The Nine Circles of Hell! for Friday: The World is Booming Nine Circles of Hell!


There’s been a deadly suicide bombing outside a Pakistan mosque.
Al Jazeera reports, “At least 22 people have been killed and more than 35 others wounded after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a mosque in northwest Pakistan, police say.
“The explosion in Hangu town happened as worshippers were leaving the mosque after Friday prayers.
“The bomber staged his attack at one of the mosque’s exits leading to a bazaar, said Hangu police chief Mian Mohammad Saeed.”
Saeed is quoted saying, “It was a suicide attack which targeted Shias but Sunni Muslims also fell victim since their mosque and some shops were also very close to the site.
“We have found the head of the bomber, who came there on a motorbike.”
Police official Imtiaz Shah said, “The Shia and Sunni mosques are very close to each other, and the explosion took place just as Shias were coming out of the mosque and Sunnis were going into their mosque to say Friday prayers.”
Al Jazeera explains, “The town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is close to Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt on the Afghan border where Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked fighters have carved out strongholds.”
Al Jazeera notes, “Human Rights Watch says it documented a sharp escalation in persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan in 2012, which it called the deadliest year on record for Shias, with well over 400 killed in targeted attacks.
“Activists accuse the government of failing to protect Shias and say the perpetrators operate with impunity because the judiciary fails to prosecute them.”
When do we start calling all the killing within Pakistan a civil war?

Israel has been violating Lebanese airspace.
Haaretz informs us, “Israel Air Force jets reportedly flew over Lebanon’s air space in three separate missions late Tuesday and early Wednesday, Lebanese media reported. There was no confirmation of the report from Israel.
“A Lebanese army statement said that four Israeli planes entered Lebanese air space at 4:30 P.M. on Tuesday. They were replaced four hours later by another group of planes which flew over southern Lebanon until 2 A.M. A third mission then took over, finally leaving at 7:55 A.M. on Wednesday morning.
“The report comes just a few days after the Lebanon Army reported that the IAF had violated Lebanon’s airspace on Saturday in four different incidents. The Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported that IAF fighter jets were seen flying around the Beka’a Valley.”
Haaretz continues, “On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his cabinet ministers of the risk that chemical weapons from Syria could be falling into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Haaretz adds, “The commander of the Israel Air Force, Major General Amir Eshel on Tuesday issued his own warning over the volatility of Syria and its weapons. Addressing the international space conference in Herzliya, Eshel described Syria as a ‘country falling apart.’”
Eshel is quoted saying, “Nobody has any idea right now what is going to happen in Syria on the day after, and how the country is going to look. This [sectarian crisis] is happening in a place with a huge weapons arsenal, some of which are new and advanced, and some of which are not conventional.”
Israel keeps turning their involvement in the Syrian civil war up a notch.
I’d say it’s on simmer which is better than boil.

Fighting has been reported between the Lebanese army and anti-Assad Islamists.
According to Reuters, “At least three people were killed in clashes in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Friday after gunmen attacked a Lebanese army unit, security sources said.
“The sources said two soldiers and one gunman were killed and fighting was continuing in the area, near the northeastern town of Arsal. The region is close to the border with Syria where rebels are fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
“One resident who spoke to Reuters put the overall death toll from the fighting at five.
“Residents said the clash broke out after the army entered the area to arrest a suspected member of the hardline anti-Assad Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra, who was believed to travel frequently between Lebanon and Syria.”
The Syrian war’s road tour in Lebanon is the least reported aspect of a conflict that has fallen from the US national nightly network news headlines.

A suicide bomber attacked the US embassy in Turkey.
Reuters tells us, “A suicide bomber from a far-left group killed a Turkish security guard at the U.S. embassy in Ankara on Friday, blowing the door off a side entrance and sending smoke and debris flying into the street.
“The attacker blew himself up inside U.S. property, Ankara Governor Alaaddin Yuksel said. The blast sent masonry spewing out of the wall and could be heard a mile away.
“Interior Minister Muammer Guler said the bomber was a member of a far-left group. The U.S. State Department said it was working with Turkish police to investigate what it described as ‘a terrorist blast.’
“Islamist radicals, far-left groups, far-right groups and Kurdish separatist militants have all carried out attacks in Turkey in the past. There was no claim of responsibility.”
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is quoted saying, “The suicide bomber was ripped apart and one or two citizens from the special security team passed away.
“This event shows that we need to fight together everywhere in the world against these terrorist elements.”
Reuters continues, “Far-left groups in Turkey oppose what they see as U.S. influence over Turkish foreign policy.
“Turkey is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East with common interests ranging from energy security to counter-terrorism, and has been one of the leading advocates of foreign intervention to end the conflict in neighboring Syria.
“Around 400 U.S. soldiers have arrived in Turkey over the past few weeks to operate Patriot anti-missile batteries meant to defend against any spillover of Syria’s civil war, part of a NATO deployment due to be fully operational in the coming days.”
Reuters gives context telling us, “State broadcaster TRT said the attacker was thought to be from The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which wants a socialist state and is vehemently anti-American, according to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
“The group, deemed a terrorist organization by both the United States and Turkey, was blamed for a suicide attack in 2001 that killed two police officers and a tourist in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square.
“Guler said the bomber could have been from the DHKP-C or a similar group.
“The DHKP/C has in the past attacked Turkish official targets with bombs, but arrests of some of its members in recent years have weakened its capabilities, according to the NCTC.
“The date of the DHKP-C’s most recent attack, on an Istanbul police station, was September 11, 2012, seen as a symbolic strike to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on the United States.”
Reuters concludes with, “The U.S. consulate in Istanbul warned its citizens to be vigilant and to avoid large gatherings, while the British mission in Istanbul called on British businesses to tighten security after what it called a ‘suspected terrorist attack.’
“The most serious bombings of this kind in Turkey occurred in November 2003, when car bombs shattered two synagogues, killing 30 people and wounding 146. Authorities said the attack bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.
“Part of the HSBC Bank headquarters was destroyed and the British consulate was damaged in two more explosions that killed a further 32 people a week later.”
I had no idea.
By the way, anyone who thought this whole Patriot missile plan was a win-win situation just lost.

