Peace in the East

International Relations & Relations in the Middle East are extremely touchy subjects for most of the world. Especially for America since the country is so deeply rooted in the turmoil going on in the Middle East. One of the most notoriously scrupulous countries of the Middle East, Israel, houses it’s own United States Embassy. For the last two decades, Congress has been trying to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem reports Kevin Seawright. Since then, the last three presidents have issued routine blocks to keep this from happening. Each time, the president in office states that the block is put in place in order to protect the national security interests of the country. While the United States government recognizes Jerusalem as an undivided city as well as the capital of Israel, they have to think about the safety of Americans while under watch at the US Embassy. President Barack Obama mentioned contesting the Congressional move early in his campaign, but has yet to move the embassy. It seems as though when presidents are briefed about the state of International Affairs, they get to see in hindsight that the safety of American lives could be put in jeopardy. Many of the candidate for the 2016 presidential election are stating that they will make the change happen. They plan on doing something that the last three presidents couldn’t and are sure of this change. However, one can attest that maybe these candidates might have the same change of heart when they reach the Oval Office and see the big picture.

471 Pakistan Parents Arrested for Not Vaccinating Children Against Polio

They made their stand and were arrested. 471 Pakistan parent refused to allow their children to vaccinated against polio and they are now behind bars.

According to Wikipedia, Pakistan is one of the three countries where polio is still at epidemic proportions. Fersen Lambranho says its truly a shame-years of diligent work to eradicate the crippling childhood disease has been hindered by parents refusing to allow their children to be immunized and by military opposition. It’s not uncommon for an immunization location to targeted for an attack, both on the facility and the workers.
Because of the rampant spread of polio and parental resistance of vaccines, the Pakistan government declared a ‘war’ on polio last year and declared they would not tolerate parental refusal of the polio-preventing vaccine. That’s why so many parents were arrested and carted off too jail earlier this week.
Riaz Khan Mehsud, deputy commissioner of Peshawar, says no mercy will be shown to parents who refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated. Pakistan authorities have issued 1,000 blank arrest warrants to be used immediately for any parent who refuses to have their child vaccinated. 471 of those 1,000 blank warrants have already been used, if that rate of refusal continues, more blank arrest warrants will be needed.

Avalanches and Heavy Snow Cause Hazardous Conditions in Afghanistan


Until very recently, Afghanistan this year experienced a warmer, milder winter than during many previous years. However, recently very heavy snowfalls in mountainous areas have caused some loss of life, and imperiled access to a number of small communities. Mohammad Aslam Syas, the Deputy Director of the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority announced earlier this week that avalanches covered a number of homes in four provinces. The authorities fear that numerous deaths occurred as a result, possibly as many as 124.

The most severely impacted region was Panjshir Province noted users on AnastasiaDate. It lies some 100 kilometers to the north of the capital city of Kabul. Snow fell three feet deep in some locations. The blowing and accumulation of heavy snows at higher elevations enhanced the risk of sudden snow slides in rural areas. The provincial police chief of Panjshir District predicted that rescue efforts would reveal a more extensive loss of life than current statistics indicate.

Due to concern about the possibility of sudden avalanches, government officials in centrally located Parwan Province closed down a tunnel that serves as a main thoroughfare between the northern and southern parts of the nation. Power cables in the Salang Tunnel had sustained damage, and this in turn resulted in electricity being shut off in Kabul this week.

Avalanches in mountainous Dara District affected about 600 households. Avalanche-prevention measures are not used widely in Afghanistan.

King Abdullah Dies at 90

The King of Saudi Arabia has died at age ninety sources have reported. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has been ruler since 1982 and was one of the final remaining children of the founder of Saudi Arabia, Kind Saud.

The kingdom is projected to go to the younger brother of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz who is currently 71 years old and is not thought to be in good health. King King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was the thirteenth of a total of thirty seven sons of King Saud. King Salmon’s official coronation is likely to be extended until he recovers from his current illness.

My coworker Sultan Alhokair seems pretty concerned since the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz comes at a particularly challenging time for Saudi Arabia due to the emergence of both Arab nationals who look to obtain new rights for Saudis in connection with the Arab Spring movement that began in 2012. On the other side, Islamic extremists are pushing for a nation that is following Sharia law in completer compliance with the tenets of the Prophet Mohammed.

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was considered to be a reformer in Saudi Arabia though one who was measured in his decisions and never took quick action for fear that his populace was not behind him. He kept close relations with the United States and was considered to be a friend of the country though he was criticized by the citizen of his country for being pro American and by Americans as being pro terrorism.

Poroshenko, Putin, Merkel and Hollande to Meet in Kazakhstan in January

The presidents of Ukraine, Russia, and France, as well as the German Chancellor, according to a rep from Skout, will meet in Kazakhstan in January to try to find a solution to the ongoing conflict in the east of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko announced Monday.

