Monday, September 30, 2013

Wave of Car Bombs Across Baghdad Killing 51

Wave of car bombs across Baghdad kills 51

8:23 a.m. EDT September 30, 2013

BAGHDAD (AP) — A wave of car bombs struck mainly in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad on Monday morning, killing at least 51 people and wounding dozens more, officials said.

The country's Interior Ministry blamed al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, saying they are exploiting the political infighting and security shortcomings to stage attacks.

The deadliest of the day's bombings was in the eastern Sadr City district, where a parked car bomb tore through a small vegetable market and its parking lot, killing seven people and wounding 16, a police officer said.

That was followed by a total of 10 parked car bombs, which went off in quick sequence in the Shiite neighborhoods of New Baghdad, Habibiya, Sabaa al-Bour, Kazimiyah, Shaab, Ur, Shula as well as the Sunni neighborhoods of Jamiaa and Ghazaliyah.

The 10 other explosions also struck at outdoor markets or parking lots, killing 44 people and wounding 139, according to other police officers. Medical officials confirmed the causality figures in Monday's attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the deadly wave, which bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda's local branch in Iraq, known as the Islamic State of Iraq.

Iraqi security forces sealed off the sites of the attacks as fire fighters struggled to extinguish fires that broke out. Twisted wreckage of cars and remnants of the car bombs littered the pavement.

"Our war with terrorism goes on," Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan told The Associated Press. "Part of the problem is the political infighting and regional conflicts ... There are shortcomings and we need to develop our capabilities mainly in the intelligence-gathering efforts."

Iraqi militants often target crowded places such as markets, cafes and mosques, seeking to inflict huge numbers of casualties.

Monday's attacks were the most widespread and deadly since the Sept. 21 suicide bombings that struck a cluster of funeral tents packed with mourning families in Sadr City, killing at least 104 people.

On Sunday, a series of bombings in different parts of Iraq — including two suicide bombings in the country's relatively peaceful northern Kurdish region — killed 46.

Violence in Iraq surged after government troops moved against a protest camp of Sunni demonstrators in April, triggering deadly clashes nationwide. Although overall death tolls are still lower than at the height of the conflict, the cycle of violence is reminiscent to the one that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007.

More than 4,500 people have been killed since April.

Al-Qaeda is believed to be trying to build on the Sunni minority's discontent toward what they consider to be second-class treatment by Iraq's Shiite-led government and on the infighting between political groups, to ignite a sectarian warfare.

Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report from Baghdad.

IMF Further Exposes Destruction of the Occupied Libyan Economy Under Neo-Colonialism

IMF Further Exposes the Destruction of the Libyan Economy Under Neo-Colonial Rule

Tripoli, 30 September 2013:

Leading GNC member and member of its influential Security Committee, Abdulmonen Alyaser, pulled no punches during a TV interview this week in which he highlighted the dangerous path the Zeidan government was taking.

He said that the IMF team had raised the ‘’red flag’’ regarding the direction in which the Zeidan government was taking Occupied Libya.

Alyaser expressed his great concern about the growing wages bill that Libya was facing made worse by the Zeidan government’s recent announcement of a 20 percent increase.

The GNC member had grave concerns for the Libyan rebel government’s ability to pay for all its policies from the 2013 budget and especially in view of the crippling oil strikes that have reduced Libya’ oil revenues – its only real source of income.

Alyaser’s concerns were echoed by other GNC members. Speaking off record other GNC members were equaliy critical of the current Prime Minister and his “short termist” policies.

“Zeidan wants to buy himself out of his political and security problems by spending all of Libya’s savings”, a GNC member said under conditions of not revealing their name. “What Qaddafi saved in decades – nearly LD 200 billion – Zeidan is going to waste on wages and subsidies in a two or three years”, one irate GNC member told the media.

Moreover, the United States installed rebel Prime Minister and parts of his government were ‘’in denial’’ about the gravity of their wage increases and enlarged state sector employees. They just don’t appreciate the complex economic and fiscal ramification of their policies and had their ‘’head in the sand”, one source told the press.

Another GNC member said that all Zeidan was concerned about was “getting to the end of his time in office at any cost with Libya intact. Whoever is in power can pay the rent”, he said quoting a popular Libyan proverb.

Despite all the talk of the activation of the National ID number, apparently little evidence has been shown that there has been serious reduction of wage duplication.

There is much truth to what the GNC member said. Whilst the amount and the time frame maybe slightly inaccurate, sources have revealed to this publication that the IMF team were “shocked” by the spending figures of the Zeidan government.

A GNC member said that Occupied Libya would soon have to go “begging” to the World Bank for a loan like its Arab Spring neighbours if it carried on at this current spending rate.

The IMF apparently told the rebel Libyan authorities – those who would listen and who could appreciate the consequences of over spends on wages and subsidies and the deficits they would leave as a legacy for future generations – that they needed to take corrective action immediately if they are to control the anticipated deficit of 2013.

Sources also revealed that the IMF questioned the ‘’rosy’’ scenario of the NOC on realistic oil production rates for the rest of 2013 and over the next four years.

Obviously, neither the IMF nor the rebels misleading Libya had anticipated that oil production would be disrupted to such an extent.

The IMF were also apparently very concerned by the Zeidan rebel regime using the development budget for wages. Dipping into the development budget means that there is no hope for the nonexistent construction and development sector contributing to the badly broken and stalled economy and the national revenue.

That would also mean that there is no hope that the private sector and the construction sector can create jobs and reduce the pressure on the neo-colonial state to provide jobs and ease the anticipated deficit. This has consequences on growth in 2014 and subsequent years.

The GNC members said that the IMF was particularly surprised and displeased in view of the quite positive outlook they had given Occupied Libya in their last report. It seems that the Libyan rebels had put the report on the shelf and gone in completely the opposite direction.

The IMF was concerned that the rebel legislature was not taking the long term view regarding Libya’s reserves and savings.

They were surprised that no legislation had been put in place to protect savings from governments bowing to rebellious (or in Libya’ case even armed) demands.

A leading GNC member confirmed last night that GNC rebel President Nuri Abusahmien had even failed to meet the IMF team –a courtesy that is usually afforded to a premier international organization such as the IMF and that was offered by his predecessor Mohamed Magarief during their last visit.

No one from the IMF was available for comment.

More Political Assassinations in Occupied Libya

Three army, police officers killed in Libya's Benghazi

Published September 29, 2013

BENGHAZI (LIBYA) (AFP) – Three army and police officers died in separate attacks in Benghazi Sunday, the latest in a string of attacks against security forces in Libya's second city, a security official said.

"Air force Lieutenant Colonel Ali al-Daghani was killed when a device placed in his car exploded near a market," said Abdullah al-Zayedi, a spokesman for the security forces.

"A few metres (yards) away, police officer Nejib Bel Hacen al-Zwei died when a homemade bomb exploded in his car," he said, while another officer, Abdelkader al-Maadani, was gunned down outside his Benghazi home.

Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 revolt which toppled Moamer Kadhafi, has been hit by a wave of deadly attacks targeting security personnel and judiciary members, many of whom served with the ousted regime.

Attacks in the eastern city have also targeted diplomats and Western interests.

The Struggle Continues in Nigerian Higher Education

The Struggle Continues

30 Sep 2013

Adeola Akinremi writes that on the eve of Nigeria’s independence on October 1, 1960, students everywhere celebrated. But as the nation celebrates its 53rd independence anniversary, classrooms in the country's universities remain under lock and key due to the strike by its lecturers and non-academic staff. Is it yet freedom?

Tomorrow is 53rd independence day anniversary. But millions of Nigerians in higher institutions will not celebrate. Of course, their parents too. Grimaced, Joy Alumona, an undergraduate at the University of Nigeria, Nsuka, Enugu State, rubbed her tired eyes beneath her glasses. “I have lost a semester already. This is not where we should be at 53. I am sad that ASUU strikes have had no solution over the years,” she said.

Yes, the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which started on July 1 has entered its 90 days and there may be a long walk to freedom for students who seek to return to the classrooms after three months of staying at home, away from the classroom environment.

On its website, ASUU president, Nasir Isa Fagge, a lecturer at Bayero University, Kano, insisted in a statement that the union will not call off the strike until its demands are met by the government.

