Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saudi man divorces wife during live radio talk with religious scholar English

Sheikh Ghazi al-Shammari said his advice was legitimate and not damaging to marital relations. (File photo)
Sheikh Ghazi al-Shammari said his advice was legitimate and not damaging to marital relations. (File photo)
A Saudi man accepted the advice of a prominent religious scholar on Saturday and divorced his wife during a live radio program tackling marital issues.

The man phoned the program to complain to Sheikh Ghazi al-Shammari that his wife disobeyed him by travelling without his approval from the Saudi port city of Jeddah to the capital Riyadh for a business conference.

The unnamed man said his wife “offended his manhood.”
He told Shammari that before his marriage he had accepted his wife’s demands to work on condition that work would not interfere with their marital life.

Shammari advised the man to divorce his wife as a punitive measure for “committing such a mistake against her home and husband.”

The husband immediately heeded the advice and divorced her during the live program although Shammari advised him to remarry her if she repents.

Shammari told Al Arabiya that the man’s story was enough for him to issue the advice and stressed that he was convinced his advice was legitimate and not damaging to marital relations.

“The husband called me in my program this afternoon and told me that he was financially capable and did not want his wife to work and that he is having problems with her about this issue for more than 10 years and that he has been patient for long. But the issue has developed to the extent that she would travel without his approval,” Shammari said.

“He was surprised that she sent him a text message from the airport telling him that she was traveling alone... and this is why I advised him to divorce her because she was not obeying her husband, a matter that is very important in Islam.”

“I did not make a mistake with my advice to the man, because what the wife did, travelling without his consent from Jeddah to Riyadh, is a serious matter and a cause for doubt,” He said.

“Such a wife is suspicious because she insisted to travel alone to Riyadh and without ample reason,” the scholar said. I did not rush with the advice because I saw that the issue was dangerous and we should not remain silent more about it.”

(Khaled Shaea contributed to this article from Riyadh.)

Qaeda-linked group frees 73 Yemeni soldiers English

The newly-released Yemeni soldiers were taken hostage by Ansar al-Sharia during an attack on the city of Zinjibar. (Reuters)
The newly-released Yemeni soldiers were taken hostage by Ansar al-Sharia during an attack on the city of Zinjibar. (Reuters)
An al-Qaeda-linked group on Sunday freed 73 Yemeni soldiers it captured during a major assault in the south of the country last month, residents said, after mediation by religious scholars and tribal elders.

Residents of the southern town of Jaar, controlled by militants who call themselves Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), saw the soldiers being let out of the school building where they were being held.

In a statement, the group said Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing, had authorized their release after negotiations with tribal elders and religious scholars who visited Jaar, which the militants have renamed “the emirate of Waqar.”
Wuhayshi’s involvement is further evidence of Ansar al-Sharia’s links to Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which CIA director David Petraeus described last year as “the most dangerous regional node in the global jihad.”

It was not clear what, if anything, the group had been offered in return for the soldiers’ release. Not long after their capture, it threatened to harm the soldiers unless the Yemeni government released Islamist militants from jail.

A Yemeni journalist at the handover said the group had explained they were freeing the soldiers “for the sake of God” and in response to the appeals of the captives’ families and local tribal mediators.

“The militants invited local journalists, tribal mediators, human rights activists and the soldiers’ relatives to their stronghold, Jaar, to attend the ceremony,” said Wajdi al-Shaib. “The soldiers are now with their families on the way to Aden.”

Militants have exploited a year of political upheaval to firm their foothold in Yemen, especially in the south, where they have seized swathes of territory and launched frequent attacks on security forces.

The soldiers were taken hostage by Ansar al-Sharia in one such attack on the city of Zinjibar during which more than 100 other conscripts were killed.

Attack on church services in Nigeria kills around 20 English

Boko Haram’s increasingly bloody insurgency in Nigeria has claimed more than 1,000 lives, mostly Christians, since mid-2009. (Reuters)
Boko Haram’s increasingly bloody insurgency in Nigeria has claimed more than 1,000 lives, mostly Christians, since mid-2009. (Reuters)
Attackers armed with bombs and guns opened fire at outdoor church services at a Nigerian university Sunday, killing around 20 people as worshippers tried to flee, witnesses and officials said.

A powerful explosion and gunfire rocked Bayero University in the northern city of Kano, with witnesses reporting that two church services were targeted as they were being held outdoors on the campus.

Officials were unable to confirm casualty figures, but an AFP correspondent counted six bullet-riddled bodies near one of the two sites.

At least another dozen bodies could be seen on a roadside by the university, but the exact number was unclear.
Musical instruments and half-eaten meals could be seen at the site of one of the services.

An army spokesman confirmed the attack but could not provide a casualty toll. Lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi told AFP that it appeared the attackers used bombs and gunfire in the assault.

Witnesses said the attackers arrived in a car and two motorcycles, opening fire and throwing homemade bombs, causing a stampede. They said worshippers were gunned down as they sought to flee.

“They first attacked the open-air service outside the faculty of medicine,” one witness said. “They threw in explosives and fired shots, causing a stampede among worshippers. They now pursued them, shooting them with guns. ... They also attacked another service at the sporting complex.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the attack was similar to others carried out by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

Boko Haram claimed the January 20 attacks in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 dead in the extremists’ deadliest attack yet.

