SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The United States and Qatar are set to boost their support for the militants operating inside Syria, in an act of foreign interference in the internal affairs of the crisis-hit Middle Eastern country.
US President Barack Obama made the announcement at the White House following a meeting with the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
This comes days after US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Washington would double its assistance to the militants in Syria.
Kerry said on Sunday that Washington had decided on an “assistance package,” increasing what it called non-lethal aid to the militants by more than USD 127 million.
This would bring the total amount of US aid to the militants to USD 250 million.
The new plan by the US and Qatar is the latest instance of foreign meddling in the internal affairs of Syria.
Earlier, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the West “will pay a heavy price” for pitting al-Qaeda militants against the Syrian government.
Other regional countries have also been providing the militants in Syria with various forms of support. Qatar has been leading such efforts.
On April 22, during a meeting with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Qatar and some other Arab countries to stop supplying weapons to the militants in Syria. Al-Araby was quick to reject Ban’s appeal.
Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian army and security forces, have been killed in the violence.
Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
The Syrian government has said that the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants. -www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –A senior member of Lebanon's Hezbollah, he was alternatively described as the head of its security section, a senior intelligence official and as one of the founders of the organization.
Imad Mughniyeh was killed on 12 February 2008 by a car bomb, planted inside the driver's headrest, around 11:00 pm local time in the Kfar Suseh neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. His assassination was blame on the Mossad - Israeli Secret Services -
As it happens, or at least as the documentary now claims, Qatar and other Arab nations would have assisted the Mossad in its inquest into Mughniyeh, sharing its intelligence data.
On 10 October 2001, Mughniyeh appeared on the initial list of the FBI's top 22 Most Wanted Terrorists, which was released to the public by President Bush, with a reward of up to $5 million offered for information leading to his arrest. Later the reward was increased to $25 million. This reward remained outstanding as of 2006. In addition, he was in 42 countries' wanted list.
It is important to note that Zanas, the Canadian production company is also working as a consultancy firm on media, advertising and political PR for a number of organizations which support the Palestinian cause.
Zanas also produce a documentary looking into the assassination of late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –A top Iranian religious cleric criticized some regional Arab countries for their decision against Islamic Republic of Iran saying Qatar spends it gas, oil income against Islam and Muslim community.
Senior Iranian cleric, grand Ayatollah Noori Hamedani, slammed the enemies for hijacking the Islamic Awakening and turned the path to Shiaphobia and confrontation with Iran.
Ayatollah Noori Hamedani said Islam does not recognize monarchy because the imamate rules the country and the corruption they have brought in the Islamic government Muslims were detoured.
According to the jurisprudent, during the absence of Imam Mahdi (AS), the last Shia Imam and savior of the world, a capable jurisprudent leads the Islamic nation and today Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei is in charge of the mission.
Grand Ayatollah Hussien Noori Hamedani, senior Iranian jurisprudent and professor at Qom Seminary also blasted a recent meeting of some Arab states to decide on closing their embassies in Tehran calling Iran against regional peace. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Qatar has agreed to buy bonds from Egypt worth $3bn over and above a previously announced aid package.
The announcement by Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, the Qatari prime minister, comes as Cairo holds difficult talks with the International Monetary Fund over a loan of $4.8bn as part of a financing programme to lift Egypt's economy out of crisis.
"We have agreed to add Egypt government bonds worth $3bn," Hamad said at a joint press conference in Doha with his Egyptian counterpart, Hisham Qandil, on Wednesday.
Gas-rich Qatar has already announced an aid package of $5bn to Egypt, comprising an outright grant of $1bn and $4bn in bank deposits.
Hamad said Qatar, the biggest financial backer of Egypt's Islamist-led government, did not ask for anything in return for its aid.
Qandil lauded Qatari investments in Egypt, but insisted that those represent about 18 to 20 percent of foreign investments, and are "not as big as rumoured to be".
A delegation of the IMF is visiting Cairo for talks on the financing programme and is expected to examine Egypt's efforts at economic liberalisation.
The Egyptian government has been walking a tightrope as the measures required by the international lender are likely to generate social tensions.
The size of the loan may change, IMF officials have said, without elaborating.
Drop in revenue
Egypt's authorities believe the IMF loan will help restore investor confidence in the country, where unrest that accompanied the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's long-running presidency has caused a significant drop in revenue from the once-lucrative tourism industry.
Foreign reserves have plunged from $36bn to some $13bn in two years, and the budget deficit is increasing.
However, Egypt received another welcome boost on Wednesday night when Libya reportedly pledged to give Egypt a $2bn five-year, interest-free loan under.
The Egyptian state news agency MENA quoted a finance ministry official as saying that the loan would have a three-year grace period and was intended "to support the Egyptian economy and the state budget and foreign currency reserves".
President Mohamed Morsi's administration has been plagued by unrest and deadly clashes between protesters and police, blocking efforts to build broad-based support for a needed programme of economic-policy changes.
Qatar has been accused of supporting Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Hamad insisted that Qatar "will not be affected" by campaigns against it in Egyptian media.
