Algeria to divert Spain gas supplies away from Morocco pipeline

Algeria to divert Spain gas supplies away from Morocco pipeline
In Amenas gas plant, 1,300 kilometres southeast of Algiers. (AFP/File)
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Updated 28 August 2021

Algeria to divert Spain gas supplies away from Morocco pipeline

Algeria to divert Spain gas supplies away from Morocco pipeline
  • Algeria exports natural gas to Spain via both the Medgaz pipeline and the higher-capacity GME pipeline which runs overland through Morocco

ALGIERS: Algeria has said it is ready to divert all its Spain-bound natural gas exports via an undersea pipeline that bypasses Morocco, state media said, days after Algiers cut ties with its North African rival.
In a meeting with Spanish Ambassador Fernando Moran, Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab stressed “Algeria’s full commitment to cover all of Spain’s natural gas supplies through the Medgaz” pipeline, said a statement quoted by the official APS news agency.
Algeria exports natural gas to Spain via both the Medgaz pipeline and the higher-capacity GME pipeline which runs overland through Morocco.
But on Tuesday Algiers abruptly cut diplomatic relations with its western neighbor over alleged “hostile actions,” accusations Rabat has dismissed as “absurd.”
The rift came just over two months before the GME pipeline, currently owned by Spanish gas giant Naturgy, passes into Moroccan ownership on Nov. 1.
Negotiations over Algeria’s continued access to the pipeline had already been complicated by growing strains in ties between Algiers and Rabat.
Last Saturday, Morocco had said it wanted to keep open the GME pipeline, which carries about half of Algeria’s gas exports to Spain.
But ties have collapsed, particularly after Algeria accused Morocco of complicity in deadly forest fires that killed at least 90 people.
Morocco’s normalization of ties with Israel last year as a quid pro quo for US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara also angered Algiers.
The Medgaz pipeline’s capacity of some 8 billion cubic meters per year to Spain is set to be expanded by 25 percent. But this higher capacity alone will not be able to handle what Algeria has historically exported to Spain, according to the Middle East Economic Survey.


Senior European politicians call for UN probe into 1988 Iran massacres

Senior European politicians call for UN probe into 1988 Iran massacres
Updated 11 sec ago

Senior European politicians call for UN probe into 1988 Iran massacres

Senior European politicians call for UN probe into 1988 Iran massacres
  • Ex-Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt likens killings of 30,000 political prisoners to ‘genocide’
  • Ex-UK Parliament speaker: Iran’s president ‘must be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. He’s a disgrace’

LONDON: Senior politicians from across the EU and UK on Monday urged the UN to open an investigation into the 1988 massacres of political prisoners by the Iranian regime.

Speaking at an event hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran and attended by Arab News, former heads of state and senior parliamentary figures threw their support behind its campaign for accountability over the massacres.

Guy Verhofstadt, Belgium’s prime minister from 1999 to 2008, described the massacres — in which Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi played a key role as a prosecutor in Tehran — as “genocide.”

Verhofstadt, now a member of the European Parliament, said: “The impunity crisis in Iran reached a peak in June when Raisi was appointed as the regime’s president. He’s one of the main perpetrators of the 1988 mass murder of more than 30,000 political prisoners.

“Instead of being tried for crimes against humanity, he’s occupying the post of presidency. This shows that impunity is rampant in Iran.”

The 1988 killings heavily targeted the Mujahedin el-Khalq, an opposition group that played a key role in the 1979 revolution but was later violently turned upon by Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini as he sought to consolidate power. 

The MEK is the largest constituent organization of the NCRI, an umbrella movement for Iranian opposition groups.

Many current members of the NCRI lost family and friends in the massacres, which Amnesty International has described as “crimes against humanity.”

Verhofstadt said: “The architects and perpetrators of genocides must always be brought to justice. Crimes against humanity can never go unpunished. We are shocked by the genocide that took place in Iran in 1988. The men and women died only because they strived for a free and democratic Iran.”

Also in attendance at Monday’s event was John Bercow, who served as the speaker in the British Parliament for a decade until 2019.

Best known for his commands of “order” aimed at unruly MPs, he took on a somber tone to tell attendees that “the 1988 massacre must be investigated.” Raisi “must be prosecuted for crimes against humanity,” said Bercow. “He’s a disgrace.”

Bercow also voiced his backing more broadly for the NCRI’s mission, calling himself an “ally” and “friend” of the group, and reiterating his support for their slogan: “Down with the oppressor, be it the shah or the supreme leader.” He added: “I back your call for a secular and democratic republic.”

Other speakers at Monday’s event included former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Both echoed Bercow’s and Verhofstadt’s calls for an investigation into the 1988 massacres — which they said continues to be covered up to this day — and backed the NCRI under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, the group’s president-elect.

Rajavi, who became leader of the NCRI after her husband and its former leader Massoud Rajavi disappeared in Iraq in 2003, said the organization seeks to install a government that is “the democratic alternative to the clerical regime.”

The NCRI, she added, “seeks a republic based on the separation of religion and state, gender equality, and the autonomy of the oppressed ethnic groups.”


