US special envoy for Yemen travels to Saudi Arabia, Jordan

US special envoy for Yemen travels to Saudi Arabia, Jordan
US special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking is traveling to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to continue diplomatic efforts in support of the truce in Yemen. (Supplied) 
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Updated 25 July 2022

US special envoy for Yemen travels to Saudi Arabia, Jordan

US special envoy for Yemen travels to Saudi Arabia, Jordan
  • The trip follows Biden’s recent visit to Jeddah during which Yemen figured prominently in discussions

RIYADH: US special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking is traveling to the capitals of Saudi Arabia and Jordan to continue diplomatic efforts in support of the truce in Yemen.

The trip, starting on Monday, follows US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Jeddah during which Yemen figured prominently in discussions, the US State Department said in a statement.

“In close coordination with the UN special envoy and our regional and Yemeni partners, special envoy Lenderking will continue our efforts to help advance peace,” the statement said.

The envoy’s engagements will focus on “expanding, extending, and renewing the current truce agreement that will further the tangible benefits already reaching Yemenis and build towards a more comprehensive, inclusive peace process and permanent ceasefire.”

The truce in Yemen first came into effect in April and was then extended for a two-month period in June. It ends on August 2 and the international community is keen for it to be extended.

The US called on “all parties to choose peace and recovery over continued war and destruction for the sake of the Yemeni people.”


Iranian singer arrested during Amini protests released

Iranian singer arrested during Amini protests released
Updated 27 sec ago

Iranian singer arrested during Amini protests released

Iranian singer arrested during Amini protests released
TEHRAN: Iranian singer Shervin Hajjipour, arrested after his song in support of protests over the death of Mahsa Amini went viral, has been released on bail, an official said Tuesday.
A wave of unrest has rocked Iran since the 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman died on September 16 after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly failing to observe the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
The street violence has led to the deaths of dozens of people — mostly protesters but also members of the security forces — and hundreds of arrests.
“Shervin Hajji Aghapour has been released on bail so that his case can go through the legal process,” Mohammad Karimi, prosecutor of the northern province of Mazandaran told Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
Rights groups outside of Iran reported his arrest last week.
Hajjipour, a 25-year-old pop singer and songwriter, rose to fame for the song “Baraye,” “For,” in which he put together messages posted on Twitter about the reasons for protests.
The emotional performance became a viral hit on different social media platforms, with millions of views within days.
It is no longer available on his Instagram account, which currently has more than 1.7 million followers.
The song featured in many videos of protests on social media, and also made its way to local media.
The ultra-conservative Tasnim news agency published its own version of the video clip, keeping Hajjipour’s voice, while changing the accompanying images into ones showing the Islamic republic’s achievements.
The agency said that its video, posted Sunday on Telegram, is meant to show “more realistic concepts of what is happening in the media battlefield,” by using “more meaningful pictures.”
Tasnim on Tuesday said Hajjipour was arrested “for showing support for the rioters and solidarity with the enemies by posting the song in social media without getting permission for it.”

Festive brides add to Mawlid celebrations in Egypt

Festive brides add to Mawlid celebrations in Egypt
Updated 11 min 29 sec ago

Festive brides add to Mawlid celebrations in Egypt

Festive brides add to Mawlid celebrations in Egypt
  • Tradition has been handed down for generations, with dolls manufacturers moving from scattered sweet shops to home

CAIRO: Egyptians are preparing to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday — also known as El-Mawlid El-Nabawi.

Although the celebration will take place on Oct. 7, streets around the country are already filled with all kinds of festive sweets and candies. The price of a candy box ranges from 100 Egyptian pounds ($5) to 1900 Egyptian pounds, depending on the brand and quality.

Among the famous pieces of candy that takes over the streets of Egypt is the famous Mawlid doll or bride, which was made in the past with sugar and water.

The tradition has been handed down for generations, with dolls manufacturers moving from scattered sweet shops to homes.

