8/31/2014

Bahrain detains activist on arrival at airport

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/bahrain-detains-activist-on-arrival-at-airport-1.1378578


Manama: Bahraini authorities detained rights activist Mariam Al Khawaja on Saturday on her arrival at the Gulf state’s airport, her mother told Reuters.
Maryam is the daughter of Shiite activist Abdul Hadi Abdullah Hubail Al Khawaja, who has been detained in the country since 2011 and is on a hunger strike.
“Mariam told me that she will be transferred to the court tomorrow,” her mother, Khadija Al Musawi, said, adding that her daughter, who holds dual Bahraini and Danish citizenship, was coming back from Denmark.
Charges against Al Khawaja include insulting Bahrain’s king, and assaulting a policewoman at the airport, her mother said.
Bahraini authorities were not immediately available to comment but state news agency BNA cited chief prosecutor of Al Muharraq province, Abdullah Al Dossary, as saying that the public prosecution had begun an investigation into a complaint by Bahrain airport’s police.
The complaint said that an “accused woman” had been detained at the airport based on a previously issued arrest warrant. It said that the accused had assaulted a lieutenant and a policewoman after she refused to hand over her phone during a search. The report did not name Mariam.
Al Dossary was cited as saying that the accused was charged with assaulting a public employee while carrying out his official duty and would be detained for seven days pending an investigation.

Bahrain journalist Ahmed Humaidan's sentence upheld

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29007275

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bahrain has upheld a 10-year-jail sentence on photojournalist Ahmad Humaidan.
Humaidan, 25, was convicted of taking part in an attack on a police station in Sitra in April 2012.
Human rights groups say he was simply covering pro-democracy protests that erupted among Bahrain's Shia majority.
The photojournalist won the National Press Club's John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award for 2014 and has always maintained his innocence.
He has been in detention since December 2012.
Twenty-six other defendants were also sentenced to 10 years in jail, while another three received three-year terms. Three more were acquitted.
'Outrageous'
Separately on Saturday, prominent human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja was detained while trying to enter Bahrain, reportedly to visit her father, the activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is in jail.
Zainab al-Khawaja following her release (17 February 2014) Maryam al-Khawaja has been detained for seven days, a lawyer said
Mr Khawaja's lawyer, Mohammed al-Jishi, said Ms Khawaja, the co-director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was denied entry and told that she had been stripped of her Bahraini citizenship.
She was later granted a visa but was detained for seven days, Mr Jishi told AFP.
Human Rights Watch described her arrest as "outrageous" and expressed its deep concern, saying it was "unlawful to arbitrarily deny person entry or citizenship".
Maryam al-Khawaja and her father hold dual nationalities for Bahrain and Denmark.
Mr al-Khawaja, 54, is serving a life sentence for plotting to overthrow the monarchy. He staged a 110-day hunger strike in 2012 in protest against his imprisonment. He is currently on hunger strike again.
Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch describe him as a "prisoner of conscience".
Inspired by the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, protests by Bahrain's Shia majority were crushed in 2011 by supporters and troops loyal to the country's ruling Sunni minority.
The Gulf Cooperation Council sent in a force, led by Saudi Arabia, at Bahrain's request in March 2011.

8/29/2014

US Coast Guard fires at Iranian boat in Gulf

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/us-coast-guard-fires-at-iranian-boat-in-gulf-1.1377826

Manama: A US Coast Guard vessel fired in self-defence on an Iranian boat in the Arabian Gulf, the Navy said on Wednesday, an encounter that could exacerbate tensions between the two countries as they work to hammer out a lasting deal over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said personnel on a small boat dispatched from the US Coast Guard patrol boat Monomoy fired a single shot when it saw crew on a nearby Iranian dhow training one of its two .50-caliber machine guns on them and preparing to fire.
“This action by the dhow’s crew demonstrated hostile intent which resulted in the defensive fire by the Coast Guardsmen,” he said.
Dhows are traditional wooden boats common to the region that are typically used for trade.
No Americans were wounded in the encounter, which happened in international waters around 11:30am local time on Tuesday, Stephens said.
The Monomoy was operating on “a routine maritime security operation” when it contacted the dhow’s bridge. After initial contact, the Iranian vessel stopped communicating and the Coast Guard ship deployed a small boat to investigate, Stephens said.
It was not clear if the shot hit the Iranian vessel or if anyone onboard was injured. Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
American, Iranian and other countries’ military vessels routinely patrol the Gulf, a key route for international oil shipments, usually without incident.
Incidents
Speed boats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, however, have passed close to US ships in incidents that have raised alarm in Washington.
In early 2008, then-President George W. Bush accused Iran of a “provocative act” after five small Iranian craft buzzed around the destroyer USS Hopper.
Tuesday’s encounter happened as the US and other world powers negotiate with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme, and just days after Iran claimed it shot down a purported Israeli drone near a nuclear facility. Israeli officials have not commented on the incident.
The West and Israel believe the programme is aimed at building a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes only, such as power generation and medical research.

