Ethiopians Queue Up to Volunteer for Russia's Fight in Ukraine

Ethiopian men, drawn by rumors on social media, queue to register to join Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, outside the Russian embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia April 19, 2022. Picture taken April 19, 2022. (Reuters)
Ethiopian men, drawn by rumors on social media, queue to register to join Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, outside the Russian embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia April 19, 2022. Picture taken April 19, 2022. (Reuters)
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Ethiopians Queue Up to Volunteer for Russia's Fight in Ukraine

Ethiopian men, drawn by rumors on social media, queue to register to join Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, outside the Russian embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia April 19, 2022. Picture taken April 19, 2022. (Reuters)
Ethiopian men, drawn by rumors on social media, queue to register to join Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, outside the Russian embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia April 19, 2022. Picture taken April 19, 2022. (Reuters)

The queues formed early each morning outside the Russian embassy in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. Drawn by rumors on social media, young men and old, many with their military records in hand, arrived with hopes of fighting for Russia in Ukraine.

What began as a trickle of volunteers swelled over two weeks to scores, two neighborhood residents told Reuters.

On Tuesday, Reuters reporters saw several hundred men registering with Ethiopian security guards outside the embassy. The guards recorded their names and asked for proof of military service.

There is no evidence that any Ethiopians have been sent to Ukraine, nor is it clear if any ever will be.

A man who came out of the embassy and addressed the volunteers in Russian through an interpreter said Russia had enough forces for now, but that they would be contacted when they were needed.

The Russian embassy issued a statement later on Tuesday saying that it was not recruiting fighters, and that the Ethiopians who showed up outside were well-wishers expressing "solidarity and support for the Russian Federation".

The Ethiopian foreign ministry welcomed the Russian statement for what it called "refuting the unfounded reports of recruitment for the Russian Armed Forces".

Ethiopia has called on all sides in the war to exercise restraint and did not vote on a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine which Russia calls a "special military operation" to demilitarize the country.

But many in Ethiopia have voiced solidarity with Russia, which has enjoyed close relations with the Horn of Africa nation since the Soviet era.

Social media rumors of a $2,000 payment to join up and the possibility of work in Russia after the war tantalized some of the men in the queues. Many parts of Ethiopia are riven by conflict and annual inflation hovers around 30 percent.

"I am willing to support the Russia government and, in return, once I get out, I will get benefits," Leta Kibru told Reuters outside the embassy.

"Living in Ethiopia is becoming difficult," said the 30-year-old street vendor, who said he had retired from the Ethiopian army in 2018 and now sells clothing and mobile phones. "What I need is to live in Europe."



Russia Says After Raisi Crash That US Undermined Aviation Safety with Sanctions 

20 February 2024, Venezuela, Caracas: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds a joint press conference at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry. (dpa)
20 February 2024, Venezuela, Caracas: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds a joint press conference at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry. (dpa)
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Russia Says After Raisi Crash That US Undermined Aviation Safety with Sanctions 

20 February 2024, Venezuela, Caracas: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds a joint press conference at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry. (dpa)
20 February 2024, Venezuela, Caracas: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds a joint press conference at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry. (dpa)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, commenting on the helicopter crash that killed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, said on Tuesday that US sanctions had worsened aviation safety.

Iranian media reported that images from the site showed the US-made Bell 212 helicopter on which Raisi was travelling slammed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

Iran was a major buyer of Bell helicopters under the Shah before the 1979 revolution, though the exact origin of the aircraft that crashed was not clear. Decades of sanctions have made it hard for Iran to obtain parts or upgrade its aircraft.

"The Americans disown this, but the truth is that other countries against which the United States announced sanctions do not receive spare parts for American equipment, including aviation," Lavrov said about the crash.

"We are talking about deliberately causing damage to ordinary citizens who use these vehicles, and when spare parts are not supplied, this is directly related to a decrease in the level of safety."


