Around 100 protesters took the knee outside Downing Street today as slammed ‘hypocrite’ Boris Johnson over the racist abuse of England footballers after the Euros final.
The demonstrators held their fists in the air as they chanted “love football, hate racism” and “Black Lives Matter”, with speakers including former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.
It comes after Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka received racist abuse on social media they each failed to convert penalties against Italy.
The Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel were quick to condemn the abuse, but many branded them ‘hypocrites’ who had ‘fuelled the fire’ of racism.
In a statement about the Downing Street protest, Stand Up To Racism said: “Millions of people have been outraged by the racist abuse faced by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka following the penalty shoot out in the Euro2020 final.
“The England team had shown their opposition to racism with their #TakeTheKnee throughout the competition joined by many other teams and supported by the vast majority of fans.
“But when some so called ‘supporters’ booed the team the government in the shape of Boris Johnson and Priti Patel backed the ‘right’ to boo and attacked the ‘gesture politics’ of the team.
“We want to show our solidarity with the players and call out the hypocrite in number 10.”
Speaking at the Downing Street protest, Labour MP Ms Abbott said: “The Government wants to have its cake and eat it… Priti Patel called taking the knee gesture politics.
“I’ll tell you what gesture politics is, it’s condemning the England players throughout the tournament and then putting on an England shirt in the semi-finals.”
Referring to England footballers’ responses on Twitter, she said: ” Boris Johnson, your boys took a hell of a beating.”
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Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and former England footballer Gary Neville also previously slammed the Prime Minister and Mrs Patel over their ‘hypocrisy’.
Mrs Rayner said: “Let me be clear. The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary gave license to the racists who booed the England players and are now racially abusing England players.
” @BorisJohnson and @pritipatel are like arsonists complaining about a fire they poured petrol on. Total hypocrites.”
Meanwhile Mr Neville accused Boris Johnson of ‘promoting’ racism in the past.
(PMOI / MEK Iran) and (NCRI): Maryam Rajavi: This is a litmus test of whether the international community will engage and deal with this genocidal regime or stand with the Iranian people.
(PMOI / MEK Iran) and (NCRI): Maryam Rajavi: Raisi must be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1988 massacre and the massacres before and after that.
(PMOI / MEK Iran) and (NCRI): 3rd Day of the Free Iran World Summit; Global Support for the Iranian People’s Uprising & the Democratic Alternative.
(PMOI / MEK Iran)&(NCRI): Before addressing the Summit, Mrs. Rajavi visited the Khavaran Memorial, which was built in Ashraf 3, Albania, to honor the memory of the 30,000 martyred political prisoners during the summer of 1988 massacre, and paid tribute to those martyrs.
(PMOI / MEK Iran) and (NCRI): It is here that we remember the great Mojahed, the late author Hamid Assadian, who throughout these three decades tried to expose the executioners and to keep alive the memory of the victims.
(PMOI / MEK Iran) and (NCRI): These martyrs were executed based on Khomeini’s fatwa and by Raisi and other ruling criminals because they refused to repent and remained steadfast in their beliefs and commitment to freedom.
(PMOI / MEK Iran) and (NCRI): They try to defame the very PMOI, 90% of whose martyrs chose to be hanged for fidelity to the political and ideological policies of the PMOI.
(PMOI / MEK Iran) and (NCRI): But neither concealing the crime, nor hiding the graves of the martyrs, nor distorting the identities of the martyrs will be able to hinder or stop the call-for-justice movement.
Maryam Rajavi: Raisi must be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1988 massacre and the massacres before and after that.
On behalf of the Iranian Resistance, Mrs. Rajavi vowed that the Iranian Resistance would continue its resistance until it succeeds in taking back Iran from the grip of the murderous ruling regime.” — NCRI
In this summit, which simultaneously commemorates the victims of the 1988 massacre, the presence of great and esteemed friends of the Iranian Resistance is a source of support for our people, especially for the victims’ families.
At a time when their cries of innocence were silenced by the label of terrorism, you and the voice of your conscience broke the deafening silence.
You are pioneers of a brilliant policy on the Iranian issue, which points to the right side of history.
You are the ones who repeatedly said that seeking out moderates in this savage regime is a mirage and an illusion. And now that Khamenei has made a mass murderer his president, everyone is acknowledging that you were right. Yes, you spoke the truth. In time, the validity of your positions on the People’s Mojahedin, the Iranian Resistance, and the democratic alternative will be proven. I applaud and praise all of you.
The regime represents only 1.5% of people
When it comes to the Iranian people’s relationship with the regime, the appointment of Ebrahim Raisi, the henchman of the 1988 massacre, to the presidency of the mullahs’ religious dictatorship is a reflection of the era of its overthrow.
In terms of history, a regime that has laid its foundations in a sea of blood of the People’s Mojahedin has personified the ultimate product of its 42-year history in a murderous henchman.
And in political terms, it is the end for illusions of moderation within the regime. It marks the failure of Western governments’ policy of complacency toward religious fascism.
Now, they have handed over the executive branch to a mass murderer, the judiciary to a professional assassin, and the legislative branch to a club wielder who has openly declared: “I am one of the club wielders, and I am proud to have wielded the stick against Massoud Rajavi (the Leader of the Iranian Resistance) since 1979.”
