QUETTA – The Balochistan High Court (BHC) on Monday issued bailable arrest warrants for former president General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf in the case of alleged murder of former Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Earlier, an Anti-terrorism court had acquitted the former dictator in the Nawab Akbar Bugti murder case but an appeal had been filed against the judgement in the High Court.
On the 25th of November, Fidel Castro died at the age of 90, after governing Cuba from 1959 to 2008. As every man that changed the history course, his actions caused both admiration and resentment. Cuba declared 9 days of National mourning to honour the father of the revolution. The leader’s remains are exhibited at the José Martí Memorial in Havana and they will be carried to Stantiago de Cuba, where the funeral is due to be celebrated on the 4th of December. It is important to remember who was this personality who deeply influenced the course of the twentieth century.
Fidel Castro was born in 1926, in a wealthy family. He studied law at University and when he became a lawyer decided to take a stand for the poorest farmers, against the foreign companies on the island. His ideals led him to organize a first action against the Batista’s regime in 1953. However, the Moncada attack failed, and Castro was arrested. During the trial, he made his own defense speech, called “History will absolve me”. On that occasion, he demonstrated a great talent in public speech.
During the exile in Mexico, Fidel organized the revolution and met some of his future companions like Ernesto Guevara. The “Che” declared that he was fascinated by Castro’s charisma, so he decided to join the Cuban expedition. The revolution succeeded in 1959, thanks to the support of the population, as well as the clever use of the media.
Castro nationalized the foreign companies and properties on the island. This worsened the relations with the US, whose government imposed an economic embargo on Cuba. Fidel had to deal with the threat of an isolation of Cuba, so he decided to accept the protection of the Soviet Union.
However, the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989 marked the most difficult moment in the Cuban revolution. The end of the economic support offered by the Soviet Union, caused a deep economic crisis. In 1990, the Cuban government declared the beginning of a “Special period”, in which it would adopt a series of measures to assure decent living conditions to the population. The government also adopted measures that changed the economic system, allowing small private businesses and foreign investments.
Castro’s foreign policy focused on the support to the anti-colonial and revolutionary movements in developing countries. Cuba sent military consultants to many countries like Bolivia, Congo and Angola. However, Cuba also carried out humanitarian missions in the poorest countries, sending doctors and offering scholarships to young people unable to access to education in their countries.
Let’s focus now on the most controversial aspects of Castro’s domestic policy. The most criticized policies were the restrictions on private property, businesses and the lack of free elections (including the opposition forces). Many Cubans decided to leave the country in order to find a better standard of life abroad. In fact, the economic deprivation, mainly dependent on the embargo, is considerable. However, the Cuban system obtained great achievements in welfare. The National health service is excellent and completely free, as well as all levels of education. The crucial point is that Cuba is not a parliamentary and representative regime, it is a socialist regime. As a consequence, in Cuba there is only one party, and the elections are held in order to choose the members of an Assembly that makes political decisions without having the power of changing the socialist nature of the State.
To sum up, Castro changed the Cuban history and his revolution was an example for the people who fought against a colonial or neo-colonial regime. He showed them that it was possible to achieve independence and to find a National development strategy, not imposed by any other country. If many people did not share the communist ideals of Castro, the most of them recognized the efforts made by Cuba to gain its independence. Castro’s policy influenced the international stage. Even though he was widely criticized during his life, today the media are reconsidering part of his actions. After the death of the Cuban leader, we have to ask ourselves whether History absolved him from all the accusations or not.
The 48-hour cease-fire in place from November 19 to 21 between the Al Houthis and forces loyal to President Hadi in Yemen has failed. Since the beginning of the truce, violations have been committed by both sides, thus an extension resulting impossible. Similarly, the ceasefire scheduled for the night of 17 November did not take place, following the clashes occurred in the city of Taiz, which had killed more than twenty people.
If the end of hostilities on the ground is still a dream, it is even more unlikely for a political settlement -which should end a conflict that has affected the country for 20 months- to be set in the near term. In the past few weeks, negotiations and meetings have taken place between the US Secretary of State John Kerry, the special UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and mediating countries such as Oman in order to deal with the conflicting parties and to draw up an acceptable plan to restore stability and security in the country.
Several proposals have been rejected, including the last one presented by Kerry, according to which President Hadi would relinquish his power to a new vice president in return for the Al Houthis withdrawal from all major cities and the handover of their weapons to third neutral parties.
To date, indeed, no agreement has been achieved, considering the reluctance of both the players to give up those power and control they have in the country. On the one hand, President Hadi refuses to relinquish his powers; on the other, the Al Houthis want to keep their weapons. This allows them to maintain a certain power in national politics, making them a good candidate to be a new Hezbollah in Yemen -not just a major political opponent but also a militarily strong one. Although international attention is currently focused on other issues, the conflict in Yemen becomes day after day more relevant in regional and international political games.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the conflict, in November 2011, when following a popular uprising, the then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to give in power to Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. The new president, however, did not manage to deal with several domestic issues, such as unemployment, corruption, hunger, terrorism, leaving the population at the mercy of plagues that eliminate any hope to restore stability in the country. In September 2014, with the support of former President Saleh, the rebel group known as Al Houthis, Zaidi Shia-led political-religious movement, took control of the northern region of the country, entering the capital Sana’a. The then-President Hadi was put under house arrest and forced to flee to Aden the following month.
