Long-time Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat was announced on Friday as the man to open dialogue with his Israeli counterpart at meetings in Washington after three years of stalled peace negotiations.
Both Erakat and Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry for initial talks, the top US diplomat said at the end of four days of intense diplomacy as he consulted Palestinian and Israeli leaders from his base in Amman.
The 55-year-old Erakat, an academic whose perfect command of English is often spiced with humour, was part of every team to negotiate with Israel since 1991, with the notable exception of those who secretly hammered out the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Erakat rose to prominence as a media personality at the 1991 international peace conference in Madrid at which he wore the black-and-white chequered Palestinian headscarf.
Born in Jerusalem, he has been a key figure in the Palestinian political landscape, an indispensable briefer for foreign envoys and a suave tactician who can register indignation when necessary.
A member of the Palestinian parliament since 1996, Erakat was close to Yasser Arafat, historic leader of the Palestinian national movement, even though he did not follow Arafat into exile in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia before his return to Gaza in 1994.
In 2009, Erakat was elected to the central committee of the Fatah wing of Mahmud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and to the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
He was an architect of the negotiations on a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from the failed Camp David summit in July 2000 to the talks launched in Washington in September 2010 which were interrupted after less than a month in a row over Israel’s continued settlement building.
Appointed in 2003 to head the PLO negotiating team, Erakat briefly resigned from the post in 2011 because of “responsibility for the theft of documents from his office,” papers which he said had been “adulterated”.
He was referring to more than 1,600 documents on the talks with Israel between 1999 and 2010, released in January 2011 by Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera and dubbed “The Palestine Papers”.
Palestinian officials worked to limit the damage caused by their publication, which showed Palestinian negotiators prepared to offer significant concessions without securing Israeli guarantees on key issues such as east Jerusalem and the fate of refugees.
Although the documents did not cause major turmoil in Palestinian public opinion, Erakat’s position was weakened at the time by announcements the alleged perpetrators of the leaks worked for the PLO negotiation team he headed.
He had said an investigation into the leaks pointed towards three nationals of US, British and French extraction being responsible.
A former journalist with the independent daily Al-Quds in east Jerusalem, Erakat holds a BA and an MA in Political Science from the University of San Francisco.
He also has a doctorate in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford in England, and he taught at An-Najah University in the West Bank town of Nablus from 1979 to 1991.
Erakat has written a dozen books and lives in the …read more
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Al Jazeera is under scrutiny for subversion in Egypt, and facing a mutiny from its own reporters over supporting the Muslim Brotherhood there. But The Washington Post assures us in a story that the channel’s official launch in the United States is on August 20, and its coverage will be different.
Philip Seib, author of The Al Jazeera Effect, is quoted as saying, “I don’t think you’ll see al-Jazeera America touting the Muslim Brotherhood. It will be more like CNN.”
But the foreign owners in Qatar will remain the same, and that is part of the problem. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey has said that Al Jazeera’s purchase of Al Gore’s Current TV should be the subject of a congressional inquiry because of the channel’s foreign sponsorship.
As Accuracy in Media has been reporting for over six years, the anti-American channel works hand-in-glove with the Muslim Brotherhood and its associated terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and Hamas. Nothing has changed. In fact, Al Jazeera has become more open about its work as a foreign policy instrument of Qatar, including the promotion of al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in Syria.
It is apparent that the Egyptian military and its supporters in the pro-democracy movement didn’t want Egypt to become another Syria.
The Muslim Brotherhood website still carries a story referring to Al Jazeera as “the greatest Arab media organization.” The channel originally made a name for itself by airing al-Qaeda videos, and one of its correspondents was convicted of being an agent of the terrorist group that carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The hit movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” based on the killing of bin Laden, notes that the al-Qaeda leader was tracked down in part by locating a nearby Al Jazeera office that received and aired terrorist videos.
In response to the jailing of Al Jazeera journalists in Cairo after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, the channel proclaimed, “Regardless of political views, the Egyptian people expect media freedoms to be respected and upheld.”
Broadcaster Jerry Kenney, a leading critic of the Qatar-funded propaganda network, said, “This is hilarious. Media freedoms? Why don’t they allow it in Qatar?” Qatar, which sponsors and funds Al Jazeera, is a dictatorship that jails independent journalists and even poets critical of the regime.