“As the struggle to save Nigerian university system is being pursued, I'll like to salute all our members for their resoluteness in ensuring that the 2009 ASUU/Government Agreement is implemented in accordance with the Roadmap defined by the 2012 MoU. We believe very strongly that the rot and decay in the University System is not only arrestable but also reversible. We believe even more strongly that, the key to turning round the University System lies in the sincere implementation of the Agreement.

“What government has so far been doing is no more than a repeat performance of a one-act-play: all the deceptions, propaganda, lies, mischiefs and such other Shenanigans were tried by previous Governments, including Military Juntas, but our resolve to save the University System and our Country remained unwaivered. We will continue to carry the banner of this struggle to its logical conclusion. I urge all our members to maintain the spirit of camaraderie and remain firmly resolute in ensuring that our patriotic struggle succeeds.”

The federal government had offered N100 billion and N30 billion for infrastructure development in various universities and payment of verified earned allowances of lecturers respectively. But it is still not clear if the government made an improved offer to the lecturers who stuck to their guns that government implements fully the 2009 agreement.

In a letter to the Federal Government dated August 20, ASUU had expressed dissatisfaction with government’s offer of N100billion as a way out of the strike. A part of the letter reads: “We observe that the Committee is so far mentioning only N100billion. If the implementation is to be related to the funding requirements in the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement and the Jan 2012 MoU, what is due for 2012 and 2013 is N500billion not N100billion. Only the provision of this sum will meet the immediate needs of the universities.”

To be sure, Fagge at a separate forum had said, “We want the best for the students and calling off the strike without getting it will amount to a waste of time with all the protests. If the Federal Government doesn’t shift grounds, we’ll also remain here until we are attended to appropriately.

“We can’t call off the strike now and return to what we’ve been going through over the years. Or embark on the strike action again after three months or in one or two years’ time.

“Do we just continue deceiving Nigerians when facilities are not in place for proper learning? We want to address the problems once and for all.”

But in a response to Faggae, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) asked ASUU to end the strike so that students can return to the classrooms.

At a press conference in Lagos, NANS president, Yinka Gbadebo told journalists that as much as ASUU’s demands seemed justifiable, it is the students who are suffering the consequences of the strike the most, while the lecturers have little or no consequences to suffer.

He urged ASUU leadership and members to accept the funds the Federal Government had already disbursed to the various universities in the country and resume academic activities, while negotiations with government on the full implementation of the union’s demands was being made.

Gbadebo further said that NANS had no moral obligation to support the struggles of ASUU, as it was on no record that the lecturers had ever supported any students’ struggles in the past, such as “unjust” school increment and the likes.

He said: “We wish to categorically state here that it has become imperative for the government and ASUU to understand the position of Nigerian students in the tripod that constitutes the university community, which is management, teachers and students.

“Having taken a holistic review of the details inherent in the agreement as signed by FG and ASUU, it has become germane for us to call on ASUU to reconsider its present adamant stand on the continued closure of our universities.

“We must, as Nigerians, accept that the problem with our universities have developed over decades and would, therefore, be unimaginable that ASUU with its present stance want it totally resolved within the spate of four years that this agreement was signed.”

Also, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State has urged ASUU to go back to classes while negotiations continue, instead of continuing to play politics with the negotiation by insisting that everything contained in the 2009 agreement is met.

Suswam, who is chairman of the Universities Needs Assessment and Implementation Committee set up by the government, noted that the Federal Government has done what was needed to be done to ensure that the strike was called off but regretted that the leadership of ASUU is misleading the public about the true state of the issues at stake.

History is full of instances where ASUU strikes in the past have impacted negatively on the progress of Nigerian students and their dreams.

According to information available on Wikipedia, ASUU was formed in 1978 as a successor to the Nigerian Association of University Teachers formed in 1965 and covering academic staff in the University of Ibadan, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ife and University of Lagos.

In 1988 the union organised a national strike to obtain fair wages and university autonomy. As a result, ASUU was proscribed on August 7, 1988 and all its property seized. It was allowed to resume union activities in 1990, but after another strike was again banned on August 23,1992. However, an agreement was reached on September 3, 1992 that met several of the union's demands including the right of workers to collective bargaining. ASUU organised further strikes in 1994 and 1996, protesting against the dismissal of staff by the Sani Abacha military regime.

And with the return to democracy in 1999, the union continued to be militant in demanding the rights of university workers and for almost all through the period when former President olusegun Obasanjo was in saddle, ASUU strike was a dominant part of industrial actions of those period. In 2007 ASUU went on strike for three months and in May 2008, ASUU held 'warning strikes' to press a range of demands, including an improved salary scheme and reinstatement of 49 lecturers who were dismissed many years ago at the University of Ilorin. In June 2009, ASUU again ordered its members to proceed on an indefinite strike over disagreements with the Federal Government's on an agreement it reached with the union about two and a half years earlier. That strike was suspended after three months when in October 2009 ASUU signed a memorandum of understanding with the government and called off the industrial action.

Now, after many meetings that have not yielded positive result, NANS has threatened to disturb private universities so that the Federal Government would be more concerned about the ongoing ASUU strike.

Besides, vice-chancellors of universities are also feeling the weight of the strike. Last week, the Vice-Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), in Ondo State, Prof. Femi Mimiko threatened to call his students back to school if the two parties involved fail to resolve before the end of this month.

According to Mimiko, “interruption of academic calendars is one of the problems we face with regards to this strike action. As you all noted, we manage to run the university for the past four years on an uninterrupted calendar. We are particularly concern about this strike because our academic calendar has been affected.

“We are hoping that ASUU will do the needful to call off the strike as speedily as possible. We have come into the conclusion that in our own interest as a state university, we must begin to find a way to bring our students back. So we are hoping that the strike will be called off before the end of the month, otherwise we may begin to take some steps that will enable us bring our students back to the campus.

“Well, we have a blueprint on the table that we are looking at. The important thing is that we are not going to allow our students to remain at home for so long than this. If the strike is not over within a few days, we may call back our workers.

He added: “Already, we are consulting with the lecturers because they are not employees of federal government. We do not have any substantive dispute with our workers on campus, so technically they should not have been on strike in the first instance.

“Though, we are consulting, talking to members and hoping that all of us will drive in the same direction. That is what is our strategic interest as a state university that is funded by the state government and not the federal government.”

According to analysts one factor the Federal Government is apparently banking on for not honouring the pact is the fact that the agreement is not legally enforceable but binding only in honour as gentlemen’s pact. So for how will students remain at home? only ASUU knows.

Nigerian Southeast, South-South Governments Urge End to University Strikes

S’East, S’South govs urge end to ASUU strike

Nigerian Guardian

GOVERNORS of the South East and South South geopolitical zones have called on the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and all others to be sensitive to the plight of university students and call off the three months old strike that has crippled studies in the universities.

At a meeting at the Enugu State Government House, the governors called for continued dialogue at resolving national issues and management of the security situation in the country. They commended the Federal Government for the massive reduction in crude oil theft.

Present at the meeting were Governors Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Peter Obi (Anambra), Sullivan Chime (Enugu), Theodore Orji (Abia), Martin Elechi (Ebonyi), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) and the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State retired Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah.

Addressing the media , Imoke stated that the meeting “deliberated over issues affecting the zone and the nation in general”.

The governors, he stated, “resolved to continue to strengthen economic ties between our states and to continue to pursue the development of the zones as well as prosecute the various infrastructure projects.”

Gunmen Kill 44 Students in Yobe State, Nigeria

Gunmen kill 44 students in Yobe

Nigerian Guardian


• 18 others missing after attack on college

GUNMEN defied the emergency rule and all security measures in the northern part of the country Sunday as they were on the prowl again.

At the end of their attack, 44 students of the College of Agriculture, Gujba, lost their lives.

Four students were injured while 18 others were missing after their hostels were torched with Improvised Explosive Devices and petrol-bombs at 1.30 a.m.

Gujba is 30 kilometres south of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital and homestead of the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.

In a separate attack, gunmen slit the throats of four persons at Mallumti village on Saturday while returning to Maiduguri in the evening.

According to an eyewitness who is an official of the college, the gunmen stormed the premises in Hilux and Gold Volkswagen vehicles and motorcycles. He said that they killed 44 students after closing all the gates to prevent the escape of the victims from their hostels.

