US Africa envoy to begin peace mission for Sudan, Ethiopia

David M. Satterfield. (AFP file photo)
David M. Satterfield. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 16 January 2022

US Africa envoy to begin peace mission for Sudan, Ethiopia

David M. Satterfield. (AFP file photo)
  • Satterfield, the former US ambassador to Turkey, was appointed to replace Jeffrey Feltman as special envoy on Jan. 6

WASHINGTON: The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa will visit Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Ethiopia next week amid ongoing crises in the two African nations, the State Department has announced.
David Satterfield and Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee will travel to Riyadh, Khartoum and Addis Ababa from Jan. 17-20.
In Riyadh, the pair will meet with the Friends of Sudan, a group calling for the restoration of the country’s transitional government following a military coup in October.
The meeting aims to “marshal international support” for the UN mission to “facilitate a renewed civilian-led transition to democracy” in Sudan, according to the statement.
Satterfield and Phee will then travel to Khartoum, where they will meet with pro-democracy activists, women’s and youth groups, civil organizations and military and political figures.
Their message will be clear: The US is committed to freedom, peace, and justice for the Sudanese people, the statement said. In Ethiopia, the pair will talk with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to seek a resolution to the deepening civil war.
“They will encourage government officials to seize the current opening for peace by ending the airstrikes and other hostilities ... and laying the foundation for an inclusive national dialogue,” the statement read.

HIGHLIGHT

Huge crowds have regularly taken to the streets in Sudan demanding a return to civilian rule since an Oct. 25 coup ended a power-sharing deal.

On Friday, the UN human rights office expressed alarm at “multiple, deeply disturbing reports” of airstrikes in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, saying at least 108 civilians had been killed this year.
They will also ask for the establishment of a cease-fire, the release of political prisoners and the restoration of humanitarian access.
Satterfield, the former US ambassador to Turkey, was appointed to replace Jeffrey Feltman as special envoy on Jan. 6.
Feltman quit just as he visited Ethiopia in a bid to encourage peace talks to end more than a year of war following the withdrawal of Tigrayan rebels.
The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which last year threatened to march on Addis Ababa, by December had withdrawn to its stronghold, and the government has not pursued the rebels further on the ground.
Feltman had also sought to tackle the crisis in Sudan, but he was treated unceremoniously in October when Sudan’s military ruler, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, carried out a coup just after the US envoy had left the country.
Feltman’s resignation came days after Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, quit, leaving Burhan as the undisputed leader of the country despite Western calls to preserve a democratic transition launched in 2019.


Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll
Updated 12 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 8 min 50 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 17 min 35 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.


Marcos Jr proclaimed next Philippine president with huge win

Marcos Jr proclaimed next Philippine president with huge win
Updated 25 May 2022

Marcos Jr proclaimed next Philippine president with huge win

Marcos Jr proclaimed next Philippine president with huge win
  • Marcos Jr. received more than 31 million votes and Sara Duterte more than 32 million out of more than 55 million votes cast in the election

MANILA: Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was proclaimed the next president of the Philippines by a joint session of Congress on Wednesday following a landslide election triumph 36 years after his dictator father was ousted in a pro-democracy uprising.
The Senate and House of Representatives also declared that his separately elected vice presidential running mate, Sara Duterte, had won by a wide margin. She is the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, whose turbulent six-year term ends on June 30.
They will lead a nation battered by COVID-19 lockdowns, crushing poverty, gaping inequality, Muslim and communist insurgencies, crime and political divisions further inflamed by the May 9 election.
Marcos Jr., a 64-year-old former governor, congressman and senator, has refused to acknowledge or apologize for massive human rights violations and plunder under his father’s strongman rule and has defended his legacy.
When they take office, Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte will likely face demands to prosecute her father over thousands of killings of mostly poor suspects under his yearslong crackdown on illegal drugs. The deaths are currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Marcos Jr. received more than 31 million votes and Sara Duterte more than 32 million out of more than 55 million votes cast in the election. It was the first majority presidential victory in the Asian democracy in decades.
During the campaign, they avoided controversial issues and focused on a call for national unity, although their fathers’ presidencies opened some of the most volatile divisions in the country’s history. Marcos Jr. appealed to be judged “not by my ancestors, but by my actions.”
Sen. Imee Marcos, the president-elect’s sister, thanked those who voted for her brother after what she described as years of humiliation.
“We’re very grateful for a second chance,” she told reporters before the proclamation. “Our family went through a lot,” she said, citing “all sorts of cases and ridicule” against them.
In Marcos Jr.’s campaign headquarters, supporters waved Philippine flags, flashed the victory sign and held a streamer congratulating him and Sara Duterte.
Still, both have been hounded by their fathers’ reputations.
Riot police used a water cannon and shields to prevent a few hundred activists from marching to Congress to oppose Wednesday’s proclamations, injuring at least 14 protesters, the left-wing group Bayan said. It said the forceful dispersal “could be a portent of things to come.”
Last week, human rights activists submitted a petition to the Supreme Court against Marcos Jr.’s eligibility, citing his past tax conviction. They asked the court to block his proclamation, but no such order was issued. The complaint was earlier dismissed by the Commission on Elections.