Latest Analysis and Commentary

What's Next for the Iran Nuclear Deal?

by Soeren Kern  •  January 20, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • "It's unlikely that the parties will be able to reach a serious resolution, and the EU knows it...." — Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner, January 17, 2020.

  • "Trump has distinguished himself from his predecessor. The world's most famous dealmaker appears not to be angling for a deal, and for good reason — there's no deal to be had because there's nothing left to negotiate. [Former U.S. President Barack] Obama set it up that way." — Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine, January 13, 2020.

  • "The JCPOA guaranteed that the Iranians would all but have a bomb within 10 years — or by the end of the second term of Obama's successor.... The point of the deal was not to stop Iran from ever building a bomb but to prevent the Iranians from doing so until Obama left office." — Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine, January 13, 2020.

  • "The nuclear deal with Iran is over — it failed. You cannot and must not continue to negotiate with the Islamic regime, you cannot trust it. Such talks are useless. Governments should stop defending the regime through such talks, keeping it alive." — Mina Ahadi, Chairwoman of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany, Bild, January 14, 2020.

In what would appear to signal a rupture of European unity regarding efforts to preserve the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he is open to replacing the existing deal with a new agreement negotiated by U.S. President Donald J. Trump. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Britain, France and Germany, the three European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have activated the agreement's dispute mechanism in an effort to force Tehran into compliance with its commitment to curb its nuclear program.

The three European countries — also known as the E3 — triggered the so-called Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) on January 14, a week after Iranian authorities announced that they would no longer be bound by any of the agreement's restrictions in terms of the numbers or type of centrifuges that they can operate or the level of uranium enrichment that they can pursue.

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Christian Couple Kidnapped in Turkey

by Uzay Bulut  •  January 20, 2020 at 4:00 am

  • Since January 11, an elderly Assyrian Christian couple, Hurmuz Diril (71) and his wife Şimoni (65), have been missing from the Assyrian village of Mehr, Kovankaya in the province of Şırnak, in Turkey's southeast.

  • If the kidnapping of the Diril couple were to terrorize the remaining Assyrian community in Turkey into fleeing the country, it would mark the complete annihilation of yet another native community in the region. Such a tragedy should not be allowed to happen.

  • Western governments should help to find this elderly couple and see to it that those responsible are held to account.

Since January 11, an elderly Assyrian Christian couple, Hurmuz Diril (71) and his wife Şimoni (65), have been missing from the Assyrian village of Mehr, Kovankaya in the province of Sirnak, in Turkey's southeast. A neighbor told their family that "they had been kidnapped by armed men." (Image source: iStock)

Since January 11, an elderly Assyrian Christian couple, Hurmuz Diril (71) and his wife Şimoni (65), have been missing from the Assyrian village of Mehr, Kovankaya in the province of Sirnak, in Turkey's southeast. In wintry, sub-zero conditions, their children, followed by military special units, have been searching for them.

"We found out that my parents were missing when I and my relatives... went to our village on January 12. My father's uncle last saw them in the morning of January 11.... And my brother last spoke to them on January 7," the couple's son, Father Adday Remzi Diril told the newspaper Cumhuriyet.

Father Diril is an Assyrian-Chaldean priest in Istanbul and well known for his life of service to more than 7,000 Iraqi Christian refugees displaced throughout Turkey.

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Iranian Women Defy the Mullahs; Western Feminists Nowhere in Sight

by Giulio Meotti  •  January 19, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • Before 1979, Iranian women had freedom. They want it back.

  • If Iranian feminists who refuse to wear the hijab are brave, their Western counterparts, who wear pink hats, have wretchedly abandoned them.

  • Why is Iranian barbarism so easily condoned in the West?

  • Thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall was torn down by ordinary citizens who wanted to reclaim their freedom of movement. Today, the wall of the Iranian regime could be torn down by these ordinary women who want to reclaim the freedom to wear what they like. They are bravely refusing to walk on flags of Israel and the U.S. -- and enjoying the wind in their hair again.

Today, courageous Iranian women are leading the uprising against the Iranian regime. They remind one the era before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when the veil was not mandatory. They know the price: many who have taken part in anti-regime protests have been raped and tortured in prison. Pictured: Veiled women appear in a propaganda show on Iranian state television, on July 12, 2014. (Photo by Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images)

In October 1979, in a rare interview with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci charged that the veil was symbolic of the segregation into which the Islamic revolution women had cast women. "Our customs," Khomeini answered, "are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress, you're not obliged to wear it because Islamic dress is for good and proper young women."

"That's very kind of you," Fallaci replied. "And since you said so, I'm going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now." Fallaci removed her veil and left the room without saying another word. Iranian women, emulating Fallaci, are now leading protests against the regime.

