Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

Asean Summit, Malaysia  on Nov 21, 1015
Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - Text version)

“….. Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk
North Korean defector and activist Hyeonseo Lee, who lives in South Korea, poses as she presents her book 'The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story' in Beijing on March 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

US under fire in global press freedom report

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Qatar easing of exit visa system comes into force

Yahoo – AFP, David HARDING, Oct 28, 2018

Foreign labourers leave the construction site of the Al-Wakrah stadium in
Doha, Qatar, after finishing work on May 4, 2015 (AFP Photo/

Doha (AFP) - Long-awaited reform of Qatar's controversial exit visa system, which requires foreign workers to obtain their bosses' permission to leave the country, came into force on Sunday, the government said.

"Law No. 13 of 2018... regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates is being implemented starting today," the interior ministry announced on Twitter.

Qatar announced in September it had approved legislation to scrap the visa system -- a lynchpin of the country's "kafala", or sponsorship, system which many liken to modern-day slavery.

Under the new law, all but five percent of a company's workforce -- reportedly those in the most senior positions -- can leave without prior permission from employers.

Those not allowed to leave Qatar "for any reason" can file a complaint to the Expatriate Exit Grievance Committee that will "take a decision within three working days", the ministry said.

Some anxious workers took to government social media websites on Sunday, to ask how they could find out if they were among the five per cent.

Qatar's labour minister, Issa al-Nuaimi, said he was "exceptionally pleased" with the implementation of the new law.

"We are proud that the state of Qatar has become an example and a model for labour reform in the region," he told AFP.

Nuaimi added that Qatar wanted to give workers in the country, the "best standards possible".

Scrapping the exit permit is the biggest announcement made so far since Qatar agreed last November to enter into a three-year agreement with the UN's International Labour Organization (ILO) to oversee reform.

The ILO's Houtan Homayounpour, head of the labour agency's project office in Doha, said on Twitter that the reform "will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of migrant workers".

The football World Cup 2022 host has come under intense pressure to reform its labour laws, which have been repeatedly denounced by human rights groups.

Critics have long argued for abolition of the exit visa system.

Research published last year by rights group found around a quarter of all exit visa requests were denied by the government.

Vani Saraswathi, associate editor and director of projects with, said the reform was "long overdue and welcome", but added a warning.

"We have to be cautious about celebrating it as a huge development," she said.

"Passport confiscation is still rampant and the law also allows for employers to hold passports with the workers' permission."

She also noted that the law does not cover domestic workers, often seen as the most vulnerable.

Rights groups have argued that without the proper safeguards, relaxation of the visa system could lead to unscrupulous employers holding workers' passports.

A study earlier this year by Qatar University's Social and Economic Survey Research found that 53 per cent of migrant workers said their bosses held their passports.

There are some two million foreign workers in Qatar.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Two Koreas agree to withdraw some border guard posts

Channel NewsAsia – AFP, 26 Oct 2018

North and South Korea have agreed to withdraw all troops and weaponry
from 11 guard posts along the border AFP/JUNG Yeon-Je

SEOUL: The two Koreas on Friday (Oct 26) agreed to remove 11 guard posts along the heavily-fortified border next month with a goal to possibly remove all of them in the future, senior military officials said.

The agreement made between generals from the two sides came as diplomatic thaw between the former wartime foes gathered pace.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North's leader Kim Jong Un previously agreed on a broad plan to ease tensions along the border during their third summit in Pyongyang last month.

During Friday's talks aimed at fleshing out details, the two sides agreed to withdraw all troops and weaponry from the 11 guard posts along the border and destroy them by the end of November, according to a joint statement released by Seoul's military.

"The two sides also agreed to hold working-level talks to remove all remaining GPs based on the progress of the test removal of 11 GPs," it said after the talks held at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

Panmunjom - or the Joint Security Area (JSA) - is the only spot along the tense, 250-kilometre frontier where soldiers from the two Koreas and the US-led UN Command stand face to face.