"Sadly, media are reporting positive things negatively," he said.
"But this will not affect Qatar's way of dealing with our brother's in Egypt."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has met with the emir of Qatar to discuss plans for the Taliban to open an office in the Gulf state.
He discussed "issues of mutual interest" with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the state news agency QNA said, without elaborating on the substanec of their talks. The meeting was also attended by the Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani.
He also held talks with Qatar's ambassador to Pakistan during a tour of an Islamic art museum in Doha.
Karzai arrived in Qatar on Saturday and also met with Afghan and Arab officials and businessmen. The delegation traveling with the Afghan president includes Zalmai Rassoul, the foreign minister; Salahuddin Rabbani, the head of the High Peace Council; and Rangin Dadfar Spanta, a presidential advisor.
Until earlier this year, Karzai was strongly opposed to the Taliban having a meeting venue outside Afghanistan, but the US has pushed for the Taliban to be present at the negotiatiing table as that country prepares to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in the next two years.
"If we want to have talks to bring peace to Afghanistan, the main side must be the Afghan government's representatives - the High Peace Council, which has members from all the country's ethnic and political backgrounds," Aimal Faizi, a Karzai spokesperson said.
Kabul has repeatedly stressed that it would only start talks if the fighters broke all links with al-Qaeda and gave up violence.
Faizi said any Taliban office in Qatar must be held to strict conditions.
"It can only be an address where the armed opposition sit and talk to the Afghanistan government," he said. "This office can not be used for any other purposes."
'Not our concern'
The UN this week welcomed Karzai's Qatar visit, and issued another call for the Taliban to come to the peace table.
"You are Afghans, you care, I assume, about your country, you care about [a] peaceful stable future of the country," Jan Kubis, the UN envoy to Afghanistan, said.
But the Qatar office could mean little if the Taliban refuse to negotiate with Karzai or the government-appointed High Peace Council.
The Taliban have refused to have direct contact with Karzai, saying he was a puppet of the United States, which has supported his rise to power after the military operation to oust the fighters in 2001.
"The opening of the Taliban office in Qatar is not related to Karzai, it is a matter between the Taliban and the Qatar government," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
"If Karzai visits, it is not our concern. Our representatives who are already in Qatar won't see or talk to him."
In Afghanistan, an air strike by a NATO helicopter has killed one child and several suspected Taliban fighters in the southeast.
The aircraft came to support Afghan troops who were attacked near the town of Ghazni. At least 13 people were wounded. -www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Jazeera
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –President Hamid Karzai held talks with Qatari leaders on Sunday, official media reported, on a visit the Kabul government has said would seek to explore the possibility of talks with Taliban insurgents on ending Afghanistan's war.
Karzai's trip to the Gulf Arab state, a U.S. ally which has mediated in conflicts in Arab or Muslim countries, follows years of stalled discussions among the United States, Pakistan and the Taliban about a possible Afghan settlement.
Afghanistan's embassy in Doha confirmed Karzai's arrival on Saturday for a two-day visit to the Qatari capital, but declined to give any details on the purpose of the visit.
Qatar's state news agency QNA said Karzai held talks with the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, attended by the Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani.
QNA gave no details of the discussions, and later reported without elaborating that Karzai had left the country.
Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Janan Mosazai, announcing the visit last week, said Karzai would "discuss the peace process and the opening of a (Taliban) office for the purposes of conducting negotiations with Afghanistan."
The Kabul government has been pushing hard to get the Taliban to the negotiating table before foreign troops withdraw.
Afghan officials have not held direct talks with the militants, who were toppled in 2001 and have proven resilient after more than a decade of war with Western forces.
Earlier this month, Karzai said the Taliban and the United States had been holding talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar on a "daily basis", but the militant group and Washington denied they had resumed efforts on dialogue that stalled a year ago.
The Taliban suspended those talks, saying Washington was giving mixed signals on the nascent Afghan reconciliation process.
However, the United States has said it would support setting up a Taliban office in Qatar where peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan could take place.
On a visit to Kabul last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry repeated a U.S. call for the Taliban to enter into talks and a wider political process.
He issued a veiled threat if they did not, saying U.S. President Barack Obama had yet to say how many U.S. troops will remain in the country after 2014.
Karzai has stressed the need to bring neighboring Pakistan into such a negotiation. U.S. and Afghan officials have long said the Taliban forces have sanctuary across the border in Pakistan.
Pakistan denies any senior insurgents enjoy sanctuary within its borders.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is scheduled to travel to Qatar within days in order to hold preliminary peace negotiations with the Taliban, the Afghan foreign ministry says.
Karzai's trip, announced on Sunday, would be the first time that the Afghan head of state has travelled to Qatar to discuss the peace process, and comes after years of stalled discussions between Afghanistan, the United States, Pakistan and the Taliban.
The announcement was made only hours after another thorny issue in the US-Afghan relationship - the transfer to Afghan control of the last group of prisoners at the Bagram military complex held by US forces - appeared to be resolved on Saturday.
