Jordan has key observations on Iran’s handling of some issues in the Middle East: PM

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh in an interview with the BBC Arabic’s Murad Shishani. (Screenshot/Petra News Agency)
Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh in an interview with the BBC Arabic’s Murad Shishani. (Screenshot/Petra News Agency)
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Updated 12 July 2022

Jordan has key observations on Iran’s handling of some issues in the Middle East: PM

Jordan has key observations on Iran’s handling of some issues in the Middle East: PM
  • The PM stated that Jordan looks forward to bilateral ties with Iran based on good foreign policy, non-interference in domestic affairs, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

AMMAN: Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh stressed that Jordan has key observations on Tehran's handling of some issues in the Middle East, Petra News Agency reported on Monday.

In an interview with the BBC Arabic’s Murad Shishani, the prime minister added Jordan’s observations also include Iran’s intervention in neighboring countries, including the Gulf, whose national security are considered integral to Jordan’s national security.

According to Khasawneh, Jordan is looking forward to bilateral ties with Iran based on the principles of good foreign policy, non-interference in domestic affairs, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He did, however, point out that Jordan did not view Iran as a threat to its national security.

Khasawneh emphasized that in his recent interview, King Abdullah II did not address Arab NATO, but rather answered a hypothetical question about a regional and Arab framework linked with the formation of a military formula in a purely hypothetical framework.

On Jordanian-Saudi relations, the prime minister emphasized the historic and strategic ties that unite Amman and Riyadh, emphasizing the significance of the Saudi crown prince's visit to Jordan, where a wide range of issues were discussed, including investments in the water and energy sectors, as well as the integration of Aqaba and Neom.

Regarding Jordan's relations with Arab states, the prime minister stated that Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates all agree on various issues and threats that these countries face.

The Prime Minister emphasized that Jordan has never been late in responding to requests for defense assistance from neighboring countries that have faced military threats, and vice versa.

According to Khasawneh, Jordan's comprehensive reform is based on three key subjects: political modernization, economic sphere, and administrative sphere.

"Today, we have in the Central Bank a historical cash reserve of $18 billion, and macroeconomic indicators are positive, as international financial rating and credit agencies have raised our financial credit rating." the prime minister said of Jordan's monetary situation.

Commenting on the 340km-northern borders, he pointed out that there is a significant increase in drug smuggling operations, noting that a dialogue and discussion between Jordan’s military and security apparatuses and the Syrian authorities are taking place.

Khasawneh emphasized that the Russian military police played an important role in maintaining security during the reconciliation agreements sponsored by Russia at one point.

He went on to say that the absence of a strong presence of Russian military police in southern Syria has exacerbated the Kingdom's problems.


20,000 children enrolled in 226 centers marks milestone for Dubai’s early childhood education

20,000 children enrolled in 226 centers marks milestone for Dubai’s early childhood education
Updated 30 September 2022

20,000 children enrolled in 226 centers marks milestone for Dubai’s early childhood education

20,000 children enrolled in 226 centers marks milestone for Dubai’s early childhood education
  • Pre-schoolers are supported by more than 1,300 teachers
  • “Dubai is a future-focused city, and its future lies in cultivating our children’s wellbeing,” says education authority director-general

DUBAI: More than 20,000 children, aged between 45 days and six years, of 58 different nationalities, are now enrolled in 226 early childhood centers across Dubai.
Emphasizing Dubai’s cultural diversity and vibrant education ecosystem, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority — KHDA — reported on Friday that pre-schoolers are supported by more than 1,300 teachers and 1,900 teaching assistants at early childhood centers — ECCs — across the emirate, the Emirates News Agency said.
KHDA’s Milestones report offers in-depth statistics and details of Dubai’s private early childhood education and care sector for the first time.
“Dubai is a future-focused city, and its future lies in cultivating our children’s wellbeing, their sense of wonder and their love of learning,” said Dr. Abdulla Al-Karam, director-general of KHDA.
Everyone benefits when parents in Dubai have access to high-quality education for their children, he said.
“ECCs benefit from enrolment growth; parents benefit from the peace of mind that their children are being cared for and nurtured; and children benefit from learning and playing in a positive and supportive environment,” Al-Karam said.
Parents of young children can choose from 13 different early childhood curricula currently offered by Dubai’s ECCs, WAM reported.
Most ECCs offer the Early Years Foundation Stages curriculum, while other options include Montessori, IPC, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and several other curricula.
Parents can search for early childhood centers on the KHDA’s digital directory, available through the education regulator’s website and app.
Al-Karam said: “We want to build a quality-driven and diverse early childhood education and care sector to encourage even more parents to give their children a happy and beneficial learning experience.”
Data showed that 70 percent of children enrolled in Dubai’s private early childhood centers were in the 2-4 age group.


