Egypt Independent: World-Main news en International financial watchdog warns on Iran, North Korea <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>An international financial watchdog said on Friday member states should take action to ward off risks emanating from Iran and North Korea, which it said had failed to tackle money-laundering and financing of terrorism.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Financial Action Task Force, made up of 37 countries as well as the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council, said financial institutions should give special attention to business deals and transactions with Iran and North Korea.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The FATF also expressed deep concern about financing for Islamic State insurgents who have seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria. It said members needed to implement international standards to choke off the flow of funds to the group.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At a plenary meeting in Paris, the FATF further warned that Algeria, Ecuador, Indonesia and Myanmar were not doing enough to tackle money-laundering and terrorism-financing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A further 18 developing states were singled out for failing to live up to international standards, but said they at least made high-level written commitments to improve their record.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The FATF said it would closely monitor these countries&#39; progress towards international standards and told members to take their failings into account in their dealings with them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Those countries are Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Cambodia, Guyana, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.</div> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:21:00 +0000 Reuters 2439181 at sites/default/files/photo/2012/01/23/72636/iran.jpg Kurds reject Erdogan report of deal with Syrian rebels to aid besieged Kobani <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A senior Syrian Kurdish official on Friday rejected a report from Turkey&#39;s president that Syrian Kurds had agreed to let Free Syrian Army fighters enter the border town of Kobani to help them push back besieging Islamic State insurgents.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Free Syrian Army is a term used to describe dozens of armed groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad but with little or no central command. They have been widely outgunned by Islamist insurgents such as Islamic State.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is a leading opponent of Assad and has allowed his more secular, Western-backed opponents such as FSA fighters to use Turkey as a base and sanctuary.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Erdogan said on Friday that 1,300 FSA fighters would enter Kobani after the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) agreed on their passage, but his comments were swiftly denied by Saleh Moslem, co-chair of the PYD.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We have already established a connection with FSA but no such agreement has been reached yet as Mr. Erdogan has mentioned,&quot; Moslem told Reuters by telephone from Brussels.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Turkey&#39;s unwillingness to send its powerful army across the Syrian border to break the siege of Kobani has angered Kurds, and seems rooted in a concern not to strengthen Kurds who seek autonomy in adjoining regions of Turkey, Iraq and Syria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ankara&#39;s stance has also upset Western allies, as Islamic State&#39;s capture of wide swathes of Syria and Iraq has caused international shock and U.S.-led air strikes began in August to try to halt and eventually reverse the jihadist advance.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Erdogan told a news conference on a visit to Estonia that Ankara was working on details of the route of passage for the FSA fighters, indicating they would access Kobani via Turkey.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Moslem said talks between FSA commander Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi and the armed wing of the Kurdish PYD were continuing about the possible role of FSA rebels. &quot;There are already groups with links to the FSA in Kobani helping us,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The FSA, however, is little more than an acronym used to describe dozens of tenuously affiliated rebel groups who complain of a lack of arms and resources leaving them unable to effectively confront Assad and better-armed Islamist rebels.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Moslem said the FSA would be more helpful if it opened a second front against Islamic State elsewhere in Syria. &quot;Politically we have no objections to FSA....But in my opinion, if they really would like to help, then their forces should open another front, such as from Tel Abyad or Jarablus,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He was referring to two nearby Syrian border towns captured by Islamic State as part of its lightning military campaign in which it has beheaded or crucified prisoners, massacred non-Sunni Muslim civilians in its path and declared a mediaeval-style caliphate spanning eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>FSA commander Al-Oqaidi, speaking to Reuters in Suruc, a Turkish border town across from Kobani, said there had been an agreement to begin establishing a united defence force and initially 1,350 FSA fighters were to go to Kobani for help.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;These fighters will come in two or three days,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The fighters will come from the northern Syrian countryside. These fighters are not coming from the fighting fronts against the Assad regime. These are reserve fighters.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>U.S. officials said on Thursday that Kobani, nestled in a valley overlooked by Turkish territory, seemed in less danger of falling to Islamic State after coalition air strikes and limited arms drops, but the threat remained.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Turkey has been loath to join the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State but, after mounting pressure from its Western allies, Erdogan said on Wednesday that some Kurdish peshmerga fighters from Iraq would be allowed to transit Turkey to Kobani.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>CREDIBILITY TEST</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Although Turkish and U.S. officials acknowledge Kobani itself is not especially strategically important, the fate of the town has become a credibility test of the international coalition&#39;s response to Islamic State.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Over the weekend, U.S. warplanes air-dropped small arms to Kobani&#39;s defenders, against the wishes of Turkish authorities who have described them as terrorists because of their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long separatist insurgency in Turkey.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The PYD&#39;s Moslem said he was disappointed with Turkey&#39;s response so far. &quot;When I conducted my meetings in Turkey, I was hoping the help would come in 24 hours. It&#39;s been more than a month and we&#39;re still waiting,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a separate interview published in a pan-Arab newspaper, Moslem said that the battle for Kobani would turn into a war of attrition unless Kurds obtained arms that can repel tanks and armoured vehicles.