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Posts tagged international

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Afghanistan: Latest News

  • Policy circles are looking to back off a deadline in terms of signing a bilateral security agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, pulling out US troops by the end of 2014. Karzai has refused to sign any agreements until April elections, and there is internal disagreement in the US about waiting out for Karzai, or not letting him “direct foreign policy”.
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Demsey says he has not fully considered the ‘zero option' of pulling out all US troops from Afghanistan at the end of the year if Karzai doesn't sign the BSA. Karzai, apart from wishing to wait until April elections, wants nighttime raids to end and a peace process with the Taliban to start. If the BSA is signed, US troops may remain in Afghanistan in small numbers until 2024. Karzai himself says that there is no deadline, and the US is holding things up themselves.
  • An Afghanistan National Directirate of Security spokesman says that a blast in a weapons cache today near the United States embassy was an accident caused by an electrical fault. No one was injured.
  • The United States has secretly lobbied India to persuade Afghanistan to sign the BSA.

Filed under afghanistan news politics international

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David Ignatius: A free-trade agreement with Europe? - The Washington Post
David Ignatius on a free-trade agreement with Europe.
But a big idea is taking shape that could revitalize the U.S.-European partnership for the 21st century. It was the talk of Berlin and Hamburg when I was there a week ago, and there’s a similar buzz in Washington. The idea is free trade — specifically, a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement — which I’ll optimistically call “TAFTA.”
A participant in a German business leader had said that Europeans need America. Europe is happy that Obama was re-elected, of course, but they’re worried that they’re going to be left alone sine Obama has started focusing more on Asia. A recent idea has started taking place that could tie a free trade agreement between the US and Europe. Sec. of State Clinton had said that there were talks about a potential trade agreement with Europe, as long they change some of their rules on trade “barriers”. Imagine this as an “economic NATO”. Obama has confirmed that he plans to make a trade agreement with Europe as part of his second term agenda.
There are many good things if a trade agreement is signed, such as increasing employment, trade, and investment. Austerity measures haven’t been working, and a “TAFTA” would induce growth and expansion. The public even supports a trade agreement with Europe, 58-28% according to a Pew research poll. A GMF report has said that the GDP of both America and Europe would increase at $53 billion and $160 billion, respectively, and unnecessary tariffs would be brushed aside. In the end, America would now don economic leadership in an otherwise bruised up Europe and prove that austerity shouldn’t be the answer for the downtrodden.

David Ignatius: A free-trade agreement with Europe? - The Washington Post

David Ignatius on a free-trade agreement with Europe.

But a big idea is taking shape that could revitalize the U.S.-European partnership for the 21st century. It was the talk of Berlin and Hamburg when I was there a week ago, and there’s a similar buzz in Washington. The idea is free trade — specifically, a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement — which I’ll optimistically call “TAFTA.”

A participant in a German business leader had said that Europeans need America. Europe is happy that Obama was re-elected, of course, but they’re worried that they’re going to be left alone sine Obama has started focusing more on Asia. A recent idea has started taking place that could tie a free trade agreement between the US and Europe. Sec. of State Clinton had said that there were talks about a potential trade agreement with Europe, as long they change some of their rules on trade “barriers”. Imagine this as an “economic NATO”. Obama has confirmed that he plans to make a trade agreement with Europe as part of his second term agenda.

There are many good things if a trade agreement is signed, such as increasing employment, trade, and investment. Austerity measures haven’t been working, and a “TAFTA” would induce growth and expansion. The public even supports a trade agreement with Europe, 58-28% according to a Pew research poll. A GMF report has said that the GDP of both America and Europe would increase at $53 billion and $160 billion, respectively, and unnecessary tariffs would be brushed aside. In the end, America would now don economic leadership in an otherwise bruised up Europe and prove that austerity shouldn’t be the answer for the downtrodden.

Filed under news politics economics trade international usa europe euro trade agreement nato

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(via In Philippines, a 14-year fight for birth control - CNN.com)Philippine’s Roman Catholic Church leaders are going to shoot down the country’s Reproductive Health Bill, but 65-70% of Filipinos support it. A prime example as to why church and state should never be mixed together. If there is anything to be learned from world history, it’s that religious institutions cannot be counted on making good decisions for the state. Re: The Crusades, etc.