Truly, he is the embodiment of obscenity and wickedness. Indeed, if the religious dictatorship was not on the verge of demise, why would it need to put a band of cannibals in charge of the system?
At the end of the election charade (in June), based on the reports from more than 1,200 of its journalists and reporters in 400 cities of Iran and more than 3,500 video clips, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) announced that the turnout was less than 10%.
But today, I will deliberately examine the results announced by the mullahs’ Ministry of Interior:
In Shiraz, which Massoud Rajavi has called the capital of the 2019 uprising, some 70 percent of voters refused to vote. In Tehran, with 9 million residents, 80% of voters did not participate.
In Tehran Province, which includes the rebellious cities of Shahriyar, Qal’eh Hassan Khan, and Islamshahr, 70% refused to vote.
The City Council elections were even more disastrous. In some metropolitans, void ballots came in first. The voter turnout in Tehran was 14% and in Tabriz, only 1.5%. Yes, this regime represents only 1.5 percent of the population.
The whole story is that the objective conditions for the regime’s overthrow are in place. As far as the Iranian people are concerned, they are, as always, redoubling their resolve to overthrow the religious dictatorship in the face of the regime’s new repressive and aggressive posture.
Dealing with murderer Raisi is the international community’s litmus test
As far as the international community is concerned, this is a test of whether it will engage and deal with this genocidal regime or whether it will stand with the Iranian people.
We say to the world community, especially to Western governments, that Mullah Raisi is a criminal guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in 1988.
He is guilty because as one of the regime’s highest Judiciary officials during the last 40 years, he played a decisive role in the execution and murder of the Iranian people’s children.
He is guilty because he is one of the leaders of a regime that killed 1,500 youths during the November 2019 uprising, a figure that researchers say is actually three times higher.
Raisi is guilty because even today he defends all his past crimes and insists on continuing them. As Amnesty International’s Secretary-General said, “That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”
On behalf of the Iranian people and their Resistance, I emphasize that the United Nations and the international community should recognize the 1988 massacre in Iran as genocide and a crime against humanity.
I call on the UN Security Council to take action to hold the leaders of the mullahs’ regime, especially Ali Khamenei, Raisi, and Ejeii, accountable for committing genocide and crimes against humanity. The United Nations must not allow Raisi to participate in the next session of the General Assembly. This would be an unforgivable insult to the people of all countries who send their representatives to the United Nations.
We will fulfill these demands at all costs. It was this Resistance that one day forced Khomeini to drink the poison chalice of ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq war. It was this Resistance that one day caught Ali Khamenei by exposing the regime’s nuclear program. And it will be this Resistance that will one day pour the poison chalice of human rights down the throat of this religious dictatorship. This will certainly become reality.
The question is adhering to or renouncing one’s positions
The 1988 massacre was one of the darkest moments in Iran’s contemporary history. In the words of Baroness Boothroyd, the former speaker of the UK House of Lords, it is the greatest crime against humanity since the Second World War, which has gone unpunished.
At this point, let’s go back 33 years. Let us imagine the scene of questions and answers, each of which determined the fate and life of a prisoner.
In small rooms in the prisons of Evin, Gohardasht, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Ahvaz, and dozens of other cities, prisoners were condemned to death without having committed any crime.
On the one side sat the mullahs and the executioners of the death commissions. One of the most savage and cruel figures among these demons was Ebrahim Raisi.
On the other side is a lone prisoner in the dock. He/she has not committed any crimes. In the eyes of the prosecutors, however, the prisoner represents the “crime” of a movement. The prisoner has no lawyer but must defend the rights of an oppressed nation. There are no witnesses to this unfair trial. He/she is the only witness.
Most astonishingly, the questions are not about the commission of any crime, but inquire about which side of history is the prisoner on?
Here are the questions:
Are you prepared to denounce the PMOI and its leadership? Are you willing to join the armed forces of the Islamic Republic and fight against the PMOI? Are you willing to provide information on former comrades… and “co-operate” with intelligence officials? Are you willing to participate in firing squads? Are you willing to hang a monafeq (a pejorative epithet for members and supporters of the PMOI)? Are you prepared to express “repentance” about your political opinions and activities? Are you prepared to declare loyalty to the Islamic Republic (through written and/or televised “confessions”)? Are you willing to walk through an active minefield to assist the army of the Islamic Republic? I quoted these appalling questions, which were posed to the victims of the 1988 massacre, from Amnesty International’s investigative report. (1)
The subject of these questions was not spurious allegations like participation in prison revolts or misconduct during captivity. The subject of these questions was not even the prisoners’ connection with the PMOI’s military operation (in July 1988).
Khomeini had already determined the core issue in two successive religious decrees. His decree specifically concerns the PMOI. The decree says that “those who persist in their allegiance to the PMOI in prisons across the country are at war with God and are sentenced to death.”
At the time, Khomeini’s Chief Justice asked him whether this sentence applied to those PMOI members who had been sentenced to death and who refused to change their position, or whether it also applies to those PMOI members who were merely serving their prison term but still adhered to their beliefs.
