U.K. police—Slavery suspects are from India, Tanzania

U.K. police: Slavery suspects are from India, Tanzania





LONDON (AP) — U.K. police said Saturday the two suspects in a major slavery case are from India and Tanzania and came to Britain in the 1960s.

Police believe two of the three women victims, who were allegedly held against their will for over 30 years, met the male suspect in London “through a shared political ideology and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call ‘a collective,'” said Commander Steve Rodhouse.

Police are investigating “the nature of that collective and how it operated,” he said, without providing details about the collective or its ideology.

The two suspects, a male and a female, both aged 67, have been released on bail.

Rodhouse said police are beginning house-to-house inquiries seeking information from neighbors who live near the house where the women were held in the Lambeth area of south London.

He said police are working “to gain the trust and confidence of the highly traumatized victims” and said the process would take time.

“This must move at their pace, not anyone else,” he said.

The disclosure Thursday that a 69-year-old Malaysian, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old Briton were freed after apparently spending three decades in captivity prompted a flurry of speculation and questions about how it went unnoticed for so long.

The arrests were made after the Irish woman phoned a charity last month to say she was being held against her will along with two others. The charity engaged in a series of secretive conversations with the women and contacted police. Two of the women eventually left the house, and police rescued the third.

The three women are receiving extensive counseling after their decades-long ordeal.

Egypt Dismisses Turkish Ambassador Over Erdogan’s Disrespect

[The short statement that has exposed the breach in the Islamists’ camp.  Apparently, all of the Arab govts do as Riyadh demands.]

“I applaud Mr. Morsi’s stance before the judiciary”…I respect him. I have no respect for those who put him on trial.”—Erdogan

Egypt dismisses Turkish ambassador

daily news egypt

Erdoğan’s comments on Egypt deepen the rift between Ankara and Cairo

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Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo to return to Ankara following comments made by the Turkish Prime Minister, which the ministry sees as a reflection of his “unacceptable determination to defy the will of the Egyptian people.”

The ministry confirmed in an official statement on Saturday that it had summoned Turkish Ambassador Huseyin Avni Botsali to ask him to leave the country as a “persona non grata” (an unwelcome person).

The ministry statement made reference to remarks made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday ahead of his visit to Moscow. The statement stressed that Erdoğan’s comments are viewed by the ministry as “interference in the internal affairs of the country.” It also pointed out that the comments are based on “fabrications and falsifications of the facts and differ from the reality since the 30 June Revolution.”

The relationship between Egypt and Turkey strengthened under Mohamed Morsi’s presidency, but has been publically strained since his ouster in July. Both countries recalled their ambassadors in August for consultations, and Erdoğan has repeatedly criticised Egypt’s interim government and openly expressed his opposition to Morsi’s removal. He once claimed that Israel was responsible for Morsi’s ouster.

Ankara reinstated its ambassador to Egypt at the beginning of September, however the Egyptian ministry said that it was “yet to make a decision” as to whether or not to send its ambassador back to Turkey.

The ministry’s statement on Saturday said that Egypt had granted Turkey’s leadership the chance to “perhaps use logic” and to put the interests of the two countries ahead of “partisan interests and narrow minded ideology.”

China creates air defence zone over Japan-controlled islands

China creates air defence zone over Japan-controlled islands

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Beijing — Beijing on Saturday announced it was setting up an “air defence identification zone” over an area that includes islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China, triggering a “strong protest” from Tokyo.

China’s defence ministry said that it was setting up the zone to “guard against potential air threats” in a move likely to heighten tensions in a bitter territorial row between the two countries.

Along with the creation of the zone in the East China Sea, the defence ministry released a set of aircraft identification rules that must be followed by all planes entering the area, under penalty of intervention by the military.

Aircraft are expected to provide their flight plan, clearly mark their nationality, and maintain two-way radio communication allowing them to “respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries” from Chinese authorities.

The outline of the zone, which is shown on the Chinese defence ministry website and a state media Twitter account (pic.twitter.com/4a2vC6PH8O), covers a wide area of the East China Sea between South Korea and Taiwan that includes airspace above the Tokyo-controlled islands known as the Senkaku to Japan and Diaoyu to China.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a strong protest against the new zone, Kyodo news agency reported.

“China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions,” according to the ministry.

The zone became operational as of 10:00 am Saturday (0200 GMT).

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the establishment of the zone was aimed at “safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security, and maintaining flight order.”

“It is a necessary measure in China’s exercise of self-defense rights. It has no particular target and will not affect the freedom of flight in relevant airspace,” Yang said in a statement on the ministry’s website Saturday.

