“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

U.S. bribery inquiry into £870m held by HSBC for Gaddafi

Daily Mail, By ROB DAVIES, 1st July 2011

HSBC faces being caught up in a U.S. bribery inquiry over hundreds of millions of pounds it held on behalf of Libya.

Dictator: Colonel Gaddafi has invested
up to £870million with HSBC, which
no faces an inquiry
There has been a dramatic rise in deposits with the bank, according to a leaked internal report from the Libyan Investment Authority – which invests some £40billion of oil wealth collected by Colonel Gaddafi's regime.

Last June, HSBC held £182million of Libya's money, the document shows.

Just three months later, that had risen to more than £870million.

As details of the report emerged, sources said HSBC could be caught up in a U.S. investigation looking at whether banks paid Libyan officials in return for managing the North African nation's money.

The Serious Fraud Office, which prosecutes white-collar crime in the UK, is understood to be helping U.S. regulators with their inquiries into banks that did business with Gaddafi's regime.

Insiders said the investigation revolves around allegations that banks, hedge funds and private equity firms paid so-called 'placement agents' in return for being given access to Libya's state investment fund.

One source confirmed that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into HSBC, Britain's biggest bank, as it casts its net for evidence.


All Libyan money held by HSBC and other British banks has since been frozen as part of sanctions against the dictator.

Campaign group Global Witness, which obtained the report, called for legislation to force banks to publish any funds they manage on behalf of nation states.

Spokesman Robert Palmer said: 'Banking secrecy laws still mean that citizens are left in the dark about how their own state's funds are managed.

Dark clouds gathering: HSBC has declined to comment
on whether it was the subject of a specific investigation
on the mater

'We can't continue with a situation where information about how a state handles its assets is only made available once a dictator turns violently on his own people and information is leaked.'

The leaked report also revealed how Libyan officials were enraged and embarrassed by the woeful performance of some investments.

Gaddafi's henchmen invested £870million with five financial institutions, only to see them lose nearly £200million and demand £50million in fees for the trouble.

The 23 per cent decline in its investments came against the backdrop of global stock markets rising by more than 25 per cent in the same period.

An HSBC spokesman said: 'HSBC has stringent policies and procedures for countering bribery and corruption in all the jurisdictions in which it operates.

'These apply to dealings with government entities, private organisations and individuals.'

It declined to comment on whether it was the subject of a specific investigation.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A trip to hell

Deutsche Welle, 29 June 2011

Human traffickers exploit Nigerian
women's dreams of a better future
in Europe
The latest US anti-slavery report says Nigeria is meeting minimum anti-trafficking standards. Yet tens of thousands of Nigerian women are being brought to Europe and forced to work as prostitutes, as a German film shows.

The US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released this week ranks countries according to efforts made to stop trafficking and help the victims. Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, was able to hold on to its Tier 1 ranking, joining Mauritius as the only African country with a top grade.

Yet German director Lukas Roegler portrays a different story in his film "Sisters of no mercy." Roegler spent several months researching and filming in Nigeria. His documentary tells the stories of four Nigerian girls whose dream of a better future turned into a prostitution nightmare on the streets of Europe.

Nigerian families often have many children, and can't provide all with a good education. For girls and young women in particular, it's often difficult to find an occupational perspective for the future.

So for many young women, Europe appears to be the answer to all their problems. They envision opportunities to work as nannies or housekeepers, and to earn their own money. As Roegler discovered, human traffickers brutally and mercilessly exploit these dreams. Instead of finding work as household help, these Nigerian women end up in German brothels or as prostitutes on the streets of Italy, where an estimated one in three prostitutes comes from Nigeria today.

Informing both sides

Four years after the film was released, the director was finally able to screen the film in Nigeria last week. For Roegler, the trip back to Nigeria fulfills a vision. He said right from the outset, it was his aim to show the documentary on both continents in order to close an information gap.

