Syrian Kurds appeal to UN as Turkey prepares to attack

A Turkish military tank arrives at an army base in the border town of Reyhanli near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey on Jan. 17, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Syrian Kurds appeal to UN as Turkey prepares to attack

BEIRUT: Syria’s dominant Kurdish party on Wednesday called on the UN Security Council to act quickly to ensure the safety of Kurdish-controlled territories in the country’s north, including an enclave that Turkey has threatened to attack.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will launch a military offensive in the coming days against territories controlled by the dominant Syrian Kurdish militia in northwestern and eastern Syria, and in particular the enclave of Afrin, where an estimated 1 million people live.
Turkey views the US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces as terrorists, and an extension of the Kurdish insurgency raging in its southeast. It has criticized the US for extending support and arming the Kurdish forces as part of the campaign that drove Daesh from large parts of Syria.
The Kurdish militia, which forms the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, now controls nearly 25 percent of Syrian territory. It is the US-led coalition’s chief ally in the campaign against Daesh in Syria.
The US-led coalition recently said it is planning a 30,000-strong Kurdish-led border force, further angering Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that those plans were a “perilous” step that would “seriously endanger ties.” The two met in Vancouver on Tuesday.
“Such a development would damage Turkish-American ties in an irreversible manner,” the state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Cavusoglu as saying on Wednesday.
Erdogan said the imminent military operation is to “purge terror” from near its borders.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, the political arm of the main Kurdish militia, said that if Turkey launches an operation against Afrin, the world will bear responsibility for the lives of people residing there. The PYD called on the Security Council to “move immediately” to ensure the security of Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria.
“Such a responsible behavior will lead to the desired result in finding a resolution for the Syrian crisis,” the PYD said in a statement.
The Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad has, meanwhile, accused the SDF of being “traitors” for cooperating with the US.
On Monday, Erdogan accused the US of creating an “army of terror” in Syria along the border with Turkey, a reference to the plans for the border force. He vowed to crush the border force and called on NATO to take a stand against the US, a fellow ally.
Meanwhile, Syrian activists said Turkish military activities near the borders with Afrin have continued, as well as shelling of the outskirts of the town.
Tanks amassed near the border with Syria, while Turkish media reported that medical personnel in Kilis, a Turkish town across the border from Afrin, were asked not to take leave, apparently in anticipation of military operations.
Turkey’s private Dogan News Agency quoted Turkey-backed Syrian rebels as saying they are awaiting Turkish orders to launch the Afrin operations. It said some 3,000 fighters are ready to participate in operations against Afrin and Manbij.


Cairo looks to curb street sheep slaughter for Eid holiday

An Egyptian vendor holds his camels as people gather at the Berqash camel market northeast of Cairo, on August 17, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Cairo looks to curb street sheep slaughter for Eid holiday

  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recommends strict guidelines for the slaughter of animals
  • Egypt’s state-sponsored Islamic religious authorities, which rule on sharia law, have also come out against the practice

CAIRO: Faced with scenes of blood flowing in rubbish-strewn roads and of streets littered with animal entrails, authorities in the Egyptian capital say they aim to crack down on the outdoor slaughter that marks one of Islam’s main holidays.
Eid Al-Adha, or the festival of sacrifice, is marked by Muslims sacrificing animals according to religious traditions at the end of the Hajj annual pilgrimage to Makkah and Medina.
Ahead of the holiday, which this year starts on Tuesday, temporary sheep markets have sprung up amid the exhaust fumes and garbage heaps of the sprawling metropolis.
But the governor’s office in Cairo insists it is on a “cleanliness” drive to stop the widespread slaughter of animals in the distinctly unhygienic surroundings of the city’s streets.
To prevent the “barbaric and unacceptable” spectacle, officials in each neighborhood have been ordered to “strictly” enforce laws prohibiting the practice, city spokesman Khaled Mostafa told AFP.
Offenders risk a fine of at least 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($280, 250 euros), a hefty sum that exceeds the average monthly wage in the country.

In the crowded Sayeda Zainab neighborhood near central Cairo, local merchants keep the sheep up for sale for the feast down muddy alleyways.
Traders like Hussein Abul Al-Aziz say they welcome the push to eliminate the killings in the streets and claim they don’t engage in the practice.
“It is unacceptable to slaughter in the street, it must be done in an abattoir with a veterinarian who examines the animal and under the supervision of the health ministry,” Aziz said, standing among his well-fed beasts.
But it clear that the message from the authorities has not reached most people.
Local resident Ahmed Ragab shops around for a sheep for Eid Al-Adha.
The father in his fifties confides that he has not heard of the official sanitation drive and was planning to slaughter his animal in the street outside his house.
“But it is true that it’s dirty and dangerous,” he concedes.

It is not just Cairo officials who are seeking to dissuade people from street sacrifices.
Egypt’s state-sponsored Islamic religious authorities, which rule on sharia law, have also come out against the practice.
The Dar Al-Ifta institution published a speech this month condemning street sacrifices as a “great sin and serious crime.”
A potential cause of diseases and epidemics, leaving behind the remains of the animal is also considered “impure” by the Qur'an holy book, the government body said on its website.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recommends strict guidelines for the slaughter of animals.
It says abattoirs should be “situated away from residential areas” and calls for “a well-planned, well-executed and controlled cleaning and sanitation program.”
However, the aspirations of the authorities and advice of experts seem at odds with the reality in the marketplace.
On the outskirts of Cairo, makeshift pens hold sheep close to an open sewerage drain.
Local butchers complain of financial woes they face as the cost of living soars in Egypt.
Most did not want to answer questions but it was clear they would meet customers’ demands — including butchering animals in the streets — to make ends meet.
“We’ll do anything,” one told AFP.