Daily Archives: March 22, 2011

Salam Fayyad freezes cabinet reshuffle to make way for possible unity government

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad speaks at the northern West Bank village of Al-Jalameh Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011. Fayyad on Sunday angrily denounced the U.S. veto of a United Nations resolution condemning Israel's West Bank settlements and offered to form a unity government with the rival Hamas militant group. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

RAMALLAH, March 22, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Palestinian Prime Minister- designate Salam Fayyad froze the reshuffle of his West Bank-based government to make way for President Mahmoud Abbas’ proposal to form a unity government with the Gaza Strip, an official said Tuesday, Xinhua News Agency reported.

“There has been nothing new with Fayyad’s authorization to reshuffle the government,” the official told Xinhua, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Fayyad will not resume negotiations with Palestinian technocrats, politicians and representatives of factions to join his government until at least Friday, when Abbas will return from an external tour, the official added.

The legal five-week period in which Fayyad should have completed the formation of his government ended Monday.

Last week, Abbas said he is ready to visit the Gaza Strip, controlled by Islamic Hamas movement, to form a technocratic unity government preparing for national elections within six months.

Abbas’ declaration came in response to an invitation by Ismail Haneya, head of the deposed Hamas government that rules Gaza. In 2007, Hamas ousted pro-Abbas forces and his Fatah party and took over Gaza.

Welcoming Abbas’ response, Hamas said it needs to resume dialogue with Fatah to resolve issues related to security, elections and the reform of Palestine Liberation Organization.

However, Abbas said his visit to Gaza is subject to Hamas’ acceptance of his proposal to form a transitional government until new elections are held.   (*)
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in World News


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Gaza's cherry tomatoes selling in Europe



GAZA CITY, March 22, 2-11 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Cherry tomatoes grown by farmers in Gaza can now compete with settlement produce on European supermarket shelves, Ma’an News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The Gaza Strip has exported cherry tomatoes since the 1980s, said Jamal Abu An-Naja, who manages the export of vegetables and flowers from southern Gaza.

But under Israel’s blockade, Gaza’s export market collapsed. Israel’s military has maintained complete control over the enclave’s airspace and coast since 1967, so merchants cannot transport their goods by sea or air from the Gaza Strip. When Israel closed the land crossings in 2007, Gaza traders and farmers could no longer access lucrative markets abroad.

Under a Dutch-funded program, Israel agreed to allow the limited export of agricultural produce to Europe.

An-Naja told Ma’an that 10 farmers took the risk this year of growing flowers and vegetables on around 25 dunums in the Gaza Strip, in the hope that Israel would allow them to export the harvest. Much of the produce rotted as farmers waited for permits from Israeli authorities to transport the goods across the border and into Europe.

Growing tomatoes on one dunum of land costs around $3000, An-Naja said, adding that the Dutch government helped to finance the farmers.

Gaza farmers are keen to export to Europe, where one kilo of cherry tomatoes sells for between $1 – $2.5. In Gaza markets, it sells for around 2 shekels ($0.50).   (*)

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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in World News



China Calls for Libya Ceasefire

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu responds to questions during a press briefing in Beijing where China reiterated its opposition to the use of force in Libya amid Western air strikes there and called for an immediate ceasefire in the country's conflict, March 22, 2011

CHINA, March 22, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — China Tuesday called for an immediate ceasefire in Libya, where a United Nations “no-fly zone” is being enforced.  After abstaining last week from the U.N. Security Council vote on military action, the Chinese government says it wants immediate talks to end the violence.

As reported by VOA on Tuesday, ever since it abstained from the U.N. Security Council vote on military action to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, China has been voicing its disapproval of the bombing raids launched by the United States, Britain and France.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu says China is deeply concerned about civilian casualities caused by the air strikes and warns of a humanitarian disaster.

She says the original intent in passing the Security Council mandate was to protect the safety of the Libyan people.

But she says Beijing opposes was she describes as an abuse use of force and the unnecessary use of violence that could result in additional civilian casualities.

Jiang says the military action will cause a bigger humanitarian crisis and says China has serious reservations about parts of the U.N. resolution.

Western powers began strikes against Libya, last Saturday, in a U.N.-mandated campaign to target air defenses to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians from Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.