8/27/2014

Iraq, Syria, Libya, UK – Intelligence failures all

http://world.einnews.com/article/220434624/HycuyaO2-trbbvpD

• Lack of intelligence as well as Intelligence
• Intelligence begins at home, but should be deployed away
 
Given the resources available to US – and British – intelligence agencies, it seems strange that the attraction, influence, finance, and military strength, of the extremist group which calls itself Islamic State (Isis) came as such a surprise.
As Patrick Cockburn observes in his excellent new book, The Jihadis Return, "though the swiftly growing power of Isis was obvious to those who followed its fortunes, the significance of what was happening was taken on board by few foreign governments, hence the widespread shock that greeted the fall of Mosul".
It was evident, says Cockburn, that western governments entirely misread the situation in Iraq and Syria.
For more than a decade, the US – backed by successive British governments, to the horror of many in Whitehall, notably the Foreign Office and some MI6 officers – adopted a simplistic, easy, and entirely misguided, approach towards a most complex and unstable part of the world.
Whether it was bombing (Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan), or demonising dictators (Saddam in Iraq, Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria) it was as though the US and UK governments never contemplated the extraordinary dangerous consequences of a power vacuum.
It is even more dangerous when foreigners impose a deadline on the withdrawal of their forces (Iraq and Afghanistan).
Western governments should have worked more closely, and more humbly, with Turkey, Iran, countries throughout the Middle East, and with Russia (whose leaders have been deeply concerned about radical Islamist extremism for rather longer than the west). The task is to persuade them they do have some essential common interests.
It is not too late to pick up the pieces, and attack such drivers of extremism as poverty, alienation, and sectarianism.
In the short term, humanitarian aid, supplying those fighting Isis with appropiate weapons, and dealing with Assad.
"Sometimes you have to develop relationships with people who are extremely nasty in order to get rid of people who are even nastier", Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Conservative defence and foreign secretary, now chair of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, told the Financial Times last week. Richard Dannatt, former head of the army, took a similar line.
Philip Hammond, former defence secretary, now foreign secretary, distanced himself from such talk. Britain would not supply "lethal suppport" to the "moderate Syrian opposition", he added.
David Cameron and Hammond talk about Britain's "military prowess". That seems to mean intelligence-gathering equipment and (deniable) special forces.
Those used to dealing with unsavoury customers are officers of the foreign intelligence service, MI6. They were among the first to talk to the IRA, taking the long view. They have been frustrated in their early, sensible, attempts to talk to the Taliban.
Now they are warning the government not to overreact to Britons' joining Isis and returning home.
The fundamental tenet of British justice – innocent until proved guilty – should not be changed even in a minor way for this "unproven threat – and it is an unproven threat at the moment," Richard Barrett, MI6's former counter terrorism chief, has told the Guardian. "I don't think we should change the laws without a very much more thorough assessment and understanding of the threat," he added.
Sir Richard Dearlove, Barrett's former boss, said last month that the government and media had blown the Islamist terrorism threat out of proportion, giving extremists publicity that was counter-productive.
The conflict, he said, was "essentially one of Muslim on Muslim".
It is the job of the domestic security service, MI5, to counter any threat they might pose here. Those jihadists who proudly tweet horrific statements and images are not the dangerous ones. The question is how many are quietly planning attacks.
Counter terrorist police appear to be encouraged that families of those who have gone to Syria and Iraq, or their friends and imams, appear to share the concern.
They should be embraced and sticks, rhetorical or otherwise, kept to a minimum.

8/23/2014

Ebola outbreak: BBC podcast updates

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28869799

Ebola graphic
The BBC is airing public health broadcasts in West Africa about the current Ebola outbreak - the world's deadliest to date.
Issued twice a week, the BBC Ebola updates cover the latest health advice as well as debunking myths and rumours, and combatting misinformation.
You can download the episodes as a podcast here.
The podcasts are uploaded on Wednesdays and Fridays.

8/20/2014

Foley beheading video shocks the world, Obama says

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28867627

US President Barack Obama has said the beheading of US journalist James Foley is "an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world".
Mr Obama compared Islamic State (IS), the group which made a video of Mr Foley's killing, to a "cancer" and said its ideology was "bankrupt".
IS said Mr Foley's death was revenge for US air strikes on its fighters in Iraq.
But Mr Obama pledged to continue "to do what we must do" to confront IS.
The UN, UK and others have also expressed abhorrence at the video.
Mr Foley's mother Diane said he "gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people". More...

