Global-news

No Picture

Arab world shrugs shoulders as judges block bid to prosecute Blair

Author: 
GREG WILCOX
Tue, 2017-08-01 03:00
ID: 
1501532879991296900

LONDON: Many Arabs are expected to view the British High Court ruling that Tony Blair should not face prosecution over the Iraq War as another example of Western leaders not being held to account, Middle East commentators said.
The judges’ decision blocks an attempt by Abdulwaheed Shannan Al-Rabbat, a former Iraqi general, to bring a private war crimes prosecution against the former British prime minister, The Associated Press reported.
The decision centered on there being no crime of aggression in English law under which Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, could be tried.
Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Chatham House think tank, said the ruling merely confirms what many in the Middle East have long believed: That no Western leader will be prosecuted for the Iraq War.
“The Arab world long gave up on any repercussions for any US and UK leader on Iraq,” Khatib told Arab News.
“There was no expectation in the Arab world for any Western leader facing prosecution.
“The latest ruling will not cause any waves in the Arab world; it will be viewed as merely business as usual and confirm the power dynamic between the West and the Arab world in which the West has the upper hand.”
That view was echoed by Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, who claimed the High Court ruling will simply confirm for many the long-held view in the Middle East that Western leaders are never held responsible for their actions.
“This reinforces the view that exists in the Middle East that Western leaders, be they from the UK or US, are never held to account,” Doyle told Arab News.
“If you look at leaders who end up at the ICC (International Criminal Court) they tend to be African. So there’s a running sore in the Middle East on the issue of accountability.
“You’ll never see someone like Putin have his day in court over crimes in Syria and the message that will be received is that once again leaders from certain countries simply aren’t held accountable.”
Of the issue of the Iraq War Doyle added, “In Iraq the war is still very much a live issue, it is a running sore for many, and what (Blair) and (the then US President) George Bush did is seen as key in devastating Iraq.
“There are some, though, who thank Blair and Bush for getting rid of Saddam Hussein. This issue is a highly polarizing one. There were Iraqis pushing for intervention. In the broader Arab world the mainstream public view is one of opposition to the war.”
In Britain the debate over whether Blair should be in the dock is equally polarizing, between those who want to see him put on trial in The Hague for war crimes and those who feel what he did was right. In July 2016 the Chilcot Report, which looked into into Britain’s role in the Iraq War, concluded the invasion was not the “last resort” presented to the public and undermined the UN.
But Khatib said that even that was seen as too little too late for most Iraqis.
“We are coming up to the first anniversary of the Chilcot Report and in the Arab world there was muted response to it,” she said.
“People feel the Iraq War has already caused too much long-term damage and the report had little effect on their lives. They have more pressing concerns and are still living through the consequences of the war.”
Of Blair, she added: “Tony Blair is viewed in the Arab World as one of two key leaders responsible for the Iraq War, and the failed Quartet envoy in the context of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“He has two failures to his name and there is no chance he’ll be able to play a significant role in the Middle East again.”
Blair’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.

Main category: 

No Picture

Scaramucci out after 11 days as Trump communications director

Author: 
Reuters
Tue, 2017-08-01 01:45
ID: 
1501527324700906000

WASHINGTON: Anthony Scaramucci is out as White House communications director after just 11 days on the job.
A person close to Scaramucci confirmed his ouster just hours after President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, was sworn into office.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the change before it was officially announced.
The New York Times, citing two unofficial sources, reported that Scaramucci was dumped on the request of new chief of staff John Kelly, who was sworn in Monday, and tapped by Trump to bring some stability to an at times chaotic White House.
Scaramucci has been in the spotlight since he was first announced as communications director earlier this month.
The New Yorker magazine published an interview Thursday in which Scaramucci went on a profanity-laden tirade against Reince Priebus, then chief of staff.
Kelly, a retired general and previous Homeland Security secretary, was sworn into his new job Monday morning.