(via In Philippines, a 14-year fight for birth control - CNN.com)

Philippine’s Roman Catholic Church leaders are going to shoot down the country’s Reproductive Health Bill, but 65-70% of Filipinos support it. A prime example as to why church and state should never be mixed together. If there is anything to be learned from world history, it’s that religious institutions cannot be counted on making good decisions for the state. Re: The Crusades, etc.

Filed under news politics reddit international philippines

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(via South Sudan’s Leader Says Sudan Has Declared War - ABC News)IN BRIEF: South Sudan President Salva Kiir tells China’s President Hu Jintao that Sudan practically declared war unto the former’s country. China is stuck in a weird position as a mediator, seeing as how it has heavy interests within the region in terms of resources (oil, nonetheless). At the end of the day, trade agreements were reached, including the construction of an oil pipeline. It is expected to see the Chinese participate from the construction of the pipeline, right down to handing out its loans. This, ladies and gentleman, is China taking over the region. The war between South Sudan and Sudan has to stop, of course. It makes things complicated seeing China become stuck as a mediator. When the region was united, China had calm trade agreements and diplomatic relations. If anything, it is a test to see how China can solve its own world problems, much like the US has been turned to to solve its problems concerning their energy resource interests in the Middle East.

(via South Sudan’s Leader Says Sudan Has Declared War - ABC News)

IN BRIEF: South Sudan President Salva Kiir tells China’s President Hu Jintao that Sudan practically declared war unto the former’s country. China is stuck in a weird position as a mediator, seeing as how it has heavy interests within the region in terms of resources (oil, nonetheless). At the end of the day, trade agreements were reached, including the construction of an oil pipeline. It is expected to see the Chinese participate from the construction of the pipeline, right down to handing out its loans.

This, ladies and gentleman, is China taking over the region. The war between South Sudan and Sudan has to stop, of course. It makes things complicated seeing China become stuck as a mediator. When the region was united, China had calm trade agreements and diplomatic relations. If anything, it is a test to see how China can solve its own world problems, much like the US has been turned to to solve its problems concerning their energy resource interests in the Middle East.

Filed under news china sudan south sudan africa asia international opinion

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(via BBC News - Syria ‘failing to keep to truce’, says Ban Ki-moon)While Bashar Al-Assad openly doesn’t care about the truce aimed at establishing some sort of peace in Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is trying to send even more observers to the country. Ki-moon was stated to have said that “there’s an opportunity for progress”. That opportunity should’ve came at the start of the protest movement, not when Bashar has already murdered more than 9,000 Syrians.Even when the “truce” started between rebels and the state military, clashes broke out and people were still dying and cities were still being shelled. Other parts of the peace plan that was brought up by Kofi Annan, such as releasing detainees and negotiating access to human rights, has fell through. So why are we still acting as if Bashar is acting under the peace plan in the first place? Observers are not even allowed to freely go wherever they need to in the country. Homs is not accessible due to “security concerns”, when in actuality, the military just isn’t done murdering everyone in the town just yet.An upcoming “Friends of Syria” meeting in Paris aims at trying to find more solutions to the Bashar problem in Syria, with French President Sarkozy calling for more humanitarian access as one point of discussion. Russia, meanwhile, still turns a blind eye, siding with Bashar and saying that nothing will be achieved at the meeting. Russia needs to start standing up for human rights, because it is painful to see such a strong Federation bow down to the evils of a murderous dictator.

(via BBC News - Syria ‘failing to keep to truce’, says Ban Ki-moon)

While Bashar Al-Assad openly doesn’t care about the truce aimed at establishing some sort of peace in Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is trying to send even more observers to the country. Ki-moon was stated to have said that “there’s an opportunity for progress”. That opportunity should’ve came at the start of the protest movement, not when Bashar has already murdered more than 9,000 Syrians.

