Archive for category NGOs

circling the wagons

1. report: Israel to strike Iran in March, Lebanon could get involved

Diplomatic sources haven’t ruled out to al-Liwaa newspaper Lebanon’s involvement in a possible war between Israel and Iran. The sources told the daily that the Jewish state is planning in coordination with the U.S. to strike Iranian nuclear states next March. Israel and the U.S. will not allow Iran to put into operation its nuclear project, the diplomat said, adding that the Jewish state’s seven-member inner cabinet has given the green light for the attack.

The sources didn’t rule out the involvement of Lebanon and the Gaza strip in the war, in response to the Israeli attack. Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Hizbullah to “avoid entering in conflict with us.” “We need to constantly prepare for a change in the status quo, though we don’t know when it will occur,” he said. “We don’t want for it to happen, and it might not, but we will not be afraid to react if we have to fight back.”

Top U.S. general David Petraeus also said earlier this month that Washington has developed contingency plans to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions if negotiations falter. Petraeus, who heads U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) that oversees the Middle East, told CNN that Iran’s nuclear facilities “certainly can be bombed,” even though they are reported to be heavily fortified.

source: naharnet

2. Israel withholding NGO employees’ work permits

The Interior Ministry has stopped granting work permits to foreign nationals working in most international nongovernmental organizations operating in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, Haaretz has learned.

In an apparent overhaul of regulations that have been in place since 1967, the ministry is now granting the NGO employees tourist visas only, which bar them from working.

Organizations affected by the apparent policy change include Oxfam, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Terre des Hommes, Handicap International and the Religious Society of Friends (a Quaker organization). Until recently, the workers would register with the international relations department at the Social Affairs Ministry, which would recommend the Interior Ministry to issue them B1 work permits. Although the foreign nationals are still required to approach the Social Affairs Ministry to receive recommendations to obtain a tourist visa, the Interior Ministry is aiming to make the Ministry of Defense responsible for those international NGOs and also requiring them to register with the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), which is subordinate to the Ministry of Defense.

Foreign nationals working for NGOs had understood they would receive a stamp or handwritten note alongside their tourist visa, permitting them to work “in the Palestinian Authority.” Israel is refusing work visas to most foreign nationals who state that they wish to work within the Palestinian territories, such as foreign lecturers for Palestinian universities and businessmen.

Israel does not recognize Palestinian Authority rule in East Jerusalem or in Area C, which comprises some 60 percent of the West Bank. The NGO workers say they’ve come to believe that the new policy is intended to force them to close their Jerusalem offices and relocate to West Bank cities. This move would prevent them from working among the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, defined by the international community as occupied territory.

The organizations fear the new policy will impede their ability to work in Area C, whether because Israel doesn’t see it as part of the Palestinian Authority or because they will eventually be subjected to the restrictions of movement imposed on the Palestinians. Such restrictions include the prohibition to enter East Jerusalem and Gaza via Israel, except with specific and rarely obtained permits; and prohibition to enter areas west of the separation fence, except for village residents who hold special residency permits and Israeli citizens.

One NGO worker told Haaretz that the policy was reminiscent of the travel constraints imposed by Burmese authorities on humanitarian organizations, albeit presented in a subtler manner.

NGO workers told Haaretz that they had been informed by the COGAT official that a policy change was forthcoming, as early as July 2009. When a number of them approached the Interior Ministry in August to renew their visas, they found that their applications had been submitted to a “special committee.” They were not told who constituted this committee, and had to make do with a “receipt” confirming that they had submitted the request. The workers said the tourist visas they received differed from each other in duration and travel limitations, and surmised from this that the policy has not been entirely fleshed out.

Latest in a series of steps

A number of NGO workers who spoke with Haaretz voiced deep apprehensions about having to submit to the authority of the Defense Ministry. The groups are committed to the Red Cross code of ethics, and therefore see being subjugated to the ministry directly in charge of the occupation as problematic and contradictory to the very essence of their work.