On Thursday, bomb attacks at the offices of the ThisDay newspaper in the capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna left at least nine people dead.

The group has previously targeted churches, including on Christmas day when at least 44 people were killed in a bombing at a church outside Abuja.

A bombing on Easter Sunday in Kaduna near a church that killed at least 41 people was a stark reminder of the Christmas attacks, but Boko Haram is not known to have claimed it.

Boko Haram’s increasingly bloody insurgency has claimed more than 1,000 lives since mid-2009. Police and soldiers have often been the victims of such attacks, although Christians have been targeted as well.

It also claimed responsibility for an August suicide attack at U.N. headquarters in Abuja which killed at least 25 people.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

Boko Haram initially claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria’s north, but its demands and structure have become less clear in recent months.

It is believed to have a number of factions, including those with political motives as well as a hard-core Islamist wing. Criminal groups are also believed to have carried out violence under the guise of Boko Haram.

An attempt at indirect dialogue between the group and the government in March collapsed, with a mediator quitting over leaks to the media and a spokesman for the Islamists saying they could not trust the government.

President Goodluck Jonathan, during a visit Saturday to the newspaper offices in Abuja hit by Thursday’s suicide attack, did not answer directly when asked whether dialogue was necessary to stop the violence.

“You may dialogue, you may not dialogue depending on the circumstances,” Jonathan told reporters, adding: “But we will exploit every means possible to bring this to an end.”

Israel’s former Shin Bet chief warns against ‘messianic’ war on Iran English

The former head of Israel’s powerful internal security agency, Yuval Diskin, says the country’s political leaders are misleading the public on a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear program. (File photo)
The former head of Israel’s powerful internal security agency, Yuval Diskin, says the country’s political leaders are misleading the public on a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear program. (File photo)
A former Israeli spymaster has branded the country’s leaders unfit to tackle the Iranian nuclear program and “messianic” in the strongest criticism from a security veteran of threats to launch a pre-emptive war.

Other veterans have come out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
But the censure from Yuval Diskin, who retired as head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service last year, was especially strong and unusual in using the language of religious fervor that Israelis associate with Islamist foes.

“I have no faith in the prime minister, nor in the defense minister,” Diskin said in remarks broadcast by Israeli media on Saturday. “I really don’t have faith in a leadership that makes decisions out of messianic feelings.”

The Prime Minister’s Office and Defense Ministry had no immediate response to Diskin’s remarks. But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rebuked Diskin and questioned his motives.

The catastrophic terms with which Netanyahu and Barak describe the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran have stirred concern in Israel and abroad of a possible strike against its uranium enrichment program. Iran says the project is entirely peaceful and has promised wide-ranging reprisals for any attack.

World powers, sharing Israeli suspicions Iran has a covert bomb-making plan, are trying to curb it through sanctions and negotiations. Those talks resume in Baghdad next month, but Barak on Thursday rated their chance of succeeding as low.

Although Israel has long threatened a pre-emptive strike if diplomacy fails, some experts believe that could be a bluff to keep up pressure on the Iranians, making it harder to interpret the swirl of comments from the security establishment.

In a commentary on Diskin’s remarks, Amos Harel of the liberal newspaper Haaretz wrote that the temperature was rising ahead of the nuclear talks.

“Nothing has been determined in the Iranian story, and the spring is about to boil over into another summer of tension,” he wrote.

False impression

Diskin spoke days after Israel’s top military commander, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, told Haaretz he viewed Iran as “very rational” and unlikely to build a bomb, comments that apparently undermined the case for a strike.

The former Shin Bet chief was specifically damning of Netanyahu and Barak, who have often crafted strategy alone and whose rapport dates back four decades to when they served together in a top-secret commando unit.

“They’re creating a false impression about the Iranian issue,” Diskin told a private gathering on Friday, where the comments were recorded. “They’re appealing to the stupid public, if you’ll pardon me for the phrasing, and telling them that if Israel acts, there won’t be an (Iranian) nuclear bomb.”

Diskin said he was not necessarily opposed to an attack on Iran, though he cited experts who argue this risked backfiring by accelerating its nuclear program.

Netanyahu’s former Mossad foreign intelligence director, Meir Dagan, last year also ridiculed the Israeli war option.

Diskin went a step further by saying that Netanyahu and Barak were not up to the job of opening an unprecedented front with Iran and, potentially, with its allies on Israel’s borders.

Netanyahu is a second-term premier with solid public approval ratings and a broad conservative coalition. Barak, a former prime minister, is Israel’s most decorated soldier.
“I have seen them up close,” Diskin said. “They are not messiahs, the two of them, and they are not people who I personally, at least, trust to be able to lead Israel into an event on such a scale, and to extricate it.”

Foreign Minister Lieberman said questions such as how and if to tackle Iran “are not made by the prime minister and defense minister. They are usually made in the security cabinet or cabinet.”

Lieberman suggested to Israel’s Channel Two television that Diskin might be angry at being passed over for the job as head of the Mossad.

U.S. pastor burns Quran, Prophet image; gets fine for ‘book burning’ hazard English

U.S. pastor Terry Jones had set a deadline for the release of Iranian cleric Youcef Nadakhani otherwise he warned of a repeat of last year’s Quran burning. (File photo)
U.S. pastor Terry Jones had set a deadline for the release of Iranian cleric Youcef Nadakhani otherwise he warned of a repeat of last year’s Quran burning. (File photo)
This time, U.S. pastor Terry Jones received a $271 fine and a slap on the hand by a local fire department.