Khomeini’s clear and concise answer was: “Anyone, at any stage, is sentenced to death if he maintains his positions as a hypocrite (i.e. People’s Mojahedin).” The distillation of the two decrees of Khomeini and the short version of the questions in these show trials are: Do you stand by your position as a People’s Mojahedin?
The Mojahedin answered yes to this question and accepted to be executed. On the 30th anniversary of the 1988 massacre, Amnesty International wrote in its report: “Across the country, the victims were primarily supporters of the PMOI, both men and women. In Tehran province, hundreds of men affiliated with leftist opposition groups were also executed.”
Amnesty International added: “In Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan provinces, the waves of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings also targeted hundreds of prisoners affiliated with the Kurdish opposition groups Komala and the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI).”
Thus, the massacre of the Mojahedin-e Khalq was carried out throughout the country. At the same time, the regime’s murderous machinery re-arrested many former prisoners or persons suspected of supporting the PMOI and sent them to execution chambers.
All of them faced the same question that determined their fate: Do you maintain your positions on the PMOI? Since that day and until today, this question has not ceased to confront us. It is the question of our time. It is the question of being faithful to one’s positions or not. But the PMOI, as the Quran says, did not abandon its position. We have answered yes to this question and we will answer yes again and again. We will never abandon the resistance to free the Iranian people and to overthrow the regime.
A persevering generation for Iran’s liberation
My dear compatriots,
In the summer of 1988, after the mass murderer Raisi and his accomplices sentenced them to death, the PMOI heroes walked through the corridors leading to the execution chamber while shouting “Down with Khomeini! Long live freedom! Long live Massoud Rajavi!”
This is freedom’s blood-drenched anthem and the song of perseverance of a generation determined to write a new destiny for the Iranian people and history.
One of these heroines was the U.S.-educated Zohreh Ain-ol-Yaqine, then head of Isfahan Teachers’ Association. She wrote in a letter from Evin Prison, “I thought about everything that has happened so far and went through everything in my mind. I think that everyone sings a song during his/her lifetime and dies. But what remains, in the end, is a pure and untainted form of humanity that lives on.”
Another one of these heroes was Rahim Rajli. He wrote in his will, “I love life with all its beauties; I love everything that blooms (…) I do not wish to die. But for the sake of life, I embrace the crimson death with open arms. And if I have the honor of falling as a martyr on this path, send my greetings to Massoud [Rajavi], and tell him that Rahim kept his promise and he has become a Rajavi.”
This is the blood-drenched commitment of all generations of the PMOI, as Maryam Golzadeh-Ghafouri wrote: “As long as there is even a single Mojahed, he/she will not let the revolution be stopped. The People’s Mojahedin will sacrifice everything he/she has in order to free Iran and the Iranian people from captivity.”
Massoud Rajavi’s Campaign for Justice
The massacre of the People’s Mojahedin had another important aspect, which comprised of a vast effort to cover up this crime. But from the very first weeks after the start of the massacre, Massoud Rajavi issued a wave of statements, revelations, and calls for justice in Iran and abroad.
As early as August and September 1988, in multiple letters and telegrams to the UN Secretary-General, he made numerous revelations about the massacre. Among other things, he revealed the contents of Khomeini’s two main religious decrees. On August 25, 1988, he wrote to the UN Secretary-General that Khomeini had issued a decree in his own handwriting ordering the execution of PMOI political prisoners.
In December of the same year, in an interview with Voice of Mojahed Radio, Massoud Rajavi explained that “On two occasions, Khomeini personally issued the executive orders to the head of the Judiciary Moussavi-Ardebili, stressing, among other things, that in the case of the Mojahedin (…) anyone who insists on his/her positions (…) is sentenced to death and must be executed immediately.”(2) This was twelve years before Ayatollah Montazeri (Khomeini’s ousted heir apparent) published the text of this decree in his book.
In my view, what Massoud (Rajavi) has done goes far beyond the relentless campaign of the last four decades. By safeguarding the very values and principles cherished by the victims of the massacre through seeking justice for them, he has defended their dignity and honor to the greatest possible extent. This call-for-justice campaign will continue until achieving victory for the cause of these martyrs, namely, the liberation of the Iranian people.
It is very noteworthy that in the April 1989 letter dismissing Mr. Montazeri, which was about 700 words long, Khomeini referred to the PMOI nine times, accusing Mr. Montazeri of assisting the Mojahedin in their attempts to find out the number of execution victims through him. More importantly, he said that after him, Ayatollah Montazeri would hand over the country to the liberals and through them to the PMOI. And because of this, he explains, Montazeri lost the competence and legitimacy to lead the regime in the future.
As attested to by the events of the past 33 years, the revelations about the 1988 massacre are the outcome of a relentless campaign seeking justice. The Iranian people’s Resistance, the families of martyrs, political prisoners, torture victims, and thousands of survivors of the 1988 massacre who are based in Ashraf-3, are the ones responsible for this campaign…
We have said and we continue to say yes to the great question of our time. We will overthrow the clerical regime by relying on the Iranian people and the great Army of Freedom.
Glory to the martyrs! Long live the Iranian people!