Anti-trafficking campaigns do
exist in Nigeria
"The European side can be informed about the structures of this human trafficking, so that the authorities can better react," Roegler says. "We have achieved this. Today, the police and aid organizations in part use the film for training purposes and it has made a difference."

Now, Roegler is hoping to throw light on the issue in Nigeria. "Sisters of no mercy" was shown in Abuja, Lagos and Benin City - the most important screening for the director.

Most potential victims live in Benin City. The Nigerian city is considered the center of human trafficking. One of these victims told her story to Roegler in the film. For years, Faith was forced to work as a prostitute in Italy on the streets of Turin.

"So you have sex with someone you don't know, just to keep things moving because you must eat," she says.

Many Nigerian women believe they'll earn good money as housekeepers or nannies and can help support their families back home. Faith says she remembers the day she arrived in Europe with these dreams.

"It was a very nice day," she says. "In my mind I was saying, God, I want to be a nanny. I'll work, send money home to buy land for my father and take care if my family."

Treacherous journey

In these women's minds, Europe is paradise. But already the trip there turns out to be hell. Human traffickers don't put their victims in an airplane. Their journey often takes years, crisscrossing North Africa, squeezed into trucks - a fact also confirmed in the State Department's TIP report.

"Traffickers decreasingly relied on air travel to transport trafficking victims, and more often utilized land and sea routes, for example by forcing victims to cross the desert on foot to reach Europe," the report said.

Roegler says the treacherous journey is supposed to break their will. Several sources told him that the traffickers responsible for the transport from Africa to Europe deliberately incorporate concrete mishaps on the trip.

"The girls and women are then stuck in some little town in part for weeks," he says. "Of course, at some point, they run out of money or food and are forced to prostitute themselves. So they experience this as if it were all an unhappy coincidence. But there's a system behind it. These women are then brought to Europe and have already had to prostitute themselves out of necessity."

Unscrupulous 'Madams'

These women live in constant
Whoever actually survives the journey through the Sahara, the introduction into prostitution in Mali or Morocco and the crossing to Europe, lands immediately as a sex slave on the streets of Turin, Rome or Verona.

Here, the next nightmare awaits them: the so-called "Madams" - Nigerian female pimps, who make the human trafficking business from Nigeria the only major organized crime business worldwide controlled by women.

The Madams are unscrupulous and brutal. They take the young women's passports away and force them to prostitute themselves on the streets. There, they have to work off their transport costs of some 60,000 Euros ($86,000).

"We calculated that this means up to 1,500 customers that they have to serve sexually," Roegler says. "That can take years. If you consider a city like Turin, where it can be minus 15 degrees cold in the winter and you have to stand around burning garbage cans, that is of course completely unimaginable for these African women before they arrive."

Control instrument

Escaping the system is impossible. A large number of these young women are recruited in an animist region in southern Nigeria, where superstition is an integral part of their lives. This is also exploited by the traffickers, who force the women through an occult "juju" ritual.

This contract, which is made in a voodoo shrine before they leave Nigeria, ties them to their traffickers until they repay their individual debt. It's a pact with the gods, says Roegler.

"These women grow up with this so they believe that if they swear on the god of iron, Ogun, and then break their contract, the god will punish them here," he says. "These rituals are then devised accordingly that they say: we're keeping your hair here. Then we can punish you here and you will get sick in Europe or die there."

Platform for discussion

Faith also lived through this fear and described it in the film. She is just one of some 50,000 Nigerian prostitutes in Europe. In Nigeria, there are increased efforts now to educate women on the situation.

Last week, human rights activists, judges, district attorneys and potential victims, some 500 girls from a school in Benin City, watched the film at the Nawa Festival, which serves as a platform for discussion on human trafficking issues. Roegler was told there about furtive recruiting methods.

"One girl told us that there's a white Italian man who pays her school fees," he says. "As soon as she graduates, she supposed to be brought to Europe to work for him. And so you really notice that it's simply important to show this film here."

For this girl, Roegler's film came precisely at the right time to Nigeria. A human rights organization working against trafficking of women is now dealing with her case.

