Israeli armed police raze Jerusalem home in predawn raid, arrest residents

Special Israeli armed police raze Jerusalem home in predawn raid, arrest residents
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Members of the Israeli border police stand guard near the demolished home of the Salhieh family, east Jerusalem, Jan. 19, 2022. (Reuters)
Special Israeli armed police raze Jerusalem home in predawn raid, arrest residents
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Members of the Salhieh family on the roof of their home as they protest their eviction by Israeli police and the Jerusalem municipality, Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, Jan 18, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2022

Israeli armed police raze Jerusalem home in predawn raid, arrest residents

Israeli armed police raze Jerusalem home in predawn raid, arrest residents
  • Salhieh family had occupied property in Sheikh Jarrah for over 60 years
  • Peace Now denounces move as attempt to ‘rip apart the Palestinian culture’

AMMAN: Armed police on Wednesday morning tore down the home of a Palestinian family in an east Jerusalem neighborhood following a long-running dispute over their right to live in the property.

The Israeli-run Jerusalem Municipality sent a police team at 3 a.m., backed by a canine squad and army troops, to forcefully evict the Salhieh family from their home in Sheikh Jarrah.

The move came after Mahmoud Salhieh took to the roof of the house on Monday, threatening to blow it up with gas canisters if he and his family were forced out. Other family members and activists had been maintaining a vigil inside and on top of the building.

Several residents and their supporters were arrested before police moved in to raze the property that the family had lived in for more than six decades.

The municipality confiscated the land, reportedly to build a school for the disabled.

Dana Mills, director of development and external relations and interim executive director of Peace Now, told Arab News that there was an empty plot 500 meters away, which the municipality had promised to allot for a yeshiva (educational institution) for Haredi Jews.

“Peace Now sees this eviction as part of the attempt to allow increased Jewish presence in East Jerusalem and a cynical move in the attempt to prevent East Jerusalem from becoming the capital of the future Palestinian state,” she said.

She added that the municipality was “acting insincerely,” and with the support of the government, “to rip apart the Palestinian culture and everyday life.”

Fadi Hidmi, Palestinian minister of Jerusalem affairs, told Arab News that the Israeli occupiers “continued their destructive policies based on flimsy allegations.”

Their goal, he said, was to change the political and demographic status of Jerusalem and “to fight the Palestinian Islamic and Christian presence in the city in defiance of international law.”

Palestinian Orthodox Bishop Atallah Hanna told Arab News that what was happening to the Salhieh family was a crime.

“Forcing an eviction of a family in this inhuman and barbaric way is a new crime committed against Palestinians in violation of international law. We declare our solidarity with the Salhieh family.”

Shihab Amjad, a political-science professor at Al-Quds University, told Arab News that the incident was linked to efforts to increase Jewish influence in Jerusalem.

“It hurts to see these things happening while the world is letting Palestinians face this (Israeli) might alone. The policy of making Jerusalem more Jewish was accelerated after the announcement to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.”

Ofer Kassif, a member of Knesset, described the predawn eviction as an act of “ethnic cleansing.”

Sami Abu Shehadeh, a parliamentarian from the Joint List, said the incident reflected the “ugly settlement mentality” of the Israeli government.

Human rights groups say 300 Palestinians in East Jerusalem are threatened with eviction. Palestinians who lost their homes in West Jerusalem have not been allowed to reclaim them.

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, but Palestinians claim the east of the city as the capital of a future state.


Egypt and Oman agree to establish joint investment fund

Egypt and Oman agree to establish joint investment fund
Updated 18 sec ago

Egypt and Oman agree to establish joint investment fund

Egypt and Oman agree to establish joint investment fund
  • Two countries also sign agreements in multiple sectors, including the environment and education
  • Agreement comes during Egyptian President El-Sisi’s official visit to Oman 

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq have agreed on a study to establish a joint investment fund between their two countries, focused on feasible projects in various vital sectors.

In a joint statement released on Tuesday, the two leaders confirmed, during the official visit of the Egyptian president to Oman, that all relevant authorities would discuss investment opportunities in fields including energy and renewables, industry, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

During El-Sisi’s visit, Egypt and Oman signed two agreements, six memoranda of understanding, three executive programs and letters of cooperation in promoting competition, combating monopolies, promoting investment, developing exports, establishing and managing industrial zones, and protecting the environment, in addition to the mutual recognition of marine qualification certificates for navigators.

