World leaders hail liberation of Raqqa
World leaders hail liberation of Raqqa
The Kingdom expressed happiness about the opposition forces’ victory over Daesh in Raqqa, according to a statement issued in Riyadh,
An official source at theForeign Ministry said Saudi Arabia “considered the purification of Raqqa as an important step in the fight against terrorism.”
The source expressed the Kingdom’s hope that “this step will entail many serious steps to clear Syria, Iraq and the region of terrorism and extremism.”
The Saudi statement came as French President Emmanuel Macron said the fight against Daesh has entered “a major new phase” after Friday’s announcement by Syrian regime forces backed by the US-led coalition.
He thanked allied countries involved in the battle to take back Raqqa, notably those who died “defending liberty in the face of terrorist horror.”
France’s military has been involved in the coalition’s operations in Iraq since 2014 and in Syria since 2015, when Daesh extremists killed 130 people around Paris. France remains in a state of emergency and a target of Daesh threats.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian pledged €15 million by the end of the year in aid for civilians in Raqqa, including food water and sappers.
He said the liberation of Raqqa “deals a decisive blow to IS (Daesh), which made it the epicenter for orchestrating numerous attacks.”
Le Drian added that his “first thoughts go to the victims of this barbarism at the Bataclan, in the streets of Paris and Nice and elsewhere.”
A former defense minister, Le Drian warned that the challenges of post-Raqqa are considerable, “first in fighting pockets” of IS that remain and then “stabilizing liberated territories and finding a lasting political solution” for all components of Syrian society.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier congratulated the Syrian people and the US.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on the liberation of the city of Raqqa from the Daesh group.
In a statement released on Friday, Tillerson says the United States is proud to lead the 73-member global coalition in the fight against IS.
He says the coalition efforts has seen Islamic State’s “so-called caliphate crumble across Iraq and Syria” but cautions that “our work is far from over.”
Tillerson says the “liberation of Raqqa is a critical milestone in the global fight ... to defeat these terrorists.”
He says the fall of the city that was IS’ de facto capital also “marks the beginning of a new phase in the Syrian conflict” in which the United States and its partners will seek to “de-escalate violence across Syria.”
He says: “We are confident that we will prevail and defeat this brutal terrorist organization.”
The US-led coalition said Daesh’s loss of the Mosul and Raqqa are “turning points” for the extremist group, but adds a “tough fight” still lies ahead to eradicate Daesh remnants in Iraq and Syria.
In a statement released on Friday, it congratulated its Syrian partners, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), for conducting “a highly effective, professional operation in a difficult urban area.”
The statement said the liberated city of Raqqa will not return to local governance and leadership.
“Raqqawis now have a chance to control their own future,” it said.
The SDF on Friday declared victory over IS in Raqqa and formally handed over administration of the city to a US-backed council made up of of local officials and tribal leaders.
Iran’s army chief of staff and other senior officers from the Iranian military have visited a front line in the northern province of Aleppo saying that the extremists’ presence in Syria is coming to an end.
Iran has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s strongest supporters since the country’s crisis began more than six years ago and has sent thousands of Iranian-backed militiamen to boost his troops against opponents.
Syrian regime forces and Iran-backed groups have scored major victories against Daesh in eastern Syrian recently capturing last week the Daesh stronghold of Mayadeen. Syrian troops and allied fighters are now marching toward the town of Boukamal on the border with Iraq.
Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel
- The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
- There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade
LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.
But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.