That old chestnut

As tens of thousands from Bahrain’s Shia community demonstrated against this weekend’s Formula 1 race being held amid ongoing violent repression by the ruling Sunni dynasty, how did Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa justify why the race should go ahead? " I genuinely believe this race is a force for good, it unites many people from many different religious backgrounds, sects and ethnicities ," he said. The standard rationale for sports amid repression – even in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary. Crown Prince Al Khalifa went on to say: “I think cancelling the race just...

Security Council authorises 300 unarmed military observers to Syria

The UN Security Council voted unanimously in favour of adopting a Russia-European resolution authorises the deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria, to be known as UNSMIS. The move comes less than day after UN ceasefire monitors entered the city of Homs. Stating that the violence between government forces and opposition activists was "clearly incomplete", the resolution warned that "further steps" may be necessary if the agreement is not adhered to. The resolution stipulated that the deployment would depend on the Assad regime's compliance with the UN Secretary General's...

Israel remembers Holocaust

Israel fell silent on Holocaust Memorial Day on Thursday, as the nation remembered six million Jews killed by Nazi during the course of the Second World War. Official commemorations commenced late on Wednesday with a ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Israel. At the ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the Nazi Holocaust with Iran’s nuclear threat to Israel. “People who refuse to see the Iranian threat have learned nothing from the Shoah (Holocaust).” “They are afraid to speak the truth, which is today, as it was then, that there are people who want to...

Calls to cancel Bahrain Grand Prix grow

The leader of the UK's opposition, Labour party, Ed Milliband, joined calls to cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix given the on-going reports of the state's violent crack down of legitimate protesters. Milliband said, "I certainly think it is the case that, given the violence we have seen in Bahrain and given the human rights abuses, I don't believe the Grand Prix should go ahead. " "I hope that the Government will make its view clear and say the same." His remarks add to those of several politicians and human rights activists, including the shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, and the shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, who urged British Formula One driver, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamiliton to boycott the event.

EU agrees to suspend most Burma sanctions

European Union diplomats are said to have agreed to suspend sanctions on Burma for one year. An unidentified official told AFP that the suspension would give the EU time to monitor political reform. The agreement would still have to be formally approved by EU foreign ministers at a meeting on Monday. The only sanctions to remain would be the embargo on arms. The EU move comes on the heels of announcements by the US and Australia, easing their own sanctions on Burma in order to encourage democratic reforms in the country.

Sudan declares war on South Sudan

Amid escalating clashes, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has declared war on South Sudan, vowing to retake the region which won its independence last year through an internationally-facilitated referendum. During a rally Wednesday, in a message to South Sudan, President Bashir said: “ Either we end up in Juba and take everything, or you end up in Khartoum and take everything ,” referring to the two countries’ capitals. (See the BBC’s report here , and Xinhua's here ) He also described the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which has ruled South Sudan since it seceded from Sudan in July...

U.N considers sanctions in Sudan dispute

The U.N Security Council is considering sanctions as a means to quell the fighting between South Sudan and Sudan and to prevent the escalation into a full-scale war. The Security Council has demanded that South Sudan pull its troop out of Sudan and called on Khartoum to end to aerial bombardments. U.S Ambassador to the U.N Susan Rice said "Council members discussed ways to leverage the influence of the council to press the parties to take these steps and included in that a discussion potentially of sanctions." Recent escalation of tensions between the two nations was initiated by Sudan’s...

Further US military trophy photos emerge

Photographs of US military officers posing with the corpses of dead Afghan fighters have emerged once again. The photographs, published in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, depict US paratroopers of the 82nd Airbourne Division grinning next to the mangled corpses of Afghan fighters. The US army has launched a criminal investigation into the incident, reports the Los Angeles Times. In a statement, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan C. Crocker, condemned the actions of those involved. Crocker said, "Such actions are morally repugnant, dishonor the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of...

Libyan to sue UK over rendition

A Libyan military commander is taking legal action against former British foreign secretary Jack Straw, over his rendition to Gaddafi’s Libya. Formerly exiled rebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj says that he was kidnapped by CIA agents in Thailand, before being taken to Libya via the UK territory of Diego Garcia. The BBC revealed earlier this month that the UK allowed the rendition of Mr Belhadj and his wife. The Sunday Times has now reported that Jack Straw directly authorised the transfer. Mr Belhadj’s lawyers have now served court papers on Mr Straw to force him to reveal any involvement he...

Australia relaxes Burma sanctions

Australia has become the latest country to ease sanctions against Burma in recognition of efforts at democratic reforms. Foreign Minister Bob Carr has announced the easing of travel and financial restrictions against around 260 Burmese nationals, including President Thein Sein. ''We're easing sanctions after talking to Aung San Suu Kyi and others in the opposition, after talking to the government itself, (and) after talking to other nations," Mr Carr told reporters in London, ahead of a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague. A joint press release by Mr Carr and the Minister for...

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