Yemeni authorities issue fresh plea for rescue of civilians in Houthi-besieged district

Special Yemeni authorities issue fresh plea for rescue of civilians in Houthi-besieged district
Analysts believe the Houthis may punish anyone who resisted the militia’s offensive on Marib. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 12 October 2021

Yemeni authorities issue fresh plea for rescue of civilians in Houthi-besieged district

Yemeni authorities issue fresh plea for rescue of civilians in Houthi-besieged district

AL-MUKALLA: Local authorities in the central Yemeni province of Marib have issued a fresh appeal to international aid organizations and rights groups to rescue thousands of civilians trapped inside the Houthi-besieged district of Al-Abedia.
In a statement seen by Arab News, they warned that more than 35,000 people who lived in Al-Abedia could die of starvation as the Houthis tightened their grip on the district and “hysterically” bombarded residential areas and civilian facilities to force local fighters to surrender.
“We are appealing to the UN Security Council and the UN special envoy for Yemen to carry out their legal and ethical duties and take urgent action to meet the basic needs of the besieged in Al-Abedia in order to prevent a looming humanitarian catastrophe,” local authorities said.
The siege has been ongoing for more than 20 days after local tribesmen and government forces fought to prevent the Houthis from seizing control of the district.
Local aid workers told Arab News that the Houthis had blocked the distribution of humanitarian assistance to residents and even prevented the wounded and elderly from leaving the district.
The appeal came as fighting intensified between locals defending the district and the Iran-backed militia, local media reported on Monday.
Arab coalition warplanes have carried out dozens of air raids in support of the besieged people, targeting Houthi gatherings and military equipment. 
Coalition spokesman Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said on Sunday that 118 airstrikes had killed 400 Houthis, destroyed 15 vehicles, and obstructed Houthi attempts to seize control of the district during the past 96 hours.
People with family members in Al-Abedia said they had lost contact with their relatives, with the situation deteriorating due to heavy Houthi shelling and shortages of drugs, food and fuel.  
“The situation is very bad due to the suffocating siege and the Houthi attacks from all directions in an attempt to bring the district to its knees,” one person, who preferred not to be named, told Arab News.
One analyst believed the Houthis were trying to send a message to other cities and tribes that they would be harshly punished if they resisted the militia’s offensive on the central city of Marib.  
“Al-Abedia has no military significance for the Houthis, but they want to suppress and humiliate the people of Al-Abedia and the people of Marib,” Mohammed Al-Salehi, the editor of news website Marib Press, told Arab News on Monday. 
He said that at least 70 people who had been wounded during fighting were trapped in the district and could die soon due to the siege.
“No aid organization has stepped in to rescue the wounded as if this humanitarian disaster does not concern them,” Al-Salehi added.
Yemeni human rights activists and officials called on their government and military commanders to step up their attacks on the Houthis to break the Al-Abedia siege.
“It is the duty of every free Yemeni and the state’s political, military and social figures to work on breaking the unjust siege on it and stop the brutal Houthi aggression against its residents,” Mohammed Al-Omada, head of the Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms, tweeted.


UK summons Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over crackdown on protests

UK summons Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over crackdown on protests
Updated 24 sec ago

UK summons Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over crackdown on protests

UK summons Iran’s top diplomat in Britain over crackdown on protests
  • “The violence levelled at protesters in Iran by the security forces is truly shocking”: British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly

LONDON: Britain’s foreign ministry on Monday said it had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires, Iran’s most senior diplomat in Britain, over the crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.
“The violence levelled at protesters in Iran by the security forces is truly shocking,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.
“Today we have made our view clear to the Iranian authorities – instead of blaming external actors for the unrest, they should take responsibility for their actions and listen to the concerns of their people.”


