Athens Views is no longer in circulation
Frontline Reporting under Attack by the Islamic State
In the wake of yet another murder of a journalist by the self-described Islamic State, the dangers that journalists face in conflict zones come to the forefront once again. The ‘Islamic State’ has published a video which shows the beheading of Kenji Goto, a Japanese journalist who was working in Syria when captured by the Islamist militant group in October. Goto, an experienced journalist working in various conflict zones, went to Syria to negotiate Haruna Yukawa’s release, who was also captured and killed by the Islamic State.
CIA Torture Report Burns the US
After a long wait and many delays the US Senate’s infamous ‘torture report’ was released on Tuesday 9th December. The torture report is 528 page document entitled ‘Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program’ written by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The released document is an executive summary of a more than 6,700 page report which analysed more than 6 million memos, statements and other documents and focuses on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme from 2001 until 2009 – when the programme was officially terminated. The gruesome torture techniques used by the CIA remained a well-guarded secret until Tuesday despite a decade full of accusations and rumour games.
Abortion Law Talks at Crucial Junction
Last Friday, the federal court in Austin, Texas, ruled against a provision of the controversial Texas Abortion Bill that would have forced almost half of the remaining abortion clinics to close. The now-blocked ruling that was to take effect on September 1st required abortion clinics to abide by the standards of hospital surgery centres. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2011 there were 62 abortion providers in Texas, 46 of which were abortion clinics. Since then, more than 30 abortion clinics closed, leaving only 12 open in Texas; the second largest State in the United States, with an estimated population of more than 26 million.
Clinton is Back to Make History
As rumours were circulating the past few weeks, Hillary Clinton’s announcement last Sunday that she will run for president of the USA in the next presidential elections in 2016 came as no surprise as it confirmed the obvious. For the past years there were many speculations on whether Clinton would run and although many denials her 2016 presidential bid had become America’s – or the Democrats’ – worst kept secret.
Hillary is Back – Maybe
“Hello Iowa, I am back!” was the opening line of Hilary Clinton’s speech in Iowa which restarted the speculation of Hilary’s presidential candidacy in 2016. Her appearance in Senator Tom Harkin’s final Steak Fry, a public picnic and fundraiser, in Indianola, Iowa last weekend might not have been that coincidental. Iowa was the state the Hillary Clinton came in third during the Democratic primary run in 2008, behind Barack Obama (37.6%) and John Edwards (29.7%) with 29.5% of the vote; thus she might want to give the message that things will be different this time.
Israeli Spying on US-Iran Talks Causes Friction
Following Benjamin Netanyahu’s win in the recent Israeli elections, a new report comes to shake the relations between Israel and the USA. The Wall Street Journal, citing officials, reported on Monday that Israel spied on the US-led negotiations between Iran and western powers regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. Moreover the report claims that Israel informed members of the US Congress on the progress of the negotiations. US House speaker John Boehner as well as other republican congressmen denied that they received any sort of information regarding the nuclear negotiations from anyone other than the US government. In turn, Israeli officials have denied the claims made by the report with Israel’s Foreign Minister claiming the report to be ‘incorrect and inaccurate.’
The ICC Factor in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Remaining true to his statements, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied andgained membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC) making Palestine the 123rd signatory of the Rome Treaty. The ICC bid came after a predefined bid for statehood at the UN Security Council in early December which was vetoed by the US. This move is seen as a more direct attempt to re-ignite the Palestinian issue which reached stalemate since the US-led peace talks collapsed in 2014. In return to the ICC bid, Israel withheld the transfer of Palestinian tax money to the Palestinian Authority as a punitive measure.
Turkish Media Raid Raises Freedom Concerns
Last Sunday, police raided the offices of Today’s Zaman and Samanyolu Television – two of Turkey’s largest media outlets – and arrested several high ranked staff members. The raid came only a few days after the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, started a new campaign against Fethullah Gulen and his supporters. More than 30 people were arrested on Sunday including police officers, and media workers.
Israel – US on Dangerous Game over Iran
Disregarding the US President, Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave a speech to the Congress after an invitation by John Boehner, the House speaker. Netanyahu’s speech came after John Boehner ignored the White House and invited Netanyahu for a speech in the Congress during his re-election running bid in the forthcoming elections in Israel.
Europe's Refugee Failure
A fishing vessel packed with refugees was the reason that EU’s foreign and interior ministers held an emergency meeting in Luxemburg last week in order to discuss policies directed to refugee flows. The fishing boat that sank near the Libyan coast took the lives of hundreds of refugees who were trying to reach the shores of Europe. The same day a boat sank in one of most known beaches of Rhodes, Greece taking the lives of three people, including a child.
Islamic Female Fighters at the Centre of Attention
From the vast media coverage of the Iraqi conflict and the emergence of the Islamic State (IS), the role of female Peshmerga fighters is insofar underreported. In Kurdish it means fighting to the death, but the Kurdish fighters formed after the fall of the Ottoman Empire are now famous for defending Kurdish existence in Iraq.
Republican Organisation Vows to Stop War on Women
Red State Women, a Republican women’s organisation based in Texas launched the Female Fact[her] campaign in September aiming to “challenge the Democrats deceptive campaign aimed at defining women as victims” and promote policies for more “economic opportunities, better educational options and freedom from burdensome regulations”. Red State Women, who describe themselves as an initiative “committed to engaging, empowering, and inspiring all Texas women to become proud, politically active members of the Republican Party” are trying to prove that it is not the Republicans who have declared war on women but in fact the Democrats who – as aforementioned – present women as victims and whose policies are harmful to women.
Moderate Iran Continues to Baffle UN over Human Rights
A report by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, slammed the country for its human rights record. The report, written in August and submitted to the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in October examined civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, and economic sanctions and found that the human rights situation Islamic Republic “remains of concern”. In turn, Mohammad Javad Larijani, chief of Iran's High Council for Human Rights rejected the charges and stated that the report creates “Iranophobia and Islamophobia”. Forouzandeh Vadiati, the Iranian envoy to the UN said that the report’s accusations were politically motivated.
US Midterm Elections an Uphill Struggle for Democrats
Almost a month before the US Midterm Elections which are to be held on November 4, and the US public is called to decide their next representatives at the House of Representatives as well as the Senate. Just two years after Obama’s re-election, things are looking rather tough for the Democrats as polls seem to favor the Republican Party for both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Time to Rethink Gaza’s Reconstruction
A few months after the most recent war in Gaza ended; Israel has eased restrictions in the area and has granted humanitarian and economic relief as part of the UN agreement that ended the siege. The 50 day offensive cost the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians – mostly civilians, 67 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians, and left 108,000 homeless people. According to Reuters it is estimated that 20,000 homes as well as major infrastructure were damaged. The UN General Secretary who visited the area in September said that both sides need to stop the “endless, needless, mindless cycle of suffering”.
The Complicated Task of Recognising Palestine
In an effort to push for a final resolution to the Palestinian issue, last Tuesday French lawmakers voted for the recognition of Palestine. Approved with 339 votes to 151, the vote is non-binding but, according to the Associated Press, those in favour ask the French government “to recognize the state of Palestine in view of reaching a definitive settlement to the conflict”. The vote was welcomed by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) with Hanan Ashrawi calling on “the French government to translate its parliament's vote into action”.