Maryam Rajavi addresses first day of Free Iran World Summit
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The report was compiled by MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee and focuses mainly on China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim population in the country’s Xinjiang province. Human rights campaigners allege rape and forced sterilisations are being used as part of a campaign to control the population in north-west internment camps The US has even gone as far as to describe China’s actions against its Muslim population as a “genocide”.
The report’s authors argued that the Cabinet should impose fines on any UK company knowingly doing business with Chinese companies connected to human rights abuses.
They also urged Downing Street to actively dissuade British firms from sponsoring the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, as well as from advertising at the Games.
Tom Tugendhat, Conservative chair of the Committee, told Politico taking no action is not an option.
“If we choose not to, we’re nesting the dragon deeper and deeper into our national life,” he said.
The Tory MP added that the British public expected its political leaders to stand up for the “defence of the rule of law” and “fair competition in trade.”
China has become one of Britain’s most important trading partners in recent years.
Afghan National Army cadets dressed as Taliban walk back to base following a Taliban capture military exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan. | Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
The situation in Afghanistan is grim. An occupying army is withdrawing its last troops, bombs are besieging Kabul and the country appears on the verge of a civil war. U.S. diplomats believe they can’t count on the shaky Afghan government to survive, much less protect them.
It’s Jan. 30, 1989, two weeks until the last Soviet forces leave,and U.S. officials have just closed the American Embassy in Kabul, while promising “the United States will return.” But they wouldn’t reopen the diplomatic mission until January 2002, after the U.S. came back to Afghanistan with its own troops to topple the Taliban regime.
Today, the future of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is once again in doubt. The last U.S. troops have left Bagram air base, the sprawling compound that has been the epicenter of the U.S. military presence there for the last two decades. And by the standards of an embassy “Emergency Action Plan,” parts of which were seen by POLITICO, U.S. diplomats already face a dire situation likely to worsen as a resurgent Taliban takes on a weak Afghan government.
Some U.S. intelligence estimates reportedly project that the government in Kabul could fall in as little as six months after the U.S. withdrawal, which could be finished in days. On a visit to Washington last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said his country faces an “1861 moment,” a reference to the dawn of the U.S. Civil War.
“Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if it continues on the trajectory it is on,” Gen. Austin Miller, the commander of the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, warned Tuesday in a news conference. “That should be a concern for the world.”
This time, how long the U.S. keeps its diplomats in Afghanistan is a more complicated question than in the past.
Three decades ago, Americans lost interest in Afghanistan once the occupying Soviet military left, pushed out in part by U.S.-backed militias. Now, there’s a recognition that America can’t ignore a country whose chaos in the 1990s spawned the plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and where more than 2,000 U.S. troops have lost their lives in the 20 years since.
The State Department remains highly risk averse given the U.S. political battles that erupted over the 2012 tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, but it’s also accustomed to running embassies in violence-ridden places such as Iraq. U.S. officials know that a diplomatic withdrawal from Kabul would send a terrible signal to other countries that have worked alongside Washington to try to stabilize Afghanistan over the past two decades. That includes other members of the NATO military alliance, which is in the latter stages of unconditionally withdrawing roughly 10,000 troops from the country by President Joe Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline.
“This decision is a dynamic — constantly changing,” said Ron Neumann, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007. “As long as the Afghans are not losing the war ultimately, there’s a real reluctance to pull out [of] the embassy, because it will trigger a stampede.”
Biden insists that although he’s withdrawing the last U.S. combat troops, America is not abandoning Afghanistan economically or diplomatically, and that it will still fund the Afghan military and help the country on a humanitarian level.
However, once the troop withdrawal is done, the U.S. military mission will shift from training the Afghan security forces to protecting U.S. diplomats and building a new relationship with Kabul, Pentagon officials say.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul at the moment does not have an official ambassador; it is led by Ross Wilson, a veteran U.S. diplomat who carries the title of chargé d’affaires.
Biden plans to leave roughly 650 troops behind to provide security for diplomats at the U.S. Embassy, a facility that has been expanded and fortified significantly since 1989. The embassy compound covers some 36 acres in a central part of the Afghan capital, and it includes a mix of various-sized office and residential buildings, some of which stand out with their yellow and rust-colored exteriors. Access to the site is heavily restricted.
The Biden administration also is working on plans to temporarily relocate thousands of Afghan interpreters who worked for the United States to one or more other countries as they await American visas. Those Afghans face threats from the Taliban.
Scott Weinhold, the assistant chief of mission at the embassy, pointed out that many of the people working there are accustomed to operating in difficult conditions.
“I think people in a way are almost redoubled in their energy to try to help partners and the people that they work with, because you see the concern among our Afghan contacts, and especially a lot of our women contacts, about what’s coming,” he said. “People are really focused on how do we help them, how do we try to assist the key people that may be at risk.”
Every U.S. embassy is supposed to have an Emergency Action Plan, which typically contain a set of “decision points” that lay out scenarios in which U.S. officials should consider moves to increase protection of America’s diplomats.
POLITICO obtained a version of the Kabul embassy’s decision points that appears to be about three years old; the current ones are classified. The decision points seen by POLITICO nonetheless remain relevant to conditions today, covering an array of dangerous situations, both man-made and natural.