But that doesn’t seem to bother Soledad O’Brien or the other Americans who are going to work for Al Jazeera America. “If you look at what they’re doing at Al Jazeera English: High quality journalism,” she says, oblivious to the fact that while its slant has been watered down somewhat, the channel still has a bias in favor of global jihad.
To cite one example, note our report on Al Jazeera English airing sympathetic coverage about, and running “exclusive” interviews with, terrorist leaders from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), whose symbol is an AK-47 rifle and a black flag rising from the globe.
Iraqi authorities announced Sunday that they had revoked the operating licenses of pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera and nine other satellite TV channels, alleging that they are promoting a sectarian agenda as the country grapples with a wave of violence.
The move, effective immediately, comes as Baghdad tries to quell rising unrest in the country following clashes at a protest camp last week.
More than 180 people have been killed in gunbattles with security forces and other attacks since the unrest began Tuesday. The violence follows more than four months of largely peaceful protests by Iraq‘s Sunni Muslim minority against the Shiite-dominated government.
Al-Jazeera, based in the small, energy-rich Gulf nation of Qatar, said it was “astonished” by the move.
“We cover all sides of the stories in Iraq, and have done for many years. The fact that so many channels have been hit all at once though suggests this is an indiscriminate decision,” it said in an emailed statement.
“We urge the authorities to uphold freedom for the media to report the important stories taking place in Iraq,” it added.
The channel has aggressively covered the “Arab Spring” uprisings across the region, and has broadcast extensively on the civil war in neighboring Syria. Qatar itself is a harsh critic of the Syrian regime and a leading backer of the rebels, and is accused by many supporters of Iraq‘s Shiite-led government of backing protests in Iraq too.
Iraq and other governments across the Middle East have temporarily shut down Al-Jazeera’s offices in the past because they were disgruntled by its coverage.
The other nine channels whose licenses were suspended by Iraq‘s Communications and Media Commission are al-Sharqiya and al-Sharqiya News, which frequently criticize the government, and seven smaller local channels — Salahuddin, Fallujah, Taghyeer, Baghdad, Babiliya, Anwar 2 and al-Gharbiya.
In a statement posted on its website, the commission blamed the banned stations for the escalation of a sectarian backdrop that is fueling the violence that followed the deadly clashes at the Hawija camp on Tuesday.
Iraq‘s media commission accused the stations of misleading and exaggerated reports, as well as of airing “clear calls for disorder and for launching retaliatory criminal attacks against security forces.” It also blamed the stations for promoting “banned terrorist organizations who committed crimes against Iraqi people.”
The decree states that if the 10 stations try to work on Iraqi territory, they will face legal action from security forces.
Signals of their broadcasts, however, remained available to Iraqi viewers Sunday.
The decision came as Iraq‘s embattled Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, made a rare appearance at an official funeral for five soldiers killed by gunmen in Iraq‘s Sunni-dominated Anbar province Saturday. Local police in the province said the soldiers were killed in a gunbattle after their vehicle was stopped.
The United States Embassy condemned the killing, and described the soldiers as unarmed.
“There is no justification for this crime, and we welcome the calls by local and national leaders in Anbar Province to bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible,” it said in a statement Thursday evening.
The Embassy last week raised
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Scores of scantily clad women grabbed attention at mosques and Tunisian embassies all over Europe on Thursday by participating in “Topless Jihad” rallies to protest what they say is an Islamist crackdown on Arab women’s rights.
AFP reported the Ukrainian women’s power group Femen staged the rallies in several European capitals, including Paris, Berlin, and Kiev, to spotlight the case of Tunisian activist Amina Tyler. Tyler caused controversy last month when she posted online photos of herself with the words “My body belongs to me” and “F— your morals” emblazoned across her naked breasts (though she fully spelled out the operative verb).
Now her supporters fear she may be criminally prosecuted for her act.
Police in Kiev immediately detained two young female activists who wrote “Free Amina” on their chests when they arrived at a local mosque.An AFP photographer witnessed police deterring some two dozen bare-breasted feminists tagged with “No Islamists” messages in Paris as they approached the Tunisian embassy there.
“We’re free, we’re naked, it’s our right, it’s our body it’s our rules, and nobody can use religion and some other holy things to abuse women, to oppress them,” Femen member Alexandra Shevchenko told AFP at a small protest at a Berlin mosque.
The Femen group has made headlines in recent years for feminist, pro-democracy and anti-corruption protests.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that Friday a group of Muslim women launched a counter campaign –” Muslimah Pride Day“– on some social media sites, in response to the demonstrations. The women have posted photos of themselves with various messages to Femen like “Nudity does not liberate me.”
