Iran Refuses to Return US Unmanned Drone

By: MIKE GRUBER

Last week a US unmanned aircraft drone was captured by the Iranian military after it flew across the Afganistan-Iran border. According to Aljazeera and Fox News this has caused a huge amount of unrest between the US and Iran, as Iran has refused to return the drone after obtaining it. Iran has demanded that Obama apologize for what government perceives as “tantamount to an act of hostility” and “violations and acts of aggression”.

However, Obama has currently refused to apologize and is instead formally requesting the Iranian government return the drone. Obama is quoted as saying: “We have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond.”

Currently both Aljazeera and Fox News state the Iranian government has claimed that they shot down the unmanned drone using electronic weaponry so as to cause as little damage as possible to the aircraft. The US government has contradicted their statements by saying the drone crashed after malfunctioning, causing the aircraft operators to lose control of it.

Despite these two articles being from two completely different new agencies, I find these articles to be surprisingly similar in content. In a move I did not expect from Fox News both sides of the story were reported about how exactly the drone fell into Iranian possession, revealing the contradictory claims from both governments about whether the drone was shot down or if it simply malfunctioned. Aljazeera did the same, but elaborated little on the US side of the statement. Aljazeera summarized the US statement of malfunction in a single sentence, while Fox News added a little more context and information.

As for the issue at hand, to me this seems to be a case of two wrongs do not make a right. America was wrong to have secretly used drones to spy on Iranian territory, but I do not agree that Iran should keep and reverse engineer the drone. This kind of action does not defuse a conflict, but makes it worse and further deteriorates relationships with other countries.

Fox News: Iran Nearly Finished Decoding U.S. Drone, Tehran Claims

Aljazeera: Iran rebuffs US appeal to return downed drone

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UN Wants to Protect Syrians

                           By: Emma Smith

The conflict in Syria has become of great concern to the international community due to the signs of a civil war occurring within the country. But is an intervention the answer? The UN Human rights Council recently conducted a meeting concluding that the international community must step in to protect the people. An article from AlJazeera describes the events and casualties in some detail, along with relaying information form the UN meeting. It then gives other points of view from what actions the European Union have taken in tightening sanctions of targets involved with energy and financial sectors, along with individuals that support the regime. It then discusses the fact that Syria has suspended its membership from the Mediterranean Union( formed in an effort to increase cooperation among Europe, Middle East and North Africa) in a response to European measures. There is also a statement from the Arab League claiming that they are not supportive of an intervention, although they have also joined European Union discussions. It then gives a response from the Syrian minister accusing the Arab League of wanting to internationalize the conflict.                                                                               In another article from CNN on the Syrian conflict it relays a similar message of the events that took place during the UN meeting calling to protect the citizens. The majority of the article is a list of tragedies and casualties that are occurring in the area, re-enforcing the original idea that the UN Human Rights Council needs to take action and that pressure from the international community is necessary. The article finally notes that nothing can be confirmed due to the fact that the government does not allow free access to journalists.                           The two articles both originally report the same fact of the UN Human Rights Council meeting that took place  with the idea that international pressure was needed to protect the citizens of Syria during this time that is seen as a “civil war” within the country. However, the articles differ in the fact that AlJazeera gives several points of view from other major players such as the European Union and Arab League. We see what the international community wants to protect the Syrian citizens from these crimes as well as what they are doing to enforce what they believe to be correct through the use of sanctions on important industries. There is also the point of the Arab League sending mixed messages of saying that they reject the intervention while joining European Union discussions. The Syrian Prime Minister pushes back by accusing them of wanting to internationalize the conflict leaving an impression that they do not want that to be the case and the Syrian people themselves can resolve this. THe CNN article in comparison gives few viewpoints. They only detail the fact of what the UN Human Council agreed that they should place international pressure on Syria. It then gave several gruesome details of tragic events almost seemingly in an effort to persuade us that that was the only option. It concluded with a statement saying that journalist were not allowed in the area which assuming was an excuse to why there was little information relaying any other viewpoints from people within the area. The Syrian conflict is a fragile situation. From the information within these articles, the facts are that the UN and others want an International intervention while the Foreign Minister of Syria implies that the country does not need this. This becomes fragile in the fact that if one pushes too hard in their effort the other may respond causing furthur backlash and increasing the crisis. I believe as outside powers we can effort in aid of supplies and needs of the people within the crisis, but the country themselves should be able to ultimately decide for themselves how it should be handled. Civil wars are not pleasant and many lives will be lost, but they occur in an effort to change in the end for the greater good and only the Syrian people can decide that for themselves.