Authors: Beatrice Weiskircher, Sabina Casagrande
Editor: Rob Mudge

Related Article:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beatings instead of wages - domestic helpers in the diplomatic service

Deutsche Welle, 27 June 2011

Seeking a better life - maids from
A Saudi diplomat in Berlin is said to have maltreated his Indonesian domestic helper. A 50-year-old international convention guaranteeing diplomatic immunity means the attache will not face legal consequences.

Dewi Ratnasari left her home in Indonesia in hopes of a better life. Via Saudi Arabia, she travelled to Germany, where she started to work as a domestic helper for the family of a Saudi-Arabian diplomat in Berlin in April 2009.

She did not find a better life. Later, she told authorities that she was forced to hand over her passport, was not allowed to leave the house alone and was prohibited to get in touch with her family. She worked up to 18 hours daily in the diplomat's large household. She slept on the bare floor in one of the children's bedrooms.

Ratnasari - not her real name but a pseudonym - managed to escape in the fall of 2010, and showed up on the doorstep of Ban Ying, a Berlin based, city-funded human rights association founded in 1988 as a shelter and counseling center for migrant women from Southeast Asia. The center deals with up to ten cases a year from among the 249 domestic helpers currently employed by diplomats in Germany.

Ban Ying's Nivedita Prasad told Deutsche Welle that the Indonesian woman is an example of particularly shoddy treatment. The entire family regularly slapped the 30-year-old Indonesian household help, beat her with objects, humiliated her and insulted her. "The worst part is that they never called her by her name, but by the Arabic word for 'shit,'" Prasad said.

Exploitation is not isolated

Nevedita Prasad of Ban Ying, the
Thai term for 'House of Women'
NGOs across Europe are aware of the problem of exploitation of domestic help in diplomatic households. A common complaint is that employees are forced to work long hours without extra pay and that they have signed what amounts to a virtually worthless work contract.

Maltreating and locking up domestic help is regarded as a grave human rights abuse and a breach of the ban on slavery. In many European countries, stressful working conditions and measly pay violate both human rights and national legislation.

But the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations guarantees diplomats and their personnel legal immunity. Diplomats are immune from civil or criminal prosecution and no German civil court is allowed to, for example, require a diplomat to pay lost wages to an employee.

"This immunity blocks the legal process for domestic help in diplomatic households," Heike Raabe of the German Institute for Human Rights said. "It's a gap in the protection of human rights at the expense of women, who usually take on such jobs because of economic hardship."

Under the Vienna Convention, Dewi Ratnasari could have taken her employer to court in Saudi Arabia - in theory. In reality, according to Heike Raabe, that is impossible because of her gender, her family background, a lack of resources and visa limitations. "Without a male escort, women are forbidden to travel to or within Saudi Arabia. They also have to be accompanied by a man in court," she said.

Unrealistic legal claims

Ban Ying contacted the German Foreign Ministry, in the hope that it would negotiate compensation for Dewi Ratnasari, in exchange for a commitment not to go public about the case. But the sum the Saudi embassy offered was "outrageously low," said Nivesita Prasad.

Bertelsmann is up against slavery
and exploitation of foreign domestic
The Institute and other organizations helped to bring the case to trial, hiring labor lawyer Klaus Bertelsmann to take Dewi Ratnasari's case to Berlin's Labor Court. He filed a criminal complaint on the grounds of human trafficking and claimed 70.000 euros ($99,310) in back wages, overtime and compensation for personal suffering. On June 14, the court ruled against the complainant, citing her employer's diplomatic immunity.

Dewi Ratnasari has meanwhile returned to her native Indonesia. Ban Ying organized a fundraiser so she would not have to go home empty-handed, but she officially passed on her wage entitlement to Heide Pfarr, a women's rights activist who continues to act for her as claimant.

Lawyer Bertelsmann said he is appealing the Labor Court's ruling, and is confident of a solution along the lines of a ruling in a similar case earlier this year by France's top administrative court, which said that the state must pick up the tab for the foreign employee's back wages.