China's Foreign Minister Calls Taiwan's New President 'Disgraceful'

Taiwan President Lai Ching-te waves to the crowd during the Taiwan Presidential Inauguration, in Taipei, Taiwan, 20 May 2024. (EPA)
Taiwan President Lai Ching-te waves to the crowd during the Taiwan Presidential Inauguration, in Taipei, Taiwan, 20 May 2024. (EPA)
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China's Foreign Minister Calls Taiwan's New President 'Disgraceful'

Taiwan President Lai Ching-te waves to the crowd during the Taiwan Presidential Inauguration, in Taipei, Taiwan, 20 May 2024. (EPA)
Taiwan President Lai Ching-te waves to the crowd during the Taiwan Presidential Inauguration, in Taipei, Taiwan, 20 May 2024. (EPA)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Taiwan's newly-inaugurated President Lai Ching-te "disgraceful" on Tuesday, stepping up Beijing's rhetoric just a day after he took office.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, believes Lai to be a "separatist", and has rebuffed his offers of talks.

China's government has generally avoided directly naming Lai since he won election in January, unlike in the run-up to the vote where they regularly denounced him by name and said the election was a choice between war and peace.

Speaking at a foreign ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan, Wang said Taiwan was the "core of core issues" for China, and independence activities the most destructive factor for peace in the Taiwan Strait.

"The ugly acts of Lai Ching-te and others who betray the nation and their ancestors is disgraceful," China's foreign ministry cited Wang as saying.

Nothing can stop China from achieving "reunification" and bringing Taiwan "back to the motherland", he added.

"All Taiwan independence separatists will be nailed to the pillar of shame in history."

Lai, like his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen, says only Taiwan's people can decide their future, rejecting Beijing's sovereignty claims.

China on Tuesday also admonished the United States for sending its congratulations to Lai, after scolding South Korean and Japanese lawmakers for visiting Taiwan despite its strong opposition.

In his inauguration address on Monday, Lai asked China to stop its military and political threats, saying that peace was the only choice and that Beijing had to respect the choice of the Taiwanese people.

Lai received loud applause after reiterating that the Republic of China - Taiwan's formal name - and the People's Republic of China are "not subordinate to each other", a line Tsai also took.

China views such wording as tantamount to saying China and Taiwan are different countries, a red line for Beijing.

China says any move by Taiwan to declare formal independence would be grounds to attack the island.

The government in Taipei says Taiwan is already an independent country, the Republic of China. The Republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong's communists who set up the People's Republic of China.


Hundreds of Hostages Rescued from Boko Haram Extremists in Nigeria

FILE PHOTO: A soldier sits on one of the trucks used to bring back the girls who were kidnapped from a boarding school in the northwest Nigerian state of Zamfara, following their release in Zamfara, Nigeria, March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A soldier sits on one of the trucks used to bring back the girls who were kidnapped from a boarding school in the northwest Nigerian state of Zamfara, following their release in Zamfara, Nigeria, March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo
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Hundreds of Hostages Rescued from Boko Haram Extremists in Nigeria

FILE PHOTO: A soldier sits on one of the trucks used to bring back the girls who were kidnapped from a boarding school in the northwest Nigerian state of Zamfara, following their release in Zamfara, Nigeria, March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A soldier sits on one of the trucks used to bring back the girls who were kidnapped from a boarding school in the northwest Nigerian state of Zamfara, following their release in Zamfara, Nigeria, March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

Hundreds of hostages, mostly children and women, who were held captive for months or years by Boko Haram extremists in northeastern Nigeria have been rescued from a forest enclave and handed over to authorities, the army said.
The 350 hostages had been held in the Sambisa Forest, a hideout for the extremist group which launched an insurgency in 2009, Maj. Gen. Ken Chigbu, a senior Nigerian army officer, said late Monday while presenting them to authorities in Borno, where the forest is.
The 209 children, 135 women and six men appeared exhausted in their worn-out clothes, The Associated Press reported. Some of the girls had babies believed to have been born from forced marriages, as is often the case with female victims who are either raped or forced to marry the militants while in captivity.
One of the hostages had seven children and spoke of how she and others couldn't escape because of their children.
“I always wanted to escape but couldn’t because of the children,” said Hajara Umara, who was rescued together with her children. “If they caught you trying to escape, they would torture you and imprison you indefinitely.”
The army said the hostages were rescued during a dayslong military operation in Sambisa Forest, which was once a bustling forest reserve that stretches along the border with Cameroon and Niger, but now serves as an enclave from where Boko Haram and its breakaway factions carry out attacks that also target people and security forces in neighboring countries.
The freed hostages were transported in trucks to the Borno state government house, where authorities will look after them until they go home.
Some extremists were killed during the rescue operation and their makeshift houses were destroyed, the army said.


