GCC secretary general meets with US, UN envoys to Yemen

GCC's Dr. Al-Hajraf (L) met with UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly and the US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking (R). (AFP/File Photos)
GCC's Dr. Al-Hajraf (L) met with UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly and the US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking (R). (AFP/File Photos)
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Updated 10 April 2022

GCC secretary general meets with US, UN envoys to Yemen

GCC's Dr. Al-Hajraf (L) met with UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly and the US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking (R). (AFP/File Photos)
  • Their discussions covered efforts of the humanitarian organizations in Yemen

LONDON: The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf has stressed the bloc's support to international efforts aimed at dealing with the stranded Safer oil tanker and the importance of speeding up these endeavors.

During a meeting with UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly and the US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking, he also reaffirmed the continuous support to alleviate the suffering of Yemeni people.

Their discussions covered efforts of the humanitarian organizations in Yemen and the means required to enhance joint coordination to support regional and international efforts in conjunction with the UN-brokered cease-fire, which came into force on April 2.

The meeting also reviewed Gressly's plan to deal with Safer oil tanker, so as to avoid an imminent environmental and economic catastrophe if the issue is not addressed as quickly as possible.


Israeli transport firm apologizes after Palestinians kicked off bus

Israeli transport firm apologizes after Palestinians kicked off bus
Updated 12 sec ago

Israeli transport firm apologizes after Palestinians kicked off bus

Israeli transport firm apologizes after Palestinians kicked off bus
  • 3 Jewish passengers refused to travel with Arabs
  • Company: Driver swayed by ‘racist manipulation’

LONDON: An Israeli public transport firm has issued an apology after a racist incident in which 50 Palestinian workers were removed from a bus following complaints from Jewish customers. 

The incident in Tel Aviv sparked controversy after reports that three Jewish passengers boarded in an ultra-Orthodox suburb of the city and refused to share the bus with Arabs. 

The bus firm, Tnufa, said one of the Jewish passengers conned the driver into believing that he was an official from the Transport Ministry, and threatened the driver.

Israelis and Palestinians use the bus to go to and from the West Bank, the BBC reported, adding that Israeli law prohibits segregated services.

Tnufa said the driver was inexperienced and had been swayed by “racist manipulation.” It added that one of the Jewish passengers falsely claimed that the Transport Ministry had ordered that Arabs needed to be kicked off the route.

“The new driver said he argued with the imposter, but he told him that he could lose his job or receive a large fine if he did not follow the instructions immediately,” Tnufa said.

“The company apologises to the passengers for the unfortunate incident,” Tnufa’s CEO Mikhael Kopilovsky said in a statement, adding that “many of our drivers and workers at the company are Arabs.”


Iraq’s Sadr tells judiciary to dissolve parliament in a week

Iraq’s Sadr tells judiciary to dissolve parliament in a week
Updated 10 August 2022

Iraq’s Sadr tells judiciary to dissolve parliament in a week

Iraq’s Sadr tells judiciary to dissolve parliament in a week
  • Muqtada Al-Sadr said on Twitter that the judiciary has one week to dissolve the legislature

BAGHDAD: Powerful Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr on Wednesday called on the country’s judiciary to dissolve parliament by end of next week, threatening unspecific consequences if it does not do what he says.
The populist leader has helped inflame tensions in Iraq over the last two weeks by commanding thousands of followers to storm and occupy parliament, preventing the formation of a government nearly 10 months after elections.
His political opponents, mostly fellow Shiites backed by Iran, have refused to accede to Sadr’s demands, raising fears of fresh unrest and violence in a conflict-weary Iraq.
The judiciary “must dissolve parliament by the end of next week... if not, the revolutionaries will take another stance,” Sadr said in a statement on his Twitter account, without elaborating.
Sadr has called for early elections and unspecified changes to the constitution after withdrawing his lawmakers from parliament in June.
The withdrawal was a protest against his failure to form a government despite holding nearly a quarter of parliament and having enough allies to make up more than half the chamber.
Sadr blames Iran-aligned parties for the failed government formation and accuses them of corruption, but his followers also control some of the worst-managed government departments.
Experts are divided on whether Al-Sadr has any legal basis for his demands. He won the largest share of seats in the election last October, but failed to form a majority government that excluded his Iran-aligned rivals.
Al-Sadr called his followers “revolutionaries” and said “they will take another position” if his demands were not met, hinting at possibly escalating the protest.
The judiciary stated previously it does not have the constitutional right to dissolve parliament and that only lawmakers can vote to dissolve the legislature. Because the parliament has exceeded the constitutional timeline for forming a government following the October elections, what happens next is not clear.
Al-Sadr’s political rivals in the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed parties, said earlier that the parliament would have to convene to dissolve itself.
Last week, thousands of Al-Sadr’s followers stormed the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses Iraq’s parliament, government buildings and foreign embassies. They overran and occupied the parliament, after which all sessions of the assembly were canceled until further notice. The takeover also effectively halted efforts by the Coordination Framework to try and form the next government after Al-Sadr failed to do so.
Iraq’s political impasse, now in its tenth month, is the longest in the country since the 2003 US-led invasion reset the political order.
In their takeover of parliament, Al-Sadr’s followers stopped short of overrunning the Judicial Council building next door — an act that many consider a coup as the judiciary is the highest legal authority in the country.
(With Reuters and AP)


