Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, July 27, 2007

Internally displaced persons set up makeshift camps in Iraq

“We didn’t have a choice,” explained Muhammad Bilal, a 43 year old Iraqi man who is now living in an improvised camp outside of Al Hillah, the capital of Babil province of Iraq. Bilal, like thousands of other Iraqis sold his possessions in order to purchase tents and other supplies for his camp, reported the IRIN on Sunday.

Local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are strained already from trying to provide for the internally displaced persons in Iraq welcome the initiative that Bilal and about 2,800 others like him have taken in order to support themselves. Saluwa Abdel-Aziz from the Iraqi Voices of Freedom NGO hopes that his organization will soon be able to give more assistance to those setting up their own camps, as well as those trying to start their own.

While families are enjoying the relative peace and security that the camps provide right now, the government is concerned that these camps could just increase the violence in the safer regions of Iraq. Many are concerned that the militants will be drawn to the camps and bring instability to the cities nearby.

For the full article, click here


Red Mosque in Pakistan encourages radical Islam among young women

Hameeda Sarfraz, a 19 year old teenager from Pakistan voiced her regrets about missing her chance to be a martyr in an article run by The New York Times on Monday. Sarfraz attended Jamia Hafsa Islamic School for girls until July 3 when a battle between Pakistani specials forces and members of the Red Mosque broke out. The violence left 102 dead with casualties from all parties.

The battle for the Red Mosque began in January when reports that the government was going to destroy the illegally constructed mosques and seminaries in Islamabad were circulated. Since then, members of the girl’s school as well as the male counter part of Jamia Hafsa, Jamia Farida, have been preparing for a standoff with the Pakistani military. Students were warned of the possible encounter weeks before July 3, and were questioned by their instructors who asked, “Do you have the stamina to defend your religion? Are you ready?”

Since the confrontation, the girls have returned to their homes, mostly in the rural parts of Pakistan. Their families seem to be less “hard-lined” than their daughters, and consequently, many of the girls return home to reform their families. Several of the girls now teach religious lessons to the younger children in their village. Their change is apparent, and as one alumna, Sayeda Fazlur Rehman said, “We used to listen to music and watch TV before. We didn’t even pray.” Fazlur Rehman now observes purdah, the practices of shielding a female’s face in front of any male non-family member. “This life is temporary,” she explained, “You don’t know when you’ll die.”

For the full article, click here


UNICEF requests additional aid for Afghani women and children

In a report released by UNICEF entitled “Humanitarian Action, Afghanistan - Donor Update Report” $7 million was requested to help aid the women and children of Afghanistan that have suffered from diseases, floods, drought and armed conflict in this past year. UNICEF will spend the funds on medical supplies, tents, educational services, protection and sanitation, reported the IRIN on Thursday.

What is now considered a “complex aid emergency” by aid officials is the result of several factors. First, 7 percent of children are plagued by acute malnutrition with another 54 percent classified as chronically malnourished. Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates worldwide with one in four children dying before the age of five. Finally, flash flooding and the continued armed conflict has ravaged all of Afghanistan and left more than half of Afghanistan’s primary aged school children with no education services.

Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF representative summarized the problem by stating, “The crisis is not causing new problems. It is aggravating old and current vulnerabilities,"

For the full article, click here


DTP women elected to Parliament with tough road ahead

During Turkey’s Parliament elections on Sunday, 15 of the newly elected deputies from eastern and southeastern Anatolia were women, and most came from the Democratic Society Party (DTP), according to Today’s Zaman. Coming from a region connected in many minds to honor killings, suicides and feudal pressures, how successful these new deputies will be in improving conditions for fellow females in the region is debatable.

Tarik Ziya Ekinci, a Kurdish intellectual, said women deputies will contribute to an improvement of women’s positions in the region. Nazik Isik, a well-known figure in Turkey’s feminist movement, said the DTP, trying to take steps in modernization and become a people’s movement, needs female power.

Most of the DTP’s women deputies have been working at various levels of the party organization given the party’s 40 percent quota for female representation.

Ayla Akat, the youngest newly elected DTP female deputy, is from Batman—a city often mentioned in connection with female suicide. She said violence is the biggest problem for women both in the region and across Turkey, and that they are planning to work together with female deputies of other parties in order to overcome this problem. They also aim for a new “women’s language” in Parliament to “raise awareness,” she said.

For the full article, click here.

