Tuesday, June 27, 2017

South Sudan Conflict: SPLM is the Problem and the Solution
By Tor Madira Machier

Since its inception more than 30 years ago, the fractured Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the SPLM has been the reason for the suffering the South Sudanese have been enduring both before and after the independence in July 2011. It also led the Southern region of Sudan into becoming an independent nation in July 2011.

As of today, June 2017, the SPLM is fractured into more than three factions both caring the name SPLM and each group talking change. The SPLM -In-Government the SPLM-in-Opposition, the SPLM - Former Detainees, and formerly the SPLM-DC (now Democratic Change Party) all originated from the SPLM formed by Dr John Garang in 1983. All were created out of disagreements and party infighting fueled by rivalry, regionalism and struggle for power.

All the factions mentioned above are led by SPLM officials who fell out with the party Chairman over reforms or over a disagreement over running the party affairs.

As a matter of fact, all the powerful South Sudanese politicians are members of the fractured SPLM Party and so the power is divided among the SPLM factions. Since the SPLM is the most popular and the most powerful South Sudanese political entity, and since the current South Sudan conflict is a result of the SPLM Party infighting and rivalry, you cannot solve the South Sudanese conflict without bringing together the SPLMs who disagreed in 2013.

The party leaders have never been peaceful to each other since the inception of the party in 1983 as a political and military movement. Leaders who felt humiliated either defect to form their own party, or run internal resistance. As the saying goes "when elephants fight it is the grass that suffers", when the SPLM leaders disagree, the victim is the South Sudanese citizen. And the South Sudanese citizen will still have to wait for a solution from the SPLM leaders despite being the reason for the suffering.

Although there are voices who disagree with the fact that the SPLM will be the solution, there are many who resonate with the sentiment. The fact that the powerful figures of the nation are from the SPLM, compels the South Sudanese people to run after the SPLM party either against the party in times of war or in support of the party in times of peace.

The 1991 SPLM split killed thousands of South Sudanese and displaced millions of South Sudanese. And for the suffering of the South Sudanese to be called off, the SPLM factions who disagreed in 1991 had to agree in 2002 to come together to embrace peace and had to unify their vision for the South for them to agree.

A rebellion against Dr John Garang by Salva Kiir was called off after Dr Machar offered to negotiate almost after the rebellion could take effect in 2004 so as to avoid humanitarian crisis and to preserve the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that gave the South the right to self-determination to decide by January 2011 to either break away or remain under one, but reformed Sudan.

Dr John Garang and Salva Kiir agreed to come together to embrace peace so unwanted humanitarian crisis should not be experienced by the South Sudanese people as the nation close-in to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha Kenya. As Dr John Garang said in an interview with the Egyptian journalist, Ahmed Seed, that "The SPLM, as the name explains, depends on the Sudanese people", the South Sudanese people have been the food basket for the SPLM. For the whole 21 years of struggle, the SPLM got the food for its military from food collected, either by the will of the citizen or by force of the arm, from the people of South Sudan.

Dr Lam Akol Ajawin, the former Chairman of the SPLM for Democratic Change who fled South Sudan to form the SPLM-DC faction of the SPLM in 2009 had to return to South Sudan to share government with the SPLM faction led by Salva Kiir after independence.

This conflict going on in South Sudan will never be ended with one faction of the SPLM factions being excluded. For the government of Salva Kiir’s SPLM-IG faction to bring this war to an end, it MUST accept to embrace other factions of the SPLM Party without exceptions. As the SPLM was the problem the SPLM will be the solution for a genuine peace to take effect.

Let the SPLM leaders unite their visions like they did in 2002 so the suffering of the South Sudanese people is thwarted.

Tor Madira Machier is a South Sudanese Columnist living in Cairo, Egypt. He can be reached through his email: tormadira2013@gmail.com or at his blog: tormachier.blogspot.com
South Sudan Rebels Say Granted Safe Passage for UPDF Soldiers
Soldiers from the Uganda People Defense Forces (UPDF) patrol near the border, file photo (AFP)

June 26, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudanese rebels allied to the country’s former First Vice-President, Riek Machar say they provided safe passage for Uganda soldiers who returned from their mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) via Kaya on South Sudan’s border with Uganda.

The deputy spokesperson for the armed opposition, Col. Paul Lam dismissed reports that the South Sudanese army (SPLA) crossed into Kaya for the first time after failing to access it on several attempts.

Lam said their intelligence got information that Ugandan troops were returning via Yei-Kaya road to Koboko district in the West-Nile.

“The Juba government claimed that its forces captured Kaya town on 23/06/2017 after coming from Yei. That convoy included Uganda People’s Defence Force that returned from their base at the border of the Central Africa Republic and South Sudan. Juba militias just found a way out with the presence of the UPDF. The SPLA-IO does not attack foreign soldiers on a mission not related to the destruction of South Sudan,” Lam told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

Kaya, located along Uganda-South Sudan border, and is one of the busiest areas in terms of businesses and other trade-related activities.

The rebels also refuted accusations that its forces abducted people and raided hundreds of cattle from Moyo district, north of Uganda.

“This is a baseless allegation aimed at derailing the good relationship that the civilians of Kajo-Keji have with the people of Moyo. The government of Juba has got two bases at the border of Moyo, Jale and Bamure. It’s unfortunate that the forces from these two bases always enter with their weapons into Moyo,” stressed Lam.

Sections of the media in Uganda reported that unknown armed men from neighbouring South Sudan entered into Uganda and seized several heard of cattle from Moyo town last week. The rebels, however, denied any involvement in the cattle raid, calling for further investigation into the matter by authorities in Uganda.

The South Sudanese army said Friday that it gained control of Kaya town on the border with Uganda, confirming previous reports of clashes in the area between the government forces and the armed opposition fighters.

A high-ranking military officer, who declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak with the media told Sudan Tribune that their troops entered Kaya after several months of on and off fighting with armed opposition forces.

“We have just entered Kaya this afternoon. There was no fighting. We arrived peacefully from Yei town. The situation appears to be normalising and this is why we came to open the road," said the army general.

"We will be coordinating our operation with colleagues from Uganda defence forces who will be stationed on the side of the border. Our security strategy and plans of action will be coordinated," he further said.

A legislator representing an area covering Kaya at the National Legislative Assembly in Juba said he received reports from local people that a heavily armed convoy of more than 10 vehicles had entered Kaya on Friday afternoon after a platoon of soldiers first entered on Thursday through the Yei-Kaya road.

(ST)
South Sudan Risks Disintegration if Kiir Steps Down: Adviser
South Sudanese president Salva Kiir speaks at a public rally in Juba on 18 March 2015 (Photo: AP/Jason Patinkin)

June 25, 2017 (JUBA) - War-torn South Sudan will disintegrate if the country’s leader forcefully steps down, one of his advisors warned on Sunday.

Tor Deng Mawien, the presidential adviser on decentralisation and intergovernmental linkages made the remarks while addressing the Muslim community who gathered for prayers in the capital, Juba.

“As you peacefully end the holy month of Ramadan, I would like you to continue to pray and preach messages of peace, love, reconciliation and forgiveness,” said Mawien.

He added, “This is the only way we can guarantee security, unity and peaceful co-existence of our people, not fighting and campaigning to change the [current] government by force”.

The advisor to the South Sudanese leader described the latter as a “unifying” figure, stressing that the country’s ruling party (SPLM) would disintegrate and eventually collapse should Kiir step down.

“This is not politics, but it is a fact. President Salva Kiir is the unifying figure”, he said.

The South Sudanese leader vowed he would never step down by force, insisting it would set a bad precedent for the war-torn nation.