The governments of the two countries also signed a cooperation agreement in maritime transport and ports, and a cooperation agreement between Sultan Qaboos University and the Egyptian National Institute for Astronomical and Geophysical Research.

El-Sisi affirmed “Egypt’s keenness during the coming period to develop economic and commercial cooperation relations with the Omani business community and companies, and develop joint investments, to contribute to supporting economic development … to maximize mutual interests and optimal utilization of available opportunities.”

During his meeting with representatives of the business community and heads of major companies in Oman, with the participation of a number of senior Omani officials and representatives, he stressed that “the qualitative leap that Egypt has witnessed recently in the various development sectors reflects the strong will of the state, with its governmental and popular components to achieve sustainable development, which will have positive repercussions on the strengthening of bilateral relations between Egypt and the Sultanate of Oman by opening doors to maximize existing Omani investments in various sectors.

“The distinguished fraternal relations between the two brotherly countries are the real umbrella for supporting efforts to develop joint cooperation in various economic fields through the availability of the necessary political will,” El-Sisi said.

The Egyptian leader also discussed the various investment opportunities in Egypt, foremost of which is the development axis of the Suez Canal Zone, which includes a number of major industrial and logistical areas, and which provides promising opportunities for Omani companies wishing to benefit from Egypt’s strategic location.

El-Sisi arrived in Oman on Monday and an official reception ceremony was held for him. 

Talks between the two leaders were held at Al-Alam Palace in the Omani capital Muscat and included delegations from both countries.

El-Sisi affirmed Egypt’s “pride in the depth and strength of strategic relations with the Sultanate of Oman,” and its desire to “strengthen and diversify the frameworks of joint bilateral cooperation, and explore mechanisms to push them to broader horizons in various political, security, economic and commercial fields.”

He also praised “the existing level of coordination and unity of visions between the two brotherly countries on issues of common interest,” as well as the “Omani-Egyptian consensus on all regional and international issues.”

Ambassador Bassam Radi, official spokesman for the Presidency of the Republic, said El-Sisi and Sultan Haitham held an expanded session of talks, during which the sultan praised the “close and historical brotherly ties that unite the two countries.”


Egyptian president meets Bahraini king on 2nd stage of Gulf tour

Egyptian president meets Bahraini king on 2nd stage of Gulf tour
Updated 26 min 27 sec ago

Egyptian president meets Bahraini king on 2nd stage of Gulf tour

Egyptian president meets Bahraini king on 2nd stage of Gulf tour
  • Following his visit to Oman, El-Sisi met the Bahraini monarch to discuss regional issues and strategic cooperation
  • Egypt’s leader reiterated his country’s “keenness to develop cooperation with the Kingdom of Bahrain in all fields”

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi held talks with Bahrain’s King Hamad on the second stage of his Gulf tour.

Following his visit to Oman, El-Sisi met the Bahraini monarch to discuss regional issues and strategic cooperation.

During their meeting — that was also attended by Bahrain’s Prime Minister Crown Prince Salman Al-Khalifa — at Sakhir Palace, in Manama, Egypt’s leader reiterated his country’s “keenness to develop cooperation with the Kingdom of Bahrain in all fields.”

Welcoming El-Sisi to the capital city, King Hamad said: “(Your visit) reflects the uniqueness of the distinguished bilateral relations and embodies the keenness of the two leaderships to communicate, coordinate, and consult on regional issues of common concern to serve the interests of the two countries and the issues of the Arab nation,” the Bahrain News Agency reported.

The king hailed the “efficiency” and contribution of the Egyptian community in his country toward the development of Bahrain and noted that the two nations had “a long history and a developed present,” while sharing a “constant aspiration to advance bilateral cooperation toward broader horizons.”

King Hamad pointed out that, due to El-Sisi’s approach, Egypt was witnessing, “a pioneering development renaissance and vital projects, and the qualitative achievements it has achieved in all fields.”

He also praised Egypt’s, “pivotal and firm role as a fundamental pillar of security and stability in the region and its appreciated efforts in supporting the nation’s causes and strengthening the course of work for the common Arab in facing the current challenges in the region.”

El-Sisi’s foreign tour comes after it was recently announced that US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia in mid-July and while there would be attending a joint summit with Gulf state leaders.

The official spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, said: “The current stage requires concerted efforts to protect Arab national security and confront attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries and destabilize them.”