But as part of the latest reconciliatory gesture, the two Koreas on Thursday removed all firearms and guard posts from the area, leaving it manned by 35 unarmed personnel from each side.

The two nations technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean War that sealed the division of the peninsula ended with a ceasefire instead of a peace treaty.

But ties improved markedly this year as Moon - a dove who advocates dialogue with the isolated, nuclear-armed North - and Kim took a series of reconciliatory gestures.

The two sides also finished removing landmines at the JSA - which has been increasingly used for talks between the two Koreas - last week as part of the deal between Kim and Moon.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Iraq’s new finance minister was a refugee in the Netherlands

DutchNews, October 25, 2018

Hussein being interviewed on Kurdish media network Kudaw 

Iraq’s new finance minister Fuad Hussein was a refugee in the Netherlands for years before returning to his homeland in 2003, broadcaster NOS said on Thursday. 

Hussein, who is 69, fled Iraq in the 1970s and settled in the Netherlands. He studied at the VU University in Amsterdam, married a Dutch woman and worked for refugee rights. He is also a fluent Dutch speaker, the broadcaster said. 

Fourteen of the 22 ministerial candidates appointed by new prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi were approved by parliament on Wednesday evening. 

Hussein, who failed in his bid to become president at the beginning of this month, represents the Kurdish Democratic Party.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

'We failed them': Australia apologises to child sex abuse victims

Channel News Asia  - AFP , 22 Oct 2018

Child sex abuse survivors attended Parliament House to hear the apology.
(Photo: AFP/Sean Davey)

CANBERRA: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a national apology to victims of child sex abuse in an emotional address to parliament Monday (Oct 22) acknowledging the state failed to stop "evil dark crimes" committed over decades.

"This was done by Australians to Australians, enemies in our midst, enemies in our midst," Morrison told parliament in a nationally televised address.

"As a nation, we failed them, we forsook them, and that will always be our shame," he said, his voice cracking as he recounted abuse that permeated religious and state-backed institutions.

Decrying abuse that happened "day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade" in schools, churches, youth groups, scout groups, orphanages, sports clubs and family homes, Morrison declared a new national credo in the face of allegations: "We believe you."

"Today, we say sorry, to the children we failed. Sorry. To the parents whose trust was betrayed and who have struggled to pick up the pieces. Sorry. To the whistleblowers, who we did not listen to. Sorry.

"To the spouses, partners, wives, husbands, children, who have dealt with the consequences of the abuse, cover-ups and obstruction. Sorry. To generations past and present. Sorry."

The state apology comes after a five-year Royal Commission that detailed more than 15,000 survivors' harrowing child sex abuse claims involving thousands of institutions.

In parliament, lawmakers stood for a moment of silence following the remarks as hundreds of survivors looked on or watched in official events across the country.

Normal parliamentary business, a session of prime minister's questions, was suspended in a bipartisan show of respect.

Outside the parliamentary chamber, relatives of victims wore tags with the names of departed daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, for whom the apology came too late.

After meeting some of the victims, Morrison told journalists "I've never felt such pain in one room, ever."

A series of Australian institutions have already apologised for their failings, including Australian Catholic leaders who have lamented the church's "shameful" history of child abuse and cover-ups.

According to the Royal Commission, seven percent of Catholic priests in Australia were accused of abuse between 1950 and 2010, but the allegations were rarely investigated, with child victims ignored and even punished.

Some senior members of the church in Australia have been prosecuted in relation to the abuse.


The Australian government has previously issued formal apologies for the mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians, for forced adoptions and homosexual convictions.

There are growing calls for an apology for the military's treatment of gay, bisexual and transgender personnel.

For many Australians there will still be questions about how the child sex abuse and cover-ups took place.

And for some of the victims, the government's atonement rings hollow - a step short of removing public funding for offending institutions, or far-ranging legal reforms.

At an event attended by the leaders of both major political parties, protesters shouted demands that the government do more to punish the guilty and dig into the past of other institutions like the military.

