Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman PDF’

A Century After Atrocities Against Armenians, An Unresolved Wound

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 24 2015

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Armenians were massacred by forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. In this instance, the heads of the victims were placed on stakes.

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Armenians were massacred by forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. In this instance, the heads of the victims were placed on stakes.

Armenians were massacred by forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. In this instance, the heads of the victims were placed on stakes.

AP

This much is known: Up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported in the violence unleashed by Ottoman Turks starting on April 24, 1915. But as the 100th anniversary of these events is marked on Friday, it remains a bitter source of contention between Turks and Armenians.

Armenians, along with many historians and European countries, have called it the 20th century’s first genocide. Turkey suppressed accounts of the killings for decades, and to this day staunchly rejects the label of genocide.

Modern Turkey, which emerged following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, still reacts sharply to countries that say a genocide took place. It recalled its envoy from the Vatican after Pope Francis used the term last Sunday and did the same in Austria after lawmakers spoke the word.

The U.S. government does not call the events a genocide and neither does Israel. In both countries, this position appears based in part, if not mostly, on a desire not to offend Turkey.

So what exactly happened in 1915? Here’s a look:

The Background

The Ottoman Empire once covered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and was home to Turks, Kurds, Armenians and many others. But by the start of World War I in 1914, it was crumbling. A few years earlier, a group of young army officers — named the Young Turks — seized power. And in WWI, they sided with the Central Powers — Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire — against the Allied Powers, Britain, France and Russia.

Historian Eugene Rogan, author of The Fall Of The Ottomans, tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep the Ottomans crossed into Russia thinking they might be able to strike a blow. Instead, they lost. There had been massacres of Armenians in the past, but with the loss to the Russians, he says, the Ottomans began to question the loyalties of the Armenians.

He adds: “What happened was a small number of [Armenian] militants who did cross over to the Russian side, who did actively try and recruit Armenians to support the Russian cause, made life extremely dangerous for the majority of Armenian civilians who basically had no fight with anyone, did not wish to be drawn into any war and found themselves under tremendous pressure; soldiers who, suspected by their Turkish comrades, begin to get shot down.”

The Ottomans’ ruling Committee of Union and Progress and government officials planned to forcibly relocate the Armenians from Anatolia, where they lived, bordering Russia, to the Arab parts of the empire, where they were deemed to be less of a threat. But, Rogan adds, the plans for the Armenians went beyond those that were written down. He adds:

“It was through testimony presented in trials the Ottomans convened after the war that we now know that the Committee of Union and Progress agreed to give, orally, orders for the extermination of Armenians: that men and women would be separated at the moment of departing their villages, that the men would be massacred and that the women would be marched under conditions in which only a fraction of them would survive.

“And the theory that most Turkish scholars of the genocide are putting forward was that the Ottoman plan was to reduce the demographic profile of the Armenians so that they would not exceed 5 to 10 percent in any given province. It wasn’t … to try and eliminate the Armenians in their entirety, but it was to make sure that the Armenians would never constitute a critical mass to seek separation for the Ottoman Empire as an independent Armenian state.”

Earlier Violence Against Armenians

Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were targeted even in the 19th century, but historians don’t call those events a genocide. The reason, writer Peter Balakian tells NPR’s Robert Siegel, was that the earlier killings were “putative — they were punishments for Armenian progressive reform movement. They weren’t designed to exterminate the entire population or rid the Ottoman Empire of its Armenian population, but they begin a very important process of devaluing and dehumanizing this ethnic minority group.”

Here’s what he says was different about the events of 1915:

“I think that the Ottoman government’s final solution for the Armenian people of Turkey represented a shift in organized, state-planned mass killing. The Ottoman government was able to expedite its mass killing of a targeted minority population in a concentrated period of time. So it’s important to realize that the Ottoman government murdered more than a million Armenians between 1915 and 1916 alone — perhaps 1.2 million is the number you come to by the end of the summer of 1916.”

