Iran allocates $150,000 for families of victims of Ukraine plane crash

Iran allocates $150,000 for families of victims of Ukraine plane crash
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Soldiers carry a coffin containing the remains of one of the eleven Ukrainian victims of the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 plane disaster during a memorial ceremony at the Boryspil International Airport, outside Kiev, Ukraine January 19, 2020. (File/Reuters)
Iran allocates $150,000 for families of victims of Ukraine plane crash
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Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said they shot down the plane — killing all 176 passengers — after mistaking it for a United States missile. (File/AP)
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Updated 30 December 2020

Iran allocates $150,000 for families of victims of Ukraine plane crash

Iran allocates $150,000 for families of victims of Ukraine plane crash
  • Ukraine called Tehran's handling of the situation "unacceptable," and called for those responsible to face justice
  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they accidentally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane shortly after takeoff, mistaking it for a missile

LONDON: Iran’s Cabinet on Wednesday allocated $150,000 for the families of each of the 176 victims of a Ukrainian plane shot down in Iranian airspace in January, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Describing Iran’s handling of the situation as “unacceptable,” Ukraine said the amount of compensation should be negotiated and called for those responsible to be brought to justice.
An Iranian government statement said: “The cabinet approved the provision of $150,000 or the equivalent in euros as soon as possible to the families and survivors of each of the victims of the Ukrainian plan crash,” IRNA reported.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have said they accidentally shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane shortly after takeoff, mistaking it for a missile when tensions with the United States were high.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the compensation amount should be determined through negotiations, taking into account international practice, and that establishing the causes of the tragedy and bringing those responsible to justice was a prerequisite.
“The Ukrainian side expects from Iran a draft technical report on the circumstances of the aircraft shooting down,” ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said, adding that Iran had yet to implement earlier agreements, without giving details.
“This situation is especially unacceptable, since we are talking about the fate of innocent people,” Nikolenko said.
Iran’s Roads and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami told state television on Wednesday that the final report on the crash had been sent to the countries participating in the investigation.
Under United Nations rules, Iran retains overall control of the investigation while the United States and Ukraine are accredited as the countries where the jet was respectively built and operated. Canada has also played a role as the home of many of the victims on the downed plane.
International rules on air crash investigations known as Annex 13 include a recommendation that a final report appears within 12 months, which in this case runs until early January, though many high-profile probes take longer.
A spokewoman for the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada said by email the agency was informed that a “draft investigation report was going to be distributed” this week, although the TSB will not have access to it. The TSB will only receive a copy of the final report when published.
Habib Haghjoo, an Iranian-born Canadian who lost his daughter and grandaughter in the crash, said he did not trust the news from Tehran and stressed that his priority is the report.
“They want to wrap it up,” he said of Iran. “We want the truth.”


How Arab connection to World Expos has evolved over time

People walk past the official sign marking the Dubai Expo 2020 near the Sustainability Pavilion in Dubai on January 16, 2021. (AFP/File Photo)
People walk past the official sign marking the Dubai Expo 2020 near the Sustainability Pavilion in Dubai on January 16, 2021. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 1 min 38 sec ago

How Arab connection to World Expos has evolved over time

People walk past the official sign marking the Dubai Expo 2020 near the Sustainability Pavilion in Dubai on January 16, 2021. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Beginning in the mid-19th century, expos have grown to reflect trends in globalization and technology
  • After delays caused by the  pandemic, the first World Expo hosted by an Arab country opens in Dubai in October

DUBAI: Those unfamiliar with the concept of World Expos may have the misguided impression they are excruciatingly dull, corporate affairs. But the chronicle of such events, and the Arab world’s participation in them, tell a very different story.

For a host nation, a World Expo can be a rare occasion to stand front and center on the world stage. Participating countries can cultivate their national image and vie for acclaim, while visitors can feel as though the whole world has been put on display.

Part museum, part theme park and part political theater, World Expos are a kind of window on the collective global consciousness.

The earliest events, in the mid- to late-19th century, were a celebration of the Industrial Revolution, featuring mechanical wonders and architectural marvels such as the Crystal Palace in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

These events of mass spectacle brought together crowds of all nationalities and social class, accelerating globalization at a time when few had the luxury of world travel.

As mass production accelerated, consumerism began to feature more prominently. In the 20th century, world expos became a launchpad for all kinds of new products: The ice cream cone (1904), nylon stockings (1939), live television (1939), the mobile phone (1970), and touchscreens (1982), to name a few.

More recently, the gatherings have sought to address collective global challenges. In 2010, Shanghai focused on making cities more livable. In 2015, Milan addressed the issue of sustainable agriculture.

