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Sunday, 22 April 2018 13:58

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Afrasianet - The Democratic National Committee lawsuit against the Trump campaign, the Russian government and WikiLeaks looks like an attempt to justify the Democrats’ defeat in the presidential election, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the ministry hasn’t been officially notified about the suit and learned about it only from media reports. “If this information is true, it seems to be a kind of attempt by the Democrats to justify their defeat,” she added, noting it was too early to speak about the actions Moscow might take in response to the complaint.

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, targeting the Trump campaign, the Russian government, and WikiLeaks. According to the complaint, the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow to hack the DNC’s computer network and release its emails via WikiLeaks. “During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

While the lawsuit claims to be quite serious, it seems to contain rather little evidence. The Democrats don’t name Trump as a defendant but target key figures in his team, who met with those believed to be affiliated with Moscow.

For a year and a half “those who lost” the 2016 US presidential elections have tried to blame their failure on some “conspiracy” and “external interference,” according to Zakharova. Now “these fantasies” are being transferred from TV to the courtroom in order to “heat up anti-Russian sentiment,” she stated.

In March Special Counsel for the US Department of Justice Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. According to Michael Conaway, the Texas Republican who led the investigation, the committee found only “some bad judgment” or “inappropriate meetings.”

The release and subsequent leaking of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos on Thursday also dashed claims that Trump attempted to interfere with the FBI’s investigation. The memos showed that the US president was cooperative and wanted all allegations of collusion properly investigated.

The committee’s lawsuit is spurious and might spectacularly backfire, provided it doesn’t get thrown out of court, legal and media analyst Lionel has told RT. The suit doesn’t actually name President Donald Trump and contains only a “series of narratives: a story about here, a name here, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, collusion…”

“It’s a last gasp at validating how Hillary Clinton lost a rigged election,” Lionel said. “This is spurious. This is a waste of time, and it shows how desperate and how pathetic the DNC are. They need grief counseling. They need professional help, not a lawyer.”








Afrasianet - A crowd of roaring left-wing anti-war activists have staged a protest in Portland during the commissioning of the US Navy's newest vessel, the USS Portland, a San Antonio-class amphibious ship loaded with laser technology.

Some 100 protesters, representing a number of local anti-war organizations, held a protest at the port terminal where the USS Portland’s commissioning ceremony was taking place on Saturday. Staying a comfortable distance away from the military contingent, they shouted anti-government slogans, demanding an end to American troop deployment overseas. “Stop the US war machine!” they shouted, as they approached the venue.

 “There is a two billion dollar warship being named after our city and we want to let our officials know that we demand an end to all imperialist wars and violence and it sure as hell shouldn't happen in the name of our city,” organizer Olivia Katbi Smith told RT’s Ruptly video agency.

“There is no reason why we should be spending two billion dollars on a warship when we have people right here in our city who are dying from sleeping on streets. They are dying because they cannot afford to go to the hospital, they are dying because or society doesn’t take care of them. Because we spend billions and billions of dollars on foreign wars killing civilians abroad,” she added.

“These motherf****rs will have you believe that it is your duty, it is your patriotic duty to stand behind the military, I say f**k the military,” protester Alyssa Pagan shouted to the agitated crowd, as the ceremony was taking place behind the fence.

Despite the fervor of the activists, the commissioning ceremony of the San Antonio-class amphibious ship went ahead as scheduled. More than 5,000 people, including veterans, soldiers and Navy personnel gathered at Terminal 2 to see the inauguration.

The USS Portland, which will be based out of San Diego, California, became the 11th ship in its class to join the US Navy’s fleet. The $1.6 billion vessels can carry 800 Marines and can fit MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft on deck. The latest, 684-foot-long vessel is also outfitted with a next-generation Laser Weapon System (LaWS) produced by the Office of Naval Research. San Antonio-class ships are designed for amphibious assault, special operations and warfare missions.










Afrasianet - The OPCW confirmed that a team visited the site in Douma where an alleged chemical attack took place. The Russian Foreign Ministry has voiced concerns about the watchdog’s plans to visit fewer sites and speak to fewer witnesses.

On Saturday the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed on Twitter that its fact-finding mission team “visited one of the sites” in Douma “to collect samples for analysis in connection with allegations of chemical weapons use on 7 April 2018.”

The collected samples will be sent to OPCW's laboratory in Rijswijk, Netherlands and then “dispatched for analysis to the OPCW’s designated labs,” the mission said in a statement.