Confrontations started between two factions: the Al Houthis, allied with Saleh, who control the capital Sana’a and the internationally recognized government of President Hadi, based in Aden. Supporters and allies on both sides complete the bigger picture. In March of 2015, a Saudi-led military coalition began an air campaign against rebel positions, in order to restore Hadi government. Since then more than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict and living conditions in the country have deteriorated drastically, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.
On the other side, though repeatedly denied, there seems to be Iran’s political and military support, something similar to what we have already seen in Lebanon with Hezbollah. According to Brigadier General Ahmad Asseri, spokesman for the Saudi coalition, a link would exist between the terrorist group Hezbollah and the Houthis. Members of the Lebanese group have been seen among the Shiite militants in Yemen.
Moreover, the terrorist groups of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State (ISIS) add chaos to this picture, exploiting the instability of the region to pursue their political agenda. Indeed, they managed to take control of some areas in the southern provinces (government-controlled area), making even more difficult to restore security in the country.
It is clear that the conflict in Yemen is not limited to the political parties on the ground, but affects several external actors and is connected to the political dynamics of the Middle East. Once again, in fact, we see the couple Saudi Arabia-Iran, fighting for hegemony in the region and the division between a Shiite component, currently controlling the North of the country, and a Sunni-dominated south region, headed by Hadi government.
It should be added that the conflict in Yemen in not just a theatre for the proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran, but also a destabilizing factor for the international trade. Houthis’ missile arsenal, indeed, guarantees the rebels an effective means to hit ships transiting the Strait of Bab el-Mandab, one of the busiest routes of world trade. About 4 million barrels of oil a day pass through this strait; therefore, the security in this area is a necessary condition not only for regional actors but also for other stakeholders, such as European countries and the United States, heavily dependent on energy coming from this region.
It is more understandable why negotiations held by US and UN include the handover of rebels’ weapons to neutral units; similarly, it is clear why the Houthis want to maintain at least their light weapons, as a key tool to keep power in national, regional and global dynamics. Consultations will continue in order to reach an agreement as soon as possible. However, it has to be seen how the new US administration will deal with this issue. According to Donald Trump, the United States should stay out of conflicts that do not directly threaten its national interests and the war in Yemen does not seem to be a priority.
On Monday, Kyodo news agency reported that Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko, who is in charge for the expansion of economic ties with Russia, during a meeting with members of Japan Foreign Trade Council, has urged national corporations to cooperate with Russia. According to the Agency, heads of Japanese companies belonging to the organization, asked Seko to provide governmental support to Russian-Japanese projects in the area of urban planning, transport infrastructure and finances. On the 6th of May, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, put forward an eight-point cooperation plan to develop the relations with Russia during his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Sochi. The plan includes efforts to foster relations between Japan and Russia in the energy sector, small and medium-size businesses, the promotion of industrialization of the Far East and expansion of the export base.
On Monday, Russian center of reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, affirmed that more that 40% of Eastern Aleppo’s district have been liberated from terrorists by the Syrian governments army. According to the center, more that 80000 people live in the liberated district and more than 5000 civilians fled terrorists-controlled southern districts of Eastern Aleppo to find shelter in government-controlled district. Early in the day, the Russian reconciliation center said that Syrian government troops have regained control over 12 quarters in eastern Aleppo .
Syrian government forces have captured a third of the rebel-held territory in eastern Aleppo, monitors say. The advance, after heavy bombing from the air, is a major blow for the armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad. Thousands of civilians have fled the besieged districts after a weekend of heavy fighting. Hundreds of families have been displaced within the area.
Adviser to the Royal Court and General Supervisor of the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief) Abdullah Al-Rabeeah signed an agreement on Friday in Rome to implement a program to counter malnutrition in Yemen’s Governorate of Hodeidah at a cost of $10 million. Al-Rabeeah said the program is implemented on the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to provide relief and humanitarian aid to the people in Yemen. Al-Rabeeah pointed out that the program aims to address the risk of acute malnutrition for children under the age of five years.
Houthi militias and forces loyal to deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh continue to push their members towards missions that resemble suicide missions. In the governorate of Hajjah, northwest of Yemen, the Midi-Hard front witnessed violent clashes during the past 24 hours and the militias suffered from serious human and materialistic losses. According to the media center of the fifth military zone, 22 militiamen were killed and 17 others were injured in the confrontations against the army and resistance forces which are supported by the Arab coalition in northeastern Midi. In Taiz, the militias failed to regain control of posts they lost in the past few days although Saleh resorted to elite and special forces.
Security agencies and People’s Committees arrested a criminal cell in the capital Sanaa. The criminals were found in possession of large quantities of explosives, weapons, ammunition and counterfeit currency. The members of the cell were referred to the public prosecution as preliminary investigations were underway which revealed that the cell has been associated with arms dealers. The official also said that the investigations were still ongoing to find out who was behind this cell to catch them and bring them to justice.
A court in the western province of İzmir has accepted an indictment against the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) co-chair and two other party lawmakers on terror charges, seeking up to five years in jail, a judiciary source said on Nov. 28. The İzmir Public Prosecutor’s Office had charged HDP co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ, who is in jail on terror charges, and HDP deputy Erdal Ataş with “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”