Likewise, Dubai’s forthcoming Expo Live program is taking a grassroots approach, funding more than 140 global innovators tackling world problems.

CaptionJournalists visit the Sustainability Pavilion during a media tour at the Dubai Expo 2020, a week ahead of its public opening, in the United Arab Emirates, on January 16, 2021. (AFP/File Photo)

For Arab states, as for all participating countries, a World Expo is a chance to showcase their achievements in architecture, food, agriculture, industry, the arts and intellectual pursuits.

Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco participated in the earliest expos. The first ever, the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, featured around 400 artefacts from Egypt and 103 from Tunisia. Egypt’s contributions included minerals, agricultural products, textiles, and leather goods, as well as 165 books from its oldest printing house, the Bulaq Press.

Tunisia was represented through textiles sent by a single exhibitor, “His Highness Mushir Basha, Bey of Tunis.” In a style ahead of its time, the Tunisian display was truly experiential. The center of the exhibit featured a recreated Tunisian street market, including a tent lined with furs, textiles, and perfumes.

The 1867 Exposition Universelle de Paris marked the unveiling of the Eiffel Tower. It was also Morocco’s first World Expo, in which it offered visitors a rich, memorable, sensory experience.

From Queen Victoria opening the 1851 London exhibition (top left) to Seville 1992 (bottom right), Arab nations have participated since the earliest expos. (AFP/Public Domain)

Omitting anything related to commerce, industry or agriculture, Morocco and Tunisia’s neighboring pavilions were ornate tents, displaying a genteel, regal way of life. The tents featured soft couches, thick carpets, and a white marble fountain, with colorful inlaid Moroccan tiles.

Levantine countries made their expo debuts in the early to mid-20th century. At the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Lebanon made its first appearance independent from France.

Al-Hoda, the leading Lebanese newspaper in the US, ascribed great significance to Lebanon’s participation in the fair, saying it put Lebanon “among the free and independent nations of the world for the first time in modern history.”

Cedar branches were brought into the pavilion, filling it with the fragrance of Lebanon. Some Lebanese Americans were so overcome with emotion they kneeled to kiss the branches, tears running down their faces.

The six-month Dubai Expo world fair is a milestone for the emirate, which has invested $8.2 billion on the event. (AFP/File Photo)

Four months into the fair, however, the Second World War broke out, and the event’s initial theme, “The World of Tomorrow,” was changed to “For Peace and Freedom.”

Expo ’58 took place in Brussels at the start of a historic era of peace and prosperity in Western Europe. Organizers were resolutely focused on telling a story of progress, both past and future.

That year, five Arab states — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq — occupied one pavilion. At its center was a ceramic mural depicting the Arab world as “the cradle of civilization.” The pavilion’s theme was focused on the rising standard of living in the Arab world.

The 1967 Montreal Expo was the centerpiece of Canada’s centennial celebrations. It was originally intended to be held in Moscow to mark the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, but owing to high costs and other issues, the USSR cancelled the event and Canada was awarded the expo instead in late 1962.

Caption

Despite this late change of venue, the 1967 event became one of the most successful to date, with more than 50 million visitors — more than twice the population of Canada at the time — and a record 62 participating countries.

In Montreal, as part of the Arab pavilions complex, Kuwait and Algeria both participated for the first time. Algeria’s pavilion was a serene, simple design of marble and tile. It focused on Algerian history and culture, with films about its history and development of agriculture, technology, and art.

Kuwait’s pavilion illustrated the nation’s relationship with oil and featured a model desalination plant. However, owing to rising tensions in the Arab region, the pavilion was closed just one month into the six-month expo.

 

Most GCC nations first participated in a World Expo in 1970 or later. In its inaugural World Expo at Osaka in 1970, Abu Dhabi — which became the capital of the UAE within a year — created a replica Arabian fort. The structure was designed by an Egyptian city planner, Abdulrahman Makhlouf, who also worked on the city plan for Abu Dhabi.

The pavilion featured two minarets, one cylindrical and the other square. It was not elaborate. Aramco World reported Abu Dhabi’s contribution was, “simple … a memorable display … a symbol of the bright future awaiting Islam and the Arab world.”

At the 1992 Seville Expo in Spain, Oman made its first World Expo appearance. The Sultanate set a traditional tone with a large, heavy cedar door, steeped in the scent of frankincense. The pavilion focused on Oman’s history as a seafaring nation (and its most famous sailor, Sinbad), and highlighted traditional industries such as woodcraft and pottery.

A renaissance dome told visitors the story of how Oman had evolved from an ancient sultanate into a modern one.