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The unnamed woman, a widow, claims she was asleep when the alleged assailant, Bhola Thakur, entered her house early Tuesday morning and raped her. A police officer told the Hindustan Times that the man was “so drunk he [fell] asleep in her house after committing the crime.”
The Indian Express reports that the woman contemplated committing suicide out of shame, but changed her mind and instead poured kerosene on her slumbering attacker before fleeing the house.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post
By Neal Colgrass Egyptian authorities today questioned a TV comic known as the nation’s Jon Stewart and released him on $2,200 bail, Al Jazeera reports. Charged with insulting Islam and President Morsi, Bassem Youssef turned himself in amid waves of political unrest that have deeply divided Egypt. Youssef, the most popular Morsi… …read more
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By John Johnson The government of Qatar is worried about the nation’s falling marriage rate, and one of the reasons it cites for the decline isn’t your standard fare: Weddings have become so expensive that would-be grooms—who traditionally foot the bill—are balking. How expensive? Al-Jazeera talks to one guy who says… …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Newser – Great Finds
Qatar‘s emir looked over an assembly of Arab leaders Tuesday as both cordial host and impatient taskmaster. His welcoming remarks to kings, sheiks and presidents across the Arab world quickly shifted to Qatar‘s priorities: Rallying greater support for Syrian rebels and helping Palestinians with efforts such as a newly proposed $1 billion fund to protect Jerusalem’s Arab heritage.
No one seemed surprised at the paternal tone or the latest big-money initiative. In a matter of just a few years, hyper-wealthy Qatar has increasingly staked out a leadership role once held by Egypt and helped redefine how Arab states measure influence and ambition.
Little more than a spot to sink oil and gas wells a generation ago, Qatar is now a key player in nearly every Middle Eastern shakeout since the Arab Spring, using checkbook diplomacy in settings as diverse as Syria‘s civil war, Italian artisan workshops struggling with the euro financial crisis, and the soccer pitches in France as owners of the Paris Saint-Germain team.
As hosts of an Arab League summit this week, Qatar gets another chance to showcase its swagger.
With power, however, come tensions. Qatar has been portrayed as an arrogant wunderkind in places such as Iraq and Lebanon where some factions object to its rising stature, and Qatar‘s growing independent streak in policy-making has raised concerns among its Gulf Arab partners. It also faces questions — as do other Gulf nations and Western allies — over support for some Arab Spring uprisings while remaining loyal to the embattled monarchy in neighboring Bahrain.
“The adage that money buys influence could very well be the motto of Qatar,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of regional politics at Emirates University outside Abu Dhabi. “But it goes beyond that. Qatar also has learned the value of being flexible and, at the same time, thinking big.”
It’s hard these days to find a point on the Mideast map without some link back to Qatar.
In recent years, Qatar mediated disputes among Lebanese factions and prodded Sudan‘s government into peace talks with rebels in the Darfur region. Qatar‘s rulers even broke ranks with Gulf partners and allowed an Israeli trade office — almost a de facto diplomatic post — before it was closed in early 2009 in protest of Israeli attacks on Gaza. And Doha has been atop the Arab media pecking order as headquarters of the pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera, which was founded with …read more
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By now everyone knows that former Vice President Al Gore is now richer than Mitt Romney after selling Current TV to Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is owned by the Qatari government, an oil-producing nation. Gore railed against big energy in his 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest
The hackers identified themselves as members of the Syrian Electronic Army, a group that has carried out a string of web attacks against targets such as Al-Jazeera, which it sees as sympathetic to Syria‘s rebels.
A series of messages posted by the BBC Weather Twitter account on Thursday ranged from political to anti-Semitic to comical. One read “Long Live Syria Al-Assad,” while another said: “Saudi weather station down due to head on-collision with camel.”
A further message claimed Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered terrorists to launch chemical weapons at civilian areas in North Syria.
The BBC says the Twitter account is one of its own and that it is investigati
Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana who is the new chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), believes Al Jazeera has a First Amendment right to expand its broadcasts in the United States and that a congressional investigation of Al Gore’s deal with the channel is not warranted.
