You are here: Home » International (page 40)

Category Archives: International

Feed Subscription

US Secretary of State Kerry begins Middle East tour

US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Egypt on the first leg of his Middle East tour. Kerry will also hold a meeting with his Russian and Saudi Arabian counterparts in Qatar and attend a Gulf summit. Ties between Washington and Cairo have been tumultuous since the popular revolt against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The United States has been particularly critical of President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi's repression of the supporters of his Islamist predecessor, Mohammed Morsi. The relations between the two countries have begun to improve somewhat, with Washington lifting sanctions on military aid for Egypt in March. John Kerry will hold strategic talks with Sameh Shoukri, Egypt's foreign minister, on Saturday before heading to Doha. The dialogue will be the first between the two countries since 2009, and comes days after the United States announced that it would begin the delivery of eight F-16 fighter jets to Cairo. The top US diplomat is also expected to raise the issue of human rights violations with his Egyptian counterpart. "We'll certainly be discussing the issue of the political environment, human rights issues while the Secretary is in Cairo. That is an important part of our regular dialogue," a US State Department official said. Concerns about Iran In Doha, Kerry will attend a meeting of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members and try to allay fears among the US's Arab allies about Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, which was sealed on July 14 in Vienna. Many Gulf states are weary about Iran's growing closeness with the United States. The GCC foreign ministers and Kerry will also discuss the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. The US State Department confirmed that Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would meet on the GCC sidelines. Kerry, whose Middle East visit does not include a stop in Israel, will leave for Southeast Asia from Doha.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Egypt on the first leg of his Middle East tour. Kerry will also hold a meeting with his Russian and Saudi Arabian counterparts in Qatar and attend a Gulf summit. Ties between Washington and Cairo have been tumultuous since the popular revolt against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The ... Read More »

Multinational force announced as Boko Haram attacks continue

The presidents of Nigeria and Cameroon have announced that they will be launching a multinational army to attack and eradicate the Boko Haram militant group. Chad, Benin and Niger will also be committing troops. The announcement came after meetings between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Cameroonian President Paul Biya in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Cameroon becomes the fourth country to commit to the African Union-mandated Multi-National Joint Task Force after Buhari inked similar agreements with Chad and Niger. Buhari plans to visit Benin seeking a similar agreement. In a joint statement, the presidents stated "their common determination to eradicate Boko Haram... and agreed to intensify the exchange of information between the two countries." They added that the two countries will also be building up the number of forces patrolling their shared border. Buhari also spoke of a lack of resources in the funding necessary to get the force off the ground. Asked when the new regional would be deployed, Buhari answered: "It should ready today or tomorrow, by the end of this month." But he added: "After the promises of G7 countries to help the region defeat Boko Haram, we are waiting for training, equipment and intelligence assistance." The Nigerian military announced Thursday that Major-General Iliya Abbah has been appointed to head the five-nation force. The general previously commanded military forces fighting rebels in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The force will be headquartered in N'Djamena, Chad. Take two Buhari's predecessor Goodluck Jonathan attempted to put together a multinational force last year but one did not materialize. Buhari was elected partly on his promise of beating Boko Haram. Just last month Buhari sacked most of the military chiefs who led the fight under Jonathan. Many observers saw this as good first step. “What the Nigerian military has been weak at doing, and I think the Boko Haram insurgency has exposed this, is dealing with asymmetrical war,” said Manji Cheto, vice president of Teneo Intelligence, a risk analysis organization in London. Asymmetrical war refers to small groups who use nonconventional weapons and tactics like terrorism against a larger, more conventional military force. According to Cheto, the best weapon against such tactics is intelligence gathering, something the Nigerian military, and many of its neighbors, do not have a good track record in. “The challenge for the Nigerian military and the multinational task force going forward is how to actually build intelligence to deal with asymmetrical warfare,” Cheto added. The outgoing Nigerian chief of defense staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh also came out recently with strong criticisms of the army in the fight against Boko Haram. He said the army was underfunded and that morale was low. While not naming names, Badeh said that persons within the military leaked valuable information to the enemy, resulting in many soldiers being killed. "I was head of a military that lacked the relevant equipment and motivation to fight an enemy that was invisible and embedded with the local populace," Badeh said. Cheto points out that even with a viable and strong multinational force, the military alone cannot beat Boko Haram. “Nigeria will still have to deal with underlying causes of terrorism: social justice issues, underemployment and poverty in the region. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of trying to deal with the longer-term issues that have resulted in the rise of terrorism in the region,” she said. Small victories Regional militaries have announced some small victories this week amid news of continuing kidnappings, suicide attacks and killings by Boko Haram. Nigeria recently announced that soldiers rescued 71 Boko Haram captives, mostly all girls and women, in battles with militants and successfully destroyed militant camps in three villages in the northeast of the country. The Chadian military announced that their forces killed 117 militants over the past two weeks as they continue to capture or kill militants hiding out on islands on Lake Chad. Two Chadian soldiers were killed in the operations and two injured. Even with the victories, suicide bombers continue to attack civilians. A female suicide bomber killed six people Friday at a market in Maiduguri, the largest city in northeast Nigeria. This brought to almost 50 the number of civilians killed over the past week in Nigeria and Cameroon. A bomb disposal expert told AP the suicide bombers, many of them young girls or women, have explosives strapped to them that are remotely detonated.

