Tunisia’s Islamist party falling apart as over 100 key members resign amid crisis

Tunisia's parliament speaker and Ennahdha party leader Rached Ghannouchi speaks during an interview  at his office in the capital Tunis, on Sept. 23, 2021. (AFP)
Tunisia's parliament speaker and Ennahdha party leader Rached Ghannouchi speaks during an interview at his office in the capital Tunis, on Sept. 23, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 26 September 2021

Tunisia’s Islamist party falling apart as over 100 key members resign amid crisis

Tunisia’s Islamist party falling apart as over 100 key members resign amid crisis
  • Party leader Rached Ghannouchi chided for making “bad political choices” and forming “inappropriate alliances”

TUNIS/JEDDAH: Tunisia’s main Islamist political party was on the verge of collapse on Saturday after more than 100 key members resigned in protest against their leader.

Among the 113 members who resigned from the Ennahda party were key figures from the party leadership, including members of parliament and former ministers.

They directed their anger at veteran party leader Rached Ghannouchi, 80, who co-founded the party in 1981 inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and has led it ever since. “The current party leadership is responsible for Ennahdha’s isolation and largely for the deteriorating situation in the country,” the former members said.

They blamed Ghannouchi for making “bad political choices” and forming “inappropriate alliances” with other movements that “undermined Ennahdha’s credibility.”

Ghannouchi had “failed” and “refused all the advice” that was given to him, they said.

Former Minister of Health Abdellatif Mekki, one of those who resigned, said: “I feel deeply sad ... I feel the pain of separation ... but I have no choice after I tried for a long time, especially in recent months ... I take responsibility for the decision that I made for my country.”

Ghannouchi was Tunisia’s parliamentary speaker until July, when President Kais Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, removed the immunity of lawmakers and put himself in charge of prosecutions.

On Wednesday, Saied announced decrees that strengthen the powers of his office at the expense of the government and parliament, and said he would rule by decree.

Ennahdha, the largest bloc in parliament, claimed the president had carried out a coup, but Saied’s actions remain overwhelmingly popular with Tunisians. They blame Ennahda for the country’s political and economic paralysis since the removal of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, and for the failure to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Fractious coalitions and short-lived governments since the uprising have failed to resolve mounting social and economic crises. Ennahda officials have demanded that Ghannouchi resign over the party’s response to the crisis, and strategic choices he has made since elections in 2019. Last month Ghannouchi dismissed the party’s executive committee in an effort to calm the protests against him.

Ennahda has been the most powerful party in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution, and has played a role in backing successive coalition governments. However, it has lost support as the economy stagnated and public services declined.

Ghannouchi admitted last week that his party was in part responsible for Saied taking executive power. “Ennahdha is not in power but it backed the government, despite some criticism we had,” he said.

(With Reuters)

 


Syria says 24 executed over starting wildfires

Updated 3 sec ago

Syria says 24 executed over starting wildfires

Syria says 24 executed over starting wildfires
DAMASCUS: The Syrian government has executed 24 people it convicted of deliberately starting deadly wildfires that raged in the summer of last year, state media reported Thursday.
Those executed on Wednesday were charged with “committing terrorist acts that led to death and damage to state infrastructure and public and private property through the use of flammable material,” the official SANA news agency said.
Eleven others were sentenced to hard labor for life, four were hit with temporary penal labor and five minors were handed jail sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years over similar charges, SANA added.
Their identities were not disclosed, and no details were provided on where and how the executions took place.
The suspects, the state agency said, were identified late last year in an interior ministry probe into wildfires in the provinces of Latakia, Tartus and Homs.
“They confessed that they had started fires at several locations in the three provinces and they also confessed to convening meetings to plan the fires” that occurred intermittently in September and October 2020, according to SANA.
The agency said it documented 187 fires affecting 280 towns and villages last year.
They devastated 13,000 hectares of agricultural land and 11,000 hectares of forest land, while also damaging more than 370 homes, SANA said.
At least three people were killed and dozens wounded, state media reported at the time.
Syrian law still provides for the death penalty for offenses including terrorism, arson and army desertion, according to rights group Amnesty International.
In its latest death penalty report published this year, Amnesty said it was able to corroborate information indicating that executions took place in Syria in 2020 but said it did not have sufficient information to give a reliable minimum figure.
The death penalty is usually carried out by hanging in Syria.