"Today's apology to victims of institutional child abuse highlights the power of a public apology to heal past wounds," said Professor Noah Riseman of the Australian Catholic University.

"But in the midst of today's acknowledgement there was a reminder that other victims of institutional trauma remain unacknowledged." 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Maldives strongman's election defeat upheld by Supreme Court

Yahoo – AFP, Amal JAYASINGHE, October 21, 2018

A petition to annul last month's election results by Maldives President Abdulla
Yameen has been rejected by the country's Supreme Court (AFP Photo/Ahmed SHURAU)

Colombo (AFP) - The Maldives' top court Sunday ended weeks of uncertainty by rejecting strongman President Abdulla Yameen's controversial bid to annul last month's election results, upholding his landslide defeat to an opposition candidate.

The five-judge Supreme Court bench unanimously ruled that Yameen had failed to prove his claim that the election was rigged and a fresh poll was necessary in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Under international pressure, Yameen initially conceded defeat in the September 23 poll.

But he then filed an appeal this month, throwing the island nation into turmoil and attracting warnings from the United States and regional superpower India to respect the outcome.

Yameen claimed magic ink had been used to rig the election and that votes marked for him disappeared inside ballot boxes.

Opposition activists celebrated outside the Supreme Court in the capital Male after the decision was read out, effectively drawing a line under Yameen's five years of iron-fisted rule.

"After weeks of uncertainty, the Maldivian people can finally enjoy clarity regarding the outcome of the election," said President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who swept September's poll in an unexpected landslide victory.

"The petition to annul the election was frivolous from the start, and spoke more about an inability in some quarters to accept defeat, than any genuine concerns about the vote."

Opposition legislator Mariya Didi said Yameen -- who lobbied the Supreme Court in 2013 to nullify election results in his favour -- should now allow a smooth transition of power.

"We are pleased that the court ruled unanimously to uphold the will of the people," Didi said on Twitter.

"The case was based on conjecture and conspiracy theories."

The country's independent Elections Commission, through its lawyers, had argued his petition was based on false allegations and should be dismissed.

Fresh uncertainty

The Supreme Court bench last week refused to accept the testimony of three unnamed witnesses that Yameen's lawyers said would prove the election was fixed.

The next day Yameen went on national television to concede defeat a second time, making no reference to his controversial legal bid.

"This is my final address to the nation before I leave," said the 59-year-old, whose term in office ends on November 17.

"During my tenure, the most difficult thing for me was my failure to learn about the people. I just couldn't find out what shapes their wishes."

Ahead of court hearings in the capital Male last week, the United States warned "appropriate measures" would be taken if the will of the Maldivian people was undermined.

Europe and India have also issued similar warnings in the past.

The situation was similar to 2013, when Yameen convinced the Supreme Court to nullify the first round of voting, which he was trailing to opposition candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

A subsequent vote was then twice delayed, allowing Yameen time to forge alliances that helped him narrowly win a contested run-off.

He has ruled with an iron fist ever since, crushing dissent and jailing or exiling all his major opponents.

In February, Yameen jailed the chief justice and another Supreme Court judge after accusing them of trying to topple him.

Yameen had initially suspended the court, parliament and the constitution and declared a state of emergency when legislators were about to impeach him.

Since his election defeat, several high-profile political prisoners including his estranged half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years until 2008, have been released from jail.

The US and its allies have been concerned by growing Chinese influence in the strategically positioned Indian Ocean archipelago, especially under Yameen's authoritarian rule.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Khashoggi criticizes Saudi prince in newly released interview

Yahoo – AFP, 20 October 2018

Saudi Arabia said journalist Jamal Khashoggi died when talks at its Istanbul
consulate deteriorated into a "brawl and a fistfight"

Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's "authoritarian rule" shortly before his death, in an interview published following confirmation he died at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate.

Speaking off the record to a Newsweek journalist working on a story about the Saudi leadership, he insisted he did not view himself as "an opposition" -- he just wanted "a better Saudi Arabia".