Even when the “truce” started between rebels and the state military, clashes broke out and people were still dying and cities were still being shelled. Other parts of the peace plan that was brought up by Kofi Annan, such as releasing detainees and negotiating access to human rights, has fell through. So why are we still acting as if Bashar is acting under the peace plan in the first place? Observers are not even allowed to freely go wherever they need to in the country. Homs is not accessible due to “security concerns”, when in actuality, the military just isn’t done murdering everyone in the town just yet.

An upcoming “Friends of Syria” meeting in Paris aims at trying to find more solutions to the Bashar problem in Syria, with French President Sarkozy calling for more humanitarian access as one point of discussion. Russia, meanwhile, still turns a blind eye, siding with Bashar and saying that nothing will be achieved at the meeting. Russia needs to start standing up for human rights, because it is painful to see such a strong Federation bow down to the evils of a murderous dictator.

Filed under news syria international opinion

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(via Bahrainis rally against Formula One race - Middle East - Al Jazeera English)Bahrain has started to see a flare up in their protests as of late as a result of the oncoming Formula One Grand Prix. The major opposition movement, Al Wefaq, organized a protest on Wednesday. In Manama, Bahrain’s capital, Nabeel Rajab, human rights activist, staged a protest of his own. An unusually careful riot police broke up the protests by using sound bombs, as opposed to the more dangerous tear gas. The protestors vowed to return this weekend to wreak havoc before the races begin.As a display to show that the prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, is completely disillusioned with his “unified” country, billboards advertising the Formula Grand Prix say stuff like: “UNIF1ED: One country, one celebration.” What a joke… Meanwhile, the opposition had advertising of their own such as, “stop racing on our blood.”The crown prince has to come to his senses soon and realize his “reforms” were not enough for the people of Bahrain. It is a call to oust him. And just like the Arab Spring has effected other former Middle Eastern leaders, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this prince kicked out.That’s if Saudi Arabia decides to not step in this time…

(via Bahrainis rally against Formula One race - Middle East - Al Jazeera English)

Bahrain has started to see a flare up in their protests as of late as a result of the oncoming Formula One Grand Prix. The major opposition movement, Al Wefaq, organized a protest on Wednesday. In Manama, Bahrain’s capital, Nabeel Rajab, human rights activist, staged a protest of his own. An unusually careful riot police broke up the protests by using sound bombs, as opposed to the more dangerous tear gas. The protestors vowed to return this weekend to wreak havoc before the races begin.

As a display to show that the prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, is completely disillusioned with his “unified” country, billboards advertising the Formula Grand Prix say stuff like: “UNIF1ED: One country, one celebration.” What a joke… Meanwhile, the opposition had advertising of their own such as, “stop racing on our blood.”

The crown prince has to come to his senses soon and realize his “reforms” were not enough for the people of Bahrain. It is a call to oust him. And just like the Arab Spring has effected other former Middle Eastern leaders, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this prince kicked out.

That’s if Saudi Arabia decides to not step in this time…

Filed under news bahrain international middle east opinion

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(via AFP: Gunter Grass accuses Israel of plotting to ‘wipe out’ Iran)

BERLIN — German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass touched off a firestorm of protest Wednesday with a poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation.
The 84-year-old longtime leftist activist wrote in “What must be said” that he worried Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike” due to the threat it sees in Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.
"Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace?" reads the poem, which appeared in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.

The question I pose to ask about all of that is.. How is Grass such a highly acclaimed poet and a Nobel laureate if he truly believes in hateful things like that? Upon reading the news article further, Gunter Grass has already admitted to being a part of the Waffen-SS. Who knew he would be an anti-Semite?As anyone is entitled to their opinion, there can be much debate as to whether or not what Grass said was hateful. But the impression I get from this “amazing” poet is that he doesn’t like Israel. I, for one, think that the Israeli government needs to change their leadership, and things will gradually cool down. Coincidentally, Israel is going to go through elections in October of 2013, and the opposition will be sure to mobilize if not now than soon.

(via AFP: Gunter Grass accuses Israel of plotting to ‘wipe out’ Iran)

BERLIN — German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass touched off a firestorm of protest Wednesday with a poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation.