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We "Have to Kill Christians": Persecution of Christians, October 2019

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  January 19, 2020 at 4:30 am

  • In another incident, Fulani herdsmen intentionally maimed Grace... , a Christian woman, by cutting her hand off. She was alone on her farmstead when the terrorists invaded the village. According to a source, "her attackers told her to place her hand on a log of wood before cutting it off." — Punch; October 16, 2019; Nigeria.

  • "Saudi citizens who convert to Christianity face risk of execution by the state for apostasy if their conversion becomes known." — Barnabas Fund, October 14, 2019; Saudi Arabia.

  • "If the West strikes against Muslims anywhere in the world, enraged fundamentalists in Pakistan often attack the churches.... Muslims believe that converting one person to Islam earns them eternal life. If an initial effort fails, people turn to kidnapping..." — Aid to the Church in Need; October 4, 2019; Pakistan.

On October 13, 2019, a fire "completely destroyed" St. George Church in Cairo, Egypt, which was considered "one of the greatest and oldest churches belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church." (Image source: Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons)

The Slaughter of Christians

Uganda: A Muslim mob set fire to the home of former Muslim, Ali Nakabale, 36, for converting to Christianity. Four of his family members—including his two children, a six-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter—were burned to death in the blaze. His wife, apparently enraged to learn that Ali had become a Christian, reportedly prompted the arson attack. "I had just visited my aunt only to receive sad news of the burning of our house," Nakabale said. "Upon arriving home, I found the house destroyed by fire that burned my four family members, including my two children." His mother and stepfather were also killed in the blaze. "On reaching the mortuary, I found their bodies burned beyond recognition."

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Iran: Why the Old Recipe Does Not Work

by Amir Taheri  •  January 19, 2020 at 4:00 am

  • The latest protests, however, are clearly focused on a demand for regime change, even by some former "reform-seekers". All this means that the regime's classical recipe for survival isn't working as before.

  • For the first time, more and more Iranians are beginning to contemplate regime change not as merely a desirable slogan but as a practical strategy to lead the nation out of the impasse created by Khomeinism.

The latest protests in Iran are clearly focused on a demand for regime change, even by some former "reform-seekers". All this means that the regime's classical recipe for survival isn't working as before. Pictured: Riot police stand face off against anti-regime protesters in front of Amir Kabir University in Tehran, Iran on January 11, 2020. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

No matter what gloss the ruling clerics might try to put on current events in Iran, one point is clear: their Islamic Republic is in trouble. Deep trouble.

This is, of course, not the first time that the system hastily put together by a bunch of mullahs and their leftist allies hits a bump on its road to nowhere. Even in its first year the Islamic Republic faced huge protest movements in Tehran and other major cities and had to use force to crush rebellions by Iranian-Kurdish and Turcoman communities.

According to best estimates, to remain in place the Islamic Republic has executed more than 15,000 people and driven more than 8 million Iranians into exile. And all that not to mention the eight-year war that the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini provoked with Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Despite all that the regime managed to survive, thanks to a number of factors.

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Why Laws Against Hate Speech Are Dangerous

by Fjordman  •  January 18, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • There is a tendency, to censor certain viewpoints because they might "offend" others. The problem is, it is not the inoffensive things that need protecting; it is only the offensive things that do.... Freedom of speech exists precisely to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

  • "[T]he freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter." — US President George Washington, 1783.

  • How come it is all right to publish the original source, prescribing murder, but that it is "hate speech" to point out that quote?

  • "Sometimes, when one points out these rules, people will respond: 'Well, the Bible says such-and-such.' The point is not that these things are written in Islamic scripture, but that people still live by them." — Bruce Bawer, February 8, 2018.

  • Restrictions against "hate speech" often do not really ban hate speech; instead they may actually be protecting certain forms of hate speech against legitimate inquiry.

"For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences... reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter." — US President George Washington, 1783. (Original Artwork: Engraving by Nathaniel Currier, circa 1780. Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

In November 2019, Germans celebrated the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany 30 years earlier. That same month, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech to the German federal parliament (Bundestag), advocated more restrictions on free speech for all Germans. She warned that free speech has limits:

"Those limits begin where hatred is spread. They begin where the dignity of other people is violated. This house will and must oppose extreme speech. Otherwise, our society will no longer be the free society that it was."

Merkel received great applause.

Critics, however, would claim that curtailing freedom in order to protect freedom sounds a bit Orwellian. One of the first acts of any tyrant or repressive regime is usually to abolish freedom of speech. Merkel should know this: she lived under a repressive regime -- in the communist dictatorship of East Germany, where she studied at Karl Marx University.

