An important read for anyone following escalations on the peninsula.
The US military plans to set up a base for drones in northwest Africa to bolster surveillance of al-Qaida’s affiliate in the region as well as allied Islamist extremists, a US official told AFP on Monday.
The base for the robotic, unmanned aircraft would likely be located in Niger, on the eastern border of Mali, where French forces are currently waging a campaign against al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
If the plan gets the green light, up to 300 US military service members and contractors could be sent to the base to operate the drone aircraft, according to the New York Times.
US Africa Command was also looking at an alternative location for the base in Burkina Faso, the official said.
The United States and Niger signed a status of forces agreement Monday, which will provide legal safeguards for any American forces in the country. The Pentagon secures such agreements for base arrangements or troop deployments.
As news emerged of the planned drone base, the Wall Street Journal reported that US military and intelligence officials were weighing plans to provide French fighter aircraft with sophisticated data to help them hunt down militants in Mali.
President Barack Obama’s administration waited for more than two weeks before agreeing to offer aerial refueling tankers to the French forces, amid concerns among some advisers that assisting the French could draw the United States into an open-ended conflict.
The Obama administration has also provided transport planes to help ferry French weapons and troops and to share intelligence with Paris from surveillance aircraft, including reportedly unmanned Global Hawk spy planes.
As if this global trend seems to ever end….
Tunisia: Murder most foul
Assassination of opposition leader Shokri Belaid highlights a string of beatings and killings since country’s uprising.Yasmine Ryan Last Modified: 07 Feb 2013 14:46
Tunisians of all political stripes are in shock after the killing of Shokri Belaid, leader of the Democratic Patriots
Of all the political turmoil the country has experienced since the 2010-11 uprising, the slaying of the leftist politician - a well-known opposition figure and vocal critic of the ruling coalition - marks a new low.
The resulting crisis has led to the collapse of the government, and could potentially doom the election that was set to take place later this year.
Many say the killing is unsurprising, and that the Islamist-led government bears a heavy responsibility for tolerating and fuelling a deep partisan divide and a culture of political violence.
A star of the Popular Front, a leftist political alliance of which his party is a member, Belaid had many supporters among those who accused the current government of failing to deliver on social justice and economic development.
He was a figurehead of the protests in Siliana last November, when tensions over unemployment and stalling economic progress erupted. Ali Laarayedh, Tunisia’s interior minister, accused Belaid of inciting the protesters against the police. Belaid in turn said the interior ministry was guilty of tyranny.
Belaid, a lawyer and activist, had also been at the forefront of the early lawyer’s protests in December 2010, which grew to become the uprising that toppled the Tunisian government in January 2011. The Ennahdha movement and most of the country’s opposition parties did not give the uprising their explicit backing until the last days.
Wednesday’s shooting is the second suspected killing of an opposition politician since the uprising, and one of many violent attacks.
n October, Lotfi Naqdh - a regional leader of the secularist conservative Nida Tounes Party - was beaten to death in the southern town of Tatouine. His death followed an outbreak of violence between his party and government supporters, the first big flare-up of interparty violence.
The government claimed he died of a heart attack, but an autopsy last week confirmed that Naqdh had died as a result of lynching at the hands of government supporters. Said Chebli, the head of the Tatouine branch of Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution is one of the people implicated in Naqdh’s killing.
Ali Fares, a MP of the ruling Ennahdha party, called on Thursday for Chebli and other suspects in the mob lynching to be released. “These people came out into the streets for the noble cause of defending the revolution, and instead of paying them homage, they have been incarcerated,” Fares declared.
Many opposition parties, human rights groups and activists have called for the dissolution of the leagues, which some compare to militia groups. Belaid was among these critics, arguing that the groups were reinforcing a deep partisan divide and trying to assert ownership over what the revolution meant.
For its part, Ennahdha argues they are a counterforce against its secular opponents, particularly the UGTT, the mighty national union. Members of the league were accused of attacking the UGTT headquarters last December.
