‘I want my son back’: Moroccan’s father pleads with Putin

Taher Saadoun, father of Moroccan Brahim Saadoun who was sentenced to death by a pro-Russian court in Ukraine, speaks at the press club in Morocco's capital Rabat on June 27, 2022. (AFP)
Taher Saadoun, father of Moroccan Brahim Saadoun who was sentenced to death by a pro-Russian court in Ukraine, speaks at the press club in Morocco's capital Rabat on June 27, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 28 June 2022

‘I want my son back’: Moroccan’s father pleads with Putin

Taher Saadoun, father of Moroccan Brahim Saadoun who was sentenced to death by a pro-Russian court in Ukraine, speaks in Rabat
  • The proceedings were denounced by the West as a sham and a violation of the rules of war, but the sentence was supported by Russian officials

RABAT, Morocco: The father of a Moroccan man facing execution after being captured by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine appealed Monday to Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene, “as a father,” to spare his son from the firing squad.
“I want my son back, just like any father would,” Taher Saadoun told reporters in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
Saadoun also called on Morocco’s government to pursue negotiations on behalf of his 21-year-old son, Brahim, who was sentenced June 9 to the death penalty alongside two Britons, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner. They are the first foreign fighters sentenced by Ukraine’s Russian-backed rebels.
A court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic convicted all three of terrorism and trying to overturn constitutional order. They were given a month to appeal, and could be executed as soon as early July if they don’t.




Two British citizens Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, in the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, June 9, 2022. (AP)

The proceedings were denounced by the West as a sham and a violation of the rules of war, but the sentence was supported by Russian officials.
While the court claimed Saadoun was a mercenary, his father insisted that he was enlisted in Ukraine’s regular army and that when he was captured, he was wearing an official Ukrainian army uniform and carrying a weapon with serial numbers belonging to the Ukrainian government.
The Donetsk republic’s self-styled “foreign minister,” Nataliya Nikonorova, told Russian state TV on Monday that none of the three condemned men have filed yet for pardons.
The father said his son’s local lawyer will submit the appeal when things calm down a bit, without providing a date. A lawyer for Aslin said the Briton is pessimistic about his prospects and that British authorities have not contacted the DPR about an appeal.
Saadoun’s father said he wrote to Putin and the leader of the Donetsk Republic, and pleaded for intervention on his son’s behalf.
“I’m appealing to Russian President Putin to step in as a father, by using NGOs and humanitarian organizations” to seek dialogue, Taher Saadoun said. “Russia is accountable because it supports the Donetsk Republic.”
Brahim Saadoun’s mother visited the Russian Embassy in Rabat, “which welcomed us warmly and gave us the case summary,” Taher Saadoun said. The father said he had “faith” in the Donetsk court and that he was “grateful” to Russia for sparing his son’s life when he was captured.
The father, a retired member of Morocco’s Royal Gendarmerie, said he hasn’t heard from anyone from the Moroccan government about his son’s situation, but they ought to get in touch “because I pay taxes and I am military man who carried weapons to defend my country.”
“I call on the prime minister of Morocco to step in and engage in dialogue through all formal and informal channels,” he said.
The Moroccan foreign ministry said in a statement earlier this month that Saadoun obtained Ukrainian citizenship and enlisted in the Ukrainian army “of his own free will,” and is imprisoned by “an entity which is recognized neither by the United Nations nor by Morocco.” It has not commented on eventual efforts for his release.
The family is seeking to provide Brahim Saadoun with its own lawyer, and to visit him in prison. They haven’t spoken to him since his arrest.
“I am ready to board the first flight to see him and bring him home,” his father said.
Born in the city of Meknes, Brahim Saadoun read a lot and did well in school, and attended flying and skydiving clubs, his father said. In addition to Arabic, he studied English and French, and started Russian at age 12, notably watching cartoons and news channels like Russia Today, according to his father.
The family hoped for him to pursue space and aviation sciences in Russia after high school, but chose Ukraine over Russia because it was more affordable.
Brahim moved to Ukraine in 2019, picked up Ukrainian and started studying at the Institute of Aeronautics and Space Sciences in Kyiv the next year.
While there, he used to have regular communication with his sister in Finland and his family in Morocco, his father said. He noted shifts in Brahim’s behavior in 2020, after he began purchasing military garb. Brahim stopped video chatting with his family in 2021, apparently to “hide these changes,” his father said.
The family learned of his arrest by pro-Russian forces after a brief pause in communications.
The father said he felt a little relieved when his son was apprehended by pro-Russian forces: “At least I knew where he was,” and that he was alive.
In the first video taken after his arrest, the father said Brahim appeared to be in good health, but expressed concern that in a later video it seemed like he was getting less sleep and had lost weight.


UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador
Updated 50 min 59 sec ago

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador
  • Mansour emphasized Security Council’s responsibility to condemn and halt Israeli aggression and provide international protection for the Palestinian people.

NEW YORK: Palestine’s UN ambassador has said that the UN Security Council will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the Israeli brutal aggression on the Gaza Strip, the Palestine News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour emphasized that the Security Council is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, as well as responding to the imperatives of condemning and halting Israeli aggression and providing international protection for the Palestinian people.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lynn Hastings issued a statement on Saturday expressing her deep concern about the situation, which has killed at least 31 Palestinians and injured more than 253.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is already dire and can only worsen with this most recent escalation” she said.

“The continued operation of basic service facilities such as hospitals, schools, warehouses, and designated shelters for internally displaced persons is essential and now at risk,” she cautioned.

An electricity company spokesman said that Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Saturday after running out of fuel five days after Israel closed its goods crossing with the Palestinian enclave, AFP reported.

Hastings added that the movement and access of humanitarian personnel, critical medical cases and essential goods, such as food and fuel, into Gaza must not be hampered in order to meet humanitarian needs.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also scheduled to deliver an important speech before the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23, WAFA reported.

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El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan
Updated 07 August 2022

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan
  • El-Sisi said that Egypt supported the “One China” policy as it is in the interests of world security and stability

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has said that his country’s policy remains consistent on Taiwan, with Egypt supporting the “One China” policy.

During a speech to military students, El-Sisi said that Egypt supported the “One China” policy as it is in the interests of world security and stability.

“We do not want more global crises that may affect us all,” he said. “In our foreign policy, we have constants in our policy that do not change, and we are always keen to be supportive of regional and international stability.”

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has angered China, which views the island as part of its territory.

A day after Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island, China on Thursday began unprecedented military exercises and fired multiple missiles near Taiwan.

In response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China said on Friday that it was suspending talks with the US in a number of areas, including on climate change. China’s foreign ministry announced that it was also halting communications with the US on combating transnational crime and drug trafficking, actions that the US referred to as irresponsible.

On Thursday, the US criticized China’s display of force as an “overreaction” and “provocative” after Beijing launched missiles and stationed fighter jets near Taiwan in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit to the island.

The Taiwanese defense ministry reported on Friday that it sent out planes to warn off Chinese aircraft that it claimed violated the median line in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary between the two sides, and entered the island’s air defense zone.


Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties
Updated 07 August 2022

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties
  • Every effort must be made to de-escalate Gaza tension, diplomatic source tells Arab News

ROME: Italy condemns the escalation of violence in Gaza and is “deeply concerned” about the news of casualties among Palestinian civilians, the Italian ministry of foreign affairs said.

The ministry said it “strongly condemns the launch of rockets toward Israel’s territory and reiterates Israel’s right to ensure the safety of its citizens,” and “urges all sides to show moderation to prevent an escalation of the hostilities, which would cause further casualties and pain among civilians.”

“This new wave of violence confirms once again the necessity to relaunch diplomatic efforts to reach a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” an official communique added.

“The situation is escalating badly and may bear unexpected consequences: This is just something we do not want to see in a global situation, which is already full of tensions due to the war in Ukraine and the China-Taiwan contest. This is why we believe that every diplomatic effort must be made in Middle East,” a diplomatic source in the prime minister’s office told Arab News.

The Italian Parliament is also concerned about the escalation in Gaza. Members of the foreign affairs committees of both Houses will meet in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the situation in a joint meeting.

“We are following with great concern what is happening at the border with the Gaza Strip. We must absolutely avoid the prospect of an escalation in the confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians on the border with the Gaza Strip,” Stefania Craxi, senator for the Forza Italia party and chairperson of the Italian Senate’s foreign and international committee told Arab News.

Craxi urged all parties to “work hard in order to foster a structured dialogue between both parts.”

The Middle East, she said, was “thirsty for peace, and no one can ever believe that a conflict is unavoidable. We all must think that the more all this will go on the more all these tensions may be badly destabilizing for all the Mediterranean area. This would certainly have repercussions on a global level in a moment when all geopolitical balances seem to be redefined.”

Piero Fassino, the member of Parliament for the Democratic Party who chairs the Italian Chamber of Deputies’ foreign and international committee, told Arab News: “It is necessary now more than ever to do everything possible to prevent a wider conflict, which would affect civilians on both sides and cause more casualties and greater suffering.”


