Connect with us

Middle East News

Standoff near Syrian prison holding Daesh militants continues

BEIRUT: Lebanon is a “place of hope” and “should not be a platform for aggression,” visiting Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah said on Sunday in Beirut. On the second day of his visit to the capital, the minister renewed a commitment during separate meetings with Lebanese officials to a “Kuwaiti, Gulf, Arab…

standoff-near-syrian-prison-holding-daesh-militants-continues

BEIRUT: Lebanon is a “place of hope” and “should not be a platform for aggression,” visiting Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah said on Sunday in Beirut. On the second day of his visit to the capital, the minister renewed a commitment during separate meetings with Lebanese officials to a “Kuwaiti, Gulf, Arab and international message for Lebanon to not be a platform for any aggression, and for all borders to be controlled by the state.” The minister met on Sunday with President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi. After his talks with the Kuwaiti minister, Aoun stressed Lebanon’s “firm keenness to preserve the best relations with the Arab countries.” The Kuwaiti minister held talks with Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Saturday night. He also met Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, who is expected to visit Kuwait on Saturday. Kuwait currently chairs the ministerial council of the Arab League. Al-Sabah said that the visit was among various international efforts aimed at rebuilding confidence between Lebanon and the international arena. The Kuwaiti minister’s statements had three central themes. The first was a message of “sympathy, solidarity, synergy and love for the brotherly Lebanese people.” Secondly, Al-Sabah urged Lebanese officials to adopt a position of neutrality and ensure that the country “will not be a platform for any aggression, while refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of Arab countries in general, and the Gulf in particular.” His third message stressed a regional desire “to see a stable, secure and strong Lebanon by implementing international and Arab resolutions.” Al-Sabah said that Lebanon “will review the messages I have conveyed to the Lebanese officials and … we will soon receive a response.” Lebanon’s ties with Gulf states plunged into a new crisis in October after comments by former Lebanese information minister George Kordahi criticizing the conflict in Yemen. Kuwait was one of several members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, that responded to Kordahi’s remarks by expelling the Lebanese ambassador and recalling its envoy to Beirut. Aoun said in a tweet on Sunday that Lebanon was keen on maintaining “the best relations” with the Gulf states and that the Kuwaiti proposals would be discussed before an appropriate position was announced. Some linked Al-Sabah’s visit to the return of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Lebanon, but the Kuwaiti minister denied such a link. He stressed: “The visit has nothing to do with internal Lebanese affairs. We do not interfere in Lebanese affairs.” Hariri will announce on Monday his final decision on whether or not he will run in upcoming parliamentary elections. His media office said that the former premier will deliver a speech at 4 p.m. on Monday from his residence. For the second day in a row, hundreds of Hariri supporters flocked outside his home in the capital, demanding that he run in the election. Addressing his supporters, Hariri said: “I have listened to you today and I want you to listen to me tomorrow. “I assure you that my blood is yours, and this house’s doors will always be open to receive you all.” He told journalists: “Sometimes one has to take a step back in order to move forward.” Supporters carried pictures of Hariri along with the Lebanese and Future Movement flags, chanting slogans in support of the former prime minister. They calling on Hariri to rescind his decision to refrain from running for elections, asking him not to abandon his supporters. “Hariri and the Future Movement are among the country’s main political symbols, and we will not accept their abandonment,” one supporter said. His decision is expected to have profound repercussions on the electoral process and Lebanese politics at large. In his Sunday sermon, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi reiterated the importance of Lebanon’s neutrality. “However, it’s unfortunate that this concept is completely absent from the speeches of officials and Lebanon thus remains hostage to regional axes,” Al-Rahi added. During his joint press conference on Sunday with the Lebanese interior minister, Al-Sabah said: “We discussed the issue of drug smuggling from Lebanon, and we appreciate what Lebanon is doing.” He added: “We demanded mechanisms to ensure that shipments do not reach Kuwait and the rest of the region, and that Lebanese authorities should do this to restore confidence. “There is a general desire for all Lebanese borders and outlets to be controlled by the state and for Lebanon to become more secure and stable.” Mawlawi, Lebanon’s interior minister, said: “I reiterate the position of Lebanon and the Interior Ministry that rejects any verbal abuse of Kuwait. We discussed all issues related to border control and drug smuggling.” A government source told Arab News: “The messages that Al-Sabah conveyed are the outcome of contact between France, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and they go in line with the principles contained in the Mikati government’s ministerial statement.” The source added: “These messages will be discussed, and the Lebanese foreign minister will deliver Lebanon’s response during his visit to Kuwait.” The source also commented on the possibility of Hezbollah ignoring these principles — as it has repeatedly done by insulting Gulf countries. They said that the Lebanese government’s position “is the only one that matters, because it represents all of Lebanon.” The government position is based on the ministerial statement that stresses Lebanon’s neutrality and insists on friendly relations with Arab and Gulf countries, the source added.

