EU’s Mogherini ‘extremely worried’ by Turkish offensive in Syria

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini speak together as they arrive for a foreign affair council at the European Council in Brussels, January 22, 2018. (AFP
Updated 22 January 2018
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EU’s Mogherini ‘extremely worried’ by Turkish offensive in Syria

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said Monday she was “extremely worried” by Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia targets in Syria, saying she would seek urgent talks with Turkish officials.
“I’m extremely worried and will discuss this among other things with our Turkish interlocutors,” Mogherini said after a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers where the issue was raised, adding that she was concerned about the impact on civilians and on the UN-backed Syrian peace process.

Ankara on Monday intensified its offensive to oust the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia from their enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing there would be no stepping back in the campaign launched on Saturday.
Turkey considers the YPG to be a terror group and the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged a bloody three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.
Mogherini said she was worried “for two main reasons.”
“One side is the humanitarian one — we need to make sure that humanitarian access is guaranteed and that civilian population and people are not suffering from military activities on the ground,” she said.
The second issue, Mogherini said, was that the offensive “can undermine seriously the resumption of talks in Geneva, which is what we believe could really bring sustainable peace and security for Syria.”
Mogherini said she hoped to set up a meeting with Turkey’s European affairs minister Omer Celik when he visits Brussels “in the coming days.”
France has called for a UN Security Council meeting Monday to discuss concerns over flashpoint areas in Syria including the Turkish offensive.


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.