Viet Nam jails six for trafficking

Six people have been jailed by a court in Viet Nam for trafficking more than 120 women to be sold in Malaysia, according to the BBC. Tran Thi My Phuong, 35, received a 12-year sentence, and the five others received sentences of up to 10 years.

Judge Tran Thi Hong Viet said that 126 women were trafficked between April 2005 and June 2006. They were sold to a broker in Malaysia for between $1500 and $2000, and then resold in bars for as much as $6300 to mostly elderly or disabled men

Overseas marriage is seen by some women in Viet Nam as a route out of poverty, but many women are ultimately sold into prostitution or forced into marriages they do not want.

For the full article, click here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Iraqi minorities are in grave danger

On Wednesday morning, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom hosted a hearing entitled, “Threats to Iraq’s Communities of Antiquity” in which they discussed the plight of some of Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities.

“The situation is unbelievably bad for minorities. It is difficult to imagine how much worse things could become, but in reality they could become considerably worse,” said Reverend Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad. White was serving the church as recently as two weeks ago before he was forced to flee for his own safety and was at the hearing to testify on the status of the Mandaean, Yazidi, Assyrian, Christian and Jewish minorities in Iraq. White noted that these minorities are being specifically targeted now, and have no means of protection. Thousands of these minority members have fled because they fear for their security. Many have refused to pay the Jezera tax, which is an Islamic tax imposed on non-Muslims, leaving them only the options of conversion to Islam, fleeing their homes or death. Many of those that have remained in Baghdad are now living in churches with little food and water. In White’s church alone, 36 members have been kidnapped on the past month and only one has returned.

“As a coalition, we must accept that we have contributed in a major way to the sufferings and demise of Christians in Iraq. We must accept that we have played a major role in creating the problem but our contribution to dealing with this huge problem has been minimal. In reality, we have done nothing,” White exclaimed. He cited a lack of understanding between the western world and the religious leaders in Iraq. The Coalition has been much too hasty in their plans, and not accurately accounted for the complexity of the religious climate in Iraq. He warned that people on the ground in Iraq have the best understanding of what is happening there, and that outside forces should be very careful in who they’re seeking advice from when it comes to strategy in Iraq. Finally, White called for a need for engagement with Islamic leaders by explaining that Islam and politics are so closely intertwined, and cannot be dealt with separately by the West. The western powers must address religion equally with politics in order to begin to remedy the situation.

White also tried to explain some of the difficulty of dealing with the many parties in Iraq, and how their violence is an expression of their sentiments of loss. Loss of land power is being felt by all parties and is fueling the violence against one another. Also, the radical Islamic notion of equating the West with Christianity has created much animosity towards the Christian minorities, as many feel they are to blame for current conditions.

After White, the hearing also featured testimony from Christian minority leaders expressing the urgency of the situation in Iraq. Pascale Warda, former Minister for Migration and Displacement in Iraq, spoke on behalf of the Assyrians, a Christian minority in Iraq. She stated that according to the United Nations, an estimated 40 percent of the 2.2 million Iraqi refugees are Assyrians. She urged the U.S. government and coalition forces to protect minorities, encouraging them to remain on their ancient lands in Iraq, and aid them with reconstruction and development projects. Warda’s sentiments were resonated in the testimony given by her fellow Assyrians, Donny George who worked for the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and Michael Youash, director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project. George lost his job as the director general of the Iraqi Museums as a result of his religious beliefs and was forced to flee to Syria, and eventually to the U.S. Youash spoke of the persecution of the Assyrians in the north an requested that the U.S. government take action to protect the Assyrians and provide them with aid money to ensure they can provide for their basic needs.

Suhiab Nashi, secretary of the Mandaean Society of America spoke on behalf of the Mandaeans in Iraq. He discussed the threats facing the few remaining Mandaeans in Iraq today and asked that the U.S. government take more steps in the way of protection, as well as granting refugee status to Mandaeans from Iraq.

All of the witnesses shared stories unique to their communities, but each had the same message. The U.S. neglect of the religious situation in Iraq has contributed to the state of chaos the nation finds itself in today. Steps must be taken to ensure that these minorities are provided for and protected. It is past time to take action, and if the international community waits much longer, it will be too late.