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NATO Strike Kills Pakistani Soldiers

U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan, near Pakistan border, August 26, 2011.

by Crystal Collins

Last week, NATO helicopters and jet fighters reportedly attacked two Pakistani army posts on the border of Afghanistan, killing around 25 soldiers. Haaretz and the Islamic Republic News Agency both report the number to be 24, while Al Jazeera says it’s 25, and Al Arabiya has just decided to go with “up to 26.” It might seem like kind of a minor thing to pick up on (the fact that various news sources can’t determine how many people died), but it’s just one small part of a rather problematic situation full of uncertainties, many of them concerning relations between Pakistan and the United States.

The US and Pakistan have had a very tense relationship lately, “following a tumultuous year that saw the Osama bin Laden raid, the jailing of a CIA contractor and US accusations that Pakistan backed an attack on the US embassy in Kabul” (Al Jazeera). This strike, which Pakistan is reportedly viewing as a “violation of Pakistani sovereignty” (IRNA) probably won’t do much to help. Pakistan has already expressed its outrage and taken steps in response, namely blocking a NATO supply route into Afghnistan and ordering the US to vacate an air base within fifteen days.

All news sources seem to agree on the fact that relations between the two countries are tense and strained and that this strike won’t help. However, there were some differences in how each agency described the strike and how they presented their information. All of them basically used the same quotes from the same people, but some agencies paid slightly more attention than others.

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Iraqi bombings

By TIMOTHY THOMAS

On November 24, three bombs were detonated in the Baab al-Sharqi area of central Baghdad, killing several people and wounding many others. According to Al Jazeera, New Delhi TV, and The Star (Malaysia) these bombings raise the issue of Iraqi security after the US Troop removal by the end of the year deadline.

Most of the casualties from these explosions came from the final blast in a staggered pattern. After the first explosion and second explosion, police and other security personnel moved in to help the injured, and were then injured themselves in the third blast. Since the security forces and police took the biggest loss in these blasts, people are not blaming them (at least not directly) for these blasts.

NDTV indicates that this could be the work of Sunni extremists or Shi’a militants. No claim has been made on these attacks by any group as of yet, so this is purely speculation though Al Jazeera points out that the area that was attacked is primarily home to Shia residents and vendors. NDTV also points out that the area near the blasts is a Shi’ite stronghold.

Both the Star and Al Jazeera also make mention of another roadside bomb that hit a minibus (or truck) full of construction workers near Abu Gharib that was heading towards the capital.

All three of these sources clearly point out that the Iraqi security forces will have a difficult time covering the holes left by the US troops as they evacuate the country in the next month, and raise questions as to how secure the nation will be in the year to come. I think that NDTV gives the most in-depth review of the situation, whilst Al Jazeera simply offers a sampling of information, just enough to say that they covered the situation. The Star provides a little bit of a different insight from the Malaysian perspective, and definitely takes jabs at the incompetence of Iraqi defense capabilities.

No one will know exactly what the situation is until after the troops leave at year’s end, but I think it is safe to say that the Iraqis have a long way to go yet on their road to true independence.

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Yemen’s President Steps Down

by MEGAN BRYAN

Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has agreed to step down from office following the protests, riots and disorder in Yemen during the Arab Spring movement. The deal, which was signed on Wednesday, November 24, states that President Saleh will leave office in 30 days, paving the way for the vice-president to negotiate power transfers.

Multiple news sources, including Al Jazeera and CNN covered Saleh’s major announcement. CNN stated that Saleh’s departure marks him as the “fourth Arab leader forced from power this year,” although Al Jazeera explains that the deal Saleh signed designates him the “honorary title of president, yet his deputy is expected to form and preside a national unity government before presidential elections.”

CNN doesn’t hint of any unrest among Yemeni citizens, only of the uncertainty of Saleh’s decision. They remark that this is not the first time he has planned to step down, only to change his mind. Many people are suspicious that he may do the same thing.

