Japan’s ruling party pushed contentious security bills through a legislative committee Thursday, catching the opposition by surprise and causing chaos in the chamber.
Opposition lawmakers surged toward the chairman’s seat as they realized something was up after ruling party legislators had gathered at the podium to protect him.
As the scrum intensified, ruling party lawmakers still in their seats stood up to signal their support for the legislation, though there didn’t appear to be an audible announcement of what they were voting on.
The legislative standoff is the latest development in a years long national debate about the way Japan uses its military, a central question for the country since its armed forces were defeated in World War II seven decades ago. The bills would ease restrictions on what the military can do, a highly sensitive issue in a country where many take pride in the postwar pacifist constitution.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday Pentagon officials have begun to examine how the U.S. military could better equip and train Iraqi troops after the recent fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to Islamic State insurgents.
Carter told reporters on his plane to Asia that he had convened a group of defense policy officials and military officers from U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon’s Joint Staff to look at how “we can enhance, hasten” the mission to train and equip Iraqi forces.
The initial meeting took place on Tuesday before Carter departed on a trip to Asia.
“The events of recent weeks there (in Iraq) have highlighted the central importance of having a capable ground partner and that’s what the purpose of our train-and-equip program is. So we are looking,” Carter said...
Migrants believed to be Rohingya rest inside a shelter after being rescued from boats at Lhoksukon in Indonesia‘s Aceh Province. Roni Bingtang/Reuters
Perhaps Samuel Huntington’s most famous assertion comes his 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations in which he argues that “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards.” The Western world is likely to remember the “borders” yet apt to forget the “innards”. Yet it is the innards which is generating the greatest misery. The quarrels of Islam are spewing out broken people at a near historic rate. There are more refugees in the world today than at any time since the Second World War: fifty million, according to the UNHCR. Most of them are Muslims.
Though the great bulk of displaced persons come from the Middle East, Central Africa, South Asia and West Africa the convulsions are now general. Apart from the boat people crossing the Mediterranean sea, thousands of Rohingaya and Bangladeshi Muslims have been cast out on the high seas, expelled by Burmese and Thais who have long fought and feared them — the “most unwanted refugees on earth”.
The flame consuming the Islamic world is burning so hot that it has reduced the dreams of young men to ash. The Daily Beast notes that the horrible reality of war has disillusioned many a young Muslim who thought it was all fun and glamor. “There used to be each week 100 to 200 foreign [Western] recruits arriving in Raqqa; now there are five or six every week. The foreigners inside are communicating to their friends back home not to come and they’re explaining the reality of what life is really like inside.”
You would think they would stop, but that’s unlikely. Odds are the fire will just find fresh fuel. Daniel Byman of the Brookings Institution argues that a deadly fuse has been lit within the innards of the Islamic and in Western countries as 20,000 unemployed terrorists return to their domiciles at loose ends…
A year after the “revolution”, Ukrainians live happier every day. They are so happy that cursing the government and those in the West who reduced Ukraine to the level of Somalia has become a national sport. And the main target of these curses is US President Barack Hussein Obama and IMF.
Although, for the sake of the truth, it´s not clear why Ukrainians blame their government; the Ukrainian President and Prime Minister are only doing what Obama, Merkel and IMF say to drag Ukraine to a “bright future”.
And the achievements are obvious: home prices on gas, electricity, heating and fuel are now close to the European ones. The wages, however, remained the same or fell even lower, and will remain so at least till the end of 2015. Unemployment grew six times. But what does such a trifle matter, if Ukraine is triumphantly marching to the tune of “democracy”?…
In a newly released video showing the Islamic State’s assault on the Baiji oil refinery complex, several scenes depict the jihadist group using unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and battlefield coordination.
The use of drones allowed the Islamic State to gather intelligence to be used by commanders for command and control purposes, as well as act as spotters for artillery pieces.
In addition to the scenes showing the use of the drones, other footage features several Islamic State commanders in an “operations control room” directing the fighting at the refinery.
It is unclear what kind of unmanned aerial vehicles were employed by the group…
People fleeing Yemen arrive aboard a dhow at a the port of Djibouti after crossing the Gulf of Aden. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
(Reuters) – Conflict in Yemen is disrupting the crop planting season and threatens to create food shortages as the war-stricken country eats into its cereal reserves, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday.
Yemen’s cereal stocks stood at around 860,000 tonnes when Saudi-led air strikes against Iran-allied Houthi rebels started, enough for three to four months, FAO Assistant Director-General for North Africa and the Near East, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, said.
The cereals were mostly wheat, but also included rice and maize, he said.