Militants threaten women’s rights activists in Iraq

An article written by the IRIN on Tuesday recounted the story of Haifaa Nour, the 33 year old president of the Women’s Freedom Organization (WFO) and her struggle as a female working in Iraq. She, like so many other women, is constantly threatened by Islamic extremists who believe that “women should stop fighting for their rights, and should only look after their children and husbands,” as Nour explained it.

Immediately after the U.S. invasion of Iraq began in 2003, the prospect of advancement for women’s rights was very good. However, with the deterioration of the state in the past two years, it has become almost impossible for women to work, especially for groups that promote women’s rights. Many receive death threats against their own lives or the lives their family members and are forced to leave their jobs. The government has done little to assist these women, and claims the violence is not specifically against women, but rather a result of the general violence throughout the region.

Haifaa Nour continues to work just as she has done since she became president in May after the former president of WFO, Senar Muhammad, was murdered by religious extremists. Her own husband was murdered a year ago because of her work for women’s rights, but she says that has only renewed her determination to work for women’s rights. Since then I have got more strength to fight for my rights,” stated Nour, “and those of millions of women in Iraq.”

For the full article, click here


Strikes spread to postal workers in Egypt

In a country where political opposition is heavily stifled and the population is normally associated with political indifference, a wave of labor unrest is emerging, according to the BBC. Underlying most of the strikes are demands for wage rises, but some strikes have taken on a political edge, protesting against privatization and calling for independent trade unions.

Last December, in the Nile Delta town of Mahalla, some 20,000 textile workers downed tools and occupied their factory, inspiring a series of copycat strikes as their demands for an unpaid bonus promised to all laborers nationally were eventually met.

Within four months of the Mahalla strike, workers at three other large textile factories and two cement factories had held stoppages, and railway employees had briefly blockaded the Cairo-Alexandria train line.

The most recent sit-in by about 100 postal workers, who are calling for fixed term contracts, is one among hundreds of other smaller-scale actions by workers ranging from rubbish collectors to bakers and poultry workers to Suez Canal employees.

Although riot police surrounded some of the bigger strikes and a workers’ rights NGO has been closed down, strikes have not been broken up by force—in stark contrast to the sometimes heavy-handed treatment of pro-democracy protestors like Kifaya. Their protests have waned in the last year in the wake of government crackdowns and the passing of constitutional reforms.

“For all that Kifaya did do, the social base was for the most part limited to urban intellectuals,” said Joel Beinen, head of Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo. “That’s just not enough to make any big change in Egypt.”

But the labor protests are different, he said.

For the full article, click here.

Vietnam re-elects prime minister

Lawmakers overwhelmingly re-elected Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. Dung, the only candidate, received nearly 97 percent of the votes from the 493 legislators, who were elected in May.

In June 2006, Dung, 57, became Vietnam’s youngest prime minister since the country’s reunification at the end of the Vietnam War. He has a record of fostering economic growth and pushing for privatization of some state-owned enterprises.

Vietnam’s economy has grown an average of 7.5 percent per year in the past decade, and the government wants the communist country to be an industrialized nation by 2020.

Jonathan Pincus, chief economist of the United Nations Development Program in Hanoi, said that Vietnam faces huge challenges, including the implementation of laws and removing obstacles for private business, but foreign businesses “have confidence in [Dung] and his leadership.”

For the full article, click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

NKR elects new president

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) elected a new president July 19 during what 100 international observers indicated was a free, fair and democratic election, according to the Artsakh News Digest, which is a publication of the NKR Office.

Bako Sahakian received 85 percent of the votes, while his foremost challenger, Masis Mayilian, obtained 12 percent. Voter turnout was over 77 percent of all registered voters.

American observers said the election was on par with the NKR Constitution and international standards. Vladimir Matic, head of the American monitoring group, said they would issue a report on the election, which will soon be available at www.publicinternationallaw.org.

To access the NKR Office in Washington, D.C. website, click here.

Burma sanctions approved in House

The House passed legislation Monday to extend by one year a set of tough sanctions against the brutal ruling military junta of Burma, according to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs press.

The legislation, by Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), is a one-year extension of the import sanctions portion of the law that he co-authored in 2003. It continues to prohibit the importation into the U.S. any item produced in Burma. The President may waive these sanctions once a series of human rights, democracy and counter-narcotics requirements have been met.

The military junta of Burma continues to terrorize the Burmese people, to suppress free expression and to arbitrarily detain political prisoners.