Some are relatively obvious, such as “a terrorist attack within Kabul or the surrounding environs and/or violent confrontations that threaten the security perimeter of the Embassy” — risks that the diplomatic mission has prepared for and faced for a long time.
Others, though, lay out conditions likely to arise or be exacerbated in the event of a civil war or a Taliban strangulation of Kabul.
For instance, one decision point comes if there are “anticipated long-term or actual disruption of utilities, fuel, water, goods, and services (including means of communications), which eliminates [the embassy’s] ability to maintain safe and healthy conditions for staff.”
Another comes if “the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates such that security forces in Kabul are diminished or otherwise unavailable, weakening the host government’s ability to respond to … requests for security support.”
Some of the decision points POLITICO viewed seem downright prescient. One warns of “an outbreak of disease with pandemic potential” as a scenario for which to prepare.
Just because a situation described by a decision point becomes a reality, it does not mean that U.S. diplomats will be sent home or that the embassy will be shut down. Not even the collapse of the Afghan government would necessarily trigger an embassy closure. But top embassy officials are expected to use moments described by the decision points to evaluate the overall situation and take mitigating measures. Those can include everything from reducing staff to holding a town hall for employees.
James Cunningham, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2012 to 2014, recalls how one day a rocket flew into a room above him at the embassy. He downplays it now: “It was only one rocket, and it didn’t do anything except burn up some old computers.” The embassy was in lockdown but resumed business after the attack ended, he said.
Cunningham also cautioned against assuming that the Taliban will immediately try to seize Kabul and overthrow the Afghan government once U.S. troops are gone.
“They may well decide it’s not in their interest to do that,” Cunningham said, noting that’s especially the case if the militant group wants to “have a relationship with the international community.” Besides, he added, many Afghans resent the Taliban and will fight against their return to power.
According to the embassy’s Emergency Action Plan, one key decision point comes if “ground and/or air access” to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul is “disrupted and/or commercial flights become limited or stopped.”
If the airport cannot be secured, a major point of access to the land-locked country by diplomats, contractors and aid groups could be cut off. The U.S. military on Friday quietly handed over Bagram air base to the Afghan security forces, eliminating most of the U.S. ability to provide air support to and leaving the coalition headquarters at Kabul as the only remaining U.S. military presence in the country.
Officials are still working out the details of a potential security arrangement between the United States and Turkey for the Hamid Karzai International Airport, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday.
Under the agreement, Turkish forces, which currently number about 600, would remain in place to secure the Kabul airport. However, the negotiations are complicated by tensions between Washington and Ankara over issues such as the U.S. support to the Syrian Kurds and Turkey’s purchase of Russian antiaircraft systems.
Turkey is looking for other nations to contribute forces to the mission to secure the airport. A few hundred American troops will reportedly remain temporarily to help Turkish forces provide security.
Taliban fighters have made significant gains in recent weeks, overrunning the demoralized Afghan security forces in many areas, often without a fight. Surrendering Afghan forces have abandoned large caches of U.S.-supplied weapons, including ammunition and armored Humvees, as well as night-vision devices and other equipment, according to an analysis by Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal.
Since Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the Taliban have taken over 80 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts, and now control 157, according to Roggio. Many of the gains are in Afghanistan’s north, threatening multiple provincial capitals. The Taliban have historically been strongest in Afghanistan’s south.
In the years since 1989, the United States has waxed and waned when it comes to the risks it is willing to take with its diplomats.
The United States reestablished an embassy in Baghdad in 2004, more than a year after invading Iraq and overthrowing the regime of Saddam Hussein. As in Afghanistan, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad — which is now a massive compound roughly the size of Vatican City — has faced constant security threats, particularly in the chaotic years after the invasion. In early 2005, two Americans died when insurgents successfully targeted the embassy with a rocket.
Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States shut down its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra, citing Iranian security threats. It warned it might close the embassy last year, too, unless the Iraqi government did more to fend off rocket attacks targeting the facility. But the embassy has stayed open.
One incident likely to have factored into the Trump-era moves was the 2012 death of four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, in an attack by militants in the city of Benghazi. That tragedy became political fodder for Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton, who was then secretary of State and expected to run for president.
The political fighting over Benghazi rattled the State Department; it’s one of, though not the only, reason many U.S. diplomats today operate in strict, almost isolated conditions in certain countries considered hardship posts, veterans of the Foreign Service say. (U.S. diplomats assigned to Libya work out of Tunisia.) There have been calls in recent years, including from lawmakers, to reverse that bunker mentality.
When it comes to Afghanistan, a collapse of the government may take longer than observers expect.
Three decades ago, the Soviet-backed Afghan government, led by Mohammad Najibullah, held out for a few years after the Soviet military withdrawal, thanks in large part to continued economic and military aid from Moscow. But the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant an end to that assistance, and Najibullah was out of power by April 1992.
Afghan rebel groups, however, fought one another, bringing about years of chaos that largely ended when the ultraconservative Islamists of the Taliban managed to take over much of the country.
The Taliban in 1996 tracked down Najibullah, who had been in staying in a U.N. compound in Kabul. They killed him and hung his beaten body from a traffic control tower near the presidential palace, a warning to Afghans and foreigners of the dark days to come.