Kiir made these remarks last week while meeting Akobo state governor, Johnson Gony Biliu, who was in the South Sudan capital to brief him on the security and humanitarian situation in his territory.

“They [citizens] want peace and I will not accept to let them down and step down by force,” the South Sudanese leader said last week.

South Sudan was plunged into conflict in December 2013 as the rivalry between President Kiir and his then-vice president, Riek Machar, turned into a civil war. Since then, the fighting, which has often been along ethnic lines, triggered Africa’s worst refugee crisis, with over three million people fleeing their homes.

(ST)
Former South Sudanese Lawmaker Forms New Rebel Movement
South Sudanese MPs stand during a parliamentary session in Juba on 31 August 2011 (AFP)
Abraham Majak Maliab, who resigned on 20 June, cited insecurity on highways connecting the capital, Juba to Bahr el Ghazal region.

June 24, 2017 (JUBA) - A South Sudanese lawmaker who resigned his parliamentary role last week in protest over insecurity has formed a new rebel movement, underscoring the new security challenges likely to be faced by the government as it addresses the problem.

The former lawmaker said he was no longer a member of the armed opposition faction loyal to the South Sudanese First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai.

Majak, in a statement, also announced the formation of the Popular Front for Democratic Reform and Pan-African National Guard.

The ex-MP paid tribute and saluted the “brave” men and women who stood up against injustices in Western Lakes states under Major General Anyar Anyar Agoth Deng, Lt. Colonel Gum Madol Panyar, Lt. Colonel John Ariinga Malith, Lt. Colonel Abinko Matur Deng, Major Joseph Maper Athuei and Capt. Chok Marol Mabor, among others as founding members of the rebel movement.

He said injustice and inequality had been built in the system and continue to affect people regardless of tribe, clan, region, old, young, women, men, the disabled, intellectuals as well as illiterates.

“This old system is affecting us all. So, I call for a united front from all opposition parties and the civil society to unite and fight against the Goliath”, partly reads the statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

Majak also advocated for what he described as the total destruction of the old system, “corrupt”, “oppressive” and the “incompetent” regime of President Salva Kiir and establish a new free and united society with a democratic system of governance in South Sudan.

The formation of the new rebel movement comes barely a week after a newly-formed political entity elected the former governor of South Sudan’s Warrap state, Lewis Anei Kuendit as its chairperson.

Kuendit, who spoke to reporters soon after his election, described South Sudan ruling party (SPLM) as a “failed” and “deformed” party.

Describing the new party as “a result of the ongoing political situation” of war in South Sudan and propagated its objectives on nonviolent, inclusivity and fighting corruption, Kuendit said the new political party met the registration requirements set forth by South Sudan’s’ Political Parties Council, which included the signatures of at least 4,000 supporters from eight states.

(ST)
SPLM-IO Rebels Minimize Defection of Army General
June 23, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan armed opposition allied to the former First Vice-President Riek Machar has minimised reports claiming the defection of Brigadier Gen. David Okot to Juba faction.

Reached by Sudan Tribune Col. Lam Paul, a deputy rebel spokesperson on Friday said the defected general had actually some issue with his command and preferred to join the SPLM-IO faction led First Vice President Taban Deng Gai instead of appearing before his military superiors after his summon.

Okot was the commander of Magwi Brigade, but lost command of his forces due to indiscipline cases, said the rebel spokesperson.

“He was called to report to division HQ, but he refused and went camping in Uganda. Otim David his clansman convinced him to go to Juba for his security in the (refugee) camp”, he told Sudan Tribune.

The rebel spokesperson further denied any knowledge about soldiers linked with the dismissed official.

However, he admitted he left with two other officers to the refugee camp in Uganda and later was joined by his family members to escort him to Kampala.

“What we know he didn’t have forces around him when he left. All his forces had moved to the Anyanya division. He went with two soldiers and the others are his relatives from Agoro clan”, Lam added.

On Tuesday Mr Okot and four other officials declared their allegiance to Gai SPLM-IO Juba faction at South Sudan Embassy, in Kampala.

SPLM-IO under the current First Vice President Taban Deng Gai claimed Okot reported himself with 2000 soldiers.

Footage of their declaration was broadcasted by the Uganda Media, National Television or NTV on Wednesday.

General Okot is one of the well-known Generals within Machar faction’s Army.

Okot was a commander in charge of Magwi Brigade 9th in Anyanya division in Eastern Equatoria.

Since South Sudan has fallen back into a bloody civil war in December 2013, some 1.8 million civilians fled to neighbouring countries.

(ST)
South Sudan Legislator Quits to Protest Security Failure
Taban Deng Gai addresses delegates after he was sworn-in as South Sudan FVP inside the Presidential Palace in the capital of Juba, July 26, 2016 (Photo Reuters/ Jok Solomun)

June 23, 2017 (JUBA) - A lawmaker in South Sudan’s transitional national legislative assembly has tendered his resignation over the poor state of security, accusing government forces of killing and destroying properties of civilians they are mandated to protect and safeguard their safety.

Abraham Majak Maliap, a Member of Parliament representing the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) led Taban Deng Gai said in a resignation letter that he would no longer continue to perform his parliamentary role at the Transitional Legislative Assembly to protest the violation of the peace agreement by the government.

The legislator further underscored that the transitional government of national unity has the obligation to uphold issues of insecurity and starvation in the country.

“As I am writing this letter, the civilians are dying all over South Sudan due to inter-clan fighting, starvation, disease and government forces’ involvement in the destruction of civilians’ property and looting them to the death of many civilians," he said.

"I cannot be part of a government which left civilians to finish themselves, like what is happening in Western Lake state where civilians are killing themselves without government intervention,” stressed Maliap.

Maliap said he was not only leaving his parliamentary role but also terminating his political allegiance and membership with the SPLM-IO faction under the leadership of the first vice president Taban Deng Gai.

“I am resigning as a sign of my protest to the death of the civilians in Western Lakes State which I represent, and plus other issues which I have mentioned," he wrote in his letter od resignation.

"Therefore, I have decided today resign from my position as a member of the transitional legislative assembly and also from membership in SPLM/A-IO,” he stressed.

The legislator is one of the many officials and military officers who have left the unity government which they joined with the hope that things would change to the expectations of the general public.

His resignation was preceded by the departure from the government of several military and political figures after Machar was forced out of Juba following the resumption of conflict in July 2016.

(ST)
SPLA Forces Gain Control of South Sudan’s Kaya Town
Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers walk along a road in Mathiang near Bor, on January 31, 2014 (AFP Photo)

June 23, 2017 (JUBA)- South Sudanese army (SPLA) Friday has gained control of Kaya town in Yei River state on the border with Uganda, confirming previous reports of clashes in the area between the government forces and the fighters of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO)

A high-ranking military officer who declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak with the media told Sudan Tribune on Friday that their troops have finally entered Kaya after several months of on and off fighting with armed opposition forces.

“We have just entered Kaya this afternoon. There was no fighting. We arrived peacefully from Yei town. The situation appears to be normalising and this is why we came to open the road," said the army general.

"We will be coordinating our operation with colleagues from Uganda defence forces who will be stationed on the side of the border. Our security strategy and plans of action will be coordinated," he further said.

A legislator representing an area covering Kaya at the National Legislative Assembly in Juba said he received reports from local people that a heavily armed convoy of more than 10 vehicles had entered Kaya on Friday afternoon after a platoon of soldiers first entered on Thursday through the Yei-Kaya road.

It is the first attempt of the government forces to use this road after months of clashes and attacks.

Also, it is not clear why the movement of the government forces did not encounter resistance.