"I'm not calling for the overthrow of the regime, because I know it's not possible and is too risky, and there is no one to overthrow the regime," Khashoggi said.

"I'm just calling for reform of the regime."

He described Prince Mohammed as "an old-fashioned tribal leader" out of touch with Saudi's poor.

"Sometimes I feel that ... he wants to enjoy the fruits of First World modernity and Silicon Valley and cinemas and everything, but at the same time he wants also to rule like how his grandfather ruled Saudi Arabia," Khashoggi told Newsweek.

"He still doesn't see the people. When he sees the people, that's when the actual reform will start."

Khashoggi also criticized Prince Mohammed's lack of "proper advisers".

"He is moving toward a Saudi Arabia according to him, a Saudi Arabia according to Mohammed bin Salman only," said Khashoggi, who was himself a contributor to the Washington Post newspaper.

Khashoggi described two of the prince's aides -- sports chief Turki al-Sheikh and the since-dismissed media adviser Saud al-Qahtani -- as "very thuggish".

"People fear them. You challenge them, you might end up in prison, and that has happened," he said.

Khashoggi was last seen on October 2 entering his country's consulate in Istanbul.

His disappearance had been shrouded in mystery, with Turkish officials accusing Saudi Arabia of carrying out a state-sponsored killing and dismembering the body.

Saudi Arabia finally admitted early Saturday that Khashoggi had died inside the consulate in what it described as a "brawl".

The admission -- after persistent claims by the Saudi authorities that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive -- came following the threat of US sanctions.

The Saudi authorities have not yet said where his body is.

In the Newsweek interview, Khashoggi, whose disappearance tipped Saudi Arabia into one of its worst international crises, said pushback from the international community was vital to keeping the Saudi regime in check.

"That is our only hope," he said.
Related Article:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Chinese bishops invite Pope Francis for historic visit

Yahoo – AFP, October 16, 2018

Pope Francis has sought to improve relations between the Vatican and China,
which have not had diplomatic relations since 1951 (AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)

Vatican City (AFP) - Two Chinese Catholic bishops attending a Vatican meeting for the first time following a landmark deal between Beijing and the Holy See said Tuesday they have invited Pope Francis to visit.

"While we were here, we invited Pope Francis to come to China," Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai said in an interview with Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference.

"We are waiting for him," Guo said.

Last year the pope said he would like to visit China "as soon as they send me an invitation".

The trip would be of great significance as the Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with Beijing since 1951.

There are an estimated 12 million Catholics in China, divided between a government-run association whose clergy are chosen by the Communist Party, and an unofficial church which swears allegiance to the Vatican.

Pope Francis has sought to improve relations since he took office in 2013, but previous attempts had foundered over Beijing's insistence that the Vatican give up recognition of Taiwan and promise not to interfere in domestic religious issues.

However an accord was reached last month which could pave the way for the normalisation of ties between the Catholic Church and the world's most populous country.

Under the provisional agreement, Francis recognised seven clergy initially ordained by Beijing without the Vatican's approval.

Guo and bishop John Baptist Yang Xiaotin were personally welcomed by the pontiff to the advisory body meeting earlier this month.

"We have waited for this moment for so long, and finally it is here," Guo said, adding that the pair had seen the pope daily, staying in the Vatican hotel where Francis lives and talking to him "as sons do with their father".

He said a trip to China was "like our presence here. Once impossible, it became possible".

While the Vatican has said last month's deal with China was not political but pastoral, many believe it is likely to have political repercussions, setting the stage for the restoration of diplomatic ties after nearly 70 years.

That raises questions over the future of official ties between Taiwan and the Holy See -- the island's only official ally in Europe.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Meng Hongwei: ex-Interpol chief caught in China's anti-graft drive

Yahoo – AFP, Eva XIAO, October 8, 2018

Meng Hongwei rose through the ranks of China's feared public security apparatus before
 being caught himself in President Xi Jinping's no-holds-barred campaign against
corruption (AFP Photo/ROSLAN RAHMAN)

Beijing (AFP) - Fallen former Interpol president Meng Hongwei rose through the ranks of China's feared public security apparatus before being caught himself in President Xi Jinping's no-holds-barred campaign against corruption.