The U.S. View

The U.S., a close ally of Turkey, does not call the events a genocide. The White House, in a statement this week, described it as an atrocity, a long-held position. But the Armenian community in the U.S. has long lobbied for the events to be recognized as a genocide.

The New York Times, in its reporting at the time, noted in a sub-headline: “More Atrocities Detailed in Support of Charge That Turkey is Acting Deliberately.” Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to the Ottomans at the time, also supported that view in his memoirs, as did other Americans and Westerners.

The word genocide was not coined until 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer who combined the Greek word “genos,” meaning race or family, with the Latin word “-cidere,” for killing, to describe the events of the Holocaust.

As a teenager, he was drawn to the story of what happened to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire after reading about a survivor of the atrocities. And in interviews in the 1940s he described the events as the Armenian genocide.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, which describes the events as a genocide, says Lemkin’s “early exposure to the history of Ottoman attacks against Armenians, anti-Semitic pogroms, and other cases of targeted violence as key to his beliefs about the need for the protection of groups under international law. Inspired by the murder of his own family during the Holocaust, Lemkin tirelessly championed this legal concept until it was codified in the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948.”

Turkey rejects the notion that a genocide was perpetrated against the Armenians, though its leaders have expressed regret for what happened at the time. Many Turks say there was no systematic plan to kill Armenians; admitting an Armenian genocide is seen as insulting Turkey, a crime under the country’s law.

Related NPR Stories

Turks And Armenians Prepare For Dueling Anniversaries On Friday

Last Armenian Village In Turkey Keeps Silent About 1915 Slaughter

Author Explores Armenian Genocide ‘Obsession’ And Turkish Denial

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/24/401791172/a-century-after-atrocities-against-armenians-an-unresolved-wound?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Armenians Mark A Century Since World War I Massacre

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 24 2015

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Catholicos Karekin II (R, front), the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin walk to attend a commemoration ceremony marking the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in Yerevan, Armenia.

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Catholicos Karekin II (R, front), the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin walk to attend a commemoration ceremony marking the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in Yerevan, Armenia.

Catholicos Karekin II (R, front), the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin walk to attend a commemoration ceremony marking the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in Yerevan, Armenia.

RIA Novosti/Reuters/Landov

European leaders attended a ceremony marking the centenary of the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, as German lawmakers risked triggering a diplomatic row with Turkey by voting to acknowledge the historical event as “genocide” –- a charge Ankara has strongly denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande were among those gathered today in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial to mark the day generally regarded as the start of the massacre, carried out by Ottoman officials who feared that Armenian Christians would side with their enemy, Russia, during World War I.

“We will never forget the tragedy that your people went through,” Hollande said.

(For a history of the issue, NPR’s Krishnadev Calamur has a primer here.)

The vote by the German parliament “marks a significant change of stance for Germany, Turkey’s biggest trade partner in the European Union and home to a large ethnic Turkish diaspora. Unlike France and some two dozen other countries, Berlin has long resisted using the word,” according to Reuters.

The Associated Press notes that France “is home to a sizeable Armenian community. Among the French Armenians at Yerevan was 90-year old singer Charles Aznavour who was born in Paris to a family of massacre survivors.”

Most historians regard the events a century ago as genocide, but Turkey has vociferously rejected that label, arguing that the death toll has been exaggerated and that most of the victims died during unrest and civil war.

On the eve of the anniversary, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again denied that the event constituted genocide. Earlier this month, Ankara froze relations with the Vatican after Pope Francis publicly referred to the Armenian “genocide.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/24/401930635/armenians-mark-a-century-since-world-war-i-massacre?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Alleged Skipper Of Migrant Boat Appears In Italian Court

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 24 2015

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Mohammed Ali Malek is seen at Catania’s tribunal, on Friday. Italian prosecutors blamed the captain of a grossly overloaded fishing boat for a collision which capsized and sank his vessel off Libya, drowning hundreds of migrants.

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Mohammed Ali Malek is seen at Catania's tribunal, on Friday. Italian prosecutors blamed the captain of a grossly overloaded fishing boat for a collision which capsized and sank his vessel off Libya, drowning hundreds of migrants.