“China will take timely measures to deal with air threats and unidentified flying objects from the sea, including identification, monitoring, control and disposition, and it hopes all relevant sides positively cooperate and jointly maintain flying safety,” he said.

Four Chinese coastguard boats briefly entered Senkaku waters on Friday, following multiple incursions at the end of October and start of November which revived tensions between Beijing and Tokyo.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said in late October that the repeated incursions were a threat to peace and fell in a “‘grey zone’ (between) peacetime and an emergency situation”.

A few days earlier, the Chinese defence minister warned Japan that any bid to shoot down its drones would constitute “an act of war”.

The move came after a report said Japan had drafted plans to shoot down foreign drones that encroach on its airspace if warnings to leave are ignored.

Sino-Japanese relations have remained at a low-ebb for more than a year as a result of the dispute, which was revived when Japan nationalised three of the archipelago’s five islands in September 2012.

Since that time, China has sent regular coast guard patrols to the islands, which are 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of Taiwan and 400 kilometres west of Japan’s Okinawa.

Afghan high peace council Finally Gets To Meet Mullah Baradar

Afghan high peace council receive special Taliban message by Baradar


By Ghanizada

Mullah Abdul Ghani BaradarAccording to reports, the co-founder of the Taliban group in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has delivered a special message of the Taliban council to Afghan high peace council delegation.

Senior Pakistani officials confirming the report have said that message by Taliban council was delivered to the delegation of the Afghan high peace council during a meeting with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The officials speaking on the condition of anonymity have told Pakistan’s Dawn News that the message was delivered during the meeting in Islamabad which was attended by five-member delegation of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) led by its Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani.

Without providing further details regarding the Taliban’s special message, the officials said the meeting lasted for almost three hours.

The officials also added that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was flown from Karachi to Islamabad for the special meeting. The meeting took place during Afghan high peace council team’s visit to Pakistan from November 19 to 21.

The Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) officials have not commented regarding the special message of the Taliban council so far.

The Great Syrian Risk Game


The Great Syrian Risk Game

The Hindu

Vijay Prashad

A weakened Free Syrian Army and a chaotic Syrian National Coalition leave the rebels across the country vulnerable to retribution from both the government and the Islamists

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked his envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, to set a date for the Syrian peace conference — called Geneva II — in mid-December. The expectation of a November meeting has now slipped by. A quarter century ago, Mr. Brahimi was the envoy tasked to bring peace to the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). The Algerian diplomat used to fly into Damascus airport in Syria and drive to his meetings in Beirut. Now, Mr. Brahimi flies into Beirut to drive to Damascus. His visit to the city on October 29 was greeted with fierce fighting (in Barza and Darayya), a poor omen for a peace process. Mr. Brahimi is not optimistic. Glimmers of a political settlement are quickly extinguished by the testosterone of war and the belief by different parties that they are on the ascendency. Why make peace, they suggest, if victory is on the horizon.

A year ago, it would have been unthinkable to imagine that Bashar Assad’s Syrian armed forces would be marching up Highway 5 from Damascus towards Homs and Hama, and that his forces would be at the gates of Aleppo. Certainly Mr. Assad’s armies have always had the military advantage, and they have used their full arsenal to pummel the opposition. But plucky fighting from the defectors who formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the detachments of popular militias had given the official army a great deal of trouble, notably in Syria’s mountainous and forested terrain. In sections of the country, such as the western flank of Syria, Mr. Assad’s forces are now in the ascendency. Part of the reason for this has been the exhaustion of the rebellion, with the FSA hampered by a dismembered political leadership (the Syrian National Coalition). This Coalition is stifled by exiles who are utterly cut off from the reality of Syrian politics, by aged Muslim Brotherhood leaders who have no base to lean on in most of Syria’s governorates, and by the Saudi proxies — including leader Ahmad Jarba — who were outwitted on the ground by radical Islamists. Without a clear political agenda and consistent logistical and military support from outside, the FSA has crumbled.

Advantage Assad

FSA fighters can be seen at the border posts with Lebanon — trying to get away from a battlefield that has turned against them, and afraid of the terrible revenge that the Assad forces might take. But neither Lebanon nor Jordan is keen to allow former fighters, who are often defectors, into their countries as refugees and the United Nations does not seem to have an explicit policy for them. The collapse of the FSA, combined with the entry of Hezbollah (to conduct “self-defence duty,” as one of its leaders Mohammed Raad put it), as well as a confident irregular militia (shabiha), have given the advantage in the south-west of Syria to the Assad government. Highway 5, along the western spine of Syria that abuts the Lebanese border, will likely be in the hands of the Syrian armed forces within the week (although sources say that the army moves slower than it need to so as to exploit every victory and build morale among its troops). On November 20, the government forces took Qara, a major town since it closes off one of the last remaining supply routes from Lebanon for the opposition.