The watchdog said it would "evaluate the situation and consider future steps including another possible visit to Douma."

The OPCW team departed for the city in Eastern Ghouta 11 days after Damascus sent a formal request to the watchdog to inspect the area, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“Such delays in such a resonating case, regardless of the motives, are unacceptable, since not only the Syrian side but the Russian military [stationed in Syria] guaranteed the security of the OPCW team,” she stated.

Moscow expects the OPCW to investigate the alleged chemical incident impartially. However, the mission’s plans to visit fewer sites linked to the purported attack and interview fewer witnesses raises “serious concerns,” Zakharova said. According to the spokeswoman, these plans only “demonstrate the unwillingness to shed light on yet another staged provocation with the use of chemicals, which served as a reason for the missile strike” by the US, UK, and France.

The fact-finding mission faced a series of security-related setbacks in its attempts to reach Douma. On Wednesday, the OPCW confirmed that its mission to Douma was delayed from entering the city after a UN security team came under “small arms fire.” Contrary to a US claim, the watchdog didn’t say that the delay was caused by Russia or Syria. Washington had previously accused Damascus and Moscow of blocking the fact-finding team from reaching the city.

The OPCW team’s arrival in Douma was postponed on April 14 after the US, UK, and France unleashed a bombing campaign on Syria. The airstrikes were carried out in response to the alleged gas attack in Douma on April 7, which the West blamed on Bashar Assad’s government. The operation started hours before the team was due to reach the city.

Last Saturday, Syrian defenses were scrambled to repel 103 cruise missiles and air-surface missiles launched at civilian and military targets by the Western trio. It managed to intercept at least 71 of them, the Russian Defense Ministry said at the time.









Afrasianet - Washington’s desire to unilaterally renegotiate the landmark international nuclear accord with Tehran should be seen as a “very dangerous message” by anyone planning to engage in talks with the US, warned Iran’s foreign minister.

“The United States has not only failed to implement its side [of the deal with Tehran], but is even asking for more,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in New York, where he is attending a UN General Assembly meeting.

“That’s a very dangerous message to send to the people of Iran, but also to the people of the world – that you should never come to an agreement with the United States because, at the end of the day, the operating principle of the United States is 'what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable,'” he said, as cited by Reuters.

The Iranian FM also warned Washington’s allies, France and Germany, who have not yet definitively ruled out the possibility of ‘amending’ the deal, that trying to “appease” US President Donald Trump would be “an exercise in futility.”

Iran’s warning comes after North Korea made a surprise announcement on Saturday, declaring its nuclear test program frozen indefinitely, ahead of the high-level talks with Seoul – and a planned historic meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. It also comes ahead of the May 12 deadline for Trump to decide on the fate of the Iranian nuclear deal

Known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal was brokered back in 2015 by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Before and especially after assuming office, Trump vehemently criticized the agreement as the “worst deal ever negotiated,” and –since Iran’s strict commitment has been independently verified– accused Tehran of violating its “spirit.” In January, Trump stated that he was certifying the JCPOA for the “last” time and warned he would pull out of the deal unless its “terrible flaws” were fixed. He is expected to make a decision on the matter before the May 12 deadline.

While Iran repeatedly warned it might swiftly revive its nuclear program if Trump scraps the deal, Zarif noted that there are several options on the table, but “whatever that decision will be, it won't be very pleasant to the United States.”









Afrasianet - The family of a Palestinian lecturer, allegedly linked to a Hamas drone and rocket program, has accused Mossad of his murder in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian authorities have also hinted at potential involvement of foreign intelligence.

The Palestinian, identified as Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, was assassinated in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. Two suspects had awaited the victim for some 20 minutes and then gunned him down, fleeing the scene on a motorcycle, according to local police.

 “The suspect fired 10 shots, four of which hit the lecturer in the head and body. He died on the spot. The police also found two empty bullet shells there,” Kuala Lumpur Police chief Mazlan Lazim told reporters.

Al-Batsh, a 35-year-old lecturer with a private university, reportedly served as an imam at a local surau, a smaller Malaysian variant of a mosque. The police chief said the investigators would look into all possible theories on the events, including the potential involvement of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists. While the identity of the perpetrators is still unknown, they are believed to be Caucasian, according to the Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“The lecturer, a permanent resident of this country, is believed to have become a liability for a country hostile to Palestine,” the official said, suggesting that foreign intelligence might have been involved in the murder.