Several observers attribute the development to the split of the opposition group in the area, as some former rebels defected to the government side and others decided to hold out and keep their troops in defensive positions at South Sudan- Democratic Republic of Congo border.

The Yei River state information minister and the SPLA official spokesperson did not make any official statements about the development in the newly created Yei River state.

The South Sudanese President Salva Kiir declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities but his army on the ground continues to wage war on the armed opposition in a bid to consolidate the government position when the IGAD mediators call for a forum to revitalise the implementation of the peace agreement.

The UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the UN Security Council this week that despite the presidential ceasefire the SPLA continues to carry out attacks in various parts of the country.

"In the north, the SPLA has dislodged Opposition forces from their strongholds on the west bank of the Nile River. In the East, it has taken towns in northern Greater Jonglei," he said

Lacroix added that in the west, clashes between Government and Opposition forces around Wau forced some 22,000 people to take refuge with the UN mission. While the fighting in the southern part of the country has left towns in the Equatoria with as little as 10% of their previous populations.

(ST)
South Sudan Needs Non-violent Change, Says Party Leader
The Republican Party of South Sudan leader Lewis Anei speaking to reporters (ST)

June 22, 2017 (JUBA) – A maiden meeting for the newly formed Republican Party of South Sudan (RPSS) has pledged to lead a non-violent change process in the world’s youngest nation.

Members of the new party, at their meeting, also elected Lewis Anei Kuendit, a former governor of Warrap state, as the party’s chairperson.

Kuendit, who spoke to reporters soon after his election, described South Sudan ruling party (SPLM) as a “failed” and “deformed” party.

The meeting of about 500 members also passed the party’s constitution, by-laws as well as the new party’s manifesto.

Kuendit, a career politician, formed RPSS in February this year.

Describing the new party as “a result of the ongoing political situation” of war in South Sudan and propagated its objectives on nonviolent, inclusivity and fighting corruption, Kuendit said the RPSS met the registration requirements set forth by South Sudans’ Political Parties Council, which included the signatures of at least 4,000 supporters from at least eight of South Sudan’s former 10 states.

He reiterated demands for political space in the East African country where political dissents are reportedly not tolerated.

“We are a nonviolent party that has come to make a peaceful change in the country. This country needs someone with a program to lead, fight corruption and ensure inclusive participation of all citizens through democratic elections,” he said.

Kuendit wondered why the South Sudanese ruling party now consisted of different factions who oppose its original ideology.

“How many factions of the SPLM are out there now? SPLM in government, SPLM in Opposition, SPLM former political detainees and SPLM Democratic Change,” explained the RPSS chairman.

“We cannot change the SPLM from within because there is too much stagnation and there is a ruling clique within the SPLM. We cannot salvage the SPLM, but we are salvaging the nation,” he added.

The official blamed South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir, saying his “failed” leadership created war that displaced millions of people.

“We are asking the youth, who are being killed by failed leadership that created war that this is your party,” he added.

Kuendit, a former member of the Jieng Council (JCE) of elders, downplayed the potential obstacles his party members would encounter in the course of opposing Kiirs’ security apparatus.

The meeting was attended by politicians from other smaller opposition parties. The SPLM declined an invitation to attend.

(ST)

Monday, June 26, 2017

South Sudan Minister Attributes Ongoing War to Corruption
June 22, 2017 (JUBA) - Bad governance, corruption and lack of accountability in public institutions was the major cause of divisions and the ongoing war in South Sudan, a senior minister said on Thursday.

S. Sudan cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomoro (Photo KT Press)

The cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro made these remarks while speaking at a consultative symposium on good governance and democracy organised by the parliamentary affairs ministry.

He said the conflict, bad governance, corruption and nepotism caused the conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions.

“I know all sorts of malpractices in the government have contributed negatively to the perception of the citizens and the challenges of infancy of any young country. And addressing these issues now require political will to adopt and embrace practices aimed at encouraging democratic governance to make sure all government institutions are functioning according to rules and processes”, said Lomuro.

According to the minister, all the people of South Sudan, including the church and the existing mosques, should all rise against corruption instead of pointing accusing fingers and passing the buck.

Fighting corruption, he said, was not a popular agenda, but an apparent realisation of the negative impact of corruption has promoted the fight against graft as a measure of good governance.

“We must take away the proceeds of illicit enrichment and remove negative role models in our society. I know that each arm of government has its responsibility and we must respect the separation of powers under our constitution,” said Lomuro.

“At the same time, we must have an acute and common perception of our problem and do all that is necessary to mitigate the impact of corruption in our society”, he added.

Lomuro said fighting corruption was to correct certain wrong doings.

“The aim of fighting corruption is most importantly, to remedy the dark sides of bad governance, such as poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease, as well as improving the well-being of the citizens, hence, we must pay equal attention to the economy which is the bedrock of all-round development,” stressed the minister.

“The beginning of getting leadership right is to make the electoral system transparent and credible to ensure that only the choices of the people are actually elected into electable political offices,” he added.

Meanwhile the parliamentary affairs minister, Peter Bashir Gbandi challenged public institutions to come up with clear actions plans and strategies capable of helping to resolve the leadership challenge in the country to usher in the desired development.

He, however, called on government officials and lawmakers to lead the way through effective leadership for a solid footing for the country’s citizens to see.

(ST)
Ethiopia, Russia Sign MoU on Peaceful Applications of Atomic Energy
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano met with Afework Kassu Gizaw, State Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology of Ethiopia, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria on 20 December 2016. (IAEA Photo)

June 22, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) - A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on peaceful uses of atomic energy Thursday was signed by the Ethiopian State Minister of Science and Technology, Afework Kassu Gizaw, and Russian Deputy Director General of ROSATOM Nikolai Spasskiy.

The first deal of its kind between the two countries was signed within the framework of IX International Forum ATOMEXPO 2017

“It envisages a bilateral cooperation in a wide range of spheres, i.e. development of nuclear infrastructure in Ethiopia, programs for raising public awareness of nuclear technologies and its application, radioisotopes and radio technologies’ application in industrial, medical, agricultural sectors,” said Ethiopian Foreign Ministry.

The agreement embraces collaboration in nuclear, radiological and physical security, fundamental and applied researches, HR training, nuclear research centres based on multi-functional research reactors.

The joint working group of Russia and Ethiopia will define the scope of work for implementation of the initiatives mentioned above.

The parties agreed to cooperate in the feasibility of implementing common projects referred to the development of collaboration in peaceful uses of atomic energy was agreed to be developed under the Memorandum.

Among others, atomic energy could be used in the areas of power generation, healthcare, agriculture, food preservation, industry and research.

The State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM is a Russian publicly-owned corporation, which is the leader in the global nuclear technologies market.

It brings together nuclear power and power engineering assets, as well as NPP design and construction. ROSATOM is the largest electricity generating company in Russia, producing 196.37 billion kWh of electricity in 2016 (or 18.3% of the country’s total generation of electricity).

ROSATOM holds first place for the largest portfolio of foreign construction projects (34 NPPs in 12 countries). ROSATOM produces annually approximately 3,000 tonnes of uranium domestically, and some 5,000 tonnes in other countries.

ROSATOM with its 1/3 world market share takes the lead in global uranium enrichment services and covers 17.7% of the global nuclear fuel market

ROSATOM brings together over 300 enterprises and organisations, including the world’s only nuclear icebreaker fleet. ROSATOM is tasked with implementing the uniform state policy on the uses of atomic energy as well as fulfilling the Russian Federation’s international obligations on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

(ST)
Supreme Court Breathes New Life Into Trump's Travel Ban
By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung
WASHINGTON
Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by reviving parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries that he said is needed for national security but that opponents decry as discriminatory.

