Italian president says Lebanon ‘must be supported’ to ensure Middle East stability

Special Italian president says Lebanon ‘must be supported’ to ensure Middle East stability
Italian President Sergio Mattarella meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Rome, March 22, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 March 2022

Italian president says Lebanon ‘must be supported’ to ensure Middle East stability

Italian president says Lebanon ‘must be supported’ to ensure Middle East stability
  • Lebanon’s difficult economic situation and the need for Syrian refugees to return to their homeland were the main issues of a long meeting between Sergio Mattarella and Michel Aoun
  • Lebanese FM Abdullah Bou Habib also attended the meeting at the Quirinale Palace, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Italian Parliament via video link

ROME: Italian President Sergio Mattarella said Lebanon must be supported by the international community as it represented “the key to the stability of the Middle East.”  

Lebanon’s difficult economic situation and the need for Syrian refugees to return to their homeland were the main issues of a long meeting in Rome between Mattarella and Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a source in the Italian presidency told Arab News.

Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Bou Habib also attended the meeting at the Quirinale Palace, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Italian Parliament via video link.

Mattarella told Aoun: “Lebanon is the key to the stability of the Middle East. For this reason, the country must receive great support and solidarity from the international community so that it continues to guarantee its own security and overcome the serious and urgent political, economic, and humanitarian problems.”

In their talks, the two presidents also covered issues related to the crisis in Ukraine, the situation in Yemen and Libya, the nuclear negotiations with Iran, and the general situation in the Gulf.

Aoun told the Italian daily La Repubblica that he saw “a grim future ahead for Lebanon” due to the war in Ukraine.

“The food safety crisis is now our biggest priority, and it is even more important in our internal political situation,” he said.

With Lebanon importing more than 70 percent of its grain needs from Ukraine and Russia, he said the supply was likely to become difficult due to the conflict.

“Lebanon absolutely needs support, especially with regard to its food needs because we are going through a period of extreme poverty that particularly affects some segments of the population,” he added.


Minister calls for maintaining EU-Jordan cooperation

Minister calls for maintaining EU-Jordan cooperation
Updated 51 min 15 sec ago

Minister calls for maintaining EU-Jordan cooperation

Minister calls for maintaining EU-Jordan cooperation
  • Nancy Namrouqa lauds EU’s contribution and support to development projects in Jordan

AMMAN: Jordan’s state minister for legal affairs, Nancy Namrouqa, has reaffirmed the significance of continuing and advancing cooperation with the EU in various fields.
After receiving the EU Ambassador to Jordan Maria Hadjitheodosiou on Tuesday, Namrouqa spoke about the government’s endeavors to conduct the three political, economic, and administrative modernization paths, described by King Abdullah as “state projects.”
The minister lauded the EU’s contribution to and support for development projects in Jordan, reported Jordan’s News Agency.
Hadjitheodosiou expressed her appreciation for the EU-Jordan partnership and praised Amman’s efforts to achieve its three modernization tracks and enhance the investment environment.


Brothers among 4 Palestinians killed in West Bank

Brothers among 4 Palestinians killed in West Bank
Updated 6 sec ago

Brothers among 4 Palestinians killed in West Bank

Brothers among 4 Palestinians killed in West Bank
  • Jawad Abd Al-Rahman Rimawi, 22,  was shot dead in Kufr Ein, near Ramallah; his brother, Thafer, 21, was shot and critically injured, and later died
  • Mohammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian prime minister, said that the deaths of the two brothers was a “heinous crime”

RAMALLAH: Four Palestinians, including two brothers, were killed and 21 injured in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Mufid Mahmoud Ekhlil, 44, was shot dead in the town of Beit Ummar, northern Hebron.

Nine Palestinians were injured by bullets during the confrontations and taken to nearby hospitals, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

The Israel Defense Forces said that “rioters” attacked soldiers with rocks and explosive devices after two IDF vehicles got stuck during an operational patrol near Beit Ummar.

It added: “The rioters also shot at the soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire.”

Jawad Abd Al-Rahman Rimawi, 22,  was shot dead in Kufr Ein, near Ramallah. His brother, Thafer, 21, was shot and critically injured, and later died.

