Ethiopia PM says he will lead army ‘from the battlefront’

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a rally at a stadium in the town of Jimma in the southwestern Oromia Region of Ethiopia.(AP file photo)
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a rally at a stadium in the town of Jimma in the southwestern Oromia Region of Ethiopia.(AP file photo)
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Updated 23 November 2021

Ethiopia PM says he will lead army ‘from the battlefront’

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at a rally at a stadium in the town of Jimma in the southwestern Oromia Region of Ethiopia.(AP file photo)
  • Abiy was awarded the Nobel for making peace with neighboring Eritrea, on whose border he fought while stationed in the Tigray region

NAIROBI, Kenya: Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister says he will lead his country’s army “from the battlefront” beginning Tuesday, a dramatic new step in a devastating yearlong war.
“This is a time when leading a country with martyrdom is needed,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement posted on social media Monday night. With rival Tigray forces moving closer to the capital of Addis Ababa, his government declared a state of emergency earlier this month.
An estimated tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war between Ethiopian and allied forces and fighters from the country’s northern Tigray region, who long dominated the national government before Abiy took office. The United States and others have warned that Africa’s second-most populous country could fracture and destabilize the Horn of Africa.
The statement by the prime minister, a former soldier, did not say where exactly he will go Tuesday. His spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, did not respond to a request for comment.
“Let’s meet at the battlefront,” the 45-year-old prime minister said.
In response, the spokesman for the Tigray forces Getachew Reda tweeted that “our forces won’t relent on their inexorable advance toward bringing (Abiy’s) chokehold on our people to an end.” The Tigray forces say they are pressuring Ethiopia’s government to lift a months-long blockade of the Tigray region of some 6 million people, but they also want Abiy out of power.
The prime minister’s statement also claimed that the West is trying to defeat Ethiopia, the latest pushback against what his government has described as meddling by the international community. Envoys from the African Union and the US have continued diplomatic efforts in pursuit of a cease-fire to the fighting and talks without preconditions on a political solution.
Shortly after Abiy’s announcement, a senior State Department official told reporters the US still believes “a small window of opportunity exists” in the mediation efforts.
In a year’s time, Abiy’s government has gone from describing the Tigray conflict as a “law enforcement operation” to an “existential war.” With Ethiopia’s military reportedly weakened in recent months, and with its retreat from Tigray in June, ethnic-based regional forces have been stepping up and Abiy’s government has called on all able citizens to join the fight.
The prime minister chaired an executive meeting Monday of the ruling Prosperity Party, and Defense Minister Abraham Belay told state media that “all security forces will start taking special measures and tactics as of tomorrow.” He declined to elaborate.
Abiy’s announcement brought shock from the man who nominated him for the Nobel, Awol Allo, a senior lecturer in law at Keele University in Britain. “The announcement is replete with languages of martyrdom and sacrifice,” he said in a tweet. “This is so extraordinary and unprecedented, shows how desperate the situation is.”
The prime minister in his 2019 Nobel acceptance speech spoke passionately about war: “I crawled my way to peace through the dusty trenches of war years ago. ... I witnessed firsthand the ugliness of war in frontline battles. ... War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back.”
Abiy was awarded the Nobel for making peace with neighboring Eritrea, on whose border he fought while stationed in the Tigray region.
The terms of that peace deal have never been made public. Critics of the current conflict allege that the deal was instead an agreement for the two countries to wage war on the Tigray leaders, who were unpopular among many Ethiopians for their repressive 27-year rule despite significant development gains.
Eritrean soldiers have been blamed for some of the worst atrocities in the war, even as Abiy denied for months that they were inside Tigray.


Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine
Updated 5 sec ago

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine
LONDON: President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday simplifying the process for residents of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to acquire Russian citizenship and passports.
The decree marks a further step toward “Russification” of the two regions, where Moscow’s war in Ukraine has enabled it to establish a continuous land bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Putin’s move extends a scheme available to residents of areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Moscow has issued around 800,000 passports since 2019.
Russia claimed full control of the Kherson region, north of Crimea, in mid-March, and holds parts of Zaporizhzhia region to the north-east.
In Kherson, the Ukrainian governor has been ousted and the military-civilian administration said earlier this month that it planned to ask Putin to incorporate it into Russia by the end of 2022. Ukraine has pledged to recapture all of its seized territory.