But the Chinese government, which abstained from the U.N. vote along with fellow permanent Security Council member Russia, has kept up a critical commentary of the military action.

China’s official state media accuses nations backing the strikes of breaking international rules and courting new turmoil in the Middle East.

When pressed by journalists, Jiang refused to say why exactly China did not use its veto power to block the U.N. mandate.

She said the Beijing government took into consideration concerns among Arab countries and what she described as the special conditions in Libya.

She refused to elaborate further and would not say if China views the military actions by the other Security Council members as a breach of the U.N. rules.

Jiang said China always opposes the use of force in international relations.

And, she said the United Nations is still considering what long-term actions to take on Libya.

China’s Middle East envoy, Wu Sike, is to visit the region later this week.  (*)
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in World News


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Britain does not have duty to intervene in unrest


London, March 22, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM ) – The majority of British people believe Britain does not have a duty to intervene in Libya, according to a poll unveiled on Monday.


As reported by CHINA DAILY on Tuesday, fifty-eight percent say Britain is wrong to intervene in the civil war while only 30 percent say it does have the right, the poll conducted by Metro revealed.

Metro is one of the biggest newspapers in the UK. Every weekday morning some 1.3 million free copies are distributed across the country.

The survey polled 1,596 British urbanites and found that more than half (55 percent) said it would not be in Britain’s interests to use force against the Libya government compared with 29 percent who say it would.

Oliver Blears, a 21-year-old student from the University of Nottingham, told China Daily that the US, Britain and France’s military action against Libya is premature. The Arab League should be the only power to grant the use of military action, not the UN, Blears said.

Instead, blanket economic sanctions and embargos such as the ban on all Libyan oil exports would have been a preferred reaction, Blears added.

However, younger people are more likely to say Britain should take action against Libya, with 37 percent of people aged 18-24 backing intervention. The figure drops to 30 percent of people aged 25-34 and 26 percent of people aged 35-44.

Most of the respondents believe there are circumstances when it is legitimate for British troops to bring down a foreign government. Fifty-six percent think it is legitimate if there are clear human rights abuses, while only 11 percent believe it is never legitimate.

About 53 percent say it should be done when the UN requests military support, and 31 percent agree when allies request support. Just 18 percent say Britain should intervene when its financial interests are threatened.

British Tornado fighters, transporters and spy-planes joined US Stealth Bombers and French Mirage jets into action to stop Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi’s forces attacking the rebel-held city of Benghazi, and to reinforce a UN no-fly zone over the country.

There are particular concerns on the possible use of British ground troops and the doubts over the end game.

As the BBC reported, Downing Street has so far strenuously sought to dampen down any suggestion that there could be “boots on the grounds”, but it has carefully not ruled out the use of special forces.

Gary Li, a former researcher at the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, a leading think tank focusing on international security, told China Daily that the devastating air and sea attack is designed to destroy Gadhafi’s heavy weapon installations and tilt the balance of military power in favor of the rebels. At the same time, the military action will also aim to destroy the morale and confidence of pro-Gadhafi forces, Gary said.

He predicted that there is little possibility that the coalition forces will deploy ground troops in Libya.

“The US is struggling in two war bogs, Iraq and Afghanistan, so it is not possible that US will go into the third war. It can’t get enough political support. The UK and France both do not have enough forces to deploy ground troops in Libya,” Gary said.  (*)


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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in World News


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Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov : Russia urges immediate Libya ceasefire

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Russia's Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov shake hands after their meeting in Moscow March 22, 2011. Photo : REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool

RUSSIA, March 22, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Russian Defense Dinister has called for immediate ceasefire in Libya as US-led military coalition forces escalates their aerial and sea attacks on the north African country, Iranian Television PRESS TV Channel reported on Tuesday.

“Russia wants to see an immediate ceasefire in Libya and the start of political negotiations,” Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday.

“We are convinced that the shortest path to the safety of peaceful civilians is through an immediate ceasefire and the start of dialogue,” Serdyukov added.

The call comes after Russia’s prime minister denounced a UN Security Council resolution authorizing a military offensive against Libya.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says the resolution is defective and flawed, and resembles “the medieval calls for crusades.”

The Russian premier also accused the US of acting without conscience or logic.

Russia abstained from last week’s vote in the UN Security Council authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya.