Mourners Begin Days of Funerals for Iran’s President and Others Killed in Helicopter Crash 

A picture of the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is seen on his coffin during a funeral ceremony held in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 21, 2024. Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
A picture of the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is seen on his coffin during a funeral ceremony held in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 21, 2024. Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
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Mourners Begin Days of Funerals for Iran’s President and Others Killed in Helicopter Crash 

A picture of the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is seen on his coffin during a funeral ceremony held in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 21, 2024. Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
A picture of the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is seen on his coffin during a funeral ceremony held in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, May 21, 2024. Stringer/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

Mourners in black began gathering Tuesday for days of funerals and processions for Iran's late president, foreign minister and others killed in a helicopter crash, a government-led series of ceremonies aimed at both honoring the dead and projecting strength in an unsettled Middle East.

For Iran's Shiite theocracy, mass demonstrations have been crucial since millions thronged the streets of Tehran to welcome Khomeini in 1979 during the revolution. An estimated 1 million turned out in 2020 for processions for the late Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was slain in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

Whether President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and others draw the same crowd remains in question, particularly as Raisi died in a helicopter crash, won his office in the lowest-turnout election in the country's history and presided over sweeping crackdowns on all dissent. Prosecutors already have warned people over showing any public signs of celebrating his death and a heavy security force presence has been seen on the streets of Tehran since the crash.

But Raisi, 63, had been discussed as a possible successor for Iran's supreme leader, the 85-year-old Ali Khamenei. His death now throws that selection into question, particularly as there is no heir-apparent cleric for the presidency ahead of planned June 28 elections.

“Raisi’s death comes at a moment when the Islamist regime is consolidated,” wrote Alex Vatanka, an Iran expert at the Middle East Institute. “In short, there will be no power vacuum in Tehran; nonetheless, post-Khamenei Iran suddenly looks far less predictable than it did just a few days ago.”

A procession Tuesday morning led by a semitruck carrying the caskets of the dead slowly moved through the narrow streets of downtown Tabriz, the closest major city near the site of the crash Sunday. Thousands in black slowly walked beside the coffins, some throwing flowers up to them as an emcee wept through a loudspeaker for men he described as martyrs.

The bodies will travel on to the city of Qom before traveling to Tehran later Tuesday. On Wednesday, a funeral presided over by Khamenei will then turn into a procession as well. On Thursday, Raisi's hometown of Birjand will see a procession, followed by a funeral and burial at the Imam Reza shrine in the city of Mashhad, the only imam of the Shiite's faith buried in Iran.

Iranian President Mohammad-Ali Rajai, the only other president to die in office when he was killed in a 1981 bombing, was buried in Tehran.

Iran's theocracy declared five days of mourning, encouraging people to attend the public mourning sessions. Typically, government employees and schoolchildren attend such events en masse, while others take part out of patriotism, curiosity or to witness historic events.

Across Iran, its rural population often more closely embraces the Shiite faith and the government. However, Tehran has long held a far different view of Raisi and his government's policies as mass protests have roiled the capital for years.

The most recent involved the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a woman detained over her allegedly loose headscarf. The monthslong security crackdown that followed the demonstrations killed more than 500 people and saw over 22,000 detained. In March, a United Nations investigative panel found that Iran was responsible for the “physical violence” that led to Amini’s death.

On Sunday night, as news of the helicopter crash circulated, some offered anti-government chants in the night. Fireworks could be seen in some parts of the capital, though Sunday also marked a remembrance for Imam Reza, which can see them set off as well. Critical messages and dark jokes over the crash also circulated online.

Iran's top prosecutor has already issued an order demanding cases be filed against those “publishing false content, lies and insults” against Raisi and others killed in the crash, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Iran’s new Assembly of Experts opened its first session after an election that decided the new assembly, a panel of which both Raisi and the late Tabriz Friday leader Mohammad Ali Ale-Heshem were members. Flowers sat on the seats they would have occupied at the meeting of the 88-member panel, which is tasked with selecting the country's next supreme leader.


German FM Visits Kyiv as Ukraine Battles to Hold off Russian Offensive 

Ukrainian servicemen of the 43rd Separate Artillery Brigade wait before fire a Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 4, 2024. (Reuters)
Ukrainian servicemen of the 43rd Separate Artillery Brigade wait before fire a Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 4, 2024. (Reuters)
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German FM Visits Kyiv as Ukraine Battles to Hold off Russian Offensive 

Ukrainian servicemen of the 43rd Separate Artillery Brigade wait before fire a Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 4, 2024. (Reuters)
Ukrainian servicemen of the 43rd Separate Artillery Brigade wait before fire a Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 4, 2024. (Reuters)

Germany’s foreign minister arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday in the latest public display of support for Ukraine by its Western partners, although deliveries of promised weapons and ammunition from NATO countries like Germany have been slow and have left Ukraine vulnerable to a recent Russian push along parts of the front line.

