Egypt, Jordan and Iraq summit rescheduled

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein (C) speaks accompanied by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (L) during a joint news conference after their meeting in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, March 29, 2021. (AP)
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein (C) speaks accompanied by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (L) during a joint news conference after their meeting in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, March 29, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 30 March 2021

Egypt, Jordan and Iraq summit rescheduled

Egypt, Jordan and Iraq summit rescheduled
  • The ministers discussed economic cooperation, ways to enhance ties, and the latest regional and international developments
  • After Gulf normalization, pact ‘necessary to promote Amman’s interests,’ analyst says

AMMAN: The foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq met in Baghdad on Monday to reschedule a leaders summit following the event’s postponement last Saturday due to a train accident in Egypt that killed 19 people.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II called Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to highlight the importance of building a network “complementary to the needs of the people” of the three countries.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said he discussed with Ayman Safadi and Sameh Shoukry, his counterparts from Jordan and Egypt respectively, several aspects of joint economic cooperation. He added that they also talked about strengthening and developing cooperation in the urban and industrial fields, and ways to facilitate the granting of entry visas to citizens of each other’s countries.

They also discussed economic, regional and international issues of common concern, including recent developments in a number of regional issues including the Palestinian situation, the conflict in Syria, the war on terror, and the crises in Yemen and Libya, according to a joint statement.

Shoukry said that Cairo is looking forward to the leaders’ summit taking place as soon as possible to help enhance cooperation between the three countries, in particular in the fields of energy, health, construction, reconstruction, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and food.

Safadi said the security and stability of Iraq is necessary for the security of the region, and that his country stands by Iraq in its efforts to restore stability and rebuild. He added that he hopes the leaders’ summit will be “effective” in enhancing joint cooperation.

Oraib Rantawi, director of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, told Arab News that the upcoming summit is important because it will bring benefits for all countries in the region.

“The benefits in terms of energy cooperation and an electric network, rebuilding plans for Iraq, building a major highway allowing for the movement of workers and setting up free tax areas will help all regional countries.” Rantawi said.

Despite Palestine not being part of the coalition at present, there is “no reason why they will not be included later once they can find ways to avoid Israeli obstacles,” Rantawi added.

Wafa Bani Mustafa, head of the Alliance of Female Arab Parliamentarians, said that a unifying agreement between countries in the region is useful and necessary.

“But we have had bad experiences in the past and hopefully we have bypassed those. Can we open up with Baghdad without making a decision about Iran and the return of the Jordanian ambassador to Tehran?”

Mustafa said that the upcoming summit should be seen in a “positive way,” despite the public “being uneasy because of failures and a lack of credibility in past agreements.”

The former Jordanian MP also said there is a political importance to the summit. “After the Gulf normalization with Israel, this alliance is necessary for Jordan’s highest interests.”

However, Khaled Ramadan, a former Jordanian MP and leader of the Maan political movement, said that foreign interests could be pushing the agreement. “I am worried that this is not a serious effort and that the move is partly driven by the US, which has signed military agreements with all three countries.”

But Ramadan said that the pandemic has also forced countries to revisit the prospect of improved regional relations.

“If the pact is mostly economic, then I think it would be good for all three countries.”

Ramadan added that, if the pact is void of external political forces, then it would be a “good idea” for Palestine to enter into the alliance.


TankerTrackers says third tanker carrying fuel to Lebanon underway

TankerTrackers says third tanker carrying fuel to Lebanon underway
Updated 19 September 2021

TankerTrackers says third tanker carrying fuel to Lebanon underway

TankerTrackers says third tanker carrying fuel to Lebanon underway
  • The first tanker ship carried the fuel to Syria and from there it was taken into Lebanon on tanker trucks on Thursday
  • Mikati said on Friday the Iranian fuel shipments constitute a breach of Lebanon’s sovereignty

DUBAI: A third tanker has sailed from Iran carrying Iranian fuel for distribution in Lebanon, TankerTrackers.com reported on Twitter on Sunday.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Friday the Iranian fuel shipments, imported by the Hezbollah movement, constitute a breach of Lebanon’s sovereignty.
The Iran-aligned group says the shipments should ease a crippling energy crisis in Lebanon.
The first tanker ship carried the fuel to Syria and from there it was taken into Lebanon on tanker trucks on Thursday.
Both Syria and Iran are under US sanctions.


Iran museums reopen after year-long COVID-19 break

Iran museums reopen after year-long COVID-19 break
Updated 19 September 2021

Iran museums reopen after year-long COVID-19 break

Iran museums reopen after year-long COVID-19 break
  • A country with a millennia-long history, Iran has an abundance of 746 museums
  • Iran’s museums attracted more than 21 million visitors in the year before the outbreak of COVID-19

