Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman’

Iraqi Forces Make Advances In Tikrit, Prime Minister Says

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 01 2015

After a month of fighting in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, the Iraqi Prime Minister said Tuesday that Iraqi forces took a step toward pushing out the self-declared Islamic State.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/31/396636920/iraqi-forces-make-advances-in-tikrit-prime-minister-says?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Obama’s Diplomatic Gamble On Iran Adding Instability In Middle East

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 01 2015

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Iranian demonstrators hold signs mocking President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in February. President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech saying said the world needs Iran to help stabilize the troubled Middle East, in remarks pointing to wider ramifications of a deal over its disputed nuclear program.

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images


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Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian demonstrators hold signs mocking President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in February. President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech saying said the world needs Iran to help stabilize the troubled Middle East, in remarks pointing to wider ramifications of a deal over its disputed nuclear program.

Iranian demonstrators hold signs mocking President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in February. President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech saying said the world needs Iran to help stabilize the troubled Middle East, in remarks pointing to wider ramifications of a deal over its disputed nuclear program.

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Even before he became president, Barack Obama was imagining the possibilities of a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran. His willingness to reverse decades of official U.S. hostility was one of the things that set Obama apart on the campaign trail.

“We have to have a clear break with the Bush-Cheney style of diplomacy that has caused so many problems,” Obama told NBC’s Meet the Press in November 2007.

Polls suggest most Americans have come around to supporting a deal that would relax economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on that country’s nuclear program. But analysts say in carrying out his diplomatic gamble, Obama has added to instability in the Middle East.

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“We must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time,” Obama said five years ago, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

We must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time, Obama said five years ago, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

“We must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time,” Obama said five years ago, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“In this region — broken, angry, and dysfunctional — this president doesn’t have a whole lot to point to,” said Aaron David Miller of the Wilson Center. “In fact, you could argue that this region is profoundly worse than it was in 2008.”

Longtime diplomat Hillary Mann Leverett applauds Obama’s original vision of renewing ties that were severed after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. “It doesn’t mean giving up one ally for another,” said Mann Levertt, co-author of Going to Tehran. “It does mean having more of a balance, where a natural, large power like Iran serves as a balance to some of the even reckless impulses of our allies.”

She likened the idea to Nixon’s outreach to China, recognizing Iran as a rising power that’s here to stay.

Obama himself drew the same comparison in his Nobel Peace Prize speech five years ago.

“We must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time,” Obama said.

But Mann Leverett argues Obama hasn’t gone far enough, either in reshaping the U.S. treatment of Iran or selling the change to the American public. His overture is less like Nixon’s broad outreach to China, she said, than Jimmy Carter’s unsuccessful effort to achieve a SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union.

“It just all seemed too hard,” Mann Leverett said of Obama’s Iran initiative. “He had these strategic impulses, but was never able to put it through into a real strategy.”

Limited though it may be, the administration’s negotiation with Iran has shaken traditional allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, through its action and inaction elsewhere in the Middle East, the U.S. has left both friends and enemies uncertain about what it will do next.

“I think we’ve been reactive,” said David Rothkopf, editor of Foreign Policy. “I don’t see a strategy. I think we’re sort of back on our heels and not quite sure what to do.”

Rothkopf argues that Iran has capitalized on the administration’s hands-off approach to the Middle East, expanding its influence from Syria to Yemen.

“The Middle East has never been as dangerous as it is right now. And that’s saying something since the Middle East has been dangerous for a long time,” Rothkopf said.

The White House insists a nuclear deal with Iran would defuse the biggest threat to the region.

The Wilson Center’s Miller agreed a negotiated deal that stops or even stalls Iran’s nuclear program is preferable to the likely alternative of military action. But he dismisses as wishful thinking any expectation that Iran’s diplomatic rehabilitation will produce a new, more stable Middle East.

“Perhaps in a galaxy far, far away, that is a possibility,” Miller said. “I don’t see that happening now.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/03/31/396636913/obamas-diplomatic-gamble-on-iran-adding-instability-in-middle-east?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Iran Nuclear Negotiations Continue Past Deadline

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 01 2015

The U.S. says enough progress has been made in talks with Iran to warrant an extension of Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline. Secretary of State Kerry remains in Switzerland for another day.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/04/01/396757448/iran-nuclear-negotiations-continue-past-deadline?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Nigerians Await Results Of Closely-Contested Election

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 31 2015



AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The votes are coming in for one of the most closely contested presidential elections in Nigeria’s history.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Eighty-three, one-hundred-and-ninety-eight.