8/17/2014

August 17 and Palestine Day

http://world.einnews.com/article/218835689/Wec3d7sPCSTFfg8b


JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA: While attending a rally organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Islamabad in support of Gaza, the federal information minister said that the government would accept a proposal by the JI to officially observe August 17 as Palestine Day.
The bravery shown by Gazans will be remembered for a long time among the nations who struggled against the colonial powers.
However, we should take exception to government decision to observe Palestine Day on August 17. In Pakistan’s history this was the day when the nation was freed of the brutal clutches of a military dictator — Ziaul Haq. He died in a plane crash on this day in 1988.
It is said that General Zia played a key role in a bloody offensive against the Palestinians in Jordan in 1970. Hence, to celebrate Palestine Day on August 17 would be a bad move.
Masood Khan
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2014.
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Songwriter recalls Robin Williams' date in Bahrain

http://world.einnews.com/article/218864942/wI2vOd32Jjsswp6a


AN American songwriter has recollected a meeting with the late Robin Williams following a performance for US troops in Bahrain.

Top country-music songwriter Bob DiPiero, who lives in Nashville, was in Afghanistan and Bahrain in 2010 as part of a USO Christmas tour, which featured Robin Williams, country star Kix Brooks and comedians Louis Black and Kathleen Madigan as well as former cycling star Lance Armstrong.

"One morning in Bahrain, I came down for breakfast and saw Robin sitting by himself writing in a small blue spiral notebook," he posted on his website.

"He invited me over to sit down with him and hang. After coffee and small talk about the previous night's show, I asked him what he was writing.

"He told me he was writing notes on last night's performance. What he did right, what he could do better. Humble greatness.

"Our last stop on the tour was a hospital in Germany where wounded soldiers were taken once they had been stabilised on the battlefield.

"What I saw I will never forget; multiple amputations, disfigured faces, wrecked bodies and grievous wounds suffered by men so very young.

"Kix reminded me today that Robin jumped in and carried us all.

"He brought laughter and lightness and a moment of grace to those broken heroes.

"They called him Mork, Mrs Doubtfire, Robin amongst them, one hilarious lightning line following another.

"I will never forget you my friend."

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel



Source: Gulf Daily News (Bahrain)

8/16/2014

AFRICA: Ivory Coast prepares for Ebola

http://world.einnews.com/article/218684049/-vp7vsPvO9UAUL8l


With an outbreak of Ebola having killed more than 1,000 people in neighbouring Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast is preparing itself for the worst. FRANCE 24 visited the town of Sipilou, where the deadly disease is on everyone's lips.

Yet to record any confirmed Ebola cases of its own, the Ivorian government has strengthened preventative measures, especially in border towns to the country’s west.
In Sipilou, a small village on the border with Guinea, both doctors and residents fear the arrival of Ebola.
Here, health teams are working tirelessly to sensitise people to the dangers of the disease. Their message is clear: “Do not touch animals or eat bush meat."
Everyone in the town knows that the virus is close – and that they are vulnerable.
“If you eat bush meat and you have contracted Ebola – if you have had it for some time – within 48 or even 24 hours you will die,” says Dimonade Aubin, the chief of Silipou district.
“Death is there. It’s a disease without a cure. It’s that serious.”
'It could arrive at any moment'
The roads in Sipilou have been quiet for the past few weeks – day-to-day life has ground to a halt. The border with Guinea hasn’t officially closed but, in reality, few people are crossing over.
Health centres are already set up to treat suspected cases. Everyone is on high alert and there have already been some false alarms. But so far all the test results have been negative.
“It could arrive at any moment,” says Regional Health Director Doctor Seydou Doumbia.
“A week ago, we were called. So we arrived with all our protective equipment. We thought it was Ebola but it turned out it wasn’t.”