A fan was seriously injured after falling from a stand during England‘s win over Croatia at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon, according to reports. Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of the game during the second half to get the Three Lions off to a winning start in their Euro 2020 Group D opener.
The supporter in question reportedly tumbled down the stand towards seats and concrete barriers shortly after the match, attended by 22,500 fans, had kicked off at 2.00pm.
The individual was then treated by medics before they were swiftly rushed to hospital with serious injuries.
A Wembley Stadium spokesperson told the Evening Standard: “We can confirm that a spectator fell from the stands just after kick-off in the match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium.
“The spectator was given on-site medical attention and was then taken to hospital in a serious condition.
A fellow England supporter who witnessed the incident is quoted as saying: “I didn’t see it but spoke to some of the guys who did at half-time.
“They were traumatised. He fell from the balcony towards the seats and the concrete.
“I think it happened around kick-off otherwise I would have noticed. That bit of seating was cleared.”
Another added: “It seemed to take staff ages to get to him. One guy near us who saw the whole thing was crying his eyes out.”
The match saw England win their opening game at a European Championship for the first time in 10 attempts thanks to Sterling’s goal shortly before the hour mark.
Both sides enjoyed a decent number of chances during a tight encounter, but Southgate’s side emerged on top to finally seal revenge over Croatia, who knocked the Three Lions out of the World Cup three years ago in the semi-finals.
The England boss singled out Sterling and Kalvin Phillips for special praise after the final whistle and suggested that his team ultimately deserved to come away with the spoils.
“I think that Kalvin is a player who is so understated and who has had a fantastic start to his international career,” Southgate told the BBC after the Three Lions’ win.
“He was immense throughout the game, as they all were.
“I’m so pleased for Raheem. He’s had this hex, if you like, at tournaments with not being able to get a goal.
“I thought he was dangerous with his play. Right from the start, there was a throw-in inside and he was running at their defence and he looked a threat.
“He had a big influence. He’s a good player. His goalscoring record shows that we should have faith in him, especially in the last few years.
“I thought that he was motivated to show [his quality]. I’m really happy for him and for everybody.”
Scotland have confirmed that they will not be taking the knee before their Euro 2020 matches but Steve Clarke’s players will continue to promote an anti-racism message ahead of kick-off. It’s the same stance that was taken by the team before their World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Israel back in March.
Scotland take on the Czech Republic on Monday in their Euro 2020 opener at Hampden Park as they look to get off to a good start in Group D.
Their opponents will be missing defender Ondrej Kudela, who is serving a suspension after he was found guilty of racially abusing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara in their Europa League knockout clash at Ibrox.
Yet while Scotland won’t be taking the knee, the Scottish FA have made it clear they remain committed to fighting the problem that continues to leave a stain on the game.
Their statement read: “The Scotland Men’s National Team will continue to take a stand against racism prior to kick-off for all UEFA EURO 2020 matches.
“The squad, coaching staff and backroom members will stand up to racism ahead of the Group D matches against Czech Republic, England and Croatia.”
Captain Andy Robertson also has explained how his teammates came to the decision, adding: “It is important we continue to tackle the issue of racism and raise awareness of the need to change people’s mindsets but also their behaviours.
England were booed by a small collection of their fans ahead of their warm-up wins over Austria and Romania in Middlesborough.
“Our players are role models. And, beyond the confines of the pitch, we must recognise the impact they can have on society,” Southgate wrote for The Players’ Tribune.
“We must give them the confidence to stand up for their teammates and the things that matter to them as people. I have never believed that we should just stick to football.
“I know my voice carries weight, not because of who I am but because of the position that I hold. At home, I’m below the kids and the dogs in the pecking order but publicly I am the England men’s football team manager. I have a responsibility to the wider community to use my voice, and so do the players.”
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic are already concerned about the reception they may receive when they travel to Glasgow for their Group D opener.
Their assistant manager Jiri Chytry has pleaded with the Tartan Army not to show hostility towards his side in the aftermath of Kudela’s ban.
“I hope there is no bad blood between the Czech Republic and Scotland. And I hope there is nothing to be afraid of, because I don’t think we have done anything wrong towards the Scottish fans,” he said.
“As for the Kudela situation, of course it is very unpleasant and it still has to be resolved.
“We would love him to be here but sadly that is not possible. But all our focus is on our performance, our game. Our motivation is still the same, the sporting aspect prevails.
“We are very aware it is going to be an important match, and if we want to advance from the group stage we have to focus on this because it will be very difficult.
“As for the Kudela incident, we have to wait for the final resolution. I hope it will be fair for everyone. But we are going to Scotland to play football.”
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — On a prairie hill on the rolling highway into Wyoming’s capital city looms a billboard with the beaming face of the state’s lone congressional representative, Liz Cheney. In huge letters it declares: “Thank you Rep. Cheney for defending the Constitution.”
Some local Republicans see Ms. Cheney’s lonesome stand against former President Donald J. Trump’s lies about a stolen election, and her refusal to back down, as an example of true Wyoming grit and independence.
But many others are quick to point out that the billboard was put up by an out-of-state dark money group, a sign of outsiders meddling. And among people in this state that voted in a landslide for Mr. Trump, a number said they were not thankful for much of anything Ms. Cheney has done lately, and have vowed to vote her out of office.
