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 on: Apr 24, 2015, 06:04 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Former Argentina spy chief flees country in fear of his life, lawyer says

Antonio Stiuso, who had links to late prosecutor who accused president of cover-up, had been called to testify about 1994 terror bombing

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires and Jonathan Watts
Thursday 23 April 2015 18.36 BST

The former operations chief of Argentina’s spy agency failed to show up for a court hearing on Thursday amid reports that he has fled the country because he fears for his life.

Spies, cover-ups and the mysterious death of an Argentinian prosecutor

Antonio Stiuso was one of the most powerful men in the country until late last year, but his fortunes have changed dramatically as a result of a falling out with the president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and his involvement with prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died in mysterious circumstances in January.

He was called to testify this week about allegations that he and Nisman held up an investigation into the country’s deadliest terrorist attack: the 1994 bombing of the Amia Jewish community centre. He is also accused of tax evasion and running a contraband operation.

But his lawyer said he would not attend because he had left the country to escape threats against his life and attempts to sully his reputation.

“We believe [Stiuso] will continue to be a government target,” Santiago Blanco Bermúdez told the Associated Press without specifying the nature of the threats or his client’s location. He said his client denied all the charges against him.

The government said Stiuso was treating the Argentinian courts as a joke and warned that judicial authorities could order his arrest overseas if he did not return to Argentina to testify.

“Stiuso is a former intelligence agent with 42 years of service and there are things he will have to explain,” said the cabinet chief, Aníbal Fernández.

“If he continues to refuse to appear, it will be the judicial branch itself that will ask him to appear, and if he doesn’t, additional measures will have to be taken that might include an international arrest warrant.”

Stiuso, a former operations chief of the intelligence secretariat, ran a vast wire-tapping network that he built up under Férnandez and her predecessor and husband, Néstor Kirchner. Among his responsibilities was support for Nisman’s investigation into alleged Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Amia centre.

But he and the prosecutor became disillusioned with Férnandez when she signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran in 2013, that set up a joint truth commission to investigate the blast, undermining their own investigation.

Férnandez shook up the intelligence secretariat in December after it failed to alert her that Nisman was preparing to accuse the president of conspiring with Iran to cover up the bombing. Stiuso was sacked in December.

The prosecutor was found dead with a bullet in his brain on 18 January, the day before he was due to present his case to Congress. Investigators have yet to determine whether it was suicide or murder, but Férnandez has publicly blamed rogue agents from the spy agency, which she has vowed to replace.

Stiuso’s exact whereabouts remain unknown. At the time of Nisman’s death he was in Miami, according to a former head of the SIDE intelligence agency, Miguel Ángel Toma, who worked with Stiuso during 2002-03.

He is known to have made two phone calls to Nisman’s former wife, Sandra Arroyo Salgado, on 27 January to express his condolences. Stiuso was reportedly close to both Nisman and his ex-wife.

Argentina president: US 'vulture funds' backed Nisman before his death

Other reports said Stiuso had spent the southern summer holidays in January and February in neighbouring Uruguay, but he returned to Buenos Aires to testify on 17 February at the court investigation into Nisman’s death.

This month, however, he failed to show for two summons. Stiuso had been scheduled to appear before the federal intelligence agency on 6 April to answer questions in an internal inquiry into “dilatory and irregular” conduct.

The new agency chief, Oscar Parrilli, said Stiuso had failed to conduct sufficient inquiries into international calls in and out of Argentina between 1991 and 1996 in connection with the 1994 Amia blast.

After Stiuso failed to appear for that appointment, he was called to appear before the team of three new prosecutors appointed by Fernández to replace Nisman as investigator into the 1994 blast. He was again absent.

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 06:02 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Mexico Arrests Nine Cartel Suspects after Gunfight

by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 April 2015, 06:53

Mexican marines have detained nine drug cartel suspects and seized an arsenal that included an anti-personnel mine and grenade launchers after gunfights that killed a police officer, authorities said Thursday.

The troops also confiscated 24 assault rifles when they arrested the suspects late Wednesday in the northern state of Tamaulipas, a regional security task force said in a statement.