Indeed, Pastor Jones had stuck to his promise: to burn copies of the Quran and images depicting Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) by Saturday April 28 at 5 p.m. if an Iranian Christian cleric on death row was not released by then.
And sure enough, the clock struck 5 and Jones began to give a speech to about 20 people that had gathered in front of his church in Florida for the planned burning.

From afar, “a few people watched the scene, but there were no protesters,” the Florida-based Ocala website reported, adding that the event was streamed online.
The pastor was joined by another clergyman who also gave a speech at a podium, demanding the release of the Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from an Iranian prison.

Nadarkhani has been charged with apostasy and sentenced to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity.

Moments later, Jones began to burn copies of Islam’s holy book and an image supposedly depicting Prophet Mohammed in front of his church, as seen in a 38 minute-long video on the website of Jones’ organization, Stand Up America Now.

But the pastor was soon interrupted by officers from both the local police and fire departments.

The Gainesville Fire Rescue department issued the church a citation for violating the city’s fire ordinances. According to a fire department official, Jones “had approval for a burn but did not have the required authorization to burn books,” Ocala reported.

Jones was then handed a $271 fine, which included court costs.

He was fined because the Florida city of Gainesville has “restrictive fire ordinances,” which dictate that “books cannot be burned without authorization because of environmental concerns over the burning of glue and bindings in books,” the local fire chief said.

Now, this was a spanner thrown in the works that perhaps Jones wasn’t even expecting. He could not even retort back with a “constitutional right to protest” argument; the environmental safety regulations had spoken.

Last week, the pastor’s threats had reached the Pentagon, after which a spokesman came out and essentially pleaded with Jones not to carry through with his threats, reminding the world of last year’s uproar when he had first burned copies of the Quran.

“The last time Pastor Jones burned a Quran, back in March of 2011, more than 16 people died and more than 90 people were injured from the resulting protests. We hope Pastor Jones will take into account the safety and welfare of deployed U.S. military personnel before engaging in such an activity again,” Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Speaks told the Guardian.

The other fear was that Jones’ behavior could be used as insurgent propaganda, inspiring an Islamist militant backlash.

Last year, Jones burned a Quran also on the grounds of his church in Florida which prompted attacks on a U.N. compound in Afghanistan where seven people died.

When he threatened to burn the books again this time round, he was asked about the cost in terms of the lives lost in his previous escapade; Jones told the Guardian that the impact of his Quran burning was not his responsibility.

“What happened last time and what could happen this time is not our responsibility. All we did was burn a book. It posed no threat to anyone else, yet riots broke out several thousand miles away – which just proves how extreme Islam is,” he said.

He had also threatened to burn more books on last year’s anniversary of the September 11 attacks but after international outrage, the burnings never took place. Jones had told authorities he received numerous death threats because of the planned protest, which he called off amid the increasing pressure from world leaders.

Interestingly, this time there was no widespread rioting and reports of condemnation from around the world both leading up to and after the burning. In fact, Saturday’s Quran burning was scarcely reported and the local Florida news website was one of the few reports available online.

A few Facebook pages were launched in recent weeks with the titles: “We Protest Against Burn the Quran Day (by Pastor Terry Jones)” and “Pastor Terry Jones is back” but no major Islamic body or rights organization has spoken out against the burning as of yet.

Could this be the quiet before the storm? Had the world grown tired with Pastor Jones’ threats? Or could many have been relying on America to stop him in his tracks?

“It is the job of the Americans to stop this person, otherwise the militants, the insurgents will use this opportunity and the people will help them,” Jamshed Hashimi, a 45-year-old teacher at one of the private universities of Kabul, told the Guardian.

“Islam doesn’t allow us to dishonor the Christian holy book, so it is the job of Christians to respect the holy Quran as well,” he added.

Indeed these arguments are rich with religious magnitudes that should always be discussed, but perhaps the intervention of a local fire department effectually dumbed down Jones’ statement as a self-professed scourge of Islam this time round.

After all, one could always ask, just where were Gainesville Fire Department’s “restrictive fire ordinances” last year, when Jones burned copies of the Quran on the same Florida church grounds in 2011?

Protests at Saudi embassy in Cairo ‘express Egyptian dignity:’ Muslim Brotherhood English

Egypt’s foreign ministry bemoaned “irresponsible actions” by protesters at the Saudi embassy and said they were at odds with “deeply rooted Egyptian-Saudi ties”. (AFP)
Egypt’s foreign ministry bemoaned “irresponsible actions” by protesters at the Saudi embassy and said they were at odds with “deeply rooted Egyptian-Saudi ties”. (AFP)
The political branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), issued a statement Saturday night asking Saudi Arabia to “reconsider its decision to shut its embassy in Cairo and consulates and to recall its ambassador for consultations.”

The FJP was responding to Saudi Arabia’s decision Saturday to recall its ambassador and temporarily shut its missions in Egypt in response to protests by angry Egyptians calling for the release of a human rights lawyer Ahmed al-Gazawi detained in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has said he was arrested for smuggling drugs into the kingdom. Activists in Egypt, however, claim he was detained for insulting the king.