Mohammed Ali Malek is seen at Catania’s tribunal, on Friday. Italian prosecutors blamed the captain of a grossly overloaded fishing boat for a collision which capsized and sank his vessel off Libya, drowning hundreds of migrants.

Antonio Parrinello/Reuters/Landov

The man who authorities say captained a boat carrying migrants from Libya that capsized in the Mediterranean killing more than 700 has appeared appeared in an Italian court to face possible charges of homicide and human trafficking.

An attorney for Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, from Tunisia, says that his client was a passenger – not skipper – of the overloaded fishing boat that reportedly collided with a merchant ship and then capsized. Hundreds of migrants were allegedly locked below deck and unable to escape when the boat sank.

“He says he’s a migrant like all the others and he paid his fare to go on the boat,” his lawyer, Massimo Ferrante, said outside the courtroom in Catania, Sicily.

Reuters reports that a 25-year-old Syrian, who prosecutors believe was a crew member himself, but who claims to have been only a passenger, has accused Malek of being in charge of the vessel.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/24/401943343/alleged-skipper-of-migrant-boat-appears-in-italian-court?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

EU Leaders Close To Agreement To Deal With Influx Of Migrants

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 23 2015

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In this photo made available Thursday, April 23, 2015, migrants crowd and inflatable dinghy as the Italian Coast Guard approaches them, off the Libyan coast, on Wednesday.

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In this photo made available Thursday, April 23, 2015, migrants crowd and inflatable dinghy as the Italian Coast Guard approaches them, off the Libyan coast, on Wednesday.

In this photo made available Thursday, April 23, 2015, migrants crowd and inflatable dinghy as the Italian Coast Guard approaches them, off the Libyan coast, on Wednesday.

Alessandro Di Meo/AP

The European Union appears close to agreement to step up efforts to rescue migrants trying to reach EU countries by crossing the Mediterranean and to capture or destroy human traffickers’ vessels, a move that comes days after as many as 900 drowned in a capsize off the Libyan coast.

The Associated Press reports that a draft statement among leaders of the 28 EU nations would “increase search and rescue possibilities” and “undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy” traffickers’ vessels before they are used in human smuggling.

“We will take action now. Europe is declaring war on smugglers,” the EU’s top migration official, Dimitris Avramopoulos, was quoted by the AP as saying in Malta, where he was attending the funeral of 24 migrants whose bodies were recovered after Sunday’s tragedy.

AP says the draft statement also said the EU wants to “set up a first voluntary pilot project on resettlement,” with at least 5,000 places for people qualifying for protection.

The BBC reports that Libya is high on the meeting’s agenda, because 90 percent of would-be migrants depart from there — most heading for the Iltalian island of Lampedusa, the closest EU territory to Libya.

With the self-declared Islamic State now reportedly operating in Libya, the EU
“fears [ISIS] could pose a huge security risk for Europe. In the past, it has explicitly threatened Italy,” the BBC says.

As The Two-Way’s Bill Chappell reported earlier this week, the EU called an emergency meeting after the latest disaster involving would-be migrants. It comes nearly two years after a similar sinking prompted calls for a re-evaluation of EU immigration policies. However, such incidents have become routine in the past few years, as migrants from Africa and the Middle East become increasingly desperate to reach Europe.

“With the best will in the world, these issues are not solvable,” a senior diplomat at the EU meeting in Brussels was quoted by Reuters as saying. “We can only limit the damage.”

The diplomat noted that the yawning gap in living standards between the north and south sides of the Mediterranean was the problem.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/23/401711615/eu-leaders-close-to-agreement-to-deal-with-influx-of-migrants?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

U.S. Operations Killed Two Hostages Held By Al-Qaida, Including American

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 23 2015

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President Obama expresses his condolences today to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January.

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President Obama expresses his condolences today to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January.

President Obama expresses his condolences today to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January.