Text by FRANCE 24

IRAQ: Kurdish & US troops fight rebels to retake Mosul dam

http://world.einnews.com/article/218787728/NsCG2bBrXgTvsp3B


Kurdish troops backed by US warplanes launched a bid  to recapture Mosul dam, Iraq's largest, from jihadists.
Witnesses said the air strikes started early in the morning and reported that fighting was ongoing in the afternoon.
Peshmerga forces lost control of the dam on 7 August as IS fighters were sweeping the region.
IS fighters conquered one village after another and seizing other key infrastructure such as oil wells.
The dam on the Tigris river, on the southern shores of Mosul lake about 50km north of the city, provides electricity to much of the region.
It is crucial to irrigation in vast farming areas in Nineveh province.
In  2007 a letter was sent to the premier, Nuri al-Maliki, by the US ambassador Ryan Crocker and the former commander of US forces in Iraq, David Petraeus.
The letter warned of the consequences of a disaster at the dam, which was assessed to have serious structural weaknesses.
"A catastrophic failure of Mosul dam would result in flooding along the Tigris river all the way to Baghdad," the letter read.
"Assuming a worst case scenario, an instantaneous failure of Mosul dam filled to its maximum operating level could result in a flood wave 20 metres deep at the city of Mosul," it said.
The Islamic State has already resorted to the weaponisation of dams, as was the case earlier this year when it flooded large areas around the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.
However, Mosul is the main stronghold of the Iraqi part of the Islamic State's self-proclaimed "caliphate".
Earlier, Jihadist fighters blew up a Shia prayer hall in the Iraqi town of Jalawla and publicly executed the muezzin.
Islamic State (IS) fighters detained the muezzin, who calls for Muslim prayers, and blew up the Jalawla husseiniyah, a term used for a Shia place of worship.

Witnesses confirmed the execution, which came four days after IS militants wrested control of the town from Kurdish peshmerga forces following two of deadly fighting.
In Sayed Ahmad village north of Jalawla, IS fighters also executed six policemen, the same sources said.
Kurdish forces lost at least 10 fighters in the battle for Jalawla, a strategic choke-point 130 km  northeast of Baghdad.
The IS's Sunni extremist fighters conquered large swathes of Iraq's Sunni heartland in June, while Diyala province is mixed.
Keywords: iraq

