UAE’s 1st female fighter pilot carried out anti-IS strikes

Updated 26 September 2014

UAE’s 1st female fighter pilot carried out anti-IS strikes

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The first female air force pilot in the United Arab Emirates led airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria earlier this week, the federation’s ambassador to Washington said on Thursday as he pledged his country will do “whatever is necessary” to defeat the militant group.
Social media has been buzzing with rumors that F-16 pilot Maj. Mariam Al-Mansouri played a part in attacks against the jihadist group, with many users taking delight in the rebuke it implied toward the militants’ ultraconservative ideology.
Ambassador Yousef Al-Otaiba’s comments were the first public confirmation of her role.
“She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot, and she led the mission,” Al-Otaiba said during an appearance on American cable channel MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” The Emirati embassy quickly posted word of the diplomat’s confirmation on its official Twitter feed.
The Emirates, a seven-state federation that includes the capital of Abu Dhabi and the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai, is one of five Arab countries that have joined the US-led coalition carrying out the airstrikes in Syria. It is a major buyer of American-made weapons, with an arsenal that includes F-16 fighter planes and Apache attack helicopters.
Al-Mansouri was born in Abu Dhabi and graduated from the country’s Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in 2007, according to a profile earlier this year in the government-owned newspaper The National. She is one of eight children and has a degree in English literature.
“Sorry #ISIS, I know this too much and so harsh but it’s real,” taunted Twitter user @kafrev, which purports to represent an opposition-held town in Syria, using an alternate name for the Islamic State group. “A woman bombed you!“
Emirati leaders have taken steps to raise the status of women in the oil-rich country, which has modernized rapidly since its formation in 1971 and is now home to a cosmopolitan blend of foreign businesspeople, expatriate professionals and low-paid migrant workers who together far outnumber the local population.
While traditional values remain strong and men dominate government posts, Emirati women have served as government ministers, police officers and executives in state-linked companies.
Al-Otaiba linked Al-Mansouri’s role to the campaign to defeat the Islamic State group.
“Do you want a model or a society that allows women to become ministers in government, female fighter pilots, business executives, artists? Or do you want a society where if a woman doesn’t cover up in public she’s beaten or she’s lashed or she’s raped? This is ultimately what this breaks down to,” he said.
It is important that moderate Arab and Muslim nations take a stand against the Islamic State militants, Al-Otaiba said, describing the group as “a threat to our way of life.”
“We will bring whatever is necessary to defeat ISIS,” he added.


Sea-Eye ship with 125 rescued migrants docks in Sardinia

Updated 25 September 2020

Sea-Eye ship with 125 rescued migrants docks in Sardinia

  • NGO Sea-Eye says the vessel Alan Kurdi docked at the port of Arbatax on the east of the island

ROME: A ship with 125 rescued migrants aboard reached the Italian island of Sardinia on Thursday, the aid organization Sea-Eye said, adding that the fate of its survivors remains unclear.

The Alan Kurdi docked at the port of Arbatax on the east of the island, having been “instructed by the port authorities to drop anchor and wait for further instructions,” said Sea-Eye, which charters the boat.

However, the NGO said it was unclear whether Arbatax would be a “safe port,” in which the rescued survivors would be able to disembark.

On Wednesday night, Italian authorities had made contact to discuss the “further coordination” and to provide weather protection for the ship, five days since Sea-Eye asked for assistance, it said on Twitter.

Italy’s Interior Ministry said earlier in the day that it had “authorized the request” to dock and “activated the procedure to redistribute” the 125 rescued migrants across Europe.

“Eighty percent of the rescued migrants will be transferred to other European countries,” it added.

The ship — named Alan Kurdi after the Syrian boy who made global headlines when his drowned body washed up on a beach in Turkey in 2015 — rescued 133 people, including 62 children, from three different boats off the Libyan coast.

Eight people, including a five-month-old baby, were evacuated by the Italian coast guard. More than 50 minors are still on board, including young children, the NGO said.

The ship was initially heading to Marseille in the south of France before French authorities successfully asked Italy to allow it to dock in the Mediterranean, Sea-Eye’s chief Gorden Isler said in a tweet.

“We hope that the 125 rescued will be allowed to disembark in Sardinia so they can be adequately cared for there,” Isler added.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday that the Sea-Eye ship should “be received in the nearest safe port,” with France implicitly declining any possibility of allowing the ship to dock in Marseille.

The principle of the landing of survivors in the nearest “safe port,” enshrined in international maritime law, generally means Italy or Malta are expected to take in rescued survivors from Mediterranean crossings.

More than 600 migrants have perished this year while attempting the Mediterranean crossing, the deadliest route for those hoping for a better life in Europe.

Almost 50,000 have made the journey so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.