The Saudi Press Agency reported the kingdom’s decision to shut its mission was a result of the “unjustified protests” in Egypt and attempts to storm the Saudi embassy and consulates which “threatened the safety of its employees.”

The Brotherhood said the protests in front of the Saudi embassy reflected Egypt’s dignity.

“Protesters demonstrating in front of the embassy over the past few days were merely expressing the Egyptian people’s aspiration to preserve the dignity of their fellow citizens who visit, live or work in Arab countries,” it said in its statement.

“The people are voicing their conviction that insulting the dignity of Egyptians abroad is no longer tolerated, not after the peaceful revolution which restored their will, their voice and their dignity,” the statement added.

The FJP stressed that Egyptian-Saudi relations were far greater than any problem, adding that dialogue and transparency in these relations can solve any problem.

It also asked for an Egyptian team to join the investigations in Gazawi’s case.

“The FJP calls upon the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, as the de facto ruler of Egypt at present, to take concrete steps to solve the Gazawi issue in a manner which ensures Egyptians’ dignity, and at the same time preserves the strong Egyptian-Saudi relations,” the statement ended.

Government criticizes irresponsible protesters

Egypt’s ruling military sought to contain the fall-out from what it said was a surprise move by Saudi Arabia.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council, called the authorities in Riyadh to “heal the rift” while the Egyptian cabinet stressed Egypt’s “love and respect” for Saudi Arabia.

Egypt’s foreign ministry bemoaned “irresponsible actions” by protesters at the embassy and said they were at odds with “deeply rooted Egyptian-Saudi ties”.

In response to a request by Tantawi to reopen the Cairo embassy and Saudi’s consulates in Suez and Alexandria, Saudi’s King Abdullah said he would look into the matter in the coming days, the Saudi news agency reported.

Monday, April 23, 2012

EU woos India for piracy battle

The Telegraph

- Bloc pursues political project
Northwood Headquarters, UK, April 22: Trophies from a war waged 30 years back decorate the Falklands Room in the officers’ mess of this military establishment of the UK just outside London.
Thirty years after that war in the South Atlantic, Northwood Headquarters is directing another overseas military mission, this time for the European Union, in the Indian Ocean.
The European Union is asking India to put its navy on board a new “forward from the seas” policy.
The new policy authorises warships and aircraft to bomb suspected pirate bases on Somalia’s coast.
“We now have permission to isolate pirates’ logistics sites,” said Admiral Duncan L. Potts, commander of Operation Atalanta — the name for the EU naval mission in the Indian Ocean.
In Brussels, at the headquarters of the European Union, the chief of the EU Military Staff, Lt Gen. Ton Van Osch, said: “I now have the political mandate to engage India.”
The changed rules of engagement in the counter-piracy war, the political mandate to militaries and the outreach to India come at a time the eurozone crisis has made it difficult for western European nations to sustain and underwrite the costs of long-distance armed conflict, even if that is to be waged against desperadoes from one of the world’s poorest countries, Somalia.
The EU is seeking Indian involvement in aerial surveillance, and for Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachments (AVPDs, or armed guards on board ships) and replenishments. The outreach to India is part of an EU programme under its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
“I know that in India the EU is seen as a trade bloc. But, in the end, the EU is a political project, not an economic project,” said David ’Sullivan, chief operations officer of the EU’s External Action Service, its foreign relations wing. The EU is also seeking deeper collaboration in counter-terrorism and cyber security.
But it is the naval mission on India’s western seaboard that the EU has prioritised for a military collaboration.
Operation Atalanta is being directed from Northwood Headquarters. In the 30 years since Operation Corporate — as the UK called its mission to free the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean of Argentine occupation in 1982 — Northwood Headquarters itself has changed.
The base, used for overseas operations of the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Joint Staff, Nato and the European Union, now accommodates an international staff.
At the MSCHOA (Maritime Security Centre for the Horn of Africa), the naval team is peopled by naval personnel from countries across Europe — not all of them EU member-states — each with the flag of his/her country next to desktop computers that track ships and aircraft in the Indian Ocean in real-time from so many thousands of miles away.
The EU’s military staff say there is room for the Indian Tricolour.
Operationally, an Indian warship that has been escorting Indian convoys in the Gulf of Aden for four years now co-ordinates its movements with the EUNAVFOR (European Naval Force).
There is operational co-ordination between the Indian Navy and the Chinese navy, as there is with a Nato force.
The big difference in the EU’s invitation to India for closer co-operation now is in the changed rules of engagement (RoE) that it has given to its multinational naval deployment. So far restricted to escorting UN food programme vessels and deterring pirates at sea, the EU warships under Operation Atalanta were last month authorised to attack suspected pirate bases on Somalia’s coastline.
This they will do by firing from ships and from aircraft (likely to be ship-borne helicopters) but without putting “boots on the ground” — landing troops on the African country’s beaches.
The new RoE have not yet been in evidence. There is concern that they will lead to greater “collateral (civilian) damage”.
The new RoE are an extension of America’s concept for its navy in 21st-century warfare, summed up in a doctrine called “Forward... from the seas.”
“We have 2.4 million square miles of (the Indian) ocean to protect. The pirates attack at sea but piracy originates on land. These are sophisticated gangsters and criminals. We have permission to isolate logistics sites on shore. Our mission is intrinsically an ‘economy of effort’ operation,” said Adm. Potts, who commands Operation Atalanta.
He said that between January and March this year, India, China and Japan had shared intelligence with EUNAVFOR through an inter-agency outfit in the Seychelles.
In New Delhi, senior navy officers acknowledge the importance of deterring pirates on land. But they add that the new RoE for the EU warships are sensitive and fraught with consequences for civilians unless backed by sharp intelligence.
For more than a decade, Somalia has been without an effective centralised administration. The EU is supporting a transitional government militarily by training its soldiers in Uganda before sending them back home.
Indian officials worry about the impact of offensive military action in a continent where New Delhi has huge stakes and where it is competing with China for strategic space.
New Delhi is also sticking to its policy of deploying its military overseas only under the UN blue flag. The anti-piracy mission has a UN mandate but there is no UN force.
But Indian Navy officers admit that piracy originating in Somalia is getting dangerously close to home.
Indian defence sources are also sceptical of operations inside Somalia though they admit that piracy threatens to take a heavy toll on Indian lives and businesses.
In 1994, India sent about 4,500 soldiers into Somalia and a naval task force to patrol the waters off Mogadishu under UNOSOM II (United Nations Operations in Somalia). UNOSOM II was touted as a humanitarian mission with mostly US military escort.
It failed — its failure immortalised in the Hollywood film Black Hawk Down, based on an incident in which Somali militia shot down an American helicopter and dragged the bodies of the US soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu.
The Indian Army understood better than the Americans that the militia in Somalia operate on the basis of clans and tribes.

