Sunday, November 17, 2013

World as It Is

Egyptian judges recommend dissolving political arm of Muslim Brotherhood

A panel of Egyptian judges has ruled the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party be dissolved. The panel made a non-binding recommendation to the administrative court, which may bring a lawsuit to ban the party for its affiliation with the Brotherhood, and for contravening laws on the formation of religious parties. The court will examine the recommendation in a hearing on February 15, MENA news agency reported. The court decision may drive the Islamic radicals underground. More than 2,000 party operatives and members have been arrested since an August 14 crackdown on protesters, which killed hundreds.

Free Arctic 30’ protests held in over 250 cities across the globe

Greenpeace has organized protests in 263 cities across the globe to mark two months since the arrests of 30 crew members from the organization’s Arctic Sunrise vessel, AFP reported. Pop star Madonna, Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard, and former Beatles member Paul McCartney have joined calls for the release of the activists, who have been held in Russia since their arrest on September 18. The crew members were detained following their protest at a Gazprom oil rig in the Barents Sea, and were placed in a pre-trial detention center in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. Later, all the detainees were transferred into custody in St. Petersburg. They were initially charged with piracy, but investigators later scaled down the charges to hooliganism, which is punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail.

Syrian army begins offensive for road needed to remove chemical weapons

The Syrian army began an offensive Saturday to secure a major highway linking the capital with the coast, which is likely to be used to remove chemical weapons from the country. The road passes through the mountainous area of Qalamoun and stretches along the Lebanese border. Both the Syrian army and civilians use the highway, but parts of it are closed in rebel held areas where convoys are prone to ambushes.

Berlusconi walks away from Italian govt after his party breaks up

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Saturday that his center-right People of Freedom Party (PDL) has split from Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s ruling coalition, but said he didn’t have the numbers to bring down the government. His announcement comes after Friday’s defection by a couple dozen lawmakers. It was led by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, former secretary of the PDL, who pledged to remain part of the government. Alfano’s group should give Letta enough support in parliament. Letta managed to survive a confidence vote last month with the help of rebels from the PDL. Speaking at a congress to rebrand the PDL as ‘Forza Italia,’ Berlusconi said his impending exclusion from parliament, with the help of Letta’s center-left Democratic Party, meant the coalition could not continue.
Editor – Lynsey

Putin tells Health Ministry to send aid to Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed the Russian Health Ministry to provide aid to Damascus because of difficulties surrounding the Syrian healthcare system, according to the Kremlin press service. The move follows a telephone conversation between Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad. “Taking into account the information on a difficult situation in the Syrian healthcare system, the Russian president decided to forward assistance to Syria in the form of medicines, medical expendable supplies, and first aid kits,” said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman. On Thursday, the Russian leader called Assad to discuss developments in the ongoing Syrian crisis, the planned Geneva-2 peace conference, and the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

Libyan PM Zeidan urges calm as fresh violence erupts in Tripoli

Fresh clashes have erupted in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, on Saturday as vehicles full of fighters from Misrata, headed to Tripoli from the eastern suburb of Tajura, AFP reports. The fighting commenced on Friday and has already killed 40 and wounded 400 more. Violence broke out when militiamen from the coastal city of Misrata opened fire on protesters, who had marched to their headquarters in Tripoli to demand they leave. The root cause of the violence is Libya’s weak government and armed forces which are struggling to control militias, Islamic militants, and other former fighting groups who have refused to surrender their weapons, two years after helping to oust Gaddafi in a NATO backed revolt. Zeidan has appealed for restraint saying that “The coming hours and days will be decisive for the history of Libya and the success of the revolution”.

Israel prepares for French president’s visit

France’s President Francois Holland is set to arrive in Israel on Sunday as part of the international community’s push to seal a nuclear deal with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was eager to meet with Holland and discuss ways to halt the supposed Iranian nuclear weapons program. Israel has said it will accept no agreement with Iran unless it stipulates a complete halt in Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Blast hits Kabul near US-Afghan pact talks venue

A large explosion rocked Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Saturday near a compound where the country’s elite will gather later next week to debate a security pact with the United States. Details on the number of casualties were not immediately available, however, media reports citing local police said some people have been taken to hospital. “The suicide attacker has detonated his explosive-packed car in an area packed with civilians. There have been casualties,” police chief Mohammad Zaher told AFP. The blast occurred less than a hundred meters from a huge tent where around 3,000 prominent Afghans will gather on Thursday to debate a deal, which would allow US troops to remain in Afghanistan after the final withdrawal of the international force at the end of 2014. It also came hours after Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced that the final draft of the agreement had been completed.

British PM pressures for Sri Lanka war probe

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has called on the government of Sri Lanka to address human rights violations. Cameron wants a UN-led inquiry into alleged war crimes and human rights abuses during the country’s 27-year civil war. Nimal Siripala de Silva, Sri Lanka’s water minister, said on Saturday that the Sri Lankan government would resist attempts to carry out an independent probe.


Iran nuclear deal ‘quite possible’ next week – US official

The P5+1 and Iran are moving closer towards reaching an agreement to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, a senior US official said, according to Reuters. The official added that a deal is “quite possible” when negotiations restart on November 20-22 in Geneva. ”For the first time in nearly a decade we are getting close to a first-step…that would stop the Iranian nuclear program from advancing and roll it back in key areas,” said the official. “I don’t know if we will reach an agreement. I think it is quite possible that we can, but there are still tough issues to negotiate,” he added. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will be meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Nov. 20. They will be joined by the P5+1 consisting of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the US. Negotiations failed to produce a deal over the weekend, with reports that France served as an obstacle during negotiations.

Competitiveness, climate, security Finn’s priorities Ministry of Finance release Finnish road map of EU presidency. Finland i...