LONDON: The National Council of Resistance of Iran on Wednesday called for the arrest and prosecution of the country’s President Ebrahim Raisi on charges of crimes against humanity.
At a press conference in Glasgow attended by Arab News, the NCRI said he should be “immediately arrested” if he attends the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in the Scottish city later this month.
Struan Stevenson, a former member of the European Parliament from Scotland, told the press conference that the efforts of the NCRI and its supporters are not “with the sole objective of stopping Raisi from coming to COP26,” and that “we will hunt this man down in any country in the world that he dares to step foot in.” Stevenson added: “There can be no impunity for crimes against humanity of this magnitude.”
Hossein Abedini, who sits on the NCRI’s foreign affairs committee, said Raisi is responsible for the execution of thousands in 1988, referencing Amnesty International’s description of these murders as “ongoing crimes against humanity.”
Stevenson detailed Raisi’s involvement in the infamous 1988 massacres in Tehran, when critics of the regime were executed following brief, sham trials.
Raisi is accused by the NCRI of various crimes against humanity, including ordering the execution of teenage girls — some as young as 15 — and the murder of pregnant women.
“The people of Iran know him (Raisi) as a butcher. That’s why we can’t allow such a person to have any form of impunity,” said Stevenson.
“The purpose of the investigation that we’ve asked for with the Metropolitan Police in London and Police Scotland is that they’ll build a case that they account for and will then be handed to the public prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,” he added.
“Similar activities are taking place in the Netherlands and Canada and other countries around the world.”
The NCRI and its supporters are hoping to bring a case against Raisi through a legal power called universal jurisdiction, which allows a person to be prosecuted and tried in another country than the one where the crimes were committed.
Britain has adopted universal jurisdiction for a number of serious crimes, such as crimes against humanity and torture, which Raisi stands accused of by multiple NCRI supporters and families in Iran.
The press conference heard from a number of his victims, including political prisoners and family members of the deceased.
One of the victims detailed how five of her family members had been executed by the regime. Her brother Hossein was arrested in 1981 and she has not seen him since.
Her two uncles were executed in 1981, and her two aunties were murdered in the 1988 massacres.
She was emotional as she detailed how her aunties were “directly hanged by the order of Raisi.”
Reza Fallahi, a political prisoner from 1981 to 1991 who witnessed the 1988 massacres, told the press conference that “at least one year prior to the massacre, they categorized and labeled the different prisoners with colors, so it started one year prior to the murders … It was a systematic matter, not an immediate war crime.”
The NRCI in the UK and Stevenson are awaiting responses from the Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland, respectively.
Sudan’s military accuses Ethiopia’s army of executing 7 Sudanese soldiers, a civilian
Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia have run high in recent years because of a spillover of the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and Ethiopia’s construction of a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile
Updated 36 min 43 sec ago
ADDIS ABABA: Sudan’s military accused Ethiopia’s army of executing seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian who were captives, the Sudanese armed forces said in a statement on Sunday.
The Sudanese army also accused Ethiopia of displaying the bodies of the executed people to the public and vowed that there would be “an appropriate response.”
“This treacherous act will not pass without a response,” it said.
There was no immediate response from Ethiopian authorities to a request for comment.
Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia have run high in recent years because of a spillover of the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and Ethiopia’s construction of a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile.
Tens of thousands of refugees have fled into eastern Sudan and there have been military skirmishes in an area of contested farmland along the border between Sudan and Ethiopia.
Frankly Speaking: Saudi Arabia and UAE could lead world in clean renewable energy, says adviser to UAE climate envoy Dr. Adnan Amin
Green energy initiatives in the UAE and Saudi Arabia could serve as examples for countries seeking to embrace renewables
Climate change is already wreaking havoc across the globe, developed countries must do their part to cut carbon emissions
Updated 25 min 23 sec ago
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia and the UAE have the potential to be trailblazers in renewable energy as the devastating effects of climate change become more apparent, according to Adnan Amin, the former director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency and senior adviser to Sultan Al-Jaber, the UAE’s special envoy for climate change.