Between 140 and 150 NGOs operate among the Palestinian population. Haaretz could not obtain the exact number of foreign nationals they employ.

The new limitations do not apply to the 12 organizations that have been active in the West Bank prior to 1967. Those groups, which include the Red Cross and several Christian organizations, were registered with the Jordanian authorities.

The new move by the Interior Ministry is the latest in a series of steps taken in the last few years to constrain the movement of foreign nationals in the West Bank and Gaza, including Palestinians with family and property in the occupied territories. Most of those who have been effected are nationals of countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations, especially Western states. Israel does not apply any similar constraints on citizens of the same countries traveling within Israel and West Bank settlements.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the only relevant authority empowered to approve the stay of foreign citizens in the Palestinian Authority is the coordinator of government activities in the territories. “The Interior Ministry is entrusted with granting visas and work permits within the State of Israel. Those staying within both the boundaries of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are required to secure their permits accordingly,” the ministry said.

“Recently, a question was raised on the issue of visas granted to those staying in the Palestinian Authority and in Israel, as it transpired that they spend most of their time in the PA despite having been provided with Israeli work permits,” the statement continued. “The matter is under intense discussions, with the active participation of the relevant military authorities, with a view to finding the right and appropriate solution as soon as possible.”


3. Israel silences political protest

JERUSALEM - ISRAEL is arresting a growing number of prominent opponents to its policies toward the Palestinians, say critics who are accusing the government of trying to crush legitimate dissent.

In the most high-profile case yet, Jerusalem police detained the leader of a leading Israeli human rights group during a vigil against the eviction of Palestinian families whose homes were taken by Jewish settlers. Since the summer, dozens of Palestinian and Israeli activists have been picked up, including those organizing weekly protests against Israel’s West Bank separation barrier as well as others advocating international boycotts of Israeli goods. Some of the Palestinians were released without charge only after weeks and months of questioning.

The arrests come at a time of shifting tactics in the protests against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and annexation of east Jerusalem, territories the Palestinians want for their future state. Israel captured both from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war. The main protest efforts are Friday demonstrations against the West Bank barrier in the Palestinian villages of Bilin and Naalin and vigils in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah, where Palestinians have been evicted. There appears to be an increased police crackdown on the protests with greater numbers of activists being arrested. In the West Bank, troops fire tear gas, stun grenades, and live rounds to disperse anti-barrier protesters. Israel says the protests are illegal, and the harsh tactics are a response to stone-throwing and violent rioting. In east Jerusalem, police have arrested some 70 demonstrators during marches in recent months, according to Israeli rights groups. — AP

source: straits times

news from africa, land of valuable minerals with poor people living on top

1. US and Morocco to work on common interests

The Moroccan government, chaired by the Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, met the US Congress Delegation, led by Senator Jude Gregg, on Tuesday in Rabat to discuss their common interests and bilateral relations. The meeting shed light mainly on three issues: Morocco’s territorial integrity, the Palestinian cause, and the bilateral cooperation between the United States and Morocco. Both sides agreed on the importance to advance forward the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement that was signed in 2004.

read more @ newstime africa

2. as US piles pressure on Morocco, Dadis Camera’s future becomes uncertain

The United States Government recently sent a high powered delegation including Johnny Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, to try and influence the Moroccan government to stop the Guinean President Dadis Camara from returning to Guinea. The delegation also seized the opportunity to hold talks with Guinea’s Interim Leader and Minister of Defence, Sekouba Konate who was in Rabat to do an assessment of the leaders medical condition. Western diplomats in Rabat expressed confidence in the Moroccan administration and said they believe Rabat will join hands with them to keep Camara away from Guinea and bolster efforts in Conakry to return the country to a civilian government….Sekouba Conate is keen to present a clean image to the International Community and indeed to the Guinean people. Whether this is an attempt to camouflage his true intentions to become leader in any future administration is yet to be discovered….Possible opposition candidates for prime minister in a transitional government are Jean Marie Dore, Francois Lonceny Fall and Sidya Toure. Dore hails from Guinea’s Forestiere region where Dadis Camara also comes from and home to several minority ethnic groups that have long felt under-represented in power.

