17 Oct

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


John Kerry meets Boris Johnson and Saudi foreign minister in London and stresses urgency of ending violence in Yemen

Diplomatic editor

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson and US secretary of State John Kerry call for a ceasefire in Yemen within the coming days. It comes amid outrage of the death of 140 people in a Saudi airstrike. The Yemeni government has been in conflict with Iranian-backed Houthis for more than 18 months. They are joined by the UN special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed who would announce when the ceasefire can take effect.

Britain and the US have called for a ceasefire in Yemen “within hours” as they tried to seize on outrage caused by the killing of 140 people in a Saudi airstrike.

Fighting between Iranian-backed Houthis and the Yemeni government, which is supported by Gulf states, has lasted more than 18 months, far longer than the Gulf states expected.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said if Yemen’s opposing sides accepted and moved forward on a ceasefire then the UN special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, would work through the details and announce when and how it would take effect.

“This is the time to implement a ceasefire unconditionally and then move to the negotiating table,” Kerry said after a brief meeting with the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and other officials in London. “We cannot emphasise enough today the urgency of ending the violence in Yemen.”

Kerry said he, Johnson and Cheikh Ahmed were calling for the implementation of a ceasefire “as rapidly as possible, meaning Monday, Tuesday”. Kerry and Johnson also met the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir.

On 8 October a Saudi air raid on a funeral killed 140 people and wounded 525 others, drawing severe criticism of the Arab coalition.

Cheikh Ahmed said the attack took place “amid significant progress in the long peace negotiations, and at a time when we were negotiating a durable accord”.

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‘With the policeman and the M16, it’s one burst, brrrr, and [he] hits 1,000 people there,’ explains Philippines president

Paramedics attend the scene of an extrajudicial killing in Manila in September

Paramedics attend the scene of an extrajudicial killing in Manila in September. Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has vowed no let-up in his war on crime. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, has referred to innocent people and children as “collateral damage” in his war on drugs because police use automatic weapons when confronting criminals.

Asked in an interview with al-Jazeera about minors caught up in the violence, Duterte said those cases would be investigated but added that police can kill hundreds of civilians without criminal liability.

He gave a hypothetical example of an officer using an M16 rifle when dealing with a “gangster” who wields a pistol. “When they meet, they exchange fire. With the policeman and the M16, it’s one burst, brrr, and [he] hits 1,000 people there and they die.

“It could not be negligence because you have to save your life. It could not be recklessness because you have to defend yourself,” he said.

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Turnout estimated at between 6,500 and 8,500 – far less than the 20,000 who joined the anniversary rally a year ago

Pegida supporters in Dresden

Pegida supporters in Dresden. Photograph: Oliver Killig/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of protesters have gathered in the eastern German city of Dresden to mark the second anniversary of the anti-immigration and Islamophobic movement Pegida.

Some in the crowd carried flags bearing slogans such as “Refugees not welcome” and chanted “Merkel must go” as they railed against the arrival of almost 900,000 asylum seekers in Germany last year.

An independent research group, Durchgezählt, estimated the turnout at between 6,500 and 8,500 people – far less than the 20,000 who joined the anniversary rally a year ago.

Pegida held its anniversary gathering on a Sunday this year rather than Monday, when it usually holds its rallies, because two public events aimed at countering the group had already reserved the space in Dresden’s old town.

City authorities will hold a festival for residents, and an anti-Pegida group has called a rally at the same time to “send a sign against the hate” spouted by Pegida.

Pegida, an acronym of Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, was born in October 2014. At its peak in January last year the group attracted 25,000 to its protests, before numbers waned after its founder Lutz Bachmann was caught making overtly racist comments and as pictures of him sporting a Hitler-style moustache and hairstyle surfaced.

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A building in Orange County, North Carolina, was struck with a flammable material thrown through a front window of the building, local authorities said

Melted campaign signs are seen at the fire-damaged Orange County Republican Headquarters in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Melted campaign signs are seen at the fire-damaged Orange County Republican Headquarters in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Photograph: Jonathan Drew/AP

A local Republican Party office in North Carolina was damaged by fire and someone spray-painted an anti-GOP slogan referring to “Nazi Republicans” on a nearby wall, authorities said on Sunday.

A news release from the town of Hillsborough said someone threw a bottle filled with flammable liquid through the window of the Orange County Republican Party headquarters overnight. The substance ignited and damaged furniture and the interior before burning out.

The news release said an adjacent building was spray-painted with the words: “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.”

State GOP director Dallas Woodhouse said no one was injured, but a security alert was being sent to party offices around the state.

On Sunday afternoon, the walls of the multi-room office were covered in black char, and a couch against one wall had been burned down to its springs. Shattered glass covered the floor and melted campaign yard signs showed warped lettering. The graffiti had been covered in paint by late afternoon.

Another business owner discovered the damage on Sunday morning. Local police are investigating alongside the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Woodhouse said people sometimes work after hours, and he felt lucky that no one was there at the time.

“They are working around the clock. It is a

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After five years of failed negotiations, conservations are hopeful Russia is prepared to make a deal to protect the Ross Sea and East Antarctica

Adelie penguin

Antartica is home to most of the world’s penguins and whales. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which has been meeting annually since 2011, on Monday commenced two weeks of talks to discuss creating marine reserves in the Antarctic. Photograph: Reuters

An international agreement to protect some of Antarctica’s unique and pristine marine ecosystems could be reached within a fortnight, with scientists and conversationists hopeful of a breakthrough after five years of failed negotiations.

Delegates from 24 nations and the European Union gathered in Hobart on Monday to commence two weeks of talks at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

The commission has been working since 2011 towards protecting a range of areas in the Southern Ocean.

If an agreement is reached, it would represent the first time a marine protected area was established in international waters by consensus. Russia has consistently blocked the agreement, with China also scuppering the deal each year until 2015.

This year there are signs Russia, which is chairing the meeting for the second year in a row, is prepared to make a deal to protect the Ross Sea and possibly East Antarctica.

“There has been a lot of movement within Russia for more environmental awareness – coming from high up in the Putin government,” said Andrea Kavanagh, director of Antarctic and Southern Ocean work at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In the past year, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s former chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, has been appointed special presidential representative for environmental protection, ecology and transport, and Ivanov has increased protection to waters around the Arctic.

In January Putin declared 2017 the Year of Ecology in Russia. In September, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said he had been in discussions with Putin, and revealed Russia had conducted an “interagency assessment” of the Antarctic proposals.

“I don’t know what the results of that assessment will be, but we obviously all remain hopeful that Russia will step up and join us in this endeavour,” Kerry said.

Scientists have estimated the Southern Ocean produces about three quarters of the nutrients that sustain life in the rest of the world’s oceans. The region is also home to most of the world’s penguins and whales.

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