US-approved Syrian opposition group forms governing body
After US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a "more trustworthy" Syrian opposition last week, New TV reported that a leader in the Free Syrian Army announced that the Free Army is reorganizing its ranks to gain the trust of the international community, adding that his leadership has started to settle inside Syria. The Syrian opposition also announced during its ongoing meetings in Doha that it accepted a proposal to establish a transitional government headed by opposition member Riyad Saif. The initiative, headed by Saif, stipulates creating a unified leadership dubbed the Syrian National Initiative, from which a government in exile will be formed.
World groups organize global day of action in support of Myanmar's Rohingyas; Suu Kyi under fire for ignoring violence
Myanmar's Rohingyas are fleeing Rakhine State after a new wave of attacks from the Buddhist majority. Press TV reported that Rohingya groups around the world held a global day of action for the Rohingyas on November 8. International rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, have also criticized Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence on the issue. The president of Arakan Rohingya National Organization, Noor al-Islam, added in an interview during a rally in London that if the persecuted had been Rakhine's Buddhists, Suu Kyi would have spoken out. Additionally, the aid group Doctors Without Borders says its workers have been threatened and stopped from reaching violence-hit areas in Myanmar. The group says thousands are left without medical care in the western Rakhine State as a result, adding that many of the victims are extremely vulnerable.
Tens of Thousands Demand Nobel Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai
BBC Arabic reported that over 60 thousand people signed a petition calling for Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The 15-year-old girl is recovering in The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Britain, after suffering an armed attack by the Taliban movement in Pakistan. Malala and her campaign for education gained notoriety around the world after she wrote her memoirs in the Urdu section of the BBC about life under the teachings of the extremist Taliban movement that rejects girls' right to an education.
Oil Giant Shell Undercuts Iran Sanctions with $1.4B Grain Barter
Dubai TV reported that the Royal Dutch Shell Company aims to circumvent international sanctions imposed on Iran by concluding a swap through which it would pay its USD 1.4 billion debt to the Iranian national oil company with a grain barter deal through the American agribusiness Cargill. Through the deal, Shell would deliver grain to Iran worth USD 1.4 billion, or what amounts to nearly 80 percent of Iran's yearly grain imports. Sources also revealed that the Royal Dutch Shell company, Tehran's second largest customer, imports 100,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day, and continued to purchase oil until the sanctions went into effect on July 1st.
Image: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai talks to her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, as she recuperates at the The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, in this undated handout photograph released to Reuters on November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/Handout
French cartoons insulting Islam condemned as 'fuel on the fire'
As Muslims across the globe continue to protest the US-made film that insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad, a French weekly called Charlie Hebdo published a series of cartoons of the prophet, sparking a new wave of rage in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Press TV reported that the cartoons were denounced by both Egypt's al-Azhar Mosque and the Vatican as "fuel on the fire," and Al Jazeera reported that a number of French embassies and schools would close today for fear of violence.
According to BBC Arabic, anti-blasphemy demonstrations have spread to South and Southeast Asia, specifically the capitals of Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, while Pakistan experienced deadly Friday protests after security forces opened fire on demonstrators.
This Week in Syria: 'Friends of Syria' meeting, 'massacre' in ar-Raqqah, and fears of chemical attack
New TV reported a massacre by the Syrian regime in ar-Raqqah on Thursday, while Holland hosted a meeting of representatives of the group known as "Friends of the Syrian People," which includes 60 countries and the Arab League. Meanwhile, IBA reported on Tuesday that the Syrian army flew in members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to witness firing tests for chemical weapons at the country's largest chemical weapons research center. Newly-defected Major General Adnan Sillu, who was the head of the Syrian weapons program, also said that the Assad regime had plans to conduct a chemical weapons assault on the rebels, as well as transfer missiles with chemical warheads to Hezbollah.
Large-scale IDF exercises in Golan Heights, as Israeli air strike kills two Hamas officers in Gaza
IBA reported surprise large-scale military exercises involving top IDF brass amid the Jewish High Holy Days. The exercises simulated a deteriorating security situation in the Golan Heights. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that an Israeli air strike resulted in the deaths of two Hamas security officers near the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, saying that the officers were on an official mission near the tunnels by the Egyptian-Palestinian border. IBA, on the other hand, reported that the deaths were of Hamas operatives who were tasked with securing smuggling tunnels for explosives, and were planning a terror attack against Israel.
Image: A girl is photographed as she attends an anti-U.S. demonstration with religious students in the compound of the Red Mosque in Islamabad September 22, 2012: REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood
(LinkAsia: June 8, 2012)
The relationship between Pakistan and the US is at an all-time low. Pakistan is denouncing the United States' continued use of drone air strikes in the country. The complaint follows the latest US attack in the country that killed Al Qaeda's second-in-command. The disagreement over drone strikes is driving another wedge into the already tense relationship between the two countries. Here's NHK with that story.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: June 6, 2012
The air strike was carried out on Sunday. According to the Pakistani government, 16 militants were killed by unmanned aircraft in the country's northwest region. Those killed include Abu Yahya al-Libi, a close aid to current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Pakistani government summoned US Deputy Ambassador Richard Hoagland on Tuesday to protest the attack. Pakistan claims that action was not only illegal, but also violated the nation's sovereignty. Despite Pakistan's objection, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday that US drone strikes have been an effective means of combating al-Qaeda.