Susan Walsh/AP

Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET

President Obama offered his “grief and condolences” to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January. Both men were held hostage by al-Qaida.

“I take full responsibility for a U.S. government counterterrorism operation that killed two innocent hostages held by al-Qaida,” Obama said.

He said both Warren Weinstein, an American held by the group since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national held since 2012, were “devoted to improving the lives of the Pakistani people.”

Earlier today, the White House in a statement announced the two deaths, along with the killings of two American al-Qaida members.

“Analysis of all available information has led the Intelligence Community to judge with high confidence that the operation accidentally killed both hostages,” the White House statement said. “The operation targeted an al-Qa’ida-associated compound, where we had no reason to believe either hostage was present, located in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy.”

The statement did not specify the nature of the operation, but The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed senior Obama administration officials, said the deaths were from a drone strike.

The statement added that Ahmed Farouq, an American al-Qaida leader, was killed in the same operation. It also said Adam Gadahn, another American al-Qaida leader, was killed likely in a different operation the same month.

“While both Farouq and Gadahn were al-Qa’ida members, neither was specifically targeted, and we did not have information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations,” the statement said.

It added:

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Adam Gadahn is an American who grew up in Southern California, converted to Islam and joined al-Qaida. The White House says he was killed in a counterterrorism operation in January.

IntelCenter via AP


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IntelCenter via AP

Adam Gadahn is an American who grew up in Southern California, converted to Islam and joined al-Qaida. The White House says he was killed in a counterterrorism operation in January.

Adam Gadahn is an American who grew up in Southern California, converted to Islam and joined al-Qaida. The White House says he was killed in a counterterrorism operation in January.

IntelCenter via AP

“The President directed that the information being shared today, which was properly classified until now, be declassified and shared with the American people. He takes full responsibility for these operations and believes it is important to provide the American people with as much information as possible about our counterterrorism operations, particularly when they take the lives of fellow citizens. The uniquely tragic nature of the operation that resulted in the deaths of two innocent hostages is something we will do our utmost to ensure is not repeated. To this end, although the operation was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies, we are conducting a thorough independent review to understand fully what happened and how we can prevent this type of tragic incident in the future. “

As we have previously reported, Weinstein was a development worker and Peace Corps veteran who was kidnapped in 2011 from his home in Pakistan. In a video released in December 2013, he was seen asking President Obama to “to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release.”

Lo Porto, as the Guardian newspaper reported in a profile in 2013, traveled to Pakistan’s Punjab province start a new job as an aid worker. But he was kidnapped soon after his arrival.

Gadahn, as NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reported in 2010, joined al-Qaida in the late 1990s. He was a New Mexico native of Yemeni descent. Here’s more from her profile of him:

“He grew up on a goat farm in Southern California. His parents were hippies. He was home-schooled, big into death metal rock, and eventually found Islam.

“Haitham Bundakji was a witness to Gadahn’s conversion at the Islamic Society of Orange County in the late 1990s. He was also a witness to Gadahn’s radicalization a short time later. ‘It didn’t take long before he had started spending time with the wrong kind of people at the mosque,’ Bundakji says. There were a handful of angry, particularly devout Muslims at the mosque who immediately befriended Gadahn. ‘He came to the mosque by himself and he didn’t have family who were Muslim, so he was all alone.’”

“Gadahn spent most of his days hanging around the Islamic center. He performed the five daily prayers there. He found odd jobs to do. Bundakji says these young men, a bit older than Gadahn — in their 20s and 30s — took advantage of the new convert. They turned Gadahn against Bundakji, whom they saw as too progressive.”

“Bundakji says that back in 1997, Gadahn actually attacked him. Gadahn was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault. He pleaded guilty and Bundakji barred him from the mosque for a time. By 1998, Gadahn and the other young men in his clique had drifted away from the mosque. A short time later, he left the U.S. and went to an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/23/401714713/u-s-operations-killed-two-hostages-held-by-al-qaida-including-american?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Feeling Blue? Share A Laugh With Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 23 2015

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho bust some moves at the 2015 Skoll World Forum.