It can take up to six months before the next higher German court rules on Dewi Ratnasari's claim, but diplomats will in any case go scot free despite continuing human rights abuses and slavery practices.

But the situation will not be changed unless the 192 signatory states to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations decide to do so.

Author: Ulrike Mast-Kirschning / db
Editor: Michael Lawton
Martin Kuebler

Iran arrests documentary film-maker: report

Google/AFP, 27 June 2011

TEHRAN — Iranian film-maker and women's rights activist Mahnaz Mohammadi has been arrested in the capital, the opposition website Kaleme.com reported.

Mohammadi "was arrested on Sunday morning at her home by unidentified security forces," said the site of former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi, who is currently under house arrest, adding that "the reason for her arrest is unknown."

Kaleme.com reported that Mohammadi may have been arrested by the intelligence services of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

Her arrest has not been reported by official or other media in Iran.

Mohammadi, director of the short documentary "Women Without Shadows," has won several awards and contributed to veteran Rakhshan Bani-Etemad's "We are half of Iran's population" documentary on women's demands in the 2009 presidential poll.

Kaleme.com said Mohammadi was arrested and released in July 2009, together with prominent film-maker Jafar Panahi, at a cemetery south of Tehran.

They had attended a ceremony commemorating those killed in the crackdown that followed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which the opposition considered to have been rigged.

Cinema industry sources in Paris told AFP on Monday that Mohammadi's passport was seized recently, preventing her from going to Cannes in May for the screening of Reza Serkanian's "Marriage Ephemeral," in which she was the lead actress.

In a message from Mohammadi read out by acclaimed film-maker Costa-Gavras during a debate in Cannes, she said she was in the process of making a new documentary on Iranian women, the French sources said.

"I am a woman, I am a film-maker, two sufficient reasons to be guilty in this country," said the message, adding: "I have hope."

Related Article:

Libya: ICC issues arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi

BBC News, 27 June 2011

Libya Crisis

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Col Gaddafi is accused of
personally ordering attacks on
The court had accused him of crimes against humanity and of ordering attacks on civilians after an uprising against him began in mid-February.

The Hague-based court also issued warrants for two of Col Gaddafi's top aides - his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the conflict.

ICC presiding judge Sanji Monageng said there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that Col Gaddafi and his son were "criminally responsible as indirect co-perpetrators" for the persecution and murder of civilians in Libya.

The warrants had been requested by chief ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in May, who said the three men bore responsibility for "widespread and systematic attacks" on civilians.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said the court had evidence that Col Gaddafi had "personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians and was behind the arrest and torture of his political opponents.

The Libyan authorities have previously said they do not recognise the court and were not concerned by the threat of a warrant.

On Sunday, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the court was overly preoccupied with pursuing African leaders and had "no legitimacy whatsoever".

The arrest warrant was welcomed by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said it further demonstrated "why Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy and why he should go immediately".

Mr Hague called on people within the Libyan regime to abandon Gaddafi and said those responsible for "atrocities" must be held to account.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Morocco film festival pays tribute to 'Arab Spring'

Not only did Arab uprisings bring about changes in politics, but they triggered a cinema revolution, which was the focus of a recent Casablanca event.

Magharebia, By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Casablanca – 26/06/11

Related Articles:

For five days, Moroccan and foreign cinema fans enjoyed an inspiring showcase of movies devoted to the 'Arab Spring'.

[Naoufel Cherkaoui] This year's International Short
and Documentary Film Festival in Casablanca explored
the relation between Arab revolutions and cinema.
The sixth round of the International Short and Documentary Film Festival in Casablanca, which ended on Sunday (June 19th), featured twenty films from Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon and Europe.

"We did not want the current edition of the festival, which coincides with Arab popular upheavals, to pass without dedicating seminars to the topic, at a time when there are movies that inspire a revolution, such as 'Heya Fawda' (Chaos)," event director Mohamed El Mouchtary told Magharebia.

