Archive for October 2009
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether federal courts have the power to order prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay to be released into the United States.
The court’s decision to hear the case adds a further complication to the Obama administration’s efforts to close the prison at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. A measure in Congress that would allow detainees to be admitted to the United States just to face trial had to overcome strong resistance before winning final passage on Tuesday. The administration has met with only fitful success in persuading foreign allies to accept prisoners cleared for release.
The Supreme Court is unlikely to hear arguments in the case before late February, a month after the administration’s deadline of Jan. 22 for closing the prison, though there have been recent signals that the deadline may not be met.
The case concerns 13 men from the largely Muslim Uighur region of western China who continue to be held although the government has determined that they pose no threat to the United States. Read the rest of this entry »
Unless former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, President Obama’s special Middle Eastern envoy, is prepared to commute by government executive jet for the next five to 10 years, this isn’t a bad time to turn in his badge. Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s vice prime minister and minister for strategic affairs in Israel’s 32nd government, talked his way through Washington’s corridors of power this week, spelling out the Jewish state’s refurbished negotiating posture for a Palestinian state. Bottom line: The Nobel Peace Prize will not help Obama’s quest for an independent homeland for the Palestinians by the end of his first term. Even if re-elected, the geopolitical prize would most probably elude him again.
Israel wants to slow down the whole process of negotiations with the Palestinians. Obama wants both parties to accelerate. But Congress seldom allows any daylight between Israeli and U.S. positions. Read the rest of this entry »
Eric Besson says “the burqa runs counter to national values.” Speaking on LCI television Sunday, he said, “for me, no burqas in the street.”
A French parliamentary commission is holding six months of discussions on the wearing of face- and body-covering veils, and some politicians have suggested a ban.
Besson suggested a public debate on France’s “national identity,” a concept likely to rankle immigrants’ and minority rights groups.
Besson also defended a government decision to send illegal Afghan immigrants back to Kabul on charter flights last week.
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A Palestinian youth marks a V sign during clashes with Israeli policemen in the Arab neighborhood of Ras Al Amud in east Jerusalem, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009. Israeli forces stormed the Jerusalem’s holiest shrine, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, Sunday, firing stun grenades to disperse hundreds of Palestinian protesters who were pelting them with stones. (AP
JERUSALEM — Israeli police firing stun grenades faced off Sunday against masked Palestinian protesters hurling stones and plastic chairs outside the Holy Land’s most volatile shrine, where past violence has escalated into prolonged conflict.
A wall of Israeli riot police behind plexiglass shields marched toward young men covering their faces with T-shirts and scarves, sending many of them running for cover into the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the Islamic structures in the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
They remained holed up in the mosque with police outside for several hours until dispersing before nightfall. Eighteen protesters were arrested, and no serious injuries were reported. But even mild troubles at the disputed compound in Jerusalem’s Old City can quickly ignite widespread unrest, and police remained on high alert.
“Jerusalem is a red line that Israel should not cross,” said Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh, condemning the Israeli police action.
A visit to the site in 2000 by Ariel Sharon, then an Israeli opposition leader and later prime minister, helped ignite deadly clashes that escalated into violence that engulfed Israel and the Palestinian territories for several years.
Sunday’s disturbances were rooted in calls from Muslim leaders for their followers to protect the Islamic sites from what they said were Israeli plots to damage them or let Jews pray in the compound. There was no evidence to support either claim.
Palestinians are also angry about stalled peace talks and ongoing Israeli construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, areas they want for a future state. Read the rest of this entry »
• Ex-Bosnian Serb leader to face 11 war crimes charges
• Boycott threat could delay complex trial for months
Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader seen as the mastermind of the worst ethnic pogroms in Europe in the post-war era, goes on trial today in what may be the last big case of the UN’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
Arrested last year in Serbia under a false identity after 13 years as a fugitive, Karadzic has been indicted on two counts of genocide, the gravest charges possible, for allegedly overseeing the mass murder and deportation of tens of thousands of Bosnia’s Muslims in the north-west of the country in 1992 and at Srebrenica in the north-east in 1995.
He faces a further nine charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the 44-month Serbian siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in 1992-95, and for taking more than 200 UN peacekeepers hostage in 1995 as an insurance policy against Nato bombing raids.
Fifteen years into the operations of the tribunal, the Karadzic trial is shaping up to be its most important and one of its last. But it looks likely to get off to a frustrating and demoralising start with the accused boycotting the proceedings in The Hague. The presiding judge, O-Gon Kwon of South Korea, faces a dilemma over how to deal with a recalcitrant defendant who has long argued he is immune from prosecution because of a deal allegedly struck with Richard Holbrooke, then the US Balkan envoy, after the war ended in 1995. Karadzic also insists on conducting his own defence and declared last week he would not be in court because he needs more time to prepare. Read the rest of this entry »