“We are very much concerned by the fact that this country may not be able to sustain imports while reserves of food are shrinking as conflict drags on,” Ould Ahmed said by telephone…
A stadium after it was destroyed by an air strike in Ibb, the central city in Yemen. Reuters
(Reuters) – Iran proposed a peace plan for Yemen on Tuesday and called for an end to Saudi-led air strikes against Houthi rebels allied to Tehran, but the move was likely to draw a cool response from Riyadh.
On the battlefront, militiamen loyal to deposed President President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said they had pushed back Houthi fighters at several points in southern Yemen, including districts of the port city of Aden, the focal point of a conflict that entered its most dangerous phase three weeks ago.
After prolonged street fighting, Houthi fighters withdrew from Aden’s Khor Maksar district, where the international airport and foreign missions are located.
The pull-out deprives the Houthis of a bridge to downtown areas where they face heavy resistance from local fighters…
You mean the Saudi’s intervention has worked? NYT has an article just today saying that the Saudi Operation Decisive Storm was “bombastically named” and “won’t solve anything.”
An Islamic State fighter inside the Baiji oil refinery complex. Source: Long War Journal
(Reuters) – Islamic State militants breached the security perimeter around Iraq’s largest refinery in Baiji early on Monday but were beaten back by security forces and coalition air strikes, local officials said.
The refinery was under siege for five months after Islamic State militants tore through Iraq last summer. Security forces drove the militants out of the nearby town of Baiji in November.
They subsequently withdrew, leaving a single supply line to the refinery, which the militants cut on Sunday, surrounding the complex once again and setting fire to three oil storage tanks.
“The attack that began two days ago on Baiji refinery is the most violent yet,” said Salahuddin provincial council member Khazaal Hammad…
Fighters from the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) alliance of Islamist-backed militia man a checkpoint in al-Aziziyah, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli AFP/Mahmud Turkia
Clashes between Libyan government forces and Islamist-backed militiamen on Friday killed four militants, a security source said, and one person died in a mortar attack on Tripoli’s only functioning airport.
The fighting broke out when armed men launched an assault on the edges of Aziziya, a town just 35 kilometres (22 miles) south of Tripoli, the source said.
Four people were killed and 11 wounded, the source told AFP.
Libya’s capital was seized by the Islamist-backed Fajr Libya (“Libya Dawn”) group last August.
Fajr Libya is an alliance of militias, including Islamists, who have installed a government in Tripoli opposed to the internationally recognised legislature and cabinet based in the east…
Jabhat al-Nusra fighters in Yarmouk (Photo: AFP/Archive)
BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants fought Friday against armed groups inside a refugee camp in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and have made new advances inside the camp, Palestinian officials and activists said.
The militants stormed the Yarmouk camp on Wednesday, marking the Islamic State’s deepest foray yet into Damascus. They were expelled Thursday but officials said they re-entered the camp Friday.
One Palestinian official, Khaled Abdul-Majid, said the group is in control of half of the camp. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported new advances by the group inside the camp.
Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite paramilitary fighters hold an Islamist State flag, which they pulled down in Tikrit, March 31, 2015. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
(Reuters) – Iraqi troops aided by Shi’ite paramilitaries have driven Islamic State out of central Tikrit, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Tuesday, but the fight to retake all of Saddam Hussein’s home town continued.
Government forces have been in a month-long fight for the city, which became a bastion for the Sunni jihadists who are at war with Baghdad and have been targeted by U.S.-led air strikes.
Hundreds of insurgents ready to fight to the death are still holed up in Salahuddin province’s capital city and at least three neighborhoods remain under Islamic State control, along with a palace complex in the city’s north.
The further Iraqi forces push into the city, the greater the risk of ambushes.
“Our security forces have reached the center of Tikrit and they have liberated the southern and western sides and they are moving towards the control of the whole city,” Abadi said in a statement.
In their push from southern Tikrit, security forces and paramilitary fighters retook the governor’s headquarters and the main hospital which had been occupied by Islamic State…
Iraqi militants fire rockets at Isil fighters in Tikrit, the home city of Saddam Hussein Photo: Khalid Mohammed/AP
After weeks of hesitation, the Obama administration last week responded to an Iraqi demand for air strikes against Islamic State positions in Tikrit, a largely Sunni city north of Baghdad. Initially, Washington decided to stay out of the battle for Tikrit as a gesture of goodwill to the Islamic Republic.
Secretary of State John Kerry believed by letting Iran lead he would reassure the mullahs the US will not oppose their quest for influence in the broader Middle East.
However, the battle for Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, proved three things.