New buyer sought for first grain to leave Ukraine under deal

New buyer sought for first grain to leave Ukraine under deal
Updated 10 August 2022

New buyer sought for first grain to leave Ukraine under deal

New buyer sought for first grain to leave Ukraine under deal
  • The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on August 1
  • A five-month delay after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “prompted the buyer and the shipping agent to reach agreement on the cancelation of the order”

BEIRUT: A new buyer is being sought for the first grain shipment to leave Ukraine under a hard-won deal with Russia after the original Lebanese buyer canceled its order, the Ukrainian embassy said.
The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on August 1 carrying 26,000 tons of maize and had been expected to dock in the Lebanese port of Tripoli at the weekend.
But now the keenly anticipated shipment is looking for a buyer after the shipping agent agreed to a request to cancel the original order in the light of the long delay in delivery.
A five-month delay after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “prompted the buyer and the shipping agent to reach agreement on the cancelation of the order,” the Ukraine embassy said in a statement late Tuesday.
The agent is now studying alternative bids for the maize before deciding on its destination, the embassy added.
The Razoni is currently anchored off the Turkish port of Mersin, according to the Marine Traffic website.
Another ship docked in Turkey Monday with a cargo of 12,000 tons of Ukrainian maize, becoming the first to reach its destination under the deal with Russia brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.
The agreement lifted a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports and established safe corridors through the naval mines laid by Kyiv to ward off any amphibious assault by Moscow on its coast.
Ukraine said Monday it was “optimistic” that the millions of tons of wheat and other grain that had been trapped in its silos and ports could now be exported, in a major boost for world food supplies.


Iraq launches Mosul airport reconstruction

Iraq launches Mosul airport reconstruction
Updated 10 August 2022

Iraq launches Mosul airport reconstruction

Iraq launches Mosul airport reconstruction
  • The airport, which was heavily damaged in the battle, had been disused since the extremists seized Mosul and adjacent areas in 2014

MOSUL: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi on Wednesday inaugurated the reconstruction of Mosul international airport, still in disrepair five years after the battle that expelled Daesh from the city.
Entire sectors of the northern metropolis have remained in ruins since the July 2017 recapture of Mosul by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led multinational coalition.
The airport, which was heavily damaged in the battle, has been disused since the extremists seized Mosul and adjacent areas in 2014.
Kadhemi, in an official ceremony at the airport on the southern outskirts of Mosul, laid the foundation stone for its renovation.
Airport director Haider Ali told AFP that the reconstruction has been assigned to two Turkish companies and is expected to take 24 months.
Despite the slow pace of reconstruction, the city of 1.5 million inhabitants has regained a semblance of normality: shops have reopened, traffic jams are back and international agencies have been funding restoration projects for historic sites.
But huge challenges remain.
At the end of 2021, the Red Cross estimated that 35 percent of west Mosul residents and less than 15 percent in east Mosul, which bore the brunt of the fighting, have enough water to meet their daily needs.
Kadhemi, quoted in a statement issued by his office, said that “huge efforts” were being made to rebuild the city.
In January, a provincial official spoke of a $266-million budget for major reconstruction projects, notably in the health, education and transport sectors for 2021-2022, according to the state news agency INA.


Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’
Updated 10 August 2022

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’
  • The satellite, called Khayyam, was launched into space from the Russian-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome
  • Iran insists its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not breach the 2015 nuclear deal

TEHRAN: Iran dismissed as “childish” Wednesday claims by the United States that an Iranian satellite launched by Russia is intended for spying.
The satellite, called Khayyam, was launched into space on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Russian-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome in neighboring Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Responding to the launch, Washington said Russia’s growing cooperation with Iran should be viewed as a “profound threat.”
“We are aware of reports that Russia launched a satellite with significant spying capabilities on Iran’s behalf,” a US State Department spokesperson said.
The head of Iran’s Space Agency, Hassan Salarieh, told reporters Wednesday that the spying allegation was “basically childish.”
“Sometimes, some comments are made to incite tensions; saying that we want to spy with the Khayyam satellite... is basically childish,” he said.
“The Khayyam satellite is entirely designed and built to meet the needs of the country in crisis and urban management, natural resources, mines, agriculture and so on.”
Ahead of the launch, there was speculation that Russia might borrow Iran’s satellite temporarily to boost its surveillance of military targets in Ukraine.
Last week, The Washington Post quoted anonymous Western intelligence officials as saying that Russia “plans to use the satellite for several months or longer” to assist its war effort before allowing Iran to take control.
Iran’s space agency stressed on Sunday that it would control the satellite “from day one” in an apparent reaction to the Post’s report.
The purpose of Khayyam is to “monitor the country’s borders,” enhance agricultural productivity and monitor water resources and natural disasters, according to the space agency.
Khayyam is not the first Iranian satellite that Russia has put into space.
In 2005, Iran’s Sina-1 satellite was deployed from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
Iran insists its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not breach the 2015 nuclear deal, or any other international agreement.
Western governments worry that satellite launch systems incorporate technologies interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, something Iran has always denied wanting to build.
Iran successfully put its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, drawing a sharp rebuke from the United States.