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll
Updated 31 min 21 sec ago

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

TOKYO: In a poll on people’s impressions of Japan conducted in several Middle Eastern countries by research firms on behalf of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, 76 percent of the respondents viewed relations with Japan as “very friendly” or “somewhat friendly.”

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan commissioned research agencies to conduct an opinion poll on impressions of Japan in the United States, Australia, India, nine ASEAN countries, four Central Asian countries and seven Middle Eastern countries from December 2021 to February 2022. 

Similarly, a YouGov study conducted by Arab News in 2019 showed that 87 percent of Arabs would love to visit Japan. 30 percent of the Arabs surveyed found Japanese people polite and only one percent thought they were friendly. 

In the Arab News YouGov study that surveyed  3,033 Arabic speakers from 18 Arab countries, it was also found that the Japanese people were described as: hardworking (61 percent), organized (54 percent) and creative (37 percent.)

For the Middle East, the poll was conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey with 1,000 respondents in Egypt and 500 respondents in each of the other six countries. Ages ranged from 18 to 69.

In the Middle East, 80 percent of the respondents answered that Japan has consistently followed the path of a peace-loving nation since the end of the World War II. 

Eighty-one percent of the respondents answered “a very important role” or “somewhat important role” on the extent Japan plays in stabilization and growth of the world economy, while 85 percent of the respondents answered “very beneficial” or “somewhat beneficial” on whether Japan’s economic and technical cooperation is good for the development of the Middle East region.

In terms of Japan’s proactive contribution to the peace and stability of the region and the international community for maintaining global peace and international order, 81 percent of the respondents answered “very valuable” or “valuable.” 

In the Arab News YouGov study, it was also shown that 56 percent of Arabs thought Japan would be an ideal mediator for Middle East peace, and had high expectations for Japanese diplomacy. It was also concluded that 44 percent of Arabs understood the power and decision making structure in Japan. 

In polls for other regions, Japan scored highly in the “friendly” category in the United States (94 percent), India (91 percent) and the ASEAN countries (93 percent), but less so in Australia and Central Asia (both 78 percent).

This story was originally published on Arab news Japan


Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day
Updated 39 min 59 sec ago

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

DUBAI: Chairman of the Japan-Jordan Association SASAKI Mikio congratulated the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on its 76th anniversary of their Independence Day.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said on Wednesday that the Jordanian government will work on program to develop the public sector during his Independence Day speech.

Mikio commended the king’s “strong leadership and the tireless commitment of the Jordanian authorities and people in these turbulent times with COVID-19.”

The chairman also said Japan witnessed great achievements with the 24 Jordanian athletes that competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games last summer.

In his congratulatory message, Mikio added that under the leadership of Jordan’s Royal Family, “Jordan has and continues to play an important role in the stability and security of the Middle East and is one of Japan’s most important partners.”

He praised the long history shared between the two nations and said the bilateral relationship was one that can help make economic and cultural ties stronger.

Diplomatic relations between Jordan and Japan were established on July 14, 1954, signifying their 68th anniversary soon. 

This story was originally published on Arab News Japan


FBI foils Daesh plot to assassinate George W. Bush

FBI foils Daesh plot to assassinate George W. Bush
Updated 25 May 2022

FBI foils Daesh plot to assassinate George W. Bush

FBI foils Daesh plot to assassinate George W. Bush
  • Iraqi national, 52, allegedly plotted the murder as revenge for 2003 invasion
  • Court records reveal confidential informant exposed plan before it was put into practice

LONDON: The FBI said it foiled a plot by a Daesh supporter living in the state of Ohio to assassinate former US President George W. Bush.

Court records revealed that a confidential informant exposed the plan before it was put into practice.

