Pakistanis returning from Iran’s Zahedan say fighting spills to neighboring areas

Special Pakistanis returning from Iran’s Zahedan say fighting spills to neighboring areas
Demonstrators throw stones at a police station in Zahedan, Iran, Sept. 30, 2022. (Twitter Photo)
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Updated 04 October 2022

Pakistanis returning from Iran’s Zahedan say fighting spills to neighboring areas

Pakistanis returning from Iran’s Zahedan say fighting spills to neighboring areas
  • At least 41 people were killed by Iranian security forces in city, according to Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights
  • Over the weekend, Iran shut down communication services in Zahedan and sealed its border with Pakistan

QUETTA: Fighting after deadly clashes in Iran’s Zahedan has subsided and moved to the city’s outskirts amid a heavy deployment of troops, Pakistanis who have returned from the southeastern Iranian town said on Tuesday, as cross-border movement resumed.

Violence broke out in the capital of Sistan and Balochistan province during Friday prayers, after worshipers in the city’s Makki Mosque called for a protest over the rape of a 15-year-old girl, allegedly by a local military commander.

At least 41 people were killed by Iranian security forces, according to data from the Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights released on Sunday. The administration of Sistan and Balochistan has cited a death toll of 19. The number is feared to be higher, as local activists and news outlets report new casualties every day.

Over the weekend, Iran shut down communication services in Zahedan and surrounding areas and sealed its border with Pakistan at Taftan, a city about 90 kilometers from Zahedan. A Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency official has confirmed to Arab News that the crossing reopened on Monday.

Khalil Ahmed, 27, a businessman from Nokundi, a Pakistani city on the border, returned from Rutuk, a small town adjacent to Zahedan, on Monday night.

Ahmed was stranded after Iran closed the border. He said that the situation in areas surrounding Zahedan was “grim” and most of their residents feared leaving their houses.

“In the day there is silence but at night we heard heavy gunshots,” he told Arab News. “I have seen a heavy presence of Iranian forces in Zahedan and its adjacent towns.”

Iran says five members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its volunteer force Basiji were killed in Zahedan in what state media described as a “terrorist incident.”

An IRGC provincial intelligence chief was among the personnel killed, and his death was claimed by Jaish Al-Adl, a militant group that says it is fighting for the independence of Sistan and Balochistan and greater rights for Baloch people – the main ethnic group in the province.

Naveed Ahmed, 32, a Pakistani who owns a shop in Taftan, said that he returned from Zahedan on Monday after spending six days in the city.

“Business activities are still closed in the entire Zahedan city after Friday’s clashes, but the fighting between the forces and the protesters has been halted,” he told Arab News.

“There were no more clashes in Zahedan city after Friday, but yes some fighting continued between the Iranian forces and separatist groups at the outskirts of Zahedan, because we heard gunshots in the night.”

The deaths of security personnel and the provincial IRGC intelligence chief have been a major escalation in the anti-government demonstrations that began in mid-September, triggered by the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of Iranian morality police.

Official news agency IRNA quoted IRGC chief Gen. Hossein Salami pledging revenge for the killing of its forces.

“We consider revenge for the blood of the IRGC and Basiji martyrs and the people who were victims of the Black Friday crime in Zahedan to be on our agenda,” he said.

Ongoing countrywide demonstrations have been the largest manifestation of dissent against the Iranian government in more than a decade.

Rallies have spread to all of Iran’s 31 provinces, with ethnic and religious minorities joining in, despite the violent response from authorities.

Iran Human Rights estimates that at least 133 people have been killed by security forces since the beginning of the protests — over three times higher than the number reported by Iranian state media.