CORNISH: International observers have said the voting process this weekend was transparent and fair, despite technical glitches with new voter fingerprint scanners and scattered attacks by Boko Haram militants. U.S. State Department officials are also watching the election closely. Linda Thomas-Greenfield is the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department and is in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. We asked her if she had observed any election fraud or corruption in the process so far.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, we have received a number of reports from people in the field expressing concerns about what they are witnessing at some of the collation centers in the regional areas. But all in all this has been a good process. I was an observer of the election on Saturday and witnessed extraordinary commitment by the people of Nigeria who stood in line for hours and waited to vote patiently and with tremendous resolve. And I think it is a great, great statement of Nigerians’ commitment to democracy. And we’re all waiting to see the results.

CORNISH: Now, most observers are saying the process has been generally peaceful, but it’s been postelection violence that has really been damaging to Nigeria in the past. For instance, back in 2011, hundreds of people killed in postelection violence. What are your concerns this time around?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, let me first say that the violence has been much less than expected in this pre-election and election period. We are watching the situation closely now. We have been assured by both candidates of their commitment to discourage their supporters from violence.

CORNISH: During the issue of the kidnapping of the schoolgirls there was criticism that the U.S. couldn’t quite work with the Nigerian government on this, that there was concerns about corruption in the military and that the U.S. security advisers couldn’t get as much done as they would like. What does the U.S. need next from Nigeria in terms of actual cooperation?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We actually work very, very closely with the Nigerians on the search for the girls. We shared information. We did have an incident in which we decided that some training that we were providing to the Nigerians had to be discontinued. But our commitment is that we will continue to work with Nigeria. We will figure out where there are areas of disagreement and work out those disagreements, because terrorism anywhere affects all of us. And we have to work together to address what is happening here in Nigeria, as well as Chad, Cameroon and Niger, and we can’t do it alone. The Nigerians can’t do it alone, and the neighbors can’t do it alone.

CORNISH: Finally, Nigeria is very important to Africa economically, politically, just sheer terms of size and population. What are your concerns about Nigeria’s election and kind of how they can affect the wider region if things do not go well?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, I can tell you the entire world is watching this election, and all of Africa is watching this election. We have observers who have come from around the continent, and they are former heads of state and former government officials from across the continent, because Nigeria, as the most populous country on this continent and the largest democracy on this continent, has to succeed. But Nigeria has an important role to play in this region. The Nigerians know it. Neighbors know it. And we look forward to this process coming to closure in a way that will make all Nigerians proud but the entire continent proud.

CORNISH: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, she’s the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department. Thank you for your time.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/30/396405054/nigerians-await-results-of-closely-contested-election?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Venezuela Cuts Oil Subsidies To Caribbean Nations

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 31 2015

Low oil prices are forcing Venezuela to cut a generous subsidy program to Cuba and a dozen other Caribbean nations.

Venezuela is Latin America’s largest oil producer, and its economy depends heavily on oil exports. It’s been been hit hard by the tumbling oil prices.

“Venezuela is in desperate straits. The oil sector has been deteriorating, and now with the slumping oil prices, they needed cash desperately,” says Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C.-based group that studies the region.

Shifter says it’s no surprise that Venezuela is trimming back a program that provides oil at subsidized, deferred payment rates to many of its Caribbean neighbors that are dependent on energy imports. Petrocaribe — an alliance of Venezuela and Caribbean nations — was created a decade ago by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. It provided subsidized oil to countries such as Belize, Haiti and Jamaica.

The subsidies helped Caribbean nations balance their budgets and finance schools, social programs and small businesses and farms.

“This was part of his broader strategy to extend his influence to consolidate support and also to curtail influence of the United States in the region,” Shifter says. But he says when prices dropped, Venezuela “couldn’t sustain this, it was impossible.”

The Miami Herald, citing a report by Barclays investment bank, says shipments of subsidized oil to Petrocaribe members are down by about half for most countries from what they were in 2012.

Caribbean nations have been bracing for the steep cutbacks in shipments of cheap crude oil, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper quotes the governor of Jamaica’s central bank saying his government is adjusting by being more cautious about what to expect from Petrocaribe.