The presidents of Nigeria and Cameroon have announced that they will be launching a multinational army to attack and eradicate the Boko Haram militant group. Chad, Benin and Niger will also be committing troops. The announcement came after meetings between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Cameroonian President Paul Biya in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Cameroon becomes the fourth country ... Read More »

Burundi opposition leader wins top position in National Assembly

In a surprise vote, Burundian opposition leader Agathon Rwasa was voted in as deputy speaker in the National Assembly despite being one of the main voices condemning the recent elections. The vote came just a week after President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term. His win followed months of violent protests, much of it supported by Rwasa and other opposition figures. Rwasa, a Hutu and head of the Burundians' Hope independent coalition was elected first deputy speaker. This is one of the three top parliamentary positions in what the government calls the bureau. A day earlier Rwasa said in an interview with DW that he was willing to work toward a "government of national unity." "The people want change. We must recognize this desire of the people and live up to their expectations," he said. Alongside Rwasa, Pascal Nyabenda, a Hutu and chairman of the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, was elected speaker of the National Assembly and Edouard Nduwimana, a Tutsi and home affairs minister, was elected second deputy speaker. "We pledge to promote all the activities here at the National Assembly to benefit the country and its people," said Speaker Nyabenda soon after the vote. "We will work for the same target even if we may have different opinions," he added. "We will sit together until we find solutions to our differences." A surprise move Opposition figures are not happy with Rwasa's acceptance of this new role. Some have even come out to call him a "traitor." "From now on we don't consider Agathon Rwasa to be a part of the opposition. He has been bought off by the government," an opposition figure who asked to remain anonymous told AFP. Tatian Sibomana, spokesman for the opposition UPRONA party that was allied with Rwasa told AFP that "the decision by Agathon Rwasa does put our alliance in trouble, but not in danger. We will judge him on whether or not he joins the government." Many observers were surprised with the vote of Rwasa to this top post and fear that the move may fracture the relative peace in the country since the election last week. "Most of these politicians always tell you that once I go inside, I can change the system from the inside. Everyone knows this is impossible and almost a lie but many of them sell it that way," said Richard Shaba, an analyst at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Dar es Salaam. "My fear is that we will have groups now within the opposition. Those who think they should go along with the regime and those who think they should stick to the principle of saying that it is all wrong [the election]," he added. "It may affect the whole peace process over the next five years." One less woman Since 2005 at least one member of the bureau was a woman. The election of three male candidates to the top jobs occurred after the assembly voted to remove a provision in the internal rules of the National Assembly regarding gender and ethnic balances that one member of the bureau be a woman. This provision was a part of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi. "There is of course added value if there is a woman in the bureau," said Catherine Mabobori, one of the negotiators of the Arusha Agreement. Mabobori fears that this move may be a sign of things to come. "Sometime in the future, MPs may come up with other amendments to the constitution to suppress the 30 percent of women's representation because there is no guarantee that this is irreversible. Women MPs should keep a careful eye on gains they already acquired under the Arusha Agreement," she added. The Arusha Agreement was signed in Arusha, Tanzania in 2000 after about 4 years of negotiations. The agreement brought to an end over ten years of a brutal civil war. Apollinaire Niyirora contributed to this article

