Friday, August 10, 2018

Saudi Arabia Threatens Canada

"Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador over rights criticism" by Ben Hubbard New York Times   August 06, 2018

NEW YORK — Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador Monday and announced a freeze on “all new business” between the two countries in response to Canadian complaints about the arrests of two Saudi rights activists.

In a series of uncharacteristically aggressive statements on its Twitter feed, the Saudi Foreign Ministry declared Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak persona non grata and gave him 24 hours to leave the kingdom.

The Canadian Foreign Ministry issued a statement last week calling for the release of Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist who was arrested, and her brother, Raif Badawi, a blogger who is serving a prison term for administering a website that criticized the country’s religious establishment.

Saudi Arabia struck back Monday, calling the post “overt and blatant interference” in its internal affairs. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said that “any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs.”

Meaning Bin Laden is coming to Ottawa, with assistance from a sleeper cell of spies from Russia.

It also warned other nations that made similar criticisms could also face consequences.


“Canada and all other nations need to know that they can’t claim to be more concerned than the kingdom over its own citizens,” the ministry said.

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy whose legal system is based on the strict enforcement of Sharia, or Islamic law, has long faced complaints from Western governments and rights organizations over many of its judicial practices, including beheading criminals and imprisoning people who criticize the government.

Just keep that oil flowing.

It was unclear why Samar Badawi, who received the State Department’s Women of Courage Award in 2012 in a ceremony with Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, was arrested last week. Badawi has a long history of campaigning against the kingdom’s guardianship laws, which prevent women from traveling abroad or obtaining certain medical procedures without the consent of a male relative.

Canada has a connection with the Badawis. Raif Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, and their three children received political asylum in Canada. She became a Canadian citizen last month. She often posts harsh criticisms of the kingdom on Twitter.....


"US, EU seek details of Saudi arrests but dodge Canada spat" Associated Press  August 07, 2018

BRUSSELS — The United States and the European Union said Tuesday that they are seeking details about the arrest of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, but they sidestepped a sensitive diplomatic dispute over the crackdown between the ultraconservative kingdom and Canada.

Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador Monday and froze ‘‘all new business’’ with Ottawa over criticism of its arrest of women’s rights activists. Analysts say the dispute shows Saudi Arabia will reject any outside criticism and continue to flex its muscles abroad, especially as the kingdom enjoys a closer relationship with President Trump.

Flex its muscles, huh? 

They can't even defeat the Houthis in Yemen, and Canada is a lot farther away.

Describing both countries as ‘‘friends’’ and ‘‘partners,’’ the State Department on Tuesday called on both countries to resolve the issue diplomatically.....


"Saudi Arabia escalates feud with Canada over rights criticism" by Ben Hubbard New York Times  August 09, 2018

BEIRUT — Saudi Arabia took concrete steps to disengage economically from Canada on Wednesday, escalating the feud over Canada’s criticism of Saudi Arabia and demonstrating that its expulsion of the Canadian ambassador this week was more than a symbolic protest.

The kingdom announced Wednesday it would no longer send its citizens to Canadian hospitals and would withdraw resident physicians from Canadian hospitals.

It has also said that it would suspend flights by Saudia, the national carrier, to Canadian airports starting Monday and informed traders that it would not buy Canadian barley or wheat.

The measures came in response to two tweets by Canada’s Foreign Ministry last week calling on Saudi Arabia to immediately release imprisoned rights activists, including two who have family in Canada.

The Saudi government responded Monday by expelling the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh, Dennis Horak, recalling the Saudi ambassador to Ottawa, and freezing all new trade and investment deals with Canada. It also said it would transfer thousands of Saudi students who were studying in Canada to schools in other countries.

See: "Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who is touring the United States, visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Saturday to promote an academic energy agreement. The second annual Innovation to Impact Forum took place in conjunction with bin Salman’s visit and featured exhibits from MIT-affiliated companies like the robotics maker Boston Dynamics and international businesses like the oil company Saudi Aramco. Bin Salman facilitated a ceremony where new agreements between the university and Saudi entities were signed, including one focused on global energy and sustainable development with Saudi Aramco. This is part of Saudi Vision 2030, a plan initiated by bin Salman in 2016 to reduce his country’s dependence on oil and develop other sectors like health care and tourism. He and MIT proctored an agreement between Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia that will focus on medical research projects. Another agreement brings postdoctoral Saudi women scientists and engineers to MIT to conduct research." 