The justices narrowed the scope of lower court rulings that had completely blocked key parts of a March 6 executive order that Trump had said was needed to prevent terrorism in the United States, allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties such as family or business to the United States. [tmsnrt.rs/2seb3bb]

The court issued its order on the last day of its current term and agreed to hear oral arguments during its next term starting in October so it can decide finally whether the ban is lawful in a major test of presidential powers.

In a statement, Trump called the high court's action "a clear victory for our national security," saying the justices allowed the travel suspension to become largely effective.

"As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive," Trump added.

Trump's March 6 order called for a blanket 90-day ban on people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees while the government implemented stronger vetting procedures. The court allowed a limited version of the refugee ban, which had also been blocked by courts, to go into effect.

Trump issued the order amid rising international concern about attacks carried out by Islamist militants like those in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and other cities. But challengers said no one from the affected countries had carried out attacks in the United States.

Federal courts said the travel ban violated federal immigration law and was discriminatory against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Critics called it a discriminatory "Muslim ban."

Ahmed al-Nasi, an official in Yemen’s Ministry of Expatriate Affairs, voiced disappointment.

"We believe it will not help in confronting terrorism and extremism, but rather will increase the feeling among the nationals of these countries that they are all being targeted, especially given that Yemen is an active partner of the United States in the war on terrorism and that there are joint operations against terrorist elements in Yemen," he said.

Groups that challenged the ban, including the American Civil Liberties Union, said that most people from the affected countries seeking entry to the United States would have the required connections. But they voiced concern the administration would interpret the ban as broadly as it could.

"It's going to be very important for us over this intervening period to make sure the government abides by the terms of the order and does not try to use it as a back door into implementing the full-scale Muslim ban that it's been seeking to implement," said Omar Jadwat, an ACLU lawyer.

During the 2016 presidential race, Trump campaigned for "a total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States. The travel ban was a signature policy of Trump's first few months as president.

'BONA FIDE RELATIONSHIP'

In an unusual unsigned decision, the Supreme Court on Monday said the travel ban will go into effect "with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

A lack of a clearly defined relationship would bar from entry people from the six countries and refugees with no such ties.

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, who successfully challenged the ban in lower courts, said that students from affected countries due to attend the University of Hawaii would still be able to do so.

Both bans were to partly go into effect 72 hours after the court's decision. The Department of Homeland Security promised clear and sufficient public notice in coordination with the travel industry.

Trump signed the order as a replacement for a Jan. 27 one issued a week after he became president that also was blocked by federal courts, but not before it caused chaos at airports and provoked numerous protests.

Even before the Supreme Court action the ban applied only to new visa applicants, not people who already have visas or are U.S. permanent residents, known as green card holders. The executive order also made waivers available for a foreign national seeking to enter the United States to resume work or study, visit a spouse, child or parent who is a U.S. citizen, or for "significant business or professional obligations." Refugees "in transit" and already approved would have been able to travel to the United States under the executive order.

A CONSERVATIVE COURT

The case was Trump's first major challenge at the Supreme Court, where he restored a 5-4 conservative majority with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, who joined the bench in April. There are five Republican appointees on the court and four Democratic appointees. The four liberal justices were silent.

Gorsuch was one of the three conservative justices who would have granted Trump's request to put the order completely into effect. Fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion in which he warned that requiring officials to differentiate between foreigners who have a connection to the United States and those who do not will prove unworkable.

"Today's compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding - on peril of contempt - whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country," Thomas wrote.

The state of Hawaii and a group of plaintiffs in Maryland represented by the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the order violated federal immigration law and the Constitution's First Amendment prohibition on the government favoring or disfavoring any particular religion. Regional federal appeals courts in Virginia and California both upheld district judge injunctions blocking the order.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley. Additional reporting by Andrew Chung and Yeganeh Torbati in Washington and Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa, Yemen; Editing by Will Dunham and Howard Goller)
Detroit Judge Mulls Request to Protect 1,400 Iraqis From Immediate Deportation
Tresa Baldas
Detroit Free Press
12:40 p.m. ET June 26, 2017

A federal judge in Detroit is considering a request to protect 1,444 Iraqi immigrants nationwide from being immediately deported, including some who could be removed from the U.S. as early as tomorrow.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith heard arguments this morning on a motion filed over the weekend asking him to extend temporary protection to all potential deportees nationwide. A decision could come as early as today.

Last Thursday, Goldsmith granted temporary protection to 114 Iraqi immigrants from metro Detroit, giving them two more weeks to remain here to pursue their cases.

The advocates, along with the ACLU, fear the immigrants, many of them Iraqi Christians, could face persecution in Iraq -- either tortured or killed -- and deserve more time to argue their cases.  According to immigration advocates, another 85 Iraqi immigrants nationwide have been arrested and face deportation orders, including some that could be sent back to Iraq as early as Tuesday.

"It’s the government that’s hurrying these people toward deportation," attorney Margo Schlanger, a lawyer for the Iraqi detainees, argued in court today, claiming the government isn't giving the immigrants enough time to find lawyers and seek legal relief.

At issue is the June 11 arrests of numerous Iraqi nationals by the  Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to ICE, all but two of the 114 arrested in Michigan had criminal convictions; the other two have pending criminal charges. Nationwide, ICE has said, 1,444  Iraqi nationals are facing final orders for removal, though  not all have been detained.

Following the June 11 arrests in Michigan, a lawsuit was filed against ICE by immigration and civil rights advocates who are hoping to block the deportation efforts.

In court today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Newby argued against granting protection to the entire group of  potential Iraqi deportees, saying they all have criminal backgrounds of some sort and don't have a legal right to be here anyway. Moreover, she argued that Goldsmith doesn't have jurisdiction to decide immigration matters that belong in  immigration court, and that this case shouldn't be granted class action status.

Specifically, Newby said that not all of the Iraqi immigrants are similarly situated, noting some have been convicted of crimes more serious than others and that the immigration courts should decide these cases on an individualized bases. She also argues that the detainees likely won't win their arguments before immigration courts.

Immigration advocates disagreed and last week convinced Goldsmith that all potential Iraqi deportees --  many of them Christians -- deserve more time to state their cases.

"Irreparable harm is made out by the significant chance of loss of life and lesser forms of persecution that petitioners have substantiated," Goldsmith wrote in his ruling. "The public interest is also better served by an orderly court process that assures that petitioners' invocation of federal court relief is considered before the removal process continues."

Goldsmith said he will issue a written opinion on today's request. He did not specify when.

ICE has previously said it will comply with the judge's order and has maintained that its actions to deport Iraqi immigrants are warranted an dlegal.

As Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Detroit, stated:

"The operation in this region was specifically conducted to address the very real public safety threat represented by the criminal aliens arrested. The vast majority of those arrested in the Detroit metropolitan area have very serious felony convictions, multiple felony convictions in many cases. I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement personnel who, day in and day out, put their lives on the line to protect this community."

The June 11 arrests by ICE sparked protests in metro Detroit by supporters who say the Iraqis would face persecution in Iraq since many of them are Christians. Almost 200 Iraqi nationals with criminal records have been arrested recently nationwide by federal immigration agents.

ICE has defended the arrests, saying the Iraqis arrested all had criminal backgrounds and final orders of deportation from an immigration judge.

Attorneys for the Iraqis, meanwhile, have been filing appeals for the detainees in immigration and local county courts.

“We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately be sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death," Michael Steinberg, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, has previously stated. "It would be unconstitutional and unconscionable to deport these individuals without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate the harm that awaits them in Iraq." 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

College Professor Fired Following Appearance on Fox News Where She Defended a Black Lives Matter Party
BY STEPHANIE PETIT
JUNE 25, 2017 AT 2:14PM EDT

A college professor who recently appeared on Fox News to defend a Black Lives Matter event in which only black people were invited has been fired.