The vice public security minister, who went missing after travelling to China last month, resigned as head of the France-based international police organisation on Sunday after Chinese authorities announced he was under investigation.

During Xi's six-year tenure, over a million officials have been punished in an anti-corruption crusade that critics say has also served as a way to root out the president's political enemies.

According to a statement released Monday by China's Ministry of Public Security, Meng is suspected of accepting bribes and is under investigation by the country's anti-corruption agency.

In particular, the country's public security bureau links Meng's detention to a broader initiative to "completely remove the pernicious influence" of Zhou Yongkang, who led China's domestic security sector until 2014, when he was sentenced to life in prison under corruption charges.

That does not bode well for Meng, who was appointed vice security minister by Zhou in 2004.

Party loyalty

Meng, 64, leaves behind a 14-year career overseeing various top public security bureaus in China, including the country's armed police force.

Born in 1953 in northeastern Heilongjiang province, Meng joined the Communist Party of China in his early 20s after graduating from Peking University with a bachelor's degree in law.

As vice security minister, Meng has been entrusted with a number of sensitive portfolios, including the country's counter-terrorism division, and he was in charge of the response to violence in China's fractious northwestern region of Xinjiang.

During Meng's tenure, China's public security bureau also arrested and interrogated a number of prominent Chinese dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died of liver cancer while under police custody last year.

In 2013, Meng was appointed director of China's maritime police bureau, which includes the country's coast guard and maritime anti-smuggling authorities. In recent years, the bureau has sent patrol ships to the East China Sea due to territorial disputes with Japan over islands.

At Interpol, Meng was expected to serve a four-year term until 2020. His election in 2016 had raised concerns among human rights groups, which feared that Beijing would use the organisation to round up Chinese dissidents overseas.

While day-to-day operations are overseen by Interpol secretary general Juergen Stock, Meng presided over the organisation's General Assembly and Executive Committee meetings, where key discussions around Interpol's general policies and international cooperation take place.

Though Meng has emphasised the need for political neutrality in Interpol speeches, he made clear as a Chinese security official that the national police should be loyal to the Communist Party.

In a 2014 speech, Meng reportedly told police officers training for a peacekeeping mission overseas to put "politics first, party organisation first and ideological thinking first."

Monday, October 8, 2018

Saudi prince's image seen at risk over missing critic

Yahoo – AFP, Rene Slama, October 7, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has garnered international attention
with his reforms and rapid rise to power (AFP Photo/BANDAR AL-JALOUD)

Dubai (AFP) - The disappearance of a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia's rulers after entering the kingdom's Istanbul consulate risks severely tarnishing the reformist image of its de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, experts say.

Riyadh has denied allegations made by Turkish officials that Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the kingdom's mission by a team sent specially to Istanbul.

Analysts said that while the claim of a state-sponsored killing of the Washington Post contributor was unconfirmed, it would seriously damage the prince's credentials as a reformer if true.

"It would be a major blow to the image that Saudi Arabia's advocates have so carefully tried to cultivate in the west, particularly in Washington," Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute in the United States, told AFP.

Britain said on Sunday it was "working urgently" to verify the "extremely serious" allegations surrounding Khashoggi, who has been critical of some of Prince Mohammed's policies and of Riyadh's intervention in the Yemen war.

Washington and Paris, meanwhile, said they were closely following the situation.

The 33-year-old crown prince, who was named heir to the throne in June 2017, has garnered international attention with his rapid rise to power as well as social and economic reforms.

While he has been lauded by some for pursuing changes such as lifting a decades-long ban on women driving, others have criticised his recent crackdown on political dissent.

The kingdom has detained a number of human rights and women campaigners this year, some of them accused of undermining national security, with scant public information about their whereabouts or the legal status of their cases.

Prince Mohammed -- commonly known as MBS -- was also the subject of criticism in November 2017 when he was accused of placing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri under house arrest in Riyadh.

