Dahlan likely to return to Gaza before May 22 legislative elections

Dahlan likely to return to Gaza before May 22 legislative elections
Mohammed Dahlan. (REUTERS)
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Updated 16 February 2021

Dahlan likely to return to Gaza before May 22 legislative elections

Dahlan likely to return to Gaza before May 22 legislative elections
  • Movement is part of Palestinian scene, says spokesman

GAZA CITY: The Fatah breakaway Dahlan movement is returning to the Gaza Strip after a 14-year absence.

The movement is led by Mohammed Dahlan, who has lived in the UAE since a dispute with President Mahmoud Abbas forced him to leave the West Bank. He sought refuge there after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

Last Sunday two of the movement’s members went back to Gaza. One of them was Abdel Hakim Awad, who heads the Dahlan election department. He is also one of the founders of Fatah Youth in Gaza and has a remarkable presence among young people and the student movement.

The return also follows Dahlan representatives meeting the Hamas delegation that took part in the Palestinian national dialogue in Cairo earlier this month.

There are legislative elections on May 22, but Dahlan spokesman Imad Mohsen played down the return’s timing. It had been scheduled since 2018 and was not primarily related to the polls even if it coincided with it, he added.

Hundreds of Fatah members left the Gaza Strip fearing for their lives after the 2007 split, which led to Hamas’ control of the coastal enclave, and joined the movement  formed by Dahlan.

Mohsen said about 300 Fatah activists were in Egypt and elsewhere, and that there was no legal problem preventing their return to Gaza. “It is expected that large numbers of these brothers will return in the near future,” he told Arab News.

A Palestinian source, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Arab News it was possible that Dahlan himself would return to Gaza before the May 22 elections.

Observers have linked these developments with Dahlan’s possible participation in the elections, whether through a separate list or with a unified Fatah list if there are successful reconciliation efforts between Abbas and Dahlan.

“Our firm position from the beginning is to run the elections with a unified list of Fatah and, in the event Abbas refuses to do so, we will run in the elections with a list that includes leaders of the movement,” said Mohsen. “It consists of personalities with national, professional and youth competence, so that they meet the challenges that plague the Palestinian cause. We are part of the Palestinian scene, and no party can exclude us or prevent us from participating in this democratic path. Therefore, our movement will participate in all elections, including the presidential (one), in the form it deems appropriate with the requirements of the current situation.”

There are different views about Dahlan’s influence on the election results and Fatah’s ability to make gains and not repeat the scenario from the 2006 elections, when Hamas achieved an overwhelming majority.

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Political analyst Mukhaimar Abu Saada said that Dahlan’s movement would run in the elections with a single list, after efforts to achieve internal Fatah reconciliation had failed.

Political analyst Mukhaimar Abu Saada said that Dahlan’s movement would run in the elections with a single list, after efforts to achieve internal Fatah reconciliation had failed.

He said it was in Hamas’ interest to have multiple Fatah lists because this approach would enhance its chances of achieving remarkable results.

He added that Fatah currently faced great challenges, not just from Dahlan’s list but also from Marwan Barghouti, who has not yet decided on participating in the elections.

“The best option is a unified Fatah, and if that is not possible, it will have the option of a partnership list with Hamas,” Saada told Arab News.

He believed it was too early to determine the extent of the damage as there were three months left before the polls and that options were still under discussion.

Options

The legislative elections will be followed by presidential elections on July 31 and then elections to form the National Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization on Aug. 31.

A member of the Fatah Central Committee, which is responsible for national dialogue, said that Fatah would start dialogues with all factions to build a broad national front in which everyone could participate for the elections.

Jibril Rajoub also said that “all options are open, including running the elections with a single list, if it is not possible to agree with the rest of the factions.”

Fatah Revolutionary Council member Abdullah Abdullah said that while Fatah was united and did not suffer from any division, Dahlan was an industry and not a national movement.

“Dahlan is a person who is dismissed from Fatah and adjudications have been issued against him,” Abdullah told Arab News. “He is not able to run in the elections. As for the members of his movement, who are mainly Fatah, there is nothing that prevents them from returning to Fatah.”

But political science professor, Naji Shurrab, said that Dahlan’s movement had become a reality that could not be ignored.

“During the past few years the movement has proven that it has become an organization with a presence and the masses not only in Gaza or the West Bank, but in the diaspora,” he told Arab News. “It has clear regional and Arab support. It has elements of financial strength, and it has succeeded in attracting youth.”

He ruled out internal Fatah reconciliation being achieved during Abbas’ lifetime and said that recent laws and judicial amendments made by the president were his attempts to exclude Dahlan from competing in the elections.

Shurrab said that Fatah would be the biggest loser from Abbas’ refusal to reconcile with Dahlan and unify the movement in the upcoming elections.