Even Cuba — the nation most closely-aligned ideologically with Venezuela — is seeing cuts to its subsidies. The Barclays report says Cuba paid for its oil by sending doctors and teachers to Venezuela.

But IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review says ties between the two countries remain very strong.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/03/30/396399497/venezuela-cuts-oil-subsidies-to-caribbean-nations?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

The Ascent Of Afghan Women

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 31 2015

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Eighteen-year-old Zahra Karimi Nooristani dangles precariously off a rock face high above Kabul.

Zahra Karimi Nooristani, 18, cautiously works her way down a rock face high above Kabul as her coach, Farhad Jamshid, guides her.

It is hazardous for his top female student to be rappelling here, not only because of the steep drop, but because she is using a frayed, nine-year-old rope handed down from the men’s mountaineering team.

Another danger she faces is the prospect of her neighbors finding out she’s climbing at all.

Afghanistan is a mountainous country, but scaling the peaks for sport is a new concept here. Mountaineering is considered an odd pastime for men, let alone women whose modesty Afghan society demands be protected at any cost – even death.

Zahra says her father, who carves gravestones for a living, has told her he is prepared to move the family to protect her and her three sisters, who are also budding climbers. He and his daughters are adamant they be allowed to practice their new skills.

The dedication of the Nooristani girls and the devotion of their father inspires Marina Kielpinski LeGree — the force behind the girls’ training. In the image below, she’s sitting with Afghan colleague Faisal Naziry (center), and Malang Darya, a well known Afghan climber (far left).

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Marina Kielpinski LeGree, 36, of Norfolk, Va., directs the non-profit Ascend that is funding and organizing the expedition.

LeGree, a 36-year-old resident of Norfolk, Va., who has spent years shepherding development projects in northeastern Afghanistan, directs a non-profit called Ascend that funds and organizes not only the training, but leadership classes for the Nooristani sisters and a handful of other Afghan girls recruited to be mountain climbers.

LeGree says her goal is to create a crop of Afghan heroines passionate about improving their country and who inspire other women here to break barriers.

“It’s a profound thing that’s been missing for a while in Afghanistan throughout the war and chaos and everything else,” LeGree says. “It doesn’t mean the housewife who is in her compound in Kandahar is going to go start climbing mountains, but she will know another Afghan woman did it and that message is really important.”

Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR

The new team’s ultimate test will come later this year, when Ascend takes the young women to the remote, northeastern corner of Afghanistan to scale the country’s highest peak. Mt. Noshaq. Only two Afghans have ever made it to the 24,580-foot-high summit and they were men. One was Darya.

But the climb itself may prove less difficult than organizing a viable team.

Afghanistan’s national mountain climbing federation, which claims authority over the women’s team and coaches, has refused to formalize an agreement with Ascend. Its board has demanded the American NGO turn over all funds and gear to them. That’s something LeGree and her Afghan employees refuse to do because they fear the money could be misappropriated. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently ordered audits of all Afghan sports federations on suspicion of corruption.

The federation’s demands are hardly unique. Some Afghans assume “when an ex-pat becomes involved in a project they may have lots of money,” says Naziry, Ascend’s operations manager. “The money becomes their priority.”

In Ascend’s case, the roughly $30,000 LeGree says has been spent so far has largely come from her own pocket.

LeGree also had a hard time finding Afghan girls who can commit to the rigorous training and the eventual climb, so the current Mt. Noshaq team only came together last fall.

The 12 members are a diverse ethnic and socio-economic mix. They are also from the national Taekwondo and mountain climbing teams. The new joint team trains at Kabul’s main sports complex, called Ghazi Stadium.

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Building up the girls' strength and stamina is a top priority. They are supposed to train for 90 minutes three or more times a week in this Spartan gym.

Building up the girls’ strength and stamina is a top priority. They are supposed to train for 90 minutes three or more times a week in this Spartan gym with no bathroom or showers. In keeping with Afghanistan’s conservative heritage, they train in loosely fitting track suits and most of the girls cover their hair with headscarves or caps while exercising.

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At the Spartan gym with no bathroom or showers, a girl puts up her hair before practice.

While the federation has on occasion paraded the girls in front of Afghan television cameras, Ascend has taken pains to keep them out of the limelight. The NGO has blocked its Facebook page in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, plus kept the date of the Mt. Noshaq climb secret to try to protect the girls from the Taliban or other extremists here who might try to harm them.

The risk isn’t keeping the four Nooristani sisters away. The coaches say they come to training more than any of the other girls.