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He told Asharq al-Awsat that Kurds had recently received information that Islamic State wanted to fire chemical weapons into Kobani using mortars, after having surrounded it with around 40 tanks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;If we were to receive qualitative (stronger) weapons, we would be able to hit the tanks and armoured vehicles that they use - we may be able to bring a qualitative change in the battle,&quot; Moslem said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The FSA&#39;s al-Oqaidi echoed Moslem&#39;s call for better weapons, saying that FSA fighters had only light arms. &quot;Our main problem is not numbers of the fighters but the quality of weapons...The fighters in Kobani need good quality weapons too.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Elsewhere in Syria&#39;s civil war, government forces retook a town on the highway linking Hama and Aleppo cities in the west of the country after months of battles with insurgents, Damascus state television and a monitoring group said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The recapture of Morek, 30 km (19 miles) north of Hama, is part of Assad&#39;s campaign to shore up control of territory in the west stretching north from Damascus while U.S.-led forces bomb Islamist militants in the north and east.</div> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 07:55:00 +0000 Reuters 2439180 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/03/31/94/turkish_prime_minister_tayyip_erdogan_l_accompanied_by_his_son_bilal_and_daughter_sumeyye_greets_his_supporters_at_the_ak_party_headquarters_in_ankara.jpg US says Palestinian-American killed by Israeli forces <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian-American youth during clashes on Friday, the US State Department said, calling for a quick and transparent investigation.</p><p>Orwah Hammad, 14, was shot in the head in the village of Silwad, north of the Palestinian seat of government in Ramallah.</p><p>An Israeli army spokesman told Reuters Israeli forces &quot;managed to prevent an attack when they encountered a Palestinian man hurling a molotov cocktail at them on the main road next to Silwad. They opened fire and they confirmed a hit.&quot;</p><p>The military said it would investigate the shooting, which occurred amid other clashes in Arab areas in and around Jerusalem in which several people were lightly injured.</p><p>In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called for a &quot;speedy and transparent investigation.&quot;</p><p>&quot;The United States expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a US citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces during clashes in Silwad on October 24,&quot; Psaki said.</p><p>She added that US officials would remain &quot;closely engaged with the local authorities, who have the lead on this investigation.&quot;</p><p>Tensions have flared as the Jewish Sukkot holiday has brought increased visits by Jews accompanied by Israeli police to the Jerusalem holy site known to them as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, with its al-Aqsa mosque complex.</p><p>Palestinians fear the visits, along with the moving-in of dozens of Israeli settlers to homes in a crowded Arab district in the shadow of the holy compound, aim to deepen Israel&#39;s claim to the city as its eternal and indivisible capital.</p><p>Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognised internationally, for the capital of a future state.</p><p>On Wednesday, a Jewish baby girl was killed and eight people were hurt when a Palestinian man slammed his car into pedestrians at a Jerusalem light railway stop on Wednesday, in what police described as a deliberate attack. The driver was shot dead.</p><p>Her death followed the running-over and killing of Palestinian girl Enas Shawkat, 5, by an Israeli motorist driving in the West Bank in a village just north of Silwad. Her death enraged Palestinians but Israeli investigators determined it was an accident and the driver was not arrested.</p><p>Palestinians want to establish statehood in the West Bank and Gaza, territories Israel occupied in a 1967 war. Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but has since expanded settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.</p><p>Mutual acrimony has risen since the July-August war between Israel and Hamas militants that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians - mostly civilians - and over 70 Israelis, almost all of them soldiers.</p><p>US-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in April.</p> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 07:39:00 +0000 Reuters 2439179 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/08/24/481046/shutterstock_146750888.jpg Saudi Arabia's Shi'ites fear they are at mercy of region's tumult <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The Shi&rsquo;ite Muslim minority in Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s Eastern Province have long felt marginalised by the Sunni ruling dynasty, and protests for greater rights as part of the 2011 Arab Spring brought a crackdown on both protesters and demands for reform.</p><p>But now, death sentences for three Shi&#39;ite Muslims including a prominent dissident cleric suggest that the region&rsquo;s wider turmoil is further hardening attitudes toward the sect at home.</p><p>The news has not triggered the sort of clashes that left three people dead after the arrest of the cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, in 2012, but it did lead to consecutive nights of protests for the first time in months.</p><p>It also prompted a warning from Iran,&nbsp;the regional Shi&#39;ite power that Riyadh accuses of fomenting unrest among its Shi&#39;ites, and that is vying with Saudi Arabia&#39;s Sunni rulers for influence in conflicts raging from Lebanon to Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and, most acutely, Syria.</p><p>&quot;There is nothing formal, but when they are angry about Iran, their doubts over Shi&#39;ites increase, and sectarian sentiments rise as well. It certainly affects policy making and behaviour,&quot; said Tawfiq al-Seif, a Shi&#39;ite community leader in Qatif, one of the two main centres of the sect in Saudi Arabia, along with al-Ahsa.</p><p>Saudi Shi&#39;ites, long regarded by the kingdom&#39;s official Wahhabi Sunni school as heretics, have for decades been tarred by many compatriots as more loyal to their coreligionists across the Gulf than to the Saudi ruling dynasty.</p><p>Protests in Qatif in 2011 and 2012 were dismissed by the government as instigated by a &lsquo;foreign power&rsquo;, code for Iran, and Nimr was accused of serving Iranian interests.</p><p>The demonstrators and Iran both denied the accusation. But the encouragement of such protests by Iranian media, and comments such as one last week by a general in Iran&rsquo;s Basij militia that Nimr&rsquo;s execution would make the world into &quot;a hell&quot; for the dynasty, do nothing to allay Saudi fears that Iran is fomenting Shi&rsquo;ite unrest not only in Saudi Arabia but also in Yemen and Bahrain.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:24:00 +0000 Reuters 2439169 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/07/13/5886/shiites.jpg