It was announced Friday that Lisa Durden, a former adjunct professor at Essex County College in New Jersey, would be let go from her job following a heated argument on the June 6 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight. While speaking about an “all-black Memorial Day celebration” hosted by a Black Lives Matter group, Durden, who is black, told the host “you white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card” to attend the event.

The former professor, who taught communications and pop culture classes as an adjunct according to the Newark Star-Ledger, also called America a “racist society.”

“The college was immediately inundated with feedback from students, faculty and prospective students and their families expressing frustration, concern and even fear that the views expressed by a college employee (with influence over students) would negatively impact their experience on the campus,” newly appointed Essex County College President Anthony Munroe said in a statement, according to NJ.com. “I fully believe that institutions of higher learning must provide a safe space for students… The character of this institution mandates that we embrace diversity, inclusion, and unity. Racism cannot be fought with more racism.”

Munroe said the school suspended her with pay for six working days and fired her after a public meeting at which Durden addressed the school’s board on June 20.

“The college affirms its right to select employees who represent the institution appropriately and are aligned with our mission,” Munroe said, while noting it “supports and affirms the right of free speech and independent views and expressions of those views for our faculty and staff.”

Durden, who did not mention the school she worked for during the interview, told NJ.com that she was abruptly suspended following her appearance on the show, only learning that she had to cancel her classes when she arrived on campus on June 8 to teach one.

“They did this to humiliate me,” she said. “Essex County College publicly lynched me in front of my students.”

After her firing, Durden told NJ.com that said she has received support from staff members and students. The Newark resident said she thought living in a “black and brown city” and working for a “black and brown college” would be a “safe space” for her to share her viewpoints.

“It should be a safe place for me,” she said. “I thought when I came home from war, I would be safe.” Instead, “I was fired.”
UAE's Gargash Says Alternative to Qatar Demands Is 'Not Escalation But Parting Ways'
Reuters
Saturday 24 Jun 2017

A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said on Saturday that if Qatar did not accept an ultimatum issued by Arab states which imposed a boycott this month on the tiny Gulf Arab nation, "the alternative is not escalation but parting ways".

The 13-point list of demands from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, which Doha has said are not reasonable or actionable, include closing Al Jazeera television network, curbing ties with Iran, shutting a Turkish base and paying reparations.

"The alternative is not escalation, the alternative is parting of ways, because it is very difficult for us to maintain a collective grouping," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told reporters.

He said diplomacy remained a priority, but added that mediation efforts to resolve the dispute had been undermined by the public disclosure of the demands.

"The mediators' ability to shuttle between the parties and try and reach a common ground has been compromised by this leak," he said. "Their success is very dependent on their ability to move but not in the public space."

The demands are apparently aimed at dismantling Qatar's two-decade-old interventionist foreign policy, which has incensed its Arab neighbours.

Gargash said if Qatar fails to comply within the 10-day timeline set out in the ultimatum, it would be isolated, but he did not make clear what more could be done since the four Arab nations have already cut diplomatic relations with Doha and severed most commercial ties.

Kuwait is helping mediate the dispute as is the United States, for which it is a big test since Qatar is home to a base housing the headquarters of its Middle East air power and 11,000 troops.

The countries that imposed the sanctions accuse Qatar of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and drawing too close to their enemy Iran. Qatar rejects those accusations and says it is being punished for straying from its neighbours' backing for authoritarian rulers.

The uncompromising demands leave little prospect for a quick end to the biggest diplomatic crisis for years between Sunni Arab Gulf states.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/271531.aspx
Yemen Government Says to Investigate Allegations of Abuse in Secret Prisons
Reuters
Saturday 24 Jun 2017

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government said on Saturday it was investigating reports that forces backed by the United Arab Emirates were running secret prisons in southern Yemen where detainees are subjected to torture and abuse.

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led Arab alliance that intervened in Yemen's civil war in 2015 to roll back Iran-allied Houthi forces that drove Hadi into exile. His government has since regained a presence in the south based in Aden but the Houthis still hold most of the north including the capital Sanaa.

Reports of secret prisons where detainees are abused relate to areas of the south where UAE forces and its allies have also swooped against al Qaeda militants, who have exploited the war to try to carve out areas of control and influence.

Last week, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that it had documented the cases of 49 people, including four children, whom it said were arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared in Aden and Hadramout over the last year.

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr said he had set up a six-member committee headed by the justice minister to investigate "human rights allegations in liberated areas".

"The committee starts work from today and sends its report to the prime minister within 15 days," the order, dated June 22, said. The committee's duties were to investigate the abuse allegations, ways to respond to them and to put forth mechanisms to deal with any such issues in the future.

On Friday, the UAE Foreign Ministry denied running any secret prisons in Yemen and called the accusations "an attempt to sully the reputation of the alliance that had intervened to save the Yemeni people".

"This issue is in the hands of the legitimate Yemeni authorities, while the coalition forces provide the necessary training for Yemeni cadres in line with the best legal practices," the ministry said in a statement.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/271526.aspx
Egypt Discusses Social Safety Net With World Bank Mission in Cairo
Ahram Online
Saturday 24 Jun 2017

Bank officials have been in Egypt on a five-day visit, checking progress of the government's economic reform programme

Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly met with the World Bank mission Saturday in Cairo to follow up on the progress of social safety net programme Takaful and Karama.

The World Bank mission, which was on a five-day visit to Cairo ending today, made field visits in Fayoum and Beni Suef governorates, where the programme is implemented.

The mission met with local authorities and beneficiaries of the five-year $400 million project financed by the World Bank.

The Takaful and Karama programme, established by the government in early 2015, is a national social safety net programme aimed at protecting the poor through income support.

Egypt is the first Arab country to implement the conditional monetary support programme to provide social protection in line with the implementation of a package of economic reform policies, Waly said in a ministry statement.

In 2014, Egypt launched a plan to introduce fiscal reforms, including fuel subsidy cuts that raised prices by up to 78 percent, and levying new taxes to ease a growing budget deficit – currently estimated at 12.2 percent of GDP – as well as floating the Egyptian pound in November 2016.

Egypt signed a $12 billion loan with the World Bank to support the government’s economic reform programme, with the funds intended for fiscal consolidation, ensuring energy supplies, and enhancing competitiveness in the private sector. Two tranches of $3 billion were delivered in September last year and in March, with the third tranche expected in December.

The World Bank finances several projects in Egypt, including projects related to energy, transport, water and wastewater, agriculture and irrigation, population and health, and social safety nets. It also supports employment projects and finances small and medium-sized enterprises.

The current portfolio of the World Bank in Egypt includes 26 projects at a total commitment of $5.92 billion, according to the bank’s data.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/271521.aspx
Sisi Ratifies Egyptian-Saudi Maritime Border Demarcation Deal
Ahram Online
Saturday 24 Jun 2017

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified on Saturday the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation deal that hands over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, after the parliament recent vote in favour of the agreement.

The strait also overlooks the Ras Hamid headland along the coast of Saudi Arabia's northwesterncity of Tabuk.

Following a series of heated parliamentary hearings earlier this month, the majority of Egyptian MPs voted in favour of the agreement by a show of hands in a general session on June 14.

Following parliament’s approval, Mohamed El-Sewedi, the head of the Egyptian parliament’s majority bloc Support Egypt, said that if Egypt had rejected the deal, “Saudi Arabia would have resorted to international arbitration, and this could have left Saudi-Egyptian relations in a bind.”