Won't have far to go when you transfer.

The unusually strong reaction shows that Saudi Arabia, under the day-to-day leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, is willing to wield its wealth to deter Western countries from criticizing how its absolute monarchy is run.

Mohammed, who has emerged as the kingdom’s most dynamic official since his father, King Salman, assumed the throne in 2015, has made similar moves against Sweden and Germany in response to criticism.

The United States, which has strong diplomatic and economic ties with both countries, has taken a neutral posture on the dispute.

The State Department, in its annual Human Rights Report, has frequently criticized Saudi Arabia on similar grounds to those stated by Canada. The latest edition accuses the kingdom of holding political prisoners, conducting executions without due process, and practicing the “arbitrary arrest and detention” of lawyers, human rights activists, and government critics. 

Just keep that oil flowing.

The Canadian government referred specifically to the case of Samar Badawi, a longtime women’s rights activist who was jailed last week at the same time as a colleague, Nassima al-Sadah. A tweet by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also referred to Badawi’s brother, Raif, a blogger who was imprisoned and publicly caned for running a liberal website.

Thankfully, that will never happen in AmeriKa. They will just shadow ban you, and failing that, take down your site if you are a truth teller.

The Saudi government has locked up dozens of clerics, businessmen, and activists since last year. It has rarely provided any information on why they were arrested or whether they have been charged with any crimes.

And no one has really asked, like we would do with enemies.

For now, both sides appear to be sticking to their positions.

“We are going to lead with our values,” Canada’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, said Tuesday. “It’s important that we bring Canadian values around the world, and we are going to continue to enunciate what we believe are the appropriate ways of dealing with citizens.”

How do they defend the arms sales for war against Yemen, and why haven't they spoken up for the Palestinians in Gaza?

Saudi Arabia has continued to call the Canadian criticism an unjustified intervention in its internal affairs, and Saudi-owned television stations have aired content aimed at tarnishing the image of Canada.

In Riyadh, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters Wednesday that mediation in the dispute was not possible and that Canada needed to “fix its big mistake.”

“There is nothing to mediate,” he said. “A mistake has been made and a mistake should be corrected.”

The dispute will affect approximately 800 Saudi students working as residents or fellows in hospitals around the country, including about 200 at the University of Toronto.

They have been told they have until the end of the month to leave the country, according to Dr. Salvatore Spadafora, a vice dean at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine. “We are hopeful the situation can be resolved,” he said.

Tuesday, Saudi Arabia informed grain traders in Europe that it would no longer accept “milling wheat or feed barley of Canadian origin,” according to Reuters news agency.

In 2017, Canada sold 66,000 tons of wheat, excluding durum, and 132,000 tons of barley to Saudi Arabia, according to Canada. While the sanctions may touch individual sectors, they will not have a great impact on the overall Canadian economy, analysts say.....

But combined with the Trump tariffs?!



First Saudi women receive driving licenses
Saudi women finally have the right to drive
Saudi women take driver’s seat as longstanding ban is lifted
Saudis who sought end to ban on women driving branded traitors

Better get your running shoes on then.

Arrested Saudi activists held incommunicado since last week
Saudi Arabia releases prince arrested in anticorruption crackdown

First thing he did was go to the movies as Saudi Arabia plans to open up to 100 theaters by 2030.

Once-powerful Saudi conservatives losing clout

So how did the Islamic State turn Saudis against their own kingdom and families?

The "answer can be found in more than 15,000 pages of internal Islamic State documents recovered that show the group at times offered better services and proved itself more capable than the government it had replaced with collaboration between the militants and civilians under their yoke."

And for the oil, I'm sure the Saudis can find an alternate buyer before the fight comes to a head and a border squirmish ensues that leads to a hot war that would be a dumb idea -- even if it costs jobs and millions of dollars in economic benefits.

Regarding those weapons sales:

"Airstrike hits school bus in Yemen, killing dozens" by Shuaib Almosawa and Ben Hubbard New York Times  August 09, 2018

IBB, Yemen — An airstrike from the Saudi-led coalition struck a school bus in northern Yemen on Thursday and killed dozens of people, many of them children, local medical officials and international aid groups said.