The suspects are accused of participating in an assault by the Gulf cartel earlier on Wednesday in Altamira, near the Gulf of Mexico coast.

Authorities say the gang opened fire in the town and blocked roads with burning vehicles in an attempt to rescue a leader who had just been arrested by authorities.

One police officer was killed and two were wounded. Officials had previously reported no fatalities.

The mayhem in Altamira came just five days after a similar bout of violence in Reynosa, a city bordering Texas.

Last Friday, dozens of Gulf gunmen tried to rescue a captured drug lord in a day of violence that left three suspects dead in the border city.

The Gulf cartel has been weakened and mired in internal power struggles following the arrests of several leaders in recent years.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 06:01 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Three Members of U.N. Mission Kidnapped in Eastern DR Congo

by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 April 2015, 08:24

Three members of the United Nation's peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo were kidnapped Thursday in the eastern North Kivu province, a U.N. source said.

"Three members of MONUSCO (the 20,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force)... have been kidnapped in Kibumba", some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of the provincial capital Goma, the source told AFP.

Two of those seized were Congolese members of a demining team and the other was part of the international U.N. team, the source added.

A Congolese army officer said a U.N. vehicle had been recovered near the presumed site of their abduction.

"The motor was turning and the car was empty," he added.

According to the U.N. source, the circumstances around the abduction were unclear. They were seized at around 5:30 pm (1530 GMT), but no details were given on who had abducted the trio or where they had been taken.

The incident came as U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous was in DR Congo seeking to iron out differences between the U.N. mission and the government in Kinshasa.

The U.N. and the Congolese military were planning a joint offensive against a rebel group at the start of the year, but DR Congo later declared it would fight alone.

DR Congo's armed forces say they also face incursions onto their territory by Rwandan troops, with one Congolese soldier wounded on Wednesday in an exchange of fire close to the border.

"We have been informed of the infiltration of hundreds of Rwandan troops," confirmed Julien Paluku, governor of North Kivu province.

Rwandan authorities refused to comment on the claims when contacted by AFP.

DR Congo, a vast central African country, has been struggling through a political crisis since President Joseph Kabila's 2011 re-election, which was marred by major voting irregularities.

The U.N. on Sunday called on the government to respect its citizens' civil liberties as the political climate has turned tense ahead of key elections next year.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 05:59 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Yemeni refugees fleeing Saudi air strikes find peace but little else in Somaliland

‘It is driving people crazy,’ says one of hundreds arriving across the Gulf of Aden in Berbera. ‘The air raids are destroying more houses than the fighting’

Johnny Magdaleno in Berbera
24 April 2015 18.38 BST

It was just after midnight when the livestock ship carrying nearly 200 people fleeing Yemen’s civil war docked at the port in the Somaliland city of Berbera.

As aid workers set up registration tables in the light of Red Crescent ambulance headlights, the migrants slowly filed on to land across a plank the size of a door. Families sat in circles on the gravel, attending to crying children or staring blankly at the stacks of cargo containers surrounding them. They looked dazed and exhausted, but they were happy to be alive.

This was the fourth – and most crowded – shipload of refugees fleeing Yemen to reach Berbera since late March, when a Saudi Arabia-led coalition began a bombing campaign against Shia Houthi rebels who forced President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into exile.

It is an exodus that seems unlikely to end any time soon, despite Saudi Arabia’s announcement on Tuesday night that it had ended its bombing campaign. Saudi warplanes launched new air strikes against rebel positions in Aden and Taez on Wednesday and aid workers have warned that the humanitarian situation in Yemen remains “catastrophic” after months of fighting.

International airports such as the one in Sana’a have been demolished, and fleeing overland is risky as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula continues to control swaths of territory in the east.

So far more than 2,000 people have made the journey across the Gulf of Aden to the coast of Somaliland, and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, expects that over the next six months as many as 100,000 more will follow.

“The reason people are coming here is because of the planes,” said Mohammed, 21, one of the boat’s passengers. “It is driving people crazy. The air raids are destroying more houses than the fighting.”