US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen has acknowledged that the US-led military invasion of Libya could lead to a deadlock in the country.

The top military commander said told CBS news on Sunday that the end-game of military action in Libya was “very uncertain.”

Dozens of civilians have been killed in Libya since the US, Britain, France and some other Western countries launched their attacks on the North African country.

Experts say the main motive behind the Western allies’ attack is the vast oil reserves in the North African country.

This is the biggest Western military intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.   (*)
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in World News


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Libya: Back to the future

Colonel Muammar Al Gaddafi in Tripoli, Libya ( March 2, 2011)


By : Huang Xiangyang (


LIBYA (March 22, 2011 ) — The joint military action by the Western powers against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces is tantamount to an undeclared war against a sovereign nation, CHINA DAILY reported on Tuesday.

It runs against the principle of the UN Charter and relevant international norms that call for respect for the sovereignty, unification and territory integrity of an independent nation.

It is a typical example of the strong bullying the weak.

I am not a big fan of Gadhafi, who has ruled Libya for 41 years. He may be “a tyrant who is merciless” to his people, as claimed by the United States and its allies. He may have inflicted civilian casualties in his offensives against the rebels, as in the case of any civil war in any country. But this does not constitute a veritable excuse to invade and split a sovereign nation.

The unprovoked air strikes on the night of March 19 only served to escalate the situation in Libya and beyond, after Gadhafi said he would accept the UN Security Council resolution of a no-fly zone and abide by a cease-fire.

“High moral ground” does not justify the use of force against nations under so-called tyrants in today’s world. If the Western powers are bent on launching this “crusade of justice”, the list of targeted nations could go on forever.

No country could feel any sense of security.

The talk about Gadhafi’s committing “unspeakable atrocities” sounds similar to accusations against Saddam Hussein of developing weapons of mass destruction a few years ago. The world was fooled then, and tens of thousands of civilian lives were lost. Let us pray that tragedy will not befall Libya this time.  (*)


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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in World News


Photostream : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits Interior special task force unit Zubr

President Dmitry Medvedev, foreground second left, and Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, foreground left, pass a formation of police officers as they visit the Interior special task force unit Zubr (bison) in Shchelkovo village, just outside Moscow, Monday, March 21, 2011. As reported by Russian News Agency ITAR TASS on Monday, President Medvedev watched Zubr drills during which Zubr servicemen demonstrated their combat skills and individual achievements in combat training. Medvedev watched them "storm" a building in which a group of presumed "armed criminals" locked themselves up. The servicemen under gunfire protection from an armoured vehicle "stormed" the building; the operation was monitored from an unmanned flying apparatus from above the drill grounds. The servicemen demonstrated elements of a combat operation at a high altitude, breaking into the building through a window space on the third floor. Video cameras fixed on the servicemen’s helmets recorded the operation. Zubr also demonstrated the skills of storming vehicles with armed criminals on board. Helicopters, armoured vehicles took part in the operation. The president was also demonstrated an operation in which Zubr captivated "criminals", forcing them out of a car running on a federal highway. The demonstration of combat skills and elements of fist-fighting skills both by armed and unarmed servicemen was a separate item on the program of the drills. The OMON also demonstrated its skills under stressful psychological conditions when its paratroopers were disembarking from moving vehicles and from under moving armoured vehicles.(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service, pool)

An officer salutes Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) during his visit to an Interior Ministry Special forces base outside Moscow March 21, 2011. Photo : REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

President Dmitry Medvedev, second left, speaks to police officers as he visits the Interior special task force unit Zubr (bison) in Shchelkovo,just outside Moscow, Monday, March 21, 2011. . Medvedev rebuked Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who called the UN-approved military operation against Libya a "crusade." (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service, pool)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (C) handles a weapon during his visit to an Interior Ministry Special Forces base outside Moscow March 21, 2011. Medvedev appeared to rebuke Vladimir Putin for comparing Western calls for action on Libya with the crusades on Monday, in the sharpest public difference yet between Russia's ruling 'tandem' ahead of 2012 elections. REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) handles a weapon designed to shoot around corners, as Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev (L) looks on, during his visit to an Interior Ministry Special Forces base outside Moscow March 21, 2011. Photo : REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in World News


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