UAE keen to work with UN, Abu Dhabi crown prince tells Guterres

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (L) received a phone call from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (File/Wikipedia)
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (L) received a phone call from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (File/Wikipedia)
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Updated 07 January 2022

UAE keen to work with UN, Abu Dhabi crown prince tells Guterres

UAE keen to work with UN, Abu Dhabi crown prince tells Guterres
  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed received a phone call from head of global body
  • UAE was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in June

LONDON: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said the UAE supports the UN and is looking forward to working with the global body in various fields, state news agency WAM reported on Jan. 6.
He said the UAE worked for peace and stability, and supported everything that achieved regional and international development and prosperity.
Sheikh Mohammed was speaking during a phone call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a day after the UAE announced its commitments as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2022-23 term.
Guterres congratulated Sheikh Mohammed on the UAE being elected to the world body and wished it success in serving the international community through the position.
The UN chief also praised Emirati humanitarian and development initiatives to support international stability and development.
The crown prince congratulated Guterres on his re-election for a second term as head of the UN, which began on Jan. 3.
He also thanked the UN and its secretary-general for the important role they play in the service of global peace and security.
“This role is becoming increasingly important in light of the challenges and dangers that threaten humanity, foremost of which is the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the need to strengthen international collective action in the face of these threats,” he said.
During the call, the two men discussed various aspects of cooperation between the UAE and the UN and exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern, including the situation in the Middle East.
“They stressed the importance of settling crises in the region through dialogue, peaceful methods and joint international action,” the report said.
The UAE was elected as a non-permanent member of the 15-member Security Council for the second time in its history in June and held its first meeting on Jan. 4. During its term, the country will chair the council twice, in March of this year and in June 2023.


Israeli PM Bennett says Iranian ‘immunity’ is over

Israeli PM Bennett says Iranian ‘immunity’ is over
Updated 6 sec ago

Israeli PM Bennett says Iranian ‘immunity’ is over

Israeli PM Bennett says Iranian ‘immunity’ is over
  • Israeli leader accuses Iran of repeatedly targeting Israeli interests
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday Iran would not go unpunished for instigating attacks through its proxies, speaking a week after the assassination in Tehran of a Revolutionary Guards colonel that has been blamed on Israel.
Hassan Sayad Khodai, accused by Israel of plotting attacks against its citizens worldwide, was shot dead at the wheel of his car by two people on a motorcycle. The tactic echoed previous killings in Iran that focused on nuclear scientists and were widely pinned on Mossad.
Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said members of an Israeli intelligence service network had been discovered and arrested by the Guards immediately after the Tehran shooting.
Bennett’s office, which oversees intelligence agency Mossad, has declined to comment on the assassination.
However, in broadcast remarks to his ministers on Sunday, Bennett accused Iran of repeatedly targeting Israeli interests.
“For decades, the Iranian regime has practiced terrorism against Israel and the region by means of proxies, emissaries, but the head of the octopus, Iran itself, has enjoyed immunity,” Bennett said.
“As we have said before, the era of the Iranian regime’s immunity is over. Those who finance terrorists, those who arm terrorists and those who send terrorists will pay the full price,” he added.
Iran has promised to retaliate for Khodai’s death and pointed the finger at Israel.

Clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque before contested Israeli flag march

Clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque before contested Israeli flag march
Updated 26 min 27 sec ago

Clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque before contested Israeli flag march

Clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque before contested Israeli flag march
  • Palestinian factions have warned that the flag-waving parade through the city’s Muslim quarter could re-ignite their decades-old conflict