Scalise, a self-described “staunch conservative,” is the new chairman of the RSC, which is the “caucus of House conservatives.” His action makes it increasingly unlikely that the House will exercise any oversight of Al Gore’s controversial sale of his Current TV channel to the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The buyer is the Middle Eastern regime of Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera. The Qatar regime advertises itself as “America’s Strongest Partner in the Gulf” but has supported terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Osama bin Laden aide and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is currently in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay for acts of terrorism, lived and worked in Qatar but was allowed to leave for Pakistan as U.S. authorities were trying to apprehend him, according to the report of the 9/11 commission.
Sarah E. Makin, Director of Conservative Coalitions and State Outreach at the House Republican Study Committee, told this journalist on Tuesday afternoon that she received an explanation of Scalise’s position on the Al Jazeera deal after consulting with aides to the congressman.
Conservatives had been asking Scalise to support an investigation on the grounds that a foreign-funded channel based in the Middle East, with a reputation for airing terrorist propaganda, should be examined for its ties to terrorist groups.
By offering the First Amendment excuse in favor of the deal, Scalise is ignoring the evidence that Al Jazeera is not a legitimate news operation but rather a conduit for propaganda from terrorist groups, with whom it has intimate and ongoing relations.
In World War II, Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally broadcast their anti-American diatribes from overseas and were apprehended by U.S. authorities after the war and sent to prison for treason. In the more shocking Al Jazeera case, the U.S. is officially still at war with global terrorism, but Al Gore is giving the channel a base of operations on American soil with access to 40-50 million homes.
Although it will be called “Al Jazeera America,” the channel will still be totally controlled and funded by the government of Qatar, which doesn’t permit freedom of the press in its own country.
A Mogadishu court on Tuesday handed down one-year prison sentences to a woman who said she was raped by security forces and a reporter who interviewed her. The judges decided the woman falsely claimed she was raped and had insulted the government.
The judges based their decision on medical evidence that the woman was not raped, said the court’s top official, Ahmed Aden Farah. Farah said the woman’s prison term would be delayed by one year so she could care for her young child.
Rights groups have decried the case as politically motivated because the woman had accused security forces of the assault. Rape is reported to be rampant in Mogadishu, where tens of thousands of people who fled last year’s famine live in poorly protected camps. Government troops are often blamed.
The charges and resulting sentences may result in even fewer victims of sexual assault coming forward to report attacks in conservative Somalia, rights groups fear.
The alleged rape victim was charged with insulting a government body, inducing false evidence, simulating a criminal offense and making a false accusation. Freelance journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur was charged with insulting a government body and inducing the woman to give false evidence. Three others charged in the case, including the woman’s husband, were acquitted Tuesday.
All of the defendants denied the charges in court. Abdinur’s lawyer said he would appeal.
Farah, the court official, noted while reading the verdict that Abdinur admitted that he had interviewed the victim. But Abdinur never published a story in relation to the interview.
The United Nations special representative on sexual violence, Zainab Hawa Bangura, said this month that the Somali government‘s approach to the case “does not serve the interest of justice; it only serves to criminalize victims and undermine freedom of expression for the press.”
Rights group say the arrests were linked to an increase in media attention given to the high levels of rape and other sexual violence in Somalia, including attacks allegedly committed by security forces. On Jan. 6, Universal TV, a Somali television station, reported that armed men in police uniform had raped a young woman. The same day Al Jazeera published an article which described rape by security forces in camps for internally displaced people in Mogadishu.
Human Rights Watch said the case made a “mockery of the new Somali government‘s priorities.” The group’s Daniel Bakele said the case was a politically motivated attempt to blame and silence those who report on “the pervasive problem of sexual violence by Somali security forces.”
The husband, another man and another woman were charged with assisting the alleged rape victim to evade investigation and assisting her to secure a profit for the rape allegation, charges that indicated the government believed there was a conspiracy to discredit it and somehow acquire financial gain, Human Rights Watch said previously.
The Somali capital has moved past the violence that engulfed Mogadishu for much of the last two decades. In a sign of its progress, the United States this month officially recognized the country for the first time in two decades. The U.S. hadn’t recognized a Somali government since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Despite the progress, Somali government institutions remain weak and corrupt, and the government relies heavily on the security provided by 17,000 African Union troops in the country.
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Mouaz al-Khatib, the head of the Syrian National Coalition, said he is extending his hand “to facilitate the peaceful departure” of the regime and called on Assad to begin releasing tens of thousands of political prisoners as a precondition.
Al-Khatib said last week he is willing to hold talks with the regime in Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey if that would help end the bloodshed. His offer marked a departure from the mainstream opposition’s narrative insisting that Assad step down before any talks.