 


Egypt authorities hand documents on student murder to Italian envoy

Egypt authorities hand documents on student murder to Italian envoy
Updated 27 min 26 sec ago

Egypt authorities hand documents on student murder to Italian envoy

Egypt authorities hand documents on student murder to Italian envoy
  • Regeni was carrying out research on independent trade unions in Egypt when he disappeared in 2016
  • Regeni’s mutilated body was found on a roadside and bore signs of torture.

CAIRO: Egypt’s Public Prosecutor, Hamada El-Sawy, on Wednesday handed two official copies of the public prosecution’s report — in Arabic and Italian — on the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni to the Italian envoy in Cairo, Giampaolo Cantini.
The report said there was currently no basis for filing a criminal case because the perpetrator of the crime is unknown, but search authorities have been told to step up their investigation.
Regeni, 28, a Ph.D. student from Cambridge, was carrying out research on independent trade unions in Egypt when he disappeared on Jan. 24, 2016 in central Cairo.
At the time large numbers of police were in the area because of expected protests.
Regeni’s mutilated body was found on a roadside on Feb. 6, 2016. It bore signs of torture.
Police initially said that the student had died in a road accident. But an Italian autopsy showed that his body had cuts, broken bones and other injuries indicating he had been severely beaten.  
Egyptian authorities have denied that police were involved in Regeni’s torture or death.
The case has strained relations between the two countries, with Italy recalling its ambassador in protest. Diplomatic ties were restored in August 2017 after the Italian government said that it would return its envoy and continue the search for the killers.
Also present at the meeting on Wednesday were Giulia Mantini, first secretary at the Italian Embassy, and Badr Abdel Atti, Egyptian assistant foreign minister for European affairs.
The Italian ambassador also received the Kenyan judicial authorities’ response to a request for legal assistance sent by the Egyptian public prosecution.
The request was in response to a Kenyan police officer’s claim that during a security meeting in Nairobi an Egyptian police officer had admitted taking part in Regeni’s abduction. 


Lebanese army in crisis mode ahead of donor conference

Lebanese army in crisis mode ahead of donor conference
Updated 16 June 2021

Lebanese army in crisis mode ahead of donor conference

Lebanese army in crisis mode ahead of donor conference
BEIRUT: The Lebanese army is in desperate need of donor assistance to survive one of the world’s worst financial crashes, it said Wednesday ahead of a UN-backed fundraising conference.
Unlike previous donor conferences designed to provide training, weapons or equipment, the virtual meeting France hosts Thursday aims to offer the kind of humanitarian assistance usually reserved for countries grappling with conflict or natural disaster.
“We are in need of food parcels, health care assistance, and support with soldiers’ pay,” a military source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“The devaluation of the Lebanese pound is affecting soldiers and they are in need of support. Their salaries are not enough any more.”
Lebanon’s economic crisis, which the World Bank has labelled as one of the world’s worst since the 1850s, has eaten away at soldiers’ pay and slashed the military’s budget for maintenance and equipment, further threatening the country’s stability.
Already in July 2020, the army said it scrapped meat from the meals it gives for soldiers on duty, due to rising food prices.
“We are doing the impossible to ease the suffering and the economic woes of our soldiers,” army chief Joseph Aoun said in a speech on Tuesday.
“We are forced to turn to allied states to secure aid, and I am ready to go to the end of the world to procure assistance so that the army can stay on its feet.”
Thursday’s conference will see participation from Lebanon’s International Support Group, which includes Gulf states, European countries, the US, Russia and China.
It follows a visit by Aoun last month to Paris,where he warned that the army could face even darker days without emergency support.
“The Lebanese army is going through a major crisis, which could get worse due to the deteriorating economic and social situation in Lebanon, which may worsen when subsidies are lifted,” he said.
He was referring to a government plan to scrap subsidies on essential goods such as fuel, food and flour to shore up dwindling foreign currency reserves.
The army has been relying heavily on food donations from allied states since last summer’s monster port explosion in Beirut that killed more than 200 people and damaged swathes of the capital.
France, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey are among the army’s main food donors.
Iraq and Spain have offered medical assistance.
The United States remains the biggest financial backer of the Lebanese military.
It has bumped up funding for the army by $15 million for this year to $120 million.

Palestinian woman shot dead by Israelis in West Bank after attempted attack

Palestinian woman shot dead by Israelis in West Bank after attempted attack
Updated 16 June 2021

Palestinian woman shot dead by Israelis in West Bank after attempted attack

Palestinian woman shot dead by Israelis in West Bank after attempted attack
  • Palestinian health ministry said the soldiers responded with fire toward the assailant and neutralized her

RAMALLAH: A Palestinian woman was shot dead in the West Bank on Wednesday after attempting to ram Israeli soldiers with her car and attack them with a knife, the army and Palestinian health ministry said.
The Israeli army said “an assailant arrived in her car and attempted to ram into a number of IDF soldiers” near Hizma, south of Ramallah, before she “exited her vehicle with a knife drawn.”
“The soldiers responded with fire toward the assailant and neutralized her,” it said, with the Palestinian health ministry pronouncing her dead.