In a speech on the House floor, Lantos noted that U.S. sanctions have spurred other countries to place pressure on the Burmese regime for reforms, including the leading member-nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), but that “too many other nations—India and China in particular—continue to prop up the government through shockingly direct deals, including arms trading, with this cruel junta.”

For the full article, click here.

Former Afghanistan King, Mohammad Zahir Shah, dies at age 92

"I am not after reviving the monarchy, and my wish is to bequeath my services to the long-suffering people of Afghanistan. And I pledge, whatever my position, to foster national unity toward reestablishing democratic governance in accordance with the values of the Islamic religion." This was the statement given by Mohammad Zahir Shah in June 2002 with the opening of Afghanistan's first Loya Jirga, or national assembly, in decades. Zahir Shah died at age 92 on Monday, as reported by Radio Free Europre/Radio Liberty.

Zahir Shah’s rule through Afghanistan’s tumultuous history saw the Soviet invasion, a coup that lead to his 23 year exile and the harsh rule of the Taliban. He was well known for his successful relations among the tribal elders in Afghanistan, as well as for his avid support for democracy within the country. He was adoringly referred to as “The Father of Nations” which held no official status, but symbolized an important figure within Afghanistan, and throughout the international community.

For the full article, click here


Homes to be bulldozed along Gaza Strip despite demonstrations

Over 700 Egyptians protested Sunday against a government plan to evict them from their homes in order to improve security on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, police and demonstrators said, according to The Associated Press.

Egyptian authorities have previously evicted residents living within 50 meters of the border to prevent traffickers and militants from digging tunnels to enter Gaza. Protesters on Sunday were demonstrating against a new plan that would evict people from homes within an extra 100 meters.

An Egyptian security official said Sunday that they were still considering the eviction plan, that no resident had yet been asked to move out, and that evicted families would get “fair” compensation for their lost homes and lands.

On Monday, the Egyptian government announced that it will begin to destroy several homes in Rafah, according to AHN.

For the full articles, click here and here.

Christian convert threatened by family, tortured by police

A woman who converted to Christianity was handed over to her Muslim family on Monday by Egyptian police in Alexandria, according to Compass Direct News. Eyewitnesses said that family members drug Shaymaa (Eman) Muhammad al-Sayed, 26, screaming from the Bab-Sharky police station at 4 pm. She was forced into a family microbus and driven away.

On July 16, al-Sayed’s family openly threatened to kill her for leaving Islam to became a Christian. Local police took her into “protective custody,” where she was reportedly subjected to torture including electrical shocks, beatings and being photographed naked.

For the full article, click here.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ambassador suggests re-framed U.S. policy plans for Middle East

While a discourse about the threat of “radical Islam” and the worsening crises across the Middle East resounded among representatives, witness to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing, Ambassador Dennis Ross, articulated a clear set of objectives and methods that he believes should be applied in Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.

During Thursday’s hearing, entitled “Beyond Iraq: Envisioning a New U.S. Policy in the Middle East,” Ambassador Ross suggested a re-framing of the U.S. policy approach. He said that, “we have the right objectives”—democratic transformation and good governance—“but we aren’t using the right tools.”

Statecraft, Ross said, doesn’t only mean implementing the right diplomatic, coercive, economic, intelligence and informational tools, or only mean having the right objectives. Good statecraft requires both.

In Iraq, we need to alter both our short-term objectives and our tools, or means, according to Ross. Our objective now should be “to prevent the worst” or to pursue “containment,” Ross said. “Jihadists go to and leave Iraq easily,” and having de facto control of the border would stop, or at least stymie, these movements.

The U.S. should also look to political means rather than a military surge. “We should say to the Iraq government: We are going to negotiate a timetable for withdrawal with you,” Ross said.

Right now, the “Shi’a majority act as if they fear they can lose power at any moment, so they won’t share power. The Sunnis intellectually know they won’t have the majority power anymore, but don’t know yet emotionally.”

With a timetable they have a role in deciding, there is a serious consequence in place that might achieve a “change in the mindset and behavior” of both groups.

Ross also suggested that the U.S. politically engage surrounding countries to aid in Iraq’s containment.

“None of the neighbors will agree on what they want for Iraq, but they will agree on what they fear in Iraq—no one wants it to fall apart; they all have they all have their own interests in containment,” Ross said.