“The police will conduct their investigation by covering all angles. We will investigate the case until the arrest of the perpetrators of the crime,” he added, stating that the country’s law enforcement will seek help from Interpol and Aseanapol to track down the suspects.

The family of al-Batsh squarely pinned the blame on the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. “We accuse Mossad of being behind the assassination,” the family, which lives in the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip, said in a statement. Hamas itself has also pointed fingers at Israel, promising “to hold meetings with the Malaysian officials and follow up closely the details of the crime.” Neither family members nor Hamas provided any evidence to back up their claims.

The Islamist organization described al-Batsh as a “young Palestinian scholar,” specializing in the energy and electronics fields, who greatly contributed to “developing the Malaysian energy sector.” The slain lecturer was about to travel to Turkey to partake in a science conference, according to Hamas. Israeli media, however, reported that the Palestinian scientist was linked to the “drone and rocket” programs of Hamas. The organization neither confirmed nor denied the allegations.








Afrasianet - The Gaza Health Ministry said that two more Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy, have been killed by Israeli army fire on the Gaza border.

The deaths bring to four the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces Friday, the fourth weekly protest in the border area.

Some 445 Palestinians were injured in the day's protests, including 96 who were wounded by Israeli army fire.

Earlier, two Palestinians had been shot dead by Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip. Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, said Ahmad Abu Aqel, 25, died of bullet wounds sustained east of Jabaliya, without providing further details. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident.

Security sources in Gaza said Abu Aqel was standing near a group of people setting fire to tyres near the border with Israel..

Thousands of Gazans were gathered on Friday at various locations along the border in the blockaded enclave, calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their former lands in what is now Israel.

Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas rulers have called for the mass rally at the border as part of a weeks-long campaign of protests against a decade-old blockade of the territory.

Israel is closely guarding the fence and warns it will not tolerate attempts to damage the fence or breach it and enter its territory.

Several Israeli communities are located near the border and Israel has pledged to stop damage to the fence, infiltrations and attacks, and alleges there have been attempts at all three.

It accuses Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of using the protests as cover to carry out violence.









Afrasianet - Iraq resumed paying Kuwait compensation on Friday for the destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields and facilities during the 1990-91 Gulf War, the United Nations said in Geneva in a prepared statement.

The payment had been suspended since October 2014 because of security and budgetary problems the Iraqi government in its fight against ISIS.

“The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) today made available $90 million to the Government of the State of Kuwait,” the UN said. “With today’s payment, the Commission has paid out $47.9 billion, leaving approximately $4.5 billion remaining to be paid to the only outstanding claim.”

The sum owed, as well as the $90 million payment, goes towards an overall claim of $14.7 billion in damages by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, the largest approved by the Geneva-based commission, set up by the UN Security Council in 1991.

Payouts are made quarterly as funds become available.

The UNCC said in November that Baghdad should finish paying by the end of 2021 compensation for damages to states, companies and individuals caused by Iraq’s invasion and seven-month occupation of Kuwait under former president Saddam Hussein.

Kuwait and Iraq agreed last year that payments would gradually increase from 0.5 percent of Iraqi oil proceeds in 2018 to 1.5 percent in 2019 and 3 percent in both 2020 and 2021.

Iraq declared victory over ISIS in December, five months after Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition captured the militants’ capital in the northern city of Mosul.









  • Democrats try to justify their election defeat by filing lawsuit against Russia & Trump – Moscow

  • ‘Stop US war machine!’ Activists try to obstruct USS Portland commissioning

  • OPCW confirms visit to site of alleged chemical attack in Syria

  • ‘Exercise in futility’: Iran warns against making any deals with US ahead of Trump-Kim meeting

  • Israel’s Mossad accused of assassinating Palestinian ‘rocket scientist’ in Malaysia

  • Kuwait summons Philippines envoy over offensive remarks, diplomatic violations

  • Four Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces in Gaza Strip

  • Iraq resumes payments of Gulf War reparations to Kuwait

  • North Korea says it will suspend nuclear, missile testing

  • Trump ‘looking forward’ to moving US embassy to Jerusalem

Afrasianet - Gunmen fatally shot the mayor of Libya’s third-largest city, Misrata, late on Sunday, ambushing his car inside the city, security officials said.

The North African oil producer has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that unseated Muammar Gaddafi, but Misrata, Libya’s biggest port, had been relative peaceful until now.