The attack sent a flood of victims to overwhelmed hospitals struggling to cope in what the United Nations considers one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

A Yemeni child awaited treatment at a hospital after he was wounded in a reported airstrike on the Iran-backed Huthi rebels' stronghold province of Saada on Thursday.
A Yemeni child awaited treatment at a hospital after he was wounded in a reported airstrike on the Iran-backed Huthi rebels' stronghold province of Saada on Thursday (STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images). 

I see trauma in the face.

The coalition said it had hit missile launchers and called the attack a “legitimate military operation,” but the attack and the justification for it were condemned and drew new attention to the tremendous human toll of the war in Yemen, especially on children.

I'm now looking for the words famine and cholera.

“No excuses anymore!” Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s regional director in the Middle East and North Africa, said on Twitter. “Does the world really need more innocent children’s lives to stop the cruel war on children in Yemen?”

Oddly enough, the Globe's World Section lead today was about Argentina and the endless pushing of the abortion agenda for South America and Central America (easy) -- as opposed to these unwanted, post-partum abortions from above.

The attack, in a busy market area, hit a bus carrying students on a recreational trip with a Quran memorization program. It killed at least 43 people and wounded 63, according to Muhammad Hajar, an official in charge of emergency services for the Health Ministry. He said the final toll could be higher because rescue operations were ongoing.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said at least 29 of those killed were children under the age of 15, and that 48 people were wounded, including 30 children.

Colonel Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the attack targeted the rebels who had fired a missile at the kingdom’s south, killing one person and wounding 11 others. The coalition said Wednesday’s projectile, fired toward the southwestern Saudi city of Jizan, was intercepted and destroyed but its fragments caused the casualties.

Yeah, sure, except they lied about that before, a tradition dating back to the 1991 Gulf War.

Turns out the damage is caused by the interceptor, which veers of course and crashes into communities. The Saudi government then blames the other guy.

Malki insisted Thursday’s attack carried out in Saada is a ‘‘legitimate military action’’ and is ‘‘in accordance with international humanitarian law and customs.’’ He also accused the Houthis of recruiting children and using them in the battlefields to cover for their actions.


The old human shields argument!

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said US officials can’t confirm all the details about the attack, but are concerned about reports of civilian deaths.

Yeah, sure they are, just like they were concerned with the mass graves in Mosul, the destruction of Raqqa, and any number of incidents in Afghanistan of which we never hear back.

‘‘We call on the Saudi-led coalition to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident,’’ Nauert said. ‘‘We take all credible accounts of civilian casualties very seriously.’’

That's lip service!

Saudi Arabia backs Yemen’s internationally recognized government and has been at war with the Houthis since March 2015. The rebels control much of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sana.

Saudi Arabia considers the Houthis a proxy force for Iran.....

They're up next.


I then flip the page and I'm suppose to feel sorry for immigrant kids?

Yup, more wars a'coming so join up and become a citizen of the Empire!


Forcing This Special Post About Yemen (Updated)

Fighting in Yemen kills 80 in two days

Also see:

He's out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Time to unify ranks with a resolute stand against Iran. Abu Dubai and Qatar are on board, as is Bahrain and Egypt, where the media urged people to vote, portraying it as a national obligation while a New York Times report said voters were offered cash, food, and promises of better services in exchange for their participation.


"US reimposes some Iran sanctions lifted under nuclear deal" by Gardiner Harris New York Times  August 06, 2018

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the goal is to get Iran to change its ways — including ending all nuclear enrichment, as well as its support of brutal governments and uprisings in the Middle East.

They need it for power and medical research, you f***. 

European officials have said the Iran nuclear agreement is crucial to their national security, and international inspectors have concluded that Iran is complying with the accord.

The new sanctions bar any transactions with Iran involving dollar bank notes, gold, precious metals, aluminum, steel, coal, and commercial passenger aircraft, and they end imports into the United States of Iranian carpets and food stuffs.

They represent one of the few major foreign policy initiatives on which Trump and the rest of the administration and the Republican Party broadly agree.

And the ZOG, for that matter.

“We’re very hopeful that we can find a way to move forward, but it’s going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime,” Pompeo said Sunday. “They’ve got to behave like a normal country.”