In Iran, according to Ross, the U.S. has the right objective—preventing their nuclear acquisition. But our means—“a slow motion economic squeeze”—is all wrong. “What is missing today is a sense of urgency… by the end of the year, Iranians will cross the threshold” in obtaining a nuclear weapon, Ross said.

“I would frame this issue differently [especially to Europe, which is in favor of international regimes such as the non-proliferation treaty],” Ross said. “We talk about Iran having nuclear power being ‘destabilizing’. But if Iran goes nuclear, the entire Middle East goes nuclear. Saudi Arabia would go next… they probably have a deal worked out with Pakistan even today. Then Egypt must…”

“If Iran goes nuclear, it will be the end of the non-proliferation treaty and the world as we know it will change—it would be a tipping point, 30 countries will have nuclear weapons,” Ross said.

Ross suggested three paths the U.S. could take with Iran. We could approach the Saudis, who “have a stake in preventing” Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, and suggest that they say to Europe: “you, Europe, can either do business with us or with Iran.”

Or we could show Europe that the use of force is nearly unavoidable once Iran is armed because of Iran’s readily expressed target, Israel. “Israel should say [to Europe], ‘this path [we’re on now] will not avoid the use of force. Don’t put us in a position where the only choice we have is to use force,’” Ross said.

Or, the U.S. could offer to Europe: “We will join you at the negotiations table with Iran now if you cut [Iran’s] economic lifeline,” Ross said.

“Iran has profound economic vulnerabilities,” Ross said. “I would engage Iran because I’m trying to change their behavior and increase pressure on them now,” but “I want to talk to them after they concentrate their minds, after they see what they’re actually losing”—after they’re suffering under real economic sanctions.

Ross, who just returned from a trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah, also said that “our strategic objective” in Palestine “should be to put Fatah and Hamas in a larger frame.”

“Don’t frame these movements as extreme or moderate; those terms don’t mean anything in the Middle East, the terms Islamic or nationalist do,” Ross said. We should recognize that “Fatah is a secular nationalist movement, which may be negotiable, whereas Hamas represents a religious conflict, which is not negotiable.”

Ross said that the members of Fatah and independents he spoke with were all willing to support the new prime minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, “for now”—meaning he needs to deliver soon. U.S. policy should be to figure out how to help him deliver—to build his authority, so that he can “do more in the security realm.”

Two of the most significant grievances of Palestinians that Fayyad could potentially affect are mobility and employment, Ross said. But mobility can’t be altered soon enough because of Israel’s staunch stance, so that leaves employment; “we should do something here,” Ross suggested, “to buy time.”

Similar to his timetables in Iraq and Iran, Ross stressed the urgency of this opportunity to aid Fayyad.

“We’re still in the business-as-usual mode, but we don’t have the luxury of standing still; the secular nationalists [Fatah] need to prevail… when you miss moments, you miss opportunities and the whole world as you know it changes,” Ross said.

Regarding Syria and Lebanon, Ross also suggested adopting a more serious means to achieving our objective. “We must stop the rearming of Hezbollah,” Ross said, so “we should focus on the border between Lebanon and Syria, make it a real border… Lebanon can’t police itself.”

The “worst of all worlds,” Ross said, prompting immediate action, is our policy with Syria, in which we are “tough rhetorically and soft practically.”

Ross’ statecraft frame, which focuses on both objectives and means, suggests that, across the Middle East, U.S. policy should pay closer attention to our objectives and how, exactly, we may achieve them. One or the other is not enough.

Thus, in President Bush’s Middle East peace conference planned for this fall, we “must focus on a clear agenda, rules and follow-up steps,” so that the conference isn’t “one more thing to discredit diplomacy,” Ross said.

“There no such thing as diplomacy that’s episodic… you have to have an objective and work toward it” with the appropriate means and urgency, Ross said. “You can’t meet once every two months and expect to make a difference.”

Assistance needed for internally displaced persons in Iraqi Kurdistan

The following piece was written by LaChelle Amos, a fellow of LCHR currently living in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq.

