Saturday, September 7, 2019

Iran activates advanced centrifuges in third upgrade of atomic program

Anti-aircfat gun guarding Natanz (Photo Wikipedia)

Iran has begun injecting gas into advanced centrifuges to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium, an official has announced, warning that time is running out for other signatories to save a multilateral 2015 nuclear deal.
In the meantime negotiations are still underway between France and Iran about a loan of some $ 15 billion, in order to truy to svae the nuclear deal (see below)
Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, said on Saturday the agency had started up advanced centrifuges at Iran's enrichment facility in Natanz as the third step by Tehran in scaling back its commitments under the crumbling pact following the United States' unilateral withdrawal last year.
"We have started lifting limitations on our research and development imposed by the deal ... it will include development of more rapid and advanced centrifuges," Kamalvandi said.
"The capacity of these machines is many times more than the previous machines. This started as of yesterday (Friday)," he continued, adding that "all these steps are reversible if the other side fulfils its promises".
In two separate moves already, Iran reduced its commitments outlined in the crumbling deal and vowed further measures unless the European signatories of the pact did more to shield Tehran's economy.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sudanese sign deal between military and opposition

The agreement is signed (via Twitter)

Sudan's main opposition coalition and the ruling military council have formally signed a final power-sharing deal, paving the way for a transition to a civilian-led government.
The landmark agreement signed on Saturday in the capital Khartoum came after a long period of negotiations following the overthrow of longtime leader President Omar al-Bashir in the wake of mass protests.
The deal was inked between Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chief of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), and Ahmed al-Rabie, who represented the Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella group. The ceremony was attended by heads of states, prime ministers and dignitaries from several countries, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
The power-sharing deal creates a joint military and civilian sovereign council to rule for a little over three years until elections can be held.
Under the agreement, a military leader would head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18. It would also establish a cabinet appointed by the activists and a legislative body.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Takeover of Aden by separatists weakens the front against the Houthis

Separatists celebrate the takeover of Aden 

A Southern Yemeni organisation that seeks the secession (or autonomy) of South Yemen, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) on after four days of fighting on Saturday took effective control of various parts of Aden. With vehicles donated by the United Arab Emirates and without meeting too much resistance as it seems, they took over military camps, the home of the interior minister and the almost-empty presidential palace where guards agreed to leave without a fight. Forty people were killed in the fighting and 260 were wounded.
STC leader Aidarous al-Zubaidi on Sunday said in a televised appearance the council was committed to a ceasefire called by Saudi Arabia, and said the separatists were willing to attend a meeting called by Riyadh a day earlier. He added they were also willing to work with the Saudi-UAE-led military coalition battling Yemen's Houthi rebels. On the surface the front against the Houthis seems to remains intact in this way, but the real significance of the take over lies in the fact that a serious split between the two main components of the anti-Houthi-front came into the open in this way: the Saudis who back the officially recognized Yemeni governement of Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi at the one hand and the United Arab Emirates who support the STC at the other.
The two countries have been fighting the Houthis the last five years with the backing by the US and Great Britain among others in a war that has cost ttrens of thousands of lives and had brought hunger and destruction. It hasn t brought them nearer a victory however. The Sauedis mainly bombed fro the air, the UAE had his troups in the South, but recentl;u announced that it is going to withdraw them. That gae the STC the opportunity to take over Aden.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Trump increases the tension with new sanctions on Iran

Pompeo, Trump and Bolton (Photo State Department/Public Domain)

US President Trump on Monday signed an order for new sanctions aggainst Iran that target the supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei and commanders of several military units. The order came af the downing by Iran of an American drone, that according to the US was in international airspace, but according to Iran flew above Iranian territory. The American measures are not only a way of retaliation, they also want to force Iran to hold talks about its nuclear policy and missile program, after America nullified the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement that five world powers in 2015 concluded with  Iran.
Secretary Mnuchin of the Treasur Department said that apart from Khamenei senior commanders of eight Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces of the Revolutionaru Guards Corps were hit by the sanctions. He also said that Foreign Minister Javad Sharif would be targeted next week. The accounts of Khameni and the commaners have been blocked and they cannot make use of American financial nsystesm anymore. According to Mnuchin's Treasury ''these commanders sit atop bureaucracy that supervices malicious reguional activities, including its provocative ballistic missile program, harassment and sabotage of commercial vessels in in ternational waters and its destabilizing presence in Syria''.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

For second time Erdogan's AKP looses the election for mayor of Istanbul

(Photo The Pessoptimist)

The candidate of the Republican People's Party (CHP) on Sunday won the second ballot during the election of the mayor of Istanbul.   After 95% of the votes had been counted, the candidate of the governing AK Party of  Recep Tayip Erdogan conceded he lost. ''According to the result as of now, my competitor Ekrem Imamoglu is leading the race. I congratulate him and wish him good luck," Binali Yildirim said. The CHP had more than 53% of the vote at that moment, while the AKP candidate reached 534,4 percent.
De win of the CHP in Istanbul election ends the 17 year rule by the AK Party in Turkey's largest city and commercial hub. The Istanbul mayoral election was first held on March 31. At that vtime Imamoglu won with 48.8 percent of the vote, while the AK Party's Yildirim got 48.55 percent, so that Imamoglu became mayor with a very small margin. But at the instigation of president Erdogan the AKP contested the results, which had the consequence that the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) annulled the results on dispututede grounds and scheduled a rerun.

Friday, June 21, 2019

U.S. almost attacked Iranian targets after downing of American drone

Iranian media showed the trajectory of the drone according to Tehran, after it took off from the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching attacks, US media reports said on Friday. Citing senior White House officials.
 The New York Times reported an operation sanctioned by Trump to launch attacks on a "handful of Iranian targets" - including radar and missile batteries - was "in its early stages" on Thursday evening when the US leader changed tack and called it off.
Planes and ships were already underway when the order to stand down came, the Times cited one unidentified administration official as saying. The Washington Post and ABC News also reported the developments, citing unnamed White House officials and other sources said to be familiar with the matter. The White House declined to comment on the reports.
On Friday, Iran's foreign ministry said Tehran had "indisputable" evidence that the aircraft violated its airspace. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner, whose country represents US interests in Iran, of the evidence on Thursday night, the ministry said in a statement. "Even some parts of the drone's wreckage has been retrieved from Iran's territorial waters," Araghchi said. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gave the exact coordinates where he said the drone was shot down.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hundreds of Jewish scholars protest resignation director Jewish Museum Berlin

A group of 45 academic Talmud scholars has signed a letter in support of Peter Schäfer, the former director of the Berlin Jewish Museum who resigned last week amid criticism of a tweet linking to a pro-Israel boycott story.
Prof. Peter Schäfer
Such a letter is unprecedented among the Talmudist community, which  tends to shy away from commenting on current affairs, said Ishay Rosen Zvi, a Talmud professor at Tel Aviv University who co-organized the letter with a Princeton University Talmud professor, Moulie Vidas.
separate letter signed by a broader group of Jewish studies scholars protested “that the reputation of a scholar devoted to Judaism would be smeared in public.” That letter has 300 signatures.
The Talmudists’ letter states that all its signatories, who hold a range of views on Israel and the movement to boycott it, are “united in our profound admiration for Prof. Schäfer.” It calls him “one of the main pillars in the field” of Talmudic studies.

Former Egyptian president Morsi most probably died because of neglect

This is a picture of Mohamed Morsi, the tragic, democratically elected former president of Egypt, who died two days ago in a Cairo courtroom. The way he died give room to the suspicion that his death was de cause of medical nneglect. During his uninterrupted stay in prison since his demise, he has been in solitary confinement and has seen his family only a few times. The former president suffered from diabetes, hypertension, and liver disease and human rights organizations (and British parliamentarians among others), complained several times that he did not get medical attention and that because of that his life was in danger.
On top of that he British newspapaer The Independent, reveals that it took at least 20 minutes after other detainees alarmed the guards that Morsi had collapsed, before he was taken out of the cage in the court house, and another half hour before an ambulance took him to a hospital.
Morsi has been buried yesterday in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City, against the wishes of his family, who wanted him to be buried in the family grave in the governorate of Sharqiyya. Only ten people were allowed to attend. The newsmedia in Egypt did not even mention that he has been the president.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Egypt adopts constitutional amendments that allow al-Sisi to stay on till 2030

As expected the referendum about the changes to the Egyptian constitution of 2014 turned out to be a yes-vote. On Tuesdat the final results after three days of voting showed that the proposed amendments to the country’s 2014 constitution received a support of 88.8 per cent. Only 11.1 per cent, or 2,9 million voters, voted no to the amendments. The turn out was rather low, only 27.2 million participated in the poll, a turn out of 44.3 per cent of the 61.5 million eligible voters, even though there had been stories that poor voters had been lured to the voting boots with food packages and other presents.
The major significance of the “yes” vote is that the amendments will extend Egypt’s sitting president, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi's term by two years, from 2022 to 2024.President al-Sisi will also be allowed in 2024 to run for another — and final — six-year term. Others who wish to compete in 2024 also will have the chance to run two times. Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi, leader of the parliamentary majority, the Support Egypt coalition, explained that the “Members of Parliament decided to give Al-Sisi a chance to run for another six-year term beyond 2024 in appreciation of his role in helping the Egyptian people in 2013 get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood regime and restore stability.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Saudi Arabia executes 37 men on one day

Saudi Arabia executed 37 people on Tuesday after they had been sentenced to death for terrorism-related crimes.The executions were announced in a statement on the state-run news agency, which said the men had been put to death for “their adoption of extremist, terrorist ideology and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disturb security, spread chaos and cause sectarian discord.”
Some of the men had been involved in bomb attacks on security headquarters that had killed officers, the agency said.
It listed the 37 men by name but provided little information about what crimes they had committed or when. They include 11 men who were convicted of spying for Iran and sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial. At least 14 others  were convicted of violent offences related to their participation in anti-government demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a majority Eastern Province between 2011 and 2012.The 14 men were subjected to prolonged pre-trial detention and told the court that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated during their interrogation in order to have ‘confessions’ extracted from them. One of  them was only 16 when he was arrested, said Amnesty International.
Most executions in Saudi Arabia are done by beheading in a public square.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sudan struggles with disunity in the military and division between the military and civilians

Nasserist Party Member Satei al-Hajj, flanked by a communist and a Baathist, at a press conference., Saturday afternoon by the Sudanese opposition parties.(Photo Mada Masr)

Mada Masr, the leftist internet newssite, has some interesting background about the change of power in Sudan. Based on information from Sudanese military and opposition sources, plus Egyptian anonymous authorities, it reports about the fast demise of Awad Ibn Auf, the minister of Defence,  and his deputy Kamal Abdel Marouf after they had taken over command from Sudan's leader for about 30 years, Omar al-Bashir. Also the head of the National Intelligence and Security Services,Salah Gosh, another figure closely tied to Bashir’s regime, resigned Saturday evening.
All three stepped down within 24 hours after Ibn Auf had taken power. And although the Defense minister did not indicate why he was stepping down, two military sources in Khartoum told Mada Masr that his removal was the result of broad disagreements within the senior ranks of the Armed Forces, that also led to direct confrontations between armed groups. Many changes and conspiracies emerged within the army in the past few days, according to Mada Masr, leading to clashes between the Armed Forces and security units, which have left large numbers of dead on both sides. Mada Masr's source source added that the conflicts were on several fronts: first divisions between the Islamist militias and the armed forces and second the junior officers in one camp and senior army officers in another.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Army seizes power in Sudan, Omar al-Bashir imprisoned

Omar al-Bashir
Sudan's armed forces have overthrown and arrested President Omar al-Bashir after months of protests against his nearly 30-year rule. In a statement on Thursday, General Awad Ibn Auf said al-Bashir was taken to a "safe place". He also announced the formation of a military-led transitional government, which will rule for two years.
"The armed forces will take power, '' said  Ibn Auf, the country's vice president and defence minister.He declared a three-month state of emergency and the suspension of the 2005 Constitution, as well the closure of Sudan's airspace for 24 hours and of border crossings until further notice.
All of Sudan's government's institutions, including the National Assembly and national council of ministers, have been dissolved, Ibn Auf added, assuring that Sudan would soon prepare for "free and fair" elections.
Ibn Auf's announcement came against the backdrop of a sixth successive day of anti-government protests outside Sudan's headquarters in the capital, Khartoum. Demonstrators have staged a mass sit-inoutside the complex to call for the army to support their bid to see al-Bashir peacefully removed from power.