Monthly Archives: June 2014

لهذا قررنا الإطاحة بغورباتشوف_ شهادة وزير الدفاع السوفيتي المارشال دميتري يازوف

ما الذي مهد لمحاولة الانقلاب ضد غورباتشوف عام 1991؟ ما حقيقة “الإصلاحات” التي قام بها الرئيس السوفيتي مع رفيق دربه الوفي ووزير خارجيته إدوارد شيفردنادزة؟

ما الذي مهد لمحاولة الانقلاب ضد غورباتشوف عام 1991؟ ما حقيقة “الإصلاحات” التي قام بها الرئيس السوفيتي مع رفيق دربه الوفي ووزير خارجيته إدوارد شيفردنادزة؟ كيف تم تدمير حلف وارسو وإفساح الطريق لحلف الشمال الأطلسي دون أي تنازل في المقابل ودون إخطار وزير الدفاع السوفيتي وقائد قوات الحلف بذلك؟ ما الذي حصل لغورباتشوف حتى قال للرئيس الأمريكي جورج بوش الأب “نريد أن نكون في تبعية لكم”؟ وما هي التنازلات التي قدمها للامريكيين حتى لم يتبق أمام وزير الدفاع السوفيتي يازوف إلا خيار المشاركة في الإطاحة بالسلطة الحاكمة في محاولة يائسة لمنع انهيار الامبراطورية السوفيتية؟ تجدون الإجابة على هذه الاسئلة وغيرها في هذه الحلقة والحلقات القادمة التي نستضيف فيها آخر مارشال في تاريخ الاتحاد السوفيتي وآخر وزير دفاع سوفيتي فاعل في عهد البيرسترويكا دميتري يازوف

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​Iraqi troops push back ISIS militants in Tikrit as PM under pressure to quit

Iraqi government forces backed by helicopter gunships began an offensive on Saturday to retake Tikrit from Sunni Islamist militants, while party leaders pursued talks to end Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s rule, which is seen as highly divisive.

Politicians in Baghdad and around the world have warned that as well as taking back cities captured by insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), Iraqi authorities must quickly form a government that might be able to bring the country’s split communities together.

Since the beginning of June, ISIS jihadists have overrun mainly Sunni areas in the north and west of Iraq.

ISIS’ aim is to re-create a medieval-style caliphate stretching from the Mediterranean to the Gulf. They believe that Shiite Muslims are heretics that should be killed, and there is already confirmation that they have staged mass executions of Shiite government soldiers, as well as civilians captured in Tikrit.

On the battlefield, Iraqi troops have been advancing on Tikrit from Samarra, and have stemmed the militant advance south towards Baghdad.

Iraqi special forces air-dropped snipers inside Tikrit University on Thursday, which had been taken over by ISIS fighters. Helicopter gunships were used against other targets in the city on Saturday, and ISIS fighters abandoned the main city administration building.

A senior Iraqi official told AFP that his security forces were coordinating with Washington, which has military advisors on the ground to help push back the militants. There were also reports of US drones flying over the city, the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

Qassim Atta, a spokesman for the Iraqi military, told reporters on Saturday that militant commanders are starting to struggle because “their morale has started to collapse.” He added that 29 terrorists were killed in Tikrit on Friday.

But in the south of the country, ISIS militants were on the offensive. In Jurf al-Sakhar – located 85 kilometers south of Baghdad – police sources said that 60 ISIS fighters and 15 Iraqi security forces were killed in an attack on an army camp, but the militants retreated when they could not hold their positions.

Political wrangling

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a powerful Shiite cleric, intervened Friday and urged Iraq’s political blocs to agree on a new premier, parliament speaker, and president before the newly-elected legislature meets in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia promised US Secretary of State John Kerry to use his influence to encourage Sunni Muslims to throw their weight behind a new, more inclusive Iraqi government, in an effort to undermine support for the Sunni Islamist insurgents. The king’s words are a significant shift from Riyadh’s unwillingness to support a new government unless Maliki steps down, which may reflect his disquiet about the regional implications of ISIS’ rise.