Iran supreme leader blames US, Israel for Mahsa Amini protests

Iran supreme leader blames US, Israel for Mahsa Amini protests
Updated 1 min 33 sec ago

Iran supreme leader blames US, Israel for Mahsa Amini protests

Iran supreme leader blames US, Israel for Mahsa Amini protests
  • Iran said that nine foreign nationals from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland were arrested

PARIS: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday accused arch-foes the United States and Israel of fomenting the wave of nationwide unrest sparked by outrage over the death of Mahsa Amini.
“I say clearly that these riots and the insecurity were engineered by America and the occupying, false Zionist regime, as well as their paid agents, with the help of some traitorous Iranians abroad,” the supreme leader said.
Amini, 22, was pronounced dead on September 16, days after the notorious morality police detained the Kurdish Iranian for allegedly breaching rules forcing women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.
Anger over Amini’s death has sparked the biggest wave of protests to rock the Islamic republic in almost three years, which saw security forces in Tehran crack down on hundreds of university students overnight.
In his first public comments since Amini’s death, 83-year-old Khamenei stressed that police must “stand up to criminals” and that “whoever attacks the police leaves the people defenseless against criminals, thugs, thieves.”
“The death of the young woman broke our hearts,” said Khamenei. “But what is not normal is that some people, without proof or an investigation, have made the streets dangerous, burned the Qur'an, removed hijabs from veiled women and set fire to mosques and cars.”
Concern grew over a night-time crackdown on students at Tehran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology where, local media reported, riot police carrying steel pellet guns used tear gas and paintball guns against hundreds of students.
“Woman, life, liberty” the students shouted, as well as “students prefer death to humiliation,” Mehr news agency reported.
Iran’s science minister, Mohammad Ali Zolfigol, came to speak to the students in a bid to calm the situation, the report said.
Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights posted videos apparently showing police on motorcycles chasing students running through an underground car park and taking away detainees whose heads were covered in black cloth bags.
In one clip, which IHR said was taken at a Tehran metro station, a crowd can be heard chanting: “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We are all together!“
“Hard to bear what is happening at #SharifUniversity in #Iran,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted. “The courage of the Iranians is incredible. And the regime’s brute force is an expression of sheer fear of the power of education and freedom.”
Protests were also reported at other universities, including in the central city of Isfahan, and unconfirmed reports by a student group on Twitter said dozens had been arrested in the capital.
Mehr news agency said that Sharif University of Technology had “announced that due to recent events and the need to protect students ... all classes will be held virtually from Monday.”
Iran has repeatedly accused outside forces of stoking the protests and last week said nine foreign nationals — including from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland — had been arrested.
The parents of Italian woman Alessia Piperno, 30, from Rome, said they lost contact with her after speaking to her on Wednesday — her birthday — but then received a phone call on Sunday.
“They arrested me. I am in a prison in Tehran. Please help me,” she told them, according to Il Messaggero, Rome’s daily newspaper.
She added: “I’m fine but there are people here who say they have been inside for months and for no reason. I fear I won’t be let out again. Help me.”
Italy’s foreign ministry has so far made no comment on the identity of the Italian held.
Canada, meanwhile, said it had imposed new sanctions against Iran over its “gross human rights violations,” especially citing “the egregious actions committed by Iran’s so-called ‘Morality Police’.”
“Canada applauds the courage and actions of Iranians and will stand by them as they fight for their rights and dignity,” said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.
At least 92 protesters have been killed so far in the Mahsa Amini rallies, said IHR, which has been working to assess the death toll despite Internet outages and blocks on WhatsApp, Instagram and other online services.
Amnesty International said earlier it had confirmed 53 deaths, after Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said last week that “around 60” people had died.
The chief of riot police in Marivan, Kurdistan province, died of his wounds Sunday after being shot during “riots,” state television said — the 12th death reported among the security forces since September 16.
An additional 41 people died in clashes Friday in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province, bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, IHR reported earlier, citing local sources.
Those protests were sparked by accusations a police chief in the region had raped a teenage girl of the Baluch Sunni minority, the rights group said.