Arab coalition announces Sanaa operation to deter Houthis from targeting civilians

Arab coalition announces Sanaa operation to deter Houthis from targeting civilians
Updated 10 min 6 sec ago

Arab coalition announces Sanaa operation to deter Houthis from targeting civilians

Arab coalition announces Sanaa operation to deter Houthis from targeting civilians
  • The coalition warned that it would “strike with an iron fist” if Houthi violations continue
  • Operation is a response to the Houthi threat and aims to deter the militia from targeting civilians and civilian objects: Coalition

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said it had launched an operation in Sanaa to push back the Houthis on Thursday.

The operation is a response to the Houthi threat and aims to deter the militia from targeting civilians and civilian objects, the coalition said.

It came to neutralize the threat of imminent attacks on civilian facilities in the Kingdom and the coalition has exercised the highest degree of restraint in the face of recent Houthi violations, the coalition said.

 The operation took into account preventive measures to protect civilians and the militia is an existential threat to international peace and security, the coalition said.

The coalition warned that it would “strike with an iron fist” within the framework of international humanitarian law if Houthi violations continue.


Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole
Updated 21 October 2021

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole
  • Rights campaigner: Police often ‘make up charges’ against women who breach morality laws

LONDON: Footage circulating online appears to show the violent arrest with a dog-catching pole of an Iranian woman accused of breaking morality laws.

The footage shows the unidentified woman being pulled violently by her hair through the streets of Tehran, ensnared by the catchpole, before being bundled into a “morality police” van.

Two men and a woman are seen forcing her into the van as she tries to resist. The victim’s head is smashed into the roof of the van as she is pushed inside.

 

 

Masih Alinejad, a prominent Iranian women’s rights campaigner who uploaded the footage, said the woman was arrested for failing to wear a head covering, which is mandatory for women in the country. “Unveiled women (are accused) of prostitution or creating moral corruption,” she tweeted.

Tehran’s police chief said the woman was arrested for being “insulting and aggressive,” but Alinejad said police often “make up other charges” against women who breach morality laws.

Police told Iranian media that further charges had been brought by a local shop owner, but they did not disclose what charges or by whom.

Tehran’s police also did not say whether the woman was injured during the arrest, but pledged to investigate the footage.

Alinejad said it is a “big lie” that officers will be held accountable for their actions. “Last time when morality police savagely beat women, police showed the same reaction,” she added. “But as soon as the atmosphere calmed down, they prosecuted the woman who filmed it.”

Rights groups have long criticized Iran’s treatment of women in Iran, who face discrimination across a host of areas.


Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election
Updated 21 October 2021

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election
  • Dbeibah said it was possible to end the lengthy crisis since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi

TRIPOLI: Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah supported on Thursday the holding of a national election on Dec. 24 as envisaged in a UN-backed peace plan.
Speaking at the Libya Stabilization Conference in Tripoli, he said it was possible to end the lengthy crisis that has engulfed the country since the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
“We support the efforts of the higher election committee to hold (the vote) on the planned date. I call for a wide and effective participation of Libyans in the elections,” Dbeibah said.
The election, agreed under a UN-supported peace process, has been viewed as a key step in efforts to end a decade of violence by creating a new political leadership whose legitimacy is widely accepted.
Wrangling over the constitutional basis for an election, the rules governing the vote and questions over its credibility have threatened to unravel the peace process.
The United Nations process has called for presidential and parliamentary elections for December 24.
However, although the parliament has issued a law for the presidential election on that date, it has issued a separate law saying the parliamentary election will happen at a later date. Other political institutions in Libya have rejected the parliament’s proposals.


Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise
Updated 21 October 2021

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise
  • Iran’s annual air force drill comes a week after its held a two-day annual air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert

TEHRAN: Iran on Thursday kicked off an annual air force drill across the country, a week after holding another massive exercise in air defense, state TV reported.
The report said bombers, jet fighters, and attack and surveillance drones will participate in the drill, using heavy weapons including laser-guided missiles.
It said all Iranian military air bases will participate in the maneuver. Reportedly, Iran has 12 air bases. The report did not say how long the drill will last.
It came a week after Iran held a two-day annual air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert, with both the army and the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard taking part.
Iran regularly holds such drills and says they assess the troops’ combat readiness and demonstrate the nation’s military capabilities.
The region remains on edge over Iran’s escalating nuclear program. Talks in Vienna to revive Tehran’s now-tattered 2015 accord with world powers have stalled since June, with no date set for their resumption.
The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.