Tell it to Israel! 

In a speech in May, Pompeo said such changes would be consistent with “global norms,” although the enrichment of nuclear material for civilian purposes and the development of rockets is allowed under international law. Additionally, Russia, Turkey, Iraq, and the United States all have forces fighting in Syria’s seven-year civil war.

See: May Day: “We Will Crush Iran’’

Apparently, we are, and it leaves one in awe of the power of the AmeriKan Empire.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struck a hard line Monday, demanding compensation for decades of American ‘‘intervention’’ in the Islamic Republic, the Associated Press reported.

While saying he had ‘‘no preconditions’’ for talks with the United States, Rouhani said in a TV interview that Iran can rely on China and Russia to help its oil and banking sectors to offset the American sanctions.

‘‘If someone has knife in the hand and seeks talks, he should first put the knife in his pocket,’’ Rouhani said.

Iran’s Central Bank announced it would ease foreign exchange rules to prop up its currency and allow access to hard currency at market rates

In a conference call with reporters Monday, senior administration officials said they were simply looking for a change in behavior from Tehran, not for a change in government.

You will excuse them if they take that with a grain of salt, given Operation Ajax and PNAC.

They noted that the threat of new sanctions have already had an effect on the Iranian economy, including a drop in the value of the rial, growing unemployment, and more protests.

Some analysts have voiced concern about the Trump administration’s decision to go ahead with sanctions despite resistance from Europe, Russia, and China. They say the other world powers could find ways around the US-led financial system, undermining the success of sanctions in other areas.

The European Union on Monday updated a blocking statute that seeks to protect European companies from any penalties imposed by the United States for doing business with or in Iran, but administration officials were dismissive of the European action, saying more than 100 major businesses had already announced their intention to leave Iran before the reimposition of sanctions.

Don Rumsfeld is back?

An even tougher round of sanctions is scheduled to go into effect in November, including sanctions on Iran’s sale of crude oil and transactions with its Central Bank.

Administration officials said they hoped to get more international support for their efforts against Iran in the coming months, but they promised to be unrelenting in their reimposition of sanctions even if other governments did not agree.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, has said in 11 consecutive reports that Tehran remains in compliance with the commitments it made.

The Iranian sanctions are the latest in a series of actions Trump has taken to dilute former President Barack Obama’s legacy.....


"Iran weighs response as US sanctions bite" by Amir Vahdat and Mehdi Fattahi Associated Press  August 07, 2018

TEHRAN — As Iranians awoke Tuesday to renewed US sanctions, the question on everyone’s mind remained: What happens now?

From deciphering President Trump’s tweets on Iran — including one demanding ‘‘WORLD PEACE’’ — to trying to figure out how much their cratering currency is worth, Iranians appear divided on how to respond.

The same goes for their theocratic government, which for now is abiding by the atomic accord. President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, has taken an increasingly confrontational line in recent weeks, applauded by hard-liners who had long opposed him. Then in a speech on live television Monday night, Rouhani seemed to suggest that direct talks with Trump could be possible.

Oh, no!

Whether Iran should choose a North Korea-style photo-op with the American president who backed out of the nuclear deal or abandon the unraveling accord and increase its uranium enrichment remains a fiercely debated question in Iran, but everyone agrees something has to be done soon, as sporadic protests across the country of 80 million people only add to the pressure.

The newly imposed American sanctions target US dollar financial transactions, Iran’s automotive sector, and the purchase of commercial planes and metals, including gold. Even stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be re-imposed in early November.

As uncertainty over the Iran nuclear deal grew after Trump entered the White House, Iran’s already-anemic economy nosedived. Iran’s currency, the rial, now trades over double its government-set rate to the US dollar. Trying to stem the loss, the Iranian government five months ago shut down all private currency exchange shops, but the black market has thrived.

On Tuesday, the central bank allowed currency exchanges to reopen, but what to do next remains an open question. In recent weeks, Iran has prominently displayed its centrifuges and threatened to resume enriching uranium at higher rates. At one point Rouhani renewed a long-standing Iranian threat to close off the Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes.

That would lead to war, and would be a sign of Iranian desperation.

Trump for his part has ricocheted between threats and promises to speak with Iranian officials without preconditions, offering mixed messages to both the Iranian public and its government. That continued Tuesday, as he described American actions in a tweet. ‘‘Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,’’ he wrote. ‘‘I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!’’