Navy chief calls for demarcation of waters

Gulf News

World | India

Littoral navies plan strategy to tackle problem
  • IANS
  • Published: 00:00 April 23, 2012
New Delhi: India has called for "clear demarcation" of the pirate-infested waters of the Indian Ocean to warn merchant vessels and the navies of the threat and to prevent incidents such as the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian commandos guarding a cargo ship.
This demand was made by Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma at the recent biennial Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) held in Cape Town, South Africa, where the issue of piracy which afflicts the Gulf of Aden was the key focus of discussions.
The IONS meeting, attended by 22 navies of the 35 littoral nations of the Indian Ocean, also decided to have common procedures for jointly fighting piracy in the region, apart from developing concepts for cooperative efforts at Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), according to Indian Navy's assistant chief (Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence) Rear Admiral Monty Khanna.
Apart from the naval and shipping aspect to Verma's demand for clear demarcation, a major area of concern for the trade via the sea, particularly for those in India, was the high premium they have to pay for insuring the goods passing through the Indian Ocean.
Since Somali pirate activity was observed in eastern Arabian Sea in October-November 2010, the London-based maritime agencies designated the region as pirate-infested and hiked insurance premium for cargo vessels passing through the region.
However, the Indian Navy has pointed out that it has, apart from deploying a warship in Gulf of Aden since October 2007 to escort cargo ships, had increased its patrol of the eastern Arabian Sea from October 2010 and since then, there has been no pirate-related incident closer to the Indian sub-continent.
India, hence, wants the international agencies to rationalise the demarcation at regular intervals and tweak insurance premium for cargo ships passing through eastern Arabian sea. It also pointed out that the Italian commandos had fatally attacked the Indian fishermen in the eastern Arabian Sea, since they were still under the impression the area is infested by pirates, all due to irrationality of piracy notifications.
The IONS meet also wanted the littoral navies to evolve common strategies to tackle piracy in the Indian Ocean region.

Somalia and Palestine re-establish diplomatic relations

Somalia and Palestine re-establish diplomatic relations

Updated:- 21 hours ago| 0 Commnets
The Palestinian National Authority has appointed a new ambassador to Somalia, joining the Arab League members Sudan, Libya, Djibouti and Yemen in setting up representation in the increasingly stable country.
Envoy Kamil Abdallah Saturday presented his credentials to Somalia President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed at the state house in Mogadishu.
The diplomat also passed on to President Ahmed a special message from the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
With the fundamentalist Al-Shabaab group having vacated most of its positions in the Somali capital, more countries and agencies have set up shop.
Ethiopia and Turkey are represented, as are European Union members Italy and Britain.
Almost all diplomatic staff were eveacuated from Mogadishu at the start of Somalia’s civil war in January 1991 when Gen Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime collapsed under pressure from rebel groups.
Elsewhere, at least ten people were reported dead after armed men from different pirate groups triggered heavy fighting in Haradhere district, some 400 kilometres north east of Mogadishu on Saturday.
At least a dozen were taken to hospital, reports said.

Source: Africa Review

HorseedMedia Facebook

Updated:- 21 hours ago|

The Palestinian National Authority has appointed a new ambassador to Somalia, joining the Arab League members Sudan, Libya, Djibouti and Yemen in setting up representation in the increasingly stable country.
Envoy Kamil Abdallah Saturday presented his credentials to Somalia President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed at the state house in Mogadishu.
The diplomat also passed on to President Ahmed a special message from the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
With the fundamentalist Al-Shabaab group having vacated most of its positions in the Somali capital, more countries and agencies have set up shop.
Ethiopia and Turkey are represented, as are European Union members Italy and Britain.
Almost all diplomatic staff were eveacuated from Mogadishu at the start of Somalia’s civil war in January 1991 when Gen Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime collapsed under pressure from rebel groups.
Elsewhere, at least ten people were reported dead after armed men from different pirate groups triggered heavy fighting in Haradhere district, some 400 kilometres north east of Mogadishu on Saturday.
At least a dozen were taken to hospital, reports said.