Annalena Baerbock renewed Berlin’s calls for partners to send more air defense systems, as Russia pounds Ukraine with missiles, glide bombs and rockets. Germany is the second-biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the United States.

Ukraine’s depleted troops are trying to hold off a fierce Russian offensive along the eastern border in one of the most critical phases of the war, which is stretching into its third year.

Germany recently pledged a third US-made Patriot battery for Ukraine, but Kyiv officials say they are still facing an alarming shortfall of air defenses against the Russian onslaught.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Kremlin’s forces are still focusing their efforts on the eastern Donetsk province and northeastern Kharkiv region, where explosive-laden Russian glide bombs are wreaking destruction on military and civilian areas.

“This brings us back again and again to the need for air defense — for additional defense systems that could significantly mitigate the difficulties for our warriors and the threat to our cities and communities,” Zelenskyy said late Monday on social media.

Zelenskyy claimed Ukraine’s forces are still in control of the contested areas, though Russia says it has captured a series of border villages.

It was not possible to independently verify either side's battlefield claims.

Baerbock had planned to visit Kharkiv on Tuesday, but the trip had to be called off for security reasons, German news agency dpa reported. Almost 11,000 people have been evacuated from Kharkiv border areas since Russia launched its offensive actions there on May 10.

A Russian overnight drone attack hit transport infrastructure in Kharkiv city, the regional capital, damaging over 25 trucks, buses, and other vehicles, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said Tuesday. Seven people were injured, he said.

Ukraine’s general staff said the frequency of Russian attacks in Kharkiv slowed on Monday, though fighting continued.

Baerbock was due to meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv. Germany has been resisting appeals from Ukrainian officials to provide Taurus missiles, which are equipped with stealth technology and have a range of up to 500 kilometers (300 miles).

The German- and Swedish-made missiles would be able to reach targets deep in Russia from Ukrainian soil. But Berlin has balked at that prospect, saying that sending the missiles would bring a risk of it becoming directly involved in the war.

The restriction on not allowing Ukraine to fire at Russia has denied Kyiv the ability to strike at Russian troops and equipment massing for attacks on the other side of the border, a Washington-based think tank said.

“These US and Western policies are severely compromising Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against current Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv (region) or any area along the international border where Russian forces may choose to conduct offensive operations in the future,” the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment late Monday.

Baerbock said in a statement that Ukraine’s prospective membership of the European Union is “the necessary geopolitical consequence of Russia’s illegal war of aggression.”

Ukraine has made “impressive progress” and must not let up in reforms to the judicial system, in fighting corruption and on media freedom, she said.

Germany will host a reconstruction conference for Ukraine next month. Rebuilding the country is predicted to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.


Poland Arrests Nine on Charges of Russian-ordered Sabotage

28 March 2024, Poland, Warsaw: Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacts during a joint press conference with Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Smyhal (not pictured). Photo: Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
28 March 2024, Poland, Warsaw: Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacts during a joint press conference with Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Smyhal (not pictured). Photo: Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
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Poland Arrests Nine on Charges of Russian-ordered Sabotage

28 March 2024, Poland, Warsaw: Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacts during a joint press conference with Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Smyhal (not pictured). Photo: Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
28 March 2024, Poland, Warsaw: Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacts during a joint press conference with Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Smyhal (not pictured). Photo: Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Poland has arrested nine people in connection with acts of sabotage committed in the country on the orders of Russian services, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said late on Monday.
Warsaw says its position as a hub for supplies to Ukraine has made it a key target for Russian intelligence services, and accuses Moscow of trying to destabilize the country, Reuters said.
"We currently have nine suspects arrested and charged with engaging in acts of sabotage in Poland directly on behalf of the Russian services," Tusk told private broadcaster TVN24.
"This includes beatings, arson and attempted arson."
He said Poland was collaborating with its allies on the issue and that the plots also affected Lithuania, Latvia and possibly also Sweden.
Tusk said earlier this month Poland would allocate an additional 100 million zlotys ($25.53 million) to its intelligence services due to the threat from Russia.
In April, two people were detained in Poland on suspicion of attacking Leonid Volkov, an exiled top aide to late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.


