arrested while they were crossing the border from syria.

The officials further added the arrest was made in coordination with “foreign intelligence apparatus”, the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported.

She was taken to the Lebanese Defense Ministry where interrogation is ongoing, the report added.

No further details were given regarding the name and nationality of the woman arrested by security forces.

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Nouri Maliki reappointed as Iraq’s PM http://www.khaama.com/nouri-maliki-reappointed-as-iraqs-pm http://www.khaama.com/nouri-maliki-reappointed-as-iraqs-pm#comments Fri, 12 Nov 2010 08:47:02 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=948 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – Newly re-elected Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has reappointed Nouri Maliki, a Shia, as prime minister.

The move comes after eight months of political deadlock which followed inconclusive elections in March.

But the event was marred by a walkout by al-Iraqiyya, the main Sunni-backed alliance led by former PM Iyad Allawi.

It said Mr Maliki had reneged on an agreement to reinstate four Sunni leaders who had been banned for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath party.

US President Barack Obama welcomed the progress that Iraq had made in recent days.

“The president is encouraged by the substantial progress that has been made in forging an inclusive government that represents the Iraqi people and the results of this year’s election,” said a White House statement.

The White House added that the US president had spoken to several Iraqi leaders in the run-up to the parliamentary session.

‘Stabbed in the back’

Iraq’s parliament convened after a delay of several hours on Thursday.

Their first act was to hold secret ballot which appointed Osama al-Nujaifi – a Sunni Arab member of Mr Allawi’s al-Iraqiyya coalition – as speaker. He was previously governor of Nineveh province.

MPs were then due to vote on reappointing Mr Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), as president. But before the vote could be held, about a third of the al-Iraqiyya MPs – including Mr Nujaifi and Mr Allawai – walked out of the parliament.

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Baghdad says the al-Iraqiyya members had wanted parliament to pass a motion to remove the stigma of Baathism which had barred four of the coalition’s key figures from taking political office.

Although not opposed to Mr Talabani’s re-election itself, they had wanted the motion to be passed before the election of the president.

“We boycotted the session because we showed good intentions to others, but they stabbed us in the back,” Saleh al-Mutlak, one of the barred lawmakers, told the AFP news agency.

“We will not return without international guarantees,” he added, but gave no further details.

Stalemate

But despite the walk-out, the parliamentary session continued and MPs went on to re-elect Mr Talabani.

“Today is the day of victory. The victory of the true Iraqi will,” Mr Talabani told parliament.

As had been agreed in the deal reached on Wednesday, Mr Talabani then handed the task of forming a government to the largest coalition, the National Alliance – a merger of Mr Maliki’s State of Law coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Mr Maliki now has a month to put together a cabinet, during which efforts will be made to draw Mr Allawi back into the process, says our correspondent.

Under the power-sharing deal – struck late on Wednesday – Mr Allawi will head a new Council for National Strategy. Al-Iraqiyya will also get the foreign ministry.

Al-Iraqiyya won two more seats than State of Law in March’s election, but neither had enough seats to form a government.

The tide turned for Mr Maliki in early October when the Iraqi alliance announced that the 40 or so seats he controlled in the new parliament would back the incumbent for a second term.

Our correspondent says that many Iraqis are now cautiously hopeful that they are on the road to a stable government which includes all the main factions and could turn the corner to a better future for the whole country.

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Source: BBC

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Yemen arrests medical student over cargo jet bomb plot http://www.khaama.com/yemen-arrests-medical-student-over-cargo-jet-bomb-plot http://www.khaama.com/yemen-arrests-medical-student-over-cargo-jet-bomb-plot#comments Sun, 31 Oct 2010 04:23:34 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=358 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – Security forces in Yemen have arrested a female medical student suspected of posting bombs found on two cargo jets in Dubai and the UK.

She was held at a house in the capital, Sanaa, after being traced through a phone number left with a cargo company. Her mother was also detained.

UK PM David Cameron said the device in Britain found on a US-bound cargo plane was designed to go off on the aircraft.

The two packages were addressed to synagogues in the Chicago area.

Both bombs, discovered on Friday, were apparently inserted in printer cartridges.

Germany announced it would no longer accept air freight from Yemen, Agence France-Presse news agency quoted the country’s interior minister as saying.

‘Quiet student’

The unnamed young Yemeni woman, described as a medical student and the daughter of a petroleum engineer, was arrested at a house on the outskirts of Sanaa, a security official told AFP news agency.