The Syrian army’s advance north toward Aleppo was facilitated by infighting among the radical Islamists and the remnants of the FSA. The most radical outfit — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams or ISIS — emerged out of the Iraqi franchise of al-Qaeda and moved from the Iraqi town of Ramadi to the Syrian town of Raqqa, where they are now ensconced. Near Aleppo and at Azaz near the Turkish border, ISIS has been in pitched battles against competing Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham and an FSA detachment al-Hijra li-Allah. Last week, ISIS fighters beheaded Mohammed Fares, a fighter with Ahrar al-Sham.

Doctrinal differences

Fine-toothed doctrinal differences between Islamists are opened up by territorial disputes and divergent governmental styles. Some of these fights are over control over the oil fields in the Al- Jazeera area, with the regime holding the Al-Omar oil field in Deir al-Zour, the Kurds holding the largest field in Al-Rmailan in Hassekeh and Islamists and the FSA fighting over the remainder (most notably in Raqqa). As ISIS becomes more radical, it turns others against it but, at the same time, it is more ruthless against its enemies among whom it includes not only the government, but also the other Islamists and the FSA. Fitna or civil strife is its modus operandi.

If the Islamists have been weakened near Aleppo, they have been largely expelled from the Kurdish areas between the towns of Al-Qamishli and Al-Hasakah in Syria’s northeast. The Democratic Union of Kurdistan and the popular resistance committees (YPG) were given a carte blanche by the Assad government in the early part of the conflict to ensure that his northern flank would not be troublesome while he cracked down on the rebellion in the south. That concession has now turned into a full-blown secession movement. The YPG and the Democratic Union have announced the formation of Western Kurdistan — a snub at Turkey (which continues to deny Kurdish aspirations and its vehicle, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — the PKK) and the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region (whose ally in Syria, the Kurdish National Council, criticised the move). Western Kurdistan is forbidden territory for the Assad regime and the Islamists.

Desperation stalks the horizon of radical Islamism. The Syrian army’s momentum up Highway 5 has angered the confederates of ISIS and al-Nusra in Lebanon, as it has emboldened the regime’s allies. Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, saw fierce fighting along the aptly named Syria Street in early November, and bomb blasts have returned to this fragile society. On November 19, two blasts in Beirut claimed close to 30 lives, responsibility for which was claimed by an al-Qaeda franchise, the Abdullah Azzam brigade. ISIS continues its campaign of terror in Iraq, including night raids in Ramadi to execute Iraqi police and army personnel. There are too many motives for this violence, and too little imagination amongst its perpetrators.

Furious Saudis

As the opposition Syrian National Coalition refuses to entertain talks with the Assad government, ISIS threatens death to anyone who participates in Geneva II. Saudi Arabia’s envoys worry that movement on the nuclear deal with Iran and an entente on Syria with Iran at the table would strengthen the political position of Saudi’s historical enemy. Saudi princes (Bandar, Faisal and Turki) spread across the region to scuttle any attempt to create a political process for Syria. Nothing short of total victory could be allowed by them (a position that is being mirrored in Damascus as the Syrian army strengthens its territorial holdings). Fearful of the implications of ISIS, the Saudis have funded Zahran Alloush’s Army of Islam — but it is too late to the battlefield. For good reason are the Saudis furious with the United States for its reticence to bomb Syria and encage Iran — Saudi projections have begun to unravel.

Mr. Brahimi’s December date will not be met. The Syrian army’s advance suggests that Mr. Assad will not want a ceasefire before he has taken back most of the cities. Already the area where the rebellion broke out in 2011 (near Dar’aa) is silent, with the U.N. reporting that there are more Syrians moving back from Jordan into these towns than coming across the border as refugees. If Mr. Assad has no appetite for a ceasefire, ISIS and its circle are indisposed to negotiations. A weakened FSA and a chaotic Syrian National Coalition leave the pockets of rebels across the country vulnerable to horrible retribution from both the government and the Islamists. Theirs is a precarious state. The Kurdish YPG has created the basis for their autonomous region, with control over some oil-fields and emergent links with Iraqi Kurdistan setting up the objective conditions for their effective merger. Geneva II is senseless for them. Nothing here nudges anyone to Mr. Brahimi’s table. For now, the U.N. envoy sits alone.

(Vijay Prashad is the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut.)