Category Archives: World

Kunduz: EU mourns victims

Brussels 09.10.2021 “People were gathered for Friday prayers in a Shiite mosque in Kunduz, when a cowardly attack struck, killing more than 40 believers and reportedly injuring over 100. The European Union mourns with the families of the victims and wishes those injured a full and speedy recovery” the statement of the European External Actions Service reads.

“The perpetrators of this despicable crime, for which the terrorist group ‘ISIS-Khorasan’ claimed responsibility, must be brought to justice. The human rights of all Afghans, including the right to life and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, have to be protected and respected”.

“Continued terrorist attacks are a serious obstacle to a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, where all Afghan citizens can feel safe and secure. The European Union remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan and to supporting its people”.

Dozens of people have been killed in a suicide bombing attack at a Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s northeastern city of Kunduz during Friday prayers on October 9, the country’s worst bloodshed since the Taliban took over control in August.

The Islamic State of Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the attack through the same day via online communicatins.

EU: MEPs debate Arctic policy

Strasbourg 05.10.2021 While the European Commission is currently working on an update of the EU’s Arctic policy, MEPs are concerned about emerging threats to stability in the area.

Since the end of the Cold War, the Arctic has been a zone of peace and international cooperation, but in recent years the situation has changed. The region has witnessed an increased Russian military presence, while China aspires to integrate the Arctic’s northern sea route into its Belt and Road Initiative.

The Commission is re-examining the EU’s role in the Artic ahead of an integrated EU policy by the end of 2021. Parliament will debate and vote on its own report in Strasbourg next week.

The Arctic is home to half a million EU citizens from Finland, Sweden as well as Denmark through Greenland.

“A shift in the perception of the Arctic is urgently needed as an increasingly tense international situation forces us to review our Arctic policy,” said Anna Fotyga (ECR, Poland), author of the Parliament report.

The Arctic will no longer be a remote or inaccessible region, she said, but will in fact play a critical role in Europe’s future.

“The EU’s Arctic strategy must reflect the new security realities in the region, rising geopolitical tensions and new players such as China,” said Fotyga. “Moscow looks at the Arctic in the long term, striving to impose a series of legal, economic and military facts. In this way, it introduces global tensions to a region that we want to preserve as an area of peaceful and fruitful cooperation.”

The report urges Russia to fully respect international law and to be mindful of the consequences of its actions. It also says that potential EU cooperation with Russia in the Arctic must not jeopardise the goals of sanctions against Russian action elsewhere.

The increasing role of the Arctic in trade, navigation, environment and climate, issues related to local communities, in particular indigenous people, must also be taken into account, said Fotyga.

There is growing interest in the Arctic and its rare earth mineral resources, which are crucial in the development of new technologies: both green and military.

“Europe must reduce its dependence on China for these minerals and the Arctic should play a central role in the European Raw Materials Alliance,” said the Polish MEP.

MEPs are worried that Russia and China will exploit the region without proper environmental impact assessment. China’s investments in strategic infrastructure projects and efforts to obtain mining rights are of concern as they are reminiscent of how the country operates in other parts of the world. MEPs therefore urge the Arctic states to carry out thorough screenings of foreign investments.

As China is developing icebreaker programmes, the report suggests that EU countries and partner countries could build icebreakers under an EU flag.

Fotyga, who was part of a Parliament delegation to Denmark, Iceland and Greenland in September, said Parliament wants greater EU visibility in the region, greater EU coordination, as well as cooperation with partners committed to respecting international law, developing peaceful cooperation and guaranteeing freedom of navigation.

EU doesn’t recognise Taliban

Brussels 21.08.2021 The European Union has not recognised the Taliban, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday, August 21, nor is it holding political talks with the militants, a week after they seized control of Afghanistan. However during her visit to Spain the EU top executive expressed determination to support Afghan people. (Image above: archive)

Von der Leyen noted that despite the Taliban’s rhetoric, accepting inclusive approach, there have already been numerous reports of oppression targeting women, revenge killings and abductions.

“Not a single euro can go to a regime … that denies women and girls their full freedom and rights to education and careers,” she said.

“The situation is still very unclear and very unpredictable,” she added. “We will measure [the Taliban] above all by their deeds and their actions.”

Taliban announces “general amnesty”

Brussels 17.08.2021 The Taliban announced a “general amnesty” for all government officials on Tuesday, August 17, and urged them to return to work, trying to calm the mood in the capital city after Sunday chaos at Kabul airport as people tried to flee all directions. Women would also be allowed to play a role in government that corresponds with Sharia law, the group said.

The comments by Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, represent the first comments on governance in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country on Sunday, August 15.

“You should restart your routine life with full confidence,” Samangani said in announcing the amnesty. Some appeared to take the advice to heart, with white-capped traffic police reappearing on the streets for the first time in days.