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Trump Had Right to Withhold Ukraine Funds: GAO is Wrong

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  January 17, 2020 at 7:00 pm

  • The Constitution allocates to the president sole authority over foreign policy (short of declaring war or signing a treaty). It does not permit Congress to substitute its foreign policy preferences for those of the president.

  • To the extent that the statute at issue constrains the power of the president to conduct foreign policy, it is unconstitutional.

  • Even if the GAO were correct in its legal conclusion — which it is not — the alleged violation would be neither a crime nor an impeachable offense. It would be a civil violation subject to a civil remedy, as were the numerous violations alleged by the GAO with regard to other presidents.

  • If Congress and its GAO truly believe that President Trump violated the law, let them go to court and seek the civil remedy provided by the law.

The Constitution allocates to the president sole authority over foreign policy... It does not permit Congress to substitute its foreign policy preferences for those of the president. (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Wikipedia Commons)

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has gotten the constitutional law exactly backwards. It said that the "faithful execution of the law" — the Impoundment Control Act—"does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those congress has enacted into law ." Yes, it does — when it comes to foreign policy. The Constitution allocates to the president sole authority over foreign policy (short of declaring war or signing a treaty). It does not permit Congress to substitute its foreign policy preferences for those of the president.

To the extent that the statute at issue constrains the power of the president to conduct foreign policy, it is unconstitutional.

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Is the Sahel Region Becoming a New "Islamic State"?
The US should not pull out of the Sahel

by Alain Destexhe  •  January 17, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • Even if violent attacks are now mostly concentrated around the border of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the unstable area subject to terrorism covers a huge area -- equivalent to half of Europe or the United States -- and is spread over five countries.... Because it involves such a huge territory, and because Europeans simply do not have the air support and intelligence capabilities of the United States, American support in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel is critical.

  • US President Donald J. Trump would understandably like the Europeans to do more to fight the Islamic State in the Middle East and Africa. He is right. Europe is more directly concerned by the destabilization of these regions than the United States. The continent is still dependent on the Persian Gulf for its energy supply, and a destabilization of the Sahel countries would lead to vast new migratory pressures on Europe. Most European Union countries, however, starting with Germany, refuse to draw conclusions about the consequences of the situation and increase their military spending and involvement in operations abroad.

  • In the short term, an American withdrawal would have disastrous consequences. US air support is absolutely crucial in the fight against terrorism.... The ideal would be for these five African countries to be able to fend for themselves in the fight against terrorism with Western material and logistical support, but without deploying troops from outside the African continent. I am a fervent advocate of letting Africa solve its problems as much as possible within an African framework, but it must be acknowledged that in several conflicts, this is still not realistic and possible.

On January 13, French President Emmanuel Macron convened a summit of the G5 Sahel, a group of five Sahelian countries (Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Mauritania) that are affected by Islamist terrorism. Pictured: Macron and Sahelian leaders at the G5 Sahel summit. (Photo by Guillaume Horcajuelo/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

On January 13, French President Emmanuel Macron convened a summit of the G5 Sahel, a group of five Sahelian countries (Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Mauritania) that are affected by Islamist terrorism. The location of the summit, the small city of Pau in the south of France, was not chosen at random: it hosts the base of France's 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment. Seven of the thirteen French soldiers who died in a November 25, 2019 helicopter accident in Mali belonged to this unit. Since 2013, France has lost 44 soldiers in the Sahel.

According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies:

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The Palestinians and Europe's Secret Agenda

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  January 16, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • The foreign media and human rights organizations seem quite uninterested in Palestinians who are arrested or tortured to death by PA security forces. After all, they have not been arrested by Israel for security-related offences.

  • The European Union is said to be pressuring the Palestinians to hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. It is not clear, however, how the Palestinians would hold new elections at a time when the PA and Hamas are busy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip locking up their political opponents.

  • The "political arrests" are yet another indication of human rights violations perpetrated by Palestinian leaders against their own people. Inexplicably, though, the EU appears unfazed by them. Instead of pressuring the PA and Hamas to hold elections -- that in any case neither side seeks, as it would almost certainly hand a further victory to the terrorist group Hamas -- it would be better for the EU to encourage Palestinian leaders, as a first step towards holding free elections, at least to cease and desist making political arrests.

  • Failing to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for their human rights violations casts serious doubt on the EU's desire to hold new elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and their deeper, seemingly malign desires for the region as a whole.