“She broke our trust, I won’t vote for her again,” said James Crestwell as he sat on the front steps of his small Craftsman house in the central part of town on Wednesday. He wore a frayed Army hat marking the time he served on a tank crew in Iraq. An American flag flapped in the spring sunshine.
Wyoming is rich in coal and other fossil fuels, and mining and drilling are major sources of jobs and tax revenue. President Trump championed those industries and loosened mineral leasing regulations. Under President Biden, who temporarily paused oil and mineral leases on federal land and has vowed to move the nation away from fossil fuels, the industry faces a more uncertain future. It is hard for many to stomach criticism of a president who they say stood up for their values.
Mr. Crestwell, 50, who works at the local veterans’ hospital, voted for both Mr. Trump and Ms. Cheney, and said it was a mistake for her to criticize the former president. “Trump’s been good for us in Wyoming. Supported coal and oil,” he said. “She seems like she’s more for Washington than Wyoming — like she’s trying to impress her powerful friends there.”
When asked about the president’s false claims that the election had been rigged, Mr. Crestwell said: “Show me the proof. We don’t have the black and white of what really happened yet.”
On the high plains of Wyoming, a state with fewer than 600,000 residents, conservative politics are as reliable as the stiff western winds. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats four to one and control every part of state government.
But Mr. Trump’s polarizing actions after the election, which have caused a rift in the national Republican Party, are felt even more deeply here. Ms. Cheney’s forceful stand against Mr. Trump has forced local Republicans to choose between the popular hometown girl and the president who won nearly 70 percent of the vote in the state. So far, the most visible party members are roaring for Trump.
The state Republican Party overwhelmingly voted to censure Ms. Cheney in February after she voted to impeach the former president. Six residents have announced they will run against her in 2022. Statements of support from Republican office holders in Wyoming have been notably scant.
Ms. Cheney was once considered something close to political royalty in Wyoming, and a tough candidate to beat. Her family has been in the state for three generations on her mother’s side. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who graduated from high school and college here, represented the state in Congress for 10 years.
But in Cheyenne, during the same week that Ms. Cheney was stripped of her leadership position in Congress, local politicians privately predicted that her days in office were numbered. Several leveled one of the more serious insults in these parts — that Ms. Cheney, who owns a house in the ski town of Jackson but has spent much of her life in Washington, was not really from Wyoming.
Other longtime residents said they were proud to see their congresswoman take a stand.
“Trump lied, and she had the guts to call it out. I respect her for sticking to her guns,” said Gene Wolden, who was leaning against a corner of the bar at a saloon in downtown Cheyenne, sipping a Bud Light long neck, in a bushy gray mustache and a snap-button shirt.
Next to him at the bar, Brian Brockman, who had done construction around coal mines in the state for decades, interrupted. “I don’t get it,” he said. “She’s telling the truth, and she gets castigated for it. I mean, if you can’t be honest, what kind of politicians are we going to end up with?”
Johnny Gipson, who works at an oil refinery on the edge of town that is converting to biofuel and shrinking its work force, jumped in. “She messed up. She went against the whole team. Of course everyone’s mad at her.”
Understand the Removal of Liz Cheney
House Republicans voted on May 12 to oust Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their leadership ranks for her refusal to stay quiet about President Donald J. Trump’s election lies.
Backlash toImpeachment Vote: In January, Ms. Cheney issued a stinging statement announcing that she would vote to impeach Mr. Trump. In the statement, which drove a fissure through her party, she said that there had “never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States” than Mr. Trump’s incitement of a mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. She was among 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him. A group of Mr. Trump’s most strident allies in the House called on her to resign from her leadership post.
Leadership Challenge: In February, Ms. Cheney fended off a challenge to strip her of her leadership position in a secret ballot vote. Even as a majority of House Republicans opposed impeaching Mr. Trump, most were not prepared to punish one of their top leaders for doing so — at least not under a blanket of anonymity.
Censure: Ms. Cheney also faced opposition from the Wyoming Republican Party, which censured her and demanded she resign. Ms. Cheney rejected those calls and urged Republicans to be “the party of truth.”
New Challenge:Ms. Cheney continued her blunt condemnation of Mr. Trump and her party’s role in spreading the false election claims that inspired the Jan. 6 attack, prompting a new push to oust her from her leadership role. This time, the effort was backed by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader.
Removal: Ms. Cheney framed her expulsion as a turning point for her party and declared in an extraordinary speech that she would not sit by quietly as Republicans abandoned the rule of law. She embraced her downfall and offered herself as a cautionary tale in what she is portraying as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The removal came by voice vote during a brief but raucous closed-door meeting in an auditorium on Capitol Hill.
Impact and Analysis:What began as a battle over the party’s future after the violent end to the Trump presidency has collapsed into a one-sided pile-on by Team Trump against critics like Ms. Cheney, a scion of a storied Republican family. The episode, a remarkable takedown that reflected the party’s intolerance for dissent and unswerving fealty to the former president, has called attention to internal party divisions between more mainstream and conservative factions about how to win back the House in 2022.