US envoy for Yemen heading to Saudi Arabia for ceasefire talks

 US envoy for Yemen heading to Saudi Arabia for ceasefire talks
Updated 16 June 2021

US envoy for Yemen heading to Saudi Arabia for ceasefire talks

 US envoy for Yemen heading to Saudi Arabia for ceasefire talks
  • Tim Lenderking will aim to reach a “comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire” in Yemen
  • He has visited the region six times since being appointed by Biden

DUBAI: US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for Yemen will meet with Saudi officials this week in the latest round of diplomatic talks to resolve the years-long war, the State Department said Tuesday.

Tim Lenderking, who has visited the region six times since being appointed by Biden, will aim to reach a “comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire” in Yemen.

In a statement, the State Department said that “Lenderking will travel to Saudi Arabia on June 15-17 where he will meet with senior officials from the Governments of the Republic of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as well as UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. Throughout the trip, Special Envoy Lenderking will discuss the latest efforts to achieve a comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire, which is the only way to bring Yemenis the relief they so urgently need,” the statement added.

Since Biden took office, the US administration has increased mediation efforts between both countries while easing sanctions on the Iran-backed Houthis. Despite his efforts, the Houthis have maintained their attacks on Saudi Arabia, undermining peace talks.

On Sunday, a Houthi explosive drone destroyed part of a school in the kingdom’s southwestern region of Asir.

“The United States also recognizes Saudi Arabia’s efforts to advance implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, which is essential to stability, security, and prosperity in the south of Yemen,” Washington said.
“Additionally, Special Envoy Lenderking will continue to press for the free flow of essential commodities and humanitarian aid into and throughout Yemen.”


Reformist drops out of Iran election on last day of campaign

Reformist drops out of Iran election on last day of campaign
Updated 16 June 2021

Reformist drops out of Iran election on last day of campaign

Reformist drops out of Iran election on last day of campaign
  • Mohsen Mehralizadeh resigned in a letter to Iran’s Interior Ministry
  • Mehralizadeh’s departure likely will boost former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati
TEHRAN: The only reformist candidate in Iran’s upcoming presidential election dropped out of the race Wednesday on the last day of campaigning, state media reported, likely trying to boost the chances of a moderate candidate.
Mohsen Mehralizadeh, 64, resigned in a letter to Iran’s Interior Ministry, which runs elections in the Islamic Republic, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. Such dropouts are common in Iranian presidential elections in order to boost the chances of similar candidates.
Mehralizadeh’s departure likely will boost former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati, who has been running as a moderate and as a stand-in for President Hassan Rouhani, who is term limited from running again.
Hemmati on Wednesday said that he would select Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to join his administration as either his vice president or foreign minister, embracing the top diplomat who was an architect of Tehran’s now-tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“The economic development of Iran is not possible without strong diplomatic engagement abroad,” Hemmati wrote on Twitter to explain his choice of Zarif. “My administration is after the removal of sanctions and use of foreign policy to achieve political development.”
The move appeared aimed at consolidating the pro-reform vote just ahead of the poll. Zarif, among the best-known political figures in the Rouhani administration, has come under fire from the political establishment in recent weeks after the leak of a contentious audiotape in which he offered a blunt appraisal of power struggles in the Islamic Republic.
There was no immediate word from Zarif on Hemmati’s announcement, but the minister has previously indicated a willingness to join the incoming administration.
Mehralizadeh’s withdrawal Wednesday leaves six candidates in the race. Polling and analysts indicate Hemmati lags behind the country’s hard-line judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, the campaign’s front-runner long cultivated by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other hard-line candidates may drop out Wednesday to lend their support to Raisi.
Mehralizadeh served as governor in two Iranian provinces, as the vice president in charge of physical education under reformist President Mohammad Khatami and as a deputy in the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, which runs the country’s civilian nuclear program. He came in last place in Iran’s 2005 election, but found himself barred from running in 2015.
Within Iran, candidates exist on a political spectrum that broadly includes hard-liners who want to expand Iran’s nuclear program and confront the world, moderates who hold onto the status quo and reformists who want to change the theocracy from within.
Although a range of prominent reformists and key Rouhani allies registered to run for president, Iran’s clerical vetting body allowed just several low-profile candidates, mostly hard-liners, to run against Raisi. Owing in part to the disqualifications as well as the raging coronavirus pandemic, voter apathy runs deep. The state-linked Iranian Student Polling Agency has most recently projected a 42 percent turnout from the country’s 59 million eligible voters, which would be a historic low amid mounting calls for a boycott.
In his weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Rouhani urged the public to vote, state TV reported.
“It does not do us any good if the election is cold, lacks people, and its ballots are sparsely populated,” said Rouhani.