In a surprise vote, Burundian opposition leader Agathon Rwasa was voted in as deputy speaker in the National Assembly despite being one of the main voices condemning the recent elections. The vote came just a week after President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term. His win followed months of violent protests, much of it supported by Rwasa and other ... Read More »

At least 16 dead in Mexico after truck barrels into group of pilgrims

A pick up truck lost control of his vehicle on Wednesday evening and smashed into a group of participants in a religious pilgrimage. At least 30 more people were injured. The dump truck was loaded with sand when it crashed into the procession of around 200 people heading into a Catholic church in the state of Zacatecas in north-central Mexico, officials said. The truck "was apparently left without brakes and struck the crowd," authorities told AFP. Despite hitting and dragging a van that was in its path, the dump truck tumbled into the people at the end of the line of pilgrims. The truck driver fled the scene. The truck was registered property of a company called Industrial Construction and Transportation. Local sources say between 16 and 20 people were killed, and between 30 and 36 injured. The accident occurred shortly after 7:00 pm local time. The worshippers were taking part in a pilgrimage to the San Gregorio Magno church in the town of Mazapil, which started on Sunday. Local municipalities had to lend support as there were not enough ambulances on the scene to transport the injured. People were eventually taken to the hospital in several other states. The pilgrams who were not injured were allowed to continue the procession with a police escort and an ambulance nearby.

A pick up truck lost control of his vehicle on Wednesday evening and smashed into a group of participants in a religious pilgrimage. At least 30 more people were injured. The dump truck was loaded with sand when it crashed into the procession of around 200 people heading into a Catholic church in the state of Zacatecas in north-central Mexico, ... Read More »

Erdogan’s move means dark days for Kurds in Turkey

Turkey's President Erdogan has shaken up the domestic political sphere with his decision to end the peace process with the Kurds. As Dalia Mortada reports from Istanbul the repercussions could be powerful. Following a week of violence between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), including airstrikes over the weekend on PKK outposts in northern Iraq, Erdogan's statement was not too surprising. But what he said next was: the president recommended immunity be lifted on Kurdish parliamentarians so they can be investigated for "links to terrorism." "If [President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] says people from the HDP [the mostly Kurdish People's Democratic Party] are terrorists, the AKP [Justice and Development Party, which Erdogan once led], which has supported IS all this time are terrorists just as much," 23-year-old Burak declares through a mouthful of watermelon and cheese. The young Kurdish man is having breakfast with his friends at the café where they work before customers start streaming in. The coffeehouse is a popular stop for many in this lively Istanbul neighborhood. The bright red and orange table cloths are adorned with geometric patterns popular in Turkey's Kurdish southeast, and people often come for a taste of something different: creamy, nutty Kurdish coffee. "Last week, we lost 30 young people to a bombing that this government allowed," says Mert, Burak's quieter, more subdued friend. The 22-year-old sets down his fork as he recalls last Monday's suicide attack in Suruc, southern Turkey, against a group of youth activists en route to the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani on a humanitarian mission. "It was the police that carried out the attack," Mert says before Burak interrupts him, "No, it's the AKP, it's the government." One and the same To the young men, the "Islamic State" (IS) group and the government are one and the same. They're not the only ones who believe that: the PKK, which long led an armed resistance for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey but had agreed to a ceasefire since 2013, killed two police officers in retaliation for the Suruc bombing. "By doing that, the PKK gave the government the excuse it needed to unleash the military campaign against them," explains political scientist Mehmet Ali Tugtan. "It's not like they're responding to a catastrophe, they're capitalizing on it," he adds. Turkey also launched airstrikes against IS last week, for the first time since the group made headlines as it gained ground in Syria and Iraq. "The government is consistent in saying, 'We were attacked by the Islamic State, so we hit back; we were attacked by the PKK, so we hit back.'" Ayub Nuri, the English-language editor of the Kurdish news website Rudaw.net, agrees. The problem, he says, is that the Turkish government doesn't differentiate between the PKK and Kurdish civil society: politicians, intellectuals or journalists. "This has long been the case - even before the peace negotiations - Kurdish politicians, intellectuals and journalists, are prosecuted [for links to terrorism] and end up in jail," he explains. "On the other hand the Kurdish MPs say, 'PKK is an armed group based in the mountains, we are elected by the people,' trying to distance themselves from the organization." Regaining the initiative Many view Erdogan's statements against Kurdish parliamentarians as a way to regain the AKP's majority in Parliament. Rudaw, the news site Nuri edits, receives comments from Kurds all over the world. "I would say 60 percent to 70 percent of our readers…think the airstrikes [and Erdogan's comments] are his way of making up for the June elections," Nuri says, when the AKP lost its majority for the first time since they entered the government in 2002, and the Kurdish-focused HDP passed into parliament with 13 percent of the vote. Following Erdogan's statements, the HDP's co-chair Selahattin Demirtas said, "We have committed no unforgiveable crimes. Our only crime was winning 13 percent of the vote." The June 7 parliamentary elections were historic: no Kurdish-oriented party had ever surpassed Turkey's 10 percent threshold - the highest in the world - to enter parliament. "The HDP played a major role in the AKP losing its majority," Tugtan explains. Since no party came out on top, politicians have been forced to negotiate a coalition government. The deadline is fast approaching for them to reach an agreement; if they don't, Erdogan could call a new election. Amid allegations of being linked to terrorism, the new elections could yield very different results. "In that scenario, the HDP could be marginalized enough that they can't enter parliament," the political scientist says. The fear, Tugtan says, is that this could trigger even more violence, similar to what Turkey saw in the 1990s when the PKK was fighting for Kurdish independence. "Once again we have a crisis at an intersection of power transition and it seems like no matter how you feel about the maturity of Turkish democracy this power transfer will remain a problem." Nuri says regressing to those days is unlikely. "A very small minority are calling for a direct revolt against Turkey and armed conflict," he says, "I think the majority wants peace," including local politicians and leadership in the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. But Mert is not as optimistic. "If the HDP doesn't make it into parliament [in the case of an early election], there really could be a civil war," he says, sucking on an olive pit. Hassan, sitting across from him, pipes in, "It could even be worse than the 90s - there's a lot more going on here," referring to the spillover from Syria's own violent crisis just across Turkey's southern border. Burak's, Mert's and Hassan's families all migrated from Turkey's Kurdish southeast to Istanbul more than a decade ago to escape instability and violence. "If a civil war begins, where else will we go?" Hassan wonders.

