World beat

Apr 202013

Bereaved by war, Israeli and Palestinian parents reach out to one another.

by Uri Avnery

Last Sunday, on the eve of Israel’s Remembrance Day for the fallen in our wars, I was invited to an event organized by the activist group Combatants for Peace and the Forum of Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Parents. It was a moving experience, filled with moments that spoke not only to the mind, but also – and foremost – to the heart.

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Apr 122013

Politicians still win by playing on Israelis' tendency to paranoia.

by Uri Avnery

“Around us the storm is raging / But our head will not be bowed…” we sang when we were young, before the State of Israel was born. On the eve of Israel’s 65th birthday, this coming Monday, we could sing this rousing song again. And not just out of nostalgia.

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Mar 212013
Hugo Chavez.

Supporter refutes hostile comments on Venezuela's economic and social performance under Hugo Chávez.

from the Australia Broadcasting Network

Jim McIlroy, an activist from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, interviewed by ABC TV News, on March 8, 2013

YouTube Preview Image

March 10, 2013 — Following the tragic death of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez from cancer after 14 years in office, the world's big-business media has gone into overdrive to dishonestly describe Chavez's record as being "authoritarian", "dictatorial" and having made the Venezuelan economy a "basket case", as was rudely interjected by an Australian Broadcasting Corporation "journalist" in the video above. Such media lies have been refuted by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting , VenezuelAnalysis and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Source, including 11 charts.

Mar 112013

Ex-spy chief asks UN to put Pakistan's spy service on global list of terrorist organizations.

by Frud Bezhan

That all changed this week, when high-level Afghan officials publicly accused Islamabad and its notorious intelligence service, the Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI), of covertly supporting the Taliban and other extremist groups working against the government in Afghanistan.

First came Afghanistan's ex-spy chief, Rahmatullah Nabil, who on March 3 took the unprecedented step of calling for the United Nations to place the ISI on its global list of terrorist groups.

“…we have never seen any positive steps from Pakistan. Instead, they fire rockets that shell our people and land while our clerics, tribes, and children are martyred by their terrorists.”

"A terrorist is blacklisted, but the person who issues the fatwa for them to act or who provides them with safe havens is not blacklisted. Any entity that gives support and shelter to terrorists must be blacklisted," Nabil said.

Nabil, who is deputy chairman of Afghanistan's National Security Council, also said Pakistan should not be allowed to participate in negotiations to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban.

"The Afghan government and people have done their outmost to forge a good relationship with Pakistan so we could, as Muslim neighbors, live together and create peace in Afghanistan and in the region," Nabil said. "But, unfortunately, we have never seen any positive steps from Pakistan. Instead, they fire rockets that shell our people and land while our clerics, tribes, and children are martyred by their terrorists."

Then came President Hamid Karzai, who issued similarly robust remarks on March 4.

Speaking to reporters alongside NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Kabul, Karzai said Pakistan has taken "no practical steps" to help Afghanistan fight terrorism. The Afghan president also criticized recent statements by influential Pakistani cleric Tahir Ashrafi, who reportedly said suicide attacks in Afghanistan were justifiable because they target foreign occupiers.

For Kabul to formalize Nabil's calls for the ISI to be blacklisted by the UN, Afghanistan would have to make a request to the Al-Qaeda and Associated Individuals and Entities Committee, also known as the "Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee."  The committee, which is chaired by Australia's ambassador to the UN and includes representatives from all 15 members of the Security Council, would then have to decide by consensus to add the ISI to its blacklist.

Much of the anger in Afghanistan appears to be directly related to Ashrafi's legitimization of terrorist acts in Afghanistan.

Much of the anger in Afghanistan appears to be directly related to Ashrafi’s legitimization of terrorist acts in Afghanistan, from which he has backtracked.

Former Afghan spy chief Nabil initially charged that Ashrafi's statement represented the views of the Pakistan government and intelligence services. Ashrafi has since backtracked and said his comments were taken out of context by the Afghan media.

Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, suggests that the recent criticism could be a sign of Kabul's frustrations with its efforts to reach a peace settlement with the Taliban.

Kabul has secured the releases of dozens of Taliban officials held in Pakistani prisons over the past few months, but the move has not led to any breakthroughs. Instead, there have been media reports that many of those released are now back on the battlefield.

Kugelman also leaves open the possibility that the strong reaction by Nabil could be driven by political considerations, with presidential elections scheduled to take place in Afghanistan in 2014.

"This strong comment from Kabul could betray this sense of anger about how things aren't really progressing very well. Given the elections aren't too far off, someone like [Nabil], a possible candidate, could be trying to make a political statement that would appeal to public opinion — particularly given how hostile many Afghans are toward Pakistan, but in particular the ISI," Kugelman said.

Given the elections aren’t too far off, someone like [Nabil], a possible candidate, could be trying to make a political statement that would appeal to public opinion — particularly given how hostile many Afghans are toward Pakistan, but in particular the ISI.

Whatever the case, Kugelman said, the strong reaction from Kabul does not bode well for Afghan-Pakistani relations. And this comes at a particularly critical time, he says, with Kabul in need of Islamabad's support as it prepares to take over security responsibilities as international forces prepare to withdraw.

"Afghanistan-Pakistan relations are volatile and not good. They seem to have improved over the last few months. But anytime you have a high-level official make a comment as strong as Nabil did about the ISI, that risks not endangering but definitely harming the relationship — in the sense that to have such a strong statement come from so high up in the government against such a significant and powerful organization such as the ISI," Kugelman said. 


Mar 102013

Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto to face International Criminal Court in July 2013.

by Chido Nwangwu

The complicating twists of the Kenyan presidential elections of March 2013 will get more interesting with the background of a war crimes trial this summer, July 2013 of the winners of the hotly contested votes. 

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Feb 252013

Briefing paper sets out benchmarks for effective Canadian policy.

from the World Federalist MovementCanada

OTTAWA — While Prime Minister Harper and the opposition parties have agreed to ongoing all-party discussions in the House of Commons on Canada’s future engagement in Mali, the World Federalist Movement – Canada today released a briefing paper on "The Responsibility to Protect in Mali: Benchmarks for effective Canadian policy."

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Feb 252013

Taliban forces waiting to move drugs, invade other small 'stans.

by John Herbst and William Courtney

In his State of the Union speech on February 12, US President Barack Obama declared that by the end of 2014 "our war in Afghanistan will be over." This step, long expected, will decrease security in neighboring Central Asia.

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Feb 212013

Globally, February 14 becomes day to protest violence against women.

by Katrina Rabeler

A little girl stole the show at a One Billion Rising event in Seattle last night. While speakers on stage described the monstrosities of sex trafficking, she did an impromptu dance below the stage. She jumped up and down while spinning and flailing her arms, giggling in her joy. Then the toddler fell down, rolled around a couple times, sprang up and resumed her wild dance.

No one stopped her. This was a crowd that let her dance.

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Feb 072013

Women in country after country face dire consequences of weak governments.

from Oxfam

Investors are targeting the world's weakest-governed countries to buy land, according to new analysis published on Oxfam's international day of action against land grabs Thursday. Oxfam's GROW campaign is calling on the World Bank to lead the fight against land grabs.

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Feb 042013

Indigenous peoples reject author's depiction of their lives.

from Survival International

Leaders across West Papua have demanded controversial author Jared Diamond [who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, Guns, Germs and Steel] apologize for describing them in his new book [The World Until Yesterday] as warlike, and strengthening the idea that indigenous people are "backwards".

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