A Shiite lawmaker from the National Alliance, which groups all Shiite Muslim parties, said that a session of the Alliance – including Maliki’s State of Law party – would be held throughout the weekend and that a number of Sunni political parties would also meet later on Saturday.

The next 72 hours are very important to come up with an agreement to push the political process forward,” the lawmaker, who asked to be kept anonymous, told Reuters.

Iraq’s Sunnis accuse Maliki of pushing them aside and repressing their community, which has led many armed Sunni tribes to support the hardline ISIS insurgency.

The president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region has also said that Maliki should go. Maliki’s party won the most seats in the April election and was pushing for a third term before the ISIS offensive began. Now, some senior officials in his party say there is a possibility of him being replaced.

“It’s a card game and State of Law plays a poker game very well. For the Prime Minster, it will go down to the wire,” one official told Reuters.

Meanwhile, on the Iraq-Syria border, other Islamist rebels have challenged ISIS’ grip on power and have launched a counter-offensive on the border town of Albu Kamal.

Ex- aide claims Bill Clinton once admitted Chelsea not his daughter

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Bill Clinton’s former aide has claimed that the former president had once admitted that Chelsea Clinton is not his biological daughter.

According to Larry Nichols, the 42nd President of the United States had allegedly said the real father is the former mayor of Little Rock, Ark., Webster Hubbell, who was once a law partner of his wife Hillary Clinton, Radar Online reported.

Nichols said that Bill had admitted that he “shoots blanks” after contracting measles as a kid rendered him sterile, and added that Hubbell was the real father of his daughter, who is currently pregnant with her first child with her husband Marc Mezvinsky.

Earlier, anti-Clinton blogger Robert Morrow had claimed that Hillary had an affair with Hubbell in 1984 at the Governor’s Mansion during Bill’s second term.

These claims will hamper Hillary’s plan to run for president in 2016.

Maliki rejects calls for emergency government

Nouri al-Maliki , in his weekly address, urged political parties to put aside their differences.

BAGHDAD – Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday rejected demands from rival politicians for an emergency national unity government, as al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents gained more ground, assaulting a former U.S. air base and pushing toward one of the country’s largest dams.

In his weekly address to the nation, he described such efforts as a “rebellion” against the constitution. The United States is pressing Iraq to create a more inclusive government, urging Maliki, a Shiite, to reach out to the country’s disaffected Sunni Muslim minority.

With the country’s conflict expanding, Baghdad is locked in a period of intense political maneuvering that could result in Maliki’s loss of the premiership. Given the violence, he is likely to struggle to form a government although his party won the largest share of the vote in April parliamentary elections, analysts said.

Despite his outright rejection of a “national salvation” government demanded by politicians, including the secular Shiite Ayad Allawi, he struck a somewhat conciliatory tone in his speech. He urged political parties to lay aside their differences before the first session of Iraq’s newly elected parliament, expected to take place next week.

“We desperately need a united national stance to defy terrorism,” Maliki said.

His speech, delivered two days after he met with Secretary of State John Kerry, contrasted with his public declarations earlier in the crisis, which have appealed to religious motivations and called for citizens to protect the country’s Shiite Muslim shrines.

Maliki issued the appeal as Sunni Muslim militants attacked one of Iraq’s largest air bases and seized several small oil fields north of the capital, news agencies reported.

In addition, insurgents were advancing on the Haditha Dam and hydroelectric power plant on the Euphrates River about 175 miles northwest of Baghdad.

There were also reports that Iran is stepping up its intervention on behalf of Maliki, secretly supplying military equipment and using drones to conduct aerial surveillance.

In Brussels, where he attended NATO meetings Wednesday, Kerry said the conflict in Iraq has “been widened obviously in the last days with reports of [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] personnel, some people from Iran being engaged in Iraq, perhaps even some Syrian activities therein.”

