Archive for Middle East
Thousands of anti-Israeli protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy in London, calling on the British government and media to stop supporting Tel Aviv’s atrocities. Police in the French capital Paris have clashed with demonstrators participating in a rally against Israeli offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip. People in India, Iran, the US, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Indonesia have also taken to the streets, calling for a halt to the Israeli attacks. At least 170 people have been killed and more than 1,150 others injured in Gaza since Tuesday when the Israeli attacks began.
The US embassy in Tel Aviv has minimized its hours and avised staff to stay at home until further notice due to recent rocket fire there, according to a statement released Tuesday night. “As a result of the July 8 rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and the potential for further attacks, [the] U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv will operate at minimal staffing until further notice,” the statement said. “The Chief of Mission personnel will not be allowed to travel south of Tel Aviv without prior approval,” it continued. “Embassy families living in Tel Aviv are being advised to remain at home and in close contact with one another.” The Embassy further advised US citizens to keep a close eye on updates on the Home Front Command’s English website and to be familiar with current events. Earlier Wednesday morning, sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and across the Gush Dan area. At least five rockets were shot down over the city by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The US strongly condemned the rocket fire late Tuesday, and expressed support for Israel’s right to self-defense.
Bahrain has expelled a high-ranking American diplomat, accusing him of meddling in the Persian Gulf kingdom’s internal affairs. Tom Malinowski, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, arrived in Bahrain on Sunday and met with members of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc al-Wefaq. The Foreign Ministry of Bahrain said in a statement published by the official BNA state news agency that Malinowski “held meetings with a particular party to the detriment of other interlocutors, thus discriminating between one people, contravening diplomatic norms and flouting normal interstate relations.” The statement added that Malinowski “is unwelcome and should immediately leave the country, due to his interference in its internal affairs.” Meanwhile, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Malinowski “is on a visit to reaffirm and strengthen our bilateral ties and to support his royal majesty King Hamad’s reform and reconciliation efforts at an important time, particularly given events elsewhere in the region.” Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, where thousands of US military personnel are based. Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
Even before the Iraq crisis prompted the Central government to intervene to ensure the safe return of 46 Indian nurses, there were a few others who underwent the difficulties of war on the Islamic land, and decided to return home safely before their luck ran out. According to Shobha Prabhakaran, a nursing manager, the Indian Embassy in Iraq woke up to the problems of nurses, only when the insurgency became news globally. “When we tried contacting Indian Embassy in Baghdad, as insurgents started taking over Fallujah, which was very close to Ramadi, where we were working. However, there was no encouraging response from the embassy. Later, we sought the help of Directorate of Health in Iraq and returned back,” she said. Shobha was among the first batch of 40 nurses from India, and the only one from Karnataka, who started working in Iraq in 2012, after a government was elected in the country torn by war and internal strife. Just when everything seemed to be getting back to normalcy, the strife between the military of Iraq and insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) broke out, forcing her and her colleagues to live for three months under constant fear for their lives.
A prominent member of Iraq’s Parliamentary Committee on Defense Affairs says the government must take all necessary measures to shut down the US embassy in Baghdad. The comments by Iskandar Watoot come after US failed to meet its obligations in the case of Iraq security. The veteran Iraqi politician also criticized Washington for delaying the delivery of US F-16 jets purchased by Baghdad. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said the al-Qaeda-linked militants’ advance could have been avoided if US jets had been delivered on time. Iraqi politicians have also accused Washington of trying to justify its stance on Iraq by describing the crisis there as sectarian.
The Delhi police is investigating an incident of firing outside a house where several Israeli nationals, including embassy officials, live in South Delhi’s Vasant Vihar. According to the police, four Israeli diplomats were present in the house at the time of incident. A senior police official said the incident took place in B Block on Vasant Marg at around 1.45 am. “We have recovered a bullet shell from the crime scene, but it was of plastic,” the police said, adding a team of special cell also visited the crime scene as the matter involved Israeli diplomats. The official said that a pistol used to give signal to athletes was used in the crime. The police said that a security guard working with Delhi Public School witnessed the whole incident. “We have recorded the statement of the guard. He told us that a man in a car stopped his vehicle outside the house, opened fire and fled from the scene,” the police said, quoting the statement of the guard. After the incident, some officials of the Israel embassy visited the spot and demanded sufficient security for their nationals. The police deployed extra personnel to avoid any untoward incidents in the area.
All 294 US diplomatic outposts are on high alert after the terror threats were posted online by rebels. One ISIS post said: “If America attacks Iraq every American embassy in the world will be exposed and attacked with car bombs.” Another vowed: “If the United States bomb Iraq, every American citizen is a legitimate target.” The terrorists said that companies in Arab countries employing US citizens would also be targeted, after threatening to “slaughter” US doctors around the world. The messages came amid a US government fightback on Twitter against ISIS militants who urged followers to tweet threats. The @ansaar999 account, which appears to have links with the rebel group, tweeted its 23,400 followers, telling them to post anti-US messages in English. The messages, sent to politicians and celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, contained images of dead US soldiers, the 9/11 attacks and masked ISIS fighters.
The Obama administration plans on having a U.S. presence in Iraq of roughly 1,000 troops and advisers to protect its embassy in Baghdad, but deployed personnel won’t lack firepower – Apache helicopters will be at their disposal. Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, announced that in addition to the Apaches, unarmed surveillance drones will help U.S. personnel and Iraqis gather intelligence on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Apache helicopters are capable of firing Hellfire missiles and 70 mm rockets. The aircraft includes a 30mm automatic cannon with up to 1,200 high-explosive, dual-purpose ammunition rounds. Currently there are about 475 U.S. military personnel deployed to Iraq for security purposes, AFP reported. Adm. Kirby said that the Obama administration has approved sending up to 300 more military advisers to augment the 180 currently in Iraq
Czech police have shelved the investigation into a Semtex explosion at the Palestinian Embassy in Prague in January that killed Ambassador Jamal al Jamal, because the police did not uncover any crime. Detectives were investigating the case as a killing out of negligence and also because of unauthorized armaments, because 12 weapons originating in the 1980s were found in the building after the accident. The police shelved the investigation into the death because no crime was involved. The same applies to the suspicion of armaments. Allegedly, it has not been proved that anyone else but the ambassador could be suspected of causing the death. Since he has died, the respective law rules out his criminal prosecution. The blast shattered the embassy in Prague-Suchdol on New Year’s Day. Jamal al Jamal succumbed to his serious injuries sustained in the explosion. Representatives of the embassy said in February the death was caused by an unintentional error, and the same applies to the possession of unregistered weapons. Palestinian authorities later apologized to the Czech government. According to investigators, Jamal al Jamal was killed by Semtex hidden in a book. His daughter spoke about a possible murder.
The helpline set up by the Indian embassy in Baghdad has been receiving many calls for rescue. Travel documents of more than 800 people have been readied so that they can be brought back to India from different parts of Iraq. The ministry of external affairs issued a travel advisory for Indian nationals in Iraq and the Indian Embassy in Baghdad has opened six camp offices at Najaf, Karbala and Basra for assisting Indians with travel documents and paper work. Instructions to the workers have been issued in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Urdu and Hindi. Two officials from Hyderabad have been posted at Basra and Najaf to assist in Telugu. Srinivas Rao, a Telugu-speaking official assisting people in Najaf, Iraq, said that there are over 200 Telugu speaking people in Najaf. “The city so far has been peaceful. We have already issued a total of 800 to 1,000 documents for Indians to return to the country. Most of the men are construction workers and most of the women are nurses,” he said adding “We get over 100 calls every day. Some call for help, some call to enquire about their family.”