Gunmen chased the car of Mayor Mohamed Eshtewi after he left Misrata airport following his arrival on a plane from Turkey, a security official said, adding it was unclear who was behind it.

In October, a bomb exploded at the city’s court, killing about four people and wounding 40 others in an attack claimed by ISIS.

Misrata, almost 200 km east of Tripoli, is the gateway for food and other imports into Libya and the country’s only tax-free zone. It is one of the few places still frequented by foreign business people fearing poor security elsewhere.









Afrasianet - A rocket was launched from the northern Gaza Strip early Sunday morning, according to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).

The rocket “exploded mid-air,” according to the IDF announcement posted on Twitter.

No one was injured in the alleged attack, the Israeli military said, without immediately providing any further details.

The alleged projectile was reportedly headed to the Ahskelon coastal region in southern Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

No rocket alert signal was activated as the explosion happened “relatively early” in its flight, Israeli media reported citing officials.

The incident comes amid escalating tensions in the region, with Israel beefing up its military presence in the West Bank.

At least three Israelis were killed and one other injured in a stabbing attack by a 20-year-old Palestinian in the West Bank settlement of Halamish Friday night.

Israel upped its security alert level and dispatched thousands of additional troops to the area following the deadly knife assault, local media reported citing an IDF official.

Late Friday, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, announced that the PA was freezing all contacts with Israel over the Jerusalem holy site dispute and the violence over the past days.

Clashes have been raging for several days following Tel Aviv’s decision to install metal detectors at the Temple Mount (referred to by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif ) in the Old City in Jerusalem. The site is sacred to both Jews and Muslims, with Abbas having called for the removal of unilaterally installed barriers for people to be able to “pray with dignity.”










Afrasianet - The convoy of the Minister of Education of the National Unity Government, Osman Abdel Jalil, was subjected to heavy gunfire at "Gate 17" at the southern entrance to the city of Sabha on Monday while he was on his way to the city of Marzak.

The Ministry of Education said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page that "the group forced the minister's convoy to stop using arms and assaulted the minister and his companions with his hands, but the security team managed to remove the minister and the undersecretary from the danger zone, while the gunmen detained the rest of the team and forced them With the force of arms to stay in the place of detention for approximately one hour ".

The ministry, which did not specify the identity of the gunmen and did not publish pictures of the site of the attack, said that "the group was detained after the intervention of tribes Altabu who responded firmly to the militants and were able to secure the convoy of the minister and accompany him the rest of the trip."

The city of Sabha and the adjacent areas of southern Libya are characterized by a security breach resulting in repeated incidents of theft, assault and murder. They are controlled by armed groups, most of which are active in smuggling, especially smuggling of illegal immigrants and fuel.











Afrasianet - Riyadh - Saudi Arabia and its allies from the Gulf Arab states said on Monday that the deadline for the Qatari government to respond to its 13 demands, which ended Sunday night, was extended 48 hours at the request of Kuwait's emir, who is mediating the crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt said in a joint statement issued by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that "in response to a request by Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to extend the special deadline for the government of Qatar for 48 hours since the end of the 10-day deadline, The four states' response will be sent after examining the Qatari government's response and evaluating its response to the full list of demands. "

The four countries said in a statement that they agreed to extend the deadline "because of the Qatari government's assertion that it will send its official response to the list of claims addressed to it on Monday."

The extension came after Qatar implicitly rejected the demands of its neighbors to restore ties with it just hours before the 10-day deadline set for it to respond to its 13 demands.

Earlier this morning, the Emir of Kuwait will receive Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani, who will deliver a written message from Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

The letter contains the response earlier prepared by Qatar on the list of collective claims submitted by Kuwait late last month.










Afrasianet - Eight people were wounded Monday morning in a shooting outside the Mercy Mosque in the southern French city of Avignon.

Two masked men, carrying a pistol and a gun, approached the mosque in a car before opening fire on worshipers as they left the building at about 10:30 am local time (2130 GMT).

According to the local media, four people were injured outside the mosque, in addition to four people from a family, including a seven-year-old girl, with shrapnel inside their house, about 50 meters from the site of the attack.

Two of the wounded were taken to the hospital, and the Public Prosecutor's Office suggested that the incident was the result of a dispute between the youths and not a terrorist act.

France is in a state of security alert after an attack on police in April and other bloody attacks in the months before.










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