Kerry told reporters, “That’s one of the reasons why government formation is so urgent, so that the leaders of Iraq can begin to make the decisions necessary to protect Iraq without outside forces moving to fill a vacuum.”

Striking a positive note, Kerry also said that he was not sure what Maliki meant in rejecting a “salvation government” but that the rest of Maliki’s address was in line with what he pledged to do in their meeting.

Iraq’s Sadr warns will ‘shake the ground’ against militants

Najaf (Iraq) (AFP) – Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Wednesday voiced opposition to US military advisers who have begun meeting with Iraqi commanders, and warned that his supporters would “shake the ground” in combatting militants.

“We will shake the ground under the feet of ignorance and extremism,” he said, referring to Sunni insurgents who have overrun a swathe of territory in the past two weeks, in a televised speech from the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

He added that he only supported “providing international support from non-occupying states for the army of Iraq“.

The cleric’s remarks came days after fighters loyal to him paraded with weapons in the Sadr City area of north Baghdad, vowing to fight a major militant offensive that has alarmed the world and threatens to tear Iraq apart.

Iraq’s flagging security forces, which were swept aside by the initial offensive but have since at least somewhat recovered, have already been joined by some Shiite fighters, and thousands more are ready to take part.

Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, which battled US forces for years when American troops were stationed in Iraq during their country’s nearly nine-year war, remains officially inactive, but fighters loyal to the cleric have nevertheless vowed to combat the militant advance.

​Chaos theory: ISIS & Western foreign policy

A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.

by Dr. Roslyn Fuller – As ISIS/ISIL cuts a swathe through the Middle East, retroactively transforming Osama Bin Laden into the highbrow arm of modern Islamic terrorism, we’ve quite naturally begun the game of deciding who to blame for its existence.

In fact, Tony Blair showed admirable consistency in sticking to the doctrine of preemptive self-defense by firing off a statement that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant had nothing to do with his policies in Iraq – the moment they made their big break into mainstream television.

This back and forth over responsibility is really at the heart of the matter, but in a far deeper way than we usually get around to discussing.

After all, a good deal of Western foreign policy post-Cold War has revolved around NATO states voluntarily assuming responsibility for issues that were, strictly-speaking, not their responsibility. Someone needs to ‘police the world’, ‘bring the bad guys to book’, exercise their ‘R2P’ (‘responsibility to protect’ – yes, we have descended into text-speak) and ‘nation-build’.

It looks good on paper.

But if you really look at how this policy has played out on the ground, you will notice that far from nation-building, this voluntary ‘assumption of responsibility’ has instead sown a level of chaos and dissension that cannot plausibly be blamed purely on ‘mistakes’ or ‘unforeseeable circumstances’.

Instead, it seems to be the old divide and conquer strategy at work and we probably have keen minds like Richard Perle and Bill Kristol of the neo-conservative think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC) to thank for this modern take on an old classic. We will return to the thoughtful documents penned and disseminated by PNAC shortly. But first, let’s try to figure out what is really going on beyond the rhetoric when it comes to our ‘responsibilities’ around the world.

I think we can discern a few key trends.

The first trend is that Western countries do engage in what could be termed nation-building activities in a few select, small countries, provided those countries have for one reason or another really made headlines. Think of Timor L’Este (now independent after a mere 30 years of occupation); Rwanda (yes, 800,000 people were killed, but we did give them a tribunal once activists remembered to play the racism card), and Kosovo (presents a somewhat more contested narrative, but it was too close to the EU’s future borders for comfort).

Other troubled nations like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire (another contested narrative) have certainly seen their fortunes improve in recent years, thanks in part to international peacekeeping missions and efforts to facilitate community reconciliation and post-conflict justice.

