Dec 31 2015

Six In The Morning Thursday December 31

US planning new Iran sanctions over ballistic missile programme – report

Firms and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates reportedly targeted following launch of missile in October

The US is preparing sanctions against firms and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates over alleged links to Iran’s ballistic missile programme, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Such a move would be the first American sanctions against Iran since Tehran signed a nuclear deal with world powers in July that will eventually see Washington drop separate sanctions targeting that programme.

According to the newspaper, the Treasury Department is preparing sanctions on two Iran-linked networks helping develop the missile programme.

Why Isis won’t actually be the huge threat of 2016

If Isis cannot keep order, if it cannot delegate power when it moves on, then its authority may wane

Viewed from a Western perspective, 2015 was defined by the predations of Isis. The year opened with killings in Paris, and it drew to a close with attacks on youth and pleasure in the same city. In between, Western tourists, many of them British, were gunned down in Tunisia; in Syria, what remained of the classical city Palmyra was ravaged; and a Russian tourist flight crashed in Sinai, believed to have been brought down by a bomb.

Each new atrocity prompted a fresh amplification of alarmist rhetoric. After the Tunisia attacks in June, David Cameron described the fight against Isis as the “struggle of our generation”, stating the terrorist group presented an “existential threat” to the West. When MPs voted to extend anti-Isis air strikes to Syria earlier this month, their speeches were peppered with references to fascism. Before the Russians sent their air force into action in Syria, President Putin called for a broad international alliance, such as the one that had defeated Hitler.


‘Charlie Hebdo’ to release special issue on anniversary of attack

One million copies of the special issue will be released, the magazine said. The issue will include select drawings from the cartoonists killed in the January attack.

The French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” on Wednesday said it would be releasing close to a million copies of a special issue marking the one-year anniversary of a deadly attack on its offices in Paris.

The issue will comprise 32 pages, featuring select drawings from the cartoonists who were killed in the attack, along with works by current staff.

On January 7, 2015, two militants entered the magazine’s offices and killed 12 people, the first of a series of attacks that left at least 17 people dead in Paris.

The attacks were claimed by the militant group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

A survivors’ edition of the magazine released a week after the attack sold a record 7.5 million copies.

‘Sinai is safe’: Hiker battles to dispel Egypt security fears


Ben Hoffler

Virginie Foucard


Going for a hike in the Sinai might not sound like the best way to spend a holiday, especially given Egypt’s ongoing terrorism problems on the peninsula. But one hiker has made it his mission to dispel security fears over the region by hiking through the mountains – and thereby showing tourists that it’s safe.

It all seemed so different in the aftermath of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, when the country that gave the world some of its greatest archeological treasures seemed to be at the entrance to a brave new era. Those dreams have been shattered by four years of political turmoil and the return of military rule. Since then, Egypt’s tourism has taken a nosedive, with revenues plunging a staggering 95% according to some estimates.

Sinai – a triangular peninsula that straddles two continents – hasn’t been spared. From southern coastal resorts like Sharm el-Sheikh to its biblical desert interior, the region has long been a major tourist centre. But its tourism industry took a hammering after a Russian airliner packed with holidaymakers crashed in October. Although Egypt insiststhere’s no evidence that the jet was downed by terrorists, Russia firmly believes it was bombed. Reports of increasing terrorist activity on the peninsula, including attacks carried out by the Islamic State group, have frightened away all but the most dedicated tourists.


‘Comfort women’ funds won’t be paid until sex slave statue outside Japanese Embassy removed: source


The money Japan promised in the “comfort women” agreement Monday won’t be paid unless the symbolic comfort women statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul is removed, a Japanese government source said, casting a shadow over the historic deal.

The condition was set by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the source said Wednesday, amid looming domestic opposition to the use of public funds to help the ianfu (comfort women) while the statue of the girl remains.

Ianfu is Japan’s euphemism for the girls and women who were rounded up to provide sex for Imperial Japanese soldiers before and during World War II. Many of the victims were from the Korean Peninsula, which was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.


French journalist has to quit China after article on troubled Xinjiang


A French journalist is being forced to leave China after the government said it would not renew her press credentials for the new year in response to a critical report on Beijing’s policies in the troubled western region of Xinjiang.

The departure of Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French current affairs magazine L’Obs, will mark the first time in more than three years that a journalist has been forced to leave China due to a refusal by authorities to renew accreditation.

China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that Gauthier could no longer work in China because she did not make a public apology for an article she wrote on Nov. 18.