I really think this guy is the only thing holding back an attack on Iran and WWIII.

John Bolton, the US national security adviser, said the intent of sanctions is not to bring about Iranian ‘‘regime change, but we definitely want to put maximum pressure on the government, and it’s not just to come back to discuss fixing a deal that’s basically not fixable. We want to see a much broader retreat by Iran from their support for international terrorism, their belligerent activity in the Middle East and their ballistic missile, nuclear-related program,’’ Bolton said Tuesday on Fox News.

Look at this shit.


"The gesture notwithstanding, US national security adviser John Bolton said North Korea has not made progress toward denuclearization in a dismal acknowledgment that comes nearly two months after President Trump held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. ‘‘The United States has lived up to the Singapore declaration. It’s just North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize,’’ Bolton said in an interview on Fox News Channel....."


U.S. hasn't done shit other than declare end to war games, and that was due to off-the-cuff remarks by Trump that were outside normal channels.

Also see:

Image result for Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National security adviser John Bolton greet each other as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, looks at them during the meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Bolton is meeting Putin for talks intended to set the stage for a U.S.-Russia summit. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with U.S. National security adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser is due in Moscow Wednesday to lay the groundwork for a possible U.S.-Russia summit. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool) 

You have to love the fact that Trump sent Bolton to set up meeting with Putin! 

Of course, there was no photo in the Globe; I had to go to the Herald to get it!

For now though, Iranians say they can only wait for the next Trump tweet or their government’s decision on how to respond.....



Turns out Russia is the kingpin when it comes to oil, although "in a morning tweet from his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Trump said he made the request during a conversation with Salman, citing the ‘‘turmoil’’ and dysfunction in Venezuela and Iran for driving up prices at the pump....."


"Venezuela rallies Maduro backers after failed attack" by Scott Smith Associated Press  August 06, 2018

CARACAS — Progovernment factions mobilized thousands of Venezuelans dressed in red in the streets of the capital on Monday in a bid to show the country remains united around President Nicolas Maduro after what the government described as a thwarted assassination attempt.

‘‘This river of red [the color of the ruling socialist party] could have been another red running through these streets,’’ Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza declared as the crowd waved flags and carried posters with Maduro’s image.

They are on the move!

Authorities said they have captured all those behind the attack that used two drones armed with explosives. The names of those detained have not been released, but chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab said the six people arrested could face charges including treason, attempted homicide, and terrorism.

‘‘They need to pay the penalty Venezuela’s law calls for,’’ Diosdado Cabello, a high-ranking socialist party leader, told the crowd of thousands. ‘‘There won’t be any more forgiveness.’’

The government alleged Sunday that the suspects conspired with others in Miami and the capital of neighboring Colombia, though they offered no specific evidence.

Opposition leaders criticized Maduro for broadly singling out his political opponents, and they warned that he might use the attack to further suppress his critics.

Like the U.S. government used 9/11 to launch wars?

The attack came as Venezuela is reeling from an economic and humanitarian crisis and Maduro has grown increasingly isolated. Foreign nations, including the United States, are slapping economic sanctions on a growing list of high-ranking Venezuelan officials and decrying his government as an autocratic regime.

We do that to everybody!

Maduro and his allies called the attack direct proof that an international plot to overthrow his socialist administration exists, while also saying that the military’s response shows he still has the loyalty of Venezuela’s soldiers, but analysts said the images broadcast live on television when the attack struck during a Maduro speech Saturday evening made him appear vulnerable.

Wouldn't be the first time. They tried to remove Chavez in 2002 and were made to reinstall him. That's why they infected him with cancer. 

Related: US calls for Venezuelan President Maduro to step down

She should have kept her mouth shut.

‘‘Seeing trained soldiers fleeing in apparent panic and disarray before an explosion strongly contrasts with the idea of monolithic control and loyalty of security forces that Maduro prides himself on,’’ the New York-based Torino Capital investment firm said.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, appearing on state television Sunday, said the attackers were trying to wipe out Venezuela’s entire top leadership along with Maduro.