But those are, in a certain sense, ‘the lucky few’. In most other places, we have chosen to ‘take responsibility’ along more Blair-ish lines, which means that our sense of responsibility tends to come and go with astonishing rapidity. Consider the following:

Somalia

The failed state par excellence. Americans were apparently willing to ‘take responsibility’ for restoring law and order in Somalia until 19 of them were killed. That was too much ‘responsibility’ and Somalia was left minus a government and awash with weapons next to one of the greatest shipping lanes in the world. All things considered, it took Somalis a surprisingly long time to master modern piracy.

A Somali Al-Shebab fighter

Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo

All rocking around on the cusp of failed statehood for decades now; in the case of the DRC ever since Western countries decided to rid the world of Patrice Lumumba back in the ’60s.

Mali

Currently a respectable No. 38 on the Fund for Peace’s Failed State Index, but Taureg rebels control an impressive hunk of territory.

Ukraine and Pakistan

Both pretty nearly failed states, run along semi-feudal lines by leaders who are openly oligarchs, whether that be the ‘new money’ of Ukrainian industrialists or the ‘old money’ of tribal leadership in Pakistan.

Libya

Currently rated an uneasy No. 54 on the Failed State Index, down from a comfortable No. 111 in 2010 (on par with South Africa) before we decided to get rid of Gaddafi, only to be instantly stricken with amnesia about the country he ran for 42 years.

Yemen

Despite having the latest technology in drone strikes lavished upon it, Yemen maintains a virtually unbroken record in the top 10 failed states, currently at No. 6.

Syria

Locked in a civil war, which has seen a once secular-oriented nation become the home of armed jihadists, who were permitted to obtain their weapons and cash with remarkable ease. Apparently ‘getting rid of Assad’ was the sum total of our planning abilities on what should happen in Syria.

Egypt

Round and round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows. Spiraling somewhere.

Iraq and Afghanistan

I’m not even sure what the correct term for Iraq and Afghanistan, rated No. 11 and No.7 respectively on the Failed State Index, would be these days. Suffice it to see that after more than a decade of nation-building, we are having difficulty discerning progress on these construction sites, which I’m pretty sure haven’t even gone one day without a work-related accident. Of course, the already abysmal ratings were handed out before ISIS went big last week. (Interesting fact: current ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who, unlike many detainees, truly did have a history of terrorist involvement, was captured by Americans in Iraq in 2004 but released in 2009. You had one job…)

Then there are places like Western Sahara, Transdniester and Palestine, which cannot fail because they do not even count as states. To add to our woes, the UN recently announced that there are more displaced persons today than at any time since the end of WWII.

These are a lot of open problems to have for a world hegemony so bent on nation-building and stability, especially when you consider that its citizens spend something like a trillion dollars annually on ‘defense’.

Members of a newly formed brigade of Iraqi Shiite fighters parade in military fatigues with their weapons on June 24, 2014 in the southern city of Basra as thousands of Shiite volunteers join Iraqi security forces in the fight against Sunni Jihadist militants who have taken over several northern Iraqi cities.

When you are forking over that kind of money, you like to see results, and not hear excuses about the world’s instability being ‘also’ rooted in local problems. I can see very well that organizations like ISIS are ‘also’ rooted in local problems. However, I am also fairly certain that if some alien power used its superior resources to bomb us back to the Stone Age and then failed to provide any meaningful replacement infrastructure, that our ‘local’ problems would begin to get uglier too. And the reason is that they would have destroyed the social fabric and rule of law that keeps any place running as well as it does. Create that kind of power vacuum and anything can happen. To expect ‘the locals’ to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and jolly well carry on because we have suddenly lost interest in our overwhelming ‘responsibility’ to them is little short of delusional.

The second trend that I think emerges is closely linked to the first.

It is the deliberate ripping of the social fabric within states that are still relatively stable and prosperous. That this could in any way be connected to the first trend occurred to me while reading ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’, which was written by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu back in the 1990s. Now – and I do not say this lightly – not only does this document have a title that sounds like its composer was experiencing LARP-withdrawal at the time he wrote it, the text itself resembles the creation of an eight-year-old who was subjected to a crash course on international relations followed by a heavy dose of LSD. There are sudden switches in topic, where the free associative connection is at first less-than-obvious to the sober reader.