JERUSALEM: Israeli police faced off with Palestinians holed up inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque on Sunday as hundreds of Jews visited the holy compound ahead of a contentious Jewish nationalist march through the Old City.
The annual Jerusalem procession celebrates Israel’s capture of the Old City in the 1967 Middle East war and draws thousands of cheering, chanting participants to its narrow, stone streets.
Palestinian factions have warned that the flag-waving parade through the city’s Muslim quarter could re-ignite their decades-old conflict with Israelis at a time of highly charged tensions.
Hours before the procession was due to kick off, police locked some Palestinians inside a mosque on the Al-Aqsa compound as Jewish visitors arrived for daily tours of the compound, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews.
Palestinians threw stones and shot fireworks toward police, who responded with stun grenades.
Among the Jewish visitors were a dozen or so young men, wearing religious garb, who smiled, sang and clapped in the direction of the protesters. As the crowds grew, other Jews held up Israeli flags and sang the national anthem.
The Islamist group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, condemned videos posted online suggesting that Jews had prayed at the site, in violation of a long-standing ban.
“The Israel government is fully responsible for all these irresponsible policies and the following consequences,” senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told Reuters.
In recent years Hamas has cast itself as a defender of Muslim Jerusalem. After weeks of confrontations last year over Palestinian evictions in the city, Hamas fired rockets into Israel during the march, triggering an 11-day war that killed at least 250 Palestinians in Gaza and 13 people in Israel.
Shrugging off calls for a rethink of the route from some of his coalition allies, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed on Sunday that the parade would go ahead as planned.
“Waving the Israeli flag in the capital of Israel is perfectly acceptable,” he said. “I ask the participants to celebrate in a responsible and dignified manner.”
Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital, while Palestinians want the eastern section as capital of their future state. Hamas, deemed a terrorist organization by Western governments, sees all of modern-day Israel as occupied.
Palestinians view Sunday’s march as an Israeli show of force and part of a broader campaign to bolster Jewish presence across the city.
Repeated clashes took place between Palestinians and Israeli police in the Al-Aqsa compound in April, during the holy month of Ramadan, with Muslims angered by the rising numbers of Jewish visitors to the mosque esplanade.
Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam. It is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount — a vestige of their faith’s two ancient temples.
Sunday’s procession is due to culminate at the Western Wall, a Jewish prayer site that sits below the Al-Aqsa mosques.


Iraq civil defense begin rescue operation after restaurant collapse in Baghdad

Iraq civil defense begin rescue operation after restaurant collapse in Baghdad
Updated 29 May 2022

Iraq civil defense begin rescue operation after restaurant collapse in Baghdad

Iraq civil defense begin rescue operation after restaurant collapse in Baghdad

DUBAI: A restaurant has collapsed in central Baghdad, state media said Sunday, with some people reportedly still trapped inside. 

Iraqi civil defense did not comment on any casualties.  

But it said initial information indicated that a gas leak at the restaurant led to the blast.  

“Civil Defense teams began a rescue operation into the accident of the collapse of a restaurant in the Jadriya area near the Ministers complex,” read a statement received by the Iraqi News Agency (INA).  

“There are people trapped inside the collapsed building.”


Visit by far-right Israeli lawmaker sparks Jerusalem unrest

Visit by far-right Israeli lawmaker sparks Jerusalem unrest
Updated 4 min 42 sec ago

Visit by far-right Israeli lawmaker sparks Jerusalem unrest

Visit by far-right Israeli lawmaker sparks Jerusalem unrest
  • The unrest erupted ahead of a mass ultranationalist Israeli march planned later Sunday
  • Sunday’s unrest took place in a contested hilltop compound revered by Jews and Muslims

JERUSALEM: A far-right Israeli lawmaker, joined by scores of ultranationalist supporters, entered Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site early Sunday, prompting a crowd of Palestinians to begin throwing rocks and fireworks toward nearby Israeli police.
The unrest erupted ahead of a mass ultranationalist Israeli march planned later Sunday through the heart of the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Some 3,000 Israeli police were deployed throughout the city ahead of the march.
Israel says the march is meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital. But Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as their capital, see the march as a provocation. Last year, the parade helped trigger an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants.
Sunday’s unrest took place in a contested hilltop compound revered by Jews and Muslims. The compound is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. It also the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount and revere it as the home of the biblical Temples. The competing claims to the site lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have triggered numerous rounds of violence.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of a small ultranationalist opposition party in party and a follower of the late racist rabbi, Meir Kahane, entered the compound early Sunday along with dozens of supporters.
Palestinians shouted “God is great” as Ben-Gvir, accompanied by Israeli police, shouted “the Jewish people live.” Later, a crowd of Palestinians barricaded inside the mosque threw fireworks and stones toward police, who did not immediately respond.
Sunday’s march comes at a time of heightened tensions. Israeli police have repeatedly confronted stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators in the disputed compound in recent months, often firing rubber bullets and stun grenades.
At the same time, some 19 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian attackers in Israel and the West Bank in recent weeks, while over 35 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank. Many of those killed were Palestinian militants, but several civilians were also among the dead, including Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known correspondent for the Al Jazeera satellite channel.
Jerusalem police were widely criticized for beating mourners at Abu Akleh’s funeral two weeks ago.
Under longstanding arrangements known as the “status quo,” Jewish pilgrims are allowed to enter the hilltop compound but they are not allowed to pray. In recent years, however, the number of Jewish visitors has grown significantly, including some who have been spotted quietly praying.
Such scenes have sparked Palestinian fears that Israel is plotting to take over or divide the area. Israel denies such claims, saying it remains committed to the status quo.