Investigators continued searching the blackened apartment building near the speech site, and authorities said officers also raided six hotels, where some of the suspects were arrested and ‘‘film’’ evidence was collected. Officials gave no details. A little-known group calling itself Soldiers in T-shirts claimed responsibility for the attack. The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified, and the organization did not respond to a message.

They are a front for the CIA and its collaborators.

Venezuela’s government routinely accuses opposition activists of plotting to attack and overthrow Maduro. The former bus driver has moved steadily to consolidate power as the nation struggles to reverse hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund projects could top 1 million percent by year’s end.

Last year, amid deadly, near-daily protests, rogue police officer Oscar Perez flew a stolen helicopter over the capital and launched grenades at several government buildings. Perez and several comrades were killed in a gunbattle with police.....



"Venezuela’s pro-government constitutional assembly stripped two opposition lawmakers of their immunity from prosecution on Wednesday, accusing them of having roles in a drone attack that authorities say was an attempt to kill socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro has accused the two of being tied to a weekend incident in which two drones loaded with explosives exploded while he spoke at an outdoor military celebration. Wednesday’s developments threaten to deepen Venezuela’s political crisis....."

Have you seen the jails in Venezuela?


"Zimbabwean opposition readies legal challenge to election" Associated Press  August 06, 2018

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s main opposition party is preparing a court challenge to the election results, though it believes the judicial system is biased against it, a party spokesman said.

Nkululeko Sibanda, an official in the Movement for Democratic Change party, also charged Monday that security forces are acting with impunity in making raids on the homes of opposition supporters.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party won the July 30 election. The opposition says the results are fraudulent. International election observers have urged any aggrieved Zimbabweans to take election complaints to the courts.

And so they are.

A total of 27 opposition activists who were arrested for allegedly inciting violence appeared in court on Monday. They include three who were arrested during the weekend, said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

The arrests followed a military crackdown in downtown Harare after protesters, some throwing rocks and damaging property, took to the streets to allege that the election was rigged. Soldiers opened fire, and six people, including bystanders, were killed.....


"Zimbabwean soldiers beating up opposition, rights group says" by Christopher Torchia Associated Press  August 07, 2018

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwean security forces and unidentified gunmen have beaten and harassed dozens of people in a crackdown on the political opposition following a disputed election, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, while a joint statement by the United States, European Union, and others condemned the ‘‘eruption of violence.’’

The Human Rights Watch allegation contradicts assertions by the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa that it has abandoned the state-sponsored violence and intimidation associated with the rule of former leader Robert Mugabe. It comes after soldiers last week opened fire on rioters, protesters, and bystanders in the capital, Harare, an opposition stronghold. Six people were killed.

The joint statement by the heads of mission of EU states in Zimbabwe along with the United States, Canada, and Switzerland condemned the ‘‘violence, attacks, and acts of intimidation targeted at opposition leaders and supporters,’’ saying such violations have no place in a democratic society.

Unless they are Antifa.

Human Rights Watch said it had documented ‘‘numerous cases’’ of soldiers beating up people in some Harare bars and restaurants since the Aug. 1 shootings. The military accused the people of undermining Mnangagwa because most votes in the capital went to the opposition, the group said.

That's where my print copy ended, and when is their report on Gaza due?

Mnangagwa said the street violence last week was regrettable. ‘‘There is no place for violence in our society, and allegations of further incidents concern us all. Any claim supported by evidence will be examined and investigations are underway as we seek truth & justice,’’ the president tweeted.

Sibusiso Moyo, Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister and a retired army general, denied allegations that soldiers were beating people, reported The Herald state-run newspaper.

‘‘All what we are realizing is that there is a lot of misinformation that is coming out from social media,’’ Moyo told ambassadors and others in Harare on Monday, according to the report.

He said the military is ‘‘a well-trained and very disciplined force’’ that at one point ‘‘took over the responsibility of policing,’’ a reference to the military takeover in November that led to the resignation of 94-year-old Mugabe after 37 years in power.

The United Nations said Secretary General Antonio Guterres told Zimbabwe’s president to ensure that security forces ‘‘show maximum restraint’’ and told opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to pursue electoral grievances through legal channels.....

And then what?


"Zimbabwean opposition official denied asylum, faces deportation" by Farai Mutsaka Associated Press  August 08, 2018

HARARE, Zimbabwe — A top Zimbabwean opposition official fled to Zambia on Wednesday but was denied asylum and is expected to face arrest at home as concerns rose over a government crackdown after last week’s disputed presidential election.