Things are bad in Afghanistan and are going to get worse.
Reuters finds, “Afghanistan’s human rights situation remains poor and will likely deteriorate even further with the departure of NATO-led forces from the country next year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its annual global report on Thursday.
“Increasing international fatigue over the 11-year war has led to reduced pressure on the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to limit the role of warlords, corrupt politicians, and other human rights abusers, the report said.”
HRW Asia director Brad Adams is quoted saying, “The future of human rights protections in Afghanistan are in grave doubt.
“Corruption, little rule of law, poor governance, and abusive policies and practices deprive the country’s most vulnerable citizens of their rights.”
“The situation for people at risk of abuse was expected to worsen as NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) gradually withdraws its troops ahead of the end-2014 deadline for the end of the NATO-led war, the report said.
“The report’s concerns echoed a United Nations paper released in January which said that despite ongoing international attention, torture and mistreatment of Afghans held by the country’s police and spy agencies was continuing.
“The HRW report reserved particular concern for the plight of women, suggesting a decline in basic rights won back in education, voting and employment since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001.”
Remember, when things get bad, they get particularly bad for women.

Assassination attempt on Armenian presidential candidate shakes country.
Reuters says, “An assassination attempt on a presidential candidate in Armenia has thrown this month’s election into doubt and could threaten stability in the volatile Caucasus region that carries oil and natural gas to Europe.
“Paruyr Hayrikyan, an outsider in the February 18 presidential vote, was shot in the shoulder close to his home in the capital Yerevan on Thursday night. Doctors removed the bullet on Friday and said his life was not in danger.
“The motive was not immediately clear but the election, in which President Serzh Sarksyan is widely expected to secure a second five-year term, could be postponed for two weeks under the constitution if he is forced to pull out.”
Reuters continues, “Stability is vital for the former Soviet republic of 3.2 million to woo investors and boost an economy devastated by a war with neighboring Azerbaijan in the 1990s and then the 2008-09 global financial crisis.
“The attack will raise fears of a return to the violence that marred the 2008 presidential election in the landlocked country, Russia’s main ally in the turbulent south Caucasus.
“Violent clashes broke out between opposition protesters and police in 2008, killing about 10 people and further damaging Armenia’s hopes of recovery.”
Reuters explains, “Any sign of instability in the Caucasus is a concern to investors because although Armenia has no pipelines of its own, pipelines carry oil and gas to Europe via Turkey through Azerbaijan, whose relationship with Armenia remains fractious.
“Russia has a military base in Armenia, which is a member of a Moscow-dominated security alliance of ex-Soviet states.
“Investors are already worried that violence could break out again over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave inside Azerbaijan that is controlled by ethnic Armenians. A war in the enclave in the early 1990s killed about 30,000 people.
“Relations with another neighbor, Turkey, are also fraught because Ankara does not recognize as genocide the killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War One.”
In the story, the US argues this could be a lone gunmen while Armenia says this is an attack on the state and the opposition candidate’s backers find it to be a shot at reform.
Armenia’s really got a lot going for it when it comes to reasons for violence.