One of these switches was an abrupt change from harping on Israel’s alleged need to pursue a no-compromises peace strategy to urging a comprehensive privatization plan on the state. According to this paper, efforts to salvage Israel’s socialist institutions were undermining the legitimacy of the State of Israel and “Israel can become self-reliant only by, in a bold stroke rather than in increments, liberalizing its economy, cutting taxes, re-legislating a free-processing zone, and selling-off public lands and enterprises — moves which will electrify and find support from a broad bipartisan spectrum of key pro-Israeli Congressional leaders, including [then-]Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.”

Why Newt Gingrich’s support was synonymous with self-reliance was left unexplained.

However, like many things that happen on acid, ‘Securing the Realm’ has a weird strain of truth to it, because it combined, albeit clumsily, two separate ways to erode the social fabric. The first was to become much more aggressive externally and seek to crush foreign entities as oppose to negotiate with them, even when those negotiations had yielded results, most notably under the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated just one year before ‘Securing the Realm’ was written. The second was to actually work on eroding Israel’s alleged socialism from within by selling off the same public goods, which they under no circumstances would give to Palestinians, to private bidders.

I would argue that we can see both of these strains at work around the world, in that we push aggressive, no compromises foreign policy to its limits (witness Ukraine and Syria) without much thought for the destabilization that this engenders, not to mention its quite extreme effect on our own bank balance.

We are also hard at work undermining our own prosperity. Western countries are the most prosperous on earth. We unequivocally enjoy the highest standard of living. China, India and Brazil are still a long way off the kind of lifestyle most of us are accustomed to. And enjoy that lifestyle partly because we were pretty successful at ripping other people’s wealth off them in the past and partly because we invented a brilliant economic system after WWII which centered on what Richard Perle – aka the Prince of Darkness – would probably designate ‘socialist institutions’.

Western nations may not have fully gotten the knack for doing good in the world, but there was certainly what I would term growing interest and truly altruistic concern for people in other parts of the world among ordinary Western citizens pre-9/11.

Thanks to policies like those the Prince of Darkness so thoughtfully outlined for Netanyahu all those years ago, we have privatized, liberalized and cut taxes to the point that most people in Western nations are now experiencing a deterioration in their own living standards and society is increasingly divided between the haves and have-nots. We are, in other words, tearing up our own social fabric.

What that means is that the place that would have been most able to use its resources to truly stabilize and improve those parts of the globe most in need now not only refuses to do so (which was bad enough), in the future it might be unable to so do. We may, in short, be destabilizing the rest of the world, while simultaneously reducing our own capabilities to ever put it back together.

The natural consequence of being responsible in short, sharp bursts.

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74% of Germans oppose permanent NATO bases in Poland and Baltics

Soldiers from the US Pennsylvania National Guard take part in a field training exercise during the first phase Saber Strike 2014, at the Rukla military base, Lithuania, on June 14, 2014.

Nearly three-quarters of Germans oppose having permanent NATO military bases in Poland and the Baltic states as a buffer against Russia, a new poll reveals. The opinion reflects a growing trend within Europe opposing further NATO eastern expansion.

In the Forsa poll for the Internationale Politik magazine’s latest edition slated for Friday, 74 percent of those surveyed were against the idea, while only 18 percent supported it, Reuters reports. Opposition to NATO expansion in Eastern Europe remains highest in former Communist eastern Germany, Forsa said.

Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – all former members of the Soviet bloc – fear that Russia poses a military threat following recent events in Ukraine, and have asked for further security guarantees from their NATO partners.

Poland first proposed the idea of increasing the US military presence in Eastern Europe, with Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak calling on the Pentagon to deploy as many as 10,000 American troops in his country in April.

The Three Baltic States welcomed the idea that same month.

As a result, thousands of NATO troops held exercises in the region earlier this month, NATO warships have intensified patrols in the Baltic Sea, and jet fighters have likewise stepped up their air patrols.