The same month dozens of Saudi officials were arrested in what the authorities said was an anti-corruption crackdown.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has garnered international attention 
with his reforms and rapid rise to power (AFP Photo/BANDAR AL-JALOUD)

'Reckless gambits'

Khashoggi's alleged murder -- if confirmed -- threatens to undermine Riyadh's already strained relations with Ankara, and the fallout could also reach the United States, a key ally, experts said.

"It would likely trigger a diplomatic crisis with Turkey as well as play into a narrative in (Washington) DC that views Saudi Arabia under MBS as prone to seemingly reckless gambits with little apparent thought for the consequences, be it the blockade of Qatar, the detention of Saad Hariri, the rupture with Canada, to say nothing of the war in Yemen."

Bessma Momani, a professor at Canada's University of Waterloo, agreed that Prince Mohammed's reputation was at stake.

"If Khashoggi's death is confirmed and accusations against the Saudis hold, the image of the 'reformer' crown prince becomes more difficult to swallow particularly in Washington and other Western capitals," she told AFP.

Ottawa -- which had a diplomatic feud with Riyadh earlier this year over the kingdom's human rights record -- said the allegation that Khashoggi had been killed were "worrying".

A spokesman for the European Commission said it was looking into the journalist's disappearance: "We have asked for and we are awaiting clarifications from the Saudi authorities on the fate of Mr. Khashoggi."

James Dorsey, an expert in international affairs, said that the critic's disappearance could lead to a "significant deterioration" in relations between Ankara and Riyadh.

"Turkey and Saudi Arabia differ on a host of issues, whether it's Iran, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood. There are more disagreements than agreements," Dorsey, a fellow at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told AFP.

"If (the Turkish authorities) are able to prove that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate or by Saudi agents, that's going to have far-reaching consequences."

'Affront to sovereignty'

Riyadh and Ankara stand on opposite sides of the dispute between Qatar and its neighbours.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Doha in June 2017 over allegations it supports extremists and is cosying up to arch-rival Iran and Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ulrichsen said that it would "likely trigger a diplomatic crisis" between Ankara and Riyadh if the Saudis are linked to Khashoggi's death.

Momani also believes the relationship will likely "worsen".

"Turkey will claim this was an affront to their sovereignty and Saudi Arabia will point to the Turkish-Qatari alliance as an explanation for Turkey's accusations," she said.

But Ali Shihabi, director of the Washington-based Arabia Foundation, a pro-Saudi think-tank, urged the public not to jump to conclusions.

"Before everybody jumps to conclusions, why would a government conduct a 'premeditated assassination' of a dissident in its own consulate as opposed to anywhere else where they would have plausible deniability," he tweeted on Saturday.

"Again the Turks are not a neutral party. For sure the whole story has big holes in it but lets think before we jump to conclusions."

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

SE Asia urges Myanmar to hold military accountable for Rohingya crisis

Yahoo – AFP, October 2, 2018

Around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar's western Rakhine state have fled
across the border to Bangladesh since August last year following a military campaign
that allegedly involved murder, rape, torture and razing villages (AFP Photo/
Dibyangshu SARKAR)

Myanmar's neighbours in Southeast Asia have urged the country to hold those responsible for the Rohingya crisis "accountable", Singapore said Tuesday, in a rare call for justice from within the region.

Around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar's western Rakhine state have fled across the border to Bangladesh since August last year following a military campaign that allegedly involved murder, rape, torture and razing villages.

The UN has accused Myanmar's military of committing "genocide" against the Muslim minority.

As global pressure has mounted over the atrocities, Myanmar formed an "Independent Commission of Enquiry", which is chaired by former Philippine deputy foreign minister Rosario Manalo -- but gave no details of the commission's remit, powers or how long it would take to complete its investigation.

Critics have blasted the commission for its toothlessness after Manalo said her commission will not be "blaming" or "finger pointing" anybody.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he and his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met on September 29 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York and discussed the situation in Rakhine.