Turkey’s President Erdogan has shaken up the domestic political sphere with his decision to end the peace process with the Kurds. As Dalia Mortada reports from Istanbul the repercussions could be powerful. Following a week of violence between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), including airstrikes over the weekend on PKK outposts in northern Iraq, Erdogan’s statement was not ... Read More »

Authorities in Egypt ‘killing independent journalism’

A Cairo court is set to issue a verdict on three Al-Jazeera journalists accused of being part of a terrorist group and broadcasting false information. The ruling comes as authorities crack down on independent reporting. A seasoned foreign correspondent shrugged: Like several others, he was mulling the prospects of leaving Egypt for good and moving to another country in the Middle East, maybe Lebanon. He hadn't quite made up his mind, he said. Egypt, he explained, was "getting just a bit too difficult right now." Egyptian authorities are cracking down on the media - and this increasingly includes foreign journalists. In recent months, many correspondents have had to wait months for even a temporary press card and work permits and in recent weeks those reporting on recent militants' attacks on the Egyptian army in Sinai have received emails from a unit within the Information Ministry, asking them to correct "false" casualty figures. At least 18 journalists are behind bars because of their reporting, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That's the most reporters the group has recorded being in prison since it started keeping records for Egypt in 1990, but human rights activists put the number far higher. According to the human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, who heads the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Egyptian authorities are holding more than 60 journalists and bloggers, many of whom have been imprisoned since 2013 without a trial on charges of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false information - accusations rejected by the families of several of those detained. Other reporters have decided to leave the country rather than face arrest. Egypt's crackdown has even extended to Germany, after authorities in Berlin detained Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour at Egypt's request. He was later released and not extradited as Cairo had demanded. Only official sources get it right? A raft of counterterrorism measures is set to be enacted as soon as former head of the Egyptian military turned President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi signs them into law. Journalists and human rights activists have said they fear the new laws will muzzle their work. One section of the proposed law stipulates hefty fines for reporting "false information on terrorist attacks that contradicts official statements." Egypt's Justice Minister Ahmed el-Zind admitted after the draft law was announced in early July that the article was adopted because media coverage of heavy clashes in Sinai included what he called exaggerated troop causalities. The government, he explained, had the "duty to defend citizens from wrong information." Such a move, however, would also "kill any independent words in Egypt," said Mohamed Lofty, the director of the non-profit Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). No tolerance for independent voices He said the current situation for domestic and foreign journalists in Egypt "was at its worst," following the attacks in Sinai and the assassination of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, who was killed by a car bomb in late June in an attack for which an Egyptian Islamic State affiliate operating in Sinai claimed responsibility. Since Barakat's death, Lofty said, the government was no longer willing to tolerate "any independent voice that provides information to the public, expect what is coming from official sources." And that, he added, "is basically killing what journalism is." Still, international attention on freedom of the press in Egypt has focused on the trial and retrial of three Al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false information in their coverage of the massive protests and violent crackdown by security forces following the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. Australian Peter Greste, Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison last year, but an appeals court later ordered a retrial, saying the lower court's verdict was not supported by evidence. Greste has since been deported to Australia, while Fahmy and Mohamed have been released on bail. Verdict will send a message to world The outcome of the retrial verdict, expected Thursday, "is impossible to predict," Lofty said. The relationship between Egypt and Qatar, which supported Morsi and owns the Al-Jazeera broadcaster, was at its most strained when the trial started. Talks mediated by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states has, however, slightly eased tensions. The verdict, Lofty said, could give the Egyptian government an opportunity to send a message to the world. "The message could be: look, we're not that bad," Lofty said, grinning. Then he became serious again, "But, then again, it could also be a guilty verdict."