Five killed in Aden blast targeting security official

Five killed in Aden blast targeting security official
Updated 29 June 2022

Five killed in Aden blast targeting security official

Five killed in Aden blast targeting security official
  • An improvised explosive device planted in a car went off when a vehicle carrying Lahj province Security Chief Saleh Al-Sayed passed through Aden’s Khormaksar neighborhood
  • Al-Sayed, who is loyal to the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council, narrowly escaped death as the explosion burned his car and many other vehicles

AL-MUKALLA: At least five people were killed and several others wounded on Wednesday when a blast targeted a security official in Yemen’s southern city of Aden, the country’s interim capital and the seat of its internationally recognized government, a local security source and residents said. 

An improvised explosive device planted in a car went off when a vehicle carrying Lahj province Security Chief Saleh Al-Sayed passed through Aden’s Khormaksar neighborhood, killing five people — four civilians and a bodyguard — and wounding seven others, a security source told Arab News by telephone. 

Al-Sayed, who is loyal to the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council, narrowly escaped death as the explosion burned his car and many other vehicles that were passing through the street.  

Al-Sayed is known for leading troops that purged the Lahj province of Al-Qaeda, Daesh and other armed groups in 2016 and also commanded troops that battled the Houthis in Aden in 2015. 

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but local officials blame terrorist groups for such attacks. 

Wednesday’s explosion in Aden is the latest in a string of deadly attacks that have shaken the city during the past two years. 

This month, a Yemeni journalist was burned to death in Aden when an IED blast ripped through his vehicle. 

In May, the commander of joint operations at the Aden-based 4th Military Region escaped death after a blast hit his armed SUV in Aden’s Mualla. 

In November, a pregnant journalist was killed when an explosion blew up her vehicle in Aden.  

The latest attack in Aden came a day after Aden Gov. Ahmed Hamed Lamlis told a group of UN officials based in Yemen that the city is “safe” to host their offices.  

Lamlis pledged during a meeting with Diego Zorella, UN deputy resident coordinator for humanitarian affairs in Yemen, to protect the UN delegations that visit or settle in Aden, urging them to intensify their humanitarian operations in the city.


Populist Turkish politicians stoke tensions over Syrian refugees as elections loom

Populist Turkish politicians stoke tensions over Syrian refugees as elections loom
Updated 29 June 2022

Populist Turkish politicians stoke tensions over Syrian refugees as elections loom

Populist Turkish politicians stoke tensions over Syrian refugees as elections loom
  • Umit Ozdag, the leader of the nationalist Zafer (Victory) Party, was stopped from entering Hatay after he pledged to place a “symbolic” mine at the border with Syria
  • Turkish police, the gendarmerie and officials from the Hatay governorate prevented Ozdag from entering the city

ANKARA: A toxic and dangerous anti-refugee discourse is gaining momentum in Turkey. Umit Ozdag, the leader of the nationalist Zafer (Victory) Party, was recently stopped from entering the southern border town of Hatay after he pledged to place a “symbolic” mine at the border with Syria to prevent crossings.

Turkish police, the gendarmerie and officials from the Hatay governorate prevented Ozdag from entering the city, as his move could provoke hatred and incitement against the refugee population in the city. Hatay is home to some 400,000 Syrians.

Experts have warned about far-right politicians using Syrian refugees as a political card ahead of general and presidential elections scheduled for next year.

Ozdag’s party is mainly based on anti-Syrian ideology, pursuing a campaign against the presence of refugees in Turkey and accusing them of causing the country’s dire economic and financial problems.

The Zafer Party, having an insignificant share of votes according to the polls, also criticizes the high birth rates among the refugees, which it terms a “silent invasion” of Turkey.

Ozdag has tweeted controversial videos, claiming he would expel all refugees from Turkey once he comes to power.

He also said that his party would quit the international treaty banning anti-personnel mines and would replant them on the borders to stop refugees.

Ozdag added that every Turkish citizen who wants the Syrian refugees to stay in Turkey is a “traitor.”

According to Friedrich Puttmann, a researcher at the Istanbul Policy Center, Ozdag’s latest statements appear to be inspired by far-right nationalists in the EU, such as the German party Alternative für Deutschland, which also suggested in the heat of Germany's refugee debate in 2016 that its borders should be defended with military means against the arrival of asylum seekers.

“Ozdag can be considered a political entrepreneur, trying to gain power by basing his party 100 percent on a single new issue in Turkish politics, and doing everything he can to make this issue as big as possible to generate votes from it,” he told Arab News.