"There is no doubt that the seventh art was influenced by the revolutions, especially real-life cinema that portrays the true image of our societies," he added.

Said Belli, a participating Moroccan director, told Magharebia: "The impact of revolutions on cinema is inevitable, as the latter portrays aspects of the reality we live in. I believe cinema will take a different route in Arab countries, whereby it will portray people's suffering more accurately. It is normal for the cinema to be influenced by what is taking place in Arab countries."

For his part, Egyptian film-maker Samir Seif said that Arab uprisings would "serve to expand the extent of the freedom of expression in cinema, as those revolutions set people free, launch numerous trends and promote the freedom of expression".

"Naturally, it will reflect on the future films," he added. "Additionally, the values upheld by the revolutions, such as justice, citizenship and progress, will impact the new movies yet to be released."

Cinema is not only influenced by the current developments, Seif said; it can also shape the course of events. "It indirectly raises people's awareness and their sense of injustice. It is the job of art to contribute to people's awareness of what is going on around them."

"There must be a drama revolution alongside the people's revolution, with minimum censorship and maximum freedom of expression," Lebanese director Seba Rifai told Magharebia. "Naturally, newly-released movies are bound to be better than the previous ones. Censorship used to pressure film-makers. There was not much scope for creativity. Makers of the seventh art could not express everything they wished for in their movies."

Najib Kettani, who heads Organisation Maroc Afrique, underlined that spotlighting the relationship between cinema and uprisings "reflects the interest of citizens of the Arab region in general, and the Maghreb, in particular, who want to live and enjoy stability and development in a democratic climate".

This content was commissioned for Magharebia.com.

Related Article:

Jameson Timba, Zimbabwe minister, ordered free by court

BBC News, 26 June 2011

Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has had a fractious relationship
with Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC

Zimbabwe - New Era?

A Zimbabwe court has ordered the release of a government minister who reportedly called President Robert Mugabe a liar.

Jameson Timba, an ally of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested on Friday.

Under Zimbabwean law it is a criminal offence to insult the president.

Mr Timba had been quoted by South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper, under the headline "Mugabe a liar", disputing Zanu-PF's account of a regional summit.

He reportedly contradicted Mr Mugabe's claim that regional leaders had withdrawn a damning report on the slow pace of reforms and renewed political violence in Zimbabwe.

'Denied food'

Mr Timba's release was ordered on Sunday during a special hearing of the Harare High Court.

"There was a violation of his rights," Judge Joseph Musakwa was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

"He was not informed of the charges he was facing."

Mr Timba's lawyers say he has been denied food and access to his legal team in jail.

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF have had a fractious relationship since forming a unity government after disputed elections in 2008.

Mr Mugabe and his party have been pushing for polls this year, but the MDC argues that without a new constitution and electoral reforms, elections would not be free and fair.

Israel warns media against boarding Gaza flotilla

Associated Press, by JOSEF FEDERMAN, June 26, 2011

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel on Sunday threatened to ban international journalists for up to a decade from the country if they join a flotilla planning to breach the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The warning reflected Israeli jitters about the international flotilla, which comes just over a year after a similar mission ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists in clashes with Israeli naval commandos.

Israel is eager to avoid a repeat of last year's raid, which drew heavy international condemnations and ultimately forced Israel to loosen a blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons into the territory.

It remains unclear when the current flotilla will actually set sail, but organizers have hinted it could be as soon as this week.

In a letter to foreign journalists, the Government Press Office's director, Oren Helman, called the flotilla "a dangerous provocation that is being organized by western and Islamic extremist elements to aid Hamas."

"I would like to make it clear to you and to the media that you represent, that participation in the flotilla is an intentional violation of Israeli law and is liable to lead to participants being denied entry into the State of Israel for 10 years, to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions," Helman said.

The letter, he added, had been reviewed and approved by Israel's attorney general.

