Sudan protesters mark Eid Al-Adha at anti-army sit-in

Sudanese protesters take part in a sit-in against military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his October coup on Eid Al-Adha holiday in Khartoum. (AFP)
Sudanese protesters take part in a sit-in against military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his October coup on Eid Al-Adha holiday in Khartoum. (AFP)
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Updated 10 July 2022

Sudan protesters mark Eid Al-Adha at anti-army sit-in

Sudan protesters mark Eid Al-Adha at anti-army sit-in
  • Gen. Al-Burhan’s surprise move has been met with wide skepticism, and pro-democracy groups announced on Thursday the formation of a “revolutionary council” as protests held firm

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters celebrated Eid Al-Adha among barricades on Saturday during a sit-in against military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his October coup.
Protesters have continued to press the army chief to resign, days after he vowed to make way for a civilian government — an offer quickly rejected by the country’s main civilian umbrella group as a “ruse.”
Gen. Al-Burhan’s surprise move has been met with wide skepticism, and pro-democracy groups announced on Thursday the formation of a “revolutionary council” as protests held firm.
The sit-in continued in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman on Saturday, as an imam took over the microphone usually reserved for protest chants to deliver the Eid sermon.

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Protester Ibrahim Al-Haj said that demonstrators hope to show that ‘no matter what happening in the country, our message is ongoing.’

Protester Ibrahim Al-Haj said after the prayer that demonstrators hope to show that “no matter what is happening in the country, our message is ongoing.”
Gen. Al-Burhan led a coup in October that derailed a transition to civilian rule, unleashing near-weekly protests and prompting key donors to freeze much-needed funding, sending Sudan deeper into economic crisis.
The protests against Gen. Al-Burhan were reinvigorated on June 30, when tens of thousands gathered and nine people were killed by security forces, according to pro-democracy medics.
A total of 114 people have been killed in the crackdown by security forces against protesters since the October coup, the medics say.
Worshippers on Saturday held up flags showing the faces of protesters killed in the crackdown.
“We are committed to the martyrs’ rights,” Haj said.
“We are not going to forget our martyrs even for a day, no matter what.”


Arab League calls on international community to end Israel’s crimes against Palestinian children

Arab League calls on international community to end Israel’s crimes against Palestinian children
Updated 15 sec ago

Arab League calls on international community to end Israel’s crimes against Palestinian children

Arab League calls on international community to end Israel’s crimes against Palestinian children
  • Ghazaleh emphasized the importance of upholding national laws and international conventions to ensure the protection of children from violence

DOHA: The Arab League has called on the international community to intervene to end Israel’s violations against Palestinian children and ensure the protection of their rights and safety.

Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Haifa Abu Ghazaleh’s remarks came during her statement at the virtual regional conference on preventing severe crimes against children in armed conflicts, which was co-hosted by Qatar.

She emphasized the significance of the conference topic, citing conflicts and humanitarian crises throughout the Arab world that have had a devastating impact on children. She noted the steps countries in the region have taken to address this issue, citing the 18th meeting of the Arab League Committee on Violence against Children and the implementation of its recommendations.

The secretary-general said that in order to prevent further violations against Palestinian children and promote justice, the international community must hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable for their actions and ensure that they are prosecuted.

Abu Ghazaleh emphasized the importance of upholding national laws and international conventions to ensure the protection of children from violence.
 


Sultan of Oman sets off on official visit to Iran

Sultan of Oman sets off on official visit to Iran
Updated 28 May 2023

Sultan of Oman sets off on official visit to Iran

Sultan of Oman sets off on official visit to Iran

MUSCAT: The Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq al-Muazzam traveled on Sunday to Iran for a two-day official visit, during which he will meet with President Ibrahim Raisi.

This visit comes following the invitation from the Iranian president to affirm the strength of the close relations between the Sultanate of Oman and the Islamic Republic of Iran, state news agency ONA reported. 

 


UK ex-FM: Support for Iraq invasion ‘one of my deepest regrets’

Former UK Foreign Minister David Miliband has described his support for Iraq War as “one of the deepest regrets” of his career.
Former UK Foreign Minister David Miliband has described his support for Iraq War as “one of the deepest regrets” of his career.
Updated 28 May 2023

UK ex-FM: Support for Iraq invasion ‘one of my deepest regrets’

Former UK Foreign Minister David Miliband has described his support for Iraq War as “one of the deepest regrets” of his career.
  • David Miliband: ‘I voted for the war. There’s no question in my mind about quite how serious a mistake that was’
  • ‘Ukraine has enormous poverty and crimes against its own population, but what about Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Palestine?’