read more @ newstime africa

3. UN warns of “potential threat” by unconstitutional changes in West Africa

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — The resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government and undemocratic practices in West Africa constitutes a potential threat to sub regional peace and stability, according to a UN report released on Wednesday….Also last month, President Moussa Dadis Camara survived an assassination attempt, which led to further violence and human rights abuses by security forces, the secretary-general said. He warned that the “deteriorating” situation in Guinea could jeopardize the fragile peace processes underway in the nation’s Mano River Basin neighbors — Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and threaten the stability of the greater subregion.

…To tackle the threat posed by drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime, Ban stressed the need to enhance UNOWA’s police capacity.  There has been a decline in seizures of narcotics at European airports on flights originating in West Africa. However, that is not necessarily a result of a dip in trafficking, but rather due to a “tactical repositioning” by traffickers, who are no longer using the region only as a transit point.   Traffickers, he said, may be trying to produce narcotics in West Africa, constituting “a most alarming trend and a potentially serious destabilizing factor and threat to West African populations.”

read more @ chinaview

4. Somalia’s ambassador to Djibouti dies

The Somali embassy in Djibouti has confirmed Thursday morning that ambassador Muse Hussein Fahiye has perished at a hospital here in Djibouti last night at about 10:00 PM local time. Deputy ambassador Abdurahman Mohamed Hirabe told reporters at the embassy building this morning that after three days of illness Fahiye died last night and will be buried in Djibouti later on the day. “He was in his late 50s and was appointed as Somali ambassador to Djibouti in December 2008 by the former Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed”Hirabe said during a press conference Thursday….Djibouti which is a brother nation of Somalia is one of the few countries which have embassies in Somalia’s lawless capital Mogadishu and since Somalia descended into chaos Djibouti was a leading nation in the peace making efforts and reconciliation to end political disagreements and create a functioning central government in Somalia.

can’t have that… - ed.

source: newstime africa

5. Zimbabwe auctions 300,000 diamond carats from controversial fields — at airport

About 300 000 diamond carats from the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields are to be auctioned in a first formal trade of the precious mineral since Government moved in to normalise mining at the minefields. Mbanda Diamonds Mining, a firm authorized by government to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa is conducting the auction at the newly converted diamond processing facility at the Airport.

“International diamond buyers from as far as the Americas, Europe and Asia have already started arriving for today’s sales, which are expected to run for the next three days,” said Robert Mhlanga, Mbanda’s chairman.

The Zimbabwean government would earn 75 percent of the total sales revenue through a 50 percent weekly dividend, a 10 percent royalty fee, 15 percent taxation and a five percent resource depletion fee. “In order to ensure maximum security and compliance with the Kimberly Process, the first consignment of the diamonds on sale were airlifted from Chiadzwa diamond fields under guard from the police”, said Mhlanga.

International community has been extensively lobbying for a ban on Zimbabwe diamonds, claiming human rights abuses. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights claim that about 5,000 people were arrested during the army operation, with three quarters of them showing signs of having been tortured severely.

Also the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which shares the unity government with Zanu-PF, claimed that hundreds of people were buried in mass graves “to hide the regime’s (Zanu-PF) murderous activities,” and that the soldiers sent to ’guard’ the fields had become illegal diamond dealers themselves. During a visit by Kimberly Process (the regulatory body tasked with ending the global trade in conflict diamonds) last year to investigate the reports of rights abuses, the team met with a key witness, Chief Newman Chiadzwa. Chiadzwa offered up testimonies and eye witness accounts of beatings, torture and even murders at the hands of the military controlling the diamond fields. He also detailed how he had been arrested and harassed before the Kimberley Process delegation’s visit.

read more @

6. oh look, over there, South Sudan — lots of poor people and NGOs struggling — time to “internationalize” the situation, that always works. NOT.