Tendai Biti, a former finance minister and a leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said he is going to be deported, according to Dewa Mavinga, southern Africa director with Human Rights Watch.

Mavhinga said Biti told him: ‘‘It looks like they have made a decision to hand us back to the junta. We are truly in God’s hands.’’

Zambia’s foreign minister, Joseph Malanji, said the reasons Biti gave for seeking asylum ‘‘did not have merit, so he is being held in safe custody and we are trying to take him back to Zimbabwe.’’ As legal and rights activists attempted to put together an urgent appeal, they questioned how an asylum case could be processed in mere hours.

Biti’s plight follows scenes of the military opening fire in the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital a week ago, killing six people, and growing opposition claims of harassment. The events have challenged assertions by newly elected President Emmerson Mnangagwa of a ‘‘flowering’’ of democracy after longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure.

Related: "Grace Mugabe’s political ambitions intensified the national discontent that led to a military takeover and her 94-year-old husband’s resignation in November. The new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has promised more transparency and accountability....."

The MDC has denounced Mnangagwa’s July 30 election victory as fraudulent and vowed to challenge it in court this week.

Biti, one of the most vocal government critics, had declared before the official election results were announced Friday that opposition leader Nelson Chamisa had won, a claim also made by Chamisa himself.

‘‘In a normal country, Chamisa would be sworn in right now,’’ Biti told reporters a day after the election.

The opposition has seven days from the commission’s announcement to file a court challenge, and Chamisa lawyer Thabani Mpofu said the MDC will do so. That would delay Mnangagwa’s inauguration planned for Sunday.

Biti was named along with Chamisa in a search warrant issued last week that said they and several others were suspected of the crimes of ‘‘possession of dangerous weapons’’ and ‘‘subversive material’’ as well as ‘‘public violence,’’ according to a copy seen by the Associated Press.

International election observers and Human Rights Watch have condemned the violence and intimidation against opposition supporters, urging security forces to use restraint. Mnangagwa badly needs the approval of the foreign election observers to show the vote was credible so that international sanctions against the southern African nation could be lifted.....


"Zimbabwe opposition leader charged after asylum bid fails" Associated Press  August 10, 2018

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Senior Zimbabwean opposition figure Tendai Biti on Thursday was charged with inciting public violence and declaring unofficial election results as fears grew about a government crackdown following the disputed July 30 election.

The court appearance followed a dramatic two days in which Biti fled to Zambia, was denied asylum, and was handed over to Zimbabwean security forces in defiance of a Zambian court order. Western diplomats, including from the United States, and the UN refugee agency quickly expressed concern.

Biti’s plight has raised concerns that the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who narrowly won the first election after the fall of Robert Mugabe, will treat the opposition just as harshly as before despite promises of reforms. The opposition says it is preparing a legal challenge to the election results, calling them fraudulent.....


UPDATEZimbabwe’s president Mnangagwa announces resignation

The U.S. is also happy that Kabila is out in the Congo, as they were keeping an eye on him.


"Turks rally behind Erdogan as dispute with Trump deepens" by Carlotta Gall New York Times  August 07, 2018

ISTANBUL — In their recent encounter at the NATO summit meeting, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Trump gave each other a fist-bump, as Trump declared, “I like him, I like him.”

The love fest was short-lived. Days later, the Trump administration imposed financial sanctions against two ministers of Erdogan’s Cabinet, sending the Turkish lira plummeting and a stream of nationalist invective pouring forth from the Turkish media. Erdogan retaliated last weekend with sanctions of his own against his ministers’ US counterparts.

So Turkey is going through the same things as Iran, huh?

The sanctions have led many to fear that the longtime allies were headed toward an irreparable rift, driven by two leaders who each pride themselves on driving a hard bargain, in this case over Turkey’s detention of a US pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was swept up in Erdogan’s crackdown after a failed coup in 2016 and accused of espionage.

Combative politics is written in Erdogan’s DNA, one Turkish columnist explained, and for that matter, it seems, in Trump’s. According to diplomats, the several phone calls that have taken place between the two men this year have been stormy.