Jay Carney, White House Spokesperson:
There is now no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities. And that puts additional pressure on al-Qaeda's post-bin Laden leader, Zawahiri, to try to manage the group in an effective way. This would be a major blow.
Carney said al-Libi's death is the harshest blow to the new leadership of the group since the killing of Osama bin Laden. Drone strikes by the US have caused civilian casualties in Pakistan and are fuelling anti-US sentiment among its people. But the air strikes are still frequent, averaging one every two days during the past two weeks. Pakistan's parliament is demanding an immediate halt to such actions. Hideki Yui, NHK World, Islamabad.
Egyptian troops and protesters clash in Cairo as thousands rally
Al Jazeera - Over 20 people were injured in confrontations between the Egyptian security forces and protesters attempting to reach the headquarters of the Defense Ministry in Cairo. Al Jazeera correspondent reported that 20 armored trucks amassed in al- Abbasiyah Square after pushing the protesters away from the surroundings of the Defense Ministry. Tahrir Square hosted a demonstration against the Military Council, and so did al-Abbasiyah Square that received even more protesters.
Syrian troops storm Aleppo University killing four and arresting hundreds
BBC Arabic - Syrian opposition activists say a number of students at Aleppo University were killed by the gunfire of Syrian security forces when they stormed the campus.The university's president announced classes will be suspended until May 13th. Following these incidents, demonstrations broke out in and around as the faculties of Aleppo University in solidarity with the targeted students. Other demonstrations erupted in various areas as well.
Israeli court postpones Palestinian hunger strikers' appeals
Palestine TV - After Bilal Diab and Thaeir Halahla entered their 68th day of their open-ended hunger strike, a hearing was held today in the so-called Israeli Supreme Court, where their trial was postponed indefinitely to review the demand of their release. During the trial session, Bilal and Tha'ir's defense attorney presented the judge with his argument which condemns the so-called administrative detention, which allows the detention of the prisoners without any charges.
Blasts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Taliban claims responsibility
Dubai - US President Barack Obama visited Afghanistan for six hours and met with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. The two leaders signed a strategic partnership pact for cooperation between Washington and Kabul. Following Obama's visit, Kabul was rocked by a series of explosions that claimed the lives of 6 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and warned they will launch an offensive against NATO on Thursday.
Al Alam - At least 20 people were killed, and 45 others were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself at a market in Bajur, leading to the killing and injury of dozens of people. He targeted a police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan. Among the dead were a number of policemen and civilians.
Image: A member of security forces jumps before throwing a stone back at protesters near Egypt's Defence Ministry May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
(LinkAsia: February 3, 2012)
Now, some view China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea as part of a naval strategy that stretches all the way to the Persian Gulf. For example, China is building a deep-water port in Sri Lanka. China says its just helping Sri Lanka's economy, but others in Asia are skeptical about Beijing's motives. Here's how NHK reported on the Sri Lankan port.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: January 27, 2012
China is currently helping to construct seaports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh, sometimes referred to as China's "string of pearls." The ports encircle India. Some observers view them with suspicion, evidence of alleged Chinese ambitions over the region. Today's report from Sri Lanka looks at a massive port facility China is building on the island, and how India might respond. NHK World's Namini Wijedasa reports.
Construction is well underway at this seaport in Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka. Some facilities began operations in 2010. 85% of the cost of construction is being shouldered by China. The government claims that once complete, the port will be one of the biggest in south Asia, with capacity for 33 vessels, including some of the world's largest ships. Hambantota is situated at the mid-point of a crucial ceiling that connects the Persian Gulf with the Malacca Strait. It's an attractive position for a maritime hub.
Nilantha Siriwardana, Divisional Secretariat:
Located in the middle of a ceiling, we are well-placed to offer shipping and fuel services. It's a good opportunity for Sri Lanka to develop.
The port is being built by Chinese companies. And almost all the workers are Chinese. The massive project is already a popular tourist attraction.
We're really grateful to China. It's thanks to them that we can build such a port.
The Chinese activities in the town aren't limited to the seaport. This international airport has a 3.5-kilometer runway and is due to open this year. Here too, China is paying for some of the construction. The main contractor is also Chinese. Massive amounts of Chinese aid are transforming this once normal town into a transport center for the entire region. Some observers are concerned. They fear China might use the facilities for military purposes. But that's not a position shared by the Sri Lankan government. It welcomes Chinese economic support.
Basil Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister:
We will make sure that Sri Lanka will be very closely allied with India, and we will never do any harm. To my knowledge, China has never indicated anything like that kind of military assistance.
India is looking on with caution. It opened a consulate in Hambantota in November 2010 to gather information. For India, economic grow is a top priority. Confrontation with China is unappealing. For now, it has little choice but to try and keep the peace. With a careful eye on the developments taking place around the shores of the Indian Ocean. Namini Wijedasa, NHK World, Hambantota, Sri Lanka.