Morocco halts France flights amid coronavirus spike

In October, Morocco said it was suspending flights to and from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. (Shutterstock)
In October, Morocco said it was suspending flights to and from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 26 November 2021

Morocco halts France flights amid coronavirus spike

In October, Morocco said it was suspending flights to and from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. (Shutterstock)
  • Morocco has officially recorded around 950,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 14,500 deaths

RABAT: Morocco has decided to suspend flights to and from France, where daily coronavirus infections are rising, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

“This decision will go into effect on November 26 at 23:59 p.m. local time and until further notice,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the official MAP news agency.

The number of daily new cases in France has skyrocketed in recent days, hitting a seven-month high of 32,591 on Wednesday.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday that COVID-19 booster shots would be made available to all adults from this weekend to counter a fifth wave of infections.

France has the world's largest Moroccan expatriate community, with more than one million Moroccans living in the EU member.

In October, Morocco said it was suspending flights to and from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia due to concerns about coronavirus trends in those countries.

And earlier this month, the North African country decided to tighten controls at its borders due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Europe.

Morocco has officially recorded around 950,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 14,500 deaths.


Iranian news agency says blast heard above Natanz, site of nuclear facilities

Iranian news agency says blast heard above Natanz, site of nuclear facilities
Updated 17 sec ago

Iranian news agency says blast heard above Natanz, site of nuclear facilities

Iranian news agency says blast heard above Natanz, site of nuclear facilities

DUBAI: Iranian news websites on Saturday quoted a student news agency as saying a large explosion had been heard in the sky above the town of Natanz, which houses nuclear sites, but that there was no official confirmation of the report.
"Local sources have reported hearing a large explosion in the Natanz sky. No official source has yet confirmed or denied the report," the websites, including Faraunews, quoted the Daneshju (Student) News Agency as reporting. 


US warns it will not let Iran ‘slow walk’ nuclear talks

US warns it will not let Iran ‘slow walk’ nuclear talks
Updated 3 min 44 sec ago

US warns it will not let Iran ‘slow walk’ nuclear talks

US warns it will not let Iran ‘slow walk’ nuclear talks
  • The US was not yet planning to walk away from the talks in Vienna

WASHINGTON: The United States warned Saturday that it would not allow Iran to “slow walk” international negotiations over its nuclear program, a day after heaping blame on Tehran for the stalled process.
“We can’t accept a situation in which Iran accelerates its nuclear program and slow walks its nuclear diplomacy,” said a senior administration official.
The official said the United States was not yet planning to walk away from the talks in Vienna, but that it hoped Iran would return “with a serious attitude.”


Israeli police kill Palestinian assailant in Jerusalem: police, state media

Israeli police kill Palestinian assailant in Jerusalem: police, state media
Updated 04 December 2021

Israeli police kill Palestinian assailant in Jerusalem: police, state media

Israeli police kill Palestinian assailant in Jerusalem: police, state media
  • The assailant used a knife to stab a man near the city's Damascus Gate and then "attempted to stab a border police officer,"
  • A spokeswoman for the Palestinian Red Crescent said police killed the Palestinian assailant

JERUSALEM: Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian man in annexed east Jerusalem on Saturday after he stabbed an Israeli civilian and tried to attack police, Israeli police and Palestinian medics said.
The assailant used a knife to stab a man near the city’s Damascus Gate and then “attempted to stab a border police officer,” police said in a statement.
“Police neutralized the stabber,” it added.
A spokeswoman for the Palestinian Red Crescent said police killed the Palestinian assailant.
Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency service said the stabbing victim was a 20-year-old religious Jewish man who was taken to hospital in “moderate to severe condition.”
The assailant was not immediately identified. Israeli public radio said he was a 25-year-old from the northern West Bank town of Salfit.
Footage filmed by a bystander near the Damascus Gate and widely shared on social media showed a man in jeans lying prone on a sidewalk as police fired shots at him.
The official Palestinian state news agency Wafa said the man was killed “when Israeli police officers opened fire on him at point blank range.”
Mohammed Hamadeh, Jerusalem spokesman for Islamist group Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip, decried the “deliberate shooting of a wounded young man lying on the ground.”
After the shooting, police fired tear gas near the Damascus Gate to disperse Palestinians gathered there.
The incident came after a Hamas-affiliated gunman fatally shot a Jewish tour guide in Jerusalem’s Old City before police killed him last month.
Days before that, security forces shot dead a 16-year-old assailant in the Old City who they said stabbed two police officers.
The Old City is located in east Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since 1967 and which Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.


