p8_Layout 1 - Kuwait Times

p8_Layout 1 2/1/15 8:06 PM Page 1
Serbia grants citizenship
to rival Palestine leader
BELGRADE: Serbia has granted citizenship
to a key political rival of Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas after he
pledged millions of dollars in investments
from the Emirates, where he has lived in
exile, Serbian officials said yesterday.
Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said
that former Fatah party strongman
Mohammed Dahlan, whom Abbas fired in a
power struggle, was given the citizenship
in 2013. His wife, four children, a relative
and five Palestinian supporters were also
given Serbian passports. The 53-year-old
Dahlan, a former Abbas’ aide and Gaza
security chief, was once seen as Yasser
Arafat’s heir apparent. He was kicked out of
Fatah in 2011 after Abbas accused him of
corruption and hinted he may have been
involved in Arafat’s death.
Dahlan was sentenced in absentia by a
West Bank court to two years jail in 2014 on
defamation and slander charges because
he alleged in an interview that Palestinian
security forces help protect Israeli settlers
in the occupied territories. Dahlan later said
in a statement that the ruling was politically motivated and was meant to block him
from competing in internal elections in
Abbas’ Fatah movement and in future general elections.
Dahlan, who turned into a businessman
in exile, has promised millions of dollars of
investments from the Emirates to Serbia.
The Balkan country’s government can
secretly grant citizenships to foreigners
when it sees the individuals can serve special state interests. Dacic said that Dahlan
was not given the citizenship on political
grounds, but due to the economic relations
with the Emirates. “When Dahlan was in
Serbia, we spoke only about relations with
the United Arab Emirates,” Dacic said.
“Internal Palestinian issues were not on the
agenda.” In December, thousands of Dahlan
supporters protested against Abbas in the
Gaza Strip amid reports that corruption
charges involving millions of dollars will be
filed against the former security chief.— AP
Homeless capital LA
counts its displaced
LOS ANGELES: Notebook in hand, Ana
Alvarez walked along the streets of Skid
Row, the downtown Los Angeles district
that’s sometimes called the homeless capital
of America. Scores of tents and makeshift
shelters had been erected for the night, all
along the sidewalks.
“We don’t get close to them. We try not
to disturb them, because a lot of them are
already asleep,” Alvarez said. She was helping with the homeless count that takes
place every two years across the entire
county. After dark, volunteers like her scour
the vast region and tally up the number of
people sleeping rough.
“It’s important to know how many people live here, to assess the resources we
need,” said Latoya Hawthorne, a census participant who works in a homeless women’s
refuge. At the last count in 2013, Los
Angeles had some 39,500 homeless people.
If you include those camping or staying with
someone, the figure jumps to 60,000.
According to current estimates, some 3,000
people sleep on Skid Row’s urine- and
garbage-strewn streets, their shelters made
of cardboard, fabric or plastic and squeezed
right next to each other.
“We counted 24 homeless individuals; we
luckily didn’t see any children or people
under 18,” said Harry Batt, one of thousands
of volunteers helping with the count. “It is
very depressing,” he added, noting that a lot
of the homeless are mentally ill.
Veterans a priority
A few blocks away, US Veterans Affairs
Secretary Robert McDonald walked briskly,
adding a mark on his notebook every time
he sees a homeless person or a tent. His
presence was a demonstration of the
Obama administration’s desire to tackle the
problem of military vets who have fallen
into extreme poverty. Of some 630,000
homeless people in the United States, nearly
50,000 are former military personnel,
according to official figures. Doran Mateik, a
nurse who works regularly on Skid Row, led
McDonald and his team, a map in hand. “I’ve
been coming here for seven years, I try to
get to know them, to see how I can help
them. Some of them have become my
friends,” she said. “I give them my address so
they can receive some mail, or I try to assist
them with the red tape.” At the end of road,
McDonald stopped before a tall, thin black
man with glasses who stood next to a shopping cart filled with possessions.
“You’re a vet? So am I! how old are you?
Sixty-three? I’m 61! Do you get the help you
need?” the politician asked, as cameras
rolled and journalists watched. The man
refused to give his name, but said he was in
good health. A woman from McDonald’s
entourage handed him a business card
detailing psychological services for former
soldiers. “I’m not a suicide risk,” he said,
politely. The woman invited him to see her
at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “We
want to help,” she said.
