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Showing posts from January 6, 2016

Iraqi Sunni mosques attacked in apparent retaliation for Saudi execution

At least two Sunni Muslim mosques have been attacked in Iraq and two people killed in apparent retaliation for the execution of a senior Shi'ite cleric in Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, officials and police said on Monday.

Iraqi Shi'ites protesting the Jan. 2 execution of Saudi Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr separately marched in Baghdad and southern cities, while a powerful Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia group pressured the government to sever ties with Riyadh.

Iraq's Interior Ministry confirmed the attacks on Sunni mosques late Sunday in Hilla, around 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi blamed them on "Daesh (Islamic State) and those who are similar to them," without further explanation.

He ordered provincial authorities "to chase the criminal gangs" who attacked the mosques.

Iraq has faced sectarian bloodletting for years, mainly between minority Sunnis and a Shi'ite majority empowered after the U.S.-led invasion in 200…

Will the U.S. Fall for Saudi Arabia’s Deliberate Provocation in Killing of Shi’ite Cleric?

By Trita Parsi

There should be little doubt that Saudi Arabia wanted to escalate regional tensions into a crisis by executing Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. On the same day, Riyadh also unilaterally withdrew from the ceasefire agreement in Yemen. By allowing protestors to torch the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response, Iran seems to have walked right into the Saudi trap. If Saudi Arabia succeeds in forcing the United States into the conflict by siding with the kingdom, then its objectives will have been met.

It is difficult to see that Saudi Arabia did not know that its decision to execute Nimr would not cause uproar in the region and wouldn’t put additional strains on its already tense relations with Iran. The inexcusable torching of the Saudi embassy in Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned it and called it “totally unjustifiable,” though footage shows that Iranian security forces did little to prevent the attack — in turn provided Riyadh with the perfect pretext to cut diplo…

North Korea claims fully successful ‘miniaturized hydrogen bomb’ test

North Korea has announced that it has successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb following an “artificial seismic event” that has likely become the country’s fourth known nuclear test.

In a “special and important” announcement at noon, North Korean TV claimed that the country has successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test at 10:00am local time.

“Through the test conducted with indigenous wisdom, technology and efforts the DPRK fully proved that the technological specifications of the newly developed H-bomb for the purpose of [the] test were accurate and scientifically verified the power of [the] smaller H-bomb," the statement said.

"It was confirmed that the H-bomb test conducted in a safe and perfect manner had no adverse impact on the ecological environment," it added.

The announcement followed the USGS detection of a 5.1 magnitude earthquake in the vicinity of a known Pyongyang nuclear site.

The epicenter of the jolt was located 19 kilometers (12 miles) east-north…

Hundreds rally against sexual violence after NYE attacks in Cologne

Several hundred people have rallied in Cologne in protest against heightened trouble stemming from the migrant community, and the authorities’ failure to intervene and prevent the dozens of sexual assaults which took place during wild New Year celebrations.

Organized via social networks, hundreds of men and women demonstrated against the intolerable levels of abuse witnessed by women at the hands of the male refugee community at Cologne’s main train station on New Year’s night.

So far some 90 women have reported being sexually molested, threatened and robbed outside Cologne Cathedral by men of “Arab or North African” origin, police said on Tuesday.

Addressing a crowd of up to 500 citizen activists, speakers took turns raising their concerns to the public, urging authorities to defend female integrity. Again and again the question was raised of what was law enforcement had been doing on that night to allow such large scale attacks to happen.

Those gathered at the scene of the crimes slamm…