Greece to Deport 9 European Nationals Over Pro-Palestinian Protest

Student stage a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Athens (AFP)
Student stage a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Athens (AFP)
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Greece to Deport 9 European Nationals Over Pro-Palestinian Protest

Student stage a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Athens (AFP)
Student stage a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Athens (AFP)

Nine protesters from Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain, arrested during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the University of Athens School of Law last week are set to be deported from Greece, their lawyers said.

Police last week detained a total of 28 Greek and foreign protesters occupying the building, on charges including disrupting the operation of a public entity and assistance in damaging foreign property, according to court documents.

The protesters have denied any wrongdoing, Reuters said.

Evidence included leaflets, Palestinian flags, two smoke flares, gas masks, helmets, paint cans and banner poles, along with a statement uploaded on a website in Greek and English urging others to join the protest, according to the documents.

The Greek protesters were released pending trial on May 28 but the nine foreign nationals - one man and eight women, aged 22 to 33 - remained in custody pending an administrative decision on their deportation.

The foreigners' lawyers said in a statement on Monday that deportation orders had been issued, which would prevent the defendants attending their own trial.

Two lawyers said that their clients who live and work in Greece planned to appeal.

A third lawyer, representing a 33-year-old Spaniard, called the decision “arbitrary and illegal.”

Pro-Palestinian supporters have staged several protests in Greece since Israel's war with Hamas began in Gaza in October.

Greece in 2019 scrapped legislation that prohibited police from entering universities, as the conservative government said it was used as a cover for lawlessness.

The Academic Sanctuary Law, a legacy of the crackdown on a 1973 student revolt by the military junta of the time, was designed to protect protesting students and freedom of ideas. Critics decried its abolition as a clampdown on democracy.


White House: Raisi Had ‘Blood on his Hands’

Late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi gestures after casting his vote during presidential elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2021 (Reuters)
Late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi gestures after casting his vote during presidential elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2021 (Reuters)
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White House: Raisi Had ‘Blood on his Hands’

Late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi gestures after casting his vote during presidential elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2021 (Reuters)
Late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi gestures after casting his vote during presidential elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2021 (Reuters)

The White House has said that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had “blood on his hands” for supporting extremist groups across the Middle East.

Raisi, 63, was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday as he was travelling back from a visit to northern Iran.

“We’re going to continue to hold Iran accountable for all their destabilizing behavior in the region,” White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby said on Monday.

“No question this was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands,” he added.
“The United States will continue to confront Iranian support for terrorism, proliferation of dangerous weapons and advances in its nuclear program following the death of its president in a helicopter crash,” the US State Department said.
“Our approach remains unchanged,” a State Department spokesperson told Reuters on condition of anonymity, saying Washington would keep defending the human rights of the Iranian people.

“We will continue to confront the Iranian regime's support for terrorism, proliferation of dangerous weapons, and advancement of its nuclear program in ways that have no credible civilian purpose,” he added.

US Condolences

The US on Monday offered its “condolences” to Iran.

State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller said in a statement that Washington expresses its “official condolences for the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation.”

“As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he added.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin indicated that US forces have not changed their posture after the crash in Iran.

“The United States had no part to play in that crash. I can't speculate on what may have been the cause,” he added.


France Backs ICC after Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants for Israel's Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to his Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem May 20, 2024 REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to his Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem May 20, 2024 REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun
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France Backs ICC after Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants for Israel's Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to his Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem May 20, 2024 REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to his Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem May 20, 2024 REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun

France backs the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the 'fight against impunity', its foreign ministry said after the court's prosecutor sought an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others for alleged war crimes.
On Monday, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said he had requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu, his defense chief Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders, including its chief, Yahya Sinwar, said AFP.
If such warrants are issued, however, members of the court, which includes nearly all countries of the European Union, could be put in a diplomatically difficult position.
"France supports the International Criminal Court, its independence and the fight against impunity in all situations", the foreign ministry said in a statement late on Monday.
While US President Joe Biden called the legal step against Israeli officials "outrageous", the French foreign ministry took a different stance.
It reiterated both its condemnation of Hamas's 'anti-Semitic massacres' on Oct. 7 as well as its warnings over possible violations of international humanitarian law by Israel's invasion of the Gaza strip.
"As far as Israel is concerned, it will be up to the court's pre-trial chamber to decide whether to issue these warrants, after examining the evidence put forward by the prosecutor ... ," the ministry said.