The government says that since 2010 the
number of homeless vets has fallen by 33
percent. Most are 50 years or older and
served in Vietnam or the first Gulf War, but
not in the post-September 11, 2001 campaigns. While McDonald finished up in the
section they were allocated, a homeless
man seated on the ground in front of his
tent asked: “Why do they come at night?
why don’t they come during the day? They
scare me.” Alvarez explained that the census,
the results of which will be published in
April, takes place at night because during
the day people move about a lot, partly
because they are not allowed to linger in
one place. “It’s a good thing they are counting them. The problem is that they get this
info and do (nothing) about it,” said a former
homeless man who goes by the name
“General Dogon” and has become a campaigner. “I don’t see people getting off the
street... all I see is more police.” — AFP
KIEV: A woman places flowers on one of 30 crosses placed by activists bearing the
names of people who died in shelling. — AP
13 killed in fight with
Russia-backed rebels
KIEV: Russian-backed separatists kept up
their assault on railway hub in eastern
Ukraine, fighting that authorities said has
killed 13 government troops and wounded
20 others over the last day. The separatists
were attacking several villages around the
town of Debaltseve, a key rail link between
the two rebel strongholds of Donetsk and
Luhansk, Security Council spokesman
Vladimir Polevoi said. Capturing the town
would further consolidate the rebels’ control over eastern Ukraine.
An Associated Press journalist saw more
than a dozen Ukrainian tanks and other
heavy military vehicles, including a rocket
launcher, heading toward Debaltseve yesterday in an apparent effort to reinforce the
government troops. There was no word on
any rebel casualties.
Seeking safety from the intense artillery
duel, hundreds of Debaltseve residents
have fled the besieged town, which has
been without power, water and gas for
more than 10 days. About 60 Debaltseve
residents arrived yesterday in Kiev, the capital, where they took part in a protest outside the Russian Embassy. An adjacent garden was turned into a symbolic cemetery,
with wooden crosses erected in memory of
the 30 civilians killed by shelling in the
southeastern city of Mariupol in late
January. Plaques on the crosses said they
were “killed by Russian occupiers.”
‘Undeclared war’
“Russia is conducting an undeclared war
in Ukraine,” said Yevgeny Chebotarev, who
met the people arriving by train from
Debaltseve and was helping them find
shelter. “Today it is obvious that behind the
DNR and LNR (the Donetsk and Luhansk
self-proclaimed republics) stand Russian
troops and Russian weapons, whose victims are Ukrainian civilians.”
Russia denies sending arms and troops
to the rebels, who claim to rely solely on
military equipment poached from the
Ukrainian army. But the separatist forces
have deployed vast quantities of powerful
weapons, some of which military experts
say are not in Ukraine’s arsenal. The conflict
has claimed more than 5,100 lives and displaced more than 900,000 people since it
began in April, according to UN estimates.
A month of relative quiet in eastern
Ukraine was shattered in early January by
full-blown fighting as the separatists
attempted to claw back additional territory
from the government. Rebel leaders
accused Ukraine of mobilizing forces in
advance of an offensive. Representatives
for the rebels, Russia, Ukraine and the
Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe met Saturday for four hours in
Minsk, the capital of Belarus, but failed to
make any progress toward a peaceful resolution.— AP
CAIRO: Egyptian police try to clear the street where women rally at the spot where Shaimaa El-Sabbagh, a 32-year-old mother, was shot near
Talaat Harb Square, during a protest. — AP
Egypt covering up
protester deaths
Authorities whitewashing evidence of protests
CAIRO: Rights group Amnesty International
yesterday accused Egyptian authorities of
intimidating witnesses and whitewashing
evidence to cover up the role of security
forces in the killing of more than two dozen
people during protests last week. The
London-based Amnesty said at least 27 people were killed over three days during
protests commemorating the fourth anniversary of the uprising against longtime autocrat
Hosni Mubarak. It said police used excessive
force or failed to break up clashes between
protesters and residents.
Those killed included a female protester,
Shaimaa El-Sabbagh, whose shooting as
police dispersed a small, peaceful protest was
captured in widely-shared footage. A 17-yearold female protester and 10-year-old were
killed during clashes with police in Cairo and
Alexandria. Two security men were also killed
in the violence. Based on testimony from protesters, lawyers, witnesses and video footage,
Amnesty said security forces used excessive
force, repeatedly firing tear gas, birdshot and
sometimes bullets “at random into crowds of
protesters and bystanders who were posing
no threat.” It also said some among the protesters were armed. “Harrowing scenes of
protesters dying on the streets of Cairo are
likely to be regularly repeated, given authorities’ total failure to hold security forces to
account for human rights violations,” the
group said.
Amnesty said hundreds of protesters have
been rounded up and placed in informal
detention facilities. It said some had no
access to their lawyers for more than 24
hours, a violation of Egyptian law. Amnesty
said prosecutors have ordered witnesses to
the killing of El-Sabbagh detained for taking
part in unauthorized protests; a move it said
was apparently aimed at intimidating them.
A lawyer in El-Sabbagh’s case said a leading
member in her political party was detained
overnight and treated as a suspect even
though he went in to testify.