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Egypt: About 90 heads of state confirmed for COP27 climate summit

Egypt: About 90 heads of state confirmed for COP27 climate summit
Updated 14 min 36 sec ago

Egypt: About 90 heads of state confirmed for COP27 climate summit

Egypt: About 90 heads of state confirmed for COP27 climate summit

CAIRO: About 90 heads of state have confirmed attendance at November’s COP27 climate negotiations in Egypt where they will address issues including energy transition and food security at opening sessions, a senior Egyptian official said on Monday.
“We’ve received a large number of confirmations from around the world, I think the last count was about 90 heads of state but the numbers keep coming in,” said Wael Aboulmagd, special representative for the COP27 presidency, without mentioning specific countries.
“What we’ve decided is that our heads of state section will not be a traditional plenary-only type of affair, but rather there will be six roundtables ... for heads of state to actually engage in a discussion on the issue at hand.”
Egypt is taking over the presidency of the UN climate talks from Britain, and will host the talks from Nov. 6-18 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Topics for leaders’ roundtables held on Nov. 7-8 would include the development of green hydrogen, water and food security, achieving a just energy transition toward renewables, and vulnerable communities, Aboulmagd said.
The themes reflect some of the Egypt’s priorities as it tries to better promote the interests of developing nations and their need for financing to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“We strongly believe that we need all the political will and momentum and direction coming from heads of state to push the process forward, because it has become a very, very adversarial process,” Aboulmagd said.
Egypt is working on how to include “loss and damage” — compensation to climate-vulnerable countries already suffering from climate-related weather extremes — on the summit’s formal agenda.
At last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, the United States and the European Union rejected calls for a fund to compensate for such losses.
At a pre-COP meeting of heads of delegations last month, “no one seemed to say we’re against an agenda item,” said Aboulmagd.


Swedish royal family to visit Jordan

Swedish royal family to visit Jordan
Updated 14 min 43 sec ago

Swedish royal family to visit Jordan

Swedish royal family to visit Jordan
  • The Swedish Dialogue Institute for MENA will be established during the trip

AMMAN: King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are to visit Jordan from Nov. 15 to 17 on the invitation of King Abdullah II, the Jordan News Agency reported.

The royal couple will be accompanied by a Swedish government delegation as well as private-sector representatives.

The visit will seek to further boost cooperation between the two countries on regional and multilateral issues, including the environment, climate change, comprehensive sustainable development, the participation of women and youth, and the promotion of bilateral trade and investment.

During the trip, the Swedish Dialogue Institute for the Middle East and North Africa will be established, and the embassy will be relocated to a new building.

In a statement on Sunday, the Swedish Embassy in Amman said the king and queen’s visit aimed to strengthen the two countries’ deep-rooted and historical ties.

 


500 Arab influencers, creatives attend City Talk forum in Jordan

500 Arab influencers, creatives attend City Talk forum in Jordan
Updated 03 October 2022

500 Arab influencers, creatives attend City Talk forum in Jordan

500 Arab influencers, creatives attend City Talk forum in Jordan
  • Event aims to ‘transform influence into a positive economic and social force,’ organizer says

AMMAN: A new forum dedicated to the influencer marketing industry and content development got underway in Jordan on Monday, Jordan News Agency reported.

The three-day City Talk event, which is being held on the shores of the Dead Sea, attracted more than 500 Arab social media influencers, content creators and marketing professionals.

Organized by the Jordan Tourism Board and Dubai-based Omnes Media, the inaugural event was opened by Jordanian Minister of Commerce Nayef Fayez.

Omnes Media’s CEO Fahed Aldeeb said: “Today we celebrate a group of Arab influencers from various fields and interests. Over the next few days, we will try to answer numerous questions regarding influencers, the content they produce and how to transform influence into a positive economic and social force in the age of social media.”

JTB General Manager Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat highlighted the importance of integrating traditional and new marketing channels to keep pace with market trends, and said the board had collaborated with many influencers to promote tourism in the country.

The City Talk forum, which aims to become an annual event held in different Arab cities, incorporates visits to some of Jordan’s tourist destinations so that the influencers can share their knowledge and help to promote them.