World Briefs 9-27-11

The latest news of importance in the global Jewish community. 

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(Click photo to download. Caption: Yemeni protesters flash the victory sign during a protest demanding the ousting of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a Yemen, Sept. 22. The protesters called for an end of Saleh’s 33-year rule. Photo Credit: EPA/Yahya Arhab.)

Yemen President Returns 

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to Yemen Friday after fleeing to Saudi Arabia in June for treatment for wounds he endured during an explosion at the presidential palace, Voice of America reported.  

Yemen was part of the Arab Spring movement, with revolutionaries initially protesting economic conditions and corruption. They eventually called for Saleh’s resignation, and the ensuing conflict resulted in clashes between the government and the opposition, which led to dozens of deaths.

Saleh’s return provoked passionate responses from both his supporters and the opposition. Voice of America reported that in recent days, Yemen's political parties said they were working on a plan to force Saleh out of power.

—JointMedia News Service


Islamists Wreak Havoc in Thailand

Islamic guerrillas have been wreaking havoc in southern Thailand, the Global Post reported, attacking children, teachers, and other local civilians. Their aim is to “wrench free a Connecticut-sized chunk of Thailand and create the world’s newest Islamic state” according to Global Post.

In one of the pinnacles of cruelty, these insurgents have also been decapitating Buddhist monks to demonstrate their authority.Global Post reports that many Thais have fled, leaving behind Buddhist defense crews of, men, women, children and the elderly.

Thailand’s government seems to be caving under the pressure, using the terminology “special administrative zone,” which, according to Global Post, is code for ceding more autonomy to Islamic Thailand.

—JointMedia News Service


NATO Extends Bombing Campaign

NATO announced its second 90-day extension of a bombing campaign in order to provide support to the Libyan resistance on Wednesday.

According to the New York Times, the move was approved less than a week before the second campaign was set to end.

The rebels have been increasingly reliant on NATO’s aerial campaign in Libya, which the New York Times reported was authorized under a United Nations Security Council mandate “to protect civilians from Colonal Qaddafi’s military reprisals.”

—JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Credit: Image by Aleph).

Sarkozy Suggests a Comprise at the United Nations

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, proposed a compromise on the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations on Sept. 21, upgrading its status to a simple observer but opposing a full membership.

Sarkozy also cautioned the United States against a veto at the Security Council, citing fear that this would further the cycle of violence.

“Why not envisage offering Palestine the status of United Nations observer state? This would be an important step forward,” Sarkozy said, “Most important, it would mean emerging from a state of immobility that favors only the extremists. We would be restoring hope by marking progress towards the final status.”

He then called on both the Palestinians and Israelis to reach a definitive agreement within the year.

—JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: Recep Tayyip Erdogan.)

Erdogan accuses Israel of using Holocaust for political gain

Israel has been “exploiting the Holocaust” for political and military purposes, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with CNN on Sunday. Erdogan said Israel was allowing itself to engage in violence against Palestinians because of a lingering sense of victimhood resulting from the Nazi genocide of six million European Jews.  

In the same interview, Erdogan reiterated his claim that diplomatic relations with Israel would not be fully restored unless Israel apologized for its raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010 that left nine Turkish nationals dead.  Israel has refused to apoligize, claiming that it was acting within the bounds of international law and that the violence was instigated by terrorists with Turkish support.

“Relations are broken,” Erdogan said. He warned that Israel might find itself “alone” in the region if it did not change its behavior.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Security Council begins discussion on Palestinian statehood

Members of the U.N. Security Council began discussing the Palestinian request for statehood and full membership in the U.N. on Monday. The discussions will likely face a number of obstacles, and it is believed it will be some time before they come up for the final vote. 

It will be subject to an evaluation by the U.N.'s legal adviser, meaning that the fateful vote is weeks if not months away. The Palestinians need nine votes for the motion to be passed, but even if they do obtain the necessary votes, the U.S. has pledged to veto the motion.

The Quartet’s alternative plan calls for an immediate return to negotiations with no preconditions, three months until security plans are detailed, significant progress within half a year, and a peace deal by 2012. The plan does not call for a settlement freeze, saying only that the parties should “refrain from provocative actions.”

Meanwhile, Abbas returned to Ramallah on Sunday to a hero's welcome. He voiced his disapproval of the Quartet’s blueprint, specifically condemning the fact that it contained no call for Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank or base talks on a return to the 1967 lines.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS


Saudi women get to vote—but not much more

Saudi Arabian women will be able to vote in parliament elections and will be allowed to stand for election themselves to municipal councils and to the Shura Board, the king's religious advisory council, starting in 2015, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud told the Saudi parliament on Sunday.

“We can’t ignore women and marginalize them,” King Abdullah said in an announcement that came as a surprise to most Saudis.

