King Abdullah of Jordan warns Daesh on the rise again

King Abdullah of Jordan also said in the TV channel France 24 interview ‘we can’t afford instability in our part of the world.’ (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2020

King Abdullah of Jordan warns Daesh on the rise again

  • ‘... we have seen over the past year the re-establishment and rise of Isis, not only in southern eastern Syria but also in western Iraq’
  • Many foreign fighters from Syria were now in Libya

PARIS: King Abdullah of Jordan on Monday warned that the Daesh group was regrouping and was once again on the rise in the Middle East.
Months after the ousting of Daesh last year from their last Syrian holdout, Abdullah said his “major concern is that we have seen over the past year the re-establishment and rise of Isis, not only in southern eastern Syria but also in western Iraq.
“We have to deal with the reemergence of Isis,” the king added in an interview with TV channel France 24 ahead of talks this week in Brussels, Strasbourg and Paris. He also said many foreign fighters from Syria were now in Libya.
“From a European perspective, with Libya being much closer to Europe, this is going to be an important discussion in the next couple of days,” Abdullah said.
“Several thousand fighters have left Idlib (Syria) through the northern border and have ended up in Libya, that is something that we in the region but also our European friends will have to address in 2020.”
Regarding last week’s spiking of tensions between Iran and the United States, Abdullah said he hoped that “in the next several months we set the right tone for the region, which is really to bring the temperature down.”
“So far it looks like de-escalation, we hope that that continues to be the trend. We can’t afford instability in our part of the world.
“Whatever happens in Tehran will affect Baghdad, Amman, Beirut, the Israeli Palestinian process.”
Abdullah added that the recent deployment of Turkish troops in a training capacity to Libya “will only create more confusion” in the country.
Both sides in Libya’s conflict agreed to a cease-fire from Sunday to end nine months of fighting, following weeks of international diplomacy and calls for a truce by power-brokers Russia and Turkey.
A UN report in November said several countries were violating the arms embargo on Libya in place since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Jordan, whose stability is seen as vital for the volatile Middle East, hosts some 1.3 million refugees from neighboring war-torn Syria.


Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

Updated 26 May 2020

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

  • Syria records 20 new cases of coronavirus in largest single-day increase

BEIRUT/DAMASCUS: Traffic returned to a major highway in northeastern Syria for the first time in seven months on Monday, following Russian mediation to reopen parts of the road captured last year by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Syrian Kurdish media and a Syrian Kurdish official said several vehicles accompanied by Russian troops began driving in the morning between the northern towns of Ein Issa and Tal Tamr. 

The two towns are controlled by regime forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters while the area between them is mostly held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured parts of the highway known as M4 in October, when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters. The M4 links Syria’s coastal region all the way east to the Iraqi border.

Four convoys will drive on the M4 every day with two leaving from Tal Tamr and two from Ein Issa, according to the Kurdish ANHA news agency. The report said a convoy will leave from each town at 8 a.m., and another set of convoys will do the same, three hours later.

The ANHA agency added that the opening of the highway will shorten the trip between the two towns as people previously had to take roundabout, side roads.

“This is the first time the road has been opened” since October, said Mervan Qamishlo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Russia, a main power broker with Turkey in Syria, mediated the deal to reopen the highway, he said. Russia and Turkey back rival groups in Syria’s nine-year conflict.

Coronavirus cases

Syria reported 20 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, the largest single-day increase to date.

The war-torn country has recorded 106 infections and four deaths so far, and new cases have increased in recent days with the return of Syrians from abroad.

Syria has kept an overnight curfew in place but has begun to open some of its economy after a lockdown. Doctors and relief groups worry that medical infrastructure ravaged by years of conflict would make a more serious outbreak deadly and difficult to fend off.