Rani Abu Ali, 45, from Betunia, west of Ramallah, was killed following a car accident involving a 20-year-old Israeli soldier, who was wounded.

The latest bloodshed took place amid a mounting surge of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the wake of a Jerusalem bombing last week that killed two Israelis.

A general strike in Ramallah and some surrounding towns was called to mourn the deaths of the two brothers.

Ghassan Al-Khatib, a Palestinian political analyst and vice president of Birzeit University, told Arab News that there is a clear indication of an Israeli policy of escalation.

He added that he believes the soldiers’ incursions into Palestinian cities and villages will increase in the light of the ultra right-wing Israeli government being formed under Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and including Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

He said: “We are facing a revolt and an escalation of violence because a popular Palestinian reaction will meet every attack of the Israeli army.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian presidential spokesperson, said the Israeli government “bears full responsibility for these crimes and must be held accountable for them,” noting that successive right-wing governments have declared daily war on the Palestinian people.

He added: “The American administration also bears a great responsibility for the occupation and authorities’ continuous crimes against our people, as it is the only sponsor of the occupying state in the world, in arms and financing and at international forums.

Abu Rudeineh said the US administration needed to take action to deter Israel from carrying out crimes that destabilized the region.

Some 205 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of this year, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian prime minister, said that the deaths of the two brothers was a “heinous crime.”

He added: “With the continued declaration of war on our people, and the new Israeli government, we call on the world’s countries to intervene urgently to stop the Israeli killing machine and to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Hundreds of Palestinians attended the funerals of the victims in Ramallah and Hebron, and chanted slogans condemning the crimes of the Israeli occupation, and calling for their cessation.

Hussein Al-Sheikh, from the Palestine Liberation Organization, tweeted that the deaths of the brothers was an “awful crime committed by the occupation forces.” He added that execution in cold blood is “fascist behavior.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said: “The Israeli occupation is trying desperately to stop the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people, through killings and assassinations, but this blood will be fuel for our people’s revolution and continuous uprising.”

Meanwhile, Benny Gantz, outgoing Israeli defense minister, said he had approved the construction of 10,000 units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and that settlements, especially in the Jordan Valley, must be strengthened.

In addition, Yair Lapid, the outgoing Israeli prime minister, has sent more than 50 world leaders a letter calling on them to exert their influence on the Palestinian Authority to prevent the General Assembly vote on an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This resolution is the outcome of a concerted effort to single out Israel, to discredit our legitimate security concerns, and to delegitimize our very existence,” Lapid said in the letter.


IRGC threatens Iranian footballers’ families ahead of US match

IRGC threatens Iranian footballers’ families ahead of US match
Updated 29 November 2022

IRGC threatens Iranian footballers’ families ahead of US match

IRGC threatens Iranian footballers’ families ahead of US match
  • Players warned their relatives face arrest, torture if they do not back regime in final group game
  • Source tells CNN IRGC has flooded Qatar with operatives, officials to monitor players

LONDON: Iran’s footballers at the World Cup in Qatar have been warned that their families could be imprisoned and tortured if they show any signs of protest or dissent during the team’s final group game on Tuesday.

In their opening game against England, the Iranian players refused to sing the national anthem in a show of solidarity with protests across the country, but did participate during the second game against Wales.

A source told CNN, ahead of the match against the US, that the players had been informed in a meeting with members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that “violence and torture” awaited their relatives if they did not “behave” this time.

It marked a severe change in tone, the source added, as prior to the World Cup the team had been promised lavish gifts if they performed well at the tournament.

Coach Carlos Queiroz also had a separate meeting with IRGC officials, but it is not known what was discussed.

Queiroz had previously said his players could protest as long as it met with criteria established by FIFA.

The source said “dozens” of IRGC members are in Qatar to monitor the players, who are not allowed to meet with or talk to foreigners for the duration of the competition.

“There are a large number of Iranian security officers in Qatar collecting information and monitoring the players,” the source told CNN.

“In the last game against Wales, the regime sent over hundreds of these actor supporters in order to create a false sense of support and favor amongst the fans.

“For the next game against the US, the regime is planning to significantly increase the number of actors into the thousands.”

Protests have engulfed Iran since September following the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the country’s morality police, for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands arrested, with many facing execution.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk called the situation a “full-fledged human rights crisis.”