He said about 18 students were abducted by the attackers, before ordering others not to flee. The latter were either shot dead or injured in the three-hour attacks on the hostels and classrooms.

The eyewitness continued: “I cannot tell you the exact number of students injured in yesterday’s attacks. I am certain that four of our students were taken to Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital, Damaturu, for treatment, while the 44 bodies of the students are at the hospital morgue for further identification by the college authorities and parents.”

Eighteen students of Government Secondary School, Mamudo, were killed by Boko Haram gunmen on July 6, 2013. The Buni/Yadi attacks of last Thursday also claimed the lives of three persons, including the wife of a police officer.

“The students were caught unawares last night when the gunmen shut the gates of the college, and started to shoot at any of the students at sight. The only students that escaped the torching and killings here yesterday were the ones that hid in the ceilings. But the attackers were able to abduct 18 students to an unknown destination,” he said.

Confirming the incident yesterday in Damaturu, the spokesman of Three Division Special Operations Battalion, Captain Eli Lazarus, said: “The Boko Haram insurgents attacked a college of agriculture in the early hours of today (Sunday) and shot dead over 40 students sleeping in their hostels. We have deployed our men, based on the information the people gave us, and I assured you that we will get them, as the soldiers are tracing the routes they had taken, after the insurgents’ attacks and killings at the college yesterday night.”

On preventing similar attacks, he said: “Our men cannot be everywhere in this state to prevent insurgents from attacking or killing. What we do is to rely on the information provided by the local people before the soldiers could pursue the insurgents that have been attacking towns and villages outside Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.”

He said the soldiers were combing the Gujba-Goniri forests, as the locals identified the routes the insurgents had taken to flee at dawn.

The Borno Police Commissioner, Lawal Tanko, also confirmed the attacks on the Maiduguri-Damaturu Road, stating that four passengers and motorists were killed by slitting their throats by 5.27 p.m. on Saturday.

US Government Heads Toward Shutdown

Updated September 29, 2013, 8:17 p.m. ET

Government Heads Toward Shutdown

Senate Doesn't Reconvene Until Monday Afternoon, Hours Before Deadline

Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—The nation braced for a partial shutdown of the federal government, as time for Congress to pass a budget before a Monday midnight deadline grew perilously short and lawmakers gave no signs Sunday they were moving toward a resolution.

Leaders of both parties said they wanted to avoid the first federal closure since 1996, but their public appearances seemed aimed more at affixing blame for the impasse.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) urged Senate leaders to pass legislation that the Republican-controlled House had approved early Sunday morning, which would fund the government through mid-December. But that prospect was remote, as the House legislation included a one-year delay of the new federal health law that Democrats have vowed to reject, as well as a repeal of the new law's tax on medical devices.

Democrats say Mr. Boehner himself could end the stalemate quickly by asking the House to pass the Senate plan for extending federal funding, which includes no provisions aimed at the health law.

Such a move would anger conservatives in Mr. Boehner's ranks and likely materialize only at the last minute, after keeping up the fight against the health law to the end. But it would bring relief to the many Republicans who fear that the public would hand their party the largest share of blame for a shutdown.

The tense maneuvering surrounded a bill that otherwise might be uncontroversial: an extension of current funding for the government for the early months of the new fiscal year, which begins Tuesday. But a determined faction of conservative Republicans has argued that the deadline gives the party its best opportunity for derailing the new health law before one of its central elements, health-insurance marketplaces for individuals, are launched Tuesday.

Some Republicans held out hope that the prospect of a government shutdown would pressure Senate Democrats to make even a symbolic concession to their demand for changes in the Affordable Care Act, perhaps by agreeing to the repeal of the medical-device tax intended to help fund the law.

"We will not shut the government down," said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), speaking Sunday on Fox News. "If we have to negotiate a little longer, we will continue to negotiate."

But other Republicans are troubled that their party's most conservative flank is forcing the confrontation to the brink in their attempt to delay or defund President Barack Obama's prized legislative accomplishment.

"We're pretty much out of options at this point,'' said Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), criticizing the faction of the party most unwilling to compromise. "They're all giddy about it. You know who benefits the most here from a shutdown? The Democrats benefit and they know that."

A shutdown would prompt federal agencies to suspend a large range of activities and furlough at least 825,000 of the U.S. government's more than two million workers, according to plans filed with the White House. However, much of the public would be unaffected, as services deemed essential would continue, among them those related to national security, mail delivery, air traffic and law enforcement.

With federal agencies preparing for furloughs, Congress remained in recess Sunday after the House in the early morning hours passed its short-term funding bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) opted to keep the Senate in recess until Monday afternoon, in a hardball strategy aimed at pressuring House Republicans to abandon attempts to use the moment to scale back the health law.

Mr. Boehner denounced the Senate for refusing to reconvene Sunday, calling it an act of "breathtaking arrogance."

In response, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Mr. Boehner's strategy was "merely a subterfuge to lift the blame from his shoulders.''

White House officials met Saturday and Sunday to talk about the possible government shutdown and other matters. A senior administration official said no back-channel discussions were under way with congressional Republicans.

The official said Mr. Obama was willing to negotiate a broad budget agreement with the GOP, but would reject "paying a toll'' in the form of policy concessions as part of a short-term funding measure.

The stalemate was a monument to problems that have increasingly gripped U.S. politics, especially over the last three years of divided government. The growing polarization of the parties, a diminished willingness to compromise on spending and an epidemic of brinkmanship have made it more difficult for Congress to address even the most routine budgeting questions.

Mr. Obama and other Democrats have said that agreeing to GOP demands now would invite Republicans to press for more in the future, with each fiscal deadline. Next up is a battle over terms for raising the nation's borrowing limit, which the Treasury says must be approved by mid-October. Most economists predict that the financial consequences of failing to raise the debt limit would be greater than a government shutdown.

The endgame of the shutdown battle will begin Monday afternoon, when the Senate is expected to reconvene roughly 10 hours before the midnight deadline. The Senate is expected to take up the House bill to continue government spending through Dec. 15 and strip out GOP amendments to delay the health-care law for a year and repeal its new tax on medical devices. That would put the ball back in the House's court.

The simplest path to avoiding a shutdown would be for the House to immediately pass the Senate funding bill and send it to the White House. Mr. Nunes and others predict that there would be enough votes to pass such a bill, if brought up by GOP leaders, with Democrats joined by some Republicans willing to postpone the health-care fight in the interest of ending the showdown.

However, that route could pose political risks to Mr. Boehner, whose standing as speaker rests on retaining his party's support, including from a conservative wing that often has clamored for him to be more combative in fighting Mr. Obama's policies.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R., Ariz.) said Mr. Boehner's status among House Republicans could suffer if he forced a pared-down spending bill through the House. "There are too many people who campaigned on this issue, to do everything they could to get rid of this bad law or postpone it," Mr. Salmon said.

Others said Mr. Boehner could bring the Senate bill to a vote at the last minute, late enough to show he had fought for Republican priorities to the end. Mr. Boehner played a similar hand early this year when he crafted and voted for a compromise with Democrats to avoid the "fiscal cliff'' of impending tax increases.

GOP officials say another option being considered by Mr. Boehner is to bring the spending bill back to the floor with yet another amendment that might allow Republican lawmakers to claim they achieved something in the battle.

One possibility is an amendment to limit federal contributions to offset the costs of health-care premiums paid by lawmakers and their staffs. Because lawmakers and aides will be required under the new health law to obtain coverage through exchanges designed for people without insurance, their costs will increase dramatically without the U.S. contribution.

Limiting the federal contribution is privately opposed by many lawmakers. But it is considered a potential 11th hour move, because it would put the Senate in the position of defending a policy that benefits lawmakers themselves.

—Peter Nicholas,
Andrew Ackerman
and Rebecca Ballhaus
contributed to this article.
Write to Janet Hook at and Kristina Peterson at

Zimbabwe Tobacco Farming Critical In Promoting Food Security

Tobacco farming critical in promoting food security

September 30, 2013 Business
Fanuel Kangondo recently in Vumba
Zimbabwe Herald

Successful tobacco farming in Zimbabwe can easily improve the food security situation as it is linked to growing other crops in rotation with the cash crop, British American Tobacco Zimbabwe managing director Mr Lovemore Manatsa has said.