Continue Reading

Middle East News

Lebanon cabinet passes financial recovery plan: Ministerial sources

LONDON: The widow of a UK-based photographer murdered by Col. Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011 is urging the South African government to release information she believes is crucial to locating her husband’s body. Anton Hammerl was held captive for 44 days before being killed in the May 2011 incident that resulted in the kidnap…

lebanon-cabinet-passes-financial-recovery-plan:-ministerial-sources

LONDON: The widow of a UK-based photographer murdered by Col. Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011 is urging the South African government to release information she believes is crucial to locating her husband’s body. Anton Hammerl was held captive for 44 days before being killed in the May 2011 incident that resulted in the kidnap James Foley, who was later beheaded by Daesh, but despite a years-long campaign by widow Penny Sukhraj-Hammerl, his body has never been found. The Guardian reports that at issue is how Hammerl’s passport came to be in the hands of the South African government, who returned it to Sukhraj-Hammerl, who believes disclosing that information will help in the efforts to locate the photographer’s body. “(The passport) was posted to my office in mid-2016. I was quite overwhelmed as I didn’t expect it,” she told the Guardian, explaining that her husband would have been carrying his ID document at the time of his death in a photographer’s waist pouch he wore. Despite repeated efforts, including a freedom of information request, to find out how South Africa came into possession of the passport, the government has continuously stonewalled requests, with the Guardian claiming this led to Sukhraj-Hammerl going public. “It’s been nearly a year since I first wrote to you and your government to request a meeting regarding the case of my late husband … who was murdered by Gaddafi forces in Libya in April 2011,” she wrote to South Africa’s high commissioner in London, Nomatemba Tambo, copied to the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, earlier this week. “During this time, we have signalled publicly and privately on several occasions that we would like to meet urgently to discuss a matter of serious concern in the handling of our case. More than a decade since Anton’s death, we still don’t know the location of his remains. “We still don’t have a grave to visit. We still don’t know the truth. Your administration’s response? Silence.” Sukhraj-Hammerl told the Guardian: “I’m baffled by their response. They’ve demonstrated no regard for accountability. We’ve requested meetings that have not been granted. “I feel that they had information that they should have shared with us. So many officials involved that I find it hard to believe that someone doesn’t know something as significant as how a passport came to be handed over.” South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, led the family to believe he would raise the issue on a visit to Tripoli in the last days of Gaddafi’s rule in Libya, although no evidence exists that he did so.  Zuma has subsequently been caught in a series of financial scandals, including allegations that he received $30 million from Gaddafi, with whom he had a close relationship, to hide on his behalf. Sukhraj-Hammerl added: “I think we’re calling for justice and truth. We’ve not had the due — as family, we should have had (it). It’s been really distressing. It’s horrid (to) realise (the South African government) had an opportunity to do more and choose deliberately (to) ignore us. “We have a right to know. They owe us an explanation. It is least that they can do.”

Continue Reading

Middle East News

North Africa and Middle East hit 10-year low in refugees as conflicts deescalate 

LONDON: Jordan’s King Abdullah has placed his half-brother Prince Hamzah under house arrest, restricting his communications and movements. In a letter published on Thursday, the king said that he would not allow anyone “to put their interests above the nation’s interest, and I will not allow even my brother to disturb the peace of our…

north-africa-and-middle-east-hit-10-year-low-in-refugees-as-conflicts-deescalate 

LONDON: Jordan’s King Abdullah has placed his half-brother Prince Hamzah under house arrest, restricting his communications and movements. In a letter published on Thursday, the king said that he would not allow anyone “to put their interests above the nation’s interest, and I will not allow even my brother to disturb the peace of our proud nation.” Authorities in Jordan announced in April last year that they had foiled a bid to destabilize the country. Two former officials were sentenced to 15 years in jail in July after they were found guilty of conspiring to topple the king in favour of Prince Hamzah. The former crown prince announced last month that he was “renouncing the title of prince,” a month after a royal court statement said he had apologized to the king for the attempted coup. “We do not have the luxury of time to deal with Hamzah’s erratic behavior and aspirations. We have many challenges and difficulties before us, and we must all work to overcome them and meet the aspirations of our people and their right to a dignified, stable life,” the king said. The king said his recent action, taken on the advice of a council formed in accordance with the Royal Family Law, aims to turn a page on the “dark chapter in the history” of Jordan and his family. He said that he has come to the conclusion that Prince Hamzah will not change after more than a year during which “he exhausted all opportunities to restore himself on the right path, in line with the legacy of our family.” The king said that “Hamzah continues to ignore all facts and undisputable evidence, manipulating events to bolster his false narrative.” He continued: “Unfortunately, my brother truly believes what he claims. The delusion he lives in is not new; other members of our Hashemite family and I have long realised that he reneges on his pledges and is persistent in his irresponsible actions that seek to sow unrest, unconcerned with the ramifications of his conduct on our country and our family.” The king accused Prince Hamzah of putting his interests before the nation and living “within the confines of his own reality rather than recognizing the great stature, respect, love, and care we have given him.” He continued: “He presented a false narrative of his role in the sedition case, disregarding facts that the public became aware of regarding his suspicious relationship and communications with the traitor Bassem Awadallah, and Hassan bin Zeid, whom my brother knew had approached two foreign embassies to ask about the possibility of their countries supporting what he had described as regime change.”