But will Saleh still continue to hold political power behind the scenes? Al Jazeera reports that his “family members continue to have powerful posts in the military and intelligence service, and it is unclear how much political power Saleh will have.” In addition, Saleh has many political supporters of his own, people who have stood by him and fought against the opposition for him.

However, in an interview with France 24, CNN explains that Saleh reportedly said “I know the difficulties, the negatives, the positives; I will not hang on to power. Whoever hangs on to power I think is crazy.”

Many Yemenis who oppose Saleh say this deal is not enough for them, and they are not satisfied with the current political state. Many have gathered to protest his immunity from legal repercussions, as well as the political power he continues to hold.

Al Jazeera presents the opinions and concerns of the Yemeni people, while CNN does not. The story from Al Jazeera provides more information and a different view point than CNN. I personally feel as if CNN simply reported that President Saleh was stepping down, and continued on to explain that he was the fourth of the Arab leaders to be forced out of office. While this is indeed important, it is also necessary to discuss the unrest and turmoil in Yemen following Saleh’s decision, as Al Jazeera did.

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Another Round of Sanctions For Iran

AhmadinejadBy April Camp

If countries were Facebook pages, Iran’s oil industry would have the most friends and adversely one push of the theoretical “dislike” button wouldn’t be enough for most western nations.

The U.S. announced this week it will impose another round of sanctions on Iran’s financial and energy sectors.

The sanctions are in response to a report filed by the International Atomic Energy Agency earlier this month, which claimed to have intelligence that Iran is secretly building nuclear weapons.
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Blood, Sweat, and Tears

by Wesley Henry

Tension has mounted in Sitra, a small village near Bahrain’s capital. Protestors were met with tear gas today, asking for a constitutional monarchy. Others said they would not settle for less than to complete oust of the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty.

Anti-government protesters in Sitra, Bahrain, where clashes erupted during a procession. Photograph: Hasan Jamali/AP

Two online sources, Al Jazeera and The Guardian released stories following Tuesday, November 22nd’s events. Here is the summary of the stories:

The official commission, appointed by al-Khalifa, is supposed to release a report studying alleged human rights abuse. Opposition leaders have already called for large demonstrations to coincide with the release. Many Bahrainis are skeptical that the report will be fair, partly because of statements made by Cherif Bassiouni, the Egyptian judge who chairs the commission.

His most controversial statement came in August, when he told reporters that there was no evidence of routine torture in Bahrain. He backtracked earlier this month, when he told the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm that the commission had uncovered 300 cases of torture, and described it as a “systematic policy”.”They don’t trust the report. This is a commission appointed by the king,” said Yousif al-Muhafdah, a human rights activist. “The people in Bahrain are disappointed with Bassiouni and his commission.”

There is also strong political divides, not just between government and the opposition, but within the ruling family.

The uprising began in mid-February when protestors demanding political reform took over Pearl Roundabout in Manama. Initially the protestors were met with live ammunition to clear the square. Al-Khalifa apologized for the violence and let people back in the square. Below is a picture taken of Pearl Roundabout prior to it being destroyed.

Protestors in Pearl Roundabout prior to it being torn down

While comparing the two articles from Al Jazeera and The Guardian, I noticed that The Guardian’s article mainly focused on the protests themselves, and not on the bigger picture. They honed in on the abusive nature and drama surrounding the demonstrations, and interviewed people who experienced the protest first-hand.
Al Jazeera talks about the political problems concerning al-Khalifa and the five-member council he appointed to study the alleged reports of human rights abuses.

Both reported that in lieu of the Arab Spring, many do not feel that “a fancy party and a glossy report” will end the uprising. This is a much deeper rooted problem; a minority Sunni ruling a Shia majority, 35 people dead and hundreds wounded or imprisoned for wanting equal rights, and dozens of mosques demolished, Bahrain is sitting on the edge, hoping there is no more violence to come.

To me, Al Jazeera reported on the story more effectively. The Guardian seemed to make more emotional comments or conclusions than Al Jazeera did. I feel that both equally reported on the political strains concerning al-Khalifa and his committees, described the turmoil surrounding the demonstrations, and the overall demeanor of the people in Bahrain. Here are both stories, you can compare for yourself:

The Guardian story:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/22/bahrain-braced-pearl-revolution-report

The Al Jazeera story:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/11/2011112075610725813.html

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