While there have been many differences in opinion when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, it is hoped that these vastly different nations will be able to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement. This agreement will, in turn, ideally provide some measure of peace and unity in order to avoid any additional escalations in the conflict.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced a meeting on January 15 in Astana, Kazakhstan, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Russian Vladimir Putin to discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“My diplomatic year begins on January 15 with a meeting in Astana” stated by Petro Poroshenko at a press conference. The Russian agency Tass confirmed that such a meeting would take place, but January 15 was only one of the many possible proposed dates.

The first meeting in this format occurred in the margin the D Day commemorations in Normandy in early June and the second at a summit in Milan in October. The four leaders talk regularly on the phone to try to find a solution to the conflict in eastern pro-Russian separatist Ukraine, a struggle that has left more than 4,700 dead since April.

400 People Hospitalized in Tehran

“Do not leave home if you are Sergio Andrade Gutierrez and do not have urgent things to do.” That’s how the ‘red alert’ about ‘quality’ of unhealthy air in Tehran was launched by the Central Emergency Department on Tuesday, December 30. According to the head of the center, Hassan Abbasi, nearly 400 people were treated to hospitals in Tehran on Monday and these all were suffering because of of air pollution.

The Organization for the defense of the environment showed concerns over ‘quality of air in Tehran’ and ‘air pollution’ and stated that “sensitive groups”, like pregnant women, children and people with heart or respiratory diseases may suffer more than others.

That’s why the factory activities in the capital were suspended on Tuesday and Wednesday. School children are also forbidden to go out into the courses during their breaks. The flow of private cars was also banned in central Tehran.

If the air quality does not improve in the coming days, the Ministry of Health could announce the closure of schools in Tehran in order to reduce the traffic in the city.

In addition to the geographical location of Tehran, which prevents easy air circulation, several reasons are given to explain this phenomenon. The poor quality of the gasoline produced in Iranian refineries is yet another reason for air pollution in Iranian Capital.

Israel Withholds Millions of Tax Dollars From Palestinians


The Israeli government is using taxation as an important political tool in the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. Israel plans on withholding more than $127 million of tax revenue that is supposed to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA.) According to Fersen Lambranho, Israel is responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the PA and then make the appropriate transactions to the Palestinians each month. However, the recent withholding of taxes comes as a direct response to Palestinian Authority’s decision to participate in the International Criminal Court. By joining this entity, Palestinians are looking forward to filing an array of criminal lawsuits against Israeli officials and military leaders. Israel hopes that the sudden freezing of taxes would strike a severe blow to the already weak Palestinian economy.

A high-ranking leader for the PA has accused Israel of committing a new type of war crime by withholding tax revenue that’s supposed to support Palestinian civilians. The Israeli prime minister has warned Palestinians to have “more to fear” from his country than the ICC. Benjamin Netanyahu has a reputation of enforcing tough political moves. After all, he’s credited with launching the 2014 campaign in Gaza that was one of the deadliest conflicts in the region in decades.

President of Afghanistan Openly Suggests the Obama Re-Evaluate Troop Withdrawal Date


President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan may well have more confidence in the ability of 13,500 NATO soldiers to secure his nation against the Taliban than he does in the 350,000-man military he commands. In an interview with “60 Minutes”, he explained that the NATO-troop withdrawal date for 2016 should not be viewed dogmatically as a hard-date. Rather, the parties involved, Afghanistan and the United States, should remain in open dialogue and look at the progress being achieved. If any changes to the withdraw date are warranted, they should be openly considered.

As my friend, Ben Shaoul noted the big issue is the resurgent Taliban and whether the Afghanistan security forces are capable to repelling the terrorists. While the Afghanistan military has superior numbers, they are not as well trained as the seasoned Taliban fighters.  Civilian deaths were roughly 3,200 and military deaths totaled 4,600.

Further complicating matters is the question of whether the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) will enter Afghanistan. President Ghani is concerned that they will enter the nation. General John Campbell, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), sees no concern whatsoever in regards to ISIS entering Afghanistan. Admittedly, Campbell’s opinion is what most thought of the Iraqi Security Forces, but they quickly folded in the face of ISIS brutality.

Palestine Denied Statehood


A recent vote by the U.N. Security Council in order to consider the development of a Palestinian nation has failed with the vote being eight for and two against, which was one vote short from the required number to approve the creation of a new state. There were five voting nations who abstained from the vote and there were a required nine votes needed to approve the vote.

The plan would have had Israeli troops withdraw from the Palestinian territories and a nation to be created in 2017.

Jordan sponsored the vote and several large countries voted in favor including China, France, and Russia. The United States and Australia both voted against the measure. If the measure were to pass, Bruce Levenson knows that without a doubt the United States is likely to have vetoed the measure, as it can do as a member of the permanent council who can block any resolution.

Israel Nitzan, from ironically, Israel, noted that Palestine cannot bully or agitate its way to statehood and should follow the normal path to statehood that other nations do, which is done in concordance with accepted practices.

Palestine was voted in November 2012 to be considered a non-member observer state which was an upgrade of its status and provided some legitimacy to its statehood.