Sudan hopes Trump takes ‘courageous’ decision to lift sanctions

Sudan hopes Trump takes ‘courageous’ decision to lift sanctions
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. (AFP)
Updated 10 July 2017

Sudan hopes Trump takes ‘courageous’ decision to lift sanctions

Sudan hopes Trump takes ‘courageous’ decision to lift sanctions

KHARTOUM: Hopes are running high in Sudan that US President Donald Trump will decide this week to lift Washington’s sanctions on Khartoum, despite rights groups calling for the decades-old embargo to be maintained.
“The time is right for permanently lifting the sanctions on Sudan,” senior Sudanese Foreign Ministry official Abdelghani Elnaim told AFP ahead of the end of a review period on Wednesday.
“We are counting on President Trump to take this courageous decision that will make not just the people of Sudan, but all of Africa, happy.”
Washington imposed a complex set of economic sanctions on Sudan in 1997 for its alleged backing of militant groups. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US commando raid in Pakistan in 2011, was based in Khartoum from 1992 to 1996.
Washington also justified the embargo with accusations of scorched-earth tactics by Khartoum against ethnic minority rebels in war-torn Darfur.
Barack Obama eased the sanctions before leaving office in an attempt to improve ties with Sudan whose leader President Omar Bashir is accused of genocide charges related to the conflict in Darfur.
However, he made the permanent lifting of sanctions dependent on Khartoum’s progress in five areas of concern during the six-month review period.
The concerns — known as “five tracks” — include improved access for aid groups in conflict areas, an end to support for rebels in neighboring South Sudan, an end to hostilities in the conflict zones of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and counter-terrorism cooperation with US intelligence agencies.
Trump can lift the sanctions permanently, extend the review period or fully re-impose the embargo.
“The two countries have worked together on this five-track plan. I can say that our relations have reached a new era,” said Elnaim.
“It is now only logical that the sanctions are lifted as we have made great progress on the five tracks.”
Sudanese officials have regularly highlighted how Khartoum has supported US intelligence agencies in fighting extremism in the region, and also how it is aiding hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees who have arrived fleeing a brutal civil war in their country.
Washington’s envoy to Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, told AFP in June that in recent months Khartoum had even shown “extreme restraint” when fighting rebels in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
The sanctions have hit Sudan’s economy, which is battling surging inflation, rising food prices and growing unemployment.
Lifting the embargo will allow all previously prohibited trade between the US and Sudan, in turn helping the Sudanese economy integrate with the global economy, officials said.
“It will open new opportunities for us that never existed for 20 years, like accessing easy loans or technical expertise,” Finance Minister Mohamed Al-Rikabi said in an interview to a local newspaper.
The Trump administration has given little indication of how it will proceed and a European diplomat said that there was a good possibility that sanctions would not be lifted.
“It sounds irrational that on one hand Washington bans Sudanese citizens from entering the United States and on the other lifts the sanctions,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Trump administration has included Sudanese in a travel ban that restricts citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US. The US Supreme Court allowed the ban to be partially implemented and it took effect in late June.
Some global rights groups and think tanks have urged Washington to maintain the sanctions, citing Khartoum’s record of human rights violations.
Khartoum continues to repress independent voices and has failed to rein in “war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur and other conflict zones,” Human Rights Watch said after Obama eased the embargo.
At least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since a brutal conflict erupted in Darfur in 2003, the UN says.
The conflict broke out when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Khartoum’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalizing Darfur.
“Given what appears to be inconclusive evidence concerning multiple tracks, the Trump administration should defer the decision to lift comprehensive sanctions on Sudan,” the Washington-based Enough Project campaign group said in a recent report.


Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police
Updated 34 min 32 sec ago

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police

Medics: 200 Palestinians hurt in Al-Aqsa clashes with police
  • Clashes erupted when Israeli police deployed heavily as Muslims were performing evening prayers at Al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM: A night of heavy clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem left more than 200 Palestinians wounded, medics said Saturday, as the city braced for even more violence after weeks of unrest.
Nightly protests broke out at the start of the holy month of Ramadan over police restrictions at a popular gathering place and have reignited in recent days over threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem, which is claimed by both sides in the decades-old conflict.
It was unclear what set off the violence at Al-Aqsa, which erupted when Israeli police in riot gear deployed in large numbers as thousands of Muslim worshippers were holding evening prayers at the sprawling hilltop esplanade.
Throughout the night large groups of protesters could be seen hurling rocks as Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades. At one point, the police entered one of the buildings in the complex, which includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the iconic golden Dome of the Rock.
The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 88 of the wounded were hospitalized. The Palestinian Health Ministry said 83 people were wounded by rubber-coated bullets, including three who were shot in the eye, two with serious head injuries and two with broken jaws.
The Israeli police said protesters hurled stones, fireworks and other objects at them, wounding six officers who required medical treatment. “We will respond with a heavy hand to all violent disturbances, riots and attacks on our forces,” it said in a statement late Friday.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam. It is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the biblical temples. It has long been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
Some 70,000 worshippers had attended the final midday Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa, the Islamic endowment that oversees the site said. Thousands protested afterwards, waving the green flags of the Islamic militant group Hamas and chanting pro-Hamas slogans.
At the beginning of Ramadan in mid-April, Israel blocked off a popular gathering spot where Palestinians traditionally socialize at the end of their daylong fast. The move set off two weeks of clashes before Israel lifted the restrictions.
But in recent days, protests have grown over Israel's threatened eviction in Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem of dozens of Palestinians embroiled in a long legal battle with Israeli settlers trying to acquire property in the neighborhood.
The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about both the violence and the threatened evictions, and was in contact with leaders on both sides to try and de-escalate tensions.
“It is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace,” the US State Department said in a statement. “This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.”
The European Union also urged calm. It said the potential evictions were of “serious concern," adding that such actions are "illegal under international humanitarian law and only serve to fuel tensions on the ground.
Neighboring Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1994 and is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has also condemned Israel's actions, as has the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, which normalized relations with Israel last year in a US-brokered deal.
Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more unrest in the coming days.
Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Worshippers will gather for intense nighttime prayers at Al-Aqsa.
Sunday night is also the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of east Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city. On Monday, an Israeli court is expected to issue a verdict on the evictions.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza — territories the Palestinians want for their future state — in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and views the entire city as its capital.