Another man pulled out his mobile phone and showed pictures of the destruction. One showed the body of a man lying on the street – charred beyond recognition except for its leg, which was just a stretch of clean white bone.

The current flow of refugees reverses an earlier migration across the Gulf of Aden which began in the late 1980s when civil war forced hundreds of thousands to flee Somalia.

Of the 246,000 refugees registered in Yemen, nearly 95% are Somali. Now many of these are trying to return home, some even making their way to Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu, despite continuing attacks by the militant group al-Shabaab.

Somaliland – a self-declared independent state which is viewed by the international community as a territory within Somalia – has largely escaped civil war violence, but is not currently equipped to receive large numbers of refugees.

The new arrivals were accommodated in a warehouse where they described a Yemen that is sinking further into crisis every day. Food, water and electricity shortages are crippling humanitarian camps and major cities like Sana’a. Families are living in basements beneath their levelled houses, unable to purchase petrol, which this group says has reached $100 for 20 litres in some places, to escape to humanitarian camps.

Within the medical facilities that haven’t been reduced to rubble, people are dying because of a lack of necessary medicine. One young woman raised her voice in anger as she explained that more aid organisations appeared to be leaving Yemen than trying to get in.

Many had spent the last of their savings to pay the $100 passage for the journey from the port of Mocha and across the Gulf of Aden. “All my money is finished here,” said Miriam, 20, who had travelled alone.

UNHCR has said it may begin coordinating travel to Mogadishu and other locations as more migrants show up. For now, though, migrants must fend for themselves to find a way out of their temporary stay in Berbera, where reception facilities have yet to be completed.

The local government and aid organizations plan to expand their assistance as more refugees arrive. UNHCR has put in place additional toilets and improved access to water, to replace the single, dirty bathroom behind the warehouse.

Still, those like 14-year-old Safwan Hasan, who is accompanied by every member of his family, are happy to make a new home out of the old one they fled so many years ago.

“All the people [on the boat] were happy,” he said, “because they were coming to their second country.”

• This article was amended on 23 April 2015 to clarify UNHCR’s position on assisting Somalis wishing to return home, by replacing the word “will” with “may”.

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 05:55 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
China Leaders to Meet Taiwan Ruling Party Chief

by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 April 2015, 11:27

Leaders of China's Communist Party will meet the chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party early next month, state media said Friday, amid improving relations between the political foes.

Mainland officials, who were not named, will meet Eric Chu, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing Ma Xiaoguang, of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party Central Committee.

The two split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, and Beijing still regards Taiwan as a province awaiting reunification.

Chu is leading a delegation that will attend a cross-strait forum in Shanghai on Sunday week and then travel to Beijing.

The Taiwanese politician said earlier that "a plan for a meeting of the two party leaders is being arranged", implying he would sit down with Xi Jinping, the head of the Communist Party and China's president.

China's foreign ministry did not confirm whether Chu would meet Xi.

"The leaders of the KMT and CPC will exchange views on party-to-party exchanges and cross-strait relations, which will be a significant event in high-level exchanges between the two parties," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular briefing.

The meeting comes in the wake of Taipei's application to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank being rejected, with Beijing saying the island could join later under a "appropriate name".

In 2005 Lien Chan made the first trip to the mainland by a KMT chief since 1949.

The landmark visit and the ensuing annual forum paved the way for relations to warm after Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012.

Wu Po-hsiung was the last KMT chairman to visit the mainland, in 2008.

In June 2010 the two sides signed a trade pact known as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, widely seen as the boldest step yet towards reconciliation.

But public sentiment in Taiwan has turned against the Beijing-friendly approach, with voters saying trade deals have been agreed in secret and not benefited ordinary citizens.

In March last year around 200 students occupied parliament for more than three weeks to demonstrate against a controversial services trade pact, while thousands rallied in support of what became known as the "Sunflower Movement".

The KMT suffered its worst-ever showing in local polls in November -- seen as a barometer for presidential elections in 2016.