Despite being hailed as a sign of the Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia, the move does not grant a full panoply of rights to women. Saudi women are still barred from driving, attending certain educational institutions, traveling for purposes of tourism, and receiving medical treatment without the approval of their husbands or other relatives.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the king's announcement suggests that the ailing 87-year-old monarch is hoping to be remembered as a reformer, despite the fact that he has made only modest inroads on human rights.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Cyprus crisis gains momentum

The Republic of Cyprus announced that it would be willing to share profits from offshore drilling of natural gas and oil with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The offer was made after Turkey announced it was sending warships to Cyprus’ shores.

Turkey has forged an agreement with Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus to drill jointly in the Mediterranean Sea for natural gas and oil. The move comes after Cyprus began its own offshore drilling for oil and gas, together with Israel, which laid claim to a massive deepwater gasfield in the Meditteranean discovered in 2009, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Northern Cyprus is recognized as a separate state only by Turkey, which declared its independence in 1983 and which supports it militarily and financially. The U.N. still considers the Republic of Cyprus the legal sovereign over the whole island, although in fact it controls only the Greek south.

In his address to the U.N., Erdogan reiterated his warning to Cyprus to halt what he called “extremely irresponsible” plans to drill for gas in the Mediterranean Sea.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Germany outlaws country’s largest neo-Nazi organization

Germany's Interior Ministry banned the country’s largest neo-Nazi group on Wednesday, declaring it a genuine threat to German society and the German constitution.

The Help Organization for National Political Prisoners and their Families, or HNG, is known for its support of extreme right-wing prisoners and their families. The Interior Ministry decided that in accordance with the organization’s slogan, “A front inside and outside,” HNG activists embraced neo-Nazi ideals and supported the extreme right-wing views of jailed extremists, urging them not to give up their struggle against the system.

“It is no longer acceptable that imprisoned right-wing extremists are being supported by the HNG in their aggressive stance against free and democratic order,” German Interior Minister Hans Peter Friedrich said. “By rejecting the democratic constitutional state and glorifying National Socialism, the HNG tried to keep right-wing radical criminals in their own milieu.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


News director quits Al Jazeera amid revelation of biased coverage

A member of the Qatari royal family has been named the new director-general of the Al Jazeera news network following the resignation of its long-time news director on Tuesday. The New York Times reported that the move follows a WikiLeaks revelation that the Qatari-financed network skewed its coverage of the Iraq War at the behest of the U.S.

Wadah Khanfar, who has been Al Jazeera’s director-general for the past eight years, resigned on Tuesday. Rumors as to his motivation immediately began swirling around the media and blogosphere, with the Guardian writing, “It is thought that Khanfar had become too independent a figure for the Qataris, and that he had come under pressure from them.”

The New York Times, however, pointed to a WikiLeaks cable from Oct. 2005, written by the U.S. ambassador in Qatar, Chase Untermeyer, in which he described a meeting with Khanfar that involved handing over reports from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency that were critical of Al Jazeera'- coverage on the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Family of hit-and-run victim demands justice from France

Relatives of 25-year-old Lee Zeitouni, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Tel Aviv on Friday morning, will protest in front of the French Embassy Wednesday night for the extradition of the alleged culprit, who fled Israel for France within hours of the incident.

Claude Issac, 40, was allegedly at the wheel of a black BMW SUV registered to his friend, Eric Rubic, 38, when he careened into Zeitouni early Friday morning. Rather than stopping or slowing down after hitting Zeitouni, witnesses said the SUV continued down the road at a high speed.

The protesters also plan to petition the French ambassador to Israel, Christophe Bigot, to do everything in his power to bring the two men back to Israel to face justice.

By Wednesday nearly 30,000 people had signed an online petition, Justice for Lee, also calling on the French government to act. “We demand that the French government arrest the two fugitives and extradite them to Israel, so they can stand trial here,” the petition said.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Turkish intelligence tracking down Israelis from Marmara raid

Turkey's intelligence agency and Justice Ministry have identified 174 Israelis who allegedly participated in the 2010 Gaza-bound flotilla raid in which Israelis commandos clashed with activists, resulting in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals, according to Turkey’s Sabah daily newspaper.

According to a translation by the Turkish Zaman newspaper, Sabah said that upon the request of the prosecutor conducting the investigation, Mehmet Akif Ekinci, intelligence units first examined images of the raid and then launched “a commando hunt” on social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Turkish daily claims nearly all of those who participated in the raid have been identified. However, according to Israel’sArmy Radio, the vast majority of names were incorrectly identified.

The final list, which is now in the hands of the Turkish prosecution, has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the top, followed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The list then goes on to name top military officers and the alleged commandos involved. It is still unclear what kind of legal action, if any, Turkey might pursue against those mentioned.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service