TEHRAN: Iran reopened museums in Tehran and other cities Sunday after a more than year-long closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Museums in Tehran and other large cities that are no longer red-coded, meaning the risk of contracting the virus was very high, reopened on Sunday,” the director of Iran’s museums, Mohammad-Reza Kargar, said.
“Tourists and visitors are welcome to return while observing (sanitary) measures.”
A country with a millennia-long history, Iran has an abundance of 746 museums, including 170 in the capital.
“We are absolutely delighted, and we think the people are too because they were fed up with staying home, and visiting museums improves their mood,” Kargar said in his tourism and heritage ministry office.
“We have safety protocols in place of course, and the number of visitors will be dependent on the space at our sites so the public stays safe and healthy.”
Kargar said only students, researchers and staff were allowed into museums during the past 14 months.
Iran’s museums attracted more than 21 million visitors in the year before the outbreak of COVID-19 that forced museums to close in May 2020.
On Sunday, the National Museum of Iran with its magnificent collection of treasures dating back to the Bronze and Iron ages was still deserted.
“We have to wait for the news to spread and schools to reopen for people to come back,” explained Firouzeh Sepidnameh, head of the museum’s pre-Islamic collections.
Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, has confirmed more than 5.4 million cases of coronavirus, including 117,000 deaths, according to figures issued Sunday by the health ministry.
Out of a population of 83 million, 29 million Iranians have received a first dose of vaccination and almost 14 million have been fully vaccinated against the virus.


UN ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi execution of 9 civilians

UN ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi execution of 9 civilians
Updated 19 September 2021

UN ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi execution of 9 civilians

UN ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi execution of 9 civilians
  • Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: Men shot in public did not receive fair trial
  • The US Embassy to Yemen also condemned the “brutal” executions and called for such “barbarism” to end

NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the Houthis on Sunday for executing nine civilians without a fair trial, one of whom was 15 at the time of detention.

Guterres’s spokesman said that the UN chief “deeply regrets” the Houthi executions and “strongly condemns these actions which are a result of judicial proceedings that do not appear to have fulfilled the requirements of fair trial and due process under international law.”

The nine men were shot in the back after they were forced to lie on the floor in public. They were charged with involvement in the killing of the Houthi leader Saleh Al-Samad in 2018 by an Arab Coalition air strike.

The group were accused of putting SIM cards in the pockets of Al-Samad’s guards, helping the coalition locate him.

Al-Samad, then president of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, was visiting Hodeidah in April 2018 to incite residents to join the war when the coalition hit his convoy, killing him along with six others, and inflicting a heavy blow to the Houthis.

Guterres said he opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and reiterated that “international law sets stringent conditions for the application of the death penalty, including compliance with fair trial and due process standards as stipulated under international law.”

The UN chief called on all parties and authorities to adopt a moratorium on carrying out of the death penalty.

He also urged all everyine to cease violence in Yemen, and work with the UN to revive peace talks.

The US Embassy to Yemen also condemned the “brutal” executions and called for such “barbarism” to end.

Charge d'Affaires Cathy Westley said that “This outrageous action is another example of the Houthis indifference to basic human rights and follows only days after their attack on the commercial port of Mocha.”


UAE daily COVID-19 cases at lowest in over a year

UAE daily COVID-19 cases at lowest in over a year
Updated 19 September 2021

UAE daily COVID-19 cases at lowest in over a year

UAE daily COVID-19 cases at lowest in over a year
  • The UAE government earlier introduced a booster shot drive for fully vaccinated individuals

DUBAI: Daily coronavirus cases in the UAE were at their lowest in over a year on Sunday, with the Gulf state’s high vaccination rate among its population ensuring community immunity against the highly transmissible disease.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention  (MoHAP) confirmed that 391 people had tested positive in the last 24 hours, the lowest since Aug. 30 last year with 362 cases, as well as two deaths due to COVID-19 complications.

The number of people who have tested positive in the UAE since the pandemic started stands at 732,690 with 2,075 fatalities.

MoHAP earlier said 91.93 percent of its almost 10 million population have received at least a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world – while 81.08 percent of residents and citizens have been fully vaccinated.

The UAE government earlier introduced a booster shot drive for individuals who were inoculated particularly with the Sinopharm vaccine to increase immunity against the virus.

A total 19,412,656 doses have been administered so far, for a vaccine distribution rate equivalent to 196.28 doses per 100 people.

The continued decline in COVID-19 numbers in the UAE has prompted Abu Dhabi to lift COVID-19 testing requirements for residents before they are allowed entry into the emirate.

The COVID-19 checkpoint at the Abu Dhabi-Dubai was removed just after midnight on Sunday.

The decision follows the announcement of a decreased COVID-19 infection rate in the emirate of 0.2 percent of total tests and the activation of the green pass system to enter some public places, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee said in a statement.

The committee also approved home quarantine without the use of wristbands for international travellers and those in contact with positive cases.

COVID-19 positive individuals in the emirate are however still required to wear a wristband as part of monitoring to ensure compliance with precautionary measures.


Oman to open mosques for Friday prayers to those vaccinated

Oman to open mosques for Friday prayers to those vaccinated
Updated 19 September 2021

Oman to open mosques for Friday prayers to those vaccinated

Oman to open mosques for Friday prayers to those vaccinated
  • Those who meet the requirement can apply for a permit online to attend Friday prayers

DUBAI: Oman will allow people who received two doses of the covid-19 vaccine to perform Friday prayers at mosques from next month, the sultanate said Sunday. 

The country’s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs that those who meet the requirement can apply for a permit online to attend Friday prayers. 

The ministry also said it will form a team of volunteers to verify that those entering the mosque have taken two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

The mosques and its annexes will be operated at 50 percent of their capacity while maintaining social distancing will remain a must. Attendees will also be required to being their own prayer rug and wear a mask.