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Coaches say the Nooristani sisters are coming to training more than any of the other girls (top)

There is Rabia (top left), 17, who’s still in high school; Zahra (top right), the high school senior; Farnaz, (bottom left) 20, who has applied to go to medical school; Niloofar (bottom right), 21, who has applied to midwifery school.

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Coaches say the Nooristani sisters are coming to training more than any of the other girls (bottom)

Zahra is painfully shy, but also fearless, and her trainers say she is the team member most likely to make it make it to the top of Mt. Noshaq.

The sisters live with their parents and other siblings in two rooms in a hilly, impoverished, Kabul neighborhood called Chehel Sotoon or Forty Columns. It’s widely said to be home to Muslim extremists who fly the black flags of the self-described Islamic State.

The women of this ultra-conservative neighborhood rarely leave the mud-walled compounds in which they live.

The girls describe mountain-climbing as liberating. “There’s freedom up there,” Rabia says with a nervous giggle, adding that she’s amazed at how much stronger she feels than when she began training last fall. Back then “my lungs were burning,” she says. “The first time up was really hard. Someone had to pull me up the mountain by my hand.”

The girls say their role model is their cousin, Sediqa Mayar Nooristani, 22. She became something of a celebrity after learning to climb when she was 14, when European mountaineers were training her father and other Afghan men.

She now heads the national mountain climbing federation, but rarely trains with the Ascend team, which is why you don’t see her in these pictures. But she does go on most practice climbs and says she plans to scale Mt. Noshaq.

In the Chehel Sotoon neighborhood, few know the four sisters are training to be mountain climbers. If anyone asks where they go every day, the family says they are taking English classes. The girls have no workout clothes other than the blue tracksuits and sneakers Ascend bought them.

“We know they partially come because we feed them and provide transportation and that’s totally fine with me,” LeGree says. “That’s how lots of scrappy athletes developed. They want it. Any day, give me people who want something and are willing to work for it and we can provide them (with) everything else.”

And as LeGree discovered, the Afghan women’s team needs everything, including food.

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The Afghan women's team needs everything, including food.

Ascend arranged with several local restaurants to send lunches with fresh vegetables and lean meats to the girls after their workouts. The daily, $5 per climber investment has dramatically improved attendance at the training sessions.

All 12 girls showed up and wolfed down the spinach stew and roasted chicken. It was the first meal that day for many of them. They eat inside the mountain climbing federation office at Ghazi stadium, where pictures of the men’s team adorn the wall.

LeGree says the space is not ideal, given the steady stream of interruptions by male federation members. She wants to keep the girls focused on their training, so she is searching for a house or apartment to accommodate them.

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The girts train in earnest at Ghazi Stadium, where they sprint up the bleachers and rappel down 23-foot-high walls.

But for now, training continues in earnest at Ghazi Stadium, where they sprint up the bleachers and rappel down 23-foot-high walls.

One of the trainees is Ascend Program Coordinator Nargis Azaryun, who says the stadium visits are bittersweet. When she was a young child, the Taliban used the facility for public executions – most memorably of women.

She thinks of the Taliban’s victims every time she enters the gates.

Azaryun recalls being frightened the day the Taliban fell in 2001. To celebrate, a male cousin put a burka on a broom and lit it on fire. Azaryun says she was convinced the militants would return and punish them.

Fourteen years later, the 22-year-old college student revels in pushing boundaries. Pictured below, she is one of the few women in Afghanistan who drives and refuses to wear a headscarf.

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Nargiss briefs the girls in the bus heading to a weekly practice ascent on the outskirts of Kabul.

She’s sort of den mother to the girls, whom she joins on a bus that takes them to one of the team’s weekly practice ascents on the outskirts of Kabul.

“It feels amazing,” she says of the climbs. “It feels like you are just born and you have a chance to conquer the world.”

But the team is missing every kind of apparel and equipment needed to scale a mountain, something LeGree says she’s desperately trying to rectify.

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The team has weekly practice ascents on the outskirts of Kabul.

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The team has weekly practice ascents on the outskirts of Kabul.

At this army base, the girls line up before the hike in everything from sneakers to cheap knockoffs of brand-name hiking boots purchased at the “Bush Bazaar (named for the former U.S. president),” a market that once traded in goods acquired from the U.S.-led coalition. Some of the girls aren’t even wearing socks.