8/13/2014

The real teachers inspired by Dead Poets Society

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28756375

Among the multitude of tributes for Robin Williams has come a stream from one particular group - people who became teachers after being inspired by his role in Dead Poets Society.
(Spoiler alert: Key plot details revealed below)
"O Captain! My Captain!"
Thousands will have been reminded of the final scene of Dead Poets Society where the pupils of sacked English teacher John Keating stand on their desks in an act of defiance.
The first to stand up recites the first line from Walt Whitman's famous poem, the rest silently stand, ignoring the angry threats of the authoritarian headmaster teaching in Keating's place.
Throughout the film, Keating enthuses his pupils about the power of English Literature and encourages them to follow their dreams. It's Hollywood's damp-eyed paean to the ability of teachers to inspire young people. Thus the response to Williams's death from teachers.
Twitter reaction to Robin Williams's death
"O captain!! my captain!! you inspired me to be a teacher!!! and I know you have inspired a generation," tweeted Sujan Chitrakar.
"Feel like I lost a mentor. Robin Williams as Mr Keating changed my path in life. Dead Poets Society led me to teaching," added Cori Marino.
"Robin Williams or Mr Keating, my inspiration to become a teacher, has passed away. "Oh Captain, my Captain!" May his soul rest in peace," tweeted Liliana Alvarez.
There have been many more.
As teachers go, Keating was a maverick. He leapt on to desks. He laughed and joked and encouraged his class to rip a page out of a textbook - a section attempting to apply a strict formula to judging what makes poetry good.
"In this class you can either call me Mr Keating," he said. "Or if you're slightly more daring, 'O captain, my captain'." He placed a Walt Whitman portrait above the blackboard.
In a world full of stories about how difficult and stress-inducing teaching could be, Williams as Keating was a cheerleader for possibility.
line
"Carpe diem" - pluck the day
  • "Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? Carpe. Hear it? Carpe. Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary," Keating whispers to his class in the film
  • One of the quotes most attributed to both the film and Robin Williams
  • It's a Latin phrase attributed to lyric poet Horace, in a book from 23 BC
  • Typically translated as "seize the day", a more literal translation would be "pluck the day when it is ripe"
  • Lord Byron is credited with its incorporation into regular English, using it in a piece of work published in 1830
  • "I never anticipate - carpe diem - the past at least is one's own, which is one reason for making sure of the present," wrote Byron
Source: phrases.org
line
"He made you feel like it matters, that poetry matters," says Jonathan Taylor, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Leicester, who was 16 when he saw the film.
"I loved the film so much that maybe on one level it is the reason I became a teacher.
"He understands in the film that education isn't just one little part of your existence, it is life. It's the same thing. It's not just learning Wordsworth by heart, it's about feeling it and understanding why it's important," says Taylor.
"I was the target audience. I was a 16-year-old who loved writing and poetry and literature. The film said things I was already thinking."
Dead Poets Society was released in 1989. Set in the Welton Academy in Vermont, Keating was the liberal new teacher at the very conservative 1950s private school.
His method of education was not focused on grades and exams. Instead his preferred strategy was to allow students to experience their way into knowledge. Lessons were often taken out of the classroom. They were energetic and noisy - and misunderstood by his colleagues.
He drives his class into coming out of themselves. "I want a barbaric yawp," he tells Ethan Hawke's character Todd Anderson. A "yawp" - another Walt Whitman-ism - was an impassioned shout that fired up the shy young Anderson into improvising poetry about a "sweaty-toothed mad man" in front of his classmates.
"We all loved the spirit of it, everyone was talking about it," says Francis Gilbert, an English teacher at Coopers' Company and Coborn Secondary School, Upminster, east London, who was in teacher training when the film was released.
line
Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society
Dead Poets Society
  • 1989 film directed by Peter Weir, set in exclusive private school in US state of Vermont in 1959
  • Robin Williams plays John Keating, an unorthodox English teacher whose lessons inspire his students, but alienate parents and fellow staff members, and lead indirectly to tragedy
  • Film was nominated for several Oscars; won two (best score and best original screenplay)
line
"I loved the way he ripped pages out of books, I still do actually. I've done it metaphorically in my head many times."
Roselyne Marot, a science teacher from Belgium, watched The Dead Poets Society as a teenager. "(He) gave me motivation to become a teacher," she says.
"I decided then that if I ever became a teacher, I would be more of the Robin Williams style in that movie, rather than the classical style.
"He has been in the corner of my mind any time I've been in a teaching situation. And will always be."
It was Keating's passion for the subject that many admired. He saw literature as being as essential to humankind as air and water.
"That love for the subject is something I've always tried to bear in mind as a teacher," adds Gilbert.
Dominic Cooper and James Corden in the History Boys Dominic Cooper in the History Boys, which also featured an inspirational teacher
Keating espouses Horace's famous phrase from the Odes - "carpe diem" or seize the day. He tells his pupils: "We are food for worms, lads. Believe it or not each and every one of us in this room will stop breathing, turn cold and die."
Pointing at old photographs of students, he says: "These boys are now fertilising daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."
The last line of this speech has been repeated many times since Williams's death.
Of course, Keating's teaching methods lead to his downfall. He is sacked from Welton Academy - unjustly forced out by parents and staff who see his ideas as being dangerous and wrongly blame him for the suicide of a pupil.
And anyone expecting the average secondary school class to be anything like Keating's is going to be in for a rude shock. An unbridled wave of enthusiasm is hard for even the most daring maverick teacher to generate.
"The really inspirational teachers that I have come across often struggle in the education system," adds Taylor. "That doesn't stop them having a huge effect on their students."
Fifteen years later, Alan Bennett's The History Boys presented another, and slightly less sentimental, side of the same coin.
But in Keating, Williams represented a teacher who taught more than literature - he tried to change lives and create a new set of classroom ideals.
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8/12/2014

Kuwait strips 10 people, top cleric of citizenship

http://world.einnews.com/article/217988772/aFLpnGd8v0aLJoaG


KUWAIT CITY -- Kuwait revoked the citizenship of 10 people on Monday including an influential young sheik who has openly criticized the government of bowing to pressure from Washington to clamp down on financial assistance to Syrian rebels.
Just last week, the U.S. sanctioned three Kuwaitis it said helped finance terrorist groups and urged its ally to do more to stem such financing.
A few days before that, the Gulf country stripped five critics of their citizenship in what appears to be part of a larger crackdown on dissent that casts a net on both suspected financiers of extremist groups and people calling for political reform.
Human Rights Watch over the weekend criticized the Kuwaiti government's decision to strip citizens of their nationality, and called on authorities to "drop this malign policy."
"No government has the right to strip away its people's citizenship simply because it disapproves of them, their opinions, or their actions," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. "This is yet another downward step in Kuwait's assault on the right to free speech."
The official Kuwait News Agency reported the Cabinet's latest decision, which said that the 10 had been naturalized citizens but failed to meet requirements for the status. The Cabinet statement did not list the names of the people whose citizenship was revoked and did not specify which requirements for naturalization they had failed to meet.
Sheik Nabil al-Awadi, however, confirmed on Twitter that he was among those affected and wrote, "To God we belong, and to God we will return" along with a video about how good can come from hardship.
Al-Awadi, who has nearly 4.5 million followers on Twitter, is part of a collective of religious Sunnis in the Gulf who raise funds for Syria. He has advocated for supporting Sunni rebels and foreign jihadi fighters in Syria battling President Bashar Assad's Shiite-backed forces.
Two of the men sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for allegedly helping finance al-Qaida and the Islamic Front in Syria and Iraq have close ties to al-Awadi.
Washington called on its Western Gulf ally to do more to curb the financing of such groups, and the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S. responded last week by saying that his country is committed to fighting terrorism.
In a recent interview on television, al-Awadi said he was under mounting pressure from the Kuwaiti government to stop collecting even humanitarian aid for Syria, but said that money is still finding its way through back channels.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/11/6620056/kuwait-strips-10-people-top-cleric.html#mi_rss=Wire%20Nation/World#storylink=cpy