Organizers of the flotilla say the mission is necessary to draw attention to the plight of Gaza's 1.6 million residents. The Israeli blockade has caused heavy damage to Gaza's economy: Unemployment is estimated at close to 50 percent, and the territory still suffers from a shortage of badly needed construction materials.

Israel has long had a strained relationship with the international media. During its invasion of the Gaza Strip 2½ years ago, Israeli-based journalists were prevented from entering the territory, forcing the Supreme Court to order the army to allow reporters in.

Israel imposed a land and naval blockade of Gaza after Hamas, an Iranian-backed group that has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks, took control of the coastal strip.

The international uproar over last year's deadly flotilla raid forced Israel to greatly ease the land embargo, but the naval blockade remains intact.

Israel has already said it will block the flotilla this time. Naval officials say they will use different tactics though in hopes of avoiding bloodshed.

Federman can be reached at www.twitter.com/joseffederman.

Related Articles:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yemeni government welcomes UN call for all-around dialogue

English.news.cn   2011-06-26

SANAA, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni government on Saturday welcomed a proposal of the UN Security Council, which called on the country's political rivals to show "maximum restraint" and to "engage in an inclusive political dialogue," the state-run Saba news agency reported.

"The government of Yemen welcomes the statement of the UN Security Council issued on Friday that called for all-around dialogue of all Yemeni political sides," Saba cited its government 's statement as saying.

"The Yemeni government is ready to engage in constructive talks with opposition parties for the sake of the country's unity, stability and security," the statement read, in response to the call of the UN Security Council.

The government said also that the promised dialogue would be based on an earlier reconciliation initiative brokered by the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and hailed by the UN.

The UN Security Council on Friday expressed "grave concern" on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Yemen, urging all parties to show "maximum restraint" and to "engage in an inclusive political dialogue."

Yemen has witnessed five-month-long anti-government protests since mid-January, calling for ousting their long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Editor: yan

Libya unrest: Football stars defect to rebels

BBC News, By Mark Doyle, BBC World Affairs Correspondent, in Jadu, Libya, 25 June 2011

Libya Crisis

A group of 17 leading Libyan football figures have announced their defection to the rebels.

Juma Gtat urged Col Gaddafi "to leave us alone"
They include the nation's goalkeeper, Juma Gtat, three other national team members, and the coach of Tripoli's top club al-Ahly, Adel bin Issa.

Mr Gtat and Mr bin Issa announced the group's defection to the BBC during a late night meeting in the rebel-held Nafusa Mountains in western Libya.

It comes on the heels of defections by military officers.

Propaganda blow

At their hotel in the town of Jadu I met goalie Juma Gtat relaxing in his room.

"I am telling Col Gaddafi to leave us alone and allow us to create a free Libya," he said as we sat on his hotel bed in front of other players.

"In fact I wish he would leave this life altogether," he added with a laugh.

In football-mad North Africa, the defections are clearly a propaganda blow for Col Gaddafi. But he has always resisted any pressure, political or military, to leave office.

And he has some advantages on the various battlefields in this war across Libya.

Here, in the rebel-held Western Mountains, in besieged Misrata in the centre, and in the east, the long-time Libyan leader has most of the heavy weapons - such as multiple rocket launchers and tanks.

The rebels mostly have small machine guns and, in some cases, only ancient rifles.

The longer-range rockets and artillery at Col Gaddafi's command mean he can often pin the rebels down to their positions.

Mr bin Issa, told me he had chosen to come to the Western Mountains "to send a message that Libya should be unified and free".

"I hope to wake up one morning to find that Gaddafi is no longer there," he added.

Desert units

Sports stars matter in the battle for public opinion. But the rebels still need to win some decisive military victories if they are to advance.

In the Western Mountains, they have managed to seize most of the high ground, taking control of a series of towns.

I have travelled from Wazzin, hard on the Tunisian border, to the rebel stronghold of Jadu.

Although some of the towns in between have suffered serious attacks, they remain in rebel hands.

But troops loyal to Col Gaddafi hold the plains and valleys below.