Iran says it has arrested 9 foreigners over protests

Iran says it has arrested 9 foreigners over protests
Updated 30 September 2022

Iran says it has arrested 9 foreigners over protests

Iran says it has arrested 9 foreigners over protests
  • Iran has claimed that the daily protests that have swept the country for the past two weeks were instigated by foreigners
  • Earlier in June, Iran arrested two French citizens for meeting protesting teachers

DUBAI: Iran’s intelligence ministry says it has arrested nine foreigners over recent anti-hijab protests sweeping the country.
In a statement carried by the state-run news agency IRNA, the ministry said Friday that those arrested included citizens of Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The death in custody of Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly wearing the mandatory Islamic headscarf too loosely, has triggered an outpouring of anger at Iran’s ruling clerics.
Her family says they were told she was beaten to death in custody. Police say the 22-year-old Amini died of a heart attack and deny mistreating her, and Iranian officials say her death is under investigation.
Iran has claimed that the daily protests that have swept the country for the past two weeks were instigated by foreigners. Protesters have denied such claims, portraying their actions as a spontaneous uprising against the country’s strict dress code, including the compulsory hijab for women in public.
Iran has detained individual foreigners in the past, often on claims that they were spies while not providing evidence. Critics have denounced the practice as an attempt by Iran to use detained foreigners as bargaining chips for concessions from the international community.
Earlier in June, Iran arrested two French citizens, Cecile Kohler, 37, and Chuck Paris, 69 over meeting with protesting teachers and taking part in an anti-government rally.
A number of Europeans were detained in Iran in recent months, including a Swedish tourist, two French citizens, a Polish scientist and others.
The arrests come as leaked government documents show that Iran ordered its security forces to “severely confront” antigovernment demonstrations that broke out earlier this month, Amnesty International said Friday.
The London-based rights group said security forces have killed at least 52 people since protests over the Amini’s death began nearly two weeks ago, including by firing live ammunition into crowds and beating protesters with batons.
It says security forces have also beaten and groped female protesters who remove their headscarves to protest the treatment of women by Iran’s theocracy.
The state-run IRNA news agency meanwhile reported renewed violence in the city of Zahedan, near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. It said gunmen opened fire and hurled firebombs at a police station, setting off a battle with police.
It said police and passersby were wounded, without elaborating, and did not say whether the violence was related to the antigovernment protests. The region has seen previous attacks on security forces claimed by militant and separatist groups.
Videos circulating on social media showed gunfire and a police vehicle on fire. Others showed crowds chanting against the government. Video from elsewhere in Iran showed protests in Ahvaz, in the southwest, and Ardabil in the northwest.
Amnesty said it obtained a leaked copy of an official document saying that the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces ordered commanders on Sept. 21 to “severely confront troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries.” The rights group says the use of lethal force escalated later that evening, with at least 34 people killed that night alone.
It said another leaked document shows that, two days later, the commander in Mazandran province ordered security forces to “confront mercilessly, going as far as causing deaths, any unrest by rioters and anti-Revolutionaries,” referring to those opposed to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which brought the clerics to power.
“The Iranian authorities knowingly decided to harm or kill people who took to the streets to express their anger at decades of repression and injustice,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“Amid an epidemic of systemic impunity that has long prevailed in Iran, dozens of men, women and children have been unlawfully killed in the latest round of bloodshed.”
Amnesty did not say how it acquired the documents. There was no immediate comment from Iranian authorities.
Iranian state TV has reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began Sept. 17. An Associated Press count of official statements by authorities tallied at least 14 dead, with more than 1,500 demonstrators arrested.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday that at least 28 reporters have been arrested.
Iranian authorities have severely restricted Internet access and blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp, popular social media applications that are also used by the protesters to organize and share information.
That makes it difficult to gauge the extent of the protests, particularly outside the capital, Tehran. Iranian media have only sporadically covered the demonstrations.
Iranians have long used virtual private networks and proxies to get around the government’s Internet restrictions. Shervin Hajjipour, an amateur singer in Iran, recently posted a song on Instagram based on tweets about Amini that received more than 40 million views in less than 48 hours before it was taken down.
Non-governmental Iran Human rights Organization said that Hajjipour has reportedly been arrested.


Iran protests could topple morality police: Human Rights Watch

Iran protests could topple morality police: Human Rights Watch
Updated 30 September 2022

Iran protests could topple morality police: Human Rights Watch

Iran protests could topple morality police: Human Rights Watch
  • Regime ‘should repeal discriminatory laws and policies against women’: Researcher
  • Nationwide demonstrations followed death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22

LONDON: Nationwide protests in Iran following the death of a woman in custody could topple the country’s so-called morality police, Human Rights Watch has said.

Rothna Begum, senior researcher at HRW’s women’s rights division, told The Independent that the morality police “could have their powers removed” after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in September after being detained for an alleged infringement of Iran’s hijab rules.

“I don’t think anyone was expecting these protests. Iran should abolish the morality police, compulsory hijab laws and repeal discriminatory laws and policies against women,” Begum said.