Courtesy of Skoll Foundation


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Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho bust some moves at the 2015 Skoll World Forum.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho bust some moves at the 2015 Skoll World Forum.

Courtesy of Skoll Foundation

The term “living legend” is tossed around so much that it really doesn’t have much sway.

But when I had the privilege of hearing Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England, last week, I knew I was in the presence of … a living legend. Dressed in a dark suit, white cleric’s collar and purple sweater, with a large shining silver cross around his neck, Tutu radiated goodness and good humor from the moment he came onstage.

And yet, as he answered questions posed by a moderator, he didn’t issue legendary proclamations. Rather, he is a master of the simple yet inspiring comment.

He began by playing with the audience. The moderator asked a complex question about faith: Is it fluid or solid?

Before answering, Tutu made a few personal remarks.

Then he said, “What was your question?”

Listen to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s infectious laughter.

Was he owning up to the frailties of age? He is, after all, 83. Or was he simply having a little fun at the expense of the moderator?

As Tutu spoke, it was evident that he is as sharp as ever. And that his faith is rock solid.

“I grew up in a society that told black people they didn’t count for very much,” he said. But he took inspiration from his mother: “She was stumpy and had a large nose but she was amazing in her generosity, her compassion, her caringness,” he said. He noted with mock dismay that there is a family resemblance, but her legacy was clearly about inner appearances. “I hope I might be able to emulate her,” he said humbly.

One memory of his mother is especially important to him. He recalls the day when, as a young boy, he saw a white priest doff his hat to his mother: “It made me believe what we kept being told: that we were all equal.”

One of Tutu’s four children, the Reverend Mpho A. Tutu, joined him onstage. Warm and wise, she is definitely her father’s daughter.

Resplendent in a brightly patterned turban and tunic, orange slacks and strappy high heels, she explained, “I didn’t want young people in the congregation to think if you want to be a priest you have to look [a certain way], that there’s no place for me in the ordained ministry.” So she dresses in all the colors of the rainbow and then some.

Mpho Tutu also has her dad’s sly sense of humor.

The moderator asked her how she felt being raised by such great parents. With the crack timing of a stand-up comic, she shot back: “I have to agree with you. My mom is one of the most extraordinary women on the planet.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/04/23/401013918/feeling-blue-share-a-laugh-with-archbishop-desmond-tutu?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Wilding? Ruff Ride? Dog’s Road Romp On Tractor Sparks Puns

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 22 2015

As soon as the news broke, Traffic Scotland took pains to say it was a serious event, not a joke. But that didn’t stop people from putting their own spin on the story of the border collie who took control of a small tractor — which then drove onto a highway Wednesday.

Traffic Scotland announced a disruption to the morning commute on the M74 highway, “due to dog taking control of tractor… nope, not joking.” Saying that a farmer and police were at the scene, the agency added, “#maycausetailbacks” — using the term for long lines.

The dog lives on a sheep farm near the main highway southeast of Glasgow, near Abington. Farmer Tom Hamilton tells Scotland’s STV, “I had not put the brake on the tractor and when I turned round I got a fright as the vehicle was careering down the hill, through a gate and onto the M74.”

“The dog was unhurt after reportedly leaning on the controls of the tractor, taking it from a field on to the road,” the BBC reports.

“Don was fine and did not bark during the incident,” Hamilton tells STV.

On Twitter, people chimed in with a variety of jokes playing on whether the police had any “leads” in the case. Some said the story was “barking mad” — and an Edinburgh man said, “Ruff morning then…”

Traffic Scotland later tweeted a photo of Don the dog; it also admitted that the incident “has to be the weirdest thing we have ever reported!”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/22/401447087/wilding-ruff-ride-dog-s-road-romp-on-tractor-sparks-the-puns?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Why Somali Grandmas And Aid Workers Might Be Short On Cash

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 22 2015

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The Kenyan government closed this money transfer service to prevent money from reaching the terrorist group al-Shahab in Somalia.