Source: Africa Review

SOMALIA: Wounded journalists receive Medical Assistance from DCMF through NUSOJ

RBC Radio 

istance from DCMF through NUSOJ

Wounded journalist, Said Warsame recieves assistance cash from DCMF through NUSOJ
Wounded journalist, Said Warsame receives assistance cash from DCMF through NUSOJ
Mogadishu (RBC) The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) delivered medical assistance to some of the journalists who were wounded at the Mogadishu’s National Theatre suicide bombing on Friday 20 April, 2012, donated by the Qatar based Doha Center for Media Freedom  (DCMF).
The Union’s Secretary General, Mohamed Ibrahim accompanied some union executives, media bosses and journalists handed over Said Warsame (Shuuriyaako) to $2000 on behalf of Doha Center for Media Freedom (DCMF) among others.
“It is a honour for NUSOJ to hand over $2000 to our colleague Said Warsame (Shuuriyako on  behalf of Doha Center for Media Freedom.” Mohamed Ibrahim, NUSOJ Secretary General said, “This medical
assistance was given to 6 (six) wounded journalists among others, though Said Warsame’s condition is very critical and needs outside medical assistance, since doctors declared that he can not be treated
in Somalia”.
“The assistance money was timely and efficient and We are grateful for DCMF in accepting our request for assistance to wounded colleagues.” Mr. Ibrahim added.
The NUSOJ Secretary General, Mohamed Ibrahim noted NUSOJ is dedicated in assisting its member and non member journalists among other duties it is currently undertaking.
Mr. Ibrahim handed over the assistance money to Abdulkadir Dulyar, the Director of Royal International Television who counted then handed over to Mr. Mohamed Warsame, an elder brother of Said Warsame in Madina Hospital, where he is currently hospitalized.
“As you see, Dr. Mohamed Yusuf declared that our colleagues can not be treated in Somalia and on behalf of Somali media, I urge all concerned organizations and government institutions to help the wounded Somali journalists.” Abdulkadir Dulyar, Director of Royal International’s Mogadishu office said.
Mohamed Shire Warsame who received the assistance money on behalf of Said Warsame thanked NUSOJ, DCMF and the entire Somali Journalists for their efforts in helping them, noting that it was his first time to see journalists helping journalists.
Sleeping on the hospital bed with the burns visible on his body, Said Warsame thanked NUSOJ and the Somali Journalists for how they stood in helping him and appealed to seek urgent medical assistance.  He seemed demoralized that he could recover the wounds and the burns he suffered. When asked if he had received other assistance from other organization, Mr. Warsame underlined that it was the first kind of assistance he had received starting the day he was wounded.
Prof. Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, the Director of Madina Hospital recommended a further especial treatment. “The extensive burns have been treated, but the patient needs an urgent consultation with Orphaedic surgeon not available in Mogadishu at this time.” The Prof. Hassan said in the patient’s medical report.
Finally, the National Union of Somali Journalists appealed, the Somali media fraternity, the concerned press freedom organizations and other government entities to urgently help Said Warsame and other
journalists urgently need further medical assistance outside Somalia, to assist for the treatment they need.
The $9000 assistance money were distributed to six journalists as follows; Sa’id Warsame Shuuriyaako  -  Shabelle Radio – US $2000 (QR 7,300),  Deeqo Mohamed Ahmed –  SNTV-US $2000 (QR 7,300); Ahmed Ali Kahiye – Kulmiye Radio- US $2000 (QR 7,300); Hamdi Muhumad Hassan – Somali Chanel TV – US $1000 (QR 3,650);  Ayaan Abdulle Guure – S24 Television – US $1000 (QR 3,650);  Saleiban Sheik Ismail –NUSOJ Vice president- US $1000 (QR 3,650).
DCMF has sent an amount of $9000 for six wounded journalists as medical assistance and the assistance money was given to the journalists in a transparent manner.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Egypt Cancels the Delivery of Gas to Israel

Middle East

CAIRO — Egypt’s state-owned natural gas company said Sunday that it was ending a deal to ship gas to Israel because of a payment dispute. Israeli officials responded by warning that the termination cast a new shadow over the bilateral peace treaty.
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The gas deal, signed in 2005, has become a target here in Cairo for broader resentment of the supportive relationship with Israel that was forged by Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president.
Lawsuits and criminal investigations have accused Mr. Mubarak and his associates of corruption for depriving Egypt of a fair market price for the gas sold to Israel. And since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster last year, unknown attackers have bombed a gas pipeline in the Egyptian Sinai more than a dozen times, apparently to disrupt the flow to Israel.
For Israel, on the other hand, the deal had given it a crucial source of fuel. Before the disruptions, Egypt was said to have provided Israel’s electric utility with 40 percent of its natural gas, which makes up about a third of its total fuel. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has described the agreement as an “important and central element in the bilateral economic relationship.”
Mohamed Shoeib, the head of the state-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, told The Associated Press on Sunday night that it was exercising a legal right to terminate the contract because its Israeli customers had not paid for the gas for four months. “This has nothing to do with anything outside of the commercial relations,” Mr. Shoeib said.
Some Israeli officials expressed concern over the suspension of the gas deal. In a statement reported by Israeli news media, Yuval Steinitz, the finance minister, said it was “a dangerous precedent that overshadows the peace agreements between Israel and Egypt.”
Other Israeli officials played down the potential economic impact, alluding to recent discoveries of natural gas off the coast. The minister of energy, Uzi Landau, said that Israel had been preparing for two years for the possibility of a cut in gas supplies from Egypt. “Israel is working to strengthen its energy independence,” he told Army Radio.
Egypt’s current military rulers and the Islamists who now lead the Parliament have pledged to uphold all international obligations, including the peace treaty with Israel. But since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster, American diplomats and Israeli officials have been bracing for a tempestuous period in Egyptian-Israeli relations.
After wars with Israel in 1967 and 1973, Egypt’s military government signed the 1979 Camp David peace accords without any public debate or consent. Egyptians of all political stripes overwhelmingly resent Israel because of its continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which many here believe to be a violation of the accords.
In the recent parliamentary elections and the presidential campaign, Egyptians have been debating relations with Israel publicly for the first time.
Almost no one is calling for the cancellation of the treaty; all three remaining front-runners in the presidential race have pledged to respect it. But nearly every candidate at every level has pledged to take a hard look at the fairness and appropriateness of the unpopular natural gas deal.
Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