The 84-year-old longtime leftist activist wrote in “What must be said” that he worried Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike” due to the threat it sees in Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

"Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace?" reads the poem, which appeared in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.

The question I pose to ask about all of that is.. How is Grass such a highly acclaimed poet and a Nobel laureate if he truly believes in hateful things like that? Upon reading the news article further, Gunter Grass has already admitted to being a part of the Waffen-SS. Who knew he would be an anti-Semite?

As anyone is entitled to their opinion, there can be much debate as to whether or not what Grass said was hateful. But the impression I get from this “amazing” poet is that he doesn’t like Israel. I, for one, think that the Israeli government needs to change their leadership, and things will gradually cool down. Coincidentally, Israel is going to go through elections in October of 2013, and the opposition will be sure to mobilize if not now than soon.

Filed under news israel international poetry opinion politics

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(via BBC News - Exam pressure ‘undermining teacher’s integrity’)

Some teachers’ professional integrity is being undermined by the pressure to get good exam results, a union says.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers says teachers have been forced to “manipulate results” and even “re-write students’ work” to boost results.

Sounds very familiar… The teachers here in the United States teach kids below the college level only in a standardized form. I know that living in New York, everything is prepped in order to pass the state Regents. There’s no single amount of wiggle room for creativity in learning the subject in question, and it is all boiled down to the hard facts necessary enough to pass standardized multiple choice questions and essay topics. That, coupled with the fact that most of my teachers weren’t the most compelling educators, made my high school education dismal, at best. People point at the No Child Left Behind law for these incredibly low standards for passing school. Something like this needs to be reformed into a more acceptable method of educating kids before entering a college environment. Noting the disparity between the two as soon as I entered my first semester was an enormous feeling, and kids have to be brought up to speed before getting into a college classroom.

(via BBC News - Exam pressure ‘undermining teacher’s integrity’)

Some teachers’ professional integrity is being undermined by the pressure to get good exam results, a union says.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers says teachers have been forced to “manipulate results” and even “re-write students’ work” to boost results.

Sounds very familiar… The teachers here in the United States teach kids below the college level only in a standardized form. I know that living in New York, everything is prepped in order to pass the state Regents. There’s no single amount of wiggle room for creativity in learning the subject in question, and it is all boiled down to the hard facts necessary enough to pass standardized multiple choice questions and essay topics. That, coupled with the fact that most of my teachers weren’t the most compelling educators, made my high school education dismal, at best. People point at the No Child Left Behind law for these incredibly low standards for passing school. Something like this needs to be reformed into a more acceptable method of educating kids before entering a college environment. Noting the disparity between the two as soon as I entered my first semester was an enormous feeling, and kids have to be brought up to speed before getting into a college classroom.

Filed under opinion education no child left behind news europe international

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(via Oil Scare Turns FedEx On To Energy Efficiency : NPR)

Smith believes the country’s immense shale gas resource, along with shale oil deposits in places like Texas and North Dakota, could help make the U.S. energy independent for the first time since he founded FedEx. But, he says, only if these resources are coupled with conservation and a move to alternative fuels.
"You gotta do all of them. You can’t sit on the left or the right of this issue," Smith says. "You’ve got to be willing to maximize our resources, and you’ve got to be willing to conserve and transition to nonpetroleum-based transportation."

We have to stop relying on dirty oil from places that constantly foster confrontation. We invest so much money on this resource that continually causes the death of our fellow human beings. All for what? Being able to drive faster cars? Brighter lights?

(via Oil Scare Turns FedEx On To Energy Efficiency : NPR)

Smith believes the country’s immense shale gas resource, along with shale oil deposits in places like Texas and North Dakota, could help make the U.S. energy independent for the first time since he founded FedEx. But, he says, only if these resources are coupled with conservation and a move to alternative fuels.

"You gotta do all of them. You can’t sit on the left or the right of this issue," Smith says. "You’ve got to be willing to maximize our resources, and you’ve got to be willing to conserve and transition to nonpetroleum-based transportation."

We have to stop relying on dirty oil from places that constantly foster confrontation. We invest so much money on this resource that continually causes the death of our fellow human beings. All for what? Being able to drive faster cars? Brighter lights?