A Cairo court is set to issue a verdict on three Al-Jazeera journalists accused of being part of a terrorist group and broadcasting false information. The ruling comes as authorities crack down on independent reporting. A seasoned foreign correspondent shrugged: Like several others, he was mulling the prospects of leaving Egypt for good and moving to another country in the ... Read More »

Veto expected at UN vote on MH17 tribunal

The UN Security Council is set to vote on a resolution that would create an international criminal court to prosecute the perpetrators of the MH17 crash. Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has hinted at a veto. The UN Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution on Wednesday that would set up an international criminal court to prosecute those responsible for downing Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Malaysia introduced a draft resolution earlier in July that would forge a tribunal under chapter 7 of the UN charter, which would allow the use of sanctions and military action for enforcement. The Netherlands is leading an international investigation, which includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine. The majority of the 298 passengers who died were Dutch. Veto likely However, the UN resolution is expected to be struck down by veto-wielding Russia. Russia last week submitted an alternative resolution which called for a "full, thorough, transparent and independent international investigation," but did not mention the creation of an international tribunal for prosecution. The Russian draft also noted that "the establishment of the true causes of this aerial incident is critical for bringing those responsible to justice." Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN, told Reuters news agency that now was not the time for an international criminal court. "This is not a proper thing for the Security Council to do because it's not a case of a threat to international peace and security," Churkin said. 'Premature'? Russia has been strongly opposed to the creation of a tribunal, with President Vladimir Putin saying earlier in July that it was "premature" and "counterproductive." "I have a very strong feeling that it's not going to lead to a result that will be satisfactory for the Security Council," Churkin told Reuters. The West and Ukraine have accused pro-Russian separatists of downing the plane using a surface-to-air missile. However, Russia and separatists in eastern Ukraine have said it was likely a Ukrainian military jet. Malaysia Airlines MH17 crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, leaving all 298 passengers and crew members dead.

The UN Security Council is set to vote on a resolution that would create an international criminal court to prosecute the perpetrators of the MH17 crash. Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin has hinted at a veto. The UN Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution on Wednesday that would set up an international criminal court to ... Read More »