Women would also be allowed to join the government in accordance with sharia law, he said.
“The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims,” Samangani said, using the militants’ new name for Afghanistan. “They should be in the government structure according to Shariah law.”

“The structure of government is not fully clear, but based on experience, there should be a fully Islamic leadership and all sides should join,” he added.

Kabul: Mullah Ghani Baradar assumes control

Brussels 15.08.2021 Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Qatar’s Al-Jazeera English satellite news channel that they are “awaiting a peaceful transfer of Kabul.” He declined to offer specifics on any possible negotiations between his forces and the government.

Shaheen acknowledged that they were seeking an “unconditional surrender” by the central government.

Taliban negotiators headed to the presidential palace Sunday,August 15, to discuss the transfer, said an Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. It remains unclear when that transfer would take place, however it is generally presumed that it it question of hours.

The negotiators on the government side included former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, an official said. Abdullah long has been a vocal critic of President Ashraf Ghani, who long refused giving up power to get a deal with the Taliban.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the closed-doors negotiations, described them as “tense.”

Acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan sought to reassure the public in a video message.

“I assure you about the security of Kabul,” he said. Earlier, the Taliban also tried to calm residents of the capital. “No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” reads their statement.

However, a voice message circulating social media purportedly from a Taliban commander also warned “no one is allowed to enter into Kabul province.”

Despite the pledges, panic set in as many rushed to leave the country through the Kabul airport, the last route out of the country as the Taliban now hold every border crossing.

Rapid shuttle flights of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters near the U.S. embassy began a few hours later after the insurgents seized the nearby city of Jalalabad. Diplomatic armored SUVs could be seen leaving the area around the post, the AP sources reported.

IRAN: President hardliner Ebrahim Raisi

Brussels 06.08.2021 The inauguration of Ebrahim Raisi as President of Iran signifies that from now onward the conservative control all branches of the Islamic Republic’s government and they intended to pursue a harder line in foreign and domestic policies.

Raisi, a former chief of the Iranian judiciary and a close ally of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, won a low-turnout election that had been arranged to prevent any credible opponent from running.

New President is perceived as Khamenei’s choice to succeed him as Supreme leader in a political system where a small group of Shiite clerics hold the ultimate power.

A list leaked to Iranian media indicates that key posts in Raisi’s cabinet will be offered to men with deep ties to the intelligence and security apparatus.

The political activists have warned that given his track record in the judiciary, which has jailed and executed dissidents, journalists and lawyers, they expect even more state oppression under the new administration.

“Raisi’s presidency is very much the rise and dominance of the military and security branch of the Islamic Republic and the retreat of the technocrats and moderate voices,” said Nader Hashemi, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver.

EU aid to Iran and Pakistan vulnerable

Brussels 13.07.2021 This week the Commission has announced renewed support for those most in need in Iran and Pakistan with €22 million in humanitarian aid. This package will assist those most affected by man-made crises, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate induced and other natural disasters in the region.

“Iran and Pakistan are both highly vulnerable to recurrent natural hazards, with both countries’ situations aggravated by a severe coronavirus pandemic. Iran and Pakistan are also the principal host countries of Afghan refugees worldwide. The EU is boosting support to humanitarian organisations in both countries at this critical time” Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said.

Of the €22 million allocation, €15 million will focus on supporting humanitarian organisations working in Iran to assist the most vulnerable Iranians and Afghans in the country. Part of the funding will support the country’s battle against the severe coronavirus pandemic, including the provision of urgent medical equipment. EU humanitarian funding also supports Iran’s commendable efforts in assisting Afghans on its territory and host communities, on education, health, protection and livelihood.

€7 million will go to humanitarian organisations in Pakistan, focusing on the most vulnerable local populations, Afghans as well as host communities. Assistance will comprise Afghans and Pakistanis, affected by conflict, displacement, COVID-19 and natural disasters, including malnutrition.

All EU humanitarian aid is strictly monitored and only provided to established humanitarian organisations such as United Nations agencies, NGOs and international organisations.

Image above: illustration, Qom city, Iran.

EU-Central Asia Security Dialogue

Brussels 01.07.2021 The eighth High-Level Political and Security Dialogue between the European Union and the countries of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – took place on Thursday, July 1, in Tashkent, with the participation of Afghanistan as special guest.

The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss regional dynamics and advance region-to-region cooperation on a broad spectrum of issues, including border management, security and the promotion of sustainable connectivity.

The EU welcomed the upcoming conference on Central Asia-South Asia connectivity to be held on 15-16 July in Tashkent, which would provide space for reiterating international support to initiatives aimed at linking up Central Asian states, Afghanistan and their neighbours more closely as a key factor for peace, resilience and prosperity.

Participants expressed their shared concern about resurging violence in Afghanistan and stressed their common determination to continue to work together to promote a genuine and inclusive peace process in the country.

The EU confirmed that the key priorities of its strategy on Central Asia of 2019 would guide the programming of its aid for the budget cycle 2021-2027.

Participants agreed to work together to organise a first EU-Central Asia Economic Forum, EU-Central Asia Conference on Tourism and third EU-Central Asia Civil Society Forum by the end of this year. The EU welcomed the proposal to organise a high-level conference on Connectivity in 2022.

The Dialogue was chaired by EEAS Deputy Secretary-General for political affairs Enrique Mora.

Derek Chauvin mother claims his innocence

Brussels 25.06.2021 Derek Chauvin the former Minneapolis police officer found guilty of murdering George Floyd, is sentenced to spend more than 22 years in prison.

The sentencing comes just hours after his team unsuccessfully tried to throw out the original verdict, a sign that they may launch an appeal. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill handed down the sentence following four victim impact statements from Floyd’s friends and family, including his 7-year-old daughter Gianna, his nephew Brandon Williams who said his family “is forever broken,” and Floyd’s brother Terrence.

Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, spoke on his behalf saying she will always support him, believes in his “innocence,” and said, “the public will never know the loving and caring man he is but his family does.”

Chauvin spoke briefly at the hearing and stated his condolences to the Floyd family, but added: “There’s going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest. And I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you.”

Outside the courthouse, a crowd was gathered. Some listened to the hearing on their cell phones and responded to the testimonies accordingly.

Chauvin had been sitting in a maximum-security prison cell since a 12-member jury in April found him guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death. Forty-five people testified at Chauvin’s trial, which lasted three weeks. The jury deliberated a little more than 10 hours before returning a guilty verdict. Chauvin did not testify in his own defense, has never apologized, but has claimed he is the product of a broken system.

“Between the incident, the video, the riots, the trial – this is the pinnacle of it,” Michael Brandt, a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney who has been following the case closely, said.”The verdict was huge too, but this is where the justice comes down.”

Under Minnesota law, Chauvin could only be sentenced on the most serious charge – unintentional second-degree murder which carries a sentence of up to 40 years.

Prosecutors had pushed for a 30-year-sentence, arguing that there were five aggravating factors in Floyd’s death. Last month, Cahill said the prosecution had proven four of those factors. He ruled Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority; treated Floyd with cruelty; committed the crime with children present “who witnessed the last moments” of Floyd’s life; and had actively participated in the crime with at least three people.

Cahill said prosecutors failed to prove Floyd was vulnerable at the time.

Floyd’s death sparked national outrage and led to coast-to-coast protests.

He was killed after police officers responded to a report that he had used a counterfeit $20 bill. The 46-year-old was handcuffed facedown on the street. He yelled, cried out for his mother, and repeatedly said he could not breathe as Chauvin pressed his knee to his neck for nine minutes. Bystanders who watched the incident unfold were also heard on the video footage telling officers Floyd could not breathe.

Chauvin’s conviction was rare. He is one of 11 nonfederal law enforcement officers who have been convicted of murder for on-duty killings since 2005, Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said.

The three other Minneapolis police officers that were at the scene and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter will be tried in March. Thomas Lane, who held Floyd’s legs down, J. Alexander Kueng, who knelt on Floyd’s back, and Tou Thao, who tried to block bystanders, had previously been scheduled to go to trial in August, but the judge decided to delay their trial so that the federal case against them could go first.

A federal grand jury indicted all four former officers on charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights.

Just hours before sentencing, Cahill denied Chauvin a post-verdict motion for a new trial.

Cahill ruled that Chauvin’s legal team “failed to demonstrate … the court had abused its discretion or committed error such that defendant was deprived of his constitutional right to a fair trial.”

Cahill also ruled that Chauvin failed to prove prosecutorial or juror misconduct.

Huawei lanuches new smartphone

China’s Huawei Technologies Co. on Wednesday, June 2, unveiled its self-developed operating system for smartphones, in a bid to pave the way for separating its business from the United States and the dominance of Google LLC.

The Chinese tech giant’s Harmony OS will be loaded with its Mate X2 foldable smartphones, released in February, as the export-control measures imposed by the 45th U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration have been hurting its cooperate performance.

The focus on HarmonyOS working across devices is one way Huawei is trying to differentiate its operating system from Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

“HarmonyOS is designed to provide the glue between a growing array of connected devices that Huawei is targeting,” Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, said.

“Huawei will be hoping that it can follow Apple’s lead, by having a single software platform that extends in all directions, providing a seamless experience to customers that buy into its ecosystem of products.”

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