The media, viewed by many government supporters as being anti-Islamist, have also been targeted. At a protest against the country’s media in Sousse in December, for instance, demonstrators reportedly chanted the slogan “News, we want your skin!”
Exactly who is responsible for the assassination is unclear, and members of Ennahdha have also been targeted by political violence. Abdelfattah Mourou, the party’s co-founder and an advocate of a progressive form of political Islam, was reportedly assaulted by a group of Salafists a week ago.
The UK-based rights group Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation into Belaid’s death, and for the authorities to take a more proactive stance against political violence.
“Today’s shocking killing must serve as a wake-up call to the authorities. It is their duty to protect all individuals, including those who criticise the government or Tunisia’s leading Ennahdha party, from violence. No group, regardless of its affiliation, can be above the law,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International, said in a press statement.
Said Aidi, a member of the executive committee of the Republican Party and a former minister, said that opposition parties had been calling on the interior ministry for months to put an end to inflammatory partisan language against opposition figures.
Aidi, a conservative secularist, told Al Jazeera in a phone interview that the government was “totally responsible” for Belaid’s death because of what he described as its indifference to the intimidation of opposition activists and politicians.
“There have been incitations to murder made in the mosques against figures including Shokri Belaid,” he said. Aidi says he was himself beaten by groups he believes were linked to Ennahdha, during a peaceful march commemorating the Tunisian union leader and political philosopher Farhat Hached last December 5. He suffered a skull fracture and serious eye injury, and says his aggressors escaped with impunity.
“These are fascist thugs,” he told Al Jazeera, adding that in the past few days, many opposition movements have had their meetings disrupted by the groups.
But Ennahdha denies any links to Wednesday’s killing, which it has firmly denounced. “This is a sad day for Tunisia … we’ve never had anything like this in our history,” said Zied Ladhari, an Ennahdha MP. “Even if there are political divergences between us, we can’t accept such acts of violence against those who don’t share our ideas.”
He told Al Jazeera in a phone interview that a serious investigation would be needed to uncover who was behind the killing, and that those behind it were trying to derail Tunisia’s democratic transition.
(SEOUL, South Korea) — Making his first New Year’s speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on his country Tuesday to focus on economic improvements with the same urgency that scientists put into the launch of a long-range rocket last month.
Kim, shown speaking on state TV, said raising the standard of living is the new year’s most important task. He also pushed for the development of more advanced weapons, a “revolution” in science and technology and reunification with “compatriots” in South Korea.
The speech was the first televised New Year’s Day message by a North Korean leader in 19 years. North Korea founder Kim Il Sung routinely addressed his people on New Year’s Day, but Kim Jong Il never gave a TV address during his 17-year rule. During his leadership, the New Year’s message was published as a joint editorial in the nation’s three major newspapers.
North Korea also had its first grand New Year’s Eve celebration, including the boom of cannons and fireworks at midnight in Pyongyang.
The speech was a clear acknowledgement that North Koreans want improvement in an economy that has long lagged behind the rest of Northeast Asia. North Korea has little arable land, is prone to natural disasters and struggles to grow enough food for its 24 million people.
The speech itself was also a signal that Kim will continue with a leadership style more in line with his gregarious grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung, than with his father, Kim Jong Il, who avoided making public speeches.
Kim Jong Un took power after his father’s Dec. 17, 2011, death. Early in his first year, Pyongyang negotiated a deal with Washington for food aid in exchange for a nuclear freeze, but it collapsed after North Korea attempted to shoot a rocket into space in April. The rocket failed shortly after liftoff, but a successful second attempt on Dec. 12 helped Kim gain crucial political and popular support in his country.
North Korea hailed the launch as a big step in peaceful space exploration. Washington and others called the launch a banned test of ballistic missile technology.