The European Union is said to be pressuring the Palestinians to hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. It is not clear, however, how the Palestinians would hold new elections at a time when the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are busy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip locking up their political opponents. Pictured: PA President Mahmoud Abbas votes in the last PA legislative election, on January 25, 2006. (Photo by Pedro Ugarte/AFP via Getty Images)

For many years, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and other Palestinian parties have been reporting on a daily basis about Palestinians who are arrested by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. These Palestinians are arrested on suspicion of involvement in anti-Israel security offences. There is nothing unusual about these arrests, which have been taking place for decades and are even publicly announced by the Israeli authorities.

While Israel apprehends Palestinians suspected of involvement in various anti-Israel activities, including terrorism, many other Palestinians are being arrested on almost a daily basis by the PA security forces in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. These arrests, however, are infrequently publicized by the PA and Hamas. Palestinians learn about the arrests by the PA and Hamas from social media postings or non-Palestinian news websites.

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It Is Time for Iran to Reenter Negotiations on the Nuclear Deal

by Con Coughlin  •  January 16, 2020 at 4:30 am

  • Speaking in his first interview since his impressive victory in last month's general election, Mr Johnson said he recognised US concerns about the 2015 deal, but insisted there had to be a way of stopping Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. "If we are going to get rid (of the 2015 deal), we need a replacement," he told the BBC. "Let's replace it with the Trump deal."

  • Mr Johnson's comments came shortly after the three European signatories to the deal -- Britain, France and Germany -- announced that they were triggering a dispute mechanism in the deal following Iran's recent violations of the deal.

  • Which means that Tehran now faces a stark choice: either it reenters negotiations and addresses the serious flaws in the deal agreed by Mr Obama, or it faces yet further international isolation.

Iran's belated admission that it was responsible for shooting down Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS752 could ultimately pave the way for a fresh round of negotiations on the controversial issue of its nuclear programme. Pictured: Part of the wing of the downed UIA airliner, near Tehran, Iran on January 8, 2020. (Photo by Akbar Tavakoli/IRNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran's belated admission that it was, after all, responsible for shooting down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, killing all 176 people on board, could ultimately pave the way for a fresh round of negotiations on the controversial issue of its nuclear programme.

The fact that Tehran has now been forced to admit that the Ukrainian aircraft was shot down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, and that the disaster was not the result, as Iranian aviation experts had initially claimed, of a catastrophic engine failure, represents a major setback for the regime's hardliners, who have ultimate authority over the country's military.

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Can Taking Cannabis Mutate Your Genes?

January 16, 2020 at 4:00 am

(Image source: iStock)

Gatestone Institute to examine the impact of legalized marijuana in 2020. Details to follow...

Why Some Palestinians Love Soleimani

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  January 15, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • [Many] Arabs have claimed that they cannot understand why Hamas and Islamic Jihad are mourning an Iranian general responsible for the killing and displacement of thousands of people in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Some Arabs scoffed at the two Palestinian groups for labeling Soleimani as the "martyr of Jerusalem" at a time "when most of his rockets and bullets were being used to kill Arabs and Muslims to implement Iran's scheme of expanding its control to Arab and Islamic countries."

  • Without Iran's financial, military and political support, Hamas and Islamic Jihad would not have been able to maintain their control over the Gaza Strip.... Hamas and Islamic Jihad have demonstrated that they care nothing for the thousands of Arabs and Muslims killed by Soleimani's Quds Force. As far as these groups are concerned... [t]he end goal for Hamas and Islamic Jihad remains the elimination of Israel....

  • The ongoing cooperation between Iran and the Gaza-based groups poses an imminent threat not only to Israel, but also to the PA, Egypt and other Arabs who are opposed to Tehran's expansionist schemes in the region.

Without Iran's financial, military and political support, Hamas and Islamic Jihad would not have been able to maintain their control over the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have demonstrated that they care nothing for the thousands of Arabs and Muslims killed by Qassem Soleimani's Quds Force. Pictured: Iran's "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal (center) and Mussa Abu Marzuk (left) in Tehran on February 1, 2009. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

Why are Iran's Palestinian proxies, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, disturbed about the death of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, who was killed in a US airstrike on January 3, 2020?

The two Iranian-backed groups in the Gaza Strip were quick to mourn the "martyr" Soleimani and condemn his assassination as an "American-Zionist scheme." Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad described the death of Soleimani as a "big loss for Palestine and the Palestinian resistance."

Hamas and Islamic Jihad set up a mourning tent for Soleimani in the Gaza Strip, where their representative invited Palestinians to offer condolences for the death of the Iranian military commander. The heads of the two groups, Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas) and Ziad Al-Nakhalah (Islamic Jihad) also travelled to Iran to attend the funeral of Soleimani and offer condolences to Iran's leaders over his death.