The FBI obtained a court warrant in March to search the suspect’s mobile phone records to aid in its pursuit.

These records have now been unsealed, with 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab arrested on Tuesday morning.

Bush’s Chief of Staff Freddy Ford said the former president “has all the confidence in the world in the US Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.”

Shihab was described by Forbes magazine, which got the first details of the plot and arrest, as an employee of restaurants and markets in the cities of Columbus and Indianapolis.

The warrant for his arrest shows that intelligence was gathered by informants and surveillance on his WhatsApp account. The warrant said Shihab hoped to murder Bush as revenge for his 2003 invasion of Iraq. 

Shihab has been living in the US since 2020 with a pending asylum claim. The FBI said he told an informant that he belonged to a group called Al-Raed (Arabic for thunder), which was until recently commanded by a former pilot of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

According to the warrant, Shihab then exposed his desire to murder Bush, asking the informant — who specialized in immigrant smuggling — for tips on acquiring law enforcement badges to advance his plot.

Shihab said he wanted to conduct reconnaissance on Bush’s homes and offices and access weapons.

He reportedly asked the informant if he could smuggle in seven Daesh supporters to help in the plot, and then extract them after carrying out the attack.

The warrant said the assassins would be smuggled over the border with Mexico on visitor visas.

Shihab allegedly traveled with the informant to the city of Dallas in February, recording footage of Bush’s home and his presidential library at Southern Methodist University.

The next month, he looked at purchasing weapons and fake law enforcement uniforms for cover to carry out the plot.

The FBI said two informants recorded in-person meetings with Shihab to secure his arrest.


Pakistan police fire teargas, baton-charge supporters of ousted PM Khan

Pakistan police fire teargas, baton-charge supporters of ousted PM Khan
Updated 48 min 44 sec ago

Pakistan police fire teargas, baton-charge supporters of ousted PM Khan

Pakistan police fire teargas, baton-charge supporters of ousted PM Khan
  • Political and economic volatility deepens in the South Asian nation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police fired teargas and baton-charged supporters of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday to stop them from reaching the capital Islamabad, officials and witnesses said.

Political and economic volatility has deepened in the South Asian nation ahead of a likely announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) later in the day on whether it will resume a $6 billion rescue package.

With foreign reserves falling to $10.3 billion — lower than two months of imports — a fast-crashing rupee and a double-digit inflation, the political turmoil has compounded unrest in the country.

Khan has urged his supporters to march on the capital and stay there until the new government is dissolved and a date for a fresh election is announced.

He was ousted in a confidence vote by a united opposition after he lost his partners in his coalition government last month.

“We are getting reports that the police have baton-charged and fired teargas shells to break the protesters,” Amjad Malik, an interior ministry official, told Reuters.

He said no one was seriously injured in the clashes, which were reported mostly in Punjab province, and that the police had also rounded up dozens of the activists.

Live local TV footage showed police fighting with the supporters, beating them and in some places breaking their vehicles’ windscreens and bundling them into police vans.

Islamabad’s entry and exit routes have been blocked, as well as all important sites, including parliament, government offices and diplomatic missions, officials said. Entry and exit points were also blocked to and from all major cities in Punjab province and on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road, they said.

Heavy contingents of police and paramilitary troops have been deployed since Tuesday evening.

Khan is leading a rally that started in the northwestern city of Peshawar and was due to reach the capital via the GT road.

“No one can stop us,” Khan said from atop a truck on the GT road on his way to Islamabad.

“We will remain in Islamabad till announcement of dates for dissolution of assemblies & elections are given,” he said later in a tweet, rejecting local media reports that a deal had been struck with the government to call off the march after holding a public meeting in the evening.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also denied any such deal.

The government has banned Khan’s march, alleging that he is bringing the protesters to Islamabad with “evil design.”

“You’ve handed over a sinking economy to us, and now you’re planning sit-ins and protest,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday at a ceremony in Islamabad. “We are trying to energize this weak economy.”

Khan’s party has petitioned the Supreme Court to order the government to lift the restrictions.