The alliance has tripled the number of fighter jets based in the Baltics and NATO’s top military commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said in May that NATO would consider permanently stationing troops in Eastern Europe.

Russia claims that would violate a 1997 agreement, in which both sides committed to avoid “any potentially threatening build-up of conventional forces in agreed regions of Europe, to include Central and Eastern Europe.”

Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the “artificial attempt” to continue NATO’s eastward expansion would be “counterproductive.”

Germany is not the only country which feels uncomfortable about an increased NATO presence in Eastern Europe.

Earlier this month, two eastern European states – Slovakia and the Czech Republic – both refused to host foreign troops and military bases on their territories.

The announcements came just days after US President Barack Obama announced a plan to invest $1 billion dollars in ramping up its military presence in Eastern Europe.

Security Tops Agenda in Algeria During Egypt Leader’s First Foreign Trip

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, and Algerian Speaker of the Senate Abdelkader Bensalah, center, listen to their national anthems as el-Sissi arrives for a visit in Algiers, Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, and Algerian Speaker of the Senate Abdelkader Bensalah, center, listen to their national anthems as el-Sissi arrives for a visit in Algiers, Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for coordinated efforts to fight “terrorism” during a visit to Algiers on Wednesday, his first trip abroad since his election in May.

“The purpose of my visit to Algeria is to reach a shared vision of common interests and challenges facing the two countries and the region,” Algerian official media quoted the ex-army chief as saying.

“The two countries need to work together on a number of issues,” he added, citing the problem of “terrorism… (which requires) a coordination of positions.”

Sisi was met by Algerian premier Abdelmalek Sellal and Senate speaker Abdelkader Bensalah, and was later received by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose chronic health problems have severely limited his movements.

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Algeria and Egypt both share long borders with Libya, which has been gripped by deadly violence since the NATO-backed ouster of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 that scattered weapons across the Sahara region and has provided refuge for jihadists.

Despite a decline in deadly unrest under Bouteflika, jihadists still operate in Algeria, and since the 2011 uprisings toppled dictators across the region, Algeria has been increasingly vulnerable to attacks from neighbouring Mali and Libya.

After Algeria, Al-Sisi will head to Equatorial Guinean capital Malabo for the 23rd African Union (AU) Summit. He is expected to address the summit, as is tradition for a newly elected president of a member state.

UPDATE : ALGIERS/CAIRO, June 26

(Reuters) – Algeria agreed to ship five cargoes of liquefied natural gas to Egypt before the end of the year, a source at Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach said, helping its north African neighbour with its worst energy crunch in years.

The offer of five 145,000 cubic metre cargoes was made after a visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Algiers, his first trip abroad since taking office. Sisi was seeking Algeria’s support to counter Islamist militancy and cooperation on the chaos in neighbouring Libya.

“We did not reach a deal on pricing yet, but it is almost a deal,” the source said of the agreement, which is part of talks over supplying Algerian gas for Egyptian power stations.

Egypt’s oil ministry spokesman Hamdy Abdel-Aziz said he did not have any information on the status of the negotiations between the two countries, which began early this year.

The two north African countries both have long borders with Libya where, three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, a weak central government is struggling to contain Islamist militants and brigades of former rebels and militias.

Egypt’s steadily declining gas production and foreign firms’ wariness about any increasing investment have combined with price subsidies and rising consumption to create the country’s worst energy crisis in decades.

The country of 85 million relies heavily on gas to generate power for households and industry. Previously unheard of winter power cuts this year emphasised the extent of the crisis.

Egypt has been scrambling to secure natural gas supplies, which its mainly oil-producing Gulf Arab allies cannot provide. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait have given $6 billion in petroleum products since the army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last summer.

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Benghazi women’s rights activist Salwa Bughagis murdered

Salwa Bughaigis voting in today’s elections (Photo: her Facebook page)

Benghazi women’s rights activist and lawyer Salwa Bughagis was murdered this evening by five gunmen who broke into her home in the city’s Hawari district and shot her in the head.