“I started the project of manufacturing Mawlid brides with only 400 Egyptian pounds,” Rasha Abdel Hamid, 20, said.

“I graduated from the faculty of social work, but I love designing brides, especially Mawlid brides, and this is what made me start my project about four years ago. After I designed a bride it impressed all my acquaintances, and they asked me to make the same for them. So I bought raw materials and designed six brides, and from there the project began,” she added.

This tradition has traveled through generations, and the Mawlid doll's manufacturers have moved from scattered sweet shops to homes. (Supplied)

“I only work during the season of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and the brides that I make vary between those veiled and those that do not suit all tastes. This year I designed 60 Mawlid brides … I hope to have a factory next year during the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday,” she said.

Bride prices vary depending on the region that they are sold in. In high-end areas of Cairo, they sell for about 150 Egyptian pounds, while in villages, they range from 5-25 Egyptian pounds.

Zainab Abdel-Dayem, 44, a housewife, carries out the same hobby as Hamid.

“Since my young age, I have had a love for drawing, making and decorating brides, and in the seasons of the Prophet’s birthday there is an increasing demand for such brides, increasing my profits,” she told Arab News.

“I buy plastic brides, fabric, sewing tools and wax pistols to create Mawlid brides.

“This year, I developed my craft by adding lights to the brides. Also, I made the brides spin and sing using small electronic systems,” Abdel-Dayem said.

In one of the workshops in the Al-Azhar area in the center of Cairo, Atta Shalaby sat playing his part in the manufacturing of the dolls.

“The doll creation goes through several stages, the first being the base of the bride, which is made in carton factories. Then we cut the fabric and define the shape of the dress. Then comes the installation of the bride’s body on the base,” he told Arab News.

Then the bride gets transported to skilled craftsmen who give final touches to the product and finally the bride gets wrapped,” Shalaby added.

“I have been working for a long time in the manufacturing of Mawlid dolls from sugar and water, but no one does that anymore. Mawlid dolls are now made of plastic. They are more profitable, but certainly less creative,” he said.


Iran branded ‘brutal police state’ by leading arts festival

Iran branded ‘brutal police state’ by leading arts festival
Updated 37 min 24 sec ago

Iran branded ‘brutal police state’ by leading arts festival

Iran branded ‘brutal police state’ by leading arts festival

ROME: Iran has been branded a “brutal police state” by one of the world’s biggest cultural festivals for its crackdown on protests and freedom of expression.

Organizers of the Venice Biennale said that the Iranian regime was crushing “the most elementary human and civil rights” in its reaction to demonstrations over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, at the hands of the country’s “morality police.”

In a statement, festival organizers said: “The Iranian people have taken to the streets to march in legitimate protest against a brutal police state.”

It condemned the “violent reaction to the spontaneous and growing protests in the streets of Iran, with the concurrent shutdown of the internet and the social networks.”

The Biennale, which has run for 127 years, also denounced the regime’s suppression of artists as “unacceptable,” adding that it deprived “the artists and citizens of Iran, to whom we extend our greatest solidarity, of every possibility of communication and expression.”

“La Biennale di Venezia and the Venice International Film Festival, together with other festivals and cultural institutions, must become the voice of those who are violently and brutally oppressed to the point of murder.”

A flash mob protest was organized on the red carpet at last month’s 79th Venice film festival in support of imprisoned filmmakers.

“Our engagement is reinforced today by our full support to the women and men who are bravely protesting at the risk of their own lives to achieve recognition of their right to freedom and the civil rights that are being denied to them by force,” the organizers said.

Amini died last month, days after being arrested in Tehran for allegedly breaking the country’s strict dress code. Photographs released of her in hospital showed injuries and swelling on her body. Her family have said she was tortured. Authorities say she suffered a heart attack.

Protests have been held against the Iranian government in several Italian cities. The largest took place in Rome on Monday, when around 1,000 people marched in a show of solidarity.