Main category: 

No Picture

US military: Drone strike kills Al-Shabab fighter in Somalia

Author: 
AP
Mon, 2017-07-31 03:00
ID: 
1501525559240728000

MOGADISHU: The US military said Monday it carried out a drone strike in Somalia that killed a member of the Al-Shabab extremist group, while a Somali intelligence official said an Al-Shabab leader was targeted but it was not clear whether he had been killed.
A statement from the US Africa Command said the airstrike occurred on Saturday near Tortoroow, an Al-Shabab stronghold in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia. The statement said no civilians were killed.
US President Donald Trump earlier this year approved expanded military operations against the Al-Qaeda linked extremists, including more aggressive airstrikes and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities.
The US statement said the airstrike was carried out in coordination with regional partners “as a direct response to Al-Shabab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces.”
The Somali intelligence official identified the targeted Al-Shabab leader as Ali Mohamed Hussein, who has served as the extremist group’s shadow governor for Mogadishu and has been one of the group’s most outspoken officials.
The official said at least one missile struck a car in which the Al-Shabab leader was traveling near Tortoroow. One person was killed, said the official.
The US military in early July said it carried out an airstrike against Al-Shabab in Somalia and was assessing the results.
The airstrike followed one in June that the US said killed eight extremists at a rebel command and logistics camp in the south.
Al-Shabab earlier this month mocked Trump for the first time in a video that called him a “brainless billionaire.”
The extremist group also has vowed to step up attacks in Somalia after the president elected in February declared a new offensive against Al-Shabab, which continues to carry out deadly attacks in Mogadishu.
The extremist group also has carried out deadly attacks in neighboring countries, notably Kenya, calling it retribution for sending troops to Somalia to fight Al-Shabab.
Uganda’s military, meanwhile, said it had lost 12 soldiers in an attack claimed by Al-Shabab extremists in southern Somalia.
They ambushed Ugandan troops that are part of an African Union force as they patrolled a supply route in the hotly-contested Lower Shebelle region, the military said in a statement.
“From the battlefield, it is now confirmed that UPDF lost 12 gallant soldiers with seven sustaining injuries,” the statement from the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces said.
Witnesses told AFP the attack occurred in the village of Golweyn, some 120 km from Mogadishu.
The AU mission AMISOM said an improvised explosive device (IED) was used in an ambush of a convoy composed of its troops and Somali forces.
“A lot of damage was inflicted on the enemy while our troops took fatalities whose number is yet to be ascertained,” the mission said on Twitter.
An Al-Shabab spokesman on Sunday told a radio station linked to the group that the insurgents had killed 39 soldiers, a claim that could not be independently verified.
The AU has a 22,000-strong force in the country dedicated to fighting Al-Shabab and supporting the internationally backed government.
Al-Shabab has fought governments in Mogadishu for years and has also carried out attacks in Kenya and Uganda.

Main category: 

No Picture

Senegal ruling party coalition claims election landslide

Author: 
AFP
Tue, 2017-08-01 18:50
ID: 
1501521971690512800

DAKAR: The ruling coalition of Senegal’s President Macky Sall won a widely expected landslide in a legislative election, his prime minister said on Monday, bolstering Sall’s prospects for re-election in 2019.
The Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition swept all except three of the country’s 45 electoral departments, said Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne.
The ruling coalition “emerged victorious” following the vote on Sunday, Dionne said, while the turnout was 54 percent among Senegal’s 6.2 million registered voters.
Dionne said opposition coalition lists were likely to be ahead in the departments of Kedougou, Saraya and possibly Mbacke, but otherwise the BBY list of candidates “had been voted in by the Senegalese people.”
The official results are expected later this week. Some complained of being left off the electoral rolls on Sunday, and there were delays to voting in several places, partly due to bad weather.
Sall’s main threat to increasing his power in Parliament was posed by ex-leader Abdoulaye Wade, 91, who was aiming to drum up support for his own list of candidates and his son, Karim, who is not on the ballot but has ambitions for the presidency.
His other serious opponent, Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall (no relation), is in jail awaiting trial for what supporters say are politically motivated embezzlement charges, and headed a list while campaigning from his jail cell.
The mayor had been seen as a key contender for 2019 and a potential threat to the president in parliament until he was charged in March with allegedly misappropriating 1.83 billion CFA francs ($2.85 million) in city funds.
There were 47 lists of candidates contesting the election, with 165 lawmakers due to take seats in Parliament.