Saudi Arabia leads condemnations of Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Saudi Arabia leads condemnations of Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Updated 13 min 20 sec ago

Saudi Arabia leads condemnations of Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Saudi Arabia leads condemnations of Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday condemned Israeli settler storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard in what the Kingdom called a “serious violation of international law”.

In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the international community to end the escalation and provide the necessary protection to Palestinian civilians.

The Kingdom said the attack violates the sanctity of the holy sites in Jerusalem, which contributes to inciting tensions and prolonging violence amid escalations in Gaza that killed over 29 Palestinians and injured scores more this week.

Jordan also condemned Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging Israel to “respect [the mosque’s] sanctity and halt measures aimed at altering the historical and legal status quo.”

In a statement published on Petra news agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates’ spokesperson Haitham Abu Alfoul stressed that running the affairs of the holy site was exclusively under the jurisdiction of Jordanian-run Waqf (endowments) and al-Aqsa Affairs Administration in Jerusalem.

He described Israel’s actions as a “violation of the historical and legal status quo and international law” and said it is a disrespect to the authority of the administration.

In a statement of condemnation, Qatar’s foreign ministry said the “provocation practices” are part of the attempts to alter the historical and legal status of Al-Aqsa Mosque, calling on the international community to halt Israel’s attempts to transform the ongoing conflict to a “religious war.”

The ministry said the provocative violations that coincide with the recent attacks on Gaza will lead to “a dangerous escalation of violence.”  

Kuwait expressed its condemnation of the Israeli actions, saying it was an attempt to change the historical and legal status of Al-Quds and its sanctities.

In a statement, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the attacks would increase violence and tension and threaten the stability of the region, stressing the State of Kuwait's call on the international community to assume its responsibilities to curb these attacks, put an end to them and provide protection for the Palestinian people and their sanctities.

The Muslim World League also condemned the storming of the mosque, saying it was a serious violation of international resolutions and laws, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The League and its international councils, bodies and councils denounced the “dangerous escalation” that impacts on the sanctity of Islamic sites.

They warned against continuous violations that threaten to escalate violence, for which everyone will pay the price, and push back peace efforts.

It stressed the importance of everyone working in pursuit of a just and comprehensive peace and stopping all practices that undermine peace opportunities in the region.

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Top Christian cleric: ‘Shameful’ delay in cabinet formation causing Lebanon’s decay

Top Christian cleric: ‘Shameful’ delay in cabinet formation causing Lebanon’s decay
Updated 07 August 2022

Top Christian cleric: ‘Shameful’ delay in cabinet formation causing Lebanon’s decay

Top Christian cleric: ‘Shameful’ delay in cabinet formation causing Lebanon’s decay
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric said on Sunday it is “shameful” that politicians have yet to form a new cabinet nearly three months after elections, blaming their chronic feuding for the country’s “decay.”
Many Lebanese see the long-entrenched governing elite as hamstrung by corruption and dysfunction, and blame it for pushing Lebanon into a financial and economic meltdown that has left eight in 10 people poor.
In his weekly sermon, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros Al-Rai drew an unfavorable comparison between Lebanon’s progress in securing a maritime boundary deal with longtime foe Israel and the paralysis in domestic politics.
“Isn’t it shameful that authorities make efforts to reach an agreement with Israel on maritime borders but refrain from forming a government? Has it become easier for them to agree with Israel than to agree on a government among the Lebanese?” he said.
“Isn’t the split in political power in Lebanon, and of the parties... the basis of the (country’s) political, economy, financial and social decay?” he added.
Rai wields significant influence in Lebanon, where the political system is based on power-sharing among various Muslim and Christian sects, with the presidency reserved for a Maronite Catholic.
In calling out politicians over the crisis, Rai appeared to be trying to break the deadlock.
The Maronite Patriarch said “ugly campaigns in the media” appeared aimed at delaying government formation and the election of a new president later on this year.
Rai was alluding to an escalating dispute between President Michel Aoun and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who was re-nominated as premier after parliamentary elections in May and has been struggling to form a new cabinet.
Mikati presented a speedy draft cabinet line-up to Aoun in June and has stuck to it, although Aoun has suggested a different make-up.
Last week, Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement issued a wave of statements, accusing Mikati of delaying cabinet formation and even of accumulating wealth through corruption.
Mikati’s office responded by saying Aoun’s party was out of touch with reality in Lebanon.