Depositors storm Lebanon banks to demand their frozen money

Depositors storm Lebanon banks to demand their frozen money
Updated 04 October 2022

Depositors storm Lebanon banks to demand their frozen money

Depositors storm Lebanon banks to demand their frozen money
  • Banks shuttered their branches last week after a spate of holdups by angry depositors

BEIRUT: Outraged bank clients, at least two of them armed, stormed four commercial banks across Lebanon on Tuesday over withdrawal limits that have been imposed throughout the country amid a financial meltdown.

Cases of bank hold-ups have snowballed across Lebanon as residents have grown exasperated over the informal capital controls that banks have imposed since an economic downturn began in 2019.

On Tuesday morning, a Lebanese man armed with a pistol and a grenade entered the Chtaura branch of BLC Bank, demanding access to his $24,000 in savings, according to Depositors’ Outcry, a group campaigning for angry depositors.

The group said in a statement that the man, identified as Ali Al-Sahli, was in deep debt and also needed to wire money to his son, who was studying in Ukraine.

Al-Sahli, a retired officer who served in Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, demanded $24,000 in trapped savings to transfer to his son, who owes rent and tuition fees in Ukraine.

“Count the money, before one of you dies,” Al-Sahli said in a video he recorded with one hand while waving a gun in the other.

“He had been trying to sell his kidney,” the group’s statement said.

Security forces later entered the bank and arrested Saheli before he could access any money, the group said.

BLC had no immediate comment.

 

 

Also on Tuesday, a group of people employed at a state power station in Lebanon’s north stormed the First National Bank Branch in the port city of Tripoli, according to witnesses.

They were angry over delays in having access to their salaries and fees they were being charged for the process, said their union representative Talal Hajjer from outside the bank.

In a third incident, an armed depositor briefly took hostages at Byblos Bank in the southern city of Tyre, according to the Depositors’ Association, another advocacy group.

It said he was carrying a pistol and demanding access to his savings amounting to $44,000.

After negotiations with the bank, he agreed to take 350 million Lebanese pounds in cash — worth nearly $9,000 at Tuesday’s market rate — which he handed to a relative before being taken into custody, the Depositors’ Association said. There was no immediate comment from Byblos Bank.

A fourth depositor staged a sit-in at IBL Bank in the Beirut suburb of Hazmieh, saying he would not leave until he was granted unfettered access to his account, Depositors’ Outcry said. It was not immediately clear if he was armed.

Last month, a spree of seven hold-ups in a single week saw the banking association announce a closure for about a week.

Five incidents have already rocked banks this week. On Monday, Lebanese depositor Zaher Khawaja and some associates managed to withdraw $11,750 from an account with more than $700,000 at the Haret Hreik branch of BLOM Bank.

BLOM said he was not armed and that it would investigate the incident.

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Iran launches test ‘tug’ into suborbital space

Iran launches test ‘tug’ into suborbital space
Updated 04 October 2022

Iran launches test ‘tug’ into suborbital space

Iran launches test ‘tug’ into suborbital space
  • Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center
  • Iran has long pursued a space program saying it is aimed at peaceful purposes

TEHRAN, Iran: Iranian state media said Tuesday the government has launched a space tug capable of shifting satellites between orbits.
State TV said the Saman test spacecraft was built by the country’s Space Research Center and launched Monday by the Defense Ministry.
Hassan Salarieh, chief of the Islamic Republic’s space agency, told state TV that officials “hope to use and test the main tug in near future.” Iran unveiled the craft in 2017. A space tug can transfer a satellite from one orbit to another.
Iran has long pursued a space program saying it is aimed at peaceful purposes. The country has both a civilian and a military space program, which the US fears could be used to advance its ballistic missile program.
In June Tehran had launched a solid-fuel rocket into space and in August a Russian rocket successfully launched an Iranian Khayyam satellite into orbit. It’s named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.
However, Iran has seen a series of mishaps and failed satellite launches over recent years
Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in April 2020 revealed its own secret space program by successfully launching a satellite into orbit. The Guard operates its own military infrastructure parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces.