Archive for category International

In A Time Of War and Recession, Ukraine’s Independence Is more Important than Ever

Katya Soldak
Forbes
8/23/2014

Today Ukraine commemorates its 23rd year of independence from the Soviet Union as the military conflict in the East continues and NATO has confirmed that Russian artillery units are firing on Ukrainian forces inside Ukraine.

This Independence Day sees the country in pretty rough shape—fighting off Russian aggression while watching its economy contract 4.7% in the first quarter of this year. But despite all negatives, the country celebrates its Independence with a newly discovered sense of self and readiness to fight for its freedom fiercely.

This Sunday Kyiv will hold a military parade in Khreshchatyk, in the center of Ukraine’s capital’s and the cradle of winter’s revolution known to the world as Maidan.

The parade itself evokes mixed feelings in the Ukrainian public as the country mobilizes all its resources for what the government calls an “anti-terrorist operation” in Donbass and what to many citizens looks like a real war, with casualties and wounded, with the separatists armed with Russian weapons and Russian artillery operating inside Ukraine. The idea of holding a parade in such a time was criticized as unnecessary pomposity. But the president Petro Poroshenko, as well as his army commanders, decided to hold the parade anyway to demonstrate military capability and to lift the army’s spirit. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why did Islamic State militants execute James Foley? (+video)

By Howard LaFranchi
Christian Science Monitor
August 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — The video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley features a black-robed Islamic State militant claiming – in British-accented English – that the execution is in retribution for recent US air strikes against IS forces in Iraq.

The video also shows another prone and bound captured American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and issues a warning that he will suffer the same fate if the US pursues its military campaign against fighters for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

But while the IS militants who made and disseminated the gruesome video may have aimed on one level to halt the US air strikes, experts in Islamist terrorism and its messaging say the group had a range of objectives and audiences in mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Minister, who really is ISIS?

KJ John
Malaysiakini
Aug 19, 2014

Malaysia is not an Islamic state or a Muslim nation-state, but a Muslim-majority country which is well regarded by most of the world for our unity-style moderate government and our consistent principled stand on global issues; within the larger paradigm and context of a Muslim world which appears often confused or inconsistent on universal issues and values; mostly internal but some global inaction as well.

While it is not my purpose to highlight any failures of our Foreign Affairs Ministry, we have to manage Malaysia’s reputation which had been put on a global scale which is still much respected for our principled position, as exemplified by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, especially on the issue of a racist South Africa.

Today however, we appear somewhat inconsistent in a number of foreign policy issues and global actions. For example, for me it is still not very clear if and whether the government of Malaysia did pay a few hundred millions for the release of our cockpit recorders for the downed MH17. Is then negotiating with International terrorists’ part of our new foreign policy?

For another instance, we have not ratified many international agreements and conventions; can the minister please explain the delay especially since we are now fighting so hard to sit not only on the UN Human Rights Council but also seeking to occupy one of the UN Security Council’s non-veto seat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State persecution of Yazidi minority amounts to genocide, UN says

By Jane Arraf, Correspondent
AUGUST 7, 2014
Christian Science Monitor

Tens of thousands of Yazidis have taken refuge on a mountain in Sinjar province after Islamic State fighters overran their town and other areas, pushing out Kurdish paramilitary forces.

BAGHDAD — Sunni Arab militants in northern Iraq are hunting down and killing large numbers of minority Yazidis, acts which amount to genocide, according to a senior United Nations official.

On Sunday, fighters from the self-declared Islamic State overran the city of Sinjar, part of a widening offensive that on Thursday saw IS take control of other Christian and Yzedi towns on the Nineveh plains. According to UN officials and Yazidi elders, the militants have killed hundreds of Yazidis, a secretive faith with pre-Islamic roots. Others have been taken as slaves. Tens of thousands have taken refuge on Sinjar Mountain, their traditional refuge over centuries of persecution, and are appealing for emergency aid.

Unlike Christians, who have been told they must either pay a religious tax or convert to Islam to avoid death, the Yazidis are considered by Sunni militants to be infidels who deserve extermination.

“We believe that what they have done may be classified as genocide and a crime against humanity,” Gyorgy Busztin, the deputy special representative in Iraq of the UN secretary general, tells the Christian Science Monitor. “Regrettably the information indicates that they are not even given the choice of life or conversion but they are being treated as a group to be eliminated from the face of the earth.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama’s Malaysia Test

Bridget Welsh
Project Syndicate

APR 25, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR – When Barack Obama lands in Malaysia this weekend, his two-day stopover will be the first visit by a US president since 1966. Unfortunately, human rights will probably not be on the agenda. Even as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s government pursues yet another politically motivated case against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the United States, by refusing to schedule a meeting with Anwar, has signaled that it will not stand up for justice in Malaysia.

In fact, the Obama administration has refused to treat Malaysia like a normal country and engage leaders from all sides – a stance that has emboldened Najib to move against Anwar, whose coalition received a higher proportion of the popular vote in the May 2013 election than Obama did in the 2012 US election. And the many serious challenges to human rights and governance in Malaysia do not end with politicized convictions of opposition leaders. Just days after Obama declared last October that Malaysia was a model of “diversity and tolerance,” Malaysian authorities denied non-Muslims the right to use the word “Allah” in the practice of their own faiths – a decision condemned throughout the Muslim world for its negative portrayal of Islam.

Moreover, members of Najib’s government endorse hudud, a class of penalties within sharia law that could imply strict limitations on Muslims’ right to choose how they practice their faith. According to the US State Department’s own human-rights reports, curbs on religious freedoms have included demolition of Hindu temples, bombings of Christian churches, and a ban on the practice of Shia Islam, to which some 15% of the world’s Muslims adhere. Likewise, according to the Pew Research Center, Najib’s government has “very high” restrictions on religious freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

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British PM David Cameron meets Tamils in Jaffna; Sri Lanka fumes at CHOGM

The Times of India
AFP | Nov 15, 2013

COLOMBO: Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron made an historic visit Friday to Sri Lanka’s former warzone, stealing the spotlight from a Commonwealth summit after the host, President Mahinda Rajapakse, warned against passing judgment on his country’s past.

Only hours after the summit opened in Colombo, Cameron flew into the northern Jaffna region where some 100,000 people lost their lives in fighting between Tamil rebels and troops from the majority Sinhalese government.

Several women who lost relatives during the war tried to hurl themselves in front of Cameron’s motorcade as he became the first foreign leader to visit Jaffna since the former British colony gained independence in 1948.

Clutching photos of their missing loved ones, they screamed “We Want Justice” before the premier sped away.

He later toured the offices of a Tamil newspaper whose printing presses have been torched several times, including in April this year, and which has lost five staff in attacks since Rajapakse came to power in 2005.

“This is going to make a very lasting impression on me. That is something you don’t forget,” Cameron told journalists at “Uthayan” (Sun) daily where the portraits of slain staff line the walls.

“But it’s only when you see it with your own eyes, it really brings home just how much you’re suffering.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama’s victory of hope over hate

by Bridget Welsh
Malaysiakini
Nov 8, 2012

COMMENT

When the presidential election was finally called, the results confirmed what most people expected – Barack Obama was returned to office for another four years.

It was not quite the nail-biter the media hyped it up to be, but there certainly were moments of uncertainty and anxiety on both sides.

In terms of the popular vote, Obama’s margin was extremely slim, although the electoral college system gave him a comfortable margin as he picked up the key swing states, including Florida (where I voted).

The election had a record turnout as Americans took their right to vote seriously (with some queuing for hours) and the process carefully monitored by observers.

The US 2012 election offers some simple lessons on understanding electoral behaviour and what can deliver political victory in close contests. Read the rest of this entry »

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9 takeaways from 2012 election

By Politico
NewJersey.Com
Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day is finally here.

And even though neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has been declared a winner yet, there are some things that will still hold true no matter which candidate wins the White House tonight — or in the wee hours of the morning.

Here are POLITICO’s nine takeaways from the 2012 campaign:

1. Luck matters — a lot

Obama has assembled some of the best field operatives around. His team has run the gauntlet before, prepared a ground game for five years, had a basic playbook for the 2012 cycle and (mostly) stuck to it. Obama’s natural skills as a politician are far better than Romney’s. The auto bailout helped Obama maintain what has been a small but consistent polling lead in critical states like Ohio.

And yet a little bit of luck goes an awfully long way. For all his troubles throughout his term, Obama caught some needed breaks. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Golden opportunity to make a stand on war crimes lost’

By Tarani Palani
June 16, 2011 | Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Parliament lost a ‘golden opportunity’ to enhance its standing in the international community when a motion to discuss Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s visit to Malaysia was rejected, said an opposition MP.

Ipoh Barat MP, M Kulasegaran said it would have given MPs an opportunity to show “displeasure at world leaders who abuse their citizens and have scant respect for the rule of law”.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in the war-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur, where about 300,000 people have died since 2003. Read the rest of this entry »

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