White killer whale adult spotted for first time in wild

White orca  
"Iceberg" is believed to be the first mature white orca observed
Scientists have made what they believe to be the first sighting of an adult white orca, or killer whale.
The adult male, which they have nicknamed Iceberg, was spotted off the coast of Kamchatka in eastern Russia.
It appears to be healthy and leading a normal life in its pod.
White whales of various species are occasionally seen; but the only known white orcas have been young, including one with a rare genetic condition that died in a Canadian aquarium in 1972.
The sightings were made during a research cruise off Kamchatka by a group of Russian scientists and students, co-led by Erich Hoyt, the long-time orca scientist, conservationist and author who is now a senior research fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).
Iceberg in his pod Iceberg appears to be a fully accepted and functioning member of his family clan and pod
"We've seen another two white orcas in Russia but they've been young, whereas this is the first time we've seen a mature adult," he told BBC News.
"It has the full two-metre-high dorsal fin of a mature male, which means it's at least 16 years old - in fact the fin is somewhat ragged, so it might be a bit older."
Orcas mature around the age of 15, and males can live to 50 or 60 years old, though 30 is more commonplace.
"Iceberg seems to be fully socialised; we know that these fish-eating orcas stay with their mothers for life, and as far as we can see he's right behind his mother with presumably his brothers next to him," said Dr Hoyt.
The cause of his unusual pigmentation is not known. The captive white orca, Chima, suffered from Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a genetic condition that causes partial albinism as well as a number of medical complications.
It is possible that an attempt may be made to take a biopsy from Iceberg; but with researchers reluctant to do so unless there is a compelling conservation reason, they are hoping instead for closer observations including a detection of eye colour.
The project Dr Hoyt co-leads, the Far East Russia Orca Project, has pioneered visual and acoustic monitoring in the inhospitable Kamchatka seas, and has produced a number of papers on the communication of killer whales.
This may lead to improved understanding of the animals' complex social structure, which includes matrilineal family clans, pods consisting of several families, and much larger "super-pods".
A related project aims to study and conserve habitat for all whales and dolphins around the Russian coast.
In recent years a white humpback whale nick-named Migaloo has drawn intense interest in Australia, while the Arctic beluga is naturally white.
The most famous white whale, though, is the fictional sperm whale that drove Captain Ahab to his eventually fatal fury in Moby Dick.
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Sarkozy's right wing policies alienating him from population

Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:58AM GMT
Interview with Paolo Raffone, CIPI Foundation, Brussels. ‎
"... basically he has been left over, alone, and he has been trying desperately to save ‎himself with the alliance of conservatives in Europe, in Germany, but by doing so he ‎has alienated large sectors of the population." ‎
Analysts widely surmise that the French voting population will dump current President Nicolas Sarkozy due to his racist policies and apparent subservience to the US.

Press TV has interviewed Paolo Raffone of the CIPI Foundation in Brussels who shares his expertise and insights into the undoing of Sarkozy in the eyes of French citizens preparing to vote for the country's 2012 presidential election. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Our other guest Mr. Budowski thinks that not so much the alliance with the US, but with Germany is the more important influence; however, when Sarkozy came to power in May of 2007 and took over the reigns from Jacque Chirac… under Chirac's rule France refused to join George W. Bush's so-called Coalition of the Willing to invade Iraq; however, under Sarkozy many experts say that Paris has basically turned into a total puppet of Washington.

How much do you think that this is affecting the negative image that many say that he has inside of his own country now?

Raffone: I tend to believe that the time of Sarkozy era is over because the environment in which he ruled is no more there. There is no more President Bush and the Bush dynasty is out of range.

He still has some friends of course in the Republican groups in the US and he gets strong support also from some people close to the Pentagon or the CIA. But apart from that he is a relic of the past.

So, basically he has been left over, alone, and he has been trying desperately to save himself with the alliance of conservatives in Europe, in Germany, but by doing so he has alienated large sectors of the population who traditionally were voting in France conservative, but with a state eye on the economy.

For these reasons he has really deceived most of the voters and so I am sure he will lose the election, or if he doesn't he will be in an impossible situation to lead the country.

