A conference questioning Turkey's official position on the World War I-era Armenian genocide has been cancelled following pressure from the government. The conference, entitled "Ottoman Armenians at the Decline of the Empire: Academic Responsibility and Issues of Democracy," was to start on May 26.
Stephen Ulph of the national-secuity think-tank The Jamestown Foundation writes that "militant Islamist forums" in Algeria are circulating a statement dated May 8 purporting to announce the formation of a new al-Qaeda cell, apparenrly seeking to revive Algeria's dormant civil war.
The Intifada which has broken out in Morocco-occupied Western Sahara continues too grow, and has even spread to Morocco proper. Yesterday, bludgeon-wielding police raided a university campus in Rabat to break up a protest by Saharawi students held in solidarity with demonstrators in the occupied territory. Students hurled stones at the police, and injuries were reported on both sides. (AlJazeera, May 28)
Clashes between Moroccan security forces and Saharawi demonstrators have broken out in towns across Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, following the violent repression of pro-independence protests. Saharawi human rights activists say that nineteen people are missing in police custody, including one whole family, and that a young demonstrator was raped by Moroccan security forces.
At least 25 are dead in an apparent suicide bombing at the Bari Imam Sufi shrine at Nurpur village outside Pakistan's capital Islamabad this morning. Thousands of devotees were attending the last day of a five-day festival at the time of the explosion. Worshippers had been waiting for a prominent Shi'ite leader to address the gathering when the bomb went off. The shrine is located about one kilometer from the official residence of Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
A team from the United States is expected to arrive in Bulgaria within days for talks on possible US military bases, Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov told a news conference on May 17. Svinarov’s announcement on May 17 confirmed a statement by Bulgarian armed forces chief Nikola Kolev made a few days earlier. "Bulgaria also hopes to get support for the modernisation of its army - rather than financial remuneration - in exchange for the use of its military facilities," Svinarov said. “A decision when the foreign bases will start operating in Bulgaria will be taken by Parliament under national law." He said he expected such a decision by the end of this year. (Sofia Echo, May 23) Graf Ignatievo, Bezmer, Novo Selo and Sarafovo airport, near Burgas on the Black Sea coast, are named as locations for the new US bases. (Sofia News Agency, May 18)
WW4 REPORT readers are aware that the monthly Critical Mass bicycle ride in New York City has been facing a severe police crackdown for the past several months, with hundreds arrested, bicycles confiscated, and now a threatened injunction against the ride's perceived organizers. Ironically, this crackdoown comes as several have been killed this year in a wave of reckless accidents by city motorists.
The US defended itself May 20 against charges from states without nuclear weapons that it is failing to fulfill its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). At a month-long conference reviewing the NPT, non-nuclear states dismissed U.S. diplomats' recitation of warhead and missile reductions. "Most of these measures date from before 2000," Mexico's Luis Alfonso de Alba complained to delegates, referring to the 2000 NPT conference, when the U.S. and other nuclear powers committed to "13 practical steps" to meet the treaty's goal of eliminating atomic arms. Those steps included activation of the 1996 treaty banning all nuclear tests—a pact since rejected by the Bush administration. U.S. delegate Jackie Sanders pointed to current "alarming examples" of proliferation, referring to North Korea's declared weapons program and U.S. allegations that Iran also plans to build atomic arms. Confronting such threats—not focusing on US—"must be the primary objective of the 2005 Review Conference," the ambassador said.