Filed under opinion news economy oil international

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(via Shaul Mofaz beats Tzipi Livni in Kadima leadership primaries - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News)
Shaul Mofaz won the Kadima party leadership primaries on Tuesday, after a tight race against former party chairwoman Tzipi Lvini.
With 100% of the votes counted, Mofaz won 61.7 percent of the vote - a total of 23,987 votes - and Livni took 37.23 percent - a total of 14,516 votes. In his speech, Mofaz appealed to Israelis to have faith in Kadima’s new journey “to the Israel we lost, that we dreamt about, that can be different,” and expressed his conviction that Kadima would pose a significant challenge to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s administration in Israel’s general elections.

Can this new leadership in the Kadima party bring unity and stability to Israel if it beats Netanyahu’s conservative government? Granted that Mofaz is Iranian born, maybe he is the type of experienced official Israel needs right now when public scrutiny of Israel’s actions against Palestinians and Iranians become stronger? What do you think?Everything being spewed right now is political rhetoric and it is extremely important to notice that. I have some faith in this guy, just because Netty has been controversial with his policies and his speeches (“Nuclear duck”, anyone?). Israel needs someone right now that can bring the balance back between relations with the Arabs and Israelis.

(via Shaul Mofaz beats Tzipi Livni in Kadima leadership primaries - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News)

Shaul Mofaz won the Kadima party leadership primaries on Tuesday, after a tight race against former party chairwoman Tzipi Lvini.

With 100% of the votes counted, Mofaz won 61.7 percent of the vote - a total of 23,987 votes - and Livni took 37.23 percent - a total of 14,516 votes.

In his speech, Mofaz appealed to Israelis to have faith in Kadima’s new journey “to the Israel we lost, that we dreamt about, that can be different,” and expressed his conviction that Kadima would pose a significant challenge to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s administration in Israel’s general elections.

Can this new leadership in the Kadima party bring unity and stability to Israel if it beats Netanyahu’s conservative government? Granted that Mofaz is Iranian born, maybe he is the type of experienced official Israel needs right now when public scrutiny of Israel’s actions against Palestinians and Iranians become stronger? What do you think?
Everything being spewed right now is political rhetoric and it is extremely important to notice that. I have some faith in this guy, just because Netty has been controversial with his policies and his speeches (“Nuclear duck”, anyone?). Israel needs someone right now that can bring the balance back between relations with the Arabs and Israelis.

Filed under israel middle east news international opinion

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(via BBC News - Spanish workers hold general strike over labour reforms)
"Spanish unions are holding a general strike to protest against labour reforms which the new government hopes will help cut unemployment.
Road, rail and air transport were all affected with domestic and European flights cut to a fraction.
Unions claimed strong support at car factories and other industrial sites but Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government played down the action.
It plans to unveil measures on Friday to save tens of billions of euros.”

The current situation in Spain has been that of a nation struggling with debt and unemployment coupled with the labor unions disagreeing with the methods the government is taking in order to curb those monetary problems.What is the best mix of action necessary in order to curb the debt and unemployment and keep your workers happy? Conservative governments cut too many things away that it makes it nearly impossible for anyone to find work in the first place. For those that are still working during the enactment of labor reforms, the cut in transportation and public commute makes things worse and can possibly threaten them the entire time of losing their job.Some reforms are necessary and unavoidable. Can the government look in other places to cut funding in order to lessen the budget and curtail the debt? Something not having to do with the job market? Nations spend too much money on their military budgets, federal budgets, etc. Things that favor public officials and the military might of the country need to be toned down for the moment in order to continue the equilibrium within the economy. Too many times have the people been stepped on, and have experienced loss way too often. Although there could be some places where the spending is too much in the public sector, the government sector needs to be checked. I’m not an expert in budgetary policy, but I do see that officials don’t get their unfair treatment either.

(via BBC News - Spanish workers hold general strike over labour reforms)

"Spanish unions are holding a general strike to protest against labour reforms which the new government hopes will help cut unemployment.

Road, rail and air transport were all affected with domestic and European flights cut to a fraction.

