Sudan’s PM Hamdok resigns as deadly crackdown on protesters continues

Sudan’s PM Hamdok resigns as deadly crackdown on protesters continues
Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced his resignation on Sunday Jan. 2, 2022. (File/AFP)
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Updated 03 January 2022

Sudan’s PM Hamdok resigns as deadly crackdown on protesters continues

Sudan’s PM Hamdok resigns as deadly crackdown on protesters continues
  • The announcement throws Sudan’s political future even deeper into uncertainty
  • Ousted and placed under house arrest during a coup on Oct. 25, he was reinstated in November

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned Sunday, more than two months after a coup and following another deadly crackdown on protesters, with the military now firmly in control.
Sudan had been undergoing a fragile journey toward civilian rule since the 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar Al-Bashir, but was plunged into turmoil when military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan launched his coup on Oct. 25 and detained Hamdok.
Hamdok was reinstated him on November 21 under a deal promising elections for July 2023, but local media had reported he had been absent from his office for days, with rumors swirling over his possible resignation.
“I have tried my best to stop the country from sliding toward disaster,” Hamdok said Sunday evening, addressing the nation on state television.
Sudan “is crossing a dangerous turning point that threatens its whole survival,” he said.
Hamdok was the civilian face of the country’s fragile transition, while Burhan has been the country’s de facto leader following Bashir’s ouster.
Hamdok cited “the fragmentation of the political forces and conflicts between the (military and civilian) components of the transition” and said that “despite everything that has been done to reach a consensus... it has not happened.”
Mass protests against the coup have continued even after Hamdok was reinstated, as demonstrators distrust veteran general Burhan and his promise to guide the country toward full democracy.
Protesters also charged that the deal to reinstate Hamdok simply aimed to give the cloak of legitimacy to the generals, whom they accuse of trying to continue the regime built by Bashir.
Thousands of demonstrators on Sunday braved tear gas, a heavy troop deployment and a telecommunications blackout to demand a civilian government.
They lambasted the coup, shouting “power to the people” and demanding the military return to barracks, at protests near the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum and in its twin city Omdurman.
The pro-democracy Doctors’ Committee said security forces killed three protesters, including one who was shot in the chest and another who suffered a “severe head wound” at the hands of security forces in Omdurman.
As with previous demonstrations, which have become regular since the coup, the authorities had erected roadblocks, with shipping containers blocking Nile River bridges between the capital and outlying areas.
But thousands still came out to demonstrate “in memory of the martyrs,” with at least 57 protesters now killed since the coup, according to pro-democracy medics.
Young men on motorcycles were seen ferrying wounded protesters to hospitals as security forces blocked ambulances from reaching them.
Web monitoring group NetBlocks said mobile Internet services were cut from mid-morning ahead of the planned protests, the first of the year. They were restored in the evening.
Activists use the Internet for organizing demonstrations and broadcasting live footage of the rallies.
Protests since the army’s takeover have been repeatedly broken up by security forces firing rounds of tear gas, as well as charges by police wielding batons.
Sudan has a long history of military takeovers, but Burhan insists the military’s move “was not a coup” but a push to “rectify the course of the transition.”
On Friday an adviser warned that “the demonstrations are only a waste of energy and time” which will not produce “any political solution.”
Activists on social media say 2022 will be “the year of the continuation of the resistance.”
They demand justice for those killed since the coup as well as the more than 250 who died during months of mass protests that paved the way for the toppling of Bashir.
Activists have condemned sexual attacks during December 19 protests, in which the UN said at least 13 women and girls were victims of rape or gang-rape.
The European Union and the United States issued a joint statement condemning the use of sexual violence “as a weapon to drive women away from demonstrations and silence their voices.”
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned in a statement that Washington was “prepared to respond to those who seek to block the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a civilian-led, democratic government and who would stand in the way of accountability, justice, and peace.”
Over 14 million people, one in three Sudanese, will need humanitarian aid during the coming year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs — the highest level for a decade.


Coalition: Saada prison was not targeted, facts will be provided

Coalition: Saada prison was not targeted, facts will be provided
Updated 28 January 2022

Coalition: Saada prison was not targeted, facts will be provided

Coalition: Saada prison was not targeted, facts will be provided

RIYADH: The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen on Friday denied targeting a prison in Saada and accused the Houthi militia of trying to mislead the public.

In a statement carried by Al-Ekhbariyah TV, the coalition said its Joint Forces Command “applies the highest targeting standards” and excludes prisons from its list of targets.

Houthi officials on Thursday claimed that coalition air strikes last week killed around 90 people and wounded more than 200 at Saada prison.

“What the terrorist militia said is an attempt to mislead public opinion about the true activity of the site,” the coalition said.

“Saada prison was not targeted and we will provide all the facts and detailed information to the joint team” investigating alleged air strikes on detention centers in Yemen.