El-Sewedi said that apresidential decree issued in January 1990 stated that the two islands are part of Saudi Arabia.

However, MPs from the opposition 25/30 bloc, which opposes the deal, said that parliament's discussion and vote on the deal was "invalid," calling on El-Sisi not to ratify the deal.

Following the parliamentary approval, opponents of the deal held small protests against the deal in a number of Egyptian cities, which were quickly dispersed by police.

Some opponents of the deal were arrested in protests or from homes, with some later released on bail.

Last week, El-Sisi said in a televised speech that"every citizen has the right to express his opinion on this matter or even to reject the deal, but I assure everyone that nations are not bought or sold."

"States are run by laws and facts, not by personal interests or desires, and we want to deal with all matters according to this principle without doubting each other or making accusations of betrayal," El-Sisi said, referencing the ongoing political row between supporters and opponents of the deal.

The deal has faced a number of legal challenges by opponents and led to disputes over which courts have jurisdiction to hear such cases.

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court hasruled last week to suspend execution of all previous court verdicts regarding the deal.

In January 2017,Egypt’s High Administrative Court upheld an earlier decisionby an administrative court that voided the deal and affirmed Egyptian sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir.

In April,the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ruledthat the country's High Administrative Court had no jurisdiction over the matter.

The border demarcation deal was signed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia in April 2016.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/271549.aspx
Kenya Detains American Soldiers Trying to Enter South Sudan
June 23, 2017

Nairobi/Juba, June 23, 2017 (SSNA) — Kenya has detained three United States soldiers who tried to enter into South Sudan, multiple US military media outlets reported.

The soldiers are identified as Private First Class (PFC) Alex Zwiefelhofer currently with the United States’ 82nd Airborne Division, former US Marine William Wright-Martinovich, and Army veteran Craig Austin Lang.

Reports suggest that the three soldiers were caught on Wednesday and are currently being held by the Kenyan national police.

It is not clear why the detained soldiers tried to enter the war-ravaged young nation.

Kenyan national police declined to comment when contacted by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA). The SSNA cannot independently verify whether the soldiers were armed when they were apprehended by the Kenyan authorities.
President Uhuru Outlines His Achievements As He Woos Mt Kenya
By PSCU
Sun, June 25th 2017 at 00:00 GMT

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto address residents of Meru county at Maua stadium during a rally. (Photo: DPPS)

The Jubilee Government has taken unprecedented measures by upgrading miraa to a cash crop and making billions of shillings available to cushion farmers, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Saturday.

The President said his administration has for the first time given miraa farmers the attention and State support denied them by previous administrations. He dismissed Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s recent pronouncements concerning miraa as insincere and belated.

He said it was surprising that Raila was feigning concern for miraa farmers when he never took any action to support them when he was Prime Minister in the coalition government.

“This is the first government that has made miraa a cash crop and today, there is no difference between coffee farmers and miraa farmers,” said Uhuru at Laare, Meru County.

The President, who was accompanied by his deputy William Ruto, said his government has allocated Sh2 billion to support the miraa sector. The money will be used to support farmers through loans to be channeled through cooperatives that will be formed once a drive to register those who produce the crop is completed.

The government has also set up a directorate under the Ministry of Agriculture to deal with affairs related to miraa farming, he said. He told residents to ignore propaganda being pushed by the Opposition about the government’d drive to register miraa farmers.

“Some people are spreading propaganda and telling farmers that the registration will be used to tax farmers. That is a lie. The truth is that the data will be used for purposes of guiding State support for the sector,” said the President.

He said the data will be used to set up cooperatives through which farmers can access loans the same way coffee and tea farmers do. The Jubilee government, he said, is also upgrading the infrastructure network to ease transportation of miraa within Kenya, besides working to improve the international market.

The President launched the construction of a road to connect Laare to Isiolo, which will reduce travelling time from four hours to only 30 minutes. The government has also allocated Sh300 million to tarmac the Kaelo-Kamukunji-Mutuati road.

“There is no government prior to the Jubilee administration that has ever done anything meaningful for miraa farmers before we came into power. They are only going round with propaganda,” said the President.

Uhuru and his entourage made stopovers at Nchiru, Kianjai, Ngundune, Laare, Mutuati, Kiongo, Kiengo and Mau on the way to Maili Tatu and Kangeta. He said there are six ongoing projects that will provide sufficient water for domestic use and irrigation once they are completed.

Regional security

“We should remain united and rally our support behind Jubilee so that the development we have started to implement in this area will continue,” he said. The water projects include the Imenti South Bulk Water Supply and Sewerage being constructed at a cost of Sh3.7 billion to serve 150,000 people, Ura Dam, which targets a population of 9,000 and is to be constructed at a cost of Sh30 million and the Sh40 million Ura Dam II to be constructed that will serve 20,000 people.

Others are the Maua Water Supply I that is being constructed at a cost of Sh380 million to serve 57,000 people, Sh900 million Mau Water Project II targeting 100,000 people and Sh40 million Thangatha Dam that will serve 10,000 people.

On security along the Meru-Isiolo border, President Kenyatta assured residents that the national government has deployed National Police Reservists to areas where crime is prevalent to beef up security.

Ruto urged voters in the region to come out in large numbers to ensure a big Jubilee win in the August 8 election. He said the choice is between the Jubilee team focused on transforming the country and an opposition that has nothing but empty rhetoric.

Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001244741/president-uhuru-outlines-his-achievements-as-he-woos-mt-kenya
What Other African Countries Should Learn from Namibia
Face2face Africa

Just two and a half decades since she won her independence from Germany, Namibia has made tremendous progress, surpassing other African nations that are seemingly more privileged than her.

Despite having suffered enormous struggle through the years of apartheid in South Africa and having a relatively small population of about 2.4 million people, Namibia has proved to be an economic giant in Africa.

The question that other African countries ought to ask is: What’s the secret behind her success? Many economic and political observers have attributed Namibia’s apparent success to a number of factors.

Political Stability

Since independence in 1990, Namibia has never had any major political or civil shakeup despite a well-established interracial ethnic formation. After independence, Namibia’s government encouraged white invaders to remain.

The white minority has contributed immensely to Namibia’s economy.

The southern African country also enjoys a relatively healthy political atmosphere. According to the Namibian constitution, a president can only hold office for a maximum of two years.

Namibia’s current president Hage Geingob assumed office in 2014, succeeding former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, who retired at the end of his second term.

The lack of numerous political tensions present in other African countries has allowed for steady economic growth in Namibia as investors enjoy a peaceful business environment.

Democracy and Media Freedom

According to BBC, Namibia is one of the few African countries that have allowed the media to enjoy a significant degree of freedom. Both state and private media have the liberty to give the opposition coverage, including those who criticize government.

This freedom has allowed members of civil society, opposition and media to hold the government to account, ensuring public resources are used prudently and for the benefit of the people.

Education

According to Project Syndicate, one of the main reasons that Namibia enjoys such great success is the government’s commitment to education.

While other advanced African countries are still charging for education in public schools, Namibia offers free primary education and has announced plans to make education in all public secondary schools free, starting this academic year.

With more people enjoying free access to education, literacy levels in Namibia have improved significantly over the last decade. This has also benefited other sectors of the economy including disease eradication and promotion of equality.

Impressive GDP Growth

Poverty rates in Namibia are on a steady decline. In fact, Project Syndicate suggests that Namibia’s extreme poverty rate has dropped by half. The number of people living on less than $1.90 a day in Namibia is estimated to have gone down from 53 percent to 23 percent over the last decade.

