Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report
Iran has reported several incidents of physical attacks of clerics. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 August 2022

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report
  • Attacks on Iranian clerics have been fueled by public disdain over suffocating restrictions on public life and the dire economic conditions

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public disdain over suffocating restrictions on public life and the dire economic conditions, have been on the rise in Iran in recent years, according to Iranian daily Radio Farda. 

Iran has reported several incidents of physical attacks of clerics, with many religious officials saying they no longer wear their robes or turbans in public to avoid being targeted, Radio Farda reported. 

Two-dozen clerics were violently attacked in the past decade, out of which three were killed and two were blinded, according to Radio Farda. 

Recent attacks have also targeted low-level clerics who have attempted to enforce strict religious codes in public such as the hijab rule, the report added. 

Many Iranians can no longer tolerate clerics who impose “their reactionary lifestyle on others,” Radio Farda cited Tehran-based dissident cleric Abolfazl Najafi-Tehrani as saying. 

“In recent years, we have witnessed people’s hatred and anger towards particularly those clerics who follow state policies,” Najafi-Tehrani said, adding that a governing system based on religion and its interference in the daily lives of people has sparked resentment towards the religious officials. 

According to the report, Iranians are also angry over the fact that a large sum of the state’s budget continues to be spent on seminaries – despite crippling US sanctions that have plunged hundreds in the country into poverty. 

Countrywide protests are proof that Iranians “demand the withdrawal of the clerics and the noninterference of religion and religious representatives in the state,” Najafi-Tehrani said. 


International community urges Yemeni parties to renew truce

International community urges Yemeni parties to renew truce
Updated 13 sec ago

International community urges Yemeni parties to renew truce

International community urges Yemeni parties to renew truce
  • Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Sunday urged the Houthis to “positively” comply with initiatives and efforts to renew the truce
  • Rashad Al-Alimi, president of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, expressed his government’s support for the UN Yemen envoy’s efforts to extend the truce

AL-MUKALLA: A six-month-old UN-brokered ceasefire in Yemen’s war between Iran-backed Houthis and the Arab coalition ended on Sunday with no word from the rivals on whether it would be extended.

The US, UK, China, other world powers and the secretary-general of the Arab League have all urged Yemen’s government and the Iran- backed Houthis to extend the UN-brokered truce.

Despite mounting pressure, only the Yemeni government had earlier agreed to extend the truce.

The US ambassador to Yemen, Steven H. Fagin, expressed concern about the various Yemeni parties’ hesitation to express their support for extending the truce.

“I call on the parties not to squander the progress of the last six months and to prioritize the Yemeni people by accepting an extension and expansion of the truce,” Fagin said in a brief statement. 

On Sunday, the UK Ambassador to Yemen Richard Oppenheim reissued the same call to the Houthis and other Yemeni parties to follow the UN envoy’s suggestions for extending the truce.

“I encourage the Houthis to work with the UN to extend the Truce. It’s the only route that will provide an opportunity for them to deliver benefits for ordinary Yemenis” he said on Twitter. 

The UN-brokered truce, which began on April 2 and has been extended twice, has dramatically reduced violence in Yemen, allowed flights to leave Sanaa airport, and eliminated fuel shortages throughout the country by allowing dozens of fuel ships to reach the port of Hodeidah.

The only term of the truce that has not been implemented is the opening of roads in besieged Taiz, as the Houthis have refused to open at least one main road leading into and out of the city, which is the main demand of the Yemeni government.

As the UN Yemen envoy, Hans Grundberg, shuttled between Muscat, Riyadh, and Sanaa to persuade Yemeni leaders to renew the truce, foreign diplomats and humanitarian organizations in Yemen sent last-minute appeals to both sides on Sunday.

“China emphasizes its support for the special envoy and is willing to make unremitting efforts with the international community to resolve the Yemen issue,” the Chinese Embassy in Yemen said in a statement. 

The EU’s mission in Yemen also demanded that the Yemeni government and the Houthis accept the UN envoy’s proposal, renew the truce, and implement its provisions.