Turkish airstrikes ‘very damaging’ to Kurdish peace process

Turkish airstrikes against the PKK Kurdish minority have jeopardized a 2013 ceasefire with the group. EU lawmaker Kati Piri told DW the Turkish response has been "disproportionate." Martin Kuebler reports from Brussels. In the wake of last Monday's suicide attack in the town of Suruc, in which an "Islamic State" ("IS") militant killed 32 Turkish citizens, Ankara has stepped up its campaign against the group in an attempt to create what it has called "a safe zone" across its southeastern border with Syria. But the Turkish government has come under criticism - including from Germany - for also launching airstrikes against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iraq, jeopardizing a 2013 ceasefire with the outlawed group, which has led a decades-long insurgency in support of Kurdish rights and autonomy. Turkey has called for an emergency meeting with its NATO allies to discuss the fighting. Kati Piri, a Dutch lawmaker with the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and responsible for EU-Turkey relations, told DW that Turkey's strikes have put the Kurdish peace process at risk. DW: What do you make of the Turkish response to last week's terrorist attack in Suruc? Kati Piri: While Turkey, in the view of many in the international coalition against ISIL [another term for the "Islamic State" group], was a bit reluctant to enter full scale into the coalition, it was also left with no other choice after this attack in which 32 of its citizens died. On the other hand, after the PKK attacked and killed two police officers [on Wednesday], Turkey started a new spiral of violence also against the PKK. That, to say the least, is very worrying. So you believe that Turkey's response has been disproportionate? It's not just an attack on an organization [the PKK] with, in this case, camps in another country, northern Iraq. We're also talking here about millions of Kurdish people living in Turkey, with whom there was a peace process, although very fragile, during the last two years. There was a truce, a ceasefire agreement between both the PKK and the government. In my view, if [the Turkish government] wants to keep the peace process with the Kurds alive, this full-size attack on the PKK looks a bit, to be honest, disproportionate. What's been happening over the last three days has once again put the peace process very much into question. Is it dead? I hope not, but it doesn't look very alive either. It's very damaging. Did last week's attack in Suruc simply give Turkey an excuse to relaunch its campaign against the PKK? Let's not forget: Turkey does have the right to self defense. When its officers are killed by an organization which is also included on the European terrorist list, this is totally unacceptable. No one is saying that Turkey should just leave this alone and pretend that nothing has happened. On the other hand, knowing that there is such a delicate peace process going on, then you need to have a proportionate response as well. What is much more dangerous to me now is that some politicians from the [ruling Justice and Development party] AKP, along with some politicians from the more right-wing party, MHP, are framing this pro-Kurdish party HDP [People's Democratic Party] now as being directly linked to the PKK, which it is not. [The HDP] has also decried the violence, and [the government] is actually framing the 6 million people who voted for this party as potential terrorists, or terrorist supporters. And this rhetoric is very dangerous for a country which has gone through such a circle of violence. On Saturday, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and HDP head Selahattin Demirtas, stressing the "fundamental importance" of keeping the peace process with the Kurdish people "alive and on track." Has the EU response been sufficient? I think she [called both men] on purpose, to show that this is not just a fight against terrorism, that this is about keeping the peace process on the table…and giving the Kurdish people the rights they deserve as citizens of Turkey. And for me, the signal that Mogherini gave over the weekend shows that the EU has a very strong commitment to the peace process. To what extent will Turkey's recent strikes on IS and the PKK affect its ongoing cooperation with the EU when it comes to counterterrorism operations? The EU's main focus is on ISIL, as a threat to our society. And this is where Turkey now seems to be stepping up its commitment, by opening its airspace, by opening its air base in Incirlik also to the American forces. On the one hand, it's a positive development: we have been pushing Turkey for many months to commit much more to this international coalition. On the other hand, it's also worrying to see [the disproportionate response], that they are not just focusing on ISIL but also focusing on the PKK. Turkey has called for a meeting with its NATO partners in Brussels on Tuesday. How do think the ongoing peace process with the PKK will factor into NATO's decision to intervene? Turkey will want to inform its partners about the threat it perceives, and tell them more in detail about its reaction. But we've already seen some statements [from Turkey's partners] that the attacks on the PKK were not a part of the agreement that Turkey reached with the international coalition against ISIL. In diplomatic words, I think we'll see the same kind of message coming out of the NATO debate. In essence: We support you in the fight against terrorism, but be careful not to let things get out of control? Exactly. And in the fight against terrorism, all countries in the world have in some way been faced with that. For Turkey, we know that many, many lives have been lost [in clashes with the PKK]. But after how far they've come in two years, with no severe violence happening in the country, with a democratic representation of Kurds being elected to the national parliament for the first time, having seen the level Turkey has reached coming close to peace, there's too much to lose now. And I think that, even if not formally, all NATO partners will certainly pass on this message to the Turkish government. Kati Piri is a Dutch MEP with the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and responsible for EU-Turkey relations.

