EU extends sanctions on Syria, mulls oil embargo

The European Union extended its sanctions on Syrian officials and businesses, but stopped short of imposing a full oil embargo on Damascus. However, a diplomatic source told AFP : “We are in a process of working through what further tools we want to use.” “ We are open to all options - the oil embargo, sanctions on banks and telecoms, in line with the Americans - but we want to make sure sanctions are targeted at the Assad regime.” “ We are acutely aware of the need to ramp up sanctions , but we don't want them to impact on the Syrian people.” Some 90 percent of Syrian crude oil is exported...

Libya’s rebels sweep into Tripoli

Libya’s rebels took control of most of Tripoli in a lightning advance Sunday, celebrating the victory in the city’s symbolic Green Square, as Muammar Gaddafi’s defences collapsed with little resistance. The rebels were welcomed by thousands of jubilant civilians who rushed out of their homes to cheer the long convoys of pickup trucks packed with fighters, who linked up with comrades said to have infiltrated the city in recent days.

US backs action on UN report on Sudan atrocities

The United States has urged Sudan to implement recommendations outlined in a UN report which found credible allegations that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in the South Kordofan region. The report, by UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay, has been blasted by Sudan who described the UN report as "unfounded" and "malicious", yet conversely said that it would form its own committee to assess the situation in the area. The move comes as efforts by the United States for a UN Security Council statement were stalled by Russia and China. The disagreements are said to be over the “precise language” and not “on the need for a council statement”. While Sudan has agreed to let UN relief agencies into the region, the regime still refuses to allow an investigation by the UN into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. Pressure mounts The statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, US Permanent Representative to the UN said that the United States was “deeply disturbed” by the report. She added: “We strongly support Commissioner [Navi] Pillay’s recommendations, including immediate, unhindered access for humanitarian assistance and ongoing human rights monitoring as well as for an independent inquiry to hold perpetrators of violence to account. We urge all members of the UN Security Council to join us in pressing for implementation of these recommendations.” The call for an investigation comes as a report by the Satellite Sentinel Project , has uncovered evidence of more mass graves in South Kordofan.

On Turkey’s air strikes on the Kurds

“The air strikes launched by Turkey against Kurdish bases across the border [in Iraq’s Kursish region] are part of a misguided strategy aimed at eliminating an entire people. “Turkish leaders now seem to have discarded dialogue in favour of what has been described as a “ Tamil solution ” to the Kurdish question. This will lead to disaster for the country and more death and destruction for a region that is already in flames.” - Peace in Kurdistan Campaign . See full text here . Iraqi politicians in Baghdad have joined Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials in condemning several days of...

UN urges investigation into killing of journalists in Pakistan

The UN has called on the Pakistani government to investigate a series of abductions, disappearances and extrajudicial killings that have been targeting journalists and political activists. At least 16 journalists were killed in 2010, while 25 people including writers and political activists were killed in the troubled province of Balochistan in the first four months of 2011 alone. In March, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke out against the increasing trend of violence in the province and now the UN have asked for an inquiry into the cases. Rupert Colville of the Office...

Bahrain atrocities commision reopens after angry protest

A commission set up by Bahrain to investigate allegations of government atrocities re-opened its office Wednesday, three days after it was shut due to protests by crowds angered by media reports – since denied – that it had exonerated the authorities. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry was set up by King Hamad bin Eisa Al Khalifa in June to investigate allegations against the government of crimes against humanity during the country’s civil unrest. Bahrain is accused of using excessive force in quelling protest by its majority Shia population against its Sunni rulers earlier this...

India’s anti-corruption revolutionary

A 74 year old social activist from the western Indian state of Maharashtra has shot to global fame this week as the leader and icon of India’s anti corruption crusade. Anna Hazare’s demand for a powerful anti-corruption ombudsman – or Lokpal – has drawn stunning popular support across India. It has also brought him into confrontation with the India’s government. But what could the objection be? The tussle is over the extent of the Lokpal’s reach. While the Congress government wants to keep the Prime Minister’s office and the Judiciary outside the purview of the Lokpal legislation, Hazare and an array of anti corruption activists insist that these powerful bodies must also be included.

US gives North Korea $900,000 in emergency aid

The United States announced yesterday that it is providing up to $900,000 in aid to North Korea for emergency flood assistance. The decision follows South Korea's decision to provide $5m in food aid. Today, North Korea announced that it will agree to talks with the US on locating and returning the remains of American soldiears killed in the Korean War. See also - 'US search for Korean War dead continues'

Renewed international pressure on Syria's regime

The United States today called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, and announced new sanctions against his regime. Leaders from the UK, France and Germany also echoed President Obama’s statement in the wake of a violent crackdown against protestors that has killed thousands. The demands come as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, briefed the UN Security Council after a report identified 50 Syrian officials that could be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for possible crimes against humanity. In a statement US President Barack Obama said: “The future...

US urges Syria’s allies to “get on the right side of history”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped up calls for a wider global trade embargo on Syria as anti-government protests continue, despite widespread oppression and violence in the troubled Middle Eastern state. "We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality, to get on the right side of history," Clinton said . In a later interview with CBS , Clinton singled out China, India and Russia to join the Obama administration in pressuring the Assad regime to halt his brutal crackdown (See video of the interview here ). Clinton told CBS, “We want to see China take steps with us. We want to see India, because India and China have large energy investments inside of Syria. We want to see Russia cease selling arms to the Assad regime.”