Taliban assures safety of Afghans who worked with foreign forces, but few believe them

Taliban assures safety of Afghans who worked with foreign forces, but few believe them
Afghan police officer inspects a damaged van after a blast in Kabul. Taliban assured Afghans who worked with foreign forces of their safety, telling them not to flee the country. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 June 2021

Taliban assures safety of Afghans who worked with foreign forces, but few believe them

Taliban assures safety of Afghans who worked with foreign forces, but few believe them
  • Insurgent group said Afghans, who had worked as interpreters or in other roles would be safe so long as they "show remorse" for their past actions
  • "They will cut me into pieces if they catch me tomorrow,” said an Afghan who worked with foreign forces

KABUL: The Taliban have assured Afghans who worked with foreign forces of their safety, telling them not to flee the country as Western embassies process thousands of visa applications.
Few felt reassured as panic rises ahead of a troop withdrawal, however.
The insurgent group said on Monday Afghans who had worked as interpreters or in other roles would be safe so long as they “show remorse” for their past actions.
They must also not engage in activities which it said “amount to treason against Islam and the country.”
But as the clock ticks down to a final troop withdrawal deadline of Sept. 11 and fighting and killings rise around the country, the thousands of Afghans who have applied for visas to leave are becoming increasingly concerned.
“It is nothing but a lie, I don’t trust the Taliban...it is just a fake attempt to show a good image of their to the world,” said Babakarkhel, who asked to be identified by only one name.
He said he had worked with US forces in southeastern Afghanistan for six years.
“I am sure they will kill me, they will cut me into pieces if they catch me tomorrow.”
His visa has been in process for two years, he said.
Khan, who also asked his full name not be used, had worked as a translator for German forces in northern Afghanistan and has applied for a visa to Germany, said he constantly feared death from the Taliban and dreaded the withdrawal of troops while he waited for his visa.
“The Taliban hate us more than any others, calling us spies and traitors,” he said. “Nothing can change the Taliban’s’ mentality regarding us translators, which is our death...there is a big difference between the Taliban’s words and actions.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the US House Committee for Foreign Affairs on Monday there had been a backlog in cases and there were still about 18,000 applicants for the Special Immigrant Visas designed for those who had worked with US government forces and agencies.
Efforts were being made to speed things up, he said.
James Miervaldis, the Board Chairman of American non-profit No One Left Behind, which works with thousands of Afghan interpreters to help them get to the United States, said things were not moving fast enough.
“We’re very concerned. It’s good that things are happening, we just need them to happen faster. There’s real panic and fear across the board from every applicant.”
He said about two interpreters a month had been killed this year, but the figure rose to about five last month. Other interpreters were receiving threatening letters from the Taliban.
There was widespread mistrust of the Taliban’s assurances of safety, he said. “Nobody’s buying it.”
The Taliban did not respond to a request for comment on the threats and killings faced by interpreters.
The US State Department said it was still committed to resettling Afghans who had worked with the US government, and was troubled by the killings of non-combatants.
While it welcomed the Taliban’s statement, “We will not be reassured until all targeted attacks on civilians stop,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Fighting has increased across Afghanistan as the United States and more than 20 allied countries withdraw, ending a two-decade presence since the Taliban were forced from power in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Political talks between the government and the Taliban have largely stalled.


Fitch lifts 6 Saudi banks outlooks to stable from negative

Fitch lifts 6 Saudi banks outlooks to stable from negative
Updated 7 min 41 sec ago

Fitch lifts 6 Saudi banks outlooks to stable from negative

Fitch lifts 6 Saudi banks outlooks to stable from negative
  • These ratings follow a similar action on Saudi Arabia’s sovereign rating on 15 July 2021 that was attributed to better fiscal management and an increase in oil prices

RIYADH: Ratings agency Fitch has revised six Saudi banks’ credit outlooks to stable from negative and affirmed their international ratings at BBB+.

The banks are Arab National Bank (ANB), Banque Saudi Fransi (BSF), Alinma bank (Alinma), Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB), Bank Aljazira (BAJ) and Gulf International Bank - Saudi Arabia (GIB SA).

These ratings follow a similar action on Saudi Arabia’s sovereign rating on 15 July 2021 that was attributed to better fiscal management and an increase in oil prices.

“Fitch’s assessment considers the authorities’ strong ability to support the banking system, given large, albeit reduced from their historical levels, external reserves,” Fitch said in the statement.

“It also reflects a long record of support for Saudi banks, irrespective of their size, franchise, funding structure and level of government ownership.”