Yemen, US officials accuse Iran of imperiling peace efforts in Yemen

Yemen, US officials accuse Iran of imperiling peace efforts in Yemen
Updated 04 December 2021

Yemen, US officials accuse Iran of imperiling peace efforts in Yemen

Yemen, US officials accuse Iran of imperiling peace efforts in Yemen
  • Yemeni FM: Iranians using Yemen as a blackmail card to extract concessions during nuclear talks
  • Lenderking: Houthi military activities in Yemen, attacks on Saudi Arabia prove militia is not willing to end war

AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni and American officials have accused the Iranian regime of perpetuating the war in Yemen through arming and training the Houthis, renewing demands that the Houthis abandon military activities and comply with peace efforts. 

Speaking on Friday during Mediterranean Dialogues, an annual high-level gathering sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies in Rome, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak and the US special envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking agreed that the Iranians played a negative role in Yemen and the Houthis were not serious about striking a peace deal to end the war. 

The foreign minister said that the Iranians were using Yemen as a blackmail card to extract concessions during nuclear talks and to settle scores with their opponents. 

“Iran is using Yemen as a bargaining chip and they want to get something in Yemen while they are holding talks in Vienna,” the Yemeni minister said, arguing that the Houthis’ hard-line beliefs that they had a heavenly mandate to rule Yemen stopped them from accepting peace initiatives. 

“They believe that they are superior and they have a divine right to rule Yemen. It is rooted in their ideology . . . we want them to admit that all Yemenis are equal.”

The US Yemen envoy said that the Houthis escalating military activities in Yemen — mainly in the central province of Marib — and their cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, proved that they were not willing to end the war, and repeated accusations that Iran was seeking to overthrow the Yemeni government. 

“It is clear that the Houthis intend to try to bring down the Yemen government. The Iranians I believe would like to see the same . . . the Marib offensive should stop if the Houthis are serious about peace,” Lenderking said, adding that the Houthis “forcibly recruit” young men in densely populated areas under their control through intimidation and pressure to compensate for the high casualties they have suffered during their offensive in Marib. 

“The Houthis are really going against the current world opinion here and this is seen as a sort of a test case here of Houthis’ willingness to move away from a military solution into a political solution,” Lenderking said about the Marib offensive. 

Bin Mubarak warned that the Houthi occupation of Marib would bring an end to the political process in Yemen and have an impact on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. He urged international donors to help his government in Aden address the country’s economic problems, including the rapid devolution of the Yemeni riyal. 

“Marib is a cornerstone. If the fighting continues in Marib and the Houthis think they can make a military victory . . . this will collapse the entire peace process and it will have a negative impact on everything.”

Separately, the Arab coalition announced on Saturday that it carried out 11 air raids on Houthi targets in the central province of Marib, killing 60 Houthis and destroying seven military vehicles.  

The announcement comes as fierce fighting continues in the main battlefields outside the city of Marib as government troops battle relentless attacks by the Houthis.  

Intensive airstrikes by the Arab coalition supported Yemeni government troops on the ground and thwarted Houthi attempts to reinforce their forces.


Minister: No cases of omicron variant in Egypt, country prepared for all outcomes

Minister: No cases of omicron variant in Egypt, country prepared for all outcomes
Updated 55 min 55 sec ago

Minister: No cases of omicron variant in Egypt, country prepared for all outcomes

Minister: No cases of omicron variant in Egypt, country prepared for all outcomes
  • On Friday Egypt recorded 933 new cases of COVID-19 and 49 deaths

CAIRO: Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, the acting Egyptian minister of health, confirmed no cases of the new coronavirus omicron variant have been found in the North African country.

Abdel Ghaffar said recent studies had taken samples from all of Egypt’s governorates, so far failing to report a single case.

He added that no country is able to prevent the entry of any mutation, but that the government was ready for all variants of the virus.

Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, a spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Health, denied claims that two people were infected with the omicron variant on a plane from Ethiopia, and also denied the arrival of an Egyptian citizen carrying the mutation in Cairo on a plane from South Africa.

He stressed people would need to continue to adhere to the precautionary measures implemented at all entry points to the country. 

The Ministry of Health decided to conduct rapid COVID-19 tests for those flying into Egypt from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, sending back any positive cases on the plane they arrived on, or quarantining them if their final destination was Egypt. 

The minister stressed that the state’s procedures are within the framework of preventing the entry of the omicron variant into Egypt, and added that when a case is identified, it will be announced with full transparency.

On Friday Egypt recorded 933 new cases of COVID-19 and 49 deaths, bringing the total number of cases recorded in Egypt to 361,368, of which 299,434 have recovered, and 20,643 deaths.