Her mother was also detained but was not a prime suspect, the arrested woman’s lawyer said.

The lawyer, Abdel Rahman Burman, confirmed to Reuters news agency the student had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in sending the two packages.

“Her acquaintances tell me that she is a quiet student and there was no knowledge of her having involvement in any religious or political groups,” he said.

“I’m concerned the girl is a victim because it doesn’t make sense that the person who would do this kind of operation would leave a picture of their ID and their phone number.”

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said the US and the United Arab Emirates had provided Yemen with information that helped identify the woman, and he pledged that his country would continue fighting al-Qaeda “in co-operation with its partners”.

“But we do not want anyone to interfere in Yemeni affairs by hunting down al-Qaeda,” he added.

Further investigations in Yemen are likely to focus on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has its stronghold in the remote Shabwa province in the south of the country, the BBC’s Jon Leyne reports from Cairo.

Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) – an explosive favoured by AQAP – was discovered in the device intercepted in Dubai.

Mr Saleh’s remarks on interference are presumably a message to Washington to hold off military strikes inside Yemen, our correspondent says.

But he says Washington has been impressed by the speed and determination the Yemeni authorities have shown in their response.

Our correspondent says this latest attempted bomb attack will only underscore fears about the security threat from Yemen, where al-Qaeda is taking advantage of weak government, wild geography and huge political social and economic problems that have no clear solutions.

Cargo changes

The Yemeni authorities have closed down the local offices of the US cargo firms UPS and FedEx, who have already suspended all shipments out of the country and pledged full co-operation with investigators.

One device was intercepted on a UPS plane at East Midlands Airport in the UK and the other on a FedEx jet in Dubai.

Mr Cameron said the authorities had immediately banned packages coming to or through the UK from Yemen, and was considering further steps.

Late on Saturday, AFP quoted German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere as giving an assurance that “no freight coming from Yemen will arrive in Germany”.

While details of the device found in Britain have not been released, Dubai police said the bomb intercepted there had been “prepared in a professional manner and equipped with an electrical circuit linked to a mobile telephone [Sim] card”.

Rafi Ron, an aviation security adviser to the US government, told the BBC that cargo planes were currently subject to a lot less scrutiny than passenger planes but that this was now likely to change.

“I think that there will be a larger demand for details on the shippers of any item, there will be greater investigation and data mining programmes will be put in place to identify high-risk packages or letters that are put on board, and there will be more technology put in place to screen those packages that will be found serious enough to be screened,” he said.

How the alerts were raised (all times GMT):

• Early hours of Friday morning: alert raised at East Midlands airport after suspect package found on UPS plane. Security cordon put in place, then lifted.

• 0900: suspect package found on FedEx plane in Dubai.

• 1300: security cordon reinstated at East Midlands airport, apparently after a second suspect device is found.

• 1700: FBI says two suspect packages were addressed to religious buildings in Chicago.

• 1835: Emirates Flight 201 from Yemen via Dubai lands at JFK airport, New York, escorted by US fighter jets. The plane is carrying a package from Yemen.

• 1845: FedEx in Dubai confirms it has confiscated a suspect package sent from Yemen and is suspending all shipments from Dubai.

• 1900: two other FedEx flights investigated after landing at Newark, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Both receive the all-clear.

• 2330: BA flight from London to New York (JFK) met by US officials as a “precautionary measure”.

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Source: BBC

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Iraqi PM criticises timing of Wikileaks disclosure http://www.khaama.com/iraqi-pm-criticises-timing-of-wikileaks-disclosure http://www.khaama.com/iraqi-pm-criticises-timing-of-wikileaks-disclosure#comments Sun, 24 Oct 2010 04:30:58 +0000 http://www.khushnood.org/?p=173 Read the full article...]]> Iraq’s prime minister has criticised the timing of the release by Wikileaks of almost 400,000 secret US military documents about the conflict there.

Nouri Maliki’s office accused it of trying to sabotage his bid to form a new government by stoking up anger “against national parties and leaders, especially the prime minister”.

Mr Maliki is struggling to keep his job after inconclusive elections in March.

Wikileaks said the disclosure was aimed at revealing the truth about the war.

Its founder, Julian Assange, said the records showed there had been “a bloodbath on every corner” and provided evidence of war crimes.

“We hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before the war, during the war and which has continued on since the war officially concluded,” he told a news conference in London.