Syria Kurds halt all joint ops with US-led coalition after Turkish attacks

Syria Kurds halt all joint ops with US-led coalition after Turkish attacks
Updated 29 sec ago

Syria Kurds halt all joint ops with US-led coalition after Turkish attacks

Syria Kurds halt all joint ops with US-led coalition after Turkish attacks
QAMISHLI: The Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed group that helped defeat Daesh terrorists in Syria, has stopped all joint counter-terrorism operations as a result of Turkish bombardment on its area of control, a spokesman said Friday.
Turkiye has ramped up its shelling and air strikes on northern Syria in recent weeks and is preparing a ground invasion against Syrian Kurdish fighters that it dubs terrorists but which make up the bulk of the US-supported SDF.
The SDF has long warned that fighting off a new Turkish incursion would divert resources away from protecting a prison holding IS fighters or targeting IS sleeper cells still waging hit-and-run attacks in Syria.
Aram Henna told Reuters that “all coordination and joint counter-terrorism operations with the coalition” as well as “all the joint special operations we were carrying out regularly” had had been halted.
Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder earlier told reporters that operations against IS had not stopped.
SDF head Mazloum Abdi earlier this week told Reuters he wanted a “stronger” message from Washington after seeing unprecedented Turkish deployments along the border.
“We are still nervous. We need stronger, more solid statements to stop Turkiye,” he said. “Turkiye has announced its intent and is now feeling things out. The beginning of an invasion will depend on how it analyzes the positions of other countries.”

UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed orders $817 million housing support for citizens

UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed orders $817 million housing support for citizens
Updated 02 December 2022

UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed orders $817 million housing support for citizens

UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed orders $817 million housing support for citizens
  • The third housing package of 2022 coincided with the UAE’s 51st National Day celebrations
  • UAE president earlier waived off over $146 million of debts for 1,214 Emirati citizens

DUBAI: UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has ordered disbursement of housing loans worth $817 million for 1,900 Abu Dhabi citizens.

The third housing package of 2022 coincided with the UAE’s 51st National Day celebrations, marked on Dec.2, bringing the total value of housing support this year to almost $2 billion that benefitted over 4,000 citizens.

“It reflects the leadership’s commitment to ensuring social stability, enhancing living standards and enabling citizens to raise strong and stable families that will benefit the future of the UAE,” said a statement on Emirates News Agency (WAM).

The package includes housing loans, and the exemption of the retired and families of deceased borrowers in Abu Dhabi from loan repayments.

Ahead of the National Day, the UAE president earlier waived off over $146 million of debts for 1,214 Emirati citizens.

The Non-performing Debt Relief Fund said it would settle money owed by Emiratis in 17 banks, WAM earlier reported.


OIC welcomes UN resolutions on Palestinian cause

OIC welcomes UN resolutions on Palestinian cause
Updated 02 December 2022

OIC welcomes UN resolutions on Palestinian cause

OIC welcomes UN resolutions on Palestinian cause

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) welcomed the UN General Assembly’s adoption of five crucial resolutions on Palestine and the Middle East, including a text that calls on Israel to cease all actions aimed at ‘altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.‘
The Assembly adopted resolutions related to the mandate and work of the Committee on the “Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division of Palestinian Rights in the United Nations Secretariat,” the media program on the Palestinian cause and the basic principles of a “peaceful solution” to the Palestinian cause.
It also adopted a resolution to commemorate Nakba Day, when Palestinians were driven from their homes in 1948 following the foundation of Israel.
The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine said, during the debate that Israeli exceptionalism has only emboldened Israel’s worst instincts, a UN Assembly noted.
“Today the Assembly will finally acknowledge the historical injustice that befell the Palestinian people, adopting a resolution that decides to commemorate in the Assembly Hall the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Nakba,” it added.
The OIC praised the positions of the countries that contributed to sponsoring and supporting these resolutions, affirming their commitment to international law and in line with their historical positions based on the principles of truth, justice and peace, state news agency SPA meanwhile reported.


Unified strategy needed to resolve water shortage in Arab world, Egypt conference hears

Unified strategy needed to resolve water shortage in Arab world, Egypt conference hears
Updated 02 December 2022

Unified strategy needed to resolve water shortage in Arab world, Egypt conference hears

Unified strategy needed to resolve water shortage in Arab world, Egypt conference hears

CAIRO: The fourth Arab Water Conference titled “Arab Water Security for Life, Development and Peace,” organized by Palestine, the Arab League and the Arab Water Experts Network in Cairo, kicked off on Nov. 30.