Successor: Republican leaders have united behind Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a onetime moderate whose loyalty to Mr. Trump and backing for his false claims of election fraud have earned her broad support from the party’s rank and file. In recent days, however, some hard-right Republicans have attacked Ms. Stefanik as insufficiently conservative and suggested the party should consider someone else.
“Yeah, but she told the truth!” Mr. Wolden said.
“Hey, I’m in oil,” Mr. Gipson said, putting up his hands. “I’m always going to be for Trump. I’ll just say this, the only people happy with what she did are Democrats.”
The local split over Ms. Cheney is an offshoot of the larger philosophical split in the Republican Party over the legacy of Mr. Trump, and whether political success lies with breaking with him or boosting him, said Prof. James King, who teaches political science at the University of Wyoming.
“This is the struggle we are seeing all over the country between Republicans who are more supportive of the party’s traditional values,” he said, “and Republicans who are more supportive of Trump.”
He noted that before Mr. Trump’s second impeachment, Ms. Cheney voted with the president on nearly every issue and was one of the most conservative members of Congress. That may insulate her from political damage.
“I think this will all shake out, because she has supported mining and agriculture, and the values of her voting are still very much the values of the state,” he said.
Ms. Cheney’s current political troubles in Washington may not translate to an election loss next year, Professor King said, because in Wyoming, where the Republican primary almost always decides the election, residents of any political affiliation can register as Republicans on Primary Day, which means Ms. Cheney could draw significant numbers of independents and Democrats.
The large number of challengers may also work in her favor, he said, because Wyoming has no runoff elections, so the challengers could split the vote, and Ms. Cheney could win with even a slim plurality.
“She might just survive,” he said. “Right now, everyone is keeping their heads down because they don’t want to end up in the same position. But I think she has more support out there than people think.”
PARIS (Reuters) -A French court has ruled that Air France and Airbus should stand trial over a 2009 crash in the Atlantic Ocean which killed 228 people, a judicial source from the prosecutor’s department said on Wednesday.
The court, ruling on a request from French prosecutors, overturned a previous ruling that there should not be a trial.
An Air France representative said the carrier had no immediate comment. Airbus, the manufacturer of the aircraft involved, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Air France flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed on June 1 2009. Everyone on board was killed.
French investigators found the crew mishandled loss of speed readings from sensors blocked with ice from a storm, and caused the aircraft to stall by holding its nose too high.
The UFC flyweight clash between Ryan Benoit and Zarrukh Adashev has been canceled after Benoit struggled to stand on his feet at the scales during the weigh in, shocking fans and experts as he clearly struggled with a weight cut.
Benoit and Adashev were scheduled to meet on the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday.
As is customary the day before, the fighters had to prove they could make the 125lb weight limit.
After being escorted off the scales after his first attempt, commentator Jon announced that Benoit was being attended to by doctors, and it wasn’t clear whether he would have another crack.
Those suspicions were answered just moments later, when Benoit returned and tried again.
Once more, he needed the help of his coaches just stand up. This time round, though, officials were able to get a reading that showed him four pounds over the flyweight limit.
Adashev, who made weight, revealed that the scrap was off while offering his best wishes to Benoit.
Wtf!?!? This is unacceptable! This guys health is clearly I jeopardy. If he can’t even step on a scale without assistance hows he gonna be cleared to fight in a combat sport. This is an embarrassment!°
“My fight is off against Benoit [because] he couldn’t make weight and couldn’t stand at [the] weight in,” the Russian said on Instagram.
“It’s part of our job. [I] wish my opponent a speedy recovery. Get well soon brother, Baby Face Benoit. “I hope to see you soon in the cage. Thanks, everyone, for your support.”
Opinion was split on the developments across fans on social media. “It’s a choice,” suggested ESPN pundit Ariel Helwani, who was echoed by others suggesting that Benoit should move up in weight to avoid similarly disturbing difficulties if he is struggling to make the flyweight limit.
Lewis Hamilton has joined other sports, athletes and media companies this weekend, in supporting a social media boycott over the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend, to hold social platforms to account for abuse being posted online.
Football League clubs, England’s cricket board, the Lawn Tennis Association, Formula E, and Premiership Rugby have all joined to support the blackout from Friday to Monday to try and stamp out abuse.
From 3pm UK time today (Friday) until 11:59 on Monday, many including Williams driver George Russell and McLaren’s Lando Norris, will take part in the media blackout.
And seven-time world champion Hamilton, who has been working towards eradicating racism and including more diversity in motorsport, posted: “To stand in solidarity with the football community, I will be going dark on my social media channels this weekend.
“There is no place in our society for any kind of abuse, online or not, and for too long, it’s been easy, for a small few to post hate from behind their screens.
“While a boycott might not solve this issue overnight, we have to call for change when needed, even when it seems like an almost impossible task.
“Sport has the power to unite us. Let’s not accept abuse as part of sport, but instead, let’s be the ones who make a difference for future generations.”
Hamilton has worked hard over the past year to highlight the need for diversity and inclusivity within motorsport, and has been pioneering F1’s recent pre-race anti-racism stance on the grid, whilst also attending BLM protests and pushing his own team Mercedes to do more.
When asked about the boycott, initiated by the football community, ahead of the race weekend, he was clear to state he stands against any form of abuse.