Despite the setback, Ma said earlier this month that ties with Beijing were "back to normal", and that government surveys showed opposition to the pace of  rapprochement was declining.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 05:54 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Tears and Anger as Survivors Mark Bangladesh Factory Disaster

by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 April 2015, 11:33

Tearful and angry survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster gathered at the factory site Friday to protest against poor compensation on the two-year anniversary of the tragedy that claimed more than 1,100 lives.

About 2,000 survivors, some on crutches, and families of victims held hands in a show of solidarity at the ruins of the factory complex which imploded in 2013 in one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

From early morning, the crowd, many clutching photos of loved ones, gathered at a makeshift memorial at the site to protest a range of concerns including poor factory safety standards and a lack of compensation.

"I only got one million taka ($12,900) from the prime minister's fund, but nothing from the trust fund created to help the victims," Rehana Akhter, whose leg was amputated after she become trapped under tonnes of debris, said.

The trust fund was set up by retailers and labour groups in the wake of the tragedy.

"I can't now work. I need expensive medicines and I have a family to look after," the 24-year-old told Agence France Presse, supporting herself with a crutch, at the site in Savar outside the capital Dhaka.

The collapse triggered international outrage and put pressure on European and U.S. brands who had placed orders at the nine-storey complex to improve the woeful pay and conditions at Bangladesh's 4,500 garment factories.

Western retailers linked to the disaster include Spanish brand Mango, Italian brand Benetton, British retailer Primark and French retailer Auchan.

Two years on, nearly $25 million in compensation has been paid out to survivors and relatives of the dead.

Many wept openly as they placed flowers and wreaths at the memorial and some sat silently on the rubble, but others angrily shouted slogans against Western retailers.

"We had high hopes that the Rana Plaza collapse would be a wake-up call for the government and the retailers," union leader Taslim Akhter told AFP.

"Two years on, many factories are far from safe. We have had several deadly factory fires since Rana Plaza. Millions of workers still don't have enough labour rights," Akhter, who leads the Bangladesh Garment Workers Solidarity, said.

Some 2,500 factories have been inspected since the tragedy, but global labour group IndustriALL said on the eve of the anniversary that safety upgrades were running behind schedule and none were considered "100 percent safe".

For others, the anniversary was a chance to protest against a failure to find some 135 workers, presumed killed in the disaster, but whose bodies have never been recovered.

"I want to know where my daughter is buried. For two years I've been asking this question but nobody has any answer," said Jaheda Begum, 55, holding a photograph of her 35-year-old daughter Saleha Begum.

The sporadic discovery of remains has fuelled the anger of relatives who say authorities were too quick to send in the bulldozers to shovel up most of the debris.

By the time the three-week rescue operation ended, a total of 1,129 bodies had been recovered.

Bangladesh's garment industry, the world's second largest after China, has bounced back since the tragedy, with shipments last year standing at $25 billion. 

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 05:53 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Three Policemen Arrested in India over Rape, Extortion of Model

by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 April 2015, 13:16

Police in Mumbai have arrested three officers who allegedly raped a model in a police station and then demanded several thousand dollars as blackmail to keep quiet, a deputy commissioner said Friday.

Three other men have also been arrested after the 29-year-old woman said the officers bundled her into a car as she was leaving an upmarket hotel in India's financial capital on April 3.

Deputy commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni said the woman has alleged she was then driven to a police outpost and raped by the officers before they extorted up to 500,000 rupees ($7,800) from her.

"The investigations are being done meticulously considering the involvement of police and nature of the crime," Kulkarni told Agence France Presse.

"Right now, the allegations of extortion seem genuine, but the matter of sexual assault cannot be confirmed at this moment."

"They (the policemen) had no business to be there" outside the hotel, he also said.

Local media have reported that the woman's friend had gone to the police station to deliver the money after travelling to several ATMs in the night.

The woman reportedly sent a text message to Mumbai's police commissioner Rakesh Maria several days later alerting him to the incident, before meeting him to give more details.

India introduced tough laws against sex offenders in the wake of the fatal gang-rape of a Delhi student in the capital in December 2012 that sparked mass street protests.

But sexual violence against women has continued at frightening levels throughout the country.