Amin told Katie Jensen, host of “Frankly Speaking,” the Arab News talk show that features interviews with leading policymakers and business leaders, of the radical changes in the UAE’s push toward green energy and their implications for a regional push toward renewables.
The UAE has the lowest-cost solar energy and one of the largest solar plants in the world, and aims to triple or quadruple its solar energy capacity by 2025. While the country will continue to export fossil fuel products, it is projected to become a leader in renewable energy alongside the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and produce “the lowest carbon intensity oil in the world,” Amin said.
Critics have pointed out that the UAE still has a large per-capita carbon footprint, and that oil and gas make up one-third of the country’s annual gross domestic product. Amin said that this is partially due to extremely high temperatures in the region, and added that the country still contributes less than half a percent of global carbon emissions.
“The commitment of the UAE government on decarbonizing has not been doubted, and they’ve seen carbon intensity decreasing year on year,” he said.
Amin predicts that the UAE’s strides in clean energy infrastructure will encourage other Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, to take similar measures. He called NEOM, a planned smart city and independent economic zone in the Kingdom’s north that will run entirely on renewable energy, “a low carbon city.”
“All of the new investments that you’re seeing in renewables generation in Saudi Arabia are huge. The scientific and technological investment that is taking place in research and development in Saudi Arabia is very impressive. You see Saudi Arabia testing a range of technologies so, you know that green energy, geothermal, new types of solar, new types of construction materials, all kinds of innovation is taking place there.”
Despite a global commitment to turn toward clean energy, complex domestic and international politics has often seen governments forced to scale back their promises of climate-based legislation. US President Joe Biden, who is due to visit the Middle East next month, previously pledged to halve carbon emissions by 2030.
However, increasing fuel costs have forced Biden to call for increasing production of fossil fuels. “High gas prices at the pump are poisonous for the electoral chances for any party in power,” Amin said, alluding to the upcoming US midterm elections in November.
He added that while it is no easy task for governments to move forward with serious action on climate change, “there is an expectation from many that we would love to see more … commitment and serious action from the US on this both domestically and internationally.”
With the world gripped by skyrocketing fuel prices, many countries are ramping up production of fossil fuels and the infrastructure required to produce them. However, this infrastructure has an expiration date, according to Amin.
“There’s a real risk of locking of fossil assets for a longer term in countries that, frankly, have the technological and financial ability to move very fast on clean energy,” he said, adding that states must make an effort to find more clean and advanced solutions to the growing global energy crisis.
“We would expect governments to start focusing much more on that opportunity, not on doubling down and replicating the problems of the past, but looking for the solutions of the future,” he said, clarifying that investment in new infrastructure, clean energy, climate-resilient agriculture, and water security “are the areas where I think there’s really a risk in the future.”
The push to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian oil and gas amid the war in Ukraine and the fuel crisis may have a detrimental effect on the world’s carbon emissions, though Amin explained that on the positive side, this may push countries to embrace renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power.
“We need to grow the investment for renewable energy, and we need to start to adopt the infrastructure that will enable it. Part of that is investing in innovation and technology,” he said. While a foundation exists for growth in the renewable energy sector, Amin added that digitalization, ultra-high voltage grids, grid stability, and smart metering must be developed further.
“We need to make this transition happen as a matter of urgency for political leadership because everything we see in terms of projections of climate impacts, it’s becoming more and more severe every year.”
While the UAE recently invested $50 billion in clean energy projects, not every country is doing its part to fight climate change. Developed nations which have been largely responsible for producing the carbon emissions which have devastated the world’s climate have often balked at taking responsibility, Amin said.
“Climate is a global issue and it requires every country in the world to do its part. But what it requires most, and this is the issue that was being discussed in Bonn in the intersectional meetings, is that we share responsibility,” he said, referring to the Bonn Climate Change Conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Germany earlier this month.
