Egypt bombings: Muslim countries lead chorus of condemnation

A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed dozens in Tanta, Egypt, on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2017
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Egypt bombings: Muslim countries lead chorus of condemnation

JEDDAH: Arab and Muslim countries joined Saudi Arabia Sunday to condemn the twin bombings of Coptic churches in Egypt that left at least 40 people dead and scores wounded just one week before Coptic Easter and the same month that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt.
The blasts occurred at Margarges Church in Tanta and near St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria, northern Egypt. Daesh has claimed responsibility.
An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that King Salman sent a letter to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi saying: “We express our deep condemnation and condemnation of these two criminal acts,” according to Saudi Press Agency.
It added: “We affirm Saudi Arabia’s stand with the Arab Republic of Egypt and its brotherly people against anyone who tries to undermine its security. And to the families of the brotherly Arab Republic of Egypt and to the families of the victims on behalf of the people and the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and on our behalf, our sincere condolences and sincere condolences. We wish their families patience and solace and wish the injured a speedy recovery.”
King Abdallah II of Jordan sent a cable to El-Sisi denouncing the attack as “cowardly” and voicing Jordan’s solidarity and support with Egypt in fighting terrorism and preserving its stability.
Turkey also condemned Sunday’s attacks on churches in Egypt.
“We strongly condemn the heinous terror attacks on churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday today,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
Mehmet Gormez, the head of religious affairs in Turkey, “cursed” the attacks and said they are the shared problem of all humanity.
“The immunity of a place of worship, no matter the religion it belongs to, cannot be violated and the bloodthirsty killing of innocent worshippers cannot ever be forgiven,” Gormez said in an official statement.
Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also published a statement denouncing the attack.
“We convey our condolences to the bereaved families and the whole people of Egypt,” the statement said before a second attack hit an Alexandria church, killing at least 11 people.
Gaza’s Hamas said in a statement that the attack was “a crime.”
Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “Hamas wishes safety, security, stability and prosperity for Egypt and its people.”
Joining the growing list of Muslim countries protesting the attack, Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a tweet, expressed its solidarity with Egypt and also wished a speedy recovery for the injured.
The UAE offered its full solidarity with Egypt in its efforts to eliminate criminal and terrorist elements that are wreaking havoc and targeting the lives of innocent citizens, according to UAE News Agency, WAM.
In addition, Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Egypt in general, wishing the wounded speedy recovery.
Al-Othaimeen also reaffirmed the OIC’s principled and resolute position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
The Kuwait News Agency reported that Kuwaiti National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim sent a cable to his Egyptian counterpart, Ali Abdulal. He said, “We condemn this criminal heinous blast, and we reiterate our full solidarity with Egypt.”
According to the Bahrain News Agency, the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, said Bahrain supported measures to deter terrorism to maintain security and stability and the attacks “will never succeed in undermining the unity and steadfastness of Egyptian society, and reiterated Bahrain’s firm position, which rejects violence, extremism and terrorism.”


Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

Updated 14 min 27 sec ago
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Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

  • Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias
  • Among these are the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen

JEDDAH: Iran needs to dismantle its proxies and end its interventions in Arab affairs before seeking to normalize relations with its Gulf neighbors, a political expert told Arab News on Sunday.

“The Gulf countries have been calling for normal relations with their neighbors for years, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears on the Iranian side,” Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said.

Accusing Tehran of “playing games,” Al-Shehri described Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s suggestion that Iran wanted to improve relations with its Gulf neighbors as worthless “as long as it continues meddling in the affairs of other countries, and fails to halt its evil militias from sabotaging and destabilizing regional security.”

Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias, which indirectly supports, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. 

Zarif, who is on a two-day visit to Iraq, told a joint news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Al-Hakim that Iran wants to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.

However, Al-Shehri said that Tehran needs to address three key issues — its nuclear program; its terrorist militias, which have been spreading chaos in the Gulf region and beyond; and its ballistic missile program — before making any such proposals.

“The question is, would Iran be ready to give up all three files? If they want their neighbors to accept them and normalize relations with them, they have to be honest and stop playing games,” he said.

Al-Shehri described Zarif’s regional tour as an attempt to rally support and send a false message that Iran has friends and allies who would stand by them in their crisis with the US.

“Where were these countries when Iran’s terrorist proxies in Yemen, the Houthi militias, launched missiles and drones attacking the holiest Islamic site in Makkah and other Saudi facilities?” Al-Shehri asked.

Zarif said Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.

“We will defend (ourselves) against any war efforts, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

Strains have increased between Iran and the US following this month’s sabotage attack on oil tankers in the Gulf. Washington and other regional allies have concluded that Iran is most likely behind the attacks. 

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the US has sent an aircraft carrier and extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns over the risk of conflict in the volatile region.