But the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen, strongly condemned the disclosure of classified information.

In a posting on Twitter, he called Wikileaks “irresponsible” and said the website puts “lives at risk and gives adversaries valuable information”.

‘Media games’

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Baghdad says the Wikileaks revelations have attracted relatively little interest among Iraqis, although they triggered an angry response from the office of Prime Minister Maliki.

It issued a statement saying that publishing the documents while negotiations over a new government continued was suspicious, but also expressed confidence in the Iraqi people’s “awareness regarding such games or media bubbles that are motivated by known political goals”.

Mr Maliki’s office also said the records did not present any proof of detainees being tortured in Iraqi-run facilities during his premiership.

Instead, the statement praised him as courageous for taking a tough stance against terrorists. It did not offer any further details.

Earlier, a government spokesman admitted that “violations” had taken place but that these did not reflect official policy and were punished when discovered However, there is no record of any official having been jailed for torture after successive scandals starting in 2005.

The Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc of the former Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, said the allegations demonstrated why it was important to have a power-sharing government, and why Mr Maliki should step aside.

“Putting all the security powers in the hands of one person, who is the general commander of the armed forces, have led to these abuses and torture practices in Iraqi prisons,” spokeswoman Maysoun al-Damlouji told the Associated Press.

“Maliki wants to have all powers in his hands,” she added.

Iraqiya narrowly won the most seats in the general election, but has refused to participate in a government led by Mr Maliki, who has been nominated by the country’s main Shia coalition, the National Alliance.

 

Click to play

One shows US soldiers were given a video apparently showing Iraqi Army (IA) officers executing a prisoner in the northern town of Talafar. Another says officers were suspected of cutting off a detainee’s fingers and burning him with acid.

Despite the severity of the allegations, the reports were often sent up the chain of command marked “no further investigation”.

US military spokesman Col Dave Lapan told the BBC that it had no plans to reinvestigate the alleged abuses, and that its policy was consistent with the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

He stressed that when the allegations involved the abuse of Iraqis by Iraqis, the role of American soldiers was to “observe and report” what they had seen to their superiors – who would then pass on the evidence to the Iraqi authorities.

Col Lapan said this was “customary international practice” – adding that the field reports published by Wikileaks had been viewed by senior officers at the time, and the “necessary actions” taken.

The Sigacts also reveal many previously unreported instances in which US forces killed civilians at checkpoints and during operations.

In one incident in July 2007, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed by a helicopter gunship, about half of them civilians, according to the log.

The disclosure also appears to show the US military did keep records of civilian deaths, despite earlier denials that any official statistics were available.

The logs showed there were more than 109,000 violent deaths between 2004 and the end of 2009. They included 66,081 civilians, 23,984 people classed as “enemy”, 15,196 members of the Iraqi security forces, and 3,771 coalition troops.

Iraq Body Count, which collates civilian deaths using cross-checked media reports and other figures, said that based on an analysis of a sample, it estimated that around 15,000 previously unknown civilian deaths would be identified.

The release of the documents comes as the US military prepares to withdraw all 50,000 remaining troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
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Source: BBC News

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Israeli presence on Palestinian land ‘irreversible’ http://www.khaama.com/israeli-presence-on-palestinian-land-irreversible http://www.khaama.com/israeli-presence-on-palestinian-land-irreversible#comments Sat, 23 Oct 2010 07:12:21 +0000 http://www.khushnood.org/?p=165 Read the full article...]]> By Barbara Plett BBC UN correspondent, New York
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A UN human rights rapporteur has said continued settlement construction will probably make Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land irreversible.

Richard Falk said the peace process aimed at creating an independent, sovereign Palestinian state therefore appeared to be based on an illusion.

He said the UN, the US and Israel had failed to uphold Palestinians’ rights.

Israeli officials said Mr Falk’s report on the Palestinian territories was biased and served a political agenda.

Nearly half a million Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are held to be illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

‘De-facto annexation’

In a report for the UN General Assembly, Mr Falk said Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem had become so extensive it amounted to de-facto annexation of Palestinian land.

He said this undercut assumptions behind UN Security Council resolutions which said Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory in 1967 was temporary and reversible.

Such assumptions are the basis for the current peace process aimed at creating an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

This now appears to be an illusion, said Mr Falk.

Israel said the report was utterly biased and served a political agenda, criticising its author for making no mention of what it called Palestinian terrorist attacks.