Source: Agence France Presse


Four to Hang for Girl's Rape, Murder in Indian Kashmir

by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 April 2015, 16:59

A court in Indian-administered Kashmir sentenced four men to death Friday after they were convicted of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl which sparked protests across the region.

The four convicts, including two locals and two migrant laborers from West Bengal and Rajasthan, had been found guilty earlier this month of the 2007 killing near the de facto border with Pakistan, known as the Line of Control (LoC).

Sadiq Mir, Azhar Mir, Jehangir Ansari and Suresh Kumar were all arrested soon after the teenage student was discovered with her throat slit in an orchard in the frontier district of Kupwara in June 2007.

The girl had gone missing on her way from school and it later emerged that she had been abducted by the four men.

A statement from the court in the frontier district of Kupwara, 100 kilometers north of the region's main city of Srinagar, said the four convicts should "be hanged by the neck till they are dead", although they do have the right to appeal against the sentence.

India only executes people in the "rarest of the rare" cases but the girl's killing was particularly shocking, even in a country that has a distressing record of high-profile sex attacks.

The father of the girl, who cannot be named as all rape victims have to remain anonymous, welcomed the judgment.

"We fought for justice for eight long years. I am happy our prayers were finally answered and justice was done today," the father told AFP.

India's notoriously sluggish legal system means it can often take years for suspects to face trial, even for crimes such as rape and murder.

There have been multiple allegations of mass rapes carried out by Indian soldiers in Kashmir in the 25 years since the federal government brought in laws making it virtually impossible to put troops on trial in civilian courts.

"The judgment is welcome deterrence but there has not been a single conviction of soldiers or state officials involved in similar offenses," Khurram Parvez, a prominent rights activist, said after the sentencing.

"The impunity in such cases persists," he added.

India has hundreds of thousands of troops stationed on its side of the disputed region which has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence in 1947. Both claim the territory in its entirety.
Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 05:51 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
After Iran Deal, World Looks to Jump-Start Nuclear Disarmament

by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 April 2015, 07:01

Nuclear powers join non-nuclear nations on Monday to launch a conference on non-proliferation, buoyed by the Iran deal but alarmed by slow-moving U.S.-Russian disarmament.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will address the conference that reviews the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and he may meet on the sidelines to discuss the hard-fought Iran deal with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Work on the framework Iran agreement must be completed by June 30 but it is already earning praise as a potential happy ending to one of the world's most vexing nuclear disputes.

Despite applause for the Iran deal, delegates from more than 150 countries are heading into the month-long conference with a sense of gloom over the lack of progress on disarmament and the deadlocked plan for a nuclear weapons-free zone for the Middle East.

The United States and Russia have made little headway in cutting their nuclear stockpiles since 2011, and the crisis over Ukraine is stoking distrust, dimming prospects for future cooperation.

"We have a stalling in the path to a nuclear-free world," Angela Kane, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, said ahead of the gathering at UN headquarters in New York.

Former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, who chaired the international commission on the NPT, described the state of play as "one of paralysis, of minimal forward-movement and of backsliding."

- Grand bargain -

Reached in 1968, the NPT is seen as a grand bargain between five nuclear powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - and non-nuclear states which agreed to give up atomic weapon ambitions in exchange for disarmament pledges.

But 45 years after the NPT entered into force, non-nuclear states are feeling increasingly frustrated and the global consensus on how to move toward a nuclear-free world is under severe strain.

"The nuclear-weapons states are not living up to their side of the bargain," Kane said.

"Right now, the non-nuclear states need to be given the sense that they are taken seriously."

Delegates to the NPT conference are working on an "outcome document" laying out priorities for the next five years, but some diplomats have not ruled out that disagreements could lead to a collapse of the talks.

Pessimism has also focused on Washington's $1 trillion modernization plan for its nuclear forces that is compounding fears that the United States is not seriously working toward reducing its stockpile.

Another point of contention is a proposed nuclear weapons-free zone for the Middle East that has failed to materialize despite a plan at the last NPT conference to begin talks on the proposal in 2012.

Kane warned that the next five years will be crucial to ensure that the NPT "retains credibility."