In the nationalistic mood of the moment, many Turks have applauded Erdogan’s riposte. Across the spectrum, Turkish politicians, despite their deep divisions, took a united front against the United States for freezing the assets of the Turkish interior and justice ministers.

Most of the opposition parties in the Parliament condemned the US sanctions in a joint statement, as did the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and other business organizations.

Who lost Turkey (answer: Obama thanks to the ill-advised coup attempt)?

Supporters of Erdogan took to Twitter with the hashtag #We will not be slaves to imperialism, even while acknowledging the political crisis will not help a souring economy.

Maybe Russia and China can help.

“I have my own company and dollar affects almost our entire business,” said a Twitter post by Erkan Babur, an engineer from Tokat, a province in the Black Sea region, and a local executive member of the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party. “But we are not born as bosses from our mothers. And it is not the dollar that made us the boss.”

“We will close down our company if necessary and paint shoes, sell bagels, thanks to God, but never make Turkey bait for you,” he added.

Newspapers, most of them now under control of businessmen close to the president, took fiercely anti-American stances.

“Know your limits, US,” said one headline in the daily Milliyet. Even the newspaper Sözcü, an aggressive nationalist opponent of Erdogan, called on the government not to bow its head. “Stand tall, that’s enough for us,” one headline read.

“Half of Turkey, including many in Erdogan’s circles, has drunk the Kool-Aid and believes that Erdogan is under attack (by his domestic and foreign adversaries) because he’s out to make Turkey great again,” texted Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 

Nothing like the Israeli War Lobby furnishing expert analysis to my pre$$.

Kemal Can, writing in the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, said much of the dispute was driven by Erdogan’s personal style.

“Sometimes a cunning tradesman, sometimes a stubborn toughness, sometimes glowering, sometimes bowing, but always with confidence that he would make it happen in the end,” Can wrote.

Erdogan’s propensity to surround himself with yes-men may have led him to misjudge domestic politics in the United States and miscalculate how far he could push Washington, he and others said.

I think we need them more than they need us.

“It is the thinking that ‘we are so valuable that America is not going anywhere,’” said Ahmet Kasim Han, associate professor in international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul.

Not only is it wrong, but dangerous, Han said.

“This leads to an escalation that becomes very hard to control, and it can really lead to a point where it can all break up,” Han said.

The combination of the personalities of Erdogan and Trump leaves everyone guessing as to the outcome, Asli Aydintasbas, a fellow of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in a column on its website.

Now they turn to the CFR!

“It is possible that, in seven or eight months, Brunson will be sitting in his home in North Carolina, Atilla will be back in Turkey, and Trump will be raving about Erdogan on Twitter once again,” Aydintasbas wrote, describing a proposed deal to exchange the pastor for Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a Turkish banker convicted by an American court.

I sure hope so!

“But it is also possible that Turkey will become the next Venezuela, clashing with the West and dealing with a dire economic downturn,” she added. “No one can be sure.”

That would be very bad.

Erdogan, some analysts pointed out, can also be a pragmatist, capable of conducting an about-face on policy when it suits him.

Officials close to him have continued to offer assurances that an agreement would be found. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has repeated that negotiations were continuing, and reports surfaced Tuesday that a Turkish delegation would travel to Washington within days.

Yet, Sedat Ergin, a former Washington correspondent for the newspaper Hurriyet who has followed American-Turkish relations for more than 40 years, described the current crisis as the worst he had seen since the weapons embargo over Cyprus by the United States against Turkey 40 years ago.

“It feels like a journey back in time,” Ergin wrote in a column for Hurriyet Daily News over the weekend.

Both sides were to blame, he said. Turkey did not grasp the grievances that Brunson’s case caused to the United States. And Washington, he said, had made no progress on the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of instigating the 2016 failed coup, and it had disregarded Turkey’s security concerns in Syria for far too long.

That pissed off the Turks, and I was told the "latest trial offered some of the strongest evidence to date that the plan was indeed formed by followers of Gulen."

The relationship would not be easily mended. “There is no magic wand to solve this deadlock with a single touch,” he wrote. “Perhaps, it will be best for both sides to put this relationship on ice for a while.”



"High-level meetings in Washington between senior US and Turkish officials concluded Wednesday without an apparent resolution to the case of a detained American pastor. The State Department said Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal met in a bid to ease the crisis....."