Main category: 

No Picture

French minister vows to tackle militants in Sahel countries

Author: 
AFP
Tue, 2017-08-01 18:24
ID: 
1501521621140487500

NDJAMENA, Chad: French Defense Minister Florence Parly arrived in Chad on Sunday, at the start of a tour of three Sahel countries, assuring that French troops in the region will have the means to carry out their mission against militants.
“You can count on my determination that you will have the necessary means to carry out your mission,” she told the head of Operation Barkhane — a 4,000-man French mission to shore up fragile Sahel countries against militant bombings, shootings, and kidnappings.
“It is my fight, it is less risky than yours, of course,” she added.
Parly was beginning a two-day swing of the region, during which she will be joined by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in a joint show of support for the initiative.
Parly “will reaffirm France’s support for the emergence of a joint G-5 Sahel force (…) tasked with playing a key role in fighting terrorism and trafficking, which are contributing to instability in the region,” the French Defense Ministry said in a statement ahead of her arrival.
After meeting Chadian President Idriss Deby in Ndjamena, Parly will head for talks in Niger with head of state Mahamadou Issoufou and with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Mali.
The planned Group of Five (G-5) Sahel anti-terror force would gather Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger in a 5,000-man joint unit.
France is trying to muster international support for the estimated €423 million ($480 million) it will cost, as the participating countries rank among the poorest nations in the world.
French President Emmanuel Macron has won a commitment — yet to be detailed — from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to support the scheme.
Von der Leyen will join Parly in Niger and Mali where they will “seize the opportunity to show their support for providing equipment and training for the G-5 force, as well as their active efforts to mobilize European and international partners to support their action,” the French Defense Ministry said.

Main category: 

No Picture

Ally of Pakistan’s ousted PM nominated to replace him

Author: 
Reuters
Tue, 2017-08-01 19:00
ID: 
1501521260150465600

ISLAMABAD: A close ally of ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday submitted papers in Parliament to become new premier, part of a two-part plan by the ruling party for a smooth transition that will see Sharif’s brother take the reins later.
Former Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is expected to be elected the new prime minister on Tuesday by Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party’s majority of lawmakers.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered Sharif disqualified from office last week over unreported income uncovered during a sweeping investigation of his finances.
The court also ordered a separate criminal investigation into Sharif and his family in its ruling, which Sharif’s allies have portrayed as political meddling but opposition leader Imran Khan has hailed as a victory for the rule of law.
Abbasi on Monday stressed he would continue Sharif’s policies. His tenure is expected to last only about two months until Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz, becomes eligible to be prime minister by winning a parliamentary by-election.
Sharif’s PML-N won elections in 2013 and holds a majority with 188 seats in the 342-member Parliament, so it should be able to swiftly install its choice of premier, barring any defections from its own ranks.
Sharif said over the weekend he was shocked by Friday’s Supreme Court ruling disqualifying him from office over unreported income from a company owned by his son in Dubai. Sharif said the monthly salary — equivalent to $2,722 — was nominal and he never actually received any of it.
The Supreme Court employed little-used Article 62 of the Constitution, which calls for the dismissal of any lawmaker deemed dishonest, to remove Sharif. His allies believe the verdict smacks of judicial overreach. Others say privately that elements of the military had a hand in the process.

Main category: 

No Picture

Malawi issues warrant of arrest for former president Banda

Author: 
AFP, AP
Mon, 2017-07-31 23:56
ID: 
1501520921080429100

BLANTYRE, Malawi: Malawi police on Monday issued an arrest warrant for former president Joyce Banda in connection with the country’s “Cashgate” corruption scandal, which involved large-scale looting of government coffers.
“Malawi fiscal and fraud police have unearthed credible evidence which raises reasonable suspicion that the former president committed offenses relating to abuse of office and money laundering,” national police spokesman James Kadadzera told AFP.
Banda has been living in self-imposed exile since she lost to President Peter Mutharika in the 2014 election.
Kadadzera said Banda is ” suspected of abusing her office” in the Cashgate scandal.
He said the warrant of arrest came into “force” from Monday.
Cashgate is the biggest financial scandal in Malawi’s history and helped push Banda out of power in 2014.
That came after she ordered an audit the previous year which discovered that $30 million had been looted by officials in less than six months in 2013.
Dozens of civil servants, business people and politicians have since been implicated in the scam, and some have been jailed.
International donors pulled the plug on aid of around $150 million over the scandal.
Banda’s spokesman Andekuche Chanthunya says they will comment only when the warrant has been served to the former president. The spokesman says the former leader would make herself available for questioning “without delay.”
Banda is currently in the United States. Police say they have notified all Interpol member countries of the arrest warrant.