Addressing delegates to the 12th annual International Management Conference in Vumba last week, Mr Manatsa said the phenomenal rise in the number of small-scale tobacco growers from 30 000 in 2000 to around 75 000 driven by the land reform programme should with time boost food production.

Although there have been concerns over a decline in the quantity and quality of tobacco produced in this country, he said this was to be expected as the sector that was dominated by almost 200 white commercial farmers was undergoing transformation.

In a speech read on his behalf by the company’s leaf operations manager, Mr Gabriel Gumbo, Mr Manatsa said that food production cannot be ignored even if more growers ventured into tobacco.

He said that the increase in the crop size from an all-time low of about 40 million kilogrammes in 2005 to the 165 million kg last season was a sure sign that Zimbabwe can reclaim its position as a renowned flavour style tobacco producer with a world market.

“Zimbabwe historically has an internationally deserved reputation for producing flavour styles of tobacco comparably and arguably superior to the only other competing flavour producing countries, Brazil and the United States and this dominance can partly be attributed to climate.

“We also have good management, research, training, and accompanying infrastructure such as curing facilities,” he said.

He added that small-scale farmers developed quality over time and studies in Brazil had shown that this takes up to eight years and locally the results were beginning to show.

Production costs for small-scale growers were generally lower and this translated to socially and economically positive developments that transformed communities that created employment opportunities, agronomy training, Aids awareness, tree plantings and child labour education.

“A large amount of badly needed cash is injected into the rural economy at grassroots level, thus revitalising ancillary businesses from the village hardware store to primary supply chain logistics and this may involve the five-tonne lorry. This prosperity rapidly filters down into family nutrition, schooling and general social stability as the household income increases.”

On concerns that tobacco farmers were causing extensive deforestation countrywide, Mr Manatsa said that BAT Zimbabwe had in association with other stakeholders initiated the Sustainable Afforestation Programme in collaboration with the Forestry Commission to promote the planting of woodlots specifically for tobacco farmers. Responding to the global onslaught against tobacco production, Mr Manatsa said that since the bulk of the crop grown in Zimbabwe was destined for the export market, they had to abide with regulations arising from by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Although there was a decline in the amount of cigarettes smoked in Europe and the United States, Mr Manatsa said the market for Zimbabwean tobacco was huge with China alone accounting for 60 percent of the Zimbabwe crop.

He added that there was an insatiable appetite for Zimbabwe tobacco in China which made it a niche market.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kenya Raps US Over 'Unfriendly' Travel Warning After Mall Attack

Kenya raps U.S. over 'unfriendly' travel warning after attack

4:28pm EDT
By Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Pascal Fletcher

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya rebuked the United States on Sunday for warning its citizens over travel to the east African country after the September 21 Nairobi mall attack, calling the alert "unfriendly" and asking Washington to lift it.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku delivered the diplomatic slap when he updated reporters on a government investigation into the assault carried out eight days ago by Islamist militants on the crowded upmarket Westgate centre.

The attack, which was claimed by the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab whose fighters fired on shoppers and tossed grenades leaving a trail of victims of all ages, has shocked Kenya and the world.

Although Kenyan police assisted by U.S., Israeli and European experts are still poring over the partially wrecked mall building, Ole Lenku said the death toll from the attack still stood at 67. Five attackers were also killed.
Besides more than 50 Kenyans, citizens from Britain, France, China, Ghana, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Peru and the Netherlands were also killed.

Ole Lenku expressed Kenya's strong objections to an updated travel advisory issued by the U.S. government to its citizens urging them to "evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism" in the east African country.

Although he did not specifically mention tourism, the minister's comments appeared to reflect Kenyan concern over the impact the attack - and the U.S. travel advisory - could have on the country's $1 billion-a-year tourist industry.

"We are concerned by the advisory which is uncalled for, unnecessary, and unfriendly ...
We believe issuing the travel advisory is counter-productive in the fight against global terrorism," Ole Lenku said.

Kenya requested that the United States, "as a friend of Kenya", lift the warning, Ole Lenku said, adding that the country remained calm though in a state of heightened security.

"There have been numerous terror attacks around the globe and traditionally, friendly countries have not done anything to increase the pain of the victim country," Ole Lenku said.

The Nairobi attack was the worst in Kenya since the U.S. Embassy was bombed in the capital by al Qaeda in 1998, killing more than 200 people, mostly Kenyans. Since then, Kenya has been seen by the West as an ally in the fight against terrorism.

The rebuke for Washington was delivered at a time when Kenya's government faced intense questions from its own public about whether it had received advance intelligence warnings of the deadly strike against the mall.

At the weekend, major Kenyan newspapers reported that the country's intelligence services had warned of a possible attack in Nairobi, with the Westgate mall as one likely target.

The reports emerged ahead of a meeting on Monday of the Kenyan parliament's defense committee which is expected to ask security chiefs how much warning they had of the assault.

Claiming the mall attack that extended into a four-day siege, al Shabaab said it acted in revenge against Kenyan troops who have been fighting it in neighboring Somalia for two years.


"US government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at US, Western and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including in the Nairobi area and in the coastal city of Mombasa," read the updated travel warning posted by the State Department on its website on Friday.

Ole Lenku said nine suspects were in custody over the raid, one of them arrested on Sunday. The minister declined to give any information about the suspected attackers or those arrested, saying "we do not discuss intelligence matters in public".

Addressing intense speculation that hostages were taken during the attack, and could be dead and buried in the rubble of the damaged mall, Ole Lenku said: "It is the government position that there were no hostages and we managed to rescue all the people who were in the building."

But he added this would depend on the forensic evidence.

Equally, there had been no formal reports to the police of missing persons from the attack, he said. Kenya's Red Cross had previously listed dozens of people missing.

The possibility that al Shabaab, which has carried out previous smaller gun and grenade attacks in Kenya, may be planning further high-profile strikes presents a major security challenge for President Uhuru Kenyatta, elected in March.

But the incident has also rallied foreign support for him as he faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He denies charges of orchestrating violence after Kenya's disputed 2007 elections.

The lack of information about the attackers' identities has produced speculation that radicalized diaspora Somalis from the United States and Europe may have been involved.
Kenyan and Western officials have said they cannot confirm speculation that Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, widow of one of the 2005 London suicide bombers, had a role in the mall attack. Some survivors said they saw an armed white woman.

(Reporting by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Pascal Fletcher)

Kenyan Authorities Had Been Warned About Threat to Buildings 'Day Before Attacks'

Kenyan authorities had been warned about threat to buildings 'day before attacks'

Intelligence agents are said to have been in Westgate mall just hours before killings, as criticism over government grows

Afua Hirsch in Nairobi
The Observer, Saturday 28 September 2013 14.52 EDT

Kenyan authorities had intelligence pointing to an attack in Nairobi a day before the Westgate mall attack. According to counter-terrorism documents, the government and military were warned that al-Shabaab was planning an attack on the capital where it would storm a building and hold hostages.

There are also reports that Kenyan intelligence agents were at Westgate a few hours before the crowded shopping centre was struck by heavily armed terrorists last Saturday, in a four-day siege that left at least 67 people dead.

"We cannot say that this attack comes as a surprise," said Farah Maalim, former deputy speaker of the Kenyan National Assembly. "The possibility of something like this happening, and of failures in the Kenyan intelligence community, has worried us for years." Maalim added: "We have an intelligence service more worried about internal party politics than about threats to national security."

It was announced yesterday that a sixth Briton has died following the siege. The Foreign Office has said it cannot rule out the possibility of further casualties.

Kenya refuses to comment on reports of warnings prior to the attack, but officials say they are still investigating the relationship between the attackers and al-Shabaab's local offshoot, al-Hijra. In the past, Kenya's large Somali-Kenyan population has borne the brunt of suspicion for involvement in terrorism, but sources say that the authorities are now focusing investigations on ethnic Kenyan converts to Islam for suspected links in the Westgate attack. One young convert was arrested and allegedly tortured last week, say human rights groups, for his suspected role in al-Hijra and Westgate.