The countries that contribute the most to carbon emissions, Amin added, must “contribute to the solution, and contribute to the most vulnerable countries which are now facing very severe climate impacts.”
During the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow in 2021, world leaders stressed the seriousness of addressing climate change immediately. At the time, Saudi Ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar told Arab News that “Saudi Arabia is ready, willing and able to take its position among the international community to solve the problem and do what it can.”
The Kingdom pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060 as part of the Saudi Green Initiative during the conference. With the next conference set to be held in Egypt this year and the subsequent COP28 to be held in the UAE next year, Amin explained that future conferences aim to begin to transition climate promises from mere pledges to on-the-ground implementation.
“We’ve talked about the situation with the global energy crisis. We’ve talked about the constraints from many countries. We’ve talked about the fact that financing is not being made available. We have the next COP in Egypt that’s going to be a very important COP. It’s the first COP since Glasgow, that is the implementation COP. This is how the Egyptian government and the rest of the world wants to see it, that we’re moving to implementation and away from negotiations.”
Developed countries which are the largest contributors to climate change are putting up “huge resistance” to helping vulnerable and developing countries deal with the impacts, Amin said. However, he remains optimistic that by the time of the COP28 conference in the UAE, countries will be able to take stock of the world’s efforts in terms of climate action, “and out of that will come a program for what the next five years should look like.”
In addition to being a global issue, Amin pointed out that climate change is an intersectional issue that will have far-reaching and catastrophic effects on the entire world.
“My fear is that we will have multiple crises happening periodically in different parts of the world, which will begin to impact global food chains. We already have vulnerability on food security. We’re seeing a climate-vulnerable agriculture in many, many poor countries where, frankly, you could face very serious food deficit situations in the future.
“We’re facing a situation where we’re seeing an urgent need for water management. Freshwater resources are declining, and there is potential for conflict over resources like food and water.”
He added that drought, rising sea levels, melting ice, the degradation of resources and other effects of climate change have the potential to create massive waves of migration as people are forced to move to other regions for their survival.
“If we allow climate impacts to continue unchecked, all of these multiple crises coming together would create a level of instability in this world that will be almost impossible to manage,” he said.
Mohamed Amar Ampara was caught in the southeastern city of Gaziantep near Turkey’s border with Syria
Updated 27 June 2022
ISTANBUL: Turkey arrested a Greek citizen on Sunday on suspicion of espionage activities, a day after seizing him in an operation coordinated with its spy agency, local police said.
Mohamed Amar Ampara was caught in the southeastern city of Gaziantep near Turkey’s border with Syria.
“The agent, named M.A.A., was detained by the judicial authorities after he was discovered to have connections with the Greek National Intelligence Organization ... compiled information about our country’s border security and transferred it to Greek intelligence,” the police department in Gaziantep said in a statement.
Turkish media reported at the weekend that Ampara operated disguised as a businessman during his trips to Turkey.
The Greek Foreign Ministry said in the meantime that Ampara’s disappearance had been reported to the Greek Embassy in Ankara a few weeks ago.
The embassy had repeatedly raised the subject with the Turkish authorities but the latter had never provided any answers, it added.
Turkey and Greece are allies within NATO but are embroiled in a number of disputes.
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks, with Ankara accusing Athens of stationing troops on islands near its maritime border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that he would no longer hold bilateral meetings with Greek leaders.
Rich heritage buried under impoverished Gaza Strip
In the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas and repeatedly ravaged by war, people are more familiar with burying the dead than digging up their heritage
Updated 27 June 2022
JABALIYA, Palestine: While workers labored on a large construction site in the Gaza Strip, a security guard noticed a strange piece of stone sticking out of the earth.
“I thought it was a tunnel,” said Ahmad, the young guard, referring to secret passages dug by the militant group Hamas to help it battle Israel.
In the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas and repeatedly ravaged by war, people are more familiar with burying the dead than digging up their heritage.
But what Ahmad found in January was part of a Roman necropolis dating from about 2,000 years ago — representative of the impoverished Palestinian territory’s rich, if under-developed, archaeological treasures.