Fighting has escalated in recent weeks, with more air strikes on what the coalition says are Houthi military targets.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement has stepped up missile and drone attacks on the United Arab Emirates and cross-border launches on neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The coalition had previously accused the Houthis of using civilian centers as a shield against legitimate strikes.


Qatari official’s Iran visit gives hope for talks breakthrough

Qatari official’s Iran visit gives hope for talks breakthrough
Updated 28 January 2022

Qatari official’s Iran visit gives hope for talks breakthrough

Qatari official’s Iran visit gives hope for talks breakthrough
  • Sheikh Tamim to meet US President Joe Biden on Jan. 31

DUBAI: Qatar’s top diplomat visited Iran on Thursday, days before Qatar’s emir holds talks in Washington at a crucial time for efforts by Tehran and major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact.
The visit by Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani comes after his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian on Monday said Tehran is ready to consider direct talks with Washington if it feels it can get a “good nuclear deal.”
However, Iran’s state news agency IRNA said the visit was not intended to help set up direct talks with Washington.
“Although Doha and Tehran are experiencing good and close relations, this visit ... has fueled some misconceptions. Some are fabricating it to facilitate direct talks with the United States,” IRNA said.
The US and Iran have held eight rounds of indirect talks in Vienna since April aimed at reinstating the pact that lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
After then-US President Donald Trump quit the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions, Iran gradually started violating the pact’s nuclear curbs.

BACKGROUND

The US and Iran have held eight rounds of indirect talks in Vienna since April aimed at reinstating the pact that lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

Significant gaps remain about the speed and scope of returning to the deal, including Iran’s demand for a US guarantee of no further punitive steps, and how and when to restore curbs on Iran’s atomic work.
Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, will hold talks with US President Joe Biden on Jan. 31. They will include efforts to salvage the pact. The minister, Sheikh Mohammed, is expected in Washington on Friday in advance of the emir’s visit.
Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi emphasized the importance of “deepening ties between regional countries” in a meeting with Sheikh Mohammed, who invited the president to attend the Gas Exporting Countries Forum summit in February in Doha.
The lead US nuclear negotiator told Reuters on Sunday that securing the nuclear deal is unlikely unless Tehran releases four US citizens Washington says it is holding hostage.
While ruling out any US preconditions, Iran said on Monday that Tehran and Washington can reach “a lasting agreement on both separate paths (the Vienna talks and the prisoner exchange) if the other party has the will.”
Iranian officials have refused to comment on the matter, but Tehran has repeatedly said it is ready for a full prisoner exchange with Washington.
Tehran denies holding people for political reasons. It has accused many of the dual-nationals and foreigners in its jails of espionage.
Tehran says Iranians detained in the US, mostly for breaking sanctions, are being unjustly held.


UAE leading model of global human solidarity: Vatican secretary of state

UAE leading model of global human solidarity: Vatican secretary of state
Updated 28 January 2022

UAE leading model of global human solidarity: Vatican secretary of state

UAE leading model of global human solidarity: Vatican secretary of state
  • Cardinal Pietro Parolin was speaking during a phone call with UAE foreign minister
  • He expressed his solidarity with the UAE following a terrorist attack by Yemen’s Houthi militia

LONDON: The Vatican said the UAE is a leading model of global human solidarity, and its humanitarian initiatives help promote peaceful coexistence, tolerance and peace around the world, Emirati state news agency WAM reported on Thursday.
Speaking during a phone call with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, expressed his solidarity with the UAE following a terrorist attack by Yemen’s Houthi militia on civilian facilities in the UAE capital.
The Iran-backed Houthi militia launched a number of drones and missiles toward Abu Dhabi on Jan. 17, which were intercepted and destroyed by the UAE defense ministry, however, remnants landed in separate areas around the capital, killing three people and injuring seven.
Parolin offered his sincere condolences to the victims of the attack, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
Sheikh Abdullah thanked Parolin for his sentiments, and praised the Vatican’s outstanding role in serving humanitarian issues and promoting the values of tolerance and coexistence among all peoples.
Sheikh Abdullah also affirmed the UAE’s keenness to strengthen its relations with the Vatican across various levels.
Relations between the UAE and the Vatican have witnessed continuous growth, especially at the humanitarian level, after the Emirates hosted the Human Fraternity Meeting between Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyib in 2019.
During the meeting, the “Document on Human Fraternity” was signed to promote human relations, build bridges of communication, harmony and love between peoples, and tackle extremism.