Allegations of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings by the Kenyan authorities have gone hand in hand with their continuing investigations into al-Shabaab and al-Hijra networks in Kenya.

Terrorist activity in cells in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa has led to a spate of arrests – including the warrant for the arrest of British woman Samantha Lewthwaite – and what are believed to be assassinations after senior figures such as Aboud Rogo Mohammed, a former leader of al-Hijra, have been killed in unexplained circumstances.

Experts say that, as al-Shabaab has been weakened in Somalia, it has focused more and more on Kenya and its al-Hijra cell. In a report earlier this year, the United Nations group of experts that monitors the activities of al-Shabaab points to the appointment of a new leader for the group in Kenya last year, Sheikh Ahmad Iman Ali, as the impetus for a wave of grenade attacks and improvised explosive device explosions in Kenya, which have killed scores in recent months.

The report also warns that al-Hijra was planning large-scale attacks such as the one on the Westgate mall. "Al-Shabaab no longer recruits young Somali men to carry out dirty work for them," said Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, a Somali-Kenyan Horn of Africa specialist at Kenyatta University in Nairobi.

"Now they have got members from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, even Comoros – these are the ones carrying out attacks."

The diverse nature of al-Shabaab recruits is backed up by the group's own online propaganda. One photo, published on a pro-al-Shabaab website this year, shows light-skinned and at least one apparently white recruit in desert military uniform during a parade. The site claims that the images were taken at Barawe, a port in south-eastern Somalia where the Kenyan-born suspected al-Qaida operative Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was killed in a US military raid in 2009.

"Al-Shabaab is getting global support. It does not belong to Somalis any more. They have a strong network, and they are going from China to Chile, from Khartoum to Canada," said Abdisamad. "They want to Islamise the whole world, they have a global agenda and are getting advice and recruits from everywhere."

Yet despite widespread knowledge of the activities of al-Hijra, little has ostensibly been done to disrupt the group. "There are reasons why you don't just smash these networks up," said an international intelligence source. "You have to be very surgical in the way that you take it apart, with targeted prosecutions or assassinations."

Some have speculated that Kenya lacks any serious intent to disrupt al-Shabaab. "If we wanted to eliminate al-Shabaab in Somalia, we could do it in less than three months. But it seems we decided we didn't want to eliminate them completely because then we would have no legitimacy for being in Somalia," said Maalim. "Somalia is a cash cow for all the countries in the region," Maalim added. "It's a free-for-all. And in Kenya the terrorist attack seems a source of celebration for some – now we can challenge the international criminal court, we receive equipment and arms from the US and other allies, we can get the aid money flowing."

Kenya's counter-terrorism and intelligence strategy will come under increasing scrutiny as details continue to emerge from the rubble of the Westgate shopping centre, where an unknown number of bodies still lie buried after a large part of the structure collapsed. Seventy-one people are still missing, and no bodies have yet been recovered.

"Five suspected terrorists were killed during the operation and the ongoing forensic investigations will ascertain their identities," said the Kenyan government. "These investigations will answer the questions being raised about their nationalities and gender."

In Kenya, Questions Arise Over Reported Warning Of Attack

In Kenya, Questions Arise Over Reported Warnings Of Attack

September 29, 2013 3:47 PM

The upper parking lot entrance to the Westgate Mall is seen above vehicles that plunged during the collapse of the upper level. Kenyan officials are urging patience with the pace of the flow of information about the attack.

The upper parking lot entrance to the Westgate Mall is seen above vehicles that plunged during the collapse of the upper level. Kenyan officials are urging patience with the pace of the flow of information about the attack.

Kenyan authorities say they've made another arrest in the deadly attack on an upscale mall that shocked Nairobi last week. But officials are also facing questions over reports of intelligence that may have given warnings about the attack, which ended with at least 67 deaths.

According to the Kenyan Red Cross's last update which came on Friday, 59 people who are believed to have been in the mall remain unaccounted for.

At a news conference Sunday, Kenya's interior minister, Joseph Ole Lenku, said that nine people suspected of being involved in the attack are in custody, including one who is believed to have helped bring militants into Kenya.

Lenku also told Kenyans who have grown impatient with the government's pace of providing of information about the attack, "We ask you to bear with us."

As for the reported warnings, Lenku "said intelligence issues were confidential and would not be discussed in public," the BBC reports.

NPR's Gregory Warner reports from Nairobi:

"The list of suspects being questioned by Kenyan authorities continues to grow. But it's Kenya's own intelligence chief, Michael Gichangi, who will have to answer questions from Kenyan lawmakers Monday.

"Kenyan media has reported that foreign embassies, including Israel's, had warned officials of an impending attack on the Westgate Mall. A leader in Kenya's Jewish community said that Israel only gave standard security alerts around the period of the Jewish new year and did not mention Westgate by name.

"Intelligence chief Gichangi will also address accusations that the response to the attack was hampered by jurisdictional disputes between Kenya's special police and its military. The lack of a clear chain of command may have given terrorists a chance to regroup and kill more civilians."

News of the alleged warnings emerged Saturday in Kenyan newspapers. The first mention of a possible attack like that on Nairobi's Westgate Mall was allegedly dated September of 2012.

Kenya's The Star reports:

"The Israeli Embassy in Nairobi had warned of terror attacks this September targeting its citizens, according to briefs prepared by the National Intelligence Service.

"The Westgate shopping mall is partly owned by Israeli citizens including Alex Trajtenberg.

The popular Artcaffe on the ground floor where many people died is also Israeli owned."

The newspaper adds that Kenyan intelligence briefs named three possible participants in an attack, saying they were believed to possess explosives and guns. A more recent alert allegedly warned Kenyan intelligence officials that 15 militants backed by the Somali group al-Shabab were preparing to enter Kenya as refugees.

Al Jazeera reports that the intelligence document also includes the names of the Kenyan officials who received it.

Zimbabwe President Mugabe Opens Intellectual Expo

President to open Intellectual Expo

September 30, 2013
Problem Masau Arts Correspondent

President Robert Mugabe will officially open the Research and Intellectual Expo this Wednesday where students across the country’s colleges and universities will have an opportunity to showcase their talent through visual arts, fashion shows, drama, poetry, choral music, traditional dances and modelling.

The expo, running under the theme “Research Partnerships for Wealth Creation”, will be held from October 2 to 4 at the University of Zimbabwe.

Professor Herbert Chimhundu, one of the organising committee members, said a total of 22 institutions have registered to take part in the arts segment at the expo.

“Institutions will mount exhibitions at their stands. We will also have performing artistes within different institutions where they will compete in drama, dance, drama and other activities. The best performers will be given awards and certificates on the final day of the expo,” he said.

The Research and Intellectual Expo is an initiative of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and Science and Technology Development. It seeks to harness research and intellectual work by Zimbabweans both at home and in Diaspora for national development.

It also provides a platform for sharing knowledge, networking and collaborating by stakeholders in higher and tertiary education in Zimbabwe – Government and state agencies, industry and commerce, strategic regional and global bodies, local civil society networks, the public and higher and tertiary education institutions in Zimbabwe.

Participating institutions include all universities, research and extension centres or institutions, polytechnics, technical colleges, teachers colleges in

Zimbabwe and research institutions and individual researchers and academics from the region and the Diaspora. The thrust is to provide a platform from which Zimbabweans would find out about the new research outputs being produced at our national higher and tertiary education institutions.

Now in its third edition, the inaugural RIE Expo was held in 2011 and the subsequent 2012 edition have established a reputation as a focal point for new ideas and new practices in research, learning and technological and socio-economic development.

The overall thrust of the 2013 showcase is to build partnerships that widen and unleash opportunities for wealth creation, and will address a wide range of critically important themes in the various fields that make up the humanities, science and the expressive arts.

ZANU-PF Policies Are for Zimbabwe

Zanu-PF policies are for Zim, US told

September 28, 2013
Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT has castigated United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Bruce Wharton for attempting to influence policy direction in Zimbabwe by saying his country will only normalise relations if the Zanu-PF Government implements policies favourable to the US.

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo yesterday said Mr Wharton’s views were as abnormal as the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by his country.

He said Government would implement policies as espoused by the Zanu-PF manifesto that was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters on July 31.

“This thing is totally unacceptable,” said Prof Moyo. “The Government was not elected by Americans, it was elected by people of Zimbabwe on the basis of a very clear, transparent manifesto.