“Time to consolidate and develop a truce, including opening roads and agreeing on the payment of salaries, that has delivered and can bring more benefits to the #Yemeni people,” the mission said in a statement on Twitter.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Sunday urged the Houthis to “positively” comply with initiatives and efforts to renew the truce and work to alleviate suffering.

The latest UN proposal includes a six-month cease-fire while the Houthis open only minor roads in Taiz, paying public employees in their territories, while the Yemeni government covers any shortfall in payments, allowing more fuel ships to enter Hodeidah port, and opening new routes from Sanaa to Muscat, Doha, and Mumbai. 

Rashad Al-Alimi, president of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, expressed his government’s support for the UN Yemen envoy’s efforts to extend the truce.

During a meeting with the UN envoy in Riyadh on Sunday, the Yemeni leader stated that he is committed to supporting any peace initiative to end the war in Yemen and alleviate the suffering of Yemenis, and he urged mounting pressure on the Houthis and their Iranian backers to stop undermining peace efforts.

In Sanaa, the Houthis rejected calls to renew the truce on Saturday night, threatening to resume military operations, including strikes on oil companies in government-controlled areas.


UN Yemen envoy expresses regret after truce expires without being extended

UN Yemen envoy expresses regret after truce expires without being extended
Updated 47 min 28 sec ago

UN Yemen envoy expresses regret after truce expires without being extended

UN Yemen envoy expresses regret after truce expires without being extended
  • The ceasefire has twice been renewed since April. 2 but expired on Sunday without being extended
  • Envoy said the extended and expanded truce would have provided critical benefits to Yemen’s population

RIYADH: The UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg expressed regret on Sunday that an agreement to extend and expand the truce in the country had not been reached.

“The truce that began on April.2, 2022 has offered a truly historic opportunity for Yemen. Building on the positive outcomes of the past six months, I submitted another proposal to the parties on Oct.1 to extend the truce for another six months, with additional elements,” Grundberg said in a statement.

The ceasefire has twice been renewed since April. 2 but expired on Sunday without being extended.

The proposal included the payment of civil servant salaries and pensions, the opening of specific roads in Taiz and other governorates, additional destinations for flights to and from Sanaa airport, unhindered entry of fuel ships into Hodeidah port, strengthening deescalation mechanisms, and a commitment to urgently release detainees, the envoy said.

It also included the initiation of negotiations for a ceasefire, the resumption of an inclusive political process, and economic issues.

The envoy said that the extended and expanded truce would provide additional critical benefits to Yemen’s population.

He thanked the Yemeni government for engaging positively with his proposal and said he will continue to work with both sides to find solutions.

“I am grateful for the constructive engagement at the leadership level from both sides over the past weeks. And I appreciate the position of the government of Yemen on engaging positively with my proposal. I will continue to work with both sides to try and find solutions,” Grundberg said.

The envoy urged the parties to maintain calm and refrain from provocations or any actions that could lead to an escalation of violence in the war-torn country.

“I urge them to fulfil their obligation to the Yemeni people to pursue every avenue for peace. Ultimately, Yemenis need an end to the conflict through an inclusive political process and a negotiated settlement. I will continue my relentless efforts to engage with the parties to quickly reach an agreement on a way forward,” he said.


King Abdullah II to make official visit to Oman

King Abdullah II to make official visit to Oman
Updated 58 min 28 sec ago

King Abdullah II to make official visit to Oman

King Abdullah II to make official visit to Oman
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Sultan Haitham bin Tarik will meet in Muscat

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II, accompanied by Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, will arrive in Oman on Tuesday for an official visit.

The king’s trip comes after an invitation from Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, Jordan News Agency reported.

During the two day visit, the two leaders will hold talks in Muscat about their deep bilateral ties as well as the most recent regional and international developments.

 


Jordan, Qatar discuss security cooperation

Jordan, Qatar discuss security cooperation
Updated 39 min 8 sec ago

Jordan, Qatar discuss security cooperation

Jordan, Qatar discuss security cooperation
  • Jordanian official noted its keenness to support Qatar during the World Cup

AMMAN: Jordan’s Director of the Public Security Directorate and the Qatari Ambassador to Jordan met on Sunday to discuss strengthening security and police cooperation, particularly in training, Petra News Agency reported.