Continue Reading

Middle East News

Pope Francis sends condolences to UAE for Sheikh Khalifa

DUBAI: Journalists, whether they are men or women, have a duty to find out the truth and to tell the human story behind major world events, including the harsh realities of war. But, by virtue of their gender, are women better equipped to tell those stories?  The view of women as the more “emotional” sex…

pope-francis-sends-condolences-to-uae-for-sheikh-khalifa

DUBAI: Journalists, whether they are men or women, have a duty to find out the truth and to tell the human story behind major world events, including the harsh realities of war. But, by virtue of their gender, are women better equipped to tell those stories?  The view of women as the more “emotional” sex can sound dated to modern ears. But when a female journalist enters a war zone, it is often acknowledged that her access to the private lives of her sources, particularly families caught up in conflict, is often markedly different to the reception experienced by a male correspondent.  Arizh Mukhammed is a Moscow-based war reporter for Sky News Arabia. Over the past few months, she had been deployed to the front lines in Ukraine to report on the Russian invasion, braving armed conflict and the human tragedies of war.  “It is not easy to cover war, because, like any human being, you feel fear. And I feel fear,” Mukhammed told a panel discussion a session entitled “Storytellers from the war front” at the Arab Women Forum in Dubai on Tuesday.  Mukhammed, who is half Russian and half Syrian, says wars bring journalists “closer to peoples’ suffering,” making it all the more difficult to remain objective about what they are witnessing.  But the ability to empathize with the men, women and children a reporter encounters while deployed in a war zone undoubtedly gives their coverage a powerful human dimension that allows viewers to experience the agonies of distant conflicts.  The question is, are women better equipped than men to document such accounts?  “Women war journalists give a deeper dimension to human suffering,” Mukhammed told Arab News at the forum.  “While men might surround themselves with the impression that they are strong and fearless, women have actually shown they are much more patient.”  Christiane Baissary, a senior news anchor for the Al-Hadath news channel, said there is a common misconception that women are not suited for war coverage.  “A soldier once told me that women should not be in a war zone. He was trying to convince me that I should not stay to cover the war,” she said.  “This mentality is not just in the Middle East but everywhere,” Baissary said, adding that things have since changed and women are gaining more opportunities to cover conflict zones.  The image many harbour of the intrepid war correspondent is patently masculine — a gung-ho adventurer who risks kidnap, injury, or even death to get as close as possible to the blood and gun smoke of war.  Indeed, the role of a war correspondent can be extremely dangerous. On May 11, Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead in the West Bank city of Jenin while reporting on an Israeli arrest operation, despite wearing protective gear clearly identifying her as a member of the press.  “The killing of Abu Akleh is another serious attack on media freedom and freedom of expression, amid the escalation of violence in the occupied West Bank,” UN experts Morris Tidball-Binz, Reem Alsalem, and Irene Khan said in a statement on May 13.  They called for a prompt and impartial investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, in full compliance with UN regulations.  “The role of journalists, especially in a context of heightened tension and marked by continuous abuses, like the occupied Palestinian territory, is critical,” the statement read.  “Lack of accountability gives carte blanche to continue the litany of extrajudicial executions. The safety of journalists is essential in guaranteeing freedom of expression and media freedom.”  Of course, Abu Akleh was only the latest reporter to be killed while on duty. According to the press advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders, scores of journalists are killed every year worldwide in connection with their work. Nearly a thousand have died over the past decade alone.  “I think it was really important for us to highlight female war correspondents and women correspondents because what they are doing is out of the ordinary,” said Noor Nugali, assistant editor-in-chief at Arab News, who presided over Tuesday’s panel.  “Usually when people think of correspondents, the first thing that comes to their minds (is that) women are too soft, women are incapable of handling such situations.  “But, in reality, it shows the resilience of women, strength of women, and their capability of getting all angles and facts straight.”  This evolving image of women, particularly those in the Arab world, was a key feature of the Arab Women Forum, and a special session, entitled “Saudi women pioneers: Change from within,” explored the issue in depth.  “I think the creation of Vision 2030 is life-changing, honestly, for a lot of women and young people,” Lama Alshethri, editor-in-chief of Sayedati, one of the best-known magazines in the Arab region, told the panel.  “I think we, our generation, have been able to reap some of the fruits of Saudi Vision 2030. And we were prepared for the change.”  Vision 2030, the social and economic reform agenda announced in 2016 by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, emphasizes the need to inspire and empower all members of the society to realize the Kingdom’s full potential.  Subsequently, women’s empowerment in the Kingdom has expanded rapidly. Saudi women are now more active in different spheres of the public and private sector.  “I have not seen the change. I lived it,” Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, said in a special address opening Tuesday’s forum.  “I know how important it is to open the workplace for women,” she said.  “(However,) I realized that opening the doors wasn’t enough. Women had to be prepared to take advantage of those open doors and we have to equip them with skills.”

Continue Reading
error: Content is protected !!