Jordanian political committee member steps down after Eid Al-Adha comments

A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down after public pressure. (Supplied)
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A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down after public pressure. (Supplied)
A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down after public pressure. (Supplied)
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A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down after public pressure. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 July 2021

Jordanian political committee member steps down after Eid Al-Adha comments

A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down after public pressure. (Supplied)
  • Al-Khadra, professor of English at the American University of Madaba, submitted her resignation on Friday from the committee
  • She criticized what she described as the “unjustified slaughter of sheep” during Eid Al-Adha

AMMAN: A member of Jordan’s Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, Wafa Al-Kharda, has stepped down under public pressure following statements on Eid Al-Adha sacrifices that were deemed anti-Islamic.

Al-Khadra, professor of English at the American University of Madaba, submitted her resignation on Friday from the committee, which was formed by Jordan’s King Abdullah II on June 10 to overhaul the kingdom’s political system.

In a comment posted on her Facebook account, Al-Khadra criticized what she described as the “unjustified slaughter of sheep” during Eid Al-Adha, claiming the annual ritual has nothing to do with Islam.

In her comment, which she later deleted, Al-Khadra wrote: "Sheep butchering and serving it as Udhiyah (sacrifice) is unjustified and has nothing to do with Islam … the ritual is inhumane and lacks mercy.”

She also claimed that the practice went against modern concepts of environmental and ecosystem balance.  

Al-Khadra’s comments prompted unhappiness from the public, with many people taking to social media to demand her resignation from the committee.

The Ifta Department issued a statement, denouncing Al-Khadra’s remarks on Eid Al-Adha sacrifice but without mentioning her name.

The department’s Secretary-General Ahmed Hassanat said: “The purpose for the creation of animals and all creatures is the service of man." 

A group of retired army generals, calling themselves the Brothers in Arms Assembly, called for Al-Khadra’s dismissal from the committee, arguing that her remarks betrayed “hatred of the country’s religious constants.”

Al-Khadra issued a statement on Thursday in which she said that her remarks were taken out of context and that she did not mean what had been “misunderstood.”

She also said that she respects the Udhiyah ritual as an integral part of Islam.

The head of the committee, Samir Rifai, called on all members to adhere to the code of ethics they signed up to, and not to engage themselves in controversial matters.

In a letter sent to all members, Rifai, a former prime minister, also called for respect for the religious establishment and norms in Jordan.

Committee spokesperson Muhannad Mubeidin told government-owned Al-Mamlakah TV that Rifai referred Al-Khadra’s resignation to King Abdullah, who accepted it.  

On June 26, another member of the committee, Oraib Rentawi, also resigned following outrage at a statement he made on the 1968 Battle of Al-Karama between Jordan and Israel.

In an opinion piece in Ad-Dustour newspaper, Rentawi claimed that the conflict was between the Palestinian resistance, under the leadership of the late leader Yasser Arafat, and Israel.

Jordan celebrates the Battle of Al-Karama on March 21 as the first Arab victory against Israel by the Jordanian Armed Forces under the leadership of late King Hussein.

Rentawi’s remarks were received with public anger, especially from ex-army personnel who fought in the battle.


US negotiator says odds against reviving Iran deal

US negotiator says odds against reviving Iran deal
Updated 6 sec ago

US negotiator says odds against reviving Iran deal

US negotiator says odds against reviving Iran deal
  • US envoy to Iran Rob Malley says US will submit any new Iran nuclear deal for congressional review if it can be revived