She suggested that there be a roadmap with targets that are "not far off in Never-Never-Land" to reassure non-nuclear states that they have signed on to a treaty that is "worthwhile."

As a stark reminder of the horrors of a nuclear attack, a group of aging Hiroshima survivors are traveling to New York to attend the conference and make a personal appeal for action.

Source: Agence France Presse

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 05:49 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Remembering Gallipoli: honouring the bravery amid the bloody slaughter

Princes and prime ministers are in Turkey to mark 100 years since the disastrous campaign that became a cornerstone of Anzac pride

Jon Henley
Friday 24 April 2015 00.01 BST

Prince Charles and Prince Harry will join heads of state and dignitaries from more than 70 countries in Turkey on Friday and Saturday for a series of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of arguably the most ill-conceived, poorly led and, ultimately, senseless campaign of the first world war.

In nine months of bloody slaughter, about 58,000 allied soldiers – including 29,000 British and Irish soldiers and 11,000 Australians and New Zealanders – lost their lives during the ill-starred operation to take the Gallipoli peninsula; a further 87,000 Ottoman Turkish troops died fiercely defending their homeland, and at least 300,000 more on both sides were seriously wounded.

Half a dozen commemorative events in Istanbul and on the peninsula – including a ceremony at the Helles memorial, which bears the names of 21,000 British and Commonwealth servicemen who fell at Gallipoli and have no known grave, and the traditional dawn service at the Anzac commemorative site – will recall the chaos, carnage and heroism of a conflict that, while it left the course of the Great War largely untouched, did much to forge the identity of Australia and New Zealand as young, independent nations, and sowed the seeds for the foundation of modern Turkey.

The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand, Tony Abbott and John Key, along with the Irish president, Michael Higgins, will attend several of the ceremonies, held amid tight security with more than 4,000 Turkish police and soldiers on duty.

Gallipoli “was, in a sense, the crucible in which our national identity was forged”, Abbott said in the run-up to the centenary, “but it left horrific scars. It was, in a critical sense, our nation’s baptism of fire – and 8,000 Australians didn’t come back.”

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, sought to underline the theme of reconciliation: “The sons of nations who fought each other on opposing sides 100 years ago will gather under the same roof to convey the message of peace and brotherhood to the world,” he said.

His remarks, however, were overshadowed by accusations by Armenia that Ankara deliberately brought the Gallipoli centenary commemorations forward to deflect attention from the 100th anniversary – also on 24 April – of the Ottoman massacre of between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians, which Turkey has always refused to acknowledge as genocide.

The Gallipoli campaign, badly planned and appallingly executed, was conceived by Winston Churchill, the ambitious First Lord of the Admiralty, in early 1915, with the war on the western front in deadlock. “Are there not other alternatives,” the man destined to be Britain’s second world war saviour inquired, “than sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders?”

The plan was to open up the Dardanelles straits, heavily mined and ably defended on its western shore by Turkish coastal forts and gun batteries on the 50-mile-long Gallipoli peninsula, to allied ships, capture Constantinople – present-day Istanbul – and so link up with Russia, knocking Germany’s ally, Ottoman Turkey, out of the conflict.

Naval operations began in mid-February with heavy and repeated British and French bombardments of the Turkish positions, but were largely unsuccessful; a final attempt to force a passage up the straits on 18 March ended in six allied battleships being sunk or badly damaged.

Military command in London decided in its wisdom that the barren, hilly peninsula would have to be secured by land, and General Sir Ian Hamilton opted for two landings – one by British troops at Cape Helles, at the base of the peninsula, and the other on the western Aegean coast, in the area later known as Anzac Cove, by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

From the start, it was a calamity. Well before the first allied soldiers waded ashore at dawn on 25 April, the Turkish defences had been heavily fortified, and their troops – courageous, disciplined and well dug in, high up on the peninsula’s precipitous inland ridges – reinforced six times over.

The invading troops came under deadly fire from the moment they hit the beach. Despite many showing immense bravery – famously, half a dozen Victoria Crosses were won “before breakfast” on the first day of the Gallipoli landings by officers and men from the First Battalion, Royal Lancashire Fusiliers, who lost all but 21 of their first 200 men ashore – the allies were unable to make good their advance.

