Photo Credit: Al Jazeera
A new alliance of Islamist rebel groups, the Islamic Front, seized headquarters and warehouses belonging to the Syrian opposition’s Supreme Military Council, including capturing the Free Syrian Army’s bases at Bab-al-Hawa northwestern border crossing into Turkey, prompting the United States and United Kingdom to suspend non-lethal aid to northern Syria. The non-lethal aid includes, “medicine, vehicles and communications equipment,” but does not affect humanitarian aid.
According to State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, the U.S. suspended all deliveries of nonlethal assistance into northern Syria, while the U.S. “evaluate[s] the situation on the ground and gather[s] additional details.” Psaki suggested that the suspension of aid occurred because “the headquarters and warehouses belonging to the SMC” that were taken “is certainly something concerning and has left us to, given that, suspend all deliveries at this point,” but noted that other aid to the rest of the country will continue.
Meanwhile, thirteen news organizations including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal authored a letter to the Syrian opposition urging for assurances that reporters will not be abducted. The letter indicates that there has been ”a disturbing rise in the kidnapping of …
Photo Credit: AN photo by Khaled Al-Khamees
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed to form a unified military command structure and unified police force after the annual Gulf summit held in Kuwait City, according to Al Arabiya. The decision came during the annual Gulf Summit, during which leaders of GCC member countries also addressed Iran’s nuclear agreement with western powers, Iranian occupation of three UAE islands,and the implementation of the Gulf-brokered power-transition deal in Yemen.
The agreement intends to “protect the six-member council from security threats posed to the region.” Saudi Arabia initially proposed the joint military union in 2011, but due to reservations from several GCC members, the proposal was tabled. Since 2011, “Kuwait and Qatar have since expressed their backing, but the UAE’s position on the proposal is not known.” Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa praised the agreement as a key step in constructing a “safe haven” in the Gulf, and described the need for security as “a pressing demand [now] more than ever.” Bahraini Cabinet secretary-general Dr Yaser bin Essa Al Naser released a statement explaining, ”The Cabinet stressed that the challenges the GCC countries are facing confirm the necessity and urgency to …
Photo Credit: AP/Paul Schemm
Paul Schemm, of the Associated Press, reported that Moroccan police clashed with Sahrawi protesters in Western Sahara. The demonstrations were reportedly over a new fishing accord between Morocco and the European Union. The agreement gives the EU access to Moroccan waters for $55 million a year with the richest fishing reportedly being off the coast of Western Sahara. Schemm noted that protesters “calling for independence from Morocco were chased through the streets of the city,” and, “By nightfall, the demonstrations had spread to other neighborhoods of the city and degenerated into stone throwing clashes between youths and police.” Local hospitals reported that at least 90 protesters sustained injuries and the governor’s office said 35 members of the security forces were hurt. A foreign journalist on the scene was stopped several times by police to prevent him from covering the protests and nearly had his camera taken away, Schemm indicated.
Agence France-Presse reports that the demonstrations began in the Laayoune city center with people chanting, ”stop taking our resources.” According to AFP, Hamoud Iguilid of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights suggested, “the protesters were heavily outnumbered by police, who attacked them with batons, …
Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Libyan Ministry of Justice signed a declaration of intent that stipulates both countries desire “to facilitate effective cooperation by both countries in law enforcement matters relating to terrorism, transnational crime, and corruption.” The agreement states U.S. and Libyan law enforcement agencies will collaborate “informally to share documents and investigative information”; share other relevant information such as threat information; facilitate in-person interviews; act on mutual legal assistance requests for bank, business, and other records; offer forensic assistance, law enforcement training and assistance; and encourage meetings of legal experts to discuss “ways of enhancing mutual legal assistance relating to terrorism, transnational crime and corruption.”
Human Rights Watch released a report condemning Libya’s failure to investigate protester killings thoroughly. According to Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, “The authorities urgently need to work out a feasible plan to question witnesses and militia members in connection with these deadly attacks on protesters.” She continued by noting, “It’s bad enough the authorities seem to be powerless to defend Libyan citizens, but they need to make greater efforts to investigate the deaths of dozens …
Photo Credit: CNN
The Turkish government is increasingly coming under attack for meddling with the media, with reports stating that the government is seriously jeopardizing media freedom, as well as rights on freedom of assembly and expression. Istanbul-based journalist Mahir Zeynalov reports that the government is working to silence outspoken journalists. Last Friday, prosecutors and the government filed complaints against three journalists, demanding up to 26 years of prison for one journalist.
On December 5, three journalists were given life sentences on charges of “trying to overthrow constitutional order by means of violence” and holding high ranking positions in the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). Reporters Without Borders reports, “the extremely harsh sentences have ended a trial marked by violations of defence rights and unacceptably long pre-trial detention for the main defendants.”
Last month Nazil Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, voiced concerns about the state of the media freedom in Turkey. Muiznieks stated he, “was particularly worried about the chilling effects these measures could have on the free assembly and expression, as well as on media freedom,” referring to the harsh handling of demonstrations by law enforcement officials.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) …