"We expressed our grave concern with these alleged acts of violence that have led to loss of lives, injuries, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people," he said in parliament.

"To be brutally honest, this is a man-made humanitarian disaster and something which should not be happening in this day and age."

He said the ministers told Myanmar that the commission "should be given a full mandate to investigate and to hold all those responsible fully accountable".

Myanmar's military has denied nearly all wrongdoing, justifying its crackdown as a legitimate means of rooting out Rohingya militants.

But after a fact-finding mission, the United Nations set up a panel to prepare indictments against Myanmar's army chief and five other top military commanders for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Much of Myanmar's majority Buddhist society regards the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has for decades systematically stripped them of their rights.

Balakrishnan noted that Myanmar cannot be compelled by ASEAN to act as the 10-nation grouping makes decisions by consensus, which effectively gives each member veto powers.

The bloc however can influence Myanmar through "persuasion, through transparency and keeping this on the agenda" of their annual meetings, he said.

ASEAN members typically steer clear of openly criticising each other's domestic policies.

Singapore, the current chair of ASEAN's rotating leadership, will host a summit of the group's leaders in November.

The bloc's other members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hope for jailed Maldives dissidents after ex-president Gayoom freed

Yahoo – AFP, Amal JAYASINGHE, 30 September 2018

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom Gayoom had ruled the Maldives for 30 straight years
till he was defeated at the country's first multi-party elections in 2008.

Former Maldives president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was released from jail Sunday, a week after his estranged half-brother suffered a shock electoral defeat, raising hopes that other high profile political prisoners could soon have their convictions overturned.

Gayoom, 80, and his legislator son Faris Maumoon, were released on bail by the High Court in Male, a week after strongman Abdulla Yameen's spectacular loss at the polls in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation.

Gayoom's daughter Dunya, a former foreign minister, welcomed the release and said she hoped the sentences of other dissidents, including another former leader, Mohamed Nasheed, would soon be withdrawn.

"These are all politically-motivated convictions and I hope they too will be overturned soon, allowing... Nasheed to return home," Maumoon told AFP by telephone from Male as Gayoom returned home.

Nasheed, the country's first democratically-elected president, was convicted on a terrorism charge and sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2015. He obtained prison leave in 2016 and travelled to London for medical treatment and has remained abroad since.

Nasheed was barred from contesting the September 23 presidential election because of his conviction which the United Nations said was a travesty of justice.

Former foes Nasheed and Gayoom both backed Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to challenge Yameen, who had locked up all his key political opponents or forced them to flee the country.

Sunday's release followed appeals from President-elect Solih, who urged Yameen to free all political prisoners in the tourist paradise atoll nation after his stunning victory last week.

Gayoom had ruled the nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims for 30 straight years till he was defeated by Nasheed at the country's first multi-party elections in 2008.

Bitter brothers

He supported Yameen against Nasheed in a controversial run-off election in 2013 although the half-brothers later fell out and became bitter foes.

Gayoom was arrested in February along with the country's Chief Justice and another Supreme Court judge on a charge of attempting to topple Yameen. He declared a 45-day state of emergency to block impeachment.

Gayoom was serving a 19-month jail term for obstruction of justice and was also under trial on a "terrorism" charge when the High Court ordered his release.

The ex-leader had bail set at 60,000 rufiyaa ($3,900) and his son Faris at 40,000 rufiyaa, and they were ordered not to travel abroad without the court's permission.

Another high profile Maldivian dissident, Qasim Ibrahim, was also granted bail. He, however, is not in the Maldives. He had obtained prison leave for medical treatment and has remained in Europe.

Almost all key opposition leaders and a number of ruling party dissidents had either been jailed or gone into exile in recent years under Yameen who relied heavily on China for political and financial support.

Soon after his defeat, Yameen freed five other political prisoners but was delaying the release of his half-brother who could have made a claim to the leadership of his PPM party.

Yameen secured the leadership of the party on Friday.

His five-year term as president will come to an end on November 17 when Solih is due to be sworn in.