Even with the current rise in commodity prices, Namibia maintained an impressive GDP growth rate of 4.5 percent in 2015. Her debt-to-GDP ratio is about 25 percent, which is less than a third of the debt ratio in Europe and US, according to Project Syndicate.

The World Bank Group classifies Namibia as an upper middle income nation; however, Namibian authorities insist they are still a developing country.

Like many other countries in and out of Africa Namibia still struggles with a myriad of challenges such as HIV/AIDS, unemployment, climate change, and rising commodity prices.

Still, Namibia serves as an example to other African countries and is considered Africa’s success story.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

'What Happened to Black Lives Matter?’ - Movement For Black Lives Responds
Monique Judge

An article was published Wednesday that questioned the organization, the leadership, the purpose, the plans and the goals of Black Lives Matter. It was an article that organizers in the Movement for Black Lives say included multiple inaccuracies, and as the group seeks corrections or a retraction, they responded with an op-ed of their own to set the record straight.

In “What Happened to Black Lives Matter?”, BuzzFeed reporter Darren Sands said that in the wake of Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, while the nation had the biggest outpouring of liberal activism in more than a decade, Black Lives Matter seems less visible than it was a year ago, and the movement is struggling with disputes over direction and leadership.

Sands spoke with members of groups that are part of Black Lives Matter and spoke of the history of the movement, the origins of its ideals, the people who are said to have started it, and those who are perceived to lead it. There are also hints of infighting, people disillusioned with the movement and where it is headed, and questions about how it will be sustained and continued.

Organizers within the Movement for Black Lives took issue with that portrayal and wrote their own op-ed on Mic addressing the things said in Sands’ article.

“These are dangerous times for our people,” they wrote. “History tells us that we need responsible, thoughtful and brave journalism. But movements can be stopped in their tracks by uninformed and inaccurate hit pieces that trade in gossip. We must consider what we believe in, who we stand with, and what we are fighting for.”

It’s worth reading both pieces to consider the differing opinions surrounding the movement. Those who spoke on the record with Sands echoed some of his assertions, the same assertions that Movement for Black Lives seeks to clarify.

One point that Movement for Black Lives makes clear is that just like in previous movements, there is going to be conflict; everyone is not going to agree on every point or every approach, but it’s the way that conflict is handled that will dictate how far the movement can go.

“We are not always in full agreement, we have competing ideas and we will undoubtedly upset each other in the process of making difficult decisions. We are here because we believe that our victories in service of black people are bigger and better when we win together.”
And then:

“And when we arrive at conflict, we do our best to hold each other to that standard, no matter how difficult or inconvenient. We don’t always get this right, but in order to do so, it requires all of us to hold these values.”
Massive Rally in Damascus Marking al-Quds International Day
23 June، 2017

Damascus, SANA--A massive rally was held Friday in Damascus starting from al-Hamidiyeh market to the Umayyad Mosque marking the 38th anniversary of International al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day.

The participants in the event stressed the need to unite the energies of the nation against the Israeli occupation and the United States, pointing out that there is no alternative to the liberation of Palestine, the restoration of all holy sites and the return of refugees to their homes.

The participants issued a statement in which they affirmed that their participation aims at mobilizing and directing the energies of the nation towards Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque, reiterating that the Palestinian cause is the central issue and that Palestine is the heart of the nation and Jerusalem is its eternal capital.

They warned of all the settlement projects being promoted in the region because such projects “aim at eliminating the Palestinian cause, fragmenting the countries that support it and creating an environment conducive to make the Zionist entity a friend and ally of some Arab and Islamic countries.

The participants also paid tribute to the heroic captives in the Israeli occupation prisons and their legitimate resistance by all means, stressing full support for their rights until they are freed from the grip of the occupation. They also saluted the heroes of Palestinian Intifada.

The International al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day is an annual event held on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. The event was first initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of the Zionist Israeli entity and its control of Jerusalem.

Manar/Ghossoun
Syrian Army Kills ISIS Terrorists, Destroys Their Positions in Many Areas Across the Country
24 June، 2017

Provinces, SANA- the army’s Air Force destroyed on Saturday an ISIS position and two pickups, equipped with machineguns, and killed 14 ISIS terrorists in the village of Mhaimadiyeh in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor province.

SANA reporter said that the army Air Force carried out a series of airstrikes on the ISIS positions, gatherings and fortifications in the neighborhoods of al-Hamidiyeh, al-Arfi and Khasarat and in the
surroundings of battalion 137and the Panorama and al-Majbal area and in the villages of al-Jnaineh, Aiyash and al-Bghiliyeh, leaving many of terrorists dead or injured.

The source added that the army artillery killed many of the ISIS terrorists after bombarding their fortifications and movement axes in the surroundings of the airport, Talet al-Sanouf, the water resources, al-Thardeh Mountain and in al-Mrai’eyeh village in the eastern countryside of the province.

Homs/Hama

The army Air Force dealt heavy blows to dens and supply routes of ISIS terrorists to the east of al-Sukhneh city in the eastern countryside of Homs, killing many of the terrorists and destroying machinegun-equipped vehicles of their own, according to a military source.

In the eastern countryside of Hama, the source said that many of ISIS terrorists were killed and their vehicles were destroyed in raids of the Syrian Army’s Air Force against the terrorists’ gatherings and fortifications to the east of al-Tanahej hills.

Army units destroyed ISIS terrorist positions and gatherings in Qulaib al-Thour and Tabbaret al-Dibeh in the eastern countryside of Hama.

Raqqa

Air Force of the Army raided ISIS terrorist movements and gatherings to the south of Kherbet Zedan village and to the west of Abu al-Ulouj area in the western countryside of Raqqa province, inflicting them heavy losses.

Daraa

Army units killed a number of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in the neighborhoods of Tariq al-Sad, al-Abbasiyeh and in al-Nazihin Camp in Daraa al-Balad area in Daraa province.
Syrian Army Establishes Control Over Ark Gas Station, Kills ISIS and al-Nusra Terrorists in Homs and Damascus Countryside
23 June، 2017

Provinces, SANA – Army and Armed Forces units, in cooperation with allies, established control over Ark gas station 6 km northeast of Ark village along with 4 vantage points 3 km northeast of the village, a military source stated on Friday evening.

Earlier, the source said that an army unit clashed with an ISIS terrorist group that was trying to infiltrate from the direction of Jabbab Hamad village towards one of the military points east of Umm al-Tababeer village in the eastern countryside of Homs, a military source said.

The source added that the clashes ended up with eliminating all members of the terrorist group and destroying the weapons and ammunition were in their possession.

According to the source, army units also thwarted an attack by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups on a number of military points from the direction of Jawalak-al-Mahatta-Sensil in the eastern countryside of Homs, eliminating a number of terrorists and destroying their weapons and ammunition.

Later, an army unit, in cooperation with supporting forces, thwarted an attack carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra terror organization and groups affiliated to it in the southwestern part of Damascus Countryside.

SANA’s reporter in Quenitra said that the army and supporting forces that attempted to sneak from Beit Jinn farm towards al-Tal al-Ahmar in the surroundings of Harfa village, attacking farmers who were harvesting wheat in that area.

The reporter said that the clashes resulted in killing a number of terrorists, injuring others, and destroying the weapons, ammo, and vehicles that were in their possession, adding that terrorists also targeted with mortar shells and machinegun fire homes in Harfa village, causing material damage and fires in cherry and olive orchards.

English Bulletin
Syrian Army Units Kill Tens of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra Terrorists in Several Areas
22 June، 2017

Provinces, SANA – Army units carried out  on Thursday military operations against dens and positions of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in Daraa al-Balad area and its surrounding and in al-Modawara village in al-Lajat area located in the countryside of Daraa and Sweida provinces.