As I step out of a police truck with two policemen sitting up front and three sitting on a bench in the bed of the truck, I motion with my camera to a little girl standing by herself, seeking permission to take her photograph. She very shyly indicates her approval by barely nodding her head. By the time I have snapped the picture, I am suddenly swarmed by a group of Arab children, each wanting me to take their picture as well, and, of course, anxious to see it once I have. By the children's smiling faces and beaming, bright eyes, you would never guess that they live with their families in tents with walls composed of blankets, sheets, tarps and anything else large enough to serve the purpose. Sanitation is non-existent on this piece of garbage-covered land, nestled in between the highway and apartment buildings. Two water tanks have been provided by the Governorate of Sulaimaniyah, with water trucked in a couple times a week. Approximately 80 internally displaced Arab families, roughly 420 persons, inhabit Qawala camp, on the southern outskirts of Sulaimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan. The camp is considered illegal by the Governor's office. The land is private property. The first families set up their tents a year and a half ago to escape the sectarian violence in their hometowns, throughout Baghdad and Diyala province. Some have since returned in exchange for a small monetary compensation offered by the Governor's office. Many more, however, fear for their lives and wish not to return, at least not now. "We have to accept the reality that these families are here" and do something to assist them, said Hewa Jaff of the Governorate of Sulaimaniyah's Public and Foreign Relations Office. Though the Governorate has received some assistance from international organizations, such as the International Committee for the Red Crescent (ICRC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), much more is needed. Qawala is not the only internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in the area. Others exist in the two other governorates of the Kurdistan Regional Government as well. Jaff, who visits with the IDPs in Qawala on a regular basis, has worked to find other locations where the camp can officially be established, as the violence has no foreseeable end. The criteria for choosing locations are pretty stringent, Jaff explains. One site was ruled out for being too close to Kirkuk. Another for being too close to the Iranian border. Three sites have since been chosen. The final decision will come from the Kurdistan Regional Government's Minister of the Interior. The problem, Jaff continues, is that the camp management proposals received by the Governor's office from international NGOs will only sustain the camp for a few months. The Governor's office cannot take on the management task, as it does not have the budget for such action. At the UNHCR Geneva conference in April 2007, the Iraqi central government pledged to allot funds to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries and to its own IDPs. The Governorate of Sulaimaniyah has not seen any such funds, says Jaff. The same point was confirmed by Venus Shamal Karim with Kurdish Human Rights Watch. Considering Kurdistan is presently the most stable and secure region within Iraq, continued preservation of this condition should be taken into consideration as officials continue to work toward some form of conflict resolution. In addition to existing in extremely poor conditions, IDPs, as well as refugees in neighboring countries, increasingly strain local economies. In order to maintain the present stability, the Iraqi Central Government needs to provide greater assistance for IDPs. Additionally, the international community, particularly the US and Iraq's neighbors, should take a vested interest in preventing additional instability in the northern region and potentially greater chaos throughout the country and within the region as a whole.

Baghdad residents to receive ID badges in hopes of fighting insurgency

"The aim is to easily differentiate between true residents of Baghdad and strangers and militants who come from other provinces to carry out terrorist attacks," explained Brig Qassim al-Mousawi who serves as the spokesman for commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces. The identification badges are one of the most recent steps being taken by the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces to combat insurgents in the region, reported the IRIN on Monday.

The ID cards will have the Iraqi citizens’ full name and address. However, many residents are concerned that these cards will simply make them more easily identifiable targets for both Sunni and Shia extremists.

Equally concerned is Brig Fadhil Salman Abdul-Muhaimen, who served almost 30 years in the former Iraqi military. He voiced his skepticism stating "the Iraqi government and US army are skirting around the problem instead of getting to the bottom of it."

For the full article, click here


Sudanese woman shot dead trying to enter Israel

Egyptian police shot and killed a Sudanese woman and seriously wounded four others trying to sneak into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, a local police officer said, according to the New York Times.

Many refugees trying to enter Israel from Egypt have recently been arrested, and some wounded, by police, but Haja Abbas Haroun’s death was the first of its kind.

The incident, during which border guards also arrested 22 refugees, took place at the central Sinai town of Al-Aouja, about 62 miles south of the Rafah border crossing. Eighteen from the group, including Haroun and three of the wounded, were from the Darfur region. The rest were from Eritrea and the Ivory Coast.

For the full article, click here.

Egyptian police hold 22 more members of banned opposition group, Muslim Brotherhood

After detaining nearly 1000 Muslim Brotherhood activists before parliament elections in June and around 50 student members of the Muslim Brotherhood in late June, Egyptian police have detained 22 more university students loyal to Brotherhood, security officials said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials said police rounded up the students in the town of Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean Sea. They did not elaborate on why the students were arrested.

For the full article, click here.