Yale Graduates Stage Pro-Palestinian Walkout of Commencement 

Graduates protest the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, during the commencement at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, US, May 20, 2024. (Reuters)
Graduates protest the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, during the commencement at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, US, May 20, 2024. (Reuters)
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Yale Graduates Stage Pro-Palestinian Walkout of Commencement 

Graduates protest the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, during the commencement at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, US, May 20, 2024. (Reuters)
Graduates protest the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, during the commencement at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, US, May 20, 2024. (Reuters)

Scores of graduating students staged a walkout from Yale University's commencement exercises on Monday, protesting the Israeli war in Gaza, Yale's financial ties to weapons makers and its response to pro-Palestinian demonstrations on the Ivy League campus.

The walkout began as Yale President Peter Salovey started to announce the traditional college-by-college presentation of candidates for degrees on the grounds of Yale's Old Campus, filled with thousands of graduates in their caps and gowns.

At least 150 students seated near the front of the audience stood up together, turned their backs to the stage and paraded out of the ceremony through Phelps Gate, retracing their steps during the processional into the yard.

Many of the protesters carried small banners with such slogans as "Books not bombs" and "Divest from war." Some wore red-colored latex gloves symbolizing bloodied hands.

Other signs read: "Drop the charges" and "Protect free speech" in reference to 45 people arrested in a police crackdown last month on demonstrations in and around the New Haven, Connecticut, campus.

The walkout drew a chorus of cheers from fellow students in the crowd, but the protest was otherwise peaceful, without disruption. No mention of it was made from the stage.

Yale is one of dozens of US campuses roiled by protests over the mounting Palestinian humanitarian crisis stemming from Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip following the bloody Oct. 7 cross-border attack on Israeli settlements by Hamas gunmen.

The University of Southern California canceled its main graduation ceremony altogether, and dozens of students walked out of Duke University's commencement last week to protest its guest speaker, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who has supported Israel throughout the war in Gaza.

ACADEMIC WORKERS STRIKE UC SANTA CRUZ

Fallout from a violent attack weeks ago on pro-Palestinian activists encamped at the University of California, Los Angeles, reverberated on the UC Santa Cruz campus on Monday as academic workers there staged a protest strike organized by their union.

Also on Monday, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university in New Hampshire, narrowly voted to censure president Sian Beilock, according to a college spokesperson, for her decision to call in police to dismantle a pro-Palestinian encampment on May 1. The censure vote does not directly endanger Beilock's job.

The police action resulted in the arrest of 89 people and some injuries.

Much of the student activism has been aimed at academic institutions' financial ties with Israel and US military programs benefiting the Jewish state.

Protests in sympathy with Palestinians have in turn been branded by pro-Israel supporters as antisemitic, testing the boundaries between freedom of expression and hate speech. Many schools have called in police to quell the demonstrations.

At UC Santa Cruz on Monday, hundreds of unionized academic researchers, graduate teaching assistants and post-doctoral scholars went on strike to protest what they said were the university's unfair labor practices in its handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

The strikers are members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4811, which represents some 2,000 grad students and other academic workers at UC Santa Cruz, and about 48,000 total across all 10 University of California campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Last week, the UAW 4811 rank-and-file voted to authorize union leaders to organize a series of "standup" strikes through the end of June on individual or groups of UC campuses rather than across the entire university.

The Santa Cruz strike marked the first union-backed protest in solidarity with the recent wave of pro-Palestinian student activists, whose numbers, according to the UAW, include graduate students arrested at several University of California campuses.

Union leaders said a major impetus for the strike was the arrest of 210 people at the scene of a pro-Palestinian protest camp torn down by police at UCLA on May 2.

The night before, a group of pro-Israel supporters physically attacked the encampment and its occupiers in a melee that went on for at least three hours before police moved in to quell the disturbance. The university has since opened an investigation of the incident.

The strikers also are demanding amnesty for grad students who were arrested or face discipline for their involvement in the protests.

UC Santa Cruz issued a statement saying campus entrances were briefly blocked in the morning by demonstrators, prompting the school to switch to remote instruction for the day.

The University of California has filed its own unfair labor practice complaint with the state Public Employee Relations Board asking the state to order a halt to the strike.