Press TV: Why do you think that Sarkozy became so negative in dealing with the Muslims in general? We have almost seen an antagonistic type of perspective that he had with the Muslims in France.

Raffone: There are various reasons why this is shaping in this way, which are quite contradictory actually to the history of France especially from the conservative side because we have to see that his predecessors like Chirac and many others; they were pro-Arab; their links to the Persian Gulf region were very strong in all terms, economic and defense-like.

Sarkozy has shifted this in alliance with an alliance that he had to perform mostly with Israel interests and this is because of this own political history and his friends who brought him up being a mayor of a rich suburb of Paris up to the presidency.

Press TV: What do you mean exactly about his connection with Israel, that he had to do this - Can you explain and expand a little bit on exactly what you mean?

Raffone: Well, the political ascent of Mr. Sarkozy has been created by groups acting in France and in the US, which were quite close to the Jewish connection and it is not a matter of conspiracy, it is just a matter of names and people who were around him and who saw him as the right-winger sort of deliverer of right winger message after the sort of stiff-type of presidency that Chirac left.

So, this person has been pushed up. He was a promise; but then most of his supporters are no more there either because their age is very advanced or they have lost their positions and therefore he is now trying to pay service to those who helped him in the early times - I'm talking about the 1990s when he was pushed up.

And his policies are quite surprising because traditionally, I repeat, that France has been much more open to dialog with Persian Gulf states than with Israel. Sarkozy has changed this paradigm of long term history of France.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Kenya, Somalia border row threatens oil exploration


NAIROBI | Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:36am EDT
(Reuters) - A row between Kenya and Somalia over their maritime border may deter multinational oil companies from exploring for oil and gas offshore east Africa, and a Somali official warned that the argument could escalate.
The two coastal nations disagree over the location of their boundary line in the Indian Ocean. At stake are their legal claims to sell rights for exploration and collect revenue from any discovery.
Kenya recently identified eight new offshore exploration blocks available for licensing, and all but one of them are located in the contested area.
"The issue between Somalia and Kenya is not a dispute; it is a territorial argument that came after oil and gas companies became interested in the region," Abdullahi Haji, Somalia's minister of foreign affairs, told Reuters in Mogadishu.
"If the argument continues unsolved, it will change into a dispute that may result at least in souring the deep relation between our two countries and (cause a) war at last," he said.
East Africa has become a hot spot for oil and gas exploration, spurred by new finds in waters off countries including Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. In the Horn of Africa, Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland and Somaliland regions have also licensed exploration blocks.
Kenya announced its first oil discovery in March by British oil firm Tullow Plc, which was on land.
The row between Kenya and Somalia threatens to upend some exploration rights that Kenya has granted to oil and gas companies, which have already started exploring in the area.
French firm Total and Texas-based Anadarko and the only two companies so far holding licenses from Kenya to blocks in the disputed area. They have no immediate plans to drill there. Both companies declined to comment on the border issue.
Martin Heya, Kenya's petroleum commissioner, said he was confident the United Nations, which could be requested to help delineate the border, would agree with his country's view, and he expected companies to continue their exploration activities.
"Do you stop working just because the boundaries have not been determined? No," he told Reuters.
Consultants involved in border demarcation said the two countries won't have a legitimate boundary until they sign a treaty that delimits the border, but that is unlikely to happen until Somalia has a stable government.
Heya says the maritime border between the two countries should run horizontally east from the point at which the two countries touch on land. The practice in east Africa has been for boundaries to run along the line of latitude, Heya said.
"For the time being, this is where we believe the border should be," he said, referring to the horizontal east-west maritime border.
Somali officials say the onshore border continues into the ocean diagonally southeast and that a horizontal border would be unfair.
If the Somalia-Kenya border was continuous from land into the ocean, making it lie diagonally from the northwest to the southeast, Kenya would be left with a small triangle in the Indian Ocean over which it could claim mineral rights.
Kenya has had stable diplomatic relations with its war-torn neighbor, but the east African economic powerhouse sent troops into Somalia last October in pursuit of al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels, accusing the militants of cross-border attacks on its territory.
Joshua Brien, a legal adviser with the Commonwealth Secretariat, who has consulted with Kenya on maritime border matters, said the two countries won't have a legitimate boundary until they write and sign a treaty.
The absence of a stable government in Somalia could hinder this process, he said.
Somalia's government has been battling an insurgency by al Qaeda-linked rebels for years and barely controls the capital, even with the help of an African peace-keeping force executing a U.N. mandate to prop up its Western-backed government. It is unlikely it would have the ability to wage a war on Kenya.
Brien also said the two countries' border disagreement is not unique. Throughout the world there are unresolved maritime boundaries.
"It is not uncommon for maritime boundary issues to become heated, especially where petroleum exploration and development is concerned," he said.
"In the case of Somalia, the matter is exacerbated by the governance and offshore security situation in that country, both of which are well known."
Kenya is pushing on with oil and gas exploration, but petroleum commissioner Heya acknowledged the border dispute could cause problems in the future.
Heya said companies will be unable to drill in their respective blocks until the boundary is settled, because it will be unclear where to direct revenue from a resource discovery.
"Where the revenue goes is not apparent," Heya said.
(Additional reporting by Mohamed Ahmed in Mogadishu; Editing by James Macharia and Jane Baird)Share8

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