Mr Falk told journalists that his mandate was to report on the Israeli occupation, not on the rights and wrongs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He said he based his conclusion not only on the deepening expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but on the eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, and the demolition of their homes.

Israel’s refusal to extend a partial 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank has derailed peace negotiations sponsored by the United States. Washington wants them resumed.

But Mr Falk said both governments and the United Nations had failed to uphold Palestinian rights.

He urged the UN to support civil society initiatives, such as campaigns to sanction or boycott Israel for alleged violations of international law.

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Bahrainis to vote in parliamentary election http://www.khaama.com/bahrainis-to-vote-in-parliamentary-election http://www.khaama.com/bahrainis-to-vote-in-parliamentary-election#comments Sat, 23 Oct 2010 06:57:44 +0000 http://www.khushnood.org/?p=161 Read the full article...]]> People in Bahrain are set to elect representatives for the lower house of parliament, the third such vote since it became a constitutional monarchy.

Correspondents say the main contest is between Islamists and those with a more secular vision for the Gulf state.

The election comes amid rising tension between the dominant Sunni Muslim community and majority Shia Muslims.

The government has also been criticised for arresting dissidents and curtailing media and internet freedom.

Observers will also be watching to see if Bahrain’s only woman in parliament is joined by other female MPs.

Although women got the right to vote in 2001, strong discrimination against their participation in Bahraini politics still exists. The main Islamist parties are unwilling to back women candidates.

‘Second-class’ Shia

The BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Jon Leyne, says the Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the more democratic countries in the Arab world.

But it is a limited democracy, he adds, with the elected members of the lower house, the Council of Representatives, only holding restricted powers.

The upper house, the Shura Council – all of whose members are appointed by the royal family – can and does over-rule the lower house, and is a major source of complaints by democracy campaigners and opposition politicians. In addition, King Hamad appoints all ministers without parliamentary scrutiny.

Our correspondent says the main election contest will be between Islamists, and those politicians with a more secular outlook.

The Islamists want measures such as limits on the sale of alcohol. Others say that would damage Bahrain’s aim to be a global financial centre.

The long-running conflict between the Shia majority and the ruling Sunni minority has also once more come to the fore, with a series of protests by Shia complaining about their “second-class” status.

On Wednesday, the leader of the main Shia opposition al-Wifaq al-Watani (National Accord) Islamic Society called for an end to the monopoly on power the Sunni ruling family has had since independence in 1971.

“It is unacceptable that power be monopolised by a single family, even one to which we owe respect and consideration,” Sheikh Ali Salman told a rally in a suburb of the capital, Manama.

“We look forward to the day when any child of the people, be they Sunni or Shia, can become prime minister,” he added.

King Hamad’s uncle, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, has served as prime minister ever since Bahrain’s independence from the UK in 1971.

Sheikh Salman’s comments came after the detention of 250 Shia opposition activists in recent months, some on terrorism charges, according to the human rights group, Amnesty International.

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Source: BBC

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Iran to try US hikers accused of spying in November http://www.khaama.com/iran-to-try-us-hikers-accused-of-spying-in-november http://www.khaama.com/iran-to-try-us-hikers-accused-of-spying-in-november#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2010 04:06:02 +0000 http://www.khushnood.org/?p=131 Read the full article...]]> An Iranian lawyer says the trial of three American hikers accused of spying will begin in early November.

Two of the hikers are being held in a Tehran prison, while a third, Sarah Shourd, returned to the US after her release on bail in September.

The Iranians arrested the three in July 2009 after they strayed across the border from Iraq.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has said there is no basis for a trial.

Speaking on Tuesday, she demanded that the two hikers still in custody, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, be released on humanitarian grounds.

“We regret that they and their families are being subjected to a criminal system that we do not think in any way reflects their actions,” she said, adding that it was “unfortunate” the pair had been held for more than a year.

The lawyer representing the hikers’ families, Masoud Shafii, said a trial date of 6 November has been set, in an interview with the BBC’s Persian-language service.

He said the three faced charges of espionage and illegally entering the country.

Mr Shafii added that the trial would be conducted by Abol Qasem Salavati – a judge who presided over the trial of dozens of political activists accused of organising street protests after elections last year.

Correspondents say that given the risks, it is very unlikely Ms Shourd will return to Iran for the proceedings.

The three have always maintained that they accidentally crossed over the border into Iran from Iraq while hiking in the mountains of Kurdistan.
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Source: BBC

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