Puttmann said that by deploying this strategy, Ozdag is seeking to exploit not only Turks’ grievances with regard to the hosting Syrian refugees but also their strong sense of nationalism.

“To counter this, his critics should therefore not fall into his trap by defending the refugees themselves but rather challenge him on the grounds of what it means to be Turkish,” he said.

Syrian refugees in Turkey have been banned from visiting their families back home during Eid Al-Adha, while new quotas have been applied to residence permits. As of July 1, Turkey will limit permits for foreigners to a ceiling of 20 percent of the population of some neighborhoods.

Puttmann noted that much of the Turkish debate on the Syrian refugees is an extension of the debate on the meaning of Turkish identity.

“If Ozdag’s critics can present a vision of Turkishness that is not divisive but speaks to values shared across different segments of Turkish society, they can also convince the public that planting mines on the Turkish-Syrian border would be the most ‘un-Turkish’ thing to do,” he said.

Turkey currently hosts about 3.7 million Syrian refugees within its borders, apart from more than 200,000 Syrians who were granted Turkish citizenship in a decade. Turkey also provides security and humanitarian assistance to over 3 million Syrians in Turkey-controlled regions in Syria.

According to the latest surveys, anti-refugee sentiment is gaining popularity in Turkey.

A recent survey by the İstanbul Ekonomi Arastirma (Istanbul Economics Research) organization revealed that 61 percent of respondents favored a harsher stance against refugees. The repatriation of Syrians is believed to be among the top topics of the impending election commitments of the opposition parties.

Prof. Murat Erdogan, director at Ankara University’s Migration Research Center and a CATS-SWP Fellow in Berlin, told Arab News that the anti-refugee discourse cannot be resolved by stopping someone from entering a city where the refugee population has reached more than 20 percent of the local population.

“Ozdag and his party are bringing up the existing concerns and anger that are deeply rooted in Turkish society following a large influx of refugees in a short period of time,” he said.

According to the academic, who predicts the development of new political formations, the high levels of attention directed to anti-refugee perspectives has caused the Syrian issue to become associated with discussion surrounding Turkey’s national security.

“The indefinite nature of the immigration process creates a sense of insecurity and fuels concerns in Turkish society that the domestic borders cannot be protected and the immigration wave cannot be managed,” he said.

“While the government frames the refugees as the elements of religious or cultural solidarity as part of its humanitarian foreign policy, the opposition criticizes this policy by securitizing this issue. This is a reality and has been used by populist politicians in recent years,” Prof. Erdogan added. 

“It is very important to boost the resilience of Turkish society in the coming period and to implement cohesion policies for Syrians at the local level to prevent further conflicts,” he said.

Two young Syrians — Sultan Abdul Baset Jabneh and Sharif Khaled Al-Ahmad — were killed in Istanbul in June, while a 70-year-old Syrian woman was hit in the face in the southeastern province of Gaziantep last month, triggering an outcry on social media.

On May 31, an immigrant sexually harassed a 10-year-old Turkish boy in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district hosting a large population of refugees. The immigrant was arrested, but local anger swiftly poured into the streets.

As part of a new project, the Turkish government recently committed to voluntarily relocating 1 million Syrians to northern Syria by establishing necessary infrastructure.


Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027
Updated 29 June 2022

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027

Jordanian Ministry of Transport announces five-year public transportation strategy for 2022 to 2027
  • The ministry stated that it will be forming partnerships with the private sector to close a significant funding gap for transportation projects

AMMAN: The Jordanian Ministry of Transport has announced a five-year public transportation strategy for the years 2022 to 2027, Jordan News Agency (Petra) reported on Wednesday.

The ministry's goal is to increase the sector's employment by 18 percent and increase its current GDP contribution from 2.6 percent to 7 percent in that time.

The ministry also said in a statement that it will collaborate with its partners at the World Bank and the European Union to align its new five-year strategy with the recently released Economic Modernization Vision recommendations.

As the strategy sources additional funding, the ministry stated that it will be forming partnerships with the private sector to close a significant funding gap for transportation projects.

The strategy also aims to cut down on the use of cars, increase the percentage of people who use public transportation from 12 to 17 percent, and reduce household spending on transportation to 5 percent.

It also aims to reduce the cost of losses caused by traffic accidents by 35 percent, the energy used by the transportation industry by 7 percent, and the emissions produced by the industry by 125 percent.