 

The 2010 event in Shanghai breathed new life into the institution of World Expos. The Chinese government’s support for the Shanghai Expo netted a staggering 73 million visitors. Arab pavilions, including those of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, were among the most popular, with long lines of visitors snaking around them.

Shanghai 2010 was Bahrain’s inaugural World Expo. Its pavilion was compact and took visitors on a journey from the past to the present and into the future, with a focus on Bahraini craftsmanship. As with many national pavilions at the event, Bahrain showcased an interactive story through touchscreen technology.

After delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the first World Expo to be hosted in the Middle East opens in Dubai in October, with tickets now on sale.

Expo Dubai 2020 promises to celebrate humanity’s successes, relish its present and set a course for its future. One thing is certain — the next chapter in the story of World Expos will mark a historic moment for the Arab world. 


Morocco to extend night curfew to limit COVID-19 surge

Morocco to extend night curfew to limit COVID-19 surge
Updated 19 min 42 sec ago

Morocco to extend night curfew to limit COVID-19 surge

Morocco to extend night curfew to limit COVID-19 surge
  • The move is expected to hurt tourism business which pinned hopes on the summer season to attract national tourists
  • Daily COVID-19 infections have oscillated between 4,000 and 9,000 over the past week

RABAT: Morocco will lengthen its night curfew, starting two hours earlier at 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) from Tuesday, as it tightens restrictions to counter a surge in coronavirus infections, the government said on Monday.
The business and tourist hubs of Casablanca, Agadir and Marakech will be closed except to holders of the vaccine pass or those on necessary travel, the government said in a statement.
The move is expected to hurt tourism business which pinned hopes on the summer season to attract national tourists after travel receipts dropped 70 percent in the first half this year.
Daily COVID-19 infections have oscillated between 4,000 and 9,000 over the past week as the total number of cases people rose to 569,452 cases, including 9,885 deaths.
However, Morocco has outpaced other African peers in its vaccine push, administering 24 million doses of the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines.
Last week, the country started administering Johnson and Johnson doses after receiving a shipment of 300,000 jabs. 


Israel free to make decisions it deems appropriate on Iran: White House

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday renewed his vow of a
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday renewed his vow of a "collective response" to Iran, which had warned adversaries against reprisals after Tehran was blamed for an attack on an Israeli-linked tanker. (AFP)
Updated 9 min 18 sec ago

Israel free to make decisions it deems appropriate on Iran: White House

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday renewed his vow of a "collective response" to Iran, which had warned adversaries against reprisals after Tehran was blamed for an attack on an Israeli-linked tanker. (AFP)
  • US, Britain and Israel blame Iran for fatal attack on Israeli-linked oil tanker off coast of Oman
  • Secretary of State Blinken said “there will be a collective response”

WASHINGTON D.C.: Israel was “free to make the decisions it deemed appropriate” on Iran after an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman last week which has been blamed on Tehran, the White House said on Monday.

The US, Britain and Israel have blamed Iran for the fatal attack on the Israeli-linked oil tanker. Iran denies involvement.

In Washington on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was “confident that Iran carried out this attack.”

He added that Iran’s steps posed a challenge and a threat in light of an unrestricted nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Israel's defense minister also said Monday that Iran's alleged attack on the ship was “a stepping-up of the escalation” of hostilities by Iran, and called for international action.

Benny Gantz addressed Israel's parliament, the Knesset, and said the drone strike on the Mercer Street that left two crew members dead — one from the UK and one from Romania — was “in violation of international law and human morality.” He charged that Iran was behind at least five attacks on international shipping in the last year.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran and its militia allies have used so-called “suicide” drones in attacks previously. The region has seen a rise in attacks on commercial vessels in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

“This is exactly the reason why we must act now against Iran, which is not only striving toward nuclear arms, but is also bringing about a dangerous arms race and intends to destabilize the Middle East with terrorist militias who are armed with hundreds of drones in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and other countries in the region,” Gantz said.

He added that any future agreement between world powers and Iran to rein in its nuclear program must also address Iranian's “aggression in the region and harming both innocent people and to the global economy.”

He also said that it was not a future threat, rather a “tangible and immediate danger.”

Blinken said the US was in close contact with the UK, Israel and Romania and "there will be a collective response.” He did not elaborate on what that response might be.

“It follows a pattern of similar attacks by Iran, including past incidents with explosive drones,” he told reporters at the State Department. “There is no justification for this attack on a peaceful vessel on a commercial mission, international waters rise action is a direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce, took the lives of innocent sailors.”