She was rushed to Benghazi Medical Centre but died shortly afterwards. She is also said to have stabbed several times.

A gardener was also said to have been shot in the attack; he is recovering. Her husband, Essam Al-Ghariani, is missing, presumed kidnapped.

She had earlier returned home after voting in today’s elections and put pictures on her Facebook page of herself casting her vote today. She was then on Al-Nabaa TV for a few minutes at around 6pm speaking about clashes in the city which she said she could see from her house between security forces and an Islamist brigade. She urged people to go out and vote

The killing has shocked Benghazi where she and her sister Iman were prominent supporters and activists in the revolution from its very beginning. However, her support for women’s rights made her a vocal opponent of not only Islamic extremists but also of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Grand Mufti. She was against the hijab, insisting it was not Islamic, and would not even wear a headscarf.

She had received a number of death threats which she ignored but after a reported attempt to kill her son earlier this year went abroad with the entire family. Nonetheless, she said at the time that nothing would stop her speaking out about women’s rights.

It is not known who killed her, but militant Islamists are being blamed. She had just returned to Libya with her husband to vote in the elections. It is thought that her TV appearance may have alerted her killers to the fact that she was back in Benghazi.

Russian stealth corvette put British Navy on alert off Danish coast – media

The Soobrazitelny head corvette

A British frigate was dispatched to track a mysterious battleship that covertly sneaked in close to Denmark’s coast. The ship turned out to be Russian stealth corvette conducting a complex checkout of battle systems, according to British media.

Russian naval drills in the Baltic Sea drew some heat after British HMS Montrose (a type 23 frigate) had to establish line-of-sight range with an unidentified warship cruising off the territorial waters of NATO-member Denmark on June 19.

In harsh conditions of 30 knot winds, British sailors identified the warship as Russia’s 104-metre-long RFS Soobrazitelny (Project 20381), Steregushy-class stealth corvette, armed with a vast arsenal of anti-ship and air-defense missiles, and anti-submarine torpedoes.

Steregushchy lead ship

“We picked up a vessel on our radar that was not showing any of the normal behavior expected of merchant vessels or allied warships,” said Lieutenant Chloe Lea, HMS Montrose’s watch officer, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

“We have seen the Russians operate a lot in this area, but this is the closest we have seen them,” she said.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Montrose, based in Plymouth, has a crew of 205 and is armed with Sea Wolf missiles, Harpoon missiles, and Sting Ray torpedoes.

The RFS Soobrazitelny’s basic weapon is an X-35 (NATO code SS-N-25 Switchblade) Uran anti-ship missile complex, Redut anti-air missiles and Paket–NK torpedoes.

Both Russian warships and aircraft were conducting routine maneuvers in international waters, so the British ship left the area.

While HMS Montrose was tracking Soobrazitelny, a Russian Ilyushin IL-20 “Coot” maritime patrol aircraft was circling the British ship, analyzing the radar target signature of the Royal Navy destroyer.

“Both the Russian vessel and aircraft appeared to be carrying out their normal business,” the British Ministry of Defense acknowledged in a statement.

HMS Montrose was taking part in the BALTOPS multinational reinforced exercise that included 14 countries, the biggest NATO military drills in Eastern Europe since the Ukraine political crisis entered its critical phase.

“All our interaction so far has been professional and effective, and we have gained huge benefit from working so closely with our allies in such a busy and challenging environment,” said Commander James Parkin, commanding officer of HMS Montrose.

Soobrazitelny corvette

Three warships of the Steregushy-class stealth corvette series, the prototype Stereguschy, accompanied by Soobrazitelny and Boiky production line ships, have taken part in the latest naval drills, conducting missile firing tests and practicing landings of on-board helicopters in various conditions, including at night time and in motion.

Two days prior to the latest naval encounter, three RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to head off four separate groups of Russian aircraft taking part in drills in the Baltic.