Turkish airstrikes against the PKK Kurdish minority have jeopardized a 2013 ceasefire with the group. EU lawmaker Kati Piri told DW the Turkish response has been “disproportionate.” Martin Kuebler reports from Brussels. In the wake of last Monday’s suicide attack in the town of Suruc, in which an “Islamic State” (“IS”) militant killed 32 Turkish citizens, Ankara has stepped up ... Read More »

Plane crash kills three in Tokyo suburb

A plane carrying five people has hit a house in Tokyo, starting a fire in a densely populated neighborhood. The small aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from a nearby airport. The pilot, one of the passengers and a women on the ground were killed when the propeller-powered plane crashed in the Japanese capital, officials said Sunday. Three other men were released from the plane wreckage alive, and two women on the ground were reported injured. All of the injured have been hospitalized. "Their condition is unknown," a Tokyo police spokesman told the AFP news agency. The passengers in the plane might have been pilots in training, according to local media. The plane was bound for Izuoshima island, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of central Tokyo, for a training flight. 'Like a truck' Footage from the scene showed the wreckage of the aircraft on top of a burnt-out house in Chofu district, 500 meters (450 yards) from the small airport. The crash also damaged the roofs of nearby buildings, with at least three houses and two cars set ablaze. Firefighters were battling the flames. "I thought it was flying quite low and then I heard a bang," a local resident told the Japanese public broadcaster NHK. "I heard a tremendous sound like a truck crashing into a house... When I looked outside from a window, fire was flaring up," another women said. The Piper PA-46 plane is owned by Nippon Aerotech, and was not used for commercial travel. After the Sunday crash, Nippon Aerotech official apologized and told reporters that the cause of the accident was being investigated. The same single-engine plane crashed into a field in October 2004, according to the Japanese transport ministry. Nobody was injured at the time, and the officials attributed the accident to an operational error.

A plane carrying five people has hit a house in Tokyo, starting a fire in a densely populated neighborhood. The small aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from a nearby airport. The pilot, one of the passengers and a women on the ground were killed when the propeller-powered plane crashed in the Japanese capital, officials said Sunday. Three other men were ... Read More »

Tunisia approves anti-terror law amid human rights fears

The Tunisian parliament has adopted new anti-terror legislation following deadly attacks claimed by extremist group "Islamic State." The law has been criticized by activists as a threat to human rights. The new law, which among other things allows suspects to be temporarily detained without access to a lawyer, was adopted by Tunisia's parliament overnight after three days of debate. The president of the parliament, Mohamed Ennaceur, described the passing of the "law against terrorism and money laundering" as a "historic moment." The law was passed in the wake of a massacre on a Tunisian beach on June 26, which killed 38 people. The attack was claimed by the jihadist group "Islamic State" ("IS"), which also said it was behind an attack on the Bardo museum in the capital, Tunis, in March, which left 21 tourists dead. Vehement criticism The new legislation has received backing from both secular and Islamist parties, but has been slammed by rights groups and NGOs as draconian. "This law poses a real threat to rights and liberties in Tunisia," said Amna Guellali, who represents the activist group Human Rights Watch in Tunis. Opponents of the legislation have criticized it, among other things, for bringing back the death penalty for a number of terrorism-related offenses, although Tunisia has had a de facto moratorium on executions for the past 25 years. Human rights activists also see as problematic a provision in the law making it easier for authorities to phone-tap suspects. The law would also potentially make it possible to jail those who publicly support terrorism, something advocacy groups say could be used to suppress dissent. Tourism badly hit Tunisian authorities are anxious to re-establish the country's reputation as a safe destination after the attacks, which badly harmed its vital tourist industry. On Friday, the interior ministry announced that authorities had thwarted a planned terrorist attack in the northern city of Bizerte, arresting 16 suspects and killing another. Arms and explosives were also seized.

The Tunisian parliament has adopted new anti-terror legislation following deadly attacks claimed by extremist group “Islamic State.” The law has been criticized by activists as a threat to human rights. The new law, which among other things allows suspects to be temporarily detained without access to a lawyer, was adopted by Tunisia’s parliament overnight after three days of debate. The ... Read More »

Scroll To Top