“While women have campaigned on a range of issues and have protested against a number of discriminatory laws and policies against women, with many sentenced to prison, this time we are seeing men and women, regular people and such protests are taking place all over Iran.”

Protests have erupted in over 80 cities and towns across the country with women at the forefront, waving hijabs, hurling them in bonfires and chopping off their hair.

The demonstrations are the largest in Iran since the pandemic. To date, some 1,200 protesters have been arrested after demanding the ousting of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and chanting “woman, life, freedom” and “death to the dictator.”


UN sounds alarm over leukaemia in Iraq linked to oil fields

UN sounds alarm over leukaemia in Iraq linked to oil fields
Updated 30 September 2022

UN sounds alarm over leukaemia in Iraq linked to oil fields

UN sounds alarm over leukaemia in Iraq linked to oil fields
  • ‘The people living near oil fields are victims of state-business collusion’: Special rapporteur
  • Leaked Health Ministry report blames air pollution for 20 percent rise in cancer in Basra

LONDON: The UN has warned that people living near oil fields, where gas is openly burned, face heightened risks of leukaemia, and that it has classified such areas as “modern sacrifice zones.”
Singling out sites in Iraq for gas flaring — a process of burning gas released by oil drilling that produces cancer-linked pollutants including CO2, methane and black soot — the UN said profits have been prioritized over human rights, noting Britain’s BP and Italy’s Eni as working these sites.
David Boyd, UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, told BBC Arabic: “The people living near oil fields are victims of state-business collusion.”
Despite Iraqi law prohibiting flaring within 6 miles of homes, a BBC investigation found areas, including on the outskirts of Basra, where gas was being burned less than 2 miles from people’s front doors, with authorities aware that this was the case.
A leaked Iraqi Health Ministry report seen by BBC Arabic blames air pollution for a 20 percent rise in cancer in Basra between 2015 and 2018.
As part of its investigation, the BBC undertook the first pollution-monitoring testing among the exposed communities, with results indicating high exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and the finding that Basra’s Rumaila oil fields flare more gas than any other site in the world.
The government-owned site, with BP as lead contractor, is near the town of North Rumaila, known by locals as the “cemetery” because of its high leukaemia levels.
Local environmental scientist Shukri Al-Hassan described cancer there as so rife it is “like the flu.”
Iraq’s prime minister issued a confidential order banning employees working at sites from speaking about the health damage resulting from pollution.
Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail told the BBC that he had instructed all contracted companies operating in the oil fields to “uphold international standards.”
Responding to BBC requests for comment, Eni said it strongly rejects any accusations that its activities are endangering the health of Iraqis, while BP said it is “extremely concerned” and will conduct an “immediate review.”


Iran cleric calls for crackdown on protesters

Iran cleric calls for crackdown on protesters
Updated 30 September 2022

Iran cleric calls for crackdown on protesters

Iran cleric calls for crackdown on protesters
  • Cleric Mohammad Javad Hajj Ali Akbari: The Iranian people demand the harshest punishment for these barbaric rioters

DUBAI: An influential Iranian cleric called for tough action on Friday against protesters enraged by the death of a young woman in police custody who have called for the downfall of the country’s leaders.
“Our security is our distinctive privilege. The Iranian people demand the harshest punishment for these barbaric rioters,” said Mohammad Javad Hajj Ali Akbari, a leader of prayers that are held on Fridays in Tehran before a large gathering.
“The people want the death of Mahsa Amini to be cleared up... so that enemies cannot take advantage of this incident.”
Amini, a 22-year-old from the Iranian Kurdish town of Saqez, was arrested this month in Tehran for “unsuitable attire” by the morality police who enforce the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
Her death has caused the first big show of opposition on Iran’s streets since authorities crushed protests against a rise in gasoline prices in 2019. The demonstrations have quickly evolved into a popular revolt against the clerical establishment.
Amnesty International said on Friday the government crackdown on demonstrations has so far led to the death of at least 52 people, with hundreds injured.
Amnesty said in a statement it had obtained a copy of an official document that records that the General Headquarters of Armed Forces issued an order to commanders in all provinces to “severely confront” protesters described as “troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries”.
Despite the growing death toll and crackdown by authorities, videos posted on Twitter showed demonstrators calling for the fall of the clerical establishment.
Activist Twitter account 1500tasvir, which has more than 150,000 followers, posted videos which it said showed protests in cities including Ahvaz in the southwest, Mashhad in the northeast and Zahedan in the southeast, where people were said to be attacking a police station.
Reuters could not verify the footage.
Meanwhile, Iran rejected criticism of its missile and drone attack on Wednesday on the Iraqi Kurdistan region where Iranian armed dissident Kurdish groups are based. The United States called it “an unjustified violation of Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Iran has repeatedly asked the Iraqi central government officials and regional authorities to prevent the activities of separatist and terrorist groups that are active against the Islamic Republic,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani told state media.