A military source told SANA that more than 12 terrorists were killed, others were injured and a a vehicle was destroyed during the army’s operations.

Homs

Units of the army, in cooperation with backup forces, established control over Dahr Abah to the east of Ark village in Homs eastern countryside.

The army’s air force also destroyed gatherings and vehicles for ISIS in Abu al-Tababer, Anu Fatour, Jub Habl and Rasm al-Tawil in Homs eastern countryside.

The army’s military operations ended up with the killing of many terrorists and destroying their criminal equipment.

DeirEzzor

Army units , backed by Air Force, carried out a series of raids against ISIS terrorists’ positions in the villages of al-Jneina , al-Huseiniya, Ayash, al-Boughailieh and the neighborhoods of al-Sinaa, al-Hamediyh,khasarat, and al-kanamat, and the surroundings of the Panorama area in Deir Ezzor, killing or injuring many of the terrorists.

SANA reporter said that an army unit clashed with ISIS terrorist groups in al-Tanmieh sector on the western outskirts of Deir Ezzor city, killing nine terrorists at least and injuring others.

The reporter said that an army unit dropped an ISIS drone carrying bombs over Harabish area, noting that the army artillery destroyed ISIS terrorists’ gatherings in the surroundings of Panorama area, Panorama roundabout, al-Ummal neighborhood, and al-Boughailieh village in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor.

The reporter added the air force carried out air strikes against hideouts and movements for ISIS terrorists in the villages of Ayash, al-Jneina,al-Hisan and the surroundings of al-Swame’ area on Deir Ezzor –Hasaka road, killing or injuring many of ISIS terrorists , four of whom hold foreign nationalities.

The reporter said that the ISIS terrorist organization fired Deir Ezzor neighborhoods with several rocket shells, causing material damage to houses, public and private properties, adding that no human causalities were reported.
Syrian Army Establishes Control Over Areas in Damascus Countryisde, Kills Scores of Terrorists in Many Regions Across the Country
21 June، 2017

Army establishes control over Ark gas station, kills ISIS and al-Nusra terrorists in Homs and Damascus Countryside

Provinces , SANA-Army and Armed Forces units carried out air and artillery strikes against ISIS terrorists’ hotbeds and movements in Deir Ezzor.

A military source told SANA that the army units engaged on Wednesday in fierce clashes with ISIS terrorist groups which attacked military points on the direction of al-Jbeileh neighborhood, al-Tanmieh sector, and near the graveyards area in Deir Ezzor.

The source said that the clashes ended up with foiling the attacks, killing 11 terrorists and injuring others.

Meanwhile, SANA’s reporter said that the army’s artillery targeted gatherings for ISIS terrorists in the surroundings of al-Sinouf hill, al-Taim field, and the neighborhoods of al-Hweiqeh and al-Omal, killing and injuring a number of terrorists.

The reporter added that the Syrian Air Force killed in a series of airstrikes several ISIS terrorists and destroyed three of their vehicles in Hweijet Katea, the neighborhoods of al-Sinaa and al-Hamidieh, and the surroundings of Liwa al-Tamin.

Daraa/Sweida

Army units killed scores of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists and destroyed an anti-tank rocket launcher that belongs to them in Mlaihet al-Atash and Daraa al-Balad in Daraa province and in Tiloul Salman in the northeastern countryside of Sweida.

Meanwhile, terrorist organizations acknowledged on their pages on the social networking websites that 12 of their members were killed in Daraa al-Balad area, including terrorist Bilal Yasein al-Masalmeh, the leader of the so called “Seiouf Horan Battalion” and the military leader Isaa Mohamed Salameh al-Masalmeh.

Damascus Countryside

A military source announced that the army established control over Ber al-Qasab region, the main center for Jabhat al-Nusra in Damascus south-eastern countryside and a number of strategic hills after eliminating their last gathering in the area.

The source added that the army established control over Ber al-Qasab, Kherbat al-Qasab, Tloul al-Rawabi and al-Sreikhi in Damascus eastern countryside.

It affirmed that the army’s operations ended up with the killing of a number of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists, destroying their weapons and seizing a large quantity of their munitions.

Earlier, army and Armed Forces units destroyed vehicles and gatherings for Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in the far southeast of Damascus Countryside.

A military source told SANA that army units intensified their strikes against gatherings and movements of Jabhat al-Nusra in al-Rawabi, Tal Rinaba, and the area surrounding Beir al-Qasab and Rajm al-Sarihi in the southeast parts of Damascus Countryside.

The source added that tens of terrorists were killed due to the strikes in addition to destroying 3 vehicles equipped with heavy machineguns, 4 transport vehicles, 5 motorcycles, and a stationary rocket launcher.

Hama

Army  units launched intensive strikes against movements for ISIS terrorists east of Salamyia area in Hama countryside.

SANA’s reporter said that army units targeted ISIS terrorists’ sites and movements in the area between the oil line and Taberet al-Deibeh east of Salamyia area, killing and injuring many of the terrorists and destroying weapons and ammunition that were in their possession.
Amnesty for ISIS Fighters in Syria's Raqqa Aims to Promote Stability
Islamic State prisoners, who were pardoned by a council that is expected to govern Raqqa once the group is dislodged from the Syrian city, walk behind a Kurdish policeman in Ain Issa village, north of Raqqa, Syria June 24, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

By Michael Georgy | AIN ISSA, SYRIA
Reuters

A civil council expected to rule Raqqa once Islamic State is dislodged from the Syrian city pardoned 83 of the jihadist group's low-ranking militants on Saturday, a goodwill gesture designed to promote stability.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have gained significant ground in the battle for Raqqa, the operational base for Islamic State over the past three years and a symbol of its self-proclaimed caliphate.

Senior SDF figures predict Raqqa could fall within months. That would be a severe blow to Islamic State, which has plotted shooting and bomb attacks around the world from Raqqa, a city of about 300,000 before the militants seized it.

The 83 Islamic State prisoners were transported to the headquarters of the Raqqa City Council in the village of Ain Issa, north of Raqqa, in an amnesty coinciding with the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

One by one, they stepped down from buses, the youngest 14 years old.

Leila Mustafa, co-leader of the council, read out a speech as the militants, released because they had no blood on their hands and held no senior posts, stood silently in neat lines.

Sweets were handed out on trays in the sweltering heat, in what officials hoped would be the start of a new chapter in the men's lives.

Speakers forecast a brighter future for Syria, which has been locked in a multi-sided civil war for six years involving regional powers and a U.S.-led coalition whose air strikes put Islamic State on the defensive.

"We would never release senior Daesh officials or anyone who has blood on their hands," senior council member Omar Aloush told Reuters, using a derogatory term for Islamic State. "We are giving these men a second chance."

On the street outside the council, he told the Islamic State members, some of whom had surrendered, that they would be integrated into society and given a chance to attend schools.

Speeches were followed by applause from all sides. The men walked past council members and shook their hands, before tasting freedom and reuniting with their families.

Several young Islamic State members, like 17-year-old Kays al-Hadi, provided a simple explanation on why they joined IS.

"There were no opportunities before they arrived," he said.

The amnesty may be one small step towards easing tensions that run deep in Raqqa after three years of ruthless Islamic State occupation, followed by war.

Council officials acknowledge they face huge challenges in rebuilding a city with a traumatized population and devastated infrastructure.

Abdel Rahman Kalas, 43, worked in the Islamic State department that imposed taxes on Raqqa citizens.

"I have seven children," he said, as former militants walked away after the ceremony to face the uncertainty that hangs over Raqqa. "I had no choice but to cooperate. They paid me $115 a month."

(Reporting by Michael Georgy; editing by Mark Heinrich)