8/08/2014

The Volokh Conspiracy: More on Morsi and a Palestinian ICC Bid

http://world.einnews.com/article/217580508/yGuyuf1x0jTm2raA



In a guest post at Opinio Juris, I consider some further developments in Palestinian deliberations about joining the ICC, which underline their lack of a government able to accept the Court’s jurisdiction; I also respond to questions made about my initial argument.
(When I wrote this, Hamas was reportedly considering agreeing to ICC jurisdiction; they’ve since decided to rocket Israeli civilian population centers while the matter is under advisement. Perhaps they think, like me, that ICC jurisdiction is entirely non-retroactive, and want to make the most of it.)
News accounts about the process behind the PA’s consideration of the issue underline the point I made in a prior post that based on the Morsi precedent, Abbas could not accept the Court’s jurisdiction… In a meeting last week Abbas sought “written consent” to join the ICC from other Palestinian factions. According to another account Abbas has a draft acceptance letter, and is “waiting for signature from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” If the PA needs the written consent – not just a political nod- from the Gaza–based factions, it strongly supports the view that the PA government does not have full power to accept jurisdiction on behalf of Palestine, especially for Gaza.
Some might say that if the government is divided and both possible claimants to full powers agree, then any defect is cured (this may be why Abbas wants written authorization).  The argument does not work: the sum of governmental authority is greater than its parts. To accept ICC jurisdiction, especially after the Morsi matter, it must be clear which particular government is in control, and it must be that government that accepts jurisdiction. The reason to require government control over a state for ICC jurisdiction is it is that government that will be responsible for enforcing the treaty. A joint signature raises myriad intractable problems. Who will ultimately be carrying out the obligations of the treaty? Abbas would presumably not mind signing over authority over Israeli crimes, but then not cooperate with the court in investigating Hamas crimes, saying he has no control there.
If all factions give written consent to join, who has authority to terminate membership?
***
Consider the implications of a contrary rule. Imagine the “international community” recognizes a rebel group as the legitimate government of the country it is attempting to take over, such as Syria or Libya, but over which they do not have anything like effective control. It seems a stretch for such a government to be able to accept ICC jurisdiction while the government it challenges retains power, regardless of whether the rebels sit in the country’s seat at the General Assembly. Certainly it would be a nightmare for the Court in dealing with such situations of multiple authorities.
Put simply, the acceptance of ICC jurisdiction has genuine consequences. A government without effective control would be able to accept ICC jurisdiction without substantially obligating itself to anything, precisely what the State seeks to avoid. Even if effective control is not needed for statehood in the ICC, if it is not needed for governmental authority either, it in effect means the international community can bestow jurisdiction on the Court without going through the Security Council. One reason the Security Council is given the power to address the Court’s jurisdictional gaps is that it cannot not only create jurisdiction, but has the authority to enforce compliance. The two cannot be completely severed.
OpinioJuris has also had Kevin Jon Heller’s response to my original post, and other thoughts about potential Palestinian accession.
Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, and an expert on constitutional and international law. He also writes
 