UAE medical convoy of one million COVID-19 vaccines arrives in Gaza Strip

A Palestinian security officer stands at attention during the arrival of the Sputnik V vaccine, donated by the UAE, at a cold storage warehouse in Gaza City on Jan. 26, 2022. (AFP)
A Palestinian security officer stands at attention during the arrival of the Sputnik V vaccine, donated by the UAE, at a cold storage warehouse in Gaza City on Jan. 26, 2022. (AFP)
Updated 28 January 2022

UAE medical convoy of one million COVID-19 vaccines arrives in Gaza Strip

A Palestinian security officer stands at attention during the arrival of the Sputnik V vaccine, donated by the UAE, at a cold storage warehouse in Gaza City on Jan. 26, 2022. (AFP)
  • The Sputnik vaccines will be immediately distributed to vaccination centers to encourage Gazans to get vaccinated
  • It is the largest medical support convoy from the UAE for the Gaza Strip since the pandemic began

LONDON: A UAE medical convoy of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing on Wednesday to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, Emirati state news agency WAM reported on Thursday.
The convoy, containing one million Sputnik shots, “is the largest medical support convoy from the UAE for the Gaza Strip since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
The vaccines will be immediately distributed to vaccination centers to encourage Gazans to get vaccinated after the impoverished territory entered a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Ghazi Hamad, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Social Development, thanked the UAE for its assistance, which comes at a critical time, and said it would enhance the health sector’s ability to effectively confront the spread of the virus.
He was speaking during a press conference at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after the arrival of the convoy.
Former Palestinian health minister Dr. Jawad Al-Tibi said the health sector is one of the most time-consuming sectors and great efforts are required to combat this global epidemic.
“The UAE sends aid after aid to support our steadfastness and to face difficulties and diseases in the Gaza Strip,” he said, adding: “This batch of Emirati aid comes at the right time to support the health sector and vaccinate students.”


US envoy to Yemen holds talks in London to revive peace efforts

US envoy to Yemen holds talks in London to revive peace efforts
Updated 28 January 2022

US envoy to Yemen holds talks in London to revive peace efforts

US envoy to Yemen holds talks in London to revive peace efforts
  • Talks focused on the urgent need for de-escalation and to address economic stability and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen
  • US says has to fully consider humanitarian implications to designating Houthis as terrorist entity

LONDON: The US envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking held talks with senior UK and Gulf officials in London, as part of his first tour of 2022 to reinvigorate peace efforts in coordination with the UN.
During talks with the British Minister for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly, the two sides stressed they are “committed to working together to advance a durable resolution to the Yemen conflict, help stabilize the economy, and support urgent steps to ease the humanitarian crisis.”
The US envoy also took part in a UK-hosted Quint meeting to discuss the situation in Yemen with senior representatives from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and Britain, along with UN special envoy Hans Grundberg.

Lenderking was in Riyadh, the UAE and Oman last week, where he focused on the urgent need for de-escalation and the protection of all civilians, bringing the parties together to support a UN-led inclusive peace process, and doing more to address economic stability, humanitarian assistance access and fuel shortages, a State Department spokesperson told Arab News.
His visit comes as the Iran-backed Houthi militia have stepped up cross-border attacks against populated areas in Saudi Arabia and have attempted to strike the UAE capital twice in the last two weeks. The Houthis have also continued their brutal offensive on the Yemeni province of Marib, which has served as a safe haven for millions of internally displaced persons who have been fleeing the fighting since the conflict began in 2014.
The US has repeatedly pledged to continue to work with their partners in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to help them defend against these deplorable Houthi attacks, the State Department said.

However, increased calls from regional allies are putting pressure on US President Joe Biden’s administration to relist the Houthis as a terrorist organization one year after it reversed a last-minute decision by former President Donald Trump to designate the militia.
“We will continue to work with our allies and partners in the region especially to promote accountability for the Houthis, for those Houthi leaders that have been behind these terrorist attacks,” the State Department said.
It added that the the Houthis’ redesignation as an “international terrorist organization” is “under review” and the US is expected to implement additional steps, including sanctions, to hold Houthi leaders accountable.
But when asked by Arab News about the possibility that the Biden administration will relist the militia, it said: “The United States remains committed to improving the humanitarian situation in Yemen and would have to fully consider the humanitarian implications.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price had also said that they not going to relent in designating Houthi leaders and entities involved in military offensives that threaten civilians and regional stability and perpetuate the conflict, who are responsible for some of the human rights abuses or the violations of international humanitarian law.
“When you talk about the humanitarian crisis, there is one actor that is primarily responsible for the suffering of the Yemeni people, the widespread suffering of the Yemeni people. And that is the Houthis,” Price told reporters at a press briefing.
He added they are using every appropriate tool to hold the Houthis to account.
The State Department reiterated the American condemnation of the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE and said it remained committed to solving the Yemeni conflict.
“Helping advance a durable resolution that ends the conflict in Yemen, improves Yemeni lives, and creates the space for Yemenis to collectively determine their own future remains a top US foreign policy priority,” it said.