Amnesty said there are no independent
investigations into the violence and that no
officials have been questioned or held to
account. Egyptian officials did not immediately comment on the report. Authorities say
they are cracking down on violent protests
aimed at destabilizing the country, as they
fight a rising wave of militant attacks. — AP
spy case shows Russia up to old tricks
NEW YORK: Three men accused in the latest
Russian spy case in the United States didn’t
hide behind fake identities and weren’t stealing military secrets. They even appeared
annoyed that their assignment wasn’t more
like a James Bond film. Their alleged plot to
dig up “economic intelligence” on possible
banking penalties and alternative energy
sources may not be the stuff of Hollywood
movies, but US authorities insist the case is
proof that Russian spying is thriving in
America more than two decades after the end
of the Cold War.
It also shows the resources the US still
throws at those suspected of being spies for
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government:
listening bugs, hidden cameras and intercepted phone calls. “Russian spies continue to seek
to operate in our midst,” US Attorney Preet
Bharara warned after the arrests last week.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Alexander Luk-ashevich countered by accusing US authorities of manufacturing a spy
scandal as part of its “anti-Russian campaign.”
Economic warfare
Annemarie McAvoy, a Fordham Law professor and former federal prosecutor, said the latest case shouldn’t be taken lightly. “We have to
be concerned about the economic warfare
end of this. That’s what worries me,” she said,
noting the crippling cyber attack on Sony
Pictures. She said the arrests might show that
the spy game has changed as countries seek
information to possibly attack businesses and
the economy.
The case against Evgeny Buryakov, Igor
Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy comes less
than five years after the arrest of 10 covert
agents - a sleeper cell referred to as “The
Illegals” by the SVR, the foreign intelligence
agency headquartered in Moscow - who led
ordinary lives in the United States using aliases. All 10 pleaded guilty in federal court in
Manhattan to conspiracy charges and were
ordered out of the country as part of a spy
swap for four people convicted of betraying
Moscow to the West.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn brought
another spy case in 2013, accusing Alexander
Fishenko, a naturalized US citizen from
Kazakhstan who made millions off his Texas
export firm, of being a secret agent for the
Russian military. Fishenko, who pleaded not
guilty, is scheduled to go to trial later this year.
Not everyone views the latest case as a scary
new wrinkle in spy tactics.
“What is interesting about this case, just like
the 2010 sleeper spy case, is how little these
accused Russian spies are accomplishing.
Either the FBI is just getting the low-hanging
fruit, or the Russian foreign intelligence
agency isn’t doing its job very well,” said
Kimberly Marten, a political scientist at
Barnard College, Columbia University.
Prosecutors say the latest investigation
exposed espionage by Sporyshev and
Podobnyy, who held low-level diplomatic
positions, and Buryakov, a Bronx resident with
a visa and a position in the Manhattan branch
of a Russian bank.
Orders from Moscow
US prosecutors say under orders from
Moscow, Sporyshev’s main duty was to give
Buryakov assignments to gather intelligence
on potential US sanctions against Russian
banks and efforts in the US to develop alternative energy resources. They say Sporyshev and
Podobnyy would analyze the information and
report back to the SVR at a Russian Federation
office in New York they thought was secure
but apparently was bugged.
In one secretly recorded conversation,
Podobnyy complained to Sporyshev that their
work was nothing like “movies about James
Bond,” according to the papers. “Of course, I
wouldn’t fly helicopters, but pretend to be
someone else at a minimum,” he said.
Sporyshev griped that he too thought he “at
least would go abroad with a different passport.”
The court papers also detailed demands on
Buryakov from SVR to come up with questions
for a Russian news organization - believed to
be Tass - to ask about the inner workings of
the US stock market. Normally, prosecutors
said, the two men would speak on the phone
in code to set up meetings outdoors, with
“Buryakov passing a bag, magazine or slip of
paper to Sporyshev,” court papers said.
Some meetings took place near Buryakov’s
red-brick home on a quiet block in the Bronx.
Neighbors said 39-year-old Buryakov, his wife
and two children largely kept to themselves.
They recalled a man sitting in a car on the
block for hours at a time - in hindsight, they
say, it was probably surveillance - but were
surprised when the FBI raided the home last
Monday. A judge ordered Buryakov held without bail. Podobnyy and Sporyshev, whose
diplomatic status gave them immunity, have
returned to Russia. A Russian spokesman told
the Tass news agency that Buryakov “vehemently denies the alleged offenses.” — AP
NEW YORK: Yevgeny Buryakov appears in federal court in Manhattan after his arrest earlier in
the day in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spy ring that spoke in code, passed messages concealed in bags and magazines. — AP