He renewed his offer Monday in an interview with Qatari-based Al-Jazeera television and said he was placing the ball in Assad’s court.
“We say to the Syrian leadership, let us search for an exit for the crisis before Syria gets destroyed even more,” he said.
“The regime has to take a clear stance and we will extend our hand for the sake of our people and in order to facilitate the peaceful departure of the regime,” he added.
Al-Khatib met separately with Russian, U.S. and Iranian officials on the sidelines of a conference on security in Munich over the weekend.
There has been no comment from Syrian officials on al-Khatib’s initiative last week or his latest comments.
A senior Iranian official visiting Damascus appeared to voice support for al-Khatib’s call for dialogue, without naming him.
“We welcome any initiative that leads to dialogue,” said Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran’s National Security Council. He said the talks should be held in Damascus.
“Just as it regretted its aggressions after the 33-day, 22-day and eight-day wars, today the Zionist entity will regret the aggression it launched against Syria,” Jalili told a news conference in Damascus. He was referring to past wars between Israel and Hezbollah or the Palestinian Hamas rulers of Gaza.
“The Islamic world will not allow aggression against Syria,” he said. “Syria stands on the front line of the Islamic world against the Zionist regime. … The Islamic world must react appropriately to the Israeli aggression.”
Iran is Syria‘s closest regional ally and Jalili used his 3-day visit to pledge Tehran’s continued support for the President Bashar Assad‘s regime
Israel has all but confirmed it was behind the airstrike near Damascus last week. U.S. officials said the Israelis struck a military research center and a convoy next to it carrying anti-aircraft weapons destined for the Islamic militant group Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon.
Syria said has vowed to retaliate.
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Former Senator Chuck Hagel (R–NE) will begin his nomination hearings before the U.S. Senate today. The Associated Press reported that if the Senate approves him, he will be the first Secretary of Defense to have publicly advocated that the U.S. get rid of its nuclear weapons, possibly even unilaterally.
In 2009, Hagel told Al-Jazeera, “How can we preach to other countries that you can’t have nuclear weapons but we can and our allies can? There is no credibility, there’s no logic to that argument.” He is also a co-author of the radical Global Zero report.
President Obama has not been as overt as Hagel, but he has made statements such as “we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need.” On what evidence was this statement made? None, actually.
Read More at heritage.org . By Rebeccah Heinrichs.
Al Gore unpacked some serious nonsense on national TV this morning during an interview (see below) while selling his new book The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Give Matt Lauer credit (though I’m not sure why we keep giving special credit to journalists who do their jobs; I guess I’m just thankful when it happens) for challenging the former vice president to explain the crass hypocrisy of his $100 million oil deal:
“I certainly understand that criticism,” Gore said. “I disagree with it. I think Al Jazeera has, obviously, long since established itself as a really distinguished and effective news gathering organization. And by the way, its climate coverage has been far more extensive and high-quality.”
Lauer interrupted, noting that Gore targets “fossil fuels” as part of his crusade against climate change, but reiterated that Qatar’s wealth is based on those substances.
“Isn’t there a bit of hypocrisy in that?” he asked.
“Well, I get the criticism,” Gore repeated. “I just disagree with it, because this network has established itself. It’s objective, it’s won major awards in countries around the world and its climate coverage, as I said a moment ago, has been outstanding and extensive.”
I’m confused. What is Gore disagreeing about? Does Al Gore disagree that Qatar would not have any economy if it weren’t for the oil and natural gas that happens to lie underneath it? Does he disagree that Al Jazeera is backed by money used to sell that oil and natural gas to the world? Gas and oil that he says is destroying the planet, does he not? Does he disagree with the State Department that Qatar is a “destination country for men and women” subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution as the government “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” Does he disagree that Qatar funds terror groups like Hamas? Does Al Gore believe that extracting $100 million in oil money from a network looking to gain footing in the US market isn’t immoral simply because he finds the network’s climate change coverage up to his standards? Or is Gore actually saying that an organization that features global warming coverage that meets his expectations has a dispensation from criticism?
Read More at Human Events . By David Harsanyi.
Photo credit: roberthuffstutter (Creative Commons)
By Kevin Spak Jon Stewart took a moment on last night’s Daily Show to weigh in on Al Gore‘s deal to sell Current TV to Al Jazeera—or, more specifically, Fox News‘ reaction to it. “Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have our first Fox boner alert of 2013,” he declared. But the…
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