Monthly Archives: March 2013

Opposition takes Syria’s seat at Arab League summit

Syria’s opposition National Coalition has taken the country’s official seat at the Arab League summit in Qatar. The delegation led by Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, who has said he will resign as head of the coalition, was applauded as it formally assumed the seat. Mr Khatib was joined by the National Coalition’s vice-presidents, George Sabra and Suheir Atassi, and its recently-elected interim prime minister, Ghassan Hitto. Mr Khatib called it “part of the restoration of legitimacy” of which Syrians had “long been robbed”. Later, the Arab League authorised member states to give military support to Syrian rebel groups. A resolution said the summit affirmed the “right of every state to offer … Continue reading

Posted in Syria | Leave a comment

Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib resigns

The leader of the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, has resigned. Mr Khatib wrote on Facebook that world powers had failed to help the rebels, and he could only improve the situation by working outside of the coalition. Analysts say Mr Khatib believed the SNC was too heavily influenced by Islamists and foreign powers like Qatar. However, a later report claimed that the SNC had refused his resignation and expected him to continue in his post. The BBC’s Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says the issue that brought matters to a head appears to have been last week’s election of a prime minister for an interim opposition … Continue reading

Posted in Syria | Leave a comment

Secretary of State Kerry questions Iraq’s reliability as a partner

Just days after the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confronted Baghdad for continuing to grant Iran access to its airspace and said Iraq’s behavior was raising questions about its reliability as a partner. Speaking to reporters during a previously unannounced trip to Baghdad, Kerry said that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had engaged in “a very spirited discussion” on the Iranian flights, which U.S. officials believe are ferrying weapons and fighters intended for the embattled Syrian government. Kerry said the plane shipments – along with material being trucked across Iraqi territory from Iran to Syria – were helping President … Continue reading

Posted in Iraq, USA | Leave a comment

Obama vows extra $200m to Jordan to help Syrian refugees

US President Barack Obama has pledged to Jordan an additional $200m (£131m) to help deal with the growing number of Syrian refugees in the country. After talks in Amman, Mr Obama said the funds – if backed by Congress – would help provide more humanitarian aid. Some 450,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring Jordan since the unrest began in 2011, putting huge pressure on the Jordanian authorities. Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah ruled out closing Jordan’s border with Syria. President Obama said he would ask Congress to provide additional funds as “budget support” to help the Syrian refugees. He said this would help improve basic services at refugee camps along the … Continue reading

Posted in Jordan, USA | Leave a comment

Mass points to Pope’s new priorities

By Robert Pigott From the moment he walked out onto the balcony on St Peter’s Basilica and stood calmly surveying the crowd, Pope Francis’ body language has suggested a change of style. Tuesday’s shorter, simpler, inaugural Mass reinforced the impression of a Pope of humility and simplicity. Pope Francis’ homily – direct and comprehensible – suggested that those qualities would shape his pontificate too.  He acknowledged that his election as Pope placed him in a position of power.  But he said for that power to be valid, or “authentic”, it must be exercised in self-sacrificing service to others. That service, he told the thousands of clergy among the throng in … Continue reading

Posted in The Vatican, The World | Leave a comment

Pakistan government ends unprecedented full term amid criticism

Pakistan’s elected government completed its full five-year term on Saturday, the first in the country’s turbulent history to do so, leaving a legacy of Taliban violence, sectarian unrest, chronic power cuts and a fragile economy. Parliament was dissolved at midnight after completing its term, and a caretaker administration will manage the government until general elections which must take place within 90 days Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was expected to remain in office until the appointment of a caretaker prime minister, a process expected to take a few days. Pakistani newspapers noted the historic nature of the changeover in a country known for political upheaval and long bouts of military … Continue reading

Posted in Pakistan | Leave a comment

US to boost nuclear missile defence to counter North Korea

The US plans to bolster its missile defences on the west coast to counter the threat from North Korea, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced. He said the US would add 14 interceptors, which can shoot down missiles in flight, to 30 already in place in California and Alaska by 2017. But the final phase of the US European Missile Defence programme is being scrapped to partly fund the project. Due to begin in 2022, it would have sited interceptors in eastern Europe. Mr Hagel cited a “series of irresponsible and reckless provocations” recently by North Korea. Pyongyang carried out a third nuclear test last month. A statement in North … Continue reading

Posted in North Korea, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment

US plans to kill Capriles -Venezuela acting President claims

Venezuela’s acting president  said on Wednesday that “far right” figures in the United States  were plotting to kill opposition leader Henrique Capriles in an  increasingly volatile atmosphere ahead of an April 14 election.  Accusations are flying and emotions are running high in the  South American OPEC nation of 29 million people since the death  last week of former socialist leader Hugo Chavez. “We have detected plans by the far right, linked to the  groups of (former Bush administration officials) Roger Noriega  and Otto Reich, to make an attempt against the opposition  presidential candidate,” Nicolas Maduro said.  He gave no more details, but said in a televised speech that  the government … Continue reading

Posted in Venezuela | Leave a comment

US benefitting from Taliban attacks – Hamid Karzai

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan expressed dismay on Sunday at remarks by President Hamid Karzai, who suggested that Washington benefited from Taliban attacks on his country. Karzai’s remarks, delivered during the first visit by new U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, further strained already fraught ties between Karzai and the Western allies who are fighting to protect his government from insurgents. The United States still has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from almost 100,000 two years ago at the height of a surge ordered by President Barack Obama. Washington intends to withdraw most of them by the end of next year but wants to negotiate a continued, smaller presence. Speaking … Continue reading

Posted in Afghanistan, USA | Leave a comment

US training Syrian rebels In Jordan – Der Spiegel reports

Americans are training Syrian  anti-government fighters in Jordan, the German weekly Der  Spiegel said on Sunday, quoting what it said were participants  and organisers.  Spiegel said it was not clear whether the Americans worked  for private firms or were from the army but said some wore  uniforms. The training focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.  Some 200 men have already received such training over the  past three months and there are plans in the future to provide  training for a total 1,200 members of the “Free Syrian Army” in  two camps in the south and the east of the country.  Britain’s Guardian newspaper also reported that U.S.  trainers were assisting … Continue reading

Posted in Syria, United Kingdom, USA | Leave a comment