Karzai's Qatar trip was announced by Janan Mosazai, the spokesperson at the Afghan foreign ministry.
"President Karzai will discuss the peace process and the opening of a [Taliban] office for the purposes of conducting negotiations with Afghanistan," he said.
Karzai was expected to travel to Qatar within a week, a senior Afghan official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Reuters news agency.
The US has said it would support setting up an office in the Gulf state where peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan could take place.
"We welcome and fully support President Karzai's visit to Qatar as a sign of improved relations between the two US allies," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.
"The president and other world leaders continue to call on the Afghan armed opposition to join a political process."
Sunday's announcement came several weeks after Karzai delivered a fiery speech during the first visit to Afghanistan by Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary. In that speech, Karazi accused Washington of holding talks with the Taliban behind the Afghan government's back.
Mosazai also confirmed on Sunday the agreement reached on the transfer of detainees held at the military detention facility at Bagram in Parwan province north of Kabul.
The issue of detainees at Bagram had become another stress point in Karzai's relations with Washington. A ceremony formally transferring the last prisoners to Afghan custody collapsed two weeks ago after Karzai rejected part of the deal.
American forces control an area of the prison adjacent to the Bagram military complex, which holds several dozen Taliban fighters considered by the US to pose the most severe threat.
Washington is concerned the Afghans may release some of these men when control of the prison is handed over.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Besides US Secretary of State John Kerry, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the other countries supporting the Syria opposition are at the meeting.
The Syrian coalition which previously turned down the offer to take part in the meeting yielded to insistent requests from Turkey, the United States and the UK and is being represented in Rome.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had a late hour meeting last night with the coalition leader Muaz el Hatip to review the developments ahead of the international gathering. Their meeting was also attended by the Qatari Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.
Davutoğlu expressed the international community's deep unease over the post-Assad period, stressing that however the priority today is to stop the bloodshed. He also said he expected resolve from the participants to deliver the promises made regarding Syria.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- A Qatari poet jailed for encouraging the overthrow of the government has had his life sentenced reduced to 15 years by an appeals court in the Qatari capital.
Muhammad al-Ajami, 36, shouted insults at the courtroom and against the government of the Gulf state as he left the Doha court surrounded by armed security officials on Monday.
Najeeb al-Nuaimi, Ajami's lawyer, told Al Jazeera after the hearing that his client would now appeal against the verdict at the Court of Cassation, Qatar's highest court.
"It's a fixed trial and this shows the government is behind the justice system and that there isn't any independence," Nuaimi said.
Ajami was jailed in November 2011 and charged with encouraging the overthrow of the government of Qatar, accusing the Emir of misusing the county's constitution and for criticising the country's crown prince.
In a 2011 poem, Ajami lauded the "Arab Spring" uprisings, and criticised Arab governments, writing, "... we are all Tunisians in the face of repressive elites."
The poet's sentence has been criticised by rights groups that have called for his release.
The results of the investigation revealed Tuesday 29, Jan. 2013 by France Football allegedly prove that in December 2010 Qatar bought the votes of FIFA executives and won the bid against strong opponents from all over the world.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Qatar has bribed the inner circle of FIFA’s executive committee members the win the right to stage the 2022 World Cup through, an investigation has shown, France Football said. The results of the investigation revealed Tuesday 29, Jan. 2013 by France Football allegedly prove that in December 2010 Qatar bought the votes of FIFA executives and won the bid against strong opponents from all over the world.
France Football revealed that the votes of Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma from the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) were purchased for $1.5 million each. In 2010, Qatar spent $1.25 million on CAF’s congress to win the four votes of FIFA’s African executives. In addition, the then President Sarkozy told UEFA president Platini to support Qatar’s bid for ‘geopolitical reasons.’ France Football said that Sarkozy and Michel Platini then met with Qatar's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad Ale-Thani to ask for Qatar’s investments into French football. In 2011, Qatar Investment Authority purchased 70% of Paris Saint-Germain. France Football said it will submit the evidence to FIFA.
In 2011, the secretary general of FIFA, Jerome Valcke confirmed that he sent a private email suggesting Qatar had ‘bought’ the right to host the 2022 World Cup. The email was made public by FIFA vice-president Jack Warner after he was suspended by FIFA over bribery allegations in Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam's (MBH) campaign to replace Sepp Blatter as its president. "For MBH, I never understood why he was running," Valcke told Warner in the email. "If really he thought he had a chance or just being an extreme way to express how much he does not like anymore JSB (Blatter). Or he thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the WC [World Cup]."
Valcke, later on said, "It was a private email and we will discuss it. He sent me an email asking if I want that (Bin Hammam to run), he said that I should ask Bin Hammam to pull out." Valcke later said he had been referring to the financial resources used by Qatar's bid team in successfully winning the race for the tournament. "I'd like to clarify that I may use in an email a 'lighter' way of expression by nature - a much less formal tone than in any form of correspondence,'' Valcke said in a statement. Once again the world has to wait to see if this new scandal in sport after Armstrong case can lead to a just conclusion.