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Erdoğan's 'Make-Turkey-More-Islamic' Campaign Is a Failure

by Burak Bekdil  •  January 15, 2020 at 4:00 am

  • Half the population of Turkey is under the age of 32 -- a young population. Many of these young Turks are, it seems, pushing back against Erdoğan's state-imposed Islamization.

  • The more Erdoğan uses the state's police power to indoctrinate young Turks in favor of devout political Islam, the more they tend to put a distance between themselves and Erdoğan's "devout generations" campaign.

  • Perhaps Erdoğan's best service to his country is to show young Turks what it actually means to live under an Islamist regime.

The more Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan uses the state's police power to indoctrinate young Turks in favor of devout political Islam, the more they tend to put a distance between themselves and Erdoğan's "devout generations" campaign. Pictured: Erdoğan and his wife Emine pray during his presidential inauguration ceremony on July 9, 2018 in Ankara, Turkey. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)

Trust for Islamist politics in both the Middle East and North Africa has plummeted since the beginning of the Arab Spring. A survey for BBC Arabic found that since 2012-13, public trust in Islamist political parties in Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Sudan and Iraq has significantly declined, from nearly 40% to less than 20%. The survey also found a similar decline in trust for religious leaders in the same countries. In the Gaza Strip alone, public trust in Hamas fell from 45% to 24%. In Turkey, Islam does not appear to be appealing to masses as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apparently hoped it would.

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China Is Destroying Multilateralism; Trump Is Creating a New Order

by Gordon G. Chang  •  January 14, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • If Wang Binyang is selected in March, she will be able to bend international rules to favor her country's assault on others' technology. In any event, her nomination reveals Beijing brazen ambition to dominate multilateral institutions.... Beijing's placement of officials inside multilaterals has greatly facilitated its malign activities.

  • From its perch on the UN Security Council, for instance, Beijing has placed itself in a position to attack freedom and democracy. It was the force behind a just-passed, Russian-sponsored General Assembly resolution to create a new convention that, many fear, will be used to restrict online expression worldwide.

  • "Why is the World Bank loaning money to China?" President Trump tweeted on December 6, "Can this be possible?"

  • The institutions created after the Second World War, unfortunately, are not adapting well to this century. The ardent proponents of multilateralism have failed to protect global institutions. China has undermined them from the inside, and now those advocates are not dealing with Chinese predation but instead taking potshots at Trump's corrective efforts.

  • Trump has cooperated with international organizations when he could and has worked to replace the others. As he moves forward, he is creating a more realistic and enduring international order.

From its perch on the UN Security Council, Beijing has placed itself in a position to attack freedom and democracy. It was the force behind a just-passed, Russian-sponsored General Assembly resolution to create a new convention that, many fear, will be used to restrict online expression worldwide. Pictured: Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, speaks during a Security Council meeting on August 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

China, the world's leading cyberattacker and master intellectual property thief, in November nominated one of its nationals to head the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization. If Wang Binyang is selected in March, she will be able to bend international rules to favor her country's assault on others' technology. In any event, her nomination reveals Beijing's brazen ambition to dominate multilateral institutions.

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Turkey: Still among the World's Worst Jailers of Journalists

by Uzay Bulut  •  January 14, 2020 at 4:30 am

  • "Scores of journalists remain behind bars or under travel bans as a consequence of an extended, politically motivated crackdown against the media." — "Turkey's Journalists in the Dock: The Judicial Silencing of the Fourth Estate", September 13, 2019.

  • "A subsequent wide-ranging capture of the judiciary has progressively and severely damaged the rule of law and the public's right to access information..." — "Turkey's Journalists in the Dock: The Judicial Silencing of the Fourth Estate", September 13, 2019.

  • "Pre-trial detention for hundreds of journalists has lasted for months and sometimes years before investigations are completed and the trials can begin." — "Turkey's Journalists in the Dock: The Judicial Silencing of the Fourth Estate", September 13, 2019.

Pictured: Turkish police arrest 69-year-old journalist Ahmet Altan (center) in Istanbul on November 12, 2019, just a few days after he was released from prison, having serving more than three years of a life sentence for allegedly spreading "subliminal messages announcing a military coup" on television in 2016. (Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the latest report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Turkey fell below its ranking as the world's worst jailer of journalists for the first time in four years -- dropping behind even China. That rating is not exactly indicative of an improvement in Ankara's stance towards the media. On the contrary, as CPJ revealed on December 11:

"[T]he fall to 47 journalists in jail from 68 [in 2018] reflects the successful efforts by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stamp out independent reporting and criticism by closing down more than 100 news outlets and lodging terror-related charges against many of their staff."

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