THE WASHIGTON POST
 

The new U.S. military mission in Iraq: What we know now

http://world.einnews.com/article/217573154/uHu1f07Jr_4_ecas


President Obama said Thursday night that he has authorized two new, major actions by the U.S. military in Iraq: airstrikes against militants with the Islamic State if U.S. interests or personnel are threatened, and humanitarian assistance for thousands of civilians who have fled the Islamist advance in northwest Iraq and are now trapped on a mountain.
Even those two specific missions are more complicated than that, however.
First, the U.S. humanitarian mission on Mount Sinjar began Thursday with airdrops by military aircraft, but it could require targeted airstrikes in order to “break the siege” at the base of the mountain and allow authorities to provide more assistance to the civilians, Obama said. They would be conducted in coordination with the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdish security forces known as pesh merga.
Second, the advance of the Islamic State near Irbil appears to be a line in the sand for the Obama administration. The United States has both diplomats and military advisers in the city, which is the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The United States also has a consulate in Irbil, creating enough interests that the United States wants to protect the city from harm.
“To stop the advance on Irbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against [Islamic State] terrorist convoys should they move toward the city,” Obama said. “We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Irbil and our embassy in Baghdad.”
Here’s what we know now about the specifics of these missions:
Humanitarian air dropsThe U.S. military launched one C-17 and two C-130 cargo planes near Mount Sinjar on Thursday, dropping 8,000 prepackaged meals and 5,300 gallons of water, senior U.S. officials said. The aircraft were accompanied by two F/A-18 fighter jets, which came out of an undisclosed air base in the Middle East. The Pentagon did not indicate which units or branch of service operated any of the aircraft.
Pentagon officials said in a statement that the three cargo planes released a total of 72 bundles of supplies. They flew over the drop area for less than 15 minutes, and left the area before Obama announced the actions in his 9:30 p.m. address.
Senior U.S. officials left open the possibility that the United States could conduct more airdrops in coming days if it’s needed. That appears possible, considering human rights workers have estimated that up to 40,000 civilians may be trapped on the mountain, unable to return their homes for fear of being killed by militants.
“We feel that this is a unique and urgent humanitarian challenge,” one senior officials said Thursday night.

This image made from video taken on Sunday shows Iraqis people from the Yazidi community arriving in Irbil in northern Iraq after Islamic militants attacked the towns of Sinjar and Zunmar. Around 40,000 people crossed the bridge of Shela in Fishkhabur into the northern Kurdish region of Iraq after being given an ultimatum by Islamic militants to either convert to Islam, pay a security tax, leave their homes, or die. (AP Photo via AP video)
Preparing for airstrikes
The advance of militants across northern Iraq has been watched closely this week, but a new wave of attacks threatened Irbil in a way it had not been before, U.S. officials said. That led the president to authorize airstrikes if necessary.
U.S. officials also said that with the increased threat now facing Irbil, the United States has either surveillance drones or manned aircraft flying over the area almost constantly, keeping tabs on militant movements.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement Thursday night that U.S. military advisers in Iraq will continue to assess ways to help train and assist Iraqi forces, and will provide undisclosed “increased support” once Iraq has formed a new government. Most of the troops there are U.S. Army Special Forces.
Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malikihas faced fierce criticism for appointing friends to key positions, allowing corruption and cutting Iraq’s Sunni population out of the political process, fueling the insurgency. A new prime minister could be selected in coming days, U.S. officials signaled Thursday night.
Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.
THE WASHINGTON POST

Suspected Ebola victim dies in Saudi Arabia

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-28678699

A Saudi man who was being treated for Ebola-like symptoms has died at a hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's health ministry says.
If confirmed, this would be the first Ebola-related death outside Africa in an outbreak that has killed more than 900 people this year.
The man recently visited Sierra Leone, one of four countries in the outbreak.
World Health Organization (WHO) experts are meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a response to the outbreak.
The two-day meeting will decide whether to declare a global health emergency.
Ebola, a viral haemorrhagic fever, is one of the deadliest diseases known to humans, with a fatality rate of between 55% and 90%.
A WHO statement on Wednesday said 932 patients had died of the disease in West Africa so far, with most of the latest fatalities reported in Liberia.
A man who attended Mt Sinai hospital in New York on Monday, after returning from West Africa and suffering from a fever, has tested negative for ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Visa block
Concern has also been growing over a number of new cases in Nigeria, the region's most populous nation. On Wednesday, a nurse who treated an Ebola patient became the second person to die of the disease there.
Nigeria's Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu described the outbreak as a national emergency, adding that "everyone in the world is at risk" because of air travel.
Map showing Ebola outbreaks since 1976
The Saudi man who was suspected of contracting the disease died of cardiac arrest, according to the website of the country's health ministry.
The 40-year-old is said to have returned from a recent business trip to Sierra Leone.
The ministry's website said he was being tested for Ebola, but did not say if the tests had concluded that he had the disease.
The website said the man had been treated in an isolation ward and would be buried according to Islamic tradition, while following precautions set out by world health authorities.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas to Muslims from several West African countries, amid concerns that visiting pilgrims could spread the disease.
Meanwhile, two US aid workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia appear to be improving after receiving an unapproved medicine ahead of their evacuation back to the US.
But it is not clear if the ZMapp drug, which has only been tested on monkeys, can be credited with their improvement.
WHO response
In a surprise move, the WHO said on Wednesday it would convene a meeting of medical ethics specialists next week to decide whether to approve experimental treatment for Ebola.
"We need to ask the medical ethicists to give us guidance on what the responsible thing to do is," WHO Assistant Director General Marie-Paule Kieny said in a statement.
Some leading infectious disease experts have been calling for experimental treatments to be offered more widely to treat the disease.
The aim of the WHO's emergency committee meeting is to focus solely on how to respond to the Ebola outbreak.
If a public health emergency is declared, it could involve detailed plans to identify, isolate and treat cases, as well as impose travel restrictions on affected areas.
A WHO spokesman said: "We can't speculate in advance what the committee members are going to decide in advance."
The World Bank is allocating $200m (£120m) in emergency assistance for countries battling to contain Ebola.
The virus spreads by contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. The current outbreak is killing between 50% and 60% of people infected.
There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola - but patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.
Ebola has initial flu-like symptoms that can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.