Unions claimed strong support at car factories and other industrial sites but Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government played down the action.

It plans to unveil measures on Friday to save tens of billions of euros.”

The current situation in Spain has been that of a nation struggling with debt and unemployment coupled with the labor unions disagreeing with the methods the government is taking in order to curb those monetary problems.
What is the best mix of action necessary in order to curb the debt and unemployment and keep your workers happy? Conservative governments cut too many things away that it makes it nearly impossible for anyone to find work in the first place. For those that are still working during the enactment of labor reforms, the cut in transportation and public commute makes things worse and can possibly threaten them the entire time of losing their job.
Some reforms are necessary and unavoidable. Can the government look in other places to cut funding in order to lessen the budget and curtail the debt? Something not having to do with the job market? Nations spend too much money on their military budgets, federal budgets, etc. Things that favor public officials and the military might of the country need to be toned down for the moment in order to continue the equilibrium within the economy. Too many times have the people been stepped on, and have experienced loss way too often. Although there could be some places where the spending is too much in the public sector, the government sector needs to be checked. I’m not an expert in budgetary policy, but I do see that officials don’t get their unfair treatment either.

Filed under spain international news opinion economy

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(via Libya’s Toubou tribal leader raises separatist bid)
"The head of the Toubou tribe in Libya on Tuesday denounced to AFP what he said was a plan to “ethnically cleanse” his people, and raised the threat of a separatist bid, a day after deadly clashes. “We announce the reactivation of the Toubou Front for the Salvation of Libya (TFSL, an opposition group active under the former regime) to protect the Toubou people from ethnic cleansing,” Issa Abdel Majid Mansur told AFP. “If necessary, we will demand international intervention and work towards the creation of a state, as in South Sudan,” he said after more than 10 people were reported killed in clashes in the southern oasis city of Sabha.”
Well, so much for that…The Libyan Civil War that ousted former leader Muammar Gaddafi, in my opinion, has ultimately failed. As much as the Arab Spring may have been about the power of the people to finally stand up and rise up against the dictators that have been sitting on their thrones for decades, unification of these people never succeeded. In the end, it can be said that there was no national spirit within the operation to topple Gaddafi. It was all for people’s special self-interests. It’s just sad to see that at the end of the day, there will be bickering and fighting over who has the bigger share of power, who has the most voice in the debate, and of course, who has the louder voice when everyone is shouting at the same time.There could be justification for the separation of Libya’s tribal regions, as any headway for reconciliation and cooperative living is seemingly impossible and is a waste of time. This could only dictate the future of Libya, as it is being transformed into another state basking in the former glory of it’s old name.

(via Libya’s Toubou tribal leader raises separatist bid)

"The head of the Toubou tribe in Libya on Tuesday denounced to AFP what he said was a plan to “ethnically cleanse” his people, and raised the threat of a separatist bid, a day after deadly clashes.

“We announce the reactivation of the Toubou Front for the Salvation of Libya (TFSL, an opposition group active under the former regime) to protect the Toubou people from ethnic cleansing,” Issa Abdel Majid Mansur told AFP.

“If necessary, we will demand international intervention and work towards the creation of a state, as in South Sudan,” he said after more than 10 people were reported killed in clashes in the southern oasis city of Sabha.”

Well, so much for that…
The Libyan Civil War that ousted former leader Muammar Gaddafi, in my opinion, has ultimately failed. As much as the Arab Spring may have been about the power of the people to finally stand up and rise up against the dictators that have been sitting on their thrones for decades, unification of these people never succeeded. In the end, it can be said that there was no national spirit within the operation to topple Gaddafi. It was all for people’s special self-interests. It’s just sad to see that at the end of the day, there will be bickering and fighting over who has the bigger share of power, who has the most voice in the debate, and of course, who has the louder voice when everyone is shouting at the same time.
There could be justification for the separation of Libya’s tribal regions, as any headway for reconciliation and cooperative living is seemingly impossible and is a waste of time. This could only dictate the future of Libya, as it is being transformed into another state basking in the former glory of it’s old name.

Filed under libya news international middle east opinion