WASHINGTON: The US pointman on Iran warned Wednesday it was more likely than not that talks would fail to revive a nuclear deal as he vowed no let-up in pressure if Tehran clings to its demands.
Rob Malley, who has led more than a year of indirect talks with Iran in Vienna, nonetheless told lawmakers that President Joe Biden’s administration still supported the 2015 nuclear accord and was ready to lift sanctions if it secures an agreement.
“As of today the odds of a successful negotiation are lower than the odds of failure and that is because of excessive Iranian demands to which we will not succumb,” Malley told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He said the United States would reject “demands that go beyond the scope of the JCPOA,” using the official name for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“We are fully prepared to live with and confront that reality if that is Iran’s choice,” Malley said.
He was likely referring to the clerical state’s demands to remove a terrorism blacklisting of the elite Revolutionary Guards, a step rejected by Biden and bitterly opposed by many in Congress.
But Malley made clear that Biden did not support military action — an option loudly mulled by Israel, which is suspected in a shadowy campaign of assassination against Iranian nuclear scientists.
“All options are on the table,” Malley said, while adding that military action would only “set back” Iran’s nuclear program.
Referring to the US history of war in the Middle East, Malley said, “We know that it costs.”
“But let’s leave it at this — the only solution here is a diplomatic one.”
Malley, however, warned of greater economic pressure if talks fail — and said the United States would have the support of the Europeans, unlike under former president Donald Trump.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday it was imposing sanctions on a network backed by Revolutionary Guard and Russian officials that has shipped hundreds of millions of dollars of oil in defiance of unilateral US sanctions.
The JCPOA — brokered under then president Barack Obama with the blessing of European powers, Russia and China — promised economic relief for Iran which, inspectors said, had been complying with the accord’s severe curbs on its nuclear program.
Trump withdrew in 2018 and imposed sweeping unilateral sanctions including on Iran’s oil, vowing to bring Tehran to its knees.
Malley said that Trump’s approach had demonstrably failed, with Iran stepping up nuclear work since the US pullout.
Senators including some from Biden’s Democratic Party voiced exasperation, noting that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had warned in January that only “a few weeks” were left before Iran had advanced to the point that the JCPOA was no longer beneficial.
“We continue to wait and hope. But hope is not a national security strategy,” said Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the committee.
Menendez said Iran had convinced the world “that the United States wants the JCPOA more than the Iranian regime does.”
Malley replied that technical assessments remain “that the nonproliferation benefits of the deal are worth the sanctions relief that we would provide.”
He also offered strong criticism of Iran’s crackdown on recent protests against austerity measures.
“I don’t think this is a strong regime that is basking in being able to circumvent sanctions,” Malley said.
“It is a regime under duress and that’s because of its own mismanagement and our sanctions.”

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Erdogan’s vowed military operation returns spotlight to Syrian border towns

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Updated 25 May 2022

Erdogan’s vowed military operation returns spotlight to Syrian border towns

Erdogan’s vowed military operation returns spotlight to Syrian border towns
  • Yeni Safak newspaper: ‘Among the probable targets of the Turkish Armed forces and the (Turkey-backed) Syrian National Army, are Tal Rifaat, Ain al Arab (Kobani), Ain Issa and Manbij’
  • The potential target areas are controlled by the US-backed YPG, which Ankara views as an extension of the PKK, a Kurdish militant group waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey

ISTANBUL: President Tayyip Erdogan’s pledge to carry out a new military incursion on Turkey’s southern borders has triggered speculation about potential targets, with the Syrian town of Tal Rifaat emerging as a primary goal of any operation.
Two days after Erdogan announced the plan, the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper said on Wednesday preparations had been made for a new operation to expand “safe zones” already set up in northern Syria, with several goals identified.
“Among the probable targets of the Turkish Armed forces and the (Turkey-backed) Syrian National Army, are Tal Rifaat, Ain al Arab (Kobani), Ain Issa and Manbij,” the paper said.
Turkish control of the towns, which lie on or close to a central stretch of the 911-km-long border with Syria, could extend and deepen its military presence from near the Mediterranean coast along nearly three-quarters of the frontier.
So far, there have been few signs of military movements that preceded Turkey’s last four incursions into northern Syria. Erdogan has said decisions on military operations would be made at a National Security Council meeting on Thursday.
The potential target areas are controlled by the US-backed YPG, which Ankara views as an extension of the PKK, a Kurdish militant group waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984. Turkey designates both as terrorist organizations.
The YPG has been the main target of several incursions which Turkey has carried out in northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of kilometers of land and pushing some 30 km (20 miles) deep into the country.
YPG spokesman Nuri Mahmoud told Reuters the group took Erdogan’s threats very seriously: “The international coalition, America, and Russia should commit to the pledges that they made to this region. Their presence in our areas must be meaningful, in the sense that it stops the repeated attacks on our people.”
The Yeni Safak newspaper said the most critical target of the latest operation would be Tal Rifaat, some 15 km (9 miles) from the Turkish border, which it said Kurdish fighters used as a base from which to launch attacks in the Afrin, Azaz and Jarablus areas controlled by Turkey and Ankara-backed Syrian fighters.
Tal Rifaat is located north of Aleppo city and just south of Azaz. An operation there alone would not represent a widening of Turkey’s “safe zones” along the border, but would push its forces deeper into Syria.
Dareen Khalifa, an analyst on Syria at the International Crisis Group, said it was unclear whether Erdogan was talking about an operation in Tal Rifaat or further east, but she highlighted the role of the town.
“Tal Rifaat, if anything, can get him what he wants and it would avoid triggering a huge headache. I don’t think the Americans care about Tal Rifaat,” she said.
Most US forces in northern Syria are based further east.
She said Russia, which has forces deployed in the region, had not been addressing his concerns on militant attacks on Turkish-controlled areas from Tal Rifaat, and that Erdogan has been saying for years that Tal Rifaat needs to be captured.
The predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani was touted as another potential target. The YPG’s defeat of Daesh militants there in 2015 helped turn the tide against the group.
“Kobani represents the value of a global victory in the war against terrorism,” YPG spokesman Mahmoud said. “There’s no doubt that our forces will do what is needed to defend” the area.
The YPG, or People’s Defense Units, are a key element of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the coalition which the United States largely relied on to fight Islamic State.
However, Khalifa played down the prospects of Turkey targeting Kobani.
“I don’t think there’s any interest in getting stuck in Kobani,” she said, pointing to the major demographic changes and reaction that would ensue if the Kurdish population fled.
She said that while United States forces were not in Manbij physically, it is a US zone of influence, so “I expect it to also trigger a US reaction.”
Any attack on Kobani would also risk triggering a strong reaction from Turkey’s Kurds, who make up some 20 percent of the country’s population. The Islamic State attack on Kobani in 2014 led to protests in which dozens died in Turkey.
Mithat Sancar, joint head of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), warned about the consequences of Erdogan’s plans for fresh military operations.
“We must all see that this will lead again to a bloody vortex in this region and country,” he told HDP lawmakers.
Erdogan’s talk of a military operation has also raised the stakes in Turkey’s row with NATO partners over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, with Turkey accusing both of harboring people linked to the PKK.
Analysts said the incursion plans reflected his belief that the West would not oppose such operations when it needs Ankara’s support for the Nordic countries’ bid to join NATO.
Erdogan’s announcement was also aimed at bolstering nationalist support as he gears up for difficult elections next year, analysts said. Cross-border military operations have boosted his poll ratings in the past.