“This Government has an obligation to implement that manifesto as a promise to the Zimbabwean electorate, not to Americans or ambassador Wharton or any foreigner and this position of saying we are watching your policies is exactly what Zimbabweans fought against.

“It is exactly the reason we have fallen gallant sons and daughters who sacrificed their lives to free our country and give it its sovereignty and it is impossible for us to countenance betrayal of that sovereignty.

This Government is the last to betray the sacrifices of our gallant sons and daughters and through that the sovereignty that they won, by saying we shall formulate and implement policies with America in mind in order to please the American government so that it will not impose sanctions or it will lift sanctions, that does not make sense.”

Mr Wharton told journalists in Mutare on Thursday that his country would decide whether or not to engage Zimbabwe based on how the new Zanu-PF Government would implement its policies.

But Prof Moyo said the fact that Mr Wharton said his country was ready to normalise relations with Zimbabwean meant that they recognised that the relations were abnormal.

“Everyone knows that the abnormal future of the relations between the two countries is entirely because of the illegal sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe by the American government through Zidera, which sanctions have devastated the livelihoods of ordinary people,” he said.

Prof Moyo said the same sanctions had affected the country’s ecology as seen at Hwange National Park where nearly 90 elephants were poisoned by poachers after the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s monitoring systems were compromised.

“The only way to normalise the relations between Zimbabwe and America is to remove the abnormality of sanctions,” said Prof Moyo.

“This thing the American ambassador told the journalists, which he has been repeating for much too long, to the effect that the American government will keep the sanctions and therefore maintain abnormal relations while they watch the policies of the Government of Zimbabwe and will lift them depending on what those polices are and how they are implemented is not the basis of international relations and that is not the basis of normal relations.

“That is as abnormal as the sanctions. Our Government is committed, willing and ready to engage or re-engage any other foreign government on the basis of mutual respect of each other’s sovereignty in terms of international law and not on the basis of each other’s domestic policies.”

Prof Moyo said the time had come for ambassador Wharton to “stop his abnormal message and join all progressive members of the internal community in calling on his government to remove the illegal and abnormal sanctions they imposed against us”.

“If they do that, we will have normal relations which will improve the livelihoods of the peoples in the two countries,” he said.

Turning to the closure of the pirate television station 1st TV this week, Prof Moyo said the station was a voice of sanctions and had to shut because of the abnormal message it sought to portray.

“The first voice to come up as a pirate TV station has become the first to shut up,” he said. “This was a money making venture and it continues to be such.

“They don’t have a normal voice with any benefits to Zimbabweans and Zimbabweans are prepared for these things and that is why it did not have listeners. It has had no taker. It is natural that if you have an abnormal message you will not have any viewers and listeners and it becomes necessary to close, but the curious fact is that they are saying they are now going to be fund-raising, so this was clearly a fundraising initiative.”

Prof Moyo said the reason Zanu-PF won resoundingly with an emphatic two thirds majority in Parliament even with the pirate broadcasting stations was because Zimbabweans were “tired of the American project that has been polarising and dividing us”.

“They now want to move on to attend to their lives, put bread and butter on their tables for their families, to realise their their aspirations, hope,” he said. “They are now united behind the Zanu-PF Government and joining team Zanu-PF for the good of the country, for the good of every Zimbabwean, every family, every community, all of us.”

Prof Moyo said Zimbabweans have had 14 years of bickering sponsored by the likes of Mr Wharton and the British.

He said the fact that 1st TV was founded just before the July 31 by the likes of Andrew Chadwick, a British who once worked for the MDC-T, showed that it was British project.

“So, it is now clear that these Americans and British sponsored projects to divide and polarise Zimbabweans are all coming to grief,” said Prof Moyo. “They are all folding up because we can’t continue doing the same thing that divides us for 14 years and expect good results.

“And it is for this reason that everyone can bet their last dollar that these projects will no longer find any favour with any Zimbabweans regardless of their political affiliation…they are now united against sponsored projects whose main purposes is to divide them, hence the collapse of these projects,” he said.

Zimbabwe Delegation to United Nations General Assembly Harassed by United States

Zimbabwe Delegation to UN General Assembly Harassed by United States

Sunday, 29 September 2013 00:00
Tendai Mugabe recently in New York

The United States government continues to abuse its host status of the United Nations Headquarters to harass Zimbabwe’s delegation to UN General Assembly meetings in New York as it issued a “reminder” to President Mugabe and senior Government officials to remain within a prescribed radius during last week’s summit.

The reminder shocked Zimbabwe whose delegation has never violated provisions of the US Foreign Missions Act since the imposition of illegal sanctions in 2001.

Those restricted were President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, their children, Bona and Bellarmine, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Presidential spokesperson Cde George Charamba and Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Happyton Bonyongwe.

In his reminder notice issued on September 23, US Under Secretary for Management Patrick F Kennedy said: “Pursuant to the authority vested in me under the Foreign Missions Act, 22 USC, and Department of State delegation of authority number 38 of September 16, 1992, I hereby determine it to be reasonably necessary to USC 4304 (B) to restrict the domestic travel of the representatives of Zimbabwe named below, as well as the named family members to a radius of 25 miles from the Columbus Circle in New York when such persons travel to New York for the 68th session United Nations General Assembly.”

A senior Government official, who spoke to The Sunday Mail yesterday, said the reminder was meant to harass and frustrate the Zimbabwean delegation. Efforts to get a comment from US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Bruce Wharton yesterday were fruitless.

“The President and his delegation had never violated any restrictions imposed on him and part of his delegation since 2001,” said the official.

“What is the purpose of reminding him something that he has known for the past 13 years?

“This is clear harassment of serious magnitude of the Zimbabwean delegation and abuse of the host status of the UN Headquarters by the US.”

The US government also frustrated several countries that wanted to attend the UNGA because of its host status.

In Sudan, the US embassy frustrated Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir’s efforts to attend the UNGA 68th session by denying him a visa. Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro’s aircraft was also denied passage over the Puerto Rico airspace by the US government.

President Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, once suffered similar embarrassment when part of his delegation was ordered to remain on the plane at JF Kennedy International Airport while he attended the summit.

Anti-Imperialist States in South America Express Solidarity With Syria

President al-Assad receives phone call from President Maduro... Venezuela supports Syrian people against terrorism

Sep 27, 2013

Damascus, (SANA)-President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday received a telephone call from President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela who expressed solidarity of the Venezuelan people and their support to Syria in the face of the war it carries on against terrorism.

During the phone call, the two Presidents exchanged viewpoints on the latest developments in Syria.

President Maduro renewed support for finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria, rejecting any form of foreign intervention, particularly the threats of launching military aggression on the Syrian people.

He affirmed that Syria's steadfastness, as people and army, is now changing the map of international balances.

President al-Assad, for his part, thanked President Maduro and the Venezuelan people for their stance in solidarity with the Syrian people, stressing that this stance boosts the fraternal, consolidated relations which gather the two friendly peoples who stand, each in its region, in the face of attempts to dominate the independence of the two countries' decisions.


Venezuela, Bolivia reiterate rejection of military act against Syria

Sep 28, 2013

Caracas, (SANA) – Venezuela and Bolivia reiterated their rejection of any military act against Syria, expressing concern over the U.S. accusation of the Syrian government regarding chemical weapons, considering these accusations as a pretext to justify a military intervention.

The remarks came during a meeting between the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, and Bolivian President, Evo Morales, held in Caracas on Friday.

President Morales expressed strong condemnation of the U.S. policies toward the Venezuelan President, considering them as "provocative," and calling upon all world to stand against the US and its policies which claim the lives of thousands every year.

For his part, President Maduro called upon all the Latin American countries to join forces in the face of imperialism and to follow the approach of the presidents Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

The Bolivian President expressed sorrow over granting the US president, Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize, adding that Obama deserves the "Nobel War Prize" instead.

M. Nassr/ H. Sabbagh

Terrorist Groupings Exploit Turmoil in Middle East to Achieve Their Goals

Russian Official: Terrorist groupings exploit turmoil in Middle East to achieve their goal

Sep 28, 2013

Moscow, (SANA) -The Russian President’s special envoy for cooperation in fighting with organized crime, Alexander Zmeyevsky, said on Friday that terrorist groupings in the Middle East exploit the situation to achieve their own goals.