But shabby shoes and falling snow don’t stop the girls. They take less than two hours to hike up the trail-less slopes. Once on top, they pose for selfies and dine on kebabs – rappelling is out because of the bad weather.

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The team has weekly practice ascents on the outskirts of Kabul.

LeGree joins them on the hikes when she’s in the country, and is visibly fond of the girls. But she’s not sure any of them will reach the summit of Mt. Noshaq.

She says rag-tag practice climbs aren’t enough. She’s also frustrated that most of the girls aren’t showing up to every training session.

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The team has weekly practice ascents on the outskirts of Kabul.

“I’ve been worried from the very beginning about a baseline of physical fitness because technical skills or not, you are not going to be getting up that mountain if you are huffing and puffing,” LeGree explains. “And there’s a strong possibility that at least half of them just won’t be able to get to the top.”

The Afghan Mt. Noshaq climber, Malang Darya, put the odds even lower, predicting only a third will make it.

That’s why LeGree has decided to recruit six new girls from Wakhan region, where Mt. Noshaq is located. They are expected to arrive in Kabul to begin training next month.

Editor’s Note: The mountain climbing federation office at Ghazi Stadium in Kabul — where the girls were eating their meals — was destroyed early Sunday in a fire caused by a wood-burning stove. The men’s and women’s teams both lost equipment in the fire, but no one was hurt.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR’s Berlin correspondent, was previously based in Afghanistan.

Sandra Calligaro is a photographer who frequently works in Afghanistan. You can see more of her work here.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/31/393900537/the-ascent-of-afghan-women?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Yemenis Pay The Price For Saudi Arabia-Iran Rivalry

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 30 2015

Saudi-led airstrikes continue in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. And as usual, there was no warning. Residents worry that soon the battle will move from the sky to Yemen’s soil.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/30/396280274/yemenis-pay-the-price-for-saudi-arabia-iran-rivalry?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Saudi Airstrikes Could Be Precursor To Ground Invasion In Yemen

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 30 2015



ARUN RATH, HOST:

Earlier today, Arab leaders agreed to form a multinational Arab military force to fight the rebel Houthi movement gaining strength in Yemen – this as Saudi Arabia led a fourth day of airstrikes against the Houthi. Analysts say the airstrikes, aimed at degrading Shia Houthi forces, may be a precursor to a ground invasion and could spark a wider regional conflict. NPR’s Leila Fadel joins us now from Cairo. First, Leila, tell us what is the latest inside Yemen.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: I spoke to residents in Sana’a, which is the capital of Yemen. And airstrikes have just resumed, and they’re intense. This is a city under Houthi control, which is a Yemeni Shia group, and it’s a city without bomb shelters or safe havens for residents to run to. During the respite today, people got out, got food and got back home, and the streets are empty now.

There’s also bloody fighting in the port city of Aden, which was home to the Saudi-backed president, who’s now out of the country. The U.N. has evacuated about 200 people. Diplomats are leaving in droves, and Houthis are continuing to fight for the city with its military allies. There’s no signs that this is going to end.

RATH: Are there any signs of a ground invasion?

FADEL: Now, that’s really the big question. The Saudi ambassador told NBC that right now, that the decision hasn’t been made. But airstrikes alone won’t really change dynamics on the ground, and negotiations are really a distant possibility at this point. Yemen’s president has called on the Houthis to surrender in order to end the airstrike campaign, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Houthis are advancing.

I spoke to a young Houthi activist from a very prominent family who said at this point, he doesn’t think even negotiations are possible. What he – what he was talking about was revenge. He says that the Houthis have to respond. And so for right now, what we’re seeing is continued violence, and this isn’t a country that’s stable. It has a prominent presence of al-Qaida, and it’s where the self-declared Islamic State just carried out a deadly bombing that killed over a hundred people. So more instability in Yemen could mean more instability in the region.

RATH: And in terms of the broader regional picture, why is Saudi Arabia leading this campaign?

FADEL: Well, analysts say this isn’t just about Yemen. Saudi Arabia says it’s reacting to protect the Yemeni president against Houthi advances, and they have a strong coalition of Sunni leaders backing them in this campaign. But Yemen’s a tiny and really poor country, and it’s had internal conflict for decades. Analysts say this is more about power in the region between two regional heavyweights – Saudi Arabia, which has a Sunni Arab monarchy, and Shia Iran. Saudi Arabia backs the Yemeni government, and Iran backs the Houthis.