8/04/2014

A Geography of Chaos

http://mondediplo.com/maps/geographyofchaos

November 2007, by Philippe Rekacewicz
This map was published in the Special dossier on the new ’broader’ Middle East of November 2007.

JPEG - 27 kb

Iran and Iraq: the limits on Shia power

http://mondediplo.com/maps/iraniraqshia


The recent election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran surprised the world. The victory of Ayatollah Sistani’s list in the Iraqi parliamentary election provoked fears of a Shia threat. The current debates within the Shia communities testify to great religious and political diversity.
by Ahmad Salamatian
GRAND Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s coalition list won the Iraqi elections on 30 January. Since then the palaces, chancelleries and media of the Arab world have been haunted by the spectre of a “Shia crescent” from the peaks of Mount Lebanon to the mountains of Khorasan in northeastern Iran, via (...)

ISIS claims gains, takes control of Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam

http://world.einnews.com/article/216911134/_gaLyRCL7nNKj672

(CNN) -- Fighters with the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria reached the triangle border between Iraq, Syria and Turkey, it said in a message posted on Twitter on Sunday.
ISIS took control of Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam on Iraq's Tigris River, which provides power to the city of Mosul about 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the south, the commander of the Peshmerga Kurdish fighters who had been defending the facility said Sunday.
The dam workers remained inside the facility, which fell after a 24-hour battle, Lt. Col. Herash said.
A "horrendous prospect"
ISIS -- known for killing dozens of people at a time, while carrying out public executions, crucifixions and other acts -- has taken over several cities as it seeks to create an Islamic caliphate that encompasses parts of Iraq and Syria.
Daniel Pipes, the president of the Middle East Forum, said seizing dams is a tactic the group uses to gain control of a town and its people.
No dam, however, is as formidable or as important to Iraq as the one in Mosul.
"If you control the Mosul Dam, you can threaten just about everybody," Pipes told CNN's Jonathan Mann.
Pipes said the militant group now has the potential to create a flood so massive and catastrophic that it would not only cause death, destruction and chaos locally in the city of Mosul, but more than 450 kilometers (280 miles) away in Baghdad as well.
"It's a horrendous prospect," he said.
Peshmerga Kurdish fighters also pulled out of the towns of Zumar and Wana after being surrounded by ISIS fighters and isolated from any support, Kurdistan Democratic Party regional official Ismat Rajab told CNN on Sunday.
ISIS seizes Iraq's biggest dam
Officials: Jonah's tomb blown up by ISIS
Refugees risk all to escape ISIS
The United Nations in Iraq warned that 200,000 civilians were trapped in a dire circumstances after ISIS and associated armed groups "seized control of nearly all of Sinjar and Tal Afar districts in Ninewa Province, including the oil fields of Ain Zala and Batma, bordering the Kurdistan Region of Iraq."
Most of the refugees are from the Yezidi sect and have fled to Jabal Sinjar, the United Nations said.
"The humanitarian situation of these civilians is reported as dire, and they are in urgent need of basic items including food, water and medicine.  An unknown number of civilians are also reported to have moved towards Dahuk and Zako in the Kurdistan Region."
ISIS took control of Sinjar, a small town inhabited by the Yezidi sect, on Saturday, according to police officials.
An ISIS Twitter posting linked to a statement referencing "the battle of opening the borderline between state of Ninawa and Dohuk provinces."
"The Islamic Caliphate legions have launched since this morning" operations towards the northwestern regions bordering state of Nineveh," the statement said. "God facilitated for the mujahedeen to break into many important areas controlled by the Kurdish gangs and secular militias."
The State Department said Sunday that it was "actively monitoring the situation" in Sinjar and Tal Afar, and said that the U.S. is supporting both Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS. "The (ISIS) assault over the past 48 hours on territories along the border of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and focusing on towns and villages populated by vulnerable minorities, demonstrates once again that this terrorist organization is a dire threat to all Iraqis, the entire region, and the international community," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.