Saudi Arabia targets energy reduction worth $6.6bn by 2030, says CEO

Saudi Arabia targets energy reduction worth $6.6bn by 2030, says CEO
Updated 13 min 56 sec ago

Saudi Arabia targets energy reduction worth $6.6bn by 2030, says CEO

Saudi Arabia targets energy reduction worth $6.6bn by 2030, says CEO
  • Its services include retrofitting buildings and streetlighting and promotes the use of renewable energy, including rooftop solar PV

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Energy Services Company (Tarshid) said it plans to reduce energy consumption in the Kingdom by SR25 billion ($6.6 billion) by 2030.

“We are targeting integrated savings through the Saudi Energy Efficiency Program (SEEP), and in the public sector alone, we will be saving 8 terawatts and SR2.5 billion annually,” Tarshid CEO Waled Alghreri told CNBC Arabia in an interview.

Tarshid was established by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to pioneer energy efficiency in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy.

Its services include retrofitting buildings and streetlighting and promotes the use of renewable energy, including rooftop solar PV.

Its Energy Efficiency Program is a rare example of a country creating a dedicating, integrated initiative to target energy efficiency, said Alghreri.

Most such programs are scattered and decentralized and do not produce encouraging results, he said.


Sudanese judoka sent home from Olympics for not facing Israeli athlete

Israel’s Tohar Butbul in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics 73-kilogram division. (Reuters)
Israel’s Tohar Butbul in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics 73-kilogram division. (Reuters)
Updated 10 min 12 sec ago

Sudanese judoka sent home from Olympics for not facing Israeli athlete

Israel’s Tohar Butbul in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics 73-kilogram division. (Reuters)
  • The International Judo Foundation didn’t immediately announce a reason why Abdalrasool didn’t compete

TOKYO: A second judo athlete has dropped out of the Olympics before facing Israel’s Tohar Butbul in the 73-kilogram division.

Olympic officials say Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool didn’t show up to face Butbul in their round of 32 bout Monday despite weighing in for the bout earlier.

The International Judo Foundation didn’t immediately announce a reason why Abdalrasool didn’t compete, and the governing body didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Sudanese Olympic officials also didn’t immediately comment.

Algeria’s Fethi Nourine was sent home from the Tokyo Games and suspended by the IJF on Saturday after he withdrew to avoid a potential round of 32 matchup with Butbul. Nourine was supposed to face Abdalrasool for the right to meet Butbul.

Nourine later said his actions were a protest against Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Abdalrasool is the world’s 469th-ranked judoka in his weight class, while the accomplished Butbul is seventh.

Nourine also quit the World Judo Championships in 2019 right before he was scheduled to face Butbul.


Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year

Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year
Updated 56 min 57 sec ago

Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year

Amazon to rebrand Souq.com Egypt site this year
  • Souq.com sellers in Egypt encouraged to set up on Amazon.eg

CAIRO: Amazon said it plans to rebrand the Egyptian version of Souq.com as Amazon.eg this year, following similar moves in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Sales partners previously registered on Amazon’s Souq.com affiliate can access their accounts through the Amazon Seller Center in preparation for selling their products on the Amazon Egypt website immediately after its launch.

Amazon acquired Middle East etailer Souq.com in 2017 from Syrian entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar.

On May 1, 2019, Souq.com UAE became known as Amazon.ae. On June 17 last year, Amazon launched its dedicated Saudi website Amazon.sa, rebranding the old Souq.com website.

Amazon announced plans in March to hire 1,500 new employees in Saudi Arabia and add 11 buildings to its network. The expansion will boost storage capacity in the Kingdom by 89 percent and its geographical delivery network by 58 percent.

The company operates an extensive logistics network and local operations across Egypt, which includes the main warehouse supported by 15 delivery stations across the country.


Greek TV commentator fired for remark about SKorean athlete

Greek TV commentator fired for remark about SKorean athlete
Updated 27 July 2021

Greek TV commentator fired for remark about SKorean athlete

Greek TV commentator fired for remark about SKorean athlete
  • ERT television ended its collaboration with veteran journalist Dimosthenis Karmiris following comments he made
  • He said ‘their eyes are narrow so I can’t understand how they can see the ball’

ATHENS: A sports commentator in Greece who made an on-air remark about a South Korean athlete at the Tokyo Olympics that the station called racist has been fired, the country’s state-run broadcaster said Tuesday.
ERT television said it had ended its collaboration with veteran journalist Dimosthenis Karmiris as a guest commentator following comments he made after Jeoung Young-sik beat Panagiotis Gionis of Greece in men’s table tennis.
Asked about the skill of South Korean table tennis players, Karmiris said “their eyes are narrow so I can’t understand how they can see the ball moving back and forth.”
Several hours later, ERT posted a statement on its website.
“Racist comments have no place on public television,” ERT said in the statement. “The collaboration between ERT and Dimosthenis Karmiris was terminated today, immediately after the morning show.”
Jeoung beat Gionis 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 14-12.