Both Israel and Gaza illegally targeted civilians during last November’s war.
Ahram Onine explains, “Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday revealed that Israel and Palestinian resistance faction Hamas had committed ‘unlawful attacks’ on civilians during the weeklong Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in November of last year.
“According to the watchdog’s annual report, the assault – in which more than 170 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in Israeli airstrikes – came as a consequence of ‘escalatory steps’ taken by both sides throughout 2012.
“The report noted the Tel Aviv regime’s ‘punitive closure’ of Gaza’s borders, which, the rights group said, had created severe consequences for the territory’s roughly 1.7 million inhabitants.
“The HRW study also referred to a recent World Bank report that stated that the ‘severity of poverty has increased’ among the population in Gaza. The Word Bank report went on to note that more than 70 percent of the strip’s residents lived chiefly on humanitarian assistance.
“Israeli authorities, meanwhile, the HRW report noted, had allowed imports into Gaza – including construction materials for projects funded by international organisations – at less than half of ‘pre-closure levels.’”
Ahram Online continues, “The report also accused Israel of confiscating Palestinian fishing boats that ventured more than three nautical miles from the Gaza coastline, preventing access to 85 percent of Gaza’s internationally-recognised maritime territory.
“On the other hand, HRW stated that Hamas, along with other Palestinian armed groups, had launched more than 1,800 rockets towards Israeli sites during the conflict. Six Israelis died as a result of rockets fired by Hamas fighters into Israel.
“Moreover, Mohamed Mafarja, 18, was accused of planting a bomb on behalf of Hamas that led to an explosion on a Tel Aviv bus near Israel’s defence ministry complex on 21 November.”
Ahram Online also quotes the report stating, “Israel imposed severe restrictions on Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement, continued to build unlawful settlements in occupied territory, and arbitrarily detained Palestinians, including children and peaceful protesters.”
Yup. During war everyone’s an asshole.

Reports of brutality, including torture and executions, coming out of Mali war.
The Associated Press reports, “Three suspected jihadists arrested in the days since the liberation of the town of Timbuktu said Friday that Malian soldiers were torturing them with a method similar to waterboarding.
“The three are being held in an earthen cell in what remains of the military camp in Timbuktu, which was freed earlier this week by French and Malian soldiers after nearly 10 months under the rule of radical Islamists.
“The men, who were tied together with a turban and one handcuff, all acknowledged to The Associated Press having been members of the al-Qaida-linked group known as Ansar Dine, or Defenders of the Faith.”
One of the men is quoted saying, “To force me to talk they poured 40 liters of water in my mouth and over my nostrils which made it so that I could not breathe anymore. For a moment I thought I was even going to die.
“I sleep in the cold and every night they come pour freezing water over me. ”
The AP continues, “All three prisoners described similar treatment. Their account could not be independently verified. Soldiers holding the three asked reporters to leave after initially allowing journalists to speak with them.
“Army Col. Mamary Camara told reporters that the three were arrested by Malian forces in the town of Lere, and he said that one of the men was from Libya and was caught wearing a foreign military uniform.
“The Libyan jihadist was visibly frightened, crouching in a corner of his cell. He gave the AP contradictory information about his background, first saying he was born in a Malian village but of Libyan descent.
“Later, he said he was from Tripoli but has lived for years in Mali. He initially denied being part of Ansar Dine but later confirmed that he belonged to the movement though he denied having an important role.
“The Malian military said that when he was arrested he was wearing a watch with a memory card inside that they said was used to communicate with other foreign jihadists.
“The allegations of torture made public Friday in Timbuktu come as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released reports Friday outlining other allegations of misconduct by the Malian military and Islamists over the last month.
“Both groups said they had documented cases of Malian soldiers killing suspected Islamist supporters in Sevare on the eve of the French-led intervention. Human Rights Watch document at least 13 killings, though Amnesty said the number could be as high as two dozen.
“Human Rights Watch said the witnesses described seeing soldiers at a bus station in Sevare interrogate passengers suspected of links to extremist groups. Those who did not produce the proper identification were taken away, the witnesses said.”
The HRW report says, “Before the soldiers marched them off, many of the detained men frantically tried to find someone in the crowd at the bus station who could vouch for them and verify their identity. They were driven or marched to a nearby field, where they were shot and their bodies dumped into one of four wells.”
The AP goes on to say, “Friday’s reports also cited alleged human rights abuses committed by the Islamists. Human Rights Watch said Islamist rebels had killed at least seven Malian soldiers.”Then they quote a witness telling HRW, “One begged for his life saying, ‘Please, in the name of God.’ but they held him down and slit his throat. Two days later, as we picked up the dead soldiers to bury them, the Islamists saw that five of them were still living. Most were gravely wounded but they were still breathing and should have been given a chance to live. Instead the Islamists killed them – one after the other.”
War sucks.
Bumper stickers should be issued.

Dozens have died in a Mexican building explosion.
The Associated Press notes, “Rescuers searched for survivors Friday and authorities promised a thorough investigation after an office building blast killed 32 people and injured 121 at the headquarters of Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos.
“The cause of the basement explosion in an administrative building next to the iconic, 51-story Pemex tower in Mexico City remained a mystery, with President Enrique Pena Nieto urging people not to speculate. Theories ranged from an electrical fire to an air conditioning problem to a possible attack.”
Pena Nieto is quoted saying, “We have no conclusive report on the reason. We will work to get to the bottom of the investigation to find out, first, what happened … and if there are people responsible in this case, that we apply the full weight of the law against them.”
I’ll keep you posted in The Nine Circles of Hell! which returns Monday.