Brig Gen Obaidullah Maaytah spoke with Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al-Thani about Jordan’s deep ties with Qatar, noting that the PSD was eager to support Qatar during the World Cup.

In turn, Al-Thani praised the PSD and emphasized the level of cooperation between Jordanian and Qatari police, urging continued efforts to expand bilateral cooperation.

 


1st Arab Climate Forum begins with focus on key sustainability issues

1st Arab Climate Forum begins with focus on key sustainability issues
Updated 51 sec ago

1st Arab Climate Forum begins with focus on key sustainability issues

1st Arab Climate Forum begins with focus on key sustainability issues

CAIRO: The first edition of the Arab Climate Forum has opened in Egypt with the focus fixed firmly on sustainability issues.

Taking place in Cairo under the patronage and in the presence of Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal Al-Saud, president of both the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND) and the Arab Council for Childhood and Development, and Egyptian Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad, the conference is titled, “Together to Strengthen the Contribution of Civil Society to Climate Action and Sustainability.”

Prince Abdulaziz said: “Standing up bravely in the face of climate challenges and developing plans and solutions before the situation worsens is not a luxury or an option, but rather a historical responsibility that requires an alliance.

“One of the most important international efforts is to allocate the four branches of the Prince Talal International Prize for Human Development for the year 2021 to the theme of climate change, as the four winners are to be honored during COP27 (the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference),” he added.

The prince cited the sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which monitors the effects of climate change on people and ecosystems.

He highlighted alarming indicators, including that more than 40 percent of the world’s population lived in places and conditions that were, “highly vulnerable to climate change.”

Other key points, he noted, were that one-in-three people were exposed to potentially fatal heat stress, nearly half of the world’s population suffered from severe water scarcity at different times of the year, and climate change had reduced the growth of agricultural productivity in many countries.

Prince Abdulaziz said he was concerned that Arab countries were among the most vulnerable and affected regions in the world as a result of climate change, adding that taking effective action on the issue had become a moral commitment shared by everyone.

During her speech at the opening session, Fouad pointed out the need to pay attention to environmental and climate issues because of their impact on the Arab world and its youth in the first place.

She said that the contribution of Arab countries to greenhouse gas emissions did not exceed 5 percent of all global emissions.

The minister noted the importance of the forum in supporting the efforts of Arab nations to address the negative effects of climate change, in light of the unprecedented pace at which these countries suffered from its negative effects on all aspects of development.

Addressing the forum via Zoom, Najat M’jid, special representative of the UN secretary-general on violence against children, said: “There is a need for cooperation between north and south countries to address climate change and its impact on children, as well as to engage civil society in this regard.”

Haifa Abu-Ghazaleh, assistant secretary-general of the Arab League, said: “The issue of climate change is a high priority for the Arab League, and we pay all attention to discussing the repercussions of climate change on Arab societies.”

The first session of the forum was titled, “Climate Change in a Changing World.”

Forum activities — organized by the Arab League and the Arab Network for NGOs — in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Environment, AGFUND, and the Arab Council for Childhood and Development, will continue until Monday with the aim of contributing to supporting international and regional actions to combat climate change.

The event is part of preparations being made by Egypt to host COP27, which will be held in November in Sharm El-Sheikh.

It comes at a time when the risks posed by climate change from heatwaves, droughts, floods, and other extreme climate events are on the rise, causing cascading effects that are increasingly difficult to manage and exposing millions of people to acute food and water insecurity in many regions of the world.

The forum has been set up to develop a road map for civil society, in partnership with governments and the private sector, to move effectively along the path of adaptation to climate change and mobilize citizens in local communities to contribute effectively to reducing environmental degradation.

It also seeks to address inequalities associated with climate change and assess the negative effects of climate change in the light of international scientific reports and their impact on the implementation of UN sustainable development goals for 2030.

The agenda of the climate forum has been centered around the six topics of climate change and sustainability, climate change and its impact on the most vulnerable groups, encouraging innovation for the benefit of adaptation and mitigation, climate change and fragile economic activities, the integration of citizens and local communities in climate action, and the role of systemic change in green shift.