Libya’s security threatened by foreign fighters, say UN experts

Libya’s security threatened by foreign fighters, say UN experts
Updated 29 May 2022

Libya’s security threatened by foreign fighters, say UN experts

Libya’s security threatened by foreign fighters, say UN experts
  • Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group singled out for violating international law
  • 7 other armed groups accused of using unlawful detention to settle scores

 

UNITED NATIONS: Libya faces a serious security threat from foreign fighters and private military companies, especially Russia’s Wagner Group which has violated international law, UN experts said in a report obtained by The Associated Press.
The experts also accused seven Libyan armed groups of systematically using unlawful detention to punish perceived opponents, ignoring international and domestic civil rights laws, including laws prohibiting torture.
In particular, “migrants have been extremely vulnerable to human rights abuses and regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture,” the panel said in the report to the UN Security Council obtained late Friday by the AP.
The oil-rich North African nation plunged into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was later killed. It then became divided between rival governments — one in the east, backed by military commander Khalifa Haftar, and a UN-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers.
In April 2019, Haftar and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support for the UN-supported government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.
An October 2020 cease-fire deal led to an agreement on a transitional government in early February 2021 and elections were scheduled for last Dec. 24 aimed at unifying the country. But they were canceled and the country now has rival governments with two Libyans claiming to be prime minister.
The cease-fire agreement called for the speedy withdrawal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries but the panel said “there has been little verifiable evidence of any large-scale withdrawals taking place to date.”
The report said Chadian opposition groups operate from Libya and Sudanese fighters have been recruited by Haftar. Turkish-backed Syrian fighters have been seen by the panel in government military camps in Tripoli while Haftar-affiliated Syrian fighters operate alongside the Wagner Group’s fighters in the strategic northern city of Sirte and nearby Jufra. At least 300 of these Syrians have returned home and not been replaced by Haftar, the report said.
The panel said it continues to investigate the deployment of Wagner fighters and the transfers of arms and related materiel to support its operations.
The Wagner Group passes itself off as a private military contractor and the Kremlin denies any connection to it. But the United States identifies Wagner’s financer as Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The panel said it considers a Samsung electronic tablet left on a Libyan battlefield by a Wagner mercenary and obtained by the BBC in early 2021 to be authentic. It contained maps of the locations of 35 unmarked anti-personnel mines in the Ain Zara area of south Tripoli that was then a frontline area under Haftar’s control, supported by Wagner.
Several mines had never been reported as being in Libya before and their transfer therefore violated the UN arms embargo, the panel said. It added that a booby-trapped mine exploded during a mine clearance operation killing two civilian mine clearers.
Experts also received information about the recovery of anti-tank mines from positions primarily occupied by Wagner in south Tripoli.
The panel said the failure to visibly mark the anti-personnel and anti-tank mines and issue warnings of their locations to civilians in the areas was a violation of international humanitarian law by Wagner.
The Wagner tablet also contained a list of requested items including drones and tanks that would violate the arms embargo if delivered, the panel said, but it didn’t know if any of it had.
The panel said it identified 18 arms transfers and four examples of military training between March 2021 and late April 2022 that violated the UN arms embargo. Among the examples it cited was the Luccello, a ship flying the Comoros flag that delivered 100 armored vehicles to Haftar in Benghazi.
The experts said four migrants suffered human rights abuses in secret detention facilities controlled by human traffickers in the areas of Tazirbu in the Libyan desert and Bani Walid near the northwest coast. They said victims were enslaved, severely beaten, deliberately starved and denied medical care.
“Two former female detainees, who were 14- and 15-year-old girls at the time, further testified to the panel that multiple perpetrators repeatedly raped them, subjected them to sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence during the period of over 18 months in a secret detention facility in Bani Walid,” the report said.
The panel said it also found that guards responsible for protecting the most vulnerable migrants in the government-run Shara Al-Zawiya detention center “took a direct part in or turned a blind eye to consistent acts of rape, sexual exploitation and threats of rape against women and girls” detained there between January and June 2021.