The two-day conference was held under the auspices of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with the participation of ministers of water resources as well as delegations from Arab countries and concerned regional organizations.

The conference on Wednesday and Thursday included working sessions and presentations of scientific papers dealing with issues related to water scarcity, drought and climate change.

Among the topics addressed were challenges posed by water scarcity and solutions to these, water demand and drought management, climate change, shared water resources and water diplomacy.

The conference also covered water desalination technology, the management of groundwater resources, the financing of and investment in the water sector, and challenges related to water in the Arab region.

Abbas, in a speech delivered on his behalf by Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Abu Amr, stressed that resolving the issue of water shortage in the Arab world requires developing a unified and comprehensive strategy that defends the right to water in the face of occupation, exploitation, or encroachment. It also entails the development of plans to confront water and food deficits due to existing challenges.

Abbas said: “Arab water security poses a major challenge to nearly 453 million Arab citizens, and it is an issue that captures the attention of Arab countries, as represented by the Arab League’s decision to establish the Council of Arab Water Ministers.”

He added that the transnational waters of the Arab world are a matter of security.

“We stand with our brothers in Egypt and Sudan in their demands on everything related to the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and in ensuring that their water, agricultural or energy-related security is not compromised,” Abbas said.

He called for reaching a binding legal agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, in line with the statement issued by the UN Security Council in September 2021, in a manner that perpetuates cooperation and consolidates common interests among the peoples of the region.

He also called for joint Arab cooperation to find alternative sources of water for major projects that benefit everyone in light of the severe water shortage in Arab countries.

Hani Sweilem, Egyptian minister of water resources and irrigation, affirmed that the water issue in Egypt is one of the most important pillars of Egyptian national security and a major axis in achieving sustainable development. 

He said Egypt is one of the driest countries in the world, as rainfall in the country is estimated to be 1.3 billion cubic meters annually.

He said 97 percent of Egypt’s water depends on the Nile, which comes from outside its borders.

Over the years, the per capita share of water in Egypt decreased to about 560 cubic meters annually, compared to the global water poverty line, which determines the per capita share at 1,000 cubic meters annually, Sweilem said.


Egypt, Greece carry out joint air exercise MENA-II

Egypt, Greece carry out joint air exercise MENA-II
Updated 02 December 2022

Egypt, Greece carry out joint air exercise MENA-II

Egypt, Greece carry out joint air exercise MENA-II

CAIRO: The Egyptian and Greek air forces carried out the joint air exercise MENA-II with the participation of multirole combat aircraft.

The exercise comes within the framework of supporting and strengthening military cooperation relations with friendly and brotherly countries, said Egyptian military spokesman Gharib Abdel-Hafez.

The training included the implementation of a number of theoretical lectures to unify concepts, refine skills, and coordinate the management of joint operations in various methods of modern air combat.

Multirole fighters from both sides carried out joint sorties to train in attacking hostile targets and defending vital assets efficiently.

The training showed the extent to which the participating personnel have reached a high level of professionalism in carrying out all tasks, Abdel-Hafez said. 

The training “reflects the extent to which the air forces of both countries possess advanced human and technical capabilities that qualify them for joint action under various circumstances,” he added.

According to the Egyptian military, the training is an extension of a series of joint exercises being conducted in light of the Egyptian and Greek armed forces’ growing partnership and military cooperation in a variety of fields.

The MEDUSA-12 drills lasted several days in the Mediterranean Sea last month, and forces from Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, and the US took part.

Observers from the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Germany, France, Romania, Congo, and Morocco were also present.

In August, Egyptian and Greek naval forces engaged in a joint exercise in the Mediterranean, within the range of the Egyptian Northern Fleet.

According to the Egyptian military, the drills contributed to exchanging joint experiences with Greek naval forces, and helped both sides achieve common aims and maintain maritime security and stability in the region.