Thousands of Iranian fans have taken their protests to World Cup venues, holding anti-regime banners, calling for women’s rights to be protected, and booing the national anthem.


UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday
Updated 29 November 2022

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday
  • Rashid rover will blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, tomorrow (Nov.30)
  • If the lunar mission succeeded, the UAE would be the fourth country to land on the moon.

DUBAI: The UAE has completed the final preparations to launch its rover to the moon in the Arab world’s first lunar mission, it was announced on Tuesday.

Rashid rover will blast off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, embarking on a five-month journey to the moon.

In a statement, Japan-based ispace inc. announced it had completed the integration of its HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

“We are pleased to have finished the first phase of the Mission 1 with the final preparations before launch completed,” said Takeshi Hakamada, Founder and CEO of ispace.

“To do this, we utilized a design and development model that balanced reliability and low costs by employing proven technologies and components from around the world,” he added.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) invited viewers from all over the world to watch the launch live at 12:39pm UAE time (GMT+4).

 

 

The rover will land on the “unexplored moon surface at Atlas Crater, on the southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris (“Sea of Cold”)” in April 2023, the center said.

“The target site criteria were carefully considered by the Emirates Lunar Mission Team, including the duration of continuous sun illumination and communication visibility from Earth,” the MBRSC said in a statement. Once launched, the integrated spacecraft will take a low-energy route to the moon rather than a direct approach.

If the lunar mission succeeded, the UAE would be the fourth country to land on the moon.

The 10kg Rashid rover will study the properties of lunar soil, mobility on the lunar surface, the petrography and geology of the moon, dust movement, and study surface plasma conditions and the moon’s photoelectron sheath.

It will send data and images back to Earth, using two high-resolution cameras: Microscopic, and thermal imaging ones, said the mission’s team.

The lunar mission was the latest of the UAE’s effort in space exploration. Earlier in February 2021, the UAE made history by landing its Hope probe to Mars, becoming the first Arab nation to launch an unmanned mission to the red planet.


More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general
Updated 29 November 2022

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general

More than 300 dead in Iran unrest: Guards general
  • The toll includes dozens of police, troops and militia killed in clashes with demonstrators or murdered

TEHRAN: Iran has for the first time reported that more than 300 people have died in over two months of protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody.
The Islamic republic has deployed state security forces against what it labels “riots” that broke out after the 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian died on September 16, three days after her arrest for allegedly breaching Iran’s dress code for women.
“Everyone in the country has been affected by the death of this lady,” said Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajjizadeh of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in a video published by the Mehr news agency.
“I don’t have the latest figures, but I think we have had perhaps more than 300 martyrs and people killed,” among them some of “the best sons of the country,” said Hajjizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division.
The toll includes those who have taken to the streets as well as dozens of police, troops and IRGC militia who have died in clashes with demonstrators or who were killed elsewhere.
The latest official death toll is much closer to the figure of at least 416 people “killed in the suppression of protests in Iran” published by the Oslo-based non-government group Iran Human Rights.
The group says its toll includes those killed in violence related to the Amini protests and in distinct unrest in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Thousands of Iranians and around 40 foreigners have been arrested and more than 2,000 people have been charged, according to judicial authorities.
Among these, six have been sentenced to death, with their appeals set to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that overthrew the monarchy, Iranian law requires all women to wear modest dress and a hijab head covering that conceals their hair, rules enforced by morality police squads that patrol public places.
Over the past two decades, however, many women, especially in Tehran and other major cities, have shown more of their hair, before the rules were tightened again — a flashpoint issue in the protests.
Iran has blamed its enemies for the civil unrest, pointing at the United States, other Western powers and Israel, as well as exiled Kurdish-Iranian opposition groups based in northern Iraq whom it has hit with repeated missiles and drone strikes.
Amid the heightened tensions, Iran’s national football team will play the US side at the World Cup in Qatar from 1900 GMT Tuesday — a match seen as highly political between the countries that have had no diplomatic relations since 1980.
Iran’s judicial authorities Tuesday announced the release of more than 1,100 detainees in 20 provinces, including protesters, following Iran’s World Cup win Friday against Wales, the Mizan Online news agency reported.