After the last war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021 left a trail of damage in Gaza, Egypt began a reconstruction initiative worth $500 million.
As part of that project in Jabaliya, in the north of the coastal enclave, bulldozers were digging up the sandy soil in order to build new concrete buildings when Ahmad made his discovery.
“I notified the Egyptian foremen, who immediately contacted local authorities and asked the workers to stop,” said Ahmad, a Palestinian who preferred not to give his full name.
With rumors on social media of a big discovery, Gaza’s antiquities service called in the French nongovernmental group Premiere Urgence Internationale and the French Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem to evaluate the site’s importance and mark off the area.
“The first excavations permitted the identification of about 40 tombs dating from the ancient Roman period between the first and second centuries AD,” said French archaeologist Rene Elter, who led the team dispatched to Jabaliya.
“The necropolis is larger than these 40 tombs and should have between 80 and 100,” he said.
One of the burial sites found so far is decorated with multi-colored paintings representing crowns and garlands of bay leaves, as well as jars for funereal drinks, the archaeologist added.
Archaeology is a highly political subject in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and discoveries are used to justify the territorial claims of each people.
While the Jewish state has a number of archaeologists reporting on an impressive number of ancient treasures, the sector is largely neglected in Gaza.
Authorities periodically announce discoveries in the territory, but tourism at archaeological sites is limited.
Israel and Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, tightly restrict the flow of people in and out of the enclave administered by Hamas since 2007.
“However, there is no difference between what you can find in Gaza and on the other side of the barrier” in Israel, Elter said. “It’s the same great history.”
“In Gaza, a lot of sites have disappeared because of conflict and construction, but the territory is an immense archaeological site which needs many teams of experts,” he added.
Stakes and fences have been erected around the Roman necropolis, which is watched over constantly by guards as new buildings go up nearby.
“We are trying to fight antiquities trafficking,” said Jamal Abu Rida, director of the local archaeological service tasked with protecting the necropolis and which hopes to find investors for further excavation.
“The image of Gaza is often associated with violence, but its history is bursting with archaeological treasures that need to be protected for future generations,” said Jihad Abu Hassan, director of the local Premiere Urgence mission.
Demographics add to the pressure. Gaza is a tiny, overcrowded strip of land whose population in 15 years has ballooned from 1.4 million to 2.3 million. As a result, building construction has accelerated.
“Some people avoid telling authorities if there is an archaeological discovery on a construction site out of fear of not being compensated” for the resulting work stoppage, Abu Hassan said.
“We lose archaeological sites every day,” which shows the need for a strategy to defend the enclave’s heritage, including training local archaeologists, he said.
Over the last few years, his organization has helped to educate 84 archaeological technicians. Doing so also offers employment prospects, in an impoverished territory where youth joblessness exceeds 60 percent.
Lebanon’s Najib Mikati was nominated premier for a fourth time on Thursday after securing the support of 54 of parliament’s 128 lawmakers
Updated 26 June 2022
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric urged fractious politicians on Sunday to speed up the formation of a government to allow authorities to prepare for presidential elections due before the end of October.
Lebanon’s Najib Mikati was nominated premier for a fourth time on Thursday after securing the support of 54 of parliament’s 128 lawmakers, including the Iran-backed Hezbollah, in consultations convened by President Michel Aoun.
But with splits running deep among Lebanon’s ruling elite, it is widely believed Mikati will struggle to form a government, spelling political paralysis that could hamper reforms agreed with the International Monetary Fund to unlock aid.
“Again I demand speeding up formation of a national government with the country’s pressing need for it and so that the focus can immediately be on preparations to elect a president who saves the country,” Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at a sermon on Sunday.
“We call on all parties to cooperate with the premier designate ...,” he added.
Analysts and politicians expect the process of forming a Cabinet to be further complicated by a looming struggle over who will replace Aoun, the Hezbollah-aligned head of state, when his term ends on Oct. 31.