Unmanned aerial surveillance system targets Iraqi air base: US-led coalition

Unmanned aerial surveillance system targets Iraqi air base: US-led coalition
Updated 08 May 2021

Unmanned aerial surveillance system targets Iraqi air base: US-led coalition

Unmanned aerial surveillance system targets Iraqi air base: US-led coalition
  • The US accuses Iran-backed militia groups of launching regular rocket attacks against its troops in Iraq

BAGHDAD: An attack by an unmanned aerial surveillance system on Saturday targeted Iraq’s Ain Al-Asad air base in western Iraq which hosts US and other international forces, but it caused no injuries, a coalition spokesman said.
US Army Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the US-led coalition, said on Twitter that the attack was being investigated but that an initial report suggests that the attack took place at 0220 local time and caused damage to a hangar.
The United States accuses Iran-backed militia groups of launching regular rocket attacks against its troops in Iraq. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack.


Philippines, Egypt added to Oman’s travel ban list

Philippines, Egypt added to Oman’s travel ban list
Updated 08 May 2021

Philippines, Egypt added to Oman’s travel ban list

Philippines, Egypt added to Oman’s travel ban list
  • Omani citizens, diplomats, health workers and their families are excluded from the latest rule

DUBAI: The Philippines and Egypt were the latest inclusion in Oman’s list where travelers from the said countries are banned from entering the Sultanate.

The decision was issued by the Supreme Committee, which takes lead in the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and took effect on Friday, May 7.

Travelers from Egypt and the Philippines, and those who transited in any of the said countries during the 14 days, are particularly affected by the travel restriction a report from Times of Oman said.

Omani citizens, diplomats, health workers and their families are excluded from the latest rule but are subject to the procedures adopted upon entering the Sultanate, the report added.

Oman earlier added India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the travel ban list, joining Sudan, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and the United Kingdom where their residents have been barred from entering since February 24.


UAE reports 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths in last 24 hours

UAE reports 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths in last 24 hours
Updated 08 May 2021

UAE reports 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths in last 24 hours

UAE reports 1,766 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths in last 24 hours
  • The total number of recorded cases in the UAE is now at 532,710 since the pandemic began

DUBAI: UAE health authorities reported 1,766 new coronavirus cases after conducting 211,462 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, as well three deaths fatalities from the contagious disease.

The total number of recorded cases in the UAE is now at 532,710 since the pandemic began, with 1,607 confirmed deaths, a report from state news agency WAM said.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention reiterated its call for residents to adhere coronavirus protocols and maintain social distancing to ensure public health and safety.

Meanwhile, 141,283 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been provided during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of doses provided to residents and citizens to 11,048,547.

The rate of vaccine distribution now stands at 111.71 doses per 100 people.


US calls on Israelis, Palestinians to ‘deescalate’ tensions

US calls on Israelis, Palestinians to ‘deescalate’ tensions
Updated 08 May 2021

US calls on Israelis, Palestinians to ‘deescalate’ tensions

US calls on Israelis, Palestinians to ‘deescalate’ tensions
  • US State Department: Palestinian families targeted for eviction have "lived in their home for generations"

WASHINGTON: The United States called Friday for de-escalation in annexed east Jerusalem, and warned against carrying out a threatened eviction of Palestinian families that has sent tensions soaring.
“The United States is extremely concerned about ongoing confrontations in Jerusalem ... which have reportedly resulted in scores of injured people,” a statement from State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
“There is no excuse for violence, but such bloodshed is especially disturbing now, coming as it does on the last days of Ramadan.”
He said Washington was calling on Israeli and Palestinian officials to “act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence.”
And he warned it was “critical” to avoid any steps that could worsen the situation — such as “evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.”
An earlier State Department statement said Washington was concerned in particular about the “potential eviction of Palestinian families in Silwan neighborhood and Sheikh Jarrah,” two areas of east Jerusalem where tensions have been running high.
It noted that some Palestinian families targeted for eviction have “lived in their home for generations.”
The comments came as more than 160 people were wounded after Israeli riot police clashed with Palestinians at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound late Friday, capping a week of violence in the Holy City and the occupied West Bank.
Earlier Friday, Israeli security forces killed two Palestinians and wounded a third after the trio opened fire on a base in the occupied West Bank, police said.
The unrest came on Al-Quds Day – named for the Arabic word for Jerusalem – an annual day of pro-Palestinian rallies held by Iran, the arch-enemy of Israel.
The nation’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Israel “not a country, but a terrorist base,” and in a televised speech said that fighting the Jewish state was “everyone’s duty.”