LONDON - Christian and Animist southern Sudan could descend into a new war unless the world community takes action to salvage peace there, aid agencies warned Thursday.  The 10 agencies said a lethal combination of rising violence, crippling poverty and political tensions has left the peace deal close to collapse.”It is not yet too late to avert disaster, but the next 12 months are a crossroads for Africa’s largest country,” said the report’s co-author, Maya Mailer, from Oxfam.  “Last year saw a surge in violence in southern Sudan. This could escalate even further and become one of the biggest emergencies in Africa in 2010,” she added.

read more @ middle east online

coming soon, maybe already here: the US radical

1. Anwar al-Awlaki: translator of jihad

The obvious, but it must be stated, is al-Qaeda’s aim to raise its profile abroad. Every bit as important is the necessity to raise its stature with followers and potential followers in the US. Central to this strategy is the rise of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen of Yemeni descent now based in that country. Awlaki’s life in the US is well documented. Notable are his close associations with September 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Hani Hanjour. Most recent is Awlaki’s relationship with Major Nidal Hasan, the alleged assassin at the US military base at Fort Hood, Texas, begun at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in northern Virginia and continued via e-mail from Yemen.

Of prime importance to al-Qaeda is Awlaki’s extensive understanding of US politics, culture and mores earned by a highly intelligent, highly educated, keenly articulate man.

…Metro Detroit is home to the two largest mosques in the US, built in a Muslim community of a density with no equal in that country. Al-Qaeda’s plan, if successful, seems designed to exacerbate already evident frictions between Muslims and the FBI in the Detroit Metro and more widely between the US Muslim community and the FBI.…It is unclear whether Awlaki survived a December 24 air strike on an al-Qaeda hideout in the mountains of Yemen’s Shabwah region. In any case, Yemen looks now to be too hot for him. Awlaki may be on the move to Somalia or Pakistan. All that is necessary to accomplish his role could be as little as a laptop, a video camera, Internet access and a prayer rug.

more here:

2. and as previously noted, they expect something like this in the “jewish homeland”

Other than Hizbullah, Israel is concerned that al-Qaida is trying to recruit Europeans and Americans who have been indoctrinated with radical Islamic ideology to carry out attacks inside the Jewish state, the newspaper added.

3. Jordan disputes bomber’s ID

THE Jordanian official said Balawi had been interrogated by intelligence officers ‘around a year ago because of suspicions about his activities, but the probe found nothing and he was freed.

‘Humam left Jordan and traveled to Pakistan to continue medical studies that he had begun in Turkey. From Pakistan, he contacted the Jordanian authorities by e-mail and provided security information of extreme value that allowed (us) to abort terrorist operations that would have threatened the security of Jordan.’ He added that contact had been maintained with Balawi ‘in the interest of the security of Jordan.’

Friends close to the family said Balawi was born in Kuwait to a Palestinian family, which moved to Jordan following the Iraqi invasion of the Gulf emirate in 1990. They said he married a Turkish woman in the town of Tonya, where he was studying medicine, and that the couple has two children. AFP spoke to a sister, Hanan, but she declined to answer any questions. — AFP

AMMAN - A SENIOR Jordanian official said on Tuesday there was no proof that Jordanian Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi was, as has been claimed, the suicide bomber who killed eight people at a CIA base in Afghanistan.

‘There is no proof that Humam was actually the author of the attack, especially given that Taleban websites claim that it was an Afghan,’ said the official who declined to be identified. He added that Balawi had provided Jordanian intelligence with valuable information, but did not say whether he was still alive….The Jordanian intelligence services, believing the bomber to be their double agent, took him to eastern Afghanistan with the mission of finding Al-Qaeda number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the websites and Western intelligence agents cited by US media said. But instead he blew himself up at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province near the Pakistani border, killing seven CIA agents and his Jordanian handler, a top intelligence officer and member of the royal family. — AFP

source: straits times

4. he was an al qaeda TRIPLE agent (yeah, yeah…)

A suicide bomber who killed eight people at a CIA base in Afghanistan was an al-Qaida triple agent who duped Western intelligence services for months before turning on his handlers, jihadist websites boasted on Tuesday…Western diplomats said that the revelation of Jordanian involvement in a U.S. intelligence operation in Afghanistan was a blow for the Amman government.

