About 100 activists today protested outside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur against the coming visit by President Barack Obama, denouncing him as an enemy of Islam.
The demonstration underscored the delicate nature of Obama’s trip to Malaysia, which will make him the first sitting US president to visit in nearly half a century, a period marked by mutual distrust.
The protesters marched to the embassy from a nearby mosque after Friday prayers, shouting “God is great” and “Obama is the enemy of the Prophet Muhammad”.
They also bore placards and banners saying: “US is axis of evil” and handed out leaflets saying “Reject Obama, World’s No. 1 Terrorist”.
They dispersed after about 15 minutes.
Malaysia has opposed US wars in the Middle East and supports the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Obama embarks on a week-long Asia tour next week that will bring him to Malaysia from April 26 to 28.
The U.S. is providing more arms and training to the moderate rebels in Syria, under a growing secret program run by the CIA in Jordan. Sources tell NPR that secret program could be supplemented by a more public effort in the coming months involving American military trainers.
The change in strategy comes as the White House sees Syrian leader Bashar Assad growing in strength, and continuing to strike rebel strongholds. …
the U.S. plan calls for both small arms and more powerful weapons such as TOW missiles, which can penetrate tanks and other armored vehicles. Rebel forces were pictured last week with some of the first TOW missiles, and sources say that the effort will expand throughout the next year. It’s uncertain if the U.S. is sending the TOW missiles through Saudi Arabia, which is also supporting the rebels.
There is a debate within the White House whether to supply rebels with shoulder-fired missiles, which could target Syrian helicopters. There are fears those missiles could fall into the hands of al-Qaida, and produce a threat to commercial aircraft and allied warplanes in the region.
The White House has said little publicly about the new, expansive effort to help the moderate rebels.
Sanaa, Yemen: People chant slogans against U.S. drone strikes outside the Yemeni House of Representatives, April 24, 2014. At least 70 people are reported killed in the past week.
By Peter Hart, FAIR
Throughout the Ukraine crisis, there has been a suggestion that Russian forces were on the ground stirring up some of the unrest, first in Crimea and now in some eastern cities. On April 20, the New York Times had a front-page scoop that offered firm evidence of this. Or maybe it didn’t.
The Times story, by Andrew Higgins, Michael Gordon and Andrew Kramer, seemed to nail it down:
Now, photographs and descriptions from eastern Ukraine endorsed by the Obama administration on Sunday suggest that many of the green men are indeed Russian military and intelligence forces–equipped in the same fashion as Russian special operations troops involved in annexing the Crimea region in February. Some of the men photographed in Ukraine have been identified in other photos clearly taken among Russian troops in other settings.
This evidence that has “endorsed by the Obama administration”– a pretty unusual phrase–forms the basis for the Times report.
How those photos came into the possession of the Times wasn’t fully explained until the follow-up piece (4/23/14), which cast considerable doubt on the photographic evidence. “Scrutiny Over Photos Said to Tie Russia Units to Ukraine” is how the Times put it in the headline, and the paper’s revised account–not on the front page–led off with this:
A collection of photographs that Ukraine says shows the presence of Russian forces in the eastern part of the country, and which the United States cited as evidence of Russian involvement, has come under scrutiny.
The piece doesn’t exactly have the feel of a correction; only very careful readers are likely to grasp that the Times is speaking about a story that it splashed on its front page. It acknowledges that the photographs had been “provided by American officials to the New York Times, which included that description of the group photograph in an article and caption that was published on Monday.”
Veteran journalist Robert Parry (Consortium News, 4/21/14) expressed doubts about the Times’ scoop as well . What did he make of the new story? As Parry (4/22/14) put it, the piece is “what you might call a modified, limited retraction.” He added:
"In the old days of journalism, we used to apply the scrutiny before we published a story on the front page or on any other page, especially if it had implications toward war or peace, whether people would live or die."
In time for the start of US Barack Obama’s trip to Asian countries which will bring him to the Philippines one week from now, Filipino workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno joined a protest today at the US Embassy in Manila to denounce the US’ plan of bringing back their military bases into the country.
The workers also condemned Pres. Noynoy Aquino for being subservient to the dictates of the US in allowing the return of US military bases into the country and changing the 1987 Constitution to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of lands, public utilities and other businesses.
“Obama’s visit is not a symbol of friendship, but signals the US’ plan to re-occupy the Philippines. He will meet with his puppet Aquino to push for measures that would further tighten the US’ economic, military and all-around control over the country,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
Obama is expected to meet with Aquino on April 28-29 to sign the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC), a new pact that will give US forces unhindered access to Philippine military facilities and allow them to set up exclusive facilities within existing bases of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“By allowing the US to establish de facto military bases all over the country, the Aquino government is further attacking the interests of the Filipino workers and people. The AEDC is a gross violation of our national sovereignty and poses danger to Filipinos’ lives and properties and to the country’s environment,” Soluta said.
JERUSALEM — The faltering Middle East peace process was thrown into further jeopardy on Wednesday, with Israel and the United States harshly condemning a new deal announced by feuding Palestinian factions, including the militant group Hamas, to repair their seven-year rift.
Israel canceled a negotiating session scheduled for Wednesday night shortly after leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization joined hands with their rivals from Hamas at a celebratory ceremony in the Gaza Strip.
“Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace,” the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a statement, describing the group as “a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel.”
The unity pact, coming days before the April 29 expiration date for the American-brokered peace talks that have been the mainstay of Secretary of State John Kerry’s tenure, surprised officials in Washington, which, like Israel, deems Hamas a terrorist group and forbids direct dealings with it.
After months of intensive shuttle diplomacy in which Mr. Kerry relentlessly pursued the peace process and even dangled the possibility of releasing an American convicted of spying for Israel to salvage the lifeless talks, his spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, called the Palestinian move “disappointing” and the timing “troubling.”
The US is to blame for the events in Ukraine as it invested $5 billion in regime change in the country, taking a more radical stance that its EU allies, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s envoy to the UN, said.
“It seems it was the Americans, who tried to push through the most radical scenario,” Churkin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 channel. “They didn’t want any sort of compromise between [ousted President Viktor] Yanukovich and the opposition. And, I think, they came to the conclusion that it was time to cash in those $5 billion and handle the matter towards abrupt regime change, which, eventually, happened.”
This explains why the US, but not the European Union, took center stage when the coup resulted in legal vacuum in Kiev, he added.
US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland told CNN on Monday that Washington has invested around $5 billion into supporting democracy in Ukraine since the fall of Soviet Union.
But Churkin has doubts about Nuland’s claims, saying that “any sane person would, at least, say that those investments didn’t pay off.”
“If those $5 billion were spent on support of democracy, but not overthrow of the existing government and regime change, then no democracy has triumphed there [in Ukraine],” he explained.
Kiev authorities must “immediately” deescalate the situation in southeast Ukraine by withdrawing its troops from the region, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said, adding that Kiev must start nationwide talks and stop “distorting” the Geneva agreement.
Immediately after US Vice-President Joseph Biden ended his April 21-22 talks and left the Ukrainian capital, Kiev announced the renewal of the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine, the statement noted. Previously, CIA director’s John Brennan’s April 13 visit to Kiev coincided with the start of the same military operation, it said.