LONDON: Former UK Foreign Minister David Miliband has described his support for the Iraq War as “one of the deepest regrets” of his political career, The Observer reported on Sunday.

Speaking at the Hay literature festival in Wales, Miliband said the war had resulted in “real damage” to the West’s moral integrity and claims of promoting international order and justice.

He added that the invasion of Iraq may also undermine anti-Russian stances in the West over allegations of hypocrisy.

“I voted for the war; I supported the government’s position. There’s no question in my mind about quite how serious a mistake that was,” said Miliband, who is now CEO of the International Rescue Committee.

He urged audience members to consider the words of Kenyan President William Ruto, who has encouraged greater attention to be given to other parts of the world, including Palestine and Afghanistan.

Miliband said: “Yes, Ukraine has enormous poverty and crimes against its own population, but what about Ethiopia, what about Afghanistan, what about Palestine?

“And I think that’s what we have to take very, very seriously if we want to understand what’s the role of the West, never mind the UK, in global politics.”

He described the Iraq War as a “strategic mistake,” partly due to the “global lesson that it allowed to be taught.”

Though the Iraq invasion “does not excuse what happened subsequently in Ukraine,” Miliband conceded that potential Western hypocrisy is a “very, very serious point.”

He added: “Ukraine has united the West, but it’s divided the West and wider parts of the world. Forty or 50 countries have refused to join any condemnation (of Russia), not because they support the invasion of Ukraine, but they feel that the West has been guilty of hypocrisy and weakness in dealing with global problems over the last 30 years.”


Turkiye polls close with Erdogan favorite to extend 20-year rule

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan vote at a polling station.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan vote at a polling station.
Updated 40 min 23 sec ago

Turkiye polls close with Erdogan favorite to extend 20-year rule

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan vote at a polling station.
  • Erdogan defied critics and doubters by emerging with a comfortable lead against his secular challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round on May 14

ISTANBUL: Turkish polling stations closed Sunday in a historic runoff election that could extend President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two decades of dominant but divisive Islamic style of rule until 2028.
The NATO member’s longest-serving leader defied critics and doubters by emerging with a comfortable lead against his secular challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the first round on May 14.
Kilicdaroglu cobbled together a powerful coalition that grouped Erdogan’s disenchanted former allies with secular nationalists and religious conservatives.
Opposition supporters viewed it as a do-or-die chance to save Turkiye from being turned into an autocracy by a man whose consolidation of power rivals that of Ottoman sultans.
“I invite all my citizens to cast their ballot in order to get rid of this authoritarian regime and bring true freedom and democracy to this country,” Kilicdaroglu said after casting his ballot in Turkiye’s first presidential runoff.
Erdogan’s almost five-point first-round lead came in the face of one of the world’s worst cost-of-living crises — and with almost every opinion poll predicting his defeat.
The 69-year-old looked tired but at ease as he voted with his wife Emine in a conservative district of Istanbul.
“I ask my citizens to turn out and vote without complacency,” Erdogan said.
Emir Bilgin heeded the Turkish leader’s call.
“I’m going to vote for Erdogan. There’s no one else like him,” the 24-year-old said from a working-class Istanbul neighborhood where the young future president grew up playing street football.
Kilicdaroglu re-emerged a transformed man after the first round.
The former civil servant’s message of social unity and freedoms gave way to desk-thumping speeches about the need to immediately expel migrants and fight terrorism.
His right-wing turn was targeted at nationalists who emerged as the big winners of the parallel parliamentary elections.
The 74-year-old had always adhered to the firm nationalist principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk — a revered military commander who formed Turkiye and Kilicdaroglu’s secular CHP party.
But these had played a secondary role to his promotion of socially liberal values practiced by younger voters and big-city residents.
Analysts question whether Kilicdaroglu’s gamble will work.
His informal alliance with a pro-Kurdish party that Erdogan portrays as the political wing of banned militants left him exposed to charges of working with “terrorists.”
And Kilicdaroglu’s courtship of Turkiye’s hard right was hampered by the endorsement Erdogan received from an ultra-nationalist who finished third two weeks ago.
Some opposition supporters sounded defeated after emerging from the polls.
“Today is not like the last time. I was more excited then,” Bayram Ali Yuce said in one of Istanbul’s heavily anti-Erdogan neighborhoods.
“The outcome seems more obvious now. But I still voted.”Erdogan is lionized by poorer and more rural swathes of Turkiye’s fractured society because of his promotion of religious freedoms and modernization of once-dilapidated cities in the Anatolian heartland.
“It was important for me to keep what was gained over the past 20 years in Turkiye,” company director Mehmet Emin Ayaz told AFP in Ankara.
“Turkiye isn’t what it was in the old days. There is a new Turkiye today,” the 64-year-old said.
But Erdogan has caused growing consternation across the Western world because of his crackdowns on dissent and pursuit of a muscular foreign policy.
He launched military incursions into Syria that infuriated European powers and put Turkish soldiers on the opposite side of Kurdish forces supported by the United States.
His personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has also survived the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine.
Turkiye’s troubled economy is benefiting from a crucial deferment of payment on Russian energy imports that helped Erdogan spend lavishly on campaign pledges this year.
Erdogan also delayed Finland’s membership of NATO and is still refusing to let Sweden join the US-led defense bloc.
Turkiye’s unraveling economy will pose the most immediate test for whoever wins the vote.
Erdogan went through a series of central bankers to find one who would enact his wish to slash interest rates at all costs in 2021 — flouting conventional economics in the belief that lower rates can cure chronically high inflation.
Turkiye’s currency soon entered freefall and the annual inflation rate touched 85 percent last year.
Erdogan has promised to continue these policies and rejected predictions of economic peril from analysts.
Turkiye burned through tens of billions of dollars trying to support the lira from politically sensitive falls ahead of the vote.
Many analysts say Turkiye must now hike interest rates or abandon its attempts to support the lira.
“The day of reckoning for Turkiye’s economy and financial markets may now just be around the corner,” analysts at Capital Economics warned.