Egypt pledges to help Libya reconstruction

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Updated 25 May 2022

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CAIRO: The head of the Egypt-based Arab Organization for Industrialization said it will “participate with its various companies and factories in the initiative to rebuild Libya.”

Abdel Moneim Al-Terras added: “The Egyptian state believes in the necessity of carrying out its national duty to support the brothers in Libya.”

He said: “Delegates from the Egyptian government had conducted exploratory visits in Libya … to determine the priority sectors in which Egyptian companies can work, as part of the reconstruction plans.”

Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ali Faraj Al-Qatrani said reconstruction is a priority for his government, which will support all companies wishing to take part.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Syndicate of Engineers signed a cooperation protocol with the Libyan General Syndicate of Engineering Professions.

Tarek Al-Nabarawy, chairman of the Egyptian syndicate, said the protocol includes exchanging experiences.


Egypt, Qatar discuss cooperation in health sector

Egypt, Qatar discuss cooperation in health sector
Updated 25 May 2022

Egypt, Qatar discuss cooperation in health sector

Egypt, Qatar discuss cooperation in health sector

CAIRO: Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Egypt’s acting minister of health and population, discussed with his Qatari counterpart Hanan Mohamed Al-Kuwari cooperation between the two countries in the health sector.

The meeting was among others held by Abdel Ghaffar on the sidelines of the 75th session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

He and Al-Kuwari discussed investment opportunities in Egypt’s health sector through the construction of advanced health facilities on par with international standards, as well as developing and raising the efficiency of medical units, centers and hospitals. They also reviewed achievements in Egypt’s health sector.

Abdel Ghaffar stressed the importance of developing a plan to raise the efficiency of medical cadres working in the health sector in Egypt and Qatar, as well as providing training programs for nursing teams and radiology technicians. He invited Al-Kuwari to visit Egyptian health facilities.


Turkey says normalization of Israel ties will help resolve Palestinian conflict

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Updated 25 May 2022

Turkey says normalization of Israel ties will help resolve Palestinian conflict

Turkey says normalization of Israel ties will help resolve Palestinian conflict
  • Mevlut Cavusoglu: Two countries agreed to ‘re-energize’ relations in many areas

ISTANBUL: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that the normalization of ties between Turkey and Israel will have a “positive impact” for a “peaceful” resolution to the Palestinian conflict.
In a news conference after talks with his Israeli counterpart, Cavusoglu said the two countries agreed to “re-energise” relations in many areas, including resuming talks on civil aviation.