Analysts say this is Saudi’s message to Iran, which so far has the upper hand in places like Iraq and Syria. What’s unclear is how much control Iran has over the Houthis in Yemen. We’ve also haven’t seen this type of cooperation between Sunni Arab leaders in decades in the region. So what everyone seems to agree on right now is this is a really dangerous moment. Lines are being drawn between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iran, so far, hasn’t reacted other than to condemn and to call for an end to the airstrikes. So this may be the start of a proxy war inside Yemen.

RATH: NPR’s Leila Fadel. Very, very complicated situation – thank you for clarifying this for us.

FADEL: Thank you.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/29/396200943/saudi-airstrikes-could-be-precursor-to-ground-invasion-in-yemen?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Iran Nuclear Talks Bog Down As Tuesday Deadline Approaches

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 30 2015

Talks aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes continue. An Iranian negotiator is quoted as rejecting the idea that Iran would ship some of its nuclear fuel out of the country.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/30/396280281/iran-nuclear-talks-bog-down-as-deadline-approaches?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

An Update On Yemen’s Escalating Crisis

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Mar 29 2015



ARUN RATH, HOST:

Airstrikes continued for the third day today in Yemen. A coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia is bombing Houthi rebels who are said to be backed by Iran.

IONA CRAIG: It does appear now that this has already turned into a proxy battle. With the Saudi’s launching these airstrikes, it’s played into the regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

RATH: That’s Iona Craig, an independent journalist who has spent the last four years reporting from Yemen. She spoke with me earlier from London. The U.S. had been working with the Yemeni government to fight al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, but President Hadi has been driven about by Houthi rebels. I asked Craig how this is going to affect the overall U.S. strategy in the region.

CRAIG: Well, I think the U.S. strategy now is in pieces really. It very much relied upon, you know, cooperation with Yemen’s intelligence agency, particularly the National Security Bureau or the NSB as it’s known. That fell into the control of the Houthis once they had control – complete control of Sanaa.

So they had access then to all the intelligence information that had previously been under Hadi’s – President Hadi’s control, if you like. On top of that, then the other corporation was the counterterrorism troops who were being trained by U.S. Special Forces, and the last of those U.S. Special Forces left Yemen just over a week ago.

And now, all that’s really left is the drone program. But without the human intelligence on the ground, obviously that’s going to be difficult – and now there’s airstrikes going on anyway. I think that’s going to have to be on the back burner for the foreseeable future at least.

RATH: Now, the Yemeni government, which you mentioned the former president – this is not an old government. Have they ever had broad popular support among Yemenis?

CRAIG: There was a kind of moment after 2011 when President Hadi was voted in in a one-man election – so his was the only name on the ballot paper. And I think there was a lot of hope at that point for – there was a window of time when everybody felt very optimistic because Ali Abdullah Saleh was finally leaving. But you have to remember that President Hadi was his deputy for 17 years prior to that. So it’s not as if really what – after 2011 there was real change. It was just a reshuffle of the old regime. And I think as time went on, people realized that this new government was certainly no better and possibly even worse.

RATH: And what about the Houthi rebels? Do they have popular support?

CRAIG: Well, the Houthis – they did garner some support. You know, they’ve existed since 2004, and they were very much marginalized and persecuted by Ali Abdullah Saleh previously. They were enemies, and he’d fought them in six wars. And after the Arab Spring, they did gain more support.

And then, as Hadi’s government started to fail, they were sort of pushing for change, calling for an end to corruption, brought up the issues of fuel prices – that did broaden their support outside of their original sort of sheer bounds if you like. But I think that’s changed a lot in the last sort of six to nine months as they’ve become an increasingly violent force within Yemen.

RATH: Finally, there was a report from the International Crisis Group which predicted prolonged violence unless a peace deal is negotiated in Yemen. Who would negotiate such a peace deal, and from your reporting, how likely do you think a cease-fire is?

CRAIG: The likelihood of a cease-fire is not looking good at the moment. Even today, President Hadi made a speech to the Arab League saying, you know, that he wanted airstrikes – these airstrikes to continue. And certainly, if they start using ground troops, then we’re looking at a very prolonged conflict probably. But we seem to be a long way off the option of really going into so many serious talks at the moment.

RATH: Iona Craig is an independent journalist. She spoke with us from London. Iona, thanks very much.

CRAIG: Thanks very much – thank you.

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