Miseries pile up for West Bank refugees as UNRWA workers’ strike continues

Miseries pile up for West Bank refugees as UNRWA workers’ strike continues
Updated 28 May 2023

Miseries pile up for West Bank refugees as UNRWA workers’ strike continues

Miseries pile up for West Bank refugees as UNRWA workers’ strike continues
  • Environmental and health disaster feared as piles of garbage accumulate on streets
  • The UNRWA administration requires urgent intervention to resolve the dispute with the staff and restore life to normal in the camps

RAMALLAH: Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank face a summer littered with waste due to an ongoing strike, sparking fears about disease outbreaks.

Piles of garbage have accumulated as more than 3,600 UN Relief and Work Agency workers have been on strike since Feb. 20.

Camp residents, who number about 960,000, continue to complain about their dire living conditions, which has also affected healthcare provision and impacted the education of 50,000 students.

The UNRWA claims that it does not have enough funds to raise the salaries of its workers and meet their demands.

The lack of garbage collection, combined with the halting of healthcare services, could lead to an environmental and health disaster with summer approaching, locals fear.

Youssef Baraka, from the Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah, told Arab News: “The refugee always pays the bill ... and we live in difficult conditions due to the continuation of the strike.

“Our children are without education, and our patients are without treatment.”

He said that individual efforts were being made to help patients with treatment and provide medical supplies, and that residents were trying to rid camps of garbage themselves where possible.

Taysir Nasrallah, from the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, in the northern West Bank, told Arab News that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had set up a committee to meet with the UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini to find a quick solution to the crisis.

“The UNRWA administration requires urgent intervention to resolve the dispute with the staff and restore life to normal in the camps,” he told Arab News.

The UNRWA was set up in 1949 by the UN General Assembly to assist and protect Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Walid Masharqa, from the Jenin camp, said rubbish was piling up and sewage was seeping into the streets, while many basic medicines for chronic diseases are not currently available to residents.

“What is the fault of the Palestinian refugee, in the existence of wars and other humanitarian disasters in the world, for UNRWA to spoof its services to the Palestinian refugees?” Masharqa said to Arab News.

The Palestinian Authority is not allowed to provide services to refugees in the camps, he added.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the UNRWA in the Middle East, told Arab News that talks were continuing with the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization to solve the strike problem.

Abu Hasna expects all parties to reach a solution soon.

He said that the UNRWA had approved an allowance of $268 for 300 of its employees in East Jerusalem due to its high prices, and employees in the West Bank were demanding the same.

But he said the UNRWA budget was unable bear the additional cost, as its funds have an annual deficit of $70 million.

Abu Hasna referred to the tremendous Saudi support for UNRWA, as it funded it for over 10 years with $1 billion, built entire cities and neighbourhoods and dozens of schools in the Gaza Strip, and saved UNRWA several times from collapse.

“King Salman personally established support for UNRWA since he was the governor of the Riyadh region and president of the Association for the Support of the Palestinian People, and the position of Saudi Arabia in strong support for UNRWA is considered a motivating factor for other countries to support UNRWA,” Abu Hasna told Arab News.