"The wave of protest moods in the Middle East gave a new lease of life to the terrorist groupings concentrated around Al Qaida and its regional affiliations,” Zmeyevsky said in the underway Global Antiterrorist Forum in New York.

Itar Tass Russian News Agency quoted Zmeyevsky as saying “they utilized the chances arising from the chaos and degradation of state institutes…The risks of a spread of extremist ideology have jumped up”.

“Jihadist groupings have unfolded recruitment campaigns and the training of paramilitaries on an unprecedented scale - and not only in the zones of conflict but also in some European countries where the militants return fully prepared to apply their combat experience and to bring new supporters of radicalism and violence under their banners.”

Zmeyevsky underlined a special significance of the principled and persistent line on the part of the international community aimed to denounce and curb terrorism in all of its forms and showings.

“Any deviation from this line in pursuit of political stratagems will undermine trust and practical collaboration between states, including the one in the framework of this forum, and will thus put off the prospects for implementing the objectives it sets forward,” he said.

R. Milhem / Ghossoun

International Conference on Syria to be Held in November

Moscow : Int'l conference on Syria to be held mid Nov. as agreed by UNSC permanent members

Sep 28, 2013

Moscow, (SANA)- Russian Foreign Ministry said that the meeting held between foreign ministers of UN Security Council's permanent members and the UN Secretary-General on Friday specified mid November as a date for holding the international conference on Syria in Geneva.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the conference is meant to launch direct dialogue between the Syrians with the aim of shaping the future of the state.

The statement stressed that all participants in the meeting agreed that the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on the chemical weapons in Syria offers opportunities for reviving the efforts exerted for political solution in Syria based on Geneva Communiqué agreed June 30, 2012.

the meeting also stressed that the UN Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has to double up his efforts to work with representatives of the Syrian government and opposition and all sides concerned in this issue.

The statement added that Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, focused during the meeting on the necessity of ensuring the level of representation of the opposition in the international conference that can express the stances of wide groups of Syrian political forces in the framework of dialogue with the Syrian government as to reach national reconciliation.

Moscow: UNSC resolution on Syria is based on Russian-U.S. agreements

Russian Foreign Ministry said the UN Security Council resolution on dismantling the Syrian chemical weapons was based on the Russian-U.S. agreements reached in Geneva on the 14th of September.

The Ministry added in a statement issued Saturday that the resolution takes into consideration the Syrian government's decision to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention. "The resolution focuses on the major role of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)and includes support for its Executive Council's resolution on the measures for work inside Syria," said the statement.

It pointed out that the Security Council resolution also determines the general frameworks to contribute to the work through the UN organization and asks the UN Secretary General to put recommendations on tangible indications for cooperation with the OPCW, including issues of ensuring the safety of the international inspectors in Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted in its statement that the Security Council resolution includes terms demanding that the Syrian government and all opposition groups to optimally cooperate with the OPCW and the UN concerning the safety of the inspectors and providing them access to all chemical weapons sites.

The statement highlighted that the resolution stressed that the use of chemical weapons whether in Syria or anywhere else poses a threat to the world peace and security.

In light of this, the statement said, the resolution included condemnation of the chemical attacks which took place in Syria and a demand for continued investigation into all reports about alleged chemical weapons use in the country.

It added that the resolution called upon Syria's neighboring countries to not allow weapons of mass destruction and their transfer means falling into the hands of non-governmental parties.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also highlighted that the Security Council resolution stressed fully and for the first time the Geneva Communiqué of June of last year and underscores the need to fast-track holding the international conference on Syria to work on the implementation of the communiqué.

The Ministry's statement indicated that the Security Council decided that in case of non-compliance with this resolution, measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter would be taken, adding however that such measures would require another Security Council resolution.

The Ministry pointed out that Russia has backed this resolution based on its principled stance on the need for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria.

It added that Moscow hopes that the resolution will allow moving forward with the political diplomatic solution and lay the necessary legal foundation to carry out the missions of getting the chemical weapons in Syria placed under international control and later dismantled.

Pushkov: Resolution on Syria is completely different from that on Libya

Earlier, Chairman of the International Relations Committee at the Russian Duma Council Alexei Pushkov affirmed that the resolution is completely different from that on Libya in 2011, adding "the basic difference between the two resolutions is that the resolution on Syria doesn't state the use of force."

"The UN resolution on Syria won't allow the use of force, so it was unanimously adopted." Pushkov said on his Twitter web page.

F.Allafi/H. Said

"There's Growing Evidence That The Syrian "Opposition" Possesses Chemical Weapons

Lavrov: There's growing evidence that the Syrian "opposition" possesses chemical weapons

Sep 28, 2013

New York, (SANA) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov affirmed that the "opposition" in Syria possesses chemical weapons, and that there's growing evidence proving that.

In an interview given to Channel One Russia on Saturday, Lavrov said that Russia has become aware of a phone call between two militants in Syria about the use of chemical weapons.

He said that he discussed this issue with his US and European colleagues and other countries who support the opposition, and asked them to "make their students refrain from any new attempts to seize chemical weapons or their components and particularly from using it," adding that Russia knows that the opposition tried such provocative acts several times before.

Lavrov said that the sides supporting and sponsoring the opposition are directly responsible for preventing the recurrence of such acts, and that Russia published information proving that the "opposition" in Syria possesses chemical weapons and submitted evidence to the UN, adding that the results of the investigation it conducted about the use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal in Aleppo on March 19th are available to all Security Council members.

He said that the Sarin gas used in Khan al-Assal was produced in a non-industrial manner, and that Russia has information that the materials used in the August 21st incident were approximately from the same source but more concentrated, noting that all this information was submitted to the US and the UN, while Syria gave Russia data linking the opposition to incidents of chemical weapons use which should be investigated.

Lavrov stressed that Russia isn't trying to usurp truth which showed be proven by professional investigation, something which the G8 leaders agreed to in June, voicing surprise over of the G8 countries leaders who affirmed directly that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in August 21st and that there's no need for investigations to prove this, saying that such statements are considered backing down from the agreement made by the G8 members.

The Minister said that the Syrian government submitted a report revealing the sites where toxic materials are stored as per the Chemical Weapons Convention requirements, and this report was fully accepted by experts at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Russia, the EU and the US, with the Americans saying that they evaluate it as more than a "4 out of 5."

He said that OPCW experts will head to Syria soon and establish supervision of the aforementioned storage facilities in cooperation with the Syrian authorities to verify the information submitted to them, adding that scrutiny isn't unlikely, but the Syrian government's report contains information which experts consider very close to the truth and sufficient to begin work.

On the delay of reaching a resolution at the Security Council, Lavrov said that this was because they wanted to eliminate any chance of backing down from the Geneva agreement which took time, noting that the resulting resolution doesn't permit anyone to use it to justify the use of force, unlike the resolution on Libya which was under Chapter Seven.

He noted that the Europeans and Americans insisted on employing Chapter Seven in the resolution, something which Russia was strongly opposed to due to the Libyan experience and some sides' ability to interpret Security Council resolutions liberally, so Russia didn't want any excuses or justifications to repeat the same scenario in Syria.

H. Sabbagh

Security Council Resolution Prevented Unilateral Action Outside International Consensus, Says al-Jaafari

Al-Jaafari: Security Council resolution prevented unilateral action outside international consensus

Sep 28, 2013

New York, (SANA) – Syria's Permanent representative to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari said that the importance of Security Council resolution no. 2118 lies in that it returned the diplomatic process entirely to the Council and prevented anyone from taking unilateral action outside international consensus.

In a phone call with the Syrian TV on Saturday, al-Jaafari said that the resolution is a step forward towards stabilizing the situation in Syria politically and returning the Security Council to working for preserving international peace and security.

He said that after this resolution, the US, Britain, France and others won't dare use the language of military aggression or intervention or hindering national consensus for any reason, as the resolution binds all sides to cooperate to implement it.

Al-Jaafari explained that the resolution affirms strong commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

He noted that Syria joined the 1925 protocol for prohibiting the military use of toxic gasses back in 1968, so the Security Council resolution consecrates Syria's joining the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), adding that the resolution also states that a Syria-led political process is the best solution and doesn't involve compulsory mechanisms, nor does it employ Chapter Seven.