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The Kenyan government closed  this money transfer service to prevent money from reaching the terrorist group al-Shahab in Somalia.

The Kenyan government closed this money transfer service to prevent money from reaching the terrorist group al-Shahab in Somalia.

Khalil Senosi/AP

A Somali who’s living and working abroad wants to send money to his grandmother in a remote village. A money transfer company gets the cash delivered in a flash.

An aid organization wants to pay its Somali staff. Again, money transfer companies do the job in a country where the banking system shut down in 1991 when the government collapsed.

But now the transfer businesses are under siege. After the April 2 massacre of at least 148 university students and staff in Garissa, Kenya, attributed to the terrorist group Al-Shabab, the Kenyan government has revoke the licenses of the 13 Somali money transfer companies that handled almost all funds flowing into Somalia from family members and aid organizations based in East Africa. The government’s concern was that these transfer agents could be used to fund Al-Shabab.

Emma Naylor-Ngugi, the regional director for CARE International, says payments that were pending from her offices in Nairobi to staff, contractors and aid recipients in Somalia were suspended without warning.

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A Somali woman counts the cash she collected from a money transfer service in Mogadishu, the capital city.

Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP


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A Somali woman counts the cash she collected from a money transfer service in Mogadishu, the capital city.

A Somali woman counts the cash she collected from a money transfer service in Mogadishu, the capital city.

Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP

“We’re talking about people who already live on the edge,” says Naylor-Ngugi. “We really feel very worried that in the next few weeks we’re going to see more and more distress.”

Money transfer companies play an important role in Somalia. “They do money transfers like Western Union does,” says John Kisimir, “That is the driving force of the economy.”

The aid organizations that use Somali transfer agents marvel at their efficiency. “You can buy a sort of money order in Nairobi, and that money will reappear instantly in Somalia,” says Naylor-Ngugi. “It’s very, very impressive, compared to even what you might find in developed countries.”

The role of the transfer companies is all the more important in Somalia because millions depend on money sent from relatives abroad.

“If you’re sitting around the table in Somalia with four people, chances are two of them rely on remittances from relatives overseas,” says Anne-Marie Schryer-Roy, communications and advocacy manager at Adeso, a Kenya-based humanitarian organization. “Most people literally rely on [remittances] to put food on the table or to pay school fees or medical bills.”

These person-to-person transfers are estimated to account for 40 percent of Somalia’s gross domestic product, more than all international aid and foreign investment combined.

Remittances were under threat long before the Kenyan government’s clampdown. Since 2011, banks in Britain and the United States have been closing the accounts of Somali money transfer businesses. The banks are wary that they could be charged with money laundering and the funding of terrorist groups.

Ed Pomfret, acting country director for Oxfam in Somalia, believes that U.S. banks could adhere to regulations and still allow the best of the Somali money transfer companies to operate. “It’s because of a perception that Somalia from a distance looks like a dangerous and chaotic place,” says Pomfret. “What we know working on the ground in Somalia is that there’s actually an awful lot of transparency in a lot of these financial transactions, and there’s a lot of oversight.”

The creative Somalis in this business have tried to adapt to the clampdown, sometimes by using cash couriers.

“They are literally putting money into suitcases and flying it from the U.S. to Dubai, which is where the clearinghouses are for the money transfer companies,” says Schryer-Roy. “It’s fairly obvious that if objective of the regulations is to increase transparency and reduce the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing, putting money into suitcases is defeating the purpose of the law.”

Like the Somali transfer operators, aid organizations are looking for workarounds. Most humanitarian groups are considering more costly options like routing funds via Djibouti or Dubai.

Any delays could have serious consequences in Somalia. “There are over 30,000 children in Somalia who are severely malnourished; essentially they are at death’s door,” says Pomfret. “So even if one week the money doesn’t come though to Somalia, it could in some cases be a matter of life and death.”

The uncertainty is also hampering rapid response to a new crisis: Yemeni refugees entering Somalia to flee war at home.