* With AP


Egypt, Algeria agree on ‘full support’ for Tunisian president

In this Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 file photo, Tunisian President Kais Saied waves to bystanders as he strolls along the avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, Tunisia. (AP)
In this Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 file photo, Tunisian President Kais Saied waves to bystanders as he strolls along the avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, Tunisia. (AP)
Updated 2 min 9 sec ago

Egypt, Algeria agree on ‘full support’ for Tunisian president

In this Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 file photo, Tunisian President Kais Saied waves to bystanders as he strolls along the avenue Bourguiba in Tunis, Tunisia. (AP)
  • Nile dispute, anti-terror policies also discussed in Cairo meeting hosted by Egyptian leader

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra agreed to support embattled Tunisian leader Kais Saeid in a bid to maintain stability in the country.

The consensus was reached during a meeting in Cairo after the two sides discussed recent developments in the nearby country.

As a result of the meeting, El-Sisi agreed with Lamamra to “fully support” President Saied.

The announcement came in an official statement following the talks.

Both sides agreed to implement the “will and choices” of the Tunisian people in order to preserve the security of the North African country.

El-Sisi also affirmed Egypt’s keenness to develop relations with Algeria in various fields and boost cooperation, construction and development between the two countries.

He also reiterated his firm stance over Egypt’s “historical rights to the Nile waters” and the country’s position on maintaining its water security.

El-Sisi urged the importance of engaging in the negotiation process to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, according to a statement from the official spokesman for the presidency.

The statement said that the meeting of El-Sisi and Lamamra also focused on developments of common concern, especially the situation in Libya.

The two parties discussed political and security coordination and the exchange of information in regard to combating terrorism and extremist ideologies, which pose a threat to the entire region.

 


Houthis accused of torturing prisoners to death in Yemen

Houthis accused of torturing prisoners to death in Yemen
Updated 02 August 2021

Houthis accused of torturing prisoners to death in Yemen

Houthis accused of torturing prisoners to death in Yemen
  • Local and international rights groups have demanded independent investigations into the deaths

ALEXANDRIA: The Houthis have been accused of torturing hundreds of prisoners to death since taking power in late 2014.

Yemen’s Human Rights Ministry said that 350 prisoners, including 33 women, had died from extreme torture and deliberate medical negligence during the last seven years. It added that the militia was still using the same harsh methods on prisoners in areas under their control.

Activists warned inmates were being subjected to human rights abuses in Houthi-controlled prisons and that they could die if the international community did not intervene.

In a statement seen by Arab News, the ministry said it had documented 1,635 cases of mental and physical torture, deprivation of life-saving medical treatment and execution of prisoners in jails controlled by the Houthis in Sanaa, Hajjah, Thamar and other provinces.

The Mothers of Abductees Association, an umbrella organization for female relatives of war prisoners, said that its figures of the number of deaths inside Houthi prisons were close to the government’s figures.

Amat Al-Salam Al-Hajj, the organization’s chairwoman, told Arab News that 319 had died from torture inside Houthi prisons.

The ministry and rights groups said the latest confirmed victim of Houthi abuse was a prisoner called Mohsen Mohammed Al-Qadhi, who was reportedly executed inside a Thamar prison last week.

The ministry said he was abducted from his home in Dhamar city a year ago. Large bruises on his body indicated the physical torture he had been subjected to.

“This crime is an extension of a series of crimes and grave violations committed by the Houthi militia against the kidnapped and forcibly displaced men, women and children in their detention centers, who are subjected to the worst types of physical and psychological torture,” the ministry said.

Local and international rights groups have demanded independent investigations into the deaths.

The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties condemned the killing of Al-Qadhi and accused the militia of violating international laws by abusing prisoners.

It disputed the Houthis’ claims that he had died from an unintentional shooting.

Rights Radar, a group established in the Netherlands by Yemeni activists, also called for an independent probe into his death.

Former prisoners and former officials at Houthi-controlled prisons told Arab News that prisoner abuse was rife, saying they had heard stories of many prisoners committing suicide to escape horrific treatment.

Essam Balghaith, a Yemeni journalist who was released from a Houthi jail during a prisoner swap, said torture was widespread and that many inmates tried to kill themselves as they could not bear torture.

“I heard about many cases of suicide attempts by prisoners due to extreme torture,” he told Arab News. “I witnessed the death of a prisoner who was brutally tortured and deprived of medication.”

Ahmed Arman, Yemen’s minister of human rights, urged international rights groups to expose Houthi crimes against prisoners and pressure the rebels to release them.

“The international community and international organizations that work in Yemen must be transparent about Houthi violations and crimes,” he told Arab News.