Iraq demands Arab states end ‘silence’ over Syria

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. (AFP)
Updated 14 April 2018

Iraq demands Arab states end ‘silence’ over Syria

  • Iraq has called on Arab states to reject any “aggression” against Syria
  • Iraq has adopted a policy of self-exclusion since Haider Abadi became PM in 2014

BAGHDAD: Iraq has called on Arab states gathered in Riyadh to reject any “aggression” against Syria, noting that the silence in response to threats facing the country will open the door to similar confrontations elsewhere.

Riyadh is hosting the 29th Arab summit on Sunday amid threats by US President Donald Trump to carry out airstrikes on Syrian regime sites in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against his people.  Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari told reporters outside preparatory meetings for the summit that Iraq does not support airstrikes against Syria and considers the US threats as an intervention in its internal affairs.

“These type of weapons, and this kind of clumsy policy cannot avoid repercussions and effects,” Al-Jaafari said.

Iraq has adopted a policy of self-exclusion since Haider Abadi became prime minister in September 2014. Since then, it has refused to line up with any of the countries involved in the conflict and has been keen to act as a mediator to ease tensions.

“Iraq is calling for a united stance to reject any aggression against Syria. It is the Syrian people who choose their political system,” Ahmed Mahjoub, a spokesman for Iraq’s Foreign Ministry told Arab News from Riyadh.

“The crisis in Syria, Yemen and Libya can be solved by dialogue, away from arms, conflicts and international disputes. The approval to strike Syria may affect other countries if it is met with silence,” he said.

Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

Updated 53 min 56 sec ago

Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir announced that the Alexandria Port would be receiving a new batch of 22 passenger railroad cars, bringing the total of Russian railroad cars so far to 103 vehicles, as part of a deal to manufacture and supply 1,300 new passenger railroad cars.

The deal, signed between the Egyptian Railways Authority and Russian-Hungarian company Transmashholding, is the largest in the history of Egypt’s railways, with a value of €1.16 billion ($1.8 billion).

Al-Wazir confirmed that the 22 railroad cars that arrived are third-class vehicles with dynamic ventilation.

The deal includes 800 air-conditioned vehicles, 500 third-class air-conditioned vehicles (a new service offered to passengers for the first time in the history of Egyptian railways), 180 second-class vehicles, 90 first-class vehicles, 30 air-conditioned buffet vehicles and 500 dynamic ventilated third-class vehicles.

Al-Wazir indicated that 35 vehicles have arrived during the current month, which is the average monthly supply agreed upon with the manufacturer, pointing out that this rate enables the railway authority to form three new trains consisting of tractors and all-new cars that are entered monthly to become part of the line.

Al-Wazir said that the deal contributes to raising the efficiency of the Egyptian railways’ daily operations and schedules. This coincides with the Egyptian Railway Authority’s projects to modernize infrastructure, including signaling systems, crossings, stations and other aspects.

All these projects that the ministry implemented contributed to increasing safety and security in train operations and improving the level of service.

Egypt is seeking to develop its railways, the second oldest in the world, after witnessing unfortunate accidents during the past two decades.

Over the past few years, railways in Egypt have undergone major development, represented by the modernization of the fleet of tractors and vehicles of various classes and the maintenance of trains and old railways.

According to official data, Egypt spent EGP 40 billion ($2.5 billion) on railway development projects during the past six years. Projects at a cost of EGP 86 billion are currently under way, and there is a plan to start implementing others at a cost of EGP 55 billion.