He concluded by saying that the governments of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain, the US and any others who violate the resolution will be held accountable by the Security Council from now on.

H. Sabbagh

The Army Confronts Rebels In Many Syrian Cities

The Army confronts terrorists in many Syrian cities

Sep 28, 2013

Provinces, (SANA)-The Army units on Saturday continued their national operations against the armed terrorist groups in many Syrian cities.

Army units kill terrorists in Idleb countryside

An army unit killed terrorists in a qualitative operation in the vicinity of Abu al-Duhour airport in Idleb countryside, inflicting heavy losses upon them.

A military source told SANA that the operation also resulted in the destruction of weapons and ammunition loaded in cars and killing and injuring all the group's members.

An army unit destroyed concentrations of terrorists; some affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra in the vicinity of al-Arba'in Mountain and killed them all.

Army kills terrorists, destroys their weapons in Damascus countryside

Army units killed terrorists in a series of operations in farms and villages in eastern Ghouta and Damascus southern and northern countryside, destroying heavy machineguns and ammunition.

An official source told SANA that an army unit clashed with a terrorist group east of the Police Hospital in Harasta, killing and wounding several terrorists.

Another unit destroyed two cars loaded with weapons and ammunition in the area surrounding al-Baharia town in eastern Ghouta, killing a number of terrorists, among them Ibrahim Shehada.

The source pointed out that members of terrorist groups were killed and others injured while they tried to infiltrate from the vicinity of Abu Bakr mosque in al-Rihan town towards Aleppo old road, indicating that a terrorists' den was destroyed in al-Eb farms in Duma area with the weapons and ammunition inside. All the terrorists inside were killed, including Mohammad Khalbous.

The source indicated that an army unit eliminated an armed terrorist group at al-Ghanam Square in Duma. The terrorists Tawfiq al-Maidaani was among the killed terrorists.

Army units also pursued members of terrorist groups in Daraya city and destroyed their weapons and ammunition. Ammar al-Etmeh and Mahmoud al-Khatib were identified among the dead.

An army unit clashed with terrorist groups west of Saydnaya city and destroyed their weaponry that were loaded in two cars and killed most of their members.

Terrorists attempt to detonate IEDs aborted in Homs

Army units thwarted on Saturday the attempts of terrorists to detonated explosive devices in al-Makhram countryside and destroyed their weapons and ammunition in Homs eastern countryside.

An official source told SANA that an army unit destroyed terrorist concentrations and weaponry in Unk al-Hawa in Jub al-Jarrah countryside, killing and injuring many terrorists.

The source added that attempts of terrorists to blow up 4 IEDs weighing 300 kg were foiled. The devices were planted on the road between the villages of eastern and western Um Hartein in al-Makhram countryside.

The army units on September 15 restored security and stability to the towns and villages of eastern and western Um Hartein, Msheirfeh, Maasada, Mseid, Khattab and Usmud in Homs eastern countryside.

Significant progress achieved on al-Qaboun-Zamalka-Joubar axis in Damascus Countryside

The army achieved significant progress on al-Qaboun-Zamalka-Joubar axis in Damascus Countryside after a series of special operations during which several terrorists' gatherings and dens were destroyed in the area.

SANA reporter quoted a field commander in as saying that units of the armed forces seized full control of an area of 1.5 km stretching between al-Qaboun al-Sinaiyeh area and Zamalka.

The source stressed that the army units cut apart the armed terrorist groups and cut off their weapons and ammunition supply routes between Zamalka, Joubar and Erbin.

In the framework of the operations, a 150 m long and 1.3 m high tunnel used by the terrorists was unveiled in Joubar neighborhood.

Other tunnels of 10 m in length were uncovered under the main street in the neighborhood. Anti-tank explosive devices weighing 30-40 kg were found in the tunnels, according to the source. The source also mentioned that the army units found various types of weapons dropped by the terrorists before getting killed, including French-made anti-tank rocket launchers RBR and launch pads for 12.7 mm caliber anti-aircraft guns, in addition to a number of various anti-tank rockets.

The operations, the source told SANA reporter, resulted in killing large numbers of terrorists in the area, most of them are of Arab nationalities.

The rest of terrorists got cornered in a secluded area where the army units are continuing operations to eliminate them completely and restore security and stability to the area.

Terrorists targeted in several areas in Homs

Units of the armed forces killed a number of terrorists and injured others in a series of operations targeting their gatherings in the neighborhoods of Bab Hood, Jouret al-Shayah, al-Qarabis and al-Qusour in the city of Homs, according to a military source.

The source told SANA that other terrorists were killed, with a number of them injured, as they were trying to infiltrate from al-Dar al-Kabira village into the neighboring village of al-Mhajreen to attack the citizens.

A number of terrorists' gatherings were destroyed in al-Dar al-Kabira, and in the villages of Kfarnan, kiseen, al-Mas'aleel, Burj Qa'I, al-Ghajar and al-Zara.

An army unit clashed with members of armed terrorist groups in al-Nejmeh village, al-Talleh area and near the garage in Talbiseh, leaving many of them dead and wounded.

An official source told SANA that the army killed and injured scores of terrorists, among them non-Syrian terrorists in the town of al-Husn in Homs countryside.

Terrorists Mohammad Omar al-Kurd, Waled Ibrahim Wahba and Shahira Isam al-Qadi, wife of a Lebanese terrorist, were identified among the dead.

Terrorists killed by their own explosive device in Homs

In another context, many terrorists were killed or injured when an explosive device blew up while they were preparing it inside a den in al-Wa'ar neighborhood in the city.

An official source told SANA that all the terrorists were either killed or injured in the blast, as the building that they were taking as a workshop for manufacturing explosives and storing weapons and ammunitions was partially destroyed.

Two citizens martyred, others injured by terrorists at entrance of Bustan al-Qaser in Aleppo

An army unit killed an armed terrorist group that was attacking citizens at the entrance of Bustan al-Qaser in Aleppo City.

A military source told SANA reporter that an army unit inflicted heavy losses upon terrorists who were attacking citizens, opening fire on them at the entrance of the neighborhood.

The source added that two citizens were martyred at the hands of the terrorists as six others were injured, pointing out that they were admitted to the nearest hospital to get the suitable care.

In cooperation with the citizens, authorities arrested 15 terrorists of Jabhat al-Nusra in Qaddour Baik neighborhood in Qamishli city.

An official source told SANA reporter that the terrorists were arrested inside a den in the neighborhood.

A source at the popular protection units in Ras al-Ein said that three of the units personnel were died as they were injured due to a fire shot from the Turkish territories against their checkpoint near the Turkish borders. The injured were admitted into the hospital before they died.

A military source told SANA that a unit of the armed forces foiled terrorist group's attack on the safe areas in Salah Eddin neighborhood in Aleppo, killing 13 terrorists, among them the leader of the group, nicknamed Abu Abdullah.

The source added that the members of an armed terrorist group were killed and injured among them the leader of the group Saleh Abu al-Khair in al-Ansari neighborhood, while a car loaded with weapons and ammunition was destroyed.

An army unit clashed with an armed terrorist group in Alliramoon, killing and injuring all its members.

Units of the armed forces carried out a series of operations against terrorists and destroyed their cars and vehicles with all the weapons and ammunition inside them near ICARDA building on Aleppo-Idleb highway, north of the central prison, Qibtan al-Jabal and near the Agricultural Development Project.

Meanwhile, terrorists' gatherings in the villages of Ibtin and Kfer Kar were eliminated in addition to destroying a car loaded with weapons and ammunition in al-Bab city and another truck east of Rasm al-Abboud village.

Terrorists were also eliminated west of Saraqb in Idleb countryside.

Army seizes weapons and ammunitions in Hama

In Hama, an army unit seized weapons and ammunition and communication sets inside a den for an armed terrorist group in al-Sharia groves and arrested all terrorists inside it.

A military source told SANA that the seized weapons include BKC machineguns, NATO sniper rifles, automatic rifles, defensive and offensive grenades, RPG shells, sophisticated communication sets, detonators, timers and big amounts of ammunition.

English Bulletin