US and Kuwait call for dialogue to de-escalate Russia-Ukraine crisis

US and Kuwait call for dialogue to de-escalate Russia-Ukraine crisis
Updated 13 min 14 sec ago

US and Kuwait call for dialogue to de-escalate Russia-Ukraine crisis

US and Kuwait call for dialogue to de-escalate Russia-Ukraine crisis
  • Antony Blinken made a phone call to his Kuwait counterpart
  • They also discussed relations and ways to develop their strategic partnership

LONDON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, the State Department said on Monday.
During the call, they discussed “Russia’s threats against Ukraine and the importance of dialogue to de-escalate the situation,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
The West has accused Russia of deploying tanks, artillery and about 100,000 soldiers on Ukraine’s war-torn eastern border in recent weeks, in what NATO says is preparation for an invasion.
Meanwhile, Blinken also said he looks forward to hosting the Kuwaiti minister soon in Washington for the fifth US-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue.
The fourth round was held in November 2020, where both government reaffirmed their shared commitment to promote regional stability and security. 
Kuwait’s foreign ministry said the two sides also discussed bilateral relations, the strategic partnership between the two countries and ways to enhance them in all fields, as well as the latest regional and international developments.
(With AFP)


Sudanese forces open fire on anti-coup protests, killing 3

Sudanese forces open fire on anti-coup protests, killing 3
Updated 17 January 2022

Sudanese forces open fire on anti-coup protests, killing 3

Sudanese forces open fire on anti-coup protests, killing 3
  • Monday’s deaths bring to at least 67 the number of people killed in near-daily demonstrations in the capital of Khartoum and other cities and towns in Sudan
  • Activist Nazim Sirag said three protesters were killed when security forces opened fire to break up a march in Khartoum — several others were wounded by gunshots

CAIRO: Sudanese security forces opened fire on protesters Monday, killing at least three people and wounding several as thousands took to the streets in Khartoum and elsewhere in the country to denounce an October military coup, activists said.
The military takeover has scuttled hopes of a peaceful transition to democracy in Sudan, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir in April 2019.
The turmoil has been amplified after Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok stepped down earlier this month. Hamdok resigned after his efforts to bridge the gap between the generals and the country’s pro-democracy movement failed.
Monday’s deaths bring to at least 67 the number of people killed in near-daily demonstrations in the capital of Khartoum and other cities and towns in Sudan.
Footage circulating online shows protesters, mostly young people, marching in the streets of Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman. There were also protests in Port Sudan, Wad Madani Obaid and the western Darfur region.
Activist Nazim Sirag said three protesters were killed when security forces opened fire to break up a march in Khartoum. He said several others were wounded by gunshots.
The Sudan Doctors Committee, which is part of the pro-democracy movement, also reported the deaths and said dozens of others were wounded Monday in Khartoum.
The fatalities will likely further complicate UN efforts to find a way out of the ongoing crisis. The United Nations and Western governments have widely condemned the crackdown on protesters.
The demonstrations are called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Resistance Committees, which were the backbone of the uprising against Al-Bashir. The two groups reject negotiations with the military, insisting it hand over power to a fully civilian government to lead the transition.
The generals, meanwhile, reject the protesters’ demands, saying that power will be handed over only to an elected government.


Sudan to establish anti-terrorism force — Sovereign Council

Sudan to establish anti-terrorism force — Sovereign Council
Updated 17 January 2022

Sudan to establish anti-terrorism force — Sovereign Council

Sudan to establish anti-terrorism force — Sovereign Council
  • Huge crowds have regularly taken to the streets demanding a return to civilian rule since a military coup on Oct. 25

Sudan’s Sovereign Council is to establish an anti-terrorism force to counter “potential threats,” it said in a statement on Monday.
Huge crowds have regularly taken to the streets demanding a return to civilian rule since a military coup on Oct. 25 ended a power-sharing arrangement that began after autocrat Omar Al-Bashir was toppled by a popular uprising in 2019.


Two-year suspension for Jordan MP Al-Riyati after ‘violent, indecent behavior’

Two-year suspension for Jordan MP Al-Riyati after ‘violent, indecent behavior’
Updated 17 January 2022

Two-year suspension for Jordan MP Al-Riyati after ‘violent, indecent behavior’

Two-year suspension for Jordan MP Al-Riyati after ‘violent, indecent behavior’
  • Representative says fisticuffs ‘a defense of God and honor of female colleague’

AMMAN: Jordanian MPs on Monday imposed a two-year suspension on their colleague Hassan Al-Riyati for “violent and indecent behavior” during the lower house’s session on constitutional amendments.

A majority of lawmakers voted in favor of the parliamentary disciplinary committee’s recommendation to impose a two-year membership freeze on Al-Riyati, a representative of Jordan’s southern port city of Aqaba.

Al-Riyati was among three other MPs who engaged in fisticuffs when the chamber descended into a mass brawl on Dec. 28 last year following a heated discussion over controversial constitutional amendments.

The incident began after a session opened with a discussion on proposed constitutional amendments, under which the term “female Jordanians” was added to the title of the second chapter of the constitution on Jordanians’ rights and duties.

Some MPs, especially women, claimed that the amendment will create discrimination between Jordanians based on gender.

The heated discussion ignited verbal altercations and an exchange of insults between House Speaker Abdul Karim Dughmi and Deputy Suleiman Abu Yahya, who accused Dughmi of an “inability to run the show.”

In press remarks following Monday’s session, Al-Riyati described the decision to suspend him as “unfair and biased,” adding that the disciplinary committee’s report on the case was “inaccurate and faulty.”

Al-Riyati said that the committee recommended no disciplinary measures against other lawmakers who were also involved in the brawl.

“No single punishment was imposed on the MPs who insulted God and our female colleague using blasphemous and indecent behavior,” Al-Riyati added.

The lawmaker said that he would challenge the suspension decision or would resign. “All options are on the table now, but I have not made up my mind yet.”

Following the session on Dec. 28, Al-Riyati was given a hero’s welcome by his supporters in Aqaba, about 300 kilometers south of the capital, Amman.

At the time, the deputy justified his violent behavior during the session as “a defense of God and the honor of his female colleague.”