Main category: 

No Picture

French govt ordered to supply sanitation for Calais migrants

Author: 
AFP
Mon, 2017-07-31 14:18
ID: 
1501521069630444400

PARIS: France’s highest administrative court on Monday rejected the government’s appeal against an order to provide water and sanitation facilities for hundreds of migrants sleeping rough in the northern port of Calais.
In a written decision seen by AFP, the Council of State said the state’s failure to provide for the migrants’ basic needs “exposed them to inhuman and degrading treatment, dealing a serious and clearly illegal blow to a basic right.”
The council noted that migrants, “who find themselves in a state of destitution and exhaustion, have no access to running water, showers or toilets and cannot therefore wash themselves or their clothes.”
The situation had caused some to develop skin diseases such as scabies and impetigo or infected wounds, “as well as serious psychological troubles,” the council found.
The court upheld a June 26 order by a court in the northern city of Lille for the state to supply the migrants with running water, toilets and showers.
The Lille court also demanded that those migrants who decide to seek asylum in France be offered a place in a reception center wherever there was space available.
Several hundred migrants are camped out in and around Calais — the main launchpad for attempts to smuggle across the Channel to Britain by truck.
The Interior Ministry and the city of Calais had appealed against the Lille court’s ruling in June, saying the provision of services would lead to the proliferation of new “Jungles,” as the sprawling makeshift camp demolished last year in Calais was known.
The case was taken by a group of migrants and NGOs, who complained that the state was violating the migrants’ basic rights.
France’s new centrist government has taken a tough line on Calais, with Interior Minister Gerard Collomb saying he does not want the city to become an “abscess.”
Last week, President Emmanuel Macron softened his tone somewhat, saying he aimed to find shelter for all those living on the street by the end of the year.

Main category: 

No Picture

EU concerned over ‘fate of democracy’ in Venezuela

Author: 
AFP
Mon, 2017-07-31 13:57
ID: 
1501520931530431800

BRUSSELS: The EU voiced concern on Monday over the fate of democracy in Venezuela, adding there are “grave doubts” that it can recognize a controversial vote.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed victory in Sunday’s election for an assembly to rewrite the constitution amid a crackdown on protests that have left more than 120 people dead in four months.
“The events of the past 24 hours have reinforced the EU’s preoccupation for the fate of democracy in Venezuela,” European Commission Spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told a daily briefing.
“The commission indeed has grave doubts about whether the election result can be recognized,” said the spokewsoman for the executive of the 28-nation EU.
“A Constituent Assembly, elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances cannot be part of the solution.”
The EU also “condemns the excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces,” while urging all sides to “refrain from violence,” she said.
Protesters attacked polling stations and barricaded streets around the country on Sunday, drawing a bloody response from security forces, who opened fire with live ammunition in some cases.
Maduro encouraged the new “Constituent Assembly” to wield its vast powers to scrap opposition lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution as one of its first acts. Protesters fear the new body is designed to keep Maduro in power.
Meanwhile, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani denounced what his office called a “fraudulent” and illegitimate” election.
“It is a sad day for democracy in Venezuela, in Latin America and in the world as international treaties and the country’s own constitution are violated, most importantly, against the will of the people,” Tajani said after talks with Venezuela’s opposition.

Main category: 

No Picture

Earth likely to warm more than two degrees by 2100 — scientists

Author: 
Zoe Tabary | Reuters
Mon, 2017-07-31 23:10
ID: 
1501517894380208500

LONDON: World temperatures are likely to rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius this century, surpassing a “tipping point” that a global climate deal aims to avert, scientists said on Monday.
A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change shows a 90 percent chance that temperatures will increase this century by 2 to 4.9 degrees Celsius.
Researchers at the University of Washington found only a 5 percent chance that warming could be at or below 2 degrees Celsius – one of the targets set by the 2015 Paris climate deal on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases that warm the planet.
Missing that target would have dramatic consequences on people’s livelihoods – such as prolonged periods of drought and rising sea levels – said Adrian Raftery, the lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Washington.
The study uses statistical projections based on total world population, GDP per capita and the amount of carbon emitted for each dollar of economic activity, known as carbon intensity.
“Our analysis shows that the goal of 2 degrees is very much a best-case scenario,” said Raftery. “It is achievable, but only with major, sustained effort on all fronts over the next 80 years.”
According to the UN Environment Program, world greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are now about 54 billion tons a year and should be cut to 42 billion by 2030 to get on track to stay below 2 Celsius.
Ramping up efforts to improve carbon efficiency are key to limit future warming, Raftery told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.
“Countries need to change the economic incentives for producing carbon – for example by introducing a carbon tax – and encourage innovation that would improve energy efficiency,” he said.
“We should be learning more from countries that are particularly carbon-efficient, like France, which has a very low-carbon transport infrastructure.”

Main category: