Ankara pulls back troops after Iraq demand

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

Ankara pulls back troops after Iraq demand

Turkey withdrew some of its soldiers stationed at a camp in Iraq as part of a “rearrangement'' of its troops, the state news agency reported, days after Iraq demanded that Turkish troops immediately pull out from Iraqi territory.


Anadolu Agency, quoting unnamed military officials, said that a 10 or 12-vehicle convoy, including tanks, had left the Bashiqa camp and was heading toward northern Iraq. The agency did not provide further details but said the military officials insisted the movement was part of a “rearrangement.''

Turkey has had troops near the Islamic State group-held city of Mosul in northern Iraq since last year to help train local Kurdish and Sunni forces, but the arrival of additional troops earlier this month sparked uproar in Baghdad. Turkey subsequently halted new deployments but has refused to withdraw its soldiers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq in a national address Friday night, insisting no foreign forces are needed to fight the Islamic State group in his country.
He also asked the Foreign Ministry to submit a complaint to the United Nations about the presence of Turkish troops.
Turkey argued that the additional troops were needed to protect its trainers from increased IS threat against Turkish soldiers.—AP

******


19 Saudi women win at historic poll

At least 19 Saudi women have won seats on local municipal councils a day after women voted and ran in elections for the first time in the country's history, according to initial results released to The Associated Press on Sunday.

The women who won hail from vastly different parts of the country, ranging from Saudi Arabia's largest city to a small village near Islam's holiest sites.

Though not many women were expected to win seats, even limited gains are seen as a step forward for women who had previously been completely shut out of elections.

General Election Commission spokesman Hamad Al-Omar told the AP that out of 130,000 female registered voters, a staggering 106,000 cast ballots, or roughly 82 percent.
More than 1.35 million men had registered to vote, with 44 percent, or almost 600,000, casting ballots.

Al-Omar said 19 women won seats in 10 different regions, with results still to be announced in several more regions.
The conservative capital of Riyadh saw the most women candidates win, with four elected. The Eastern Province, where minority Shiites are concentrated, saw three women elected, he said.

The mayor of the city of Mecca, Osama al-Bar, told the AP that a woman won in a village called Madrakah, about 93 miles north of the city which houses the cube-shaped Kaaba to which Muslims around the world pray.

Saudi Arabia's second largest and most cosmopolitan city, Jiddah, elected two women, as did one of the most conservative regions, Qassim.

About 7,000 candidates, among them 979 women, were competing for 2,100 seats across the country. The councils are the only government body elected by Saudi citizens. The two previous rounds of voting for the councils, in 2005 and 2011, were open to men only.

Other women hailing from the kingdom's northernmost areas won, with two elected in Tabuk, and one in al-Jawf. Additionally, a woman won in Saudi Arabia's southern border area of Jizan and another won in al-Ahsa.

Many women candidates ran on platforms that promised more nurseries to offer longer daycare hours for working mothers, the creation of youth centers with sports and cultural activities, improved roads, better garbage collection and overall greener cities.

In October, the Saudi Gazette reported that harsh road conditions and long distances to the nearest hospital had forced some women in the village of Madrakah, where one female candidate was elected, to give birth in cars. The local newspaper reported that the closest hospital and the nearest university were in Mecca, prompting some students to forgo attending classes. The article said residents were also frustrated with the lack of parks in the village.

It is precisely these kinds of community issues that female candidates hope to address once elected to the municipal councils. The councils do not have legislative powers, but advise authorities and help oversee local budgets.

In Jiddah, three generations of women from the same family cast ballots for the first time. The oldest woman in the family was 94-year-old Naela Mohammad Nasief. Her daughter, Sahar Hassan Nasief, said the experience marked ``the beginning'' of greater rights for women in Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to drive and are governed by laws that give men the ultimate say over aspects of their lives like marriage, travel and higher education.

“I walked in and said `I've have never seen this before. Only in the movies','' the daughter said, referring to the ballot box. “It was a thrilling experience.''—AP

*******

Brazilians rally for Dilma Rousseff impeachment

Thousands of Brazilians marched Sunday to demand that Congress impeach President Dilma Rousseff, whose government is plagued by an overwhelming corruption scandal and a dismal economy.

The protests were held in dozens of places including the capital of Brasilia and the opposition stronghold of Sao Paulo, but were considerably smaller than demonstrations earlier this year challenging Rousseff and her ruling Workers' Party.

One difference this time around is that impeachment proceedings have already begun against Brazil's president. Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, a bitter rival of Rousseff, introduced a petition to impeach the president earlier this month. The Supreme Court suspended the discussion temporarily while it reviews how Congress formed the commission to debate the measure.

Many people at the protests wore Brazil's national soccer jersey. Others held banners condemning Rousseff's party for a kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras that has entangled the country's most influential figures, from one of its wealthiest bankers to a construction scion to leaders of Congress. 

In Brasilia, protesters staged a mock funeral for Rousseff and burned dolls representing her mentor and predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. 

Sao Paulo attracted the biggest crowd, with about 40,000 people, according to the reputable pollster Datafolha. A long green-and-yellow banner carried along the city's main avenue read “Impeachment Now.''

The demonstrations were held by the same right-leaning groups that produced massive turnouts earlier this year to demand Rousseff's impeachment when the process had not started.—AP

********

French far right defiant despite defeat in regional polls

Marine Le Pen's (pictured) far-right National Front collapsed in French regional elections yesterday, failing to take a single region after dominating the first round of voting, pollsters projected. The conservatives surged against the governing Socialists, changing the political map of France.

The failure of the National Front to gain any of the six regions where it was leading didn't stop the anti-immigration party from looking to the 2017 presidential election _ Le Pen's ultimate goal.

Le Pen had been riding high after extremist attacks and an unprecedented wave of migration into Europe, and the party came out on top in the voting in France's 13 newly drawn regions in the first round a week ago. But projections by France's major polling firms suggested the party lost in all of the regions Sunday, including decisive losses for both Le Pen and her popular niece.

“Here we stopped the progression of the National Front,'' said conservative Xavier Bertrand, who was projected to beat Le Pen in the Nord-Pas de Calais region. 

Le Pen supporters in a hall in the gritty northern town of Henin-Beaumont booed his image on a big screen as he spoke. The atmosphere was grim, in stark contrast to a week earlier when Le Pen won more than 40 percent of the vote _ and was more than 15 points ahead of Bertrand.
The tables turned as Bertrand beat Le Pen by nearly 15 points.

Le Pen struck an upbeat tone despite the rout, pledging to keep fighting to expand support for her party. She said she would in the coming weeks “rally all the French, of all origins, who want to join us.''

“Nothing will stop us,'' she told cheering supporters.
Le Pen won 42.8 percent compared with Bertrand's 57 percent, according to the Interior Ministry. Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, took 46 percent in the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, compared with 53.7 percent for conservative Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi.
The conservatives were boosted to victory in the two Le Pen races with help from the Socialists who withdrew their candidates, asking voters to give their ballots to the mainstream rival. Turnout rose sharply from the first round, suggesting that many voters wanted to prevent the once-pariah National Front from gaining power.

In all, the conservative Republicans took seven regions, and the Socialists won five, Interior Ministry results showed. 
Among prizes falling to the conservatives was the Paris region, long a Socialist bastion.

A nationalist not affiliated with a major party won Corsica.
Le Pen denounced the “campaign of calumny decided in the palaces of the (French) Republic,'' a reference to fear tactics by rivals, including Prime Minister Manuel Valls who said the National Front could lead the nation into “civil war.''

Turnout was 7 percent higher than for the previous regional elections in 2010, with 50.4 percent of those eligible to vote casting ballots by 5 p.m. (1600 GMT), three hours before polls closed in big cities, according to the Interior Ministry. The figures weren't updated. The second-round turnout at the same time five years ago was 43. 4 percent.

In the past, the National Front has performed well in first-round votes but failed to carry through in the final round. That reflects a fear of allowing a party associated with extremism to take power. 

Despite its loss, the National Front sent a message to the French. 

Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that the far right remains a “danger'' despite the defeat, and urged his country to rally together against extremism. 

“France in moments of truth has always taken refuge in its real values,'' Valls said.

The National Front has racked up political victories in local elections in recent years, but winning control of any region would have been an unprecedented boost for the party ahead of presidential elections in 18 months. 

Still, politicians on the left and right said mainstream parties must reassess their priorities. 

“We can no longer continue like this. We must act,'' Socialist Party leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis told leftist ranks.
Indeed, the day kicked off the unofficial election season as politicians from all parties cast Sunday's results in terms of their presidential ambitions.—AP

********

California mosques vandalized

Vandals spray-painted graffiti at two mosques in the California city of Hawthorne and left a device that looked like a hand grenade in the driveway of one of the mosques on Sunday, prompting police to investigate both incidents as a hate crime.

A bomb squad was called, and the area around the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Baitus-Salaam Mosque was evacuated after the device was discovered around 6:30 a.m., police said in a statement. Investigators determined the device was a plastic replica of a hand grenade. The word “Jesus'' was sprayed in white paint on the mosque's fence.
Police received another call that the phrase “Jesus is the way'' was spray-painted in front of the Islamic Center of Hawthorne.

Police and the FBI were investigating the vandalism, which appeared to have occurred overnight, as hate crimes.
“This type of behavior is born out of ignorance and fear and we as members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ... we respond with peaceful dialogue,'' said Ahsan M. Khan, a chapter president of the community.

“It's through peaceful dialogue that we can hopefully see less of this type of hate crime,'' he said.

On Friday, a mosque in Palm Springs was damaged in a fire that authorities said was intentionally set. They arrested a 23-year-old man and booked him for investigation of commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire and burglary.

The fire at the Islamic Center of Palm Springs was contained to the small building's front lobby, and no one was injured.
The mosque is about 75 miles from San Bernardino, where a couple who federal officials say were inspired by Islamist extremists opened fire December 2 at a holiday luncheon and killed 14 people. –AP

*********

American, Spanish suspects among 60 held for child porn

Mexican officials say that 60 people have been arrested in an operation against child pornography in 10 Latin American countries, as well as Spain and the United States. 

Mexico's federal government said in a statement Sunday that “Operation Without Borders'' involved 97 raids in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain, the United States, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. The statement said officials rescued three girls, aged 9, 14 and 15, who were allegedly used to make pornographic videos. 

The videos were broadcast on the internet, through email or on social networks. Computers and smartphones were seized. The statement said the FBI aided the operation.—AP
   
******* 
No casualties from Philippine typhoon, so far




There have been no casualties so far, as Typhoon Melor slammed into the eastern Philippines, officials said. 
Classes, flights and ferry trips were suspended.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 724,839 residents of three eastern provinces were evacuated Sunday and early today before the storm's arrival.

The largest numbers of evacuees were in Sorsogon and Albay provinces.

Bernardo Alejandro, a regional civil defense official, said many residents of Sorsogon voluntarily went to shelters on Sunday night. In Albay, about 590,000 residents were evacuated.—AP

****
Ankara pulls back troops after Iraq demand Ankara pulls back troops after Iraq demand Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 4:33 PM Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.