Aid organizations are trying to persuade the Kenyan government to allow some of the Somali money transfer companies to trade again. “We’re not going to say they are all innocent, we’re just saying vet them, so you know whether they are doing anything fishy,” says Kimisir at World Vision, “and then let those who are clean continue doing business so that people do not suffer in the process.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/04/22/401236457/why-somali-grandmas-and-aid-workers-might-be-short-on-cash?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Saudi Arabia Shifts Military Campaign In Yemen; Airstrikes Continue

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 22 2015

After announcing a more limited military campaign against rebels in Yemen, Saudi Arabia continues to conduct airstrikes that began weeks ago. President Obama says the U.S. has warned Iran, which has condemned the Saudi strikes, not to deliver weapons to rebels in Yemen.

It’s unclear what the Saudi-led coalition is planning for the next phase of its military operation in Yemen. The group has said it will protect civilians, ensure the flow of humanitarian aid and secure safe passage for foreigners who want to flee the violence.

NPR’s Alice Fordham reports:

“Saudi Arabia announced last night that the military objectives of Operation Decisive Storm had been achieved. In a statement, Saudi authorities said the nearly month-long bombing campaign had protected Yemen from a takeover by rebels known as Houthis, and neutralized ballistic and heavy weapons under Houthi control.

“The focus would now shift to a political process, the statement said, adding that the coalition would still prevent any moves by Houthis.

“Residents of the city of Taizz say Houthis moved this Wednesday morning into an army base which coalition jets bombed shortly afterward. But the capital, Sanaa, which has seen heavy bombing, remains quiet for now.”

Alice tells our Newscast unit that in the uncertainty of what’s next, “some Yemenis are apprehensive about whether this might entail ground forces.” She adds, “The Houthis are still actively fighting to take territory and this could lead to further, heavy clashes.”

On Monday, the U.S. Navy sent “the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the guided-missile cruiser Normandy to the Gulf of Aden to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the volatile region remain open and safe,” as the Two-Way reported.

The move followed reports that a convoy of Iranian cargo ships was spotted near Yemen’s coast.

In an interview Tuesday on MSNBC, President Obama said the U.S. has told Iran, “if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that’s a problem. And we’re not sending them obscure messages. We send them very direct messages about it.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/22/401453167/saudi-arabia-shifts-military-campaign-in-yemen-airstrikes-continue?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Egypt’s Former President Morsi Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Apr 21 2015

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Egypt’s former President Mohammed Morsi gestures from the defendants’ cage during his trial in Cairo on Tuesday. An Egyptian court sentenced the ousted leader to 20 years in prison for abuses of protesters.

Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images


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Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images

Egypt's former President Mohammed Morsi gestures from the defendants' cage during his trial in Cairo on Tuesday. An Egyptian court sentenced the ousted leader to 20 years in prison for abuses of protesters.

Egypt’s former President Mohammed Morsi gestures from the defendants’ cage during his trial in Cairo on Tuesday. An Egyptian court sentenced the ousted leader to 20 years in prison for abuses of protesters.

Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images

Less than two years after he was removed from power by the military, an Egyptian court has sentenced former president Mohammed Morsi to 20 years in prison for the arrest and torture of protesters during his tenure.

The charges stem from the months of protests between late 2012 and July 2013, when Morsi was kicked out of office.

Twelve other defendants were also found guilty and received the same sentence as Morsi; they include former Muslim Brotherhood legislator Mohamed al-Beltagi and Essam al-Aryan, the group’s former spokesman.

The defendants’ attorneys say they will appeal the verdict within the next two months. There was a total of 15 defendants in the case; seven of them are fugitives.

It’s the first convection against Morsi; he and others were acquitted of murder charges that could have exposed them to the death penalty. Morsi still faces several other charges, including an accusation that he colluded with — and gave secret information to — Iran.

Since Morsi was removed from office, the Muslim Brotherhood that backed him has been banned; a court also sentenced hundreds of its members to die.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/21/401195647/egypts-former-president-morsi-sentenced-to-20-years-in-prison?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world