On 27 April, after two days of remorseless fighting, a young Australian private, Archibald Barwick, wrote: “I had two rifles smashed in my hands … The piece of ground opposite us was literally covered with dead bodies, our own boys and Turks. God knows what our losses were, must have run into thousands.”

In fact, few allied troops ever made it much further than a few hundred metres from the shore, and the battle soon descended into trench warfare, in truly atrocious conditions. Thousands struggled, and often succumbed, in suffocating heat, with rotting corpses that drew thick swarms of flies, a chronic lack of water, typhoid, the all-but-ubiquitous dysentery and, finally, a winter cold enough to freeze 280 men to death.

With losses on both sides mounting steeply, a fresh British landing at Suvla Bay, a few miles from Anzac Cove, was launched in August 1915 to support a bitter attempt to break out and push at least a little way further inland by the enclosed Australian and New Zealand troops.

Wading ashore that month, a British private, Leonard Thompson, ran up the beach to a large marquee. Pulling back the canvas flaps, he recorded in his diary, he saw: “It was full of corpses. Dead Englishmen, lots and lots of them, with their eyes wide open.”

But despite ferocious, sometimes hand-to-hand fighting, more terrible losses – at Chunuk Bair, one New Zealand unit lost 90% of its men – and remarkable courage, with Australian troops at a ridge known as Lone Pine winning seven VCs in the space of three days, this last-ditch summer offensive would prove as ineffectual as the original landings.

Bowing to the inevitable, the war council in London finally decided to withdraw the Anzac forces in late December, with the last British troops leaving the peninsula on 8 January; ironically, the evacuation was by far the most successful part of the operation, ending with the loss of only a handful of lives.

A military debacle of epic proportions and a byword for poor planning and arrogant, incompetent top brass that would blight Churchill’s career for years, Gallipoli has become a cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand national pride, the birthplace of the core Antipodean values of pluck, endurance, heroism, sacrifice, dark humour and – above all – “mateship”.

For Turkey, the victory saw the triumph of Mustafa Kemal, a 33-year-old lieutenant colonel who commanded the 19th Turkish Division and famously told his men: “I don’t order you to attack; I order you to die.” As Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, he became the founding father of the Turkish republic in 1923.

 on: Apr 24, 2015, 05:44 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Chechnya Leader Gives 'Shoot to Kill' Orders on Russian Forces

by Naharnet Newsdesk 24 April 2015, 06:56

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on Thursday ordered his troops to "shoot to kill" if they encountered any unauthorized Russian forces on the territory of the small republic in the volatile North Caucasus region.

"I am officially stating that if (a soldier) appears on your territory without authorization, whether he comes from Moscow or Stavropol, shoot to kill," the Kremlin-loyal strongman said in a video broadcast by the local Grozny TV station. "They need to take us into account," he added.

Kadyrov appeared to be speaking at a gathering of representatives of the special forces in the mainly Muslim autonomous region, where separatists fought two wars against Russia in the 1990s.

"We don't have the right to leave our territory to conduct anti-terrorist operations against extremists in Ingushetia," Kadyrov said, referring to a neighboring region. "If you are the masters of your territory, then you need to watch over it."

Russia's interior ministry called the remarks "unacceptable", while a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin declined to respond directly to the Chechen leader's remarks.

"We have seen it. We have heard it. We have read it. I will not be making any comment," spokesman Dmitri Peskov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti agency.

Kadyrov, 38, has ruled Chechnya with an iron fist since being installed by Putin in 2007, and has helped the Kremlin battle an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus.

But the former rebel -- accused by human rights groups of overseeing torture, extrajudicial executions and corruption -- has shown an increased readiness in recent months to challenge Putin's authority.

In one notable run-in in December, Putin criticized Kadyrov for saying that families of Islamist insurgents would be punished for a deadly rebel attack on the Chechen capital Grozny.

Putin at the time said Kadyrov had no right to make such declarations and said "everyone in Russia must observe the laws".

Source: Agence France Presse

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