Mar 31 2013

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Libya’s south teeters toward chaos – and militant extremists

Libya’s long-neglected, isolated southern region has grown more lawless since the fall of Moammar Kadafi. Only ill-trained tribal militias hold Islamist extremists at bay.

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

SABHA, Libya – Their fatigues don’t match and their pickup has no windshield. Their antiaircraft gun, clogged with grit, is perched between a refugee camp and ripped market tents scattered over an ancient caravan route. But the tribesmen keep their rifles cocked and eyes fixed on a terrain of scouring light where the oasis succumbs to desert.

“If we leave this outpost the Islamist militants will come and use Libya as a base. We can’t let that happen,” said Zakaria Ali Krayem, the oldest among the Tabu warriors. “But the government hasn’t paid us in 14 months. They won’t even give us money to buy needles to mend our uniforms.”

Sunday’s Headlines:

Nato alarm over Afghan army crisis: loss of recruits threatens security as handover looms

Egyptian comic arrested for insulting president

North Korea feels it is ‘being provoked’

Algeria sanctions imam union to stem Salafist influence

The speeches written but never given


Nato alarm over Afghan army crisis: loss of recruits threatens security as handover looms



Thousands of recruits are quitting the newly formed Afghan police and armed forces every month, raising fears over their ability to protect the emerging democracy when coalition troops leave the country in less than two years’ time. For every 10 new soldiers recruited to the Afghan National Army (ANA), at least three are lost because they have been sacked, captured or killed in action, new figures have revealed. British officials admit that current “attrition rates”, with more than 5,000 soldiers quitting every month, threaten the force’s long-term effectiveness.

Egyptian comic arrested for insulting president

March 31, 2013 – 10:47AM

CAIRO: Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered the arrest of popular satirist Bassem Youssef over alleged insults to Islam and to President Mohamed Mursi, in the latest clampdown on critical media.

Judicial sources said several complaints had been filed against Youssef, whose razor-sharp humour – delivered on his weekly television program Albernameg (The Show) – has spared few public figures.

He is accused of offending Islam through “making fun of the prayer ritual” on his show, and of insulting Dr Mursi by “making fun of his international standing”, the sources said.

In one of the suits filed against him, the plaintiff asked that legal measures be taken against Youssef ?to ?discourage others from following his example, a source said.

North Korea feels it is ‘being provoked’

 North Korea’s threats of war have reached a new stage. Political expert August Pradetto explains why Kim Jong-Un is out to demonstrate his power, and how the US may respond.


DW: North Korea says it is now in a state of war with South Korea. What will change as a result? After all, the two countries have not had a peace treaty since the end of the Korean War.

August Pradetto: In principle, that will change little about the military and political situation because South Korea, combined with the USA, stands head and shoulders above North Korean forces. North Korea feels provoked by the large-scale maneuvers currently being carried out in South Korea and in the East China Sea, and this is the North Korean government’s reaction to that maneuver. It has a function relating to domestic politics, but it is also intended to demonstrate to those outside the country: We are going to do something against these maneuvers – we’re standing up for ourselves, even though Pyongyang has little chance of adequately responding militarily in any form.

Algeria sanctions imam union to stem Salafist influence

Algerian authorities have given the all-clear for a union of imams to protect the country’s traditionally moderate form of Islam from the teachings of hardline Salafists whose influence is on the rise in north Africa.

 Sapa-AFP | 31 March, 2013 08:39

The move comes two months after an Al-Qaeda-linked attack on a desert gas plant, where 37 foreign hostages were killed during a siege and army rescue operation, and amid fears of jihadist groups gaining ground in neighbouring Tunisia.

The union’s “mission will be to defend the material and moral rights of the imams and to act as a bulwark against imported religious ideas, Salafist or other,” its secretary general Sheikh Djelloul Hadjimi told AFP.

The speeches written but never given

 30 March 2013 Last updated at 01:33 GMT

By Daniel Finkelstein

The Times

What if John F Kennedy had returned home safely from Dallas on 22 November, 1963? Would Congress have passed the Civil Rights Bill? Would the South have defected to the Republican Party? Would millions have died in the conflict in Vietnam?

History is not just a litany of all the things that happen, it is about what did not happen, about the road not taken.

And sadly that history, the history of things that did not happen, is unknowable. Which is what makes it tantalising and fascinating.