Governments are also worried by recent analysis of North Korea’s main nuclear test site that indicates readiness for a possible third atomic explosion. North Korea has tested two atomic devices since 2006, both times weeks after U.N. condemnation of a long-range launch.
The annual New Year’s Day message lays out North Korea’s policy goals for the year. The need for a better economy and improvements in science and technology were major elements.
Kim made no mention of North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the issue that most worries Washington, but he did seek to glorify — and link to the economy — the successful rocket launch.
North Korea’s slogan for the year, Kim said, should be: “Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space!”
In Pyongyang, residents danced in the snow at midnight Monday to celebrate the end of a big year for North Korea, including the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung and the first year of Kim Jong Un’s leadership. Fireworks lit up the cold sky, and people stood in fur-lined parkas, taking photos and laughing and dancing with each other in plazas.
Kim Jong Un tried in his speech to tap into North Koreans’ fond memories of Kim Il Sung, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in South Korea.
The rocket launch boosted morale, Koh said. “Now people are expecting him to improve the economy and help them live better economically,” Koh said. “Kim Jong Un knows that and feels the pressure of meeting that demand.”
Kim’s speech avoided harsh criticism of the United States, its wartime enemy. North Korea has used past New Year’s editorials to accuse the U.S. of plotting war.
This should be interesting…
An interesting report despite The Economist’s typically racist, superior tone.
After a long drive up a narrow dirt track through hills east of Pyongyang, a North Korean tour bus dropped the Chinese tourists near a wooded graveyard. In front of it, on a concrete pedestal, stood a bronze bust of Mao Anying, the eldest son of Mao Zedong. This was their holy grail. One by one they laid wreaths and bowed in reverence (see picture). One man kowtowed. Several wept as they delivered speeches in honour of the younger Mao, who died during the Korean war. “We must clean China up and turn it a brilliant red,” said one. Another led the group in chants of “Socialism will be victorious!”
For most members of the group of 15 tourists (except one who was there to report for The Economist) the visit to North Korea was a welcome relief after a grim year. As die-hard Maoists, they believe that China’s leaders are betraying the ideals of the communist country’s founder and leading it to enslavement by the West and perdition. The past few months have seen the purging of their idol, a Mao-quoting member of the Politburo, Bo Xilai, and the closure by the Chinese government of some of their most outspoken websites.
Many of China’s new middle class regard the Maoists as members of a nutty fringe. But to the poor and marginalised, as well as a few idealistic intellectuals, their views are appealing. During their four days in North Korea in October, the Maoists found a country that appeared to be following the right path: one that, in their view, Mao had started down but which his diminutive successor, Deng Xiaoping, had abandoned.
U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd L) hugs North Point Marina owner Donna Vanzant as he tours damage done by Hurricane Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey, October 31, 2012. At left is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Putting aside partisan differences, Obama and Christie toured storm-stricken parts of New Jersey together on Wednesday, taking in scenes of flooded roads and burning homes in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. REUTERS/Larry Downing
NEWS/UPDATES/RESOURCES: Live coverage of storm Sandy recovery
eL Seed - Gabès, Tunisia
French artist eL Seed recently painted this beautiful mural on the tallest minaret in Tunisia, in the city of Gabès on the Jara Mosque. The piece reads, “Oh humankind, we have created you from a male and a female and made people and tribes so you may know each other.” The mural was funded by the Barjeel Art Foundation.
Anonymous asked: how does one get over an ex boyfriend? I'm literally going insane. its been more than a year since we broke up. he's with someone else now. and i cant stop thinking about him. what the fuck do i do?
Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
One of the worst things to happen to Islam is the Islamic revolution in Iran.
For all you undecided voters out there...
Take a look at Jill Stein in the Green Party… someone who has truly stood by her...
For the upcoming US elections, think about the way in which the American elites have been able to exclude a large and important amount of people...
Oh, snap.ROMNEY: Let's talk about the other big one --LEHRER (interrupting): No, let's not.