The colonel also holds the capital, its approaches, and large parts of this mainly desert country.

So far, most of the attention has of course been on the heavy fighting for coastal cities, where most of Libya's population live.

But Col Gaddafi also has arms caches and military units deep in the Sahara Desert - some of which have not yet been deployed.

Related Articles:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gaddafi's movements closely monitored, says Nato

MoD stresses it will not violate UN mandate by targeting Gadaffi, while some EU countries remain frustrated by slow progress

guardian.co.uk, Nick Hopkins, Friday 24 June 2011

Muammar Gaddafi's movements in Tripoli are being closely montitored by
listening systems aboard HMS Liverpool, stationed off the Libyan coast.
Photograph: Dave Griffiths/PA

Nato forces are confident they are successfully tracking Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as he moves from hideout to hideout in Tripoli, the Guardian has learned.

But the coalition is abiding by the UN mandate, which does not permit the military to target the Libyan leader directly – commanders are still hoping that he will be removed by a revolt from within his circle of closest associates.

There is also a privately held wish in Whitehall that Gaddafi might be caught up in a legitimate bombing raid on a command and control cell as he flits from one safe haven to another.

A senior Whitehall source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Gaddafi's movements were being monitored closely, and that the military had been able to track him "racing from one place to another" over recent weeks.

Nato has an array of surveillance equipment at its disposal: as well as a Nimrod plane and drones, HMS Liverpool, which is stationed off the Libyan coast, has listening systems which should enable the military to keep watch on the Libyan leader and his entourage.

The Ministry of Defence refused to be drawn on the issue, with sources reiterating that Gaddafi will not be targeted as long as Nato works within the parameters of UN resolution 1973.

With the coalition campaign now 100 days old, and pressure mounting over the growing humanitarian crisis in Libya, the MoD and the Foreign Office on Friday set out the gains it believes have been made, and tried to reassure Libyan rebels that Nato is doing all it can to bring a swift end to the conflict.

The briefing came at the end of a particularly difficult week – up to nine civilians were killed on Sunday after a Nato missile hit a home in Tripoli, an accident that prompted the Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini to call for a ceasefire.

Without giving details, a senior Foreign Office official claimed that Gaddafi was now displaying signs of "paranoid and erratic behaviour".

The official said that the regime was being hit by a "steady stream of defections. Ambassadors, ministers – over 120 military officers including five generals left the country in May alone".

The official added: "Gaddafi is down to a handful of followers, who rule by fear. Reports suggest Gaddafi has threatened to kill generals who do not deliver results around Misrata."

The international criminal court is poised on Monday to issue arrest warrants on Gaddafi and two of his inner circle, he said.

Major General Nick Pope said that Nato had now undertaken more than 12,000 flying sorties, including 5,000 attack missions, of which 2,400 had hit regime targets – suggesting a less than 50% success rate.

He said that RAF planes had twice aborted missions in recent days because of concerns that civilians may be in danger – missiles had been fired, but diverted to wasteland at the last moment.

However, some EU countries remain frustrated by the slow rate of progress. At a summit in Brussels on Friday, the Belgian prime minister, Yves Leterme, said leaders "really have to see how we can achieve a definitive and decisive breakthrough" in the war.

Other nations remain concerned that Nato has already overstepped the terms of the UN resolution, and in the US, President Barack Obama is under pressure from Capitol Hill to justify America's involvement in the campaign.

"The president has ignored the constitution and the war powers resolution, but he cannot ignore a lack of funding," said Florida Republican representative Tom Rooney, who is proposing a bill to block money for the US military's contribution to the Nato effort.

"Only Congress has the power to declare war and the power of the purse, and my bill exercises both of those powers by blocking funds for the war in Libya unless the president receives congressional authorisation."

"The war in Libya is illegal, unconstitutional and unwarranted. It must end," Ohio Democrat representative, Dennis Kucinich, said.

Obama has said he did not need to seek Congressional approval before authorising US forces to play a part in the Nato campaign.

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