“Jordan is likely to be embarrassed by the fact that Captain Ali’s death has revealed its cooperation with the CIA, which is not going to go down well with a predominantly anti-American public opinion,” one Western diplomat told AFP.

read more @ naharnet

5. “successful” security op kills two relatives, wounds three others, in capture of big AQ honcho, now the embassies can reopen oh thank god

Mohammed al-Hanq had evaded arrest on Monday during a security force raid in Arhab, 40 kilometres north of Sanaa, in which two of his relatives were killed and three other people wounded. He was arrested on Wednesday, along with two others who were wounded in the attack, at a hospital in the province of Amran, north of Sanaa, a security official said.

The US embassy, followed by the British and the French missions, had closed over security concerns prompted by fears of an Al-Qaeda threat against foreign interests just days after a failed attack on a US airliner claimed by the Al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen.

The US mission cited ’successful’ security operations north of the capital as it reopened for business on Tuesday, saying that Yemeni security forces had addressed a ’specific area of concern’ the previous day - thought to be a reference to the crackdown on Hanq’s group.

read more @ straits times

6. Iran tells Iranians not to talk to strangers  — here are the tools used to drive the psychological operations against Iran and AGAINST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. of course they will spin this as hysteria and paranoia, but this is a good list. the Iranians do not imagine it, and if you think they do, you been listening to people on this list:

1. Soros Foundation — Open Society

2. Woodrow Wilson Center
3. Freedom House
4. National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
5. National Democratic Institute (NDI)

6. International Republican Institute (IRI)
7. Institute for Democracy in East Europe (EEDI)
8. Democracy Center in East Europe (CDEE)
9. Ford Foundation
10. Rockefeller Brothers Foundation
11. Hoover Institute at Stanford University
12. Hivos Foundation, Netherlands
13. Menas, U.K.
14. United Nations Association (USA)
15. Carnegie Foundation
16. Wilton Park, U.K.
17. Search for Common Ground (SFCG)
18. Population Council
19. Washington Institute for Near East Policy
20. Aspen Institute
21. American Enterprise Institute
22. New America Foundation
23. Smith Richardson Foundation
24. German Marshall Fund (US, Germany and Belgium)
25. International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
26. Abdolrahman Boroumand Foundation
27. Yale University
28. Meridian Center
29. Foundation for Democracy in Iran
30. International Republican Institute [again --- see 6]
31. National Democratic Institute [again --- see 5]
32. American Initiative Institute (?)
33. Institute of Democracy in Eastern Europe
34. American Aid Center (?)
35. International Trade Center
36. American Center for International Labor Solidarity
37. International Center for Democracy Transfer
38. Community of Democracies (?)
39. Albert Einstein Institute
40. Global Movement for Democracy
41. The Democratic Youth Network
42. Democracy Information and Communication Technology Group
43. International Movement of Parliamentarians for Democracy
44. ???
45. RIGA Institute
46. The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School
47. Council on Foreign Relations
48. Foreign Policy Committee, Germany
49. Middle East Media Research Institute (described as an Israeli institute)
50. Centre for Democracy Studies, U.K.
51. Meridian Institute [again --- see 28]
52. Yale University and all its affiliates [again --- see 27]
53. National Defense University, U.S.
54. Iran Human Rights Documentation Center
55. American Center FLENA (active in Central Asia)
56. Committee on the Present Danger
57. Brookings Institution
58. Saban Center, Brookings Institution
59. Human Rights Watch