Bahraini medics imprisoned for treating anti-government protesters

Twenty Bahraini nurses and doctors were charged on Thursday with committing 'crimes against the state', after treating injured protesters during protests earlier this year and publicly denouncing the Bahraini government on international media. The group, charged by a military court, received sentences ranging from ten to fifteen years. The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, condemned the trial, stating, "These are worrying developments that could undermine the Bahraini government's moves towards dialogue and the reform needed for long-term stability in Bahrain." " I call on the Bahraini judicial authorities to follow due process carefully and transparently. Cases before the special tribunals should be transferred to regular civilian courts."

US Ambassador pelted with stones by pro-Assad demonstrators

Robert Ford, US Ambassador to Damascus, was pelted with eggs, tomatoes and stones by a pro-Assad mob, as he left to visit opposition figures in Syria earlier today. The attack was quick to draw strong condemnation from the United States, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying , "We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible term. Ambassador Ford and his aides were conducting normal embassy business and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified." The Syrian government however reacted differently, releasing a statement after the...

Former Egyptian Minister Jailed

An Egyptian court has jailed former Information Minister Anas al-Fekky to seven years in jail. Al-Fekky, who was a close and powerful ally of Mubarak, had been accused of corruption charges, along with the former head of State TV, Osama el-Sheikh. El-Sheikh was ordered to serve 5 years in jail, in a case involving the purchase of TV programmes at inflated prices using state funds. The trial was one of many currently ongoing against members of the former regime, including the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak, who is being held accountable for the killings of anti-regime protestors.

Syria looks East as renewed UN proposal submitted

In a concerted effort to pass a UN resolution on Syria, a group of European states have submitted a draft proposal calling for sanctions unless there was an “immediate end to all violence”. Backed by the US, the resolution drawn up by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal has scaled down demands for immediate sanctions as they seek to gain the support of Russia and China, who have threatened to veto the resolution. Opposition has also come from India, South Africa and Brazil. The proposal still condemned " the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities " and the threat of future sanctions remains. French Ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, commented the resolution should not be dismissed as “weak” stating , "But in our world it will be a significant first step . It will be the first time there has been a resolution against Syria and it will be talking about sanctions." The move comes as the existing European oil embargo leaves Syria desperately seeking new customers, causing them to shift their gaze to the East, just as Iran did with China when they too faced sanctions.

Australia lifts ban on female soldiers serving on frontlines

Australia is to lift all gender-based restrictions on military combat positions, paving the way for female soldiers serving along-side their male colleagues on the frontlines, in roles previous denied to them, including Special Forces units, infantry and certain artillery roles. The propsed changes will put Australia into a small group of conventional state militaries that have ensured equality for female soldiers - namely, Canada, Israel and New Zealand. Announcing the proposed changes, Stephen Smith, Australia's Defence Minister, said, “We have an Australian Army that’s been going for 110 years, an Australian Navy that’s been going formally for 100 years, and an Australian Air Force that’s been going for 90 years, and last night, we resolved to remove the final restrictions on the capacity of women to serve in front-line combat roles,” “ In the future, your role in the defense force will be determined on your ability, not on the basis of your sex .”

Libya to assist Lockerbie probe

The National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya has assured the British Government of its cooperation in probing the Lockerbie bombing, after reports emerged that Libya’s justice minister refused any further cooperation as the case was ‘closed’. "What I and all the world knows is that Mr Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was tried in the Lockerbie case and convicted, he appealed and his conviction was upheld, then the Scottish, and later the British authorities decided to release him on compassionate grounds. "For me, as minister for justice the case is finished and it is not right put someone on...

US urged on UN-led probe into Myanmar atrocities, as rapes escalate

A petition by thousands of Americans is urging the United States to press for a UN-led probe into alleged crimes against humanity in Myanmar, saying the country needs accountability to move ahead. Earlier this month, Amnesty International urged the European Union and its member states to also lend their support to the establishment of a UN commission of inquiry. See AFP’s reports here and here . The US Campaign for Burma said that 13,000 US citizens signed the petition. "Justice is a crucial part of national reconciliation in any country. Burma cannot move forward until these attacks stop and...

China’s restrained protest at US arms sale to Taiwan

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sept. 26, 2011. (Xinhua) China has protested renewed arms sales by the US to Taiwan, but the threats of retaliatory action have been described as ‘restrained’ by commentators. Taiwan requested the sale of F-16 fighter jets but the US decided to ‘only’ upgrade Taiwan’s existing fleet in a deal worth $5.85 billion.

Extremists from France take up arms in West Bank

Two weeks ago, an announcement appeared on a French website, calling for "militants with military experience" to participate in a trip to Israel between September 19 and 25. 55 French citizens responded and travelled to the West Bank. No, it’s not what you think. See Al-Jazeera’s report here .

China's capitalist communist

The Central Committee of China’s ruling Communist party may next year have a new member – the country's richest tycoon. See the BBC’s report here .