Israel’s envoy inaugurates diplomatic mission in Morocco

Israel’s envoy inaugurates diplomatic mission in Morocco
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Israel’s foreign minister on Thursday inaugurated the country’s diplomatic representation in Morocco. (@yairlapid)
Israel’s envoy inaugurates diplomatic mission in Morocco
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Moroccan and Israeli flags are displayed in the Moroccan Foreign Ministry during an official visit by the Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (AP)
Israel’s envoy inaugurates diplomatic mission in Morocco
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Israel’s foreign minister on Thursday inaugurated the country’s diplomatic representation in Morocco. (@yairlapid)
Israel’s envoy inaugurates diplomatic mission in Morocco
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Israel’s foreign minister on Thursday inaugurated the country’s diplomatic representation in Morocco. (@yairlapid)
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Updated 12 August 2021

Israel’s envoy inaugurates diplomatic mission in Morocco

Israel’s envoy inaugurates diplomatic mission in Morocco
  • Lapid met with his Moroccan counterpart Wednesday, they signed an air service agreement and another agreement
  • Also signed a MoU on the establishment of a political consultation mechanism between their foreign ministries

RABAT: Israel’s foreign minister on Thursday inaugurated the country’s diplomatic representation in Morocco, a symbol of the normalization of the relations between the two nations.
Yair Lapid’s two-day visit is the first to the country by an Israeli minister since 2003. It comes comes less than a year after Israel and Morocco reached a deal to establish formal ties under the US-brokered “Abraham Accords.”
Lapid tweeted pictures of him formally opening the Israeli liaison office in Rabat, the capital, alongside the Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Mohcine Jazouli. He was then to head to Casablanca where he was to visit a synagogue, the Temple Beth-El.
On Wednesday, Lapid met with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita and both countries signed an air service agreement and another agreement to cooperate in the fields of culture, sports and youth.
They also signed a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a political consultation mechanism between their countries’ foreign ministries, which appeared to fit into the wider design of the face-to-face diplomacy during Lapid’s visit.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Wednesday that the United States congratulates Morocco and Israel “on the reopening of the Israeli Liaison Office in Rabat. We will continue to work with Israel and Morocco to strengthen all aspects of our partnerships.”
Israel and Morocco had low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but Morocco cut them off after the second Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000. The two countries maintained informal ties, with thousands of Israelis traveling to Morocco each year.
The Abraham Accords were struck last year with four Arab states: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
They shook up the region by upending the long-held belief that Israel could not normalize relations with the broader Arab world without progress in resolving its decades-old conflict with the Palestinians. The Palestinians have rejected the agreements.
As part of the deal to establish formal ties with Israel, the United States agreed to recognize Morocco’s claim over the long-disputed Western Sahara region, though the Biden administration has said it will review that decision. Morocco’s 1975 annexation of Western Sahara is not recognized by the United Nations.


France's Macron meets UAE's 'MBZ' at start of Gulf tour

Updated 10 sec ago

France's Macron meets UAE's 'MBZ' at start of Gulf tour

France's Macron meets UAE's 'MBZ' at start of Gulf tour
Dubai: French President Emmanuel Macron met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Friday at the start of a two-day Gulf tour with some lucrative deals set to be signed including several for Rafale fighter jets.
Macron was greeted at the leadership pavilion at Dubai’s Expo site for talks with Sheikh Mohammed, known as “MBZ,” after which they are expected to announce a series of contracts and agreements.
“I don’t want to reveal the Christmas present” before the meeting, UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash told journalists in the build-up to the talks in Dubai.
Macron arrived in the early hours of Friday for a brief Gulf tour where he will also visit Qatar, host of next year’s World Cup, before traveling to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
The UAE, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Thursday, is expected to order dozens of Rafale jets to replace its Mirage 2000 aircraft acquired in the late 1990s.
The Emirates is the fifth biggest customer for the French defense industry with 4.7 billion euros from 2011-2020, according to a parliamentary report.
Macron is accompanied by a large delegation in Dubai including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Defense Minister Florence Parly.

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog
Updated 56 min 22 sec ago

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to comply with chemical weapons watchdog

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has urged Syrian authorities to cooperate with the chemical weapons watchdog and implement all decisions related to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The Kingdom’s position on the matter was reiterated by the Saudi permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ziyad Al-Attiyah.

He said: “The use of chemical weapons and toxic chemicals as weapons anywhere by any person and under any circumstances is reprehensible and completely contradicts the provisions of the convention and the legal rules and standards of the international community.”

His comments came during the 26th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention on Thursday in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Al-Attiyah also highlighted the importance his country attached to implementing its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, believing in its objectives, and based on its consistent policy to strengthen cooperation to ban weapons of mass destruction and prevent their spread.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia was keen to help free the Middle East of all WMDs, a move that would increase international peace and security.

Al-Attiyah thanked the organization’s director general, Fernando Arias, for his efforts toward the cause, adding that the Kingdom would be supporting his reappointment for a second term.


Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials
Updated 03 December 2021

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials

Civilians among 10 dead in north Iraq attack blamed on Daesh: officials
  • The jihadists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of Irbil

IRBIL: At least three civilians and seven Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters have been killed in northern Iraq in an attack blamed on the Daesh jihadist group, the forces said Friday.
The jihadists attacked the village of Khidir Jija, south of Irbil, killing three civilians, a statement said. The peshmerga, Kurdistan’s armed forces, launched an operation in response, and seven fighters died when “an explosive device planted by Daesh elements” blew up.


Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials
Updated 17 min 43 sec ago

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials

Iran nuclear talks to break on Friday with formal meeting – officials
  • The US and Iran both sounded pessimistic about the chances of reinstating the deal,

DUBAI/VIENNA: The seventh round of indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which began this week, will end on Friday with a formal meeting of the remaining parties to the deal, European and Iranian officials said.

The meeting of Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China is in a format known as the Joint Commission which has bookended previous rounds of talks. The Iranian official said the meeting would be held around noon (1100 GMT). The aim is to resume the talks next week, the European diplomat said.

“The Europeans want to return to their capitals for consultations ... We are ready to stay in Vienna for further talks,” an Iranian official close to the talks said.

On the fourth day of indirect US-Iran talks on bringing both nations fully back into the deal, the United States and Iran both sounded pessimistic about the chances of reinstating the deal, which former US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.


UN says Daesh committed war crimes at Iraqi prison

UN says Daesh committed war crimes at Iraqi prison
Updated 03 December 2021

UN says Daesh committed war crimes at Iraqi prison

UN says Daesh committed war crimes at Iraqi prison
  • ‘At least 1,000 predominantly Shiite prisoners were systematically killed’
  • Daesh fighters seized Iraqi cities and declared a self-styled caliphate in a large swathe of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014

UNITED NATIONS: The head of a UN team investigating atrocities in Iraq said that Daesh extremists committed crimes against humanity and war crimes at a prison in Mosul in June 2014, where at least 1,000 predominantly Shiite Muslim prisoners were systematically killed.
Christian Ritscher told the UN Security Council on Thursday that evidence collected from mass graves containing the remains of victims of executions carried out at Badush Central Prison and from survivors shows detailed preparations of the attack by senior Daesh members followed by an assault on the morning of June 10 that year.
“Prisoners captured were led to sites close to the prison, separated based on their religion and humiliated,” he said. “At least 1,000 predominantly Shiite prisoners were then systematically killed.”
Ritscher said the investigators’ analysis of digital, documentary, survivors and forensic evidence, including Daesh documents, has identified a number of members from the extremist group, also known as IS or ISIL, who were responsible for the crimes.
As a result of the investigations, he said the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes committed by the Daesh group in Iraq has concluded that Daesh committed “crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, torture, enforced disappearances, persecution and other inhumane acts” at Badush prison as well as the “war crimes of willful killing, torture, inhumane treatment, and outrage upon personal dignity.”
Daesh fighters seized Iraqi cities and declared a self-styled caliphate in a large swathe of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014. The group was formally declared defeated in Iraq in 2017 following a three-year bloody battle that left tens of thousands dead and cities in ruins, but its sleeper cells continue to launch attacks in different parts of Iraq.
In May, Ritscher’s predecessor Karim Khan told the council that investigators had found “clear and compelling evidence” that Daesh extremists committed genocide against the Yazidi minority in 2014. He also said the militant group successfully developed chemical weapons and used mustard gas.
Ritscher hailed the “landmark moment” two days ago that saw the first-ever conviction of a Daesh member for the crime of genocide at the regional court in Frankfurt, Germany. The 29-year-old Iraqi was also convicted of crimes against humanity, war crimes and bodily harm resulting in death over the death of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl he had purchased as a slave with her mother and then chained up in the hot sun to die.
“We now have the chance, collectively, to make such prosecutions the norm, not a celebrated exception,” Ritscher said. “In cooperation with Iraqi authorities and those of the Kurdistan region, together with survivors and with the support of this council, we are building the evidence that can deliver meaningful justice for all those who suffered from ISIL crimes in Iraq.”
Ritscher said evidence collected relating to the Badush prison attacks underlined the detailed planning by Daesh in carrying out their atrocities.
The extremist group’s approach “is seen even more clearly in two other key lines of investigation that have accelerated in the last six months: the development and use of chemical and biological weapons by ISIL, and the financial mechanisms through which it sustained its campaign of violence,” he said.
The team’s evidence also “shows that ISIL clearly identified and then seized chemical production factories and other sources of precursor material, while also overtaking the University of Mosul campus as a hub for research and development,” Ritscher said.
The extremist group’s program became more sophisticated and investigators have identified more than 3.000 victims of Daesh chemical weapons attacks as well as its use of rocket artillery projectiles containing a mustard sulfur agent, he said.
In his next briefing to the Security Council, Ritscher said he will present the team’s findings on Daesh’s use of chemical weapons including the crimes it committed.
He also stressed the critical importance of bringing the Daesh’s financiers and those who profit from the group’s crimes to justice.
Ritscher said investigators have uncovered the inner workings of the Daesh central treasury and a network of senior leaders who also acted “as trusted financiers, diverting wealth that Daesh gained through pillage, theft of property from targeted communities and the imposition of a systematic and exploitative taxation system imposed on those living under ISIL control.”
He said the team recently shared information with the Iraqi judiciary on the use of money service businesses by the group “as key facilitators of their financing,” and it looks forward to expanding this kind of cooperation.