Tunisian president names one of his staunchest supporters as interior minister

Tunisian president names one of his staunchest supporters as interior minister
Tunisian President Kais Saied (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 18 March 2023
Follow

Tunisian president names one of his staunchest supporters as interior minister

Tunisian president names one of his staunchest supporters as interior minister
  • Taoufik Charfeddine, a close aide of President Kais Saied, announced Friday he had resigned to spend more time with his three children following the death of his wife last year.
  • Replacing Charfeddine as interior minister is Kamal Feki, governor of Tunis since 2021 and also part of Saied’s inner circle

TUNIS: Tunisian President Kais Saied named Kamal Feki, the former governor of Tunis, as his new interior minister on Friday, just hours after Taoufik Charfeddine resigned from the post, amid a crackdown of prominent opposition figures that has prompted international ire.
Tunisian interior minister Taoufik Charfeddine, a close aide of President Kais Saied, announced Friday he had resigned to spend more time with his three children following the death of his wife last year.
Charfeddine, 54, who had held his post since October 2021, told reporters he wished to thank the president for “his understanding and for allowing me to be relieved of my duties.”
“The time has come for me to dedicate myself to this responsibility she left me,” he said.
Replacing Charfeddine as interior minister is Kamal Feki, governor of Tunis since 2021 and also part of Saied’s inner circle.
A former lawyer, Charfeddine was a key figure in the election campaign that propelled the previously little-known Saied to the presidency in 2019.
After Saied froze parliament and sacked the then-government in a dramatic July 2021 move against the sole democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings, Charfeddine became a close adviser.
As the president pushed through sweeping changes to the country’s political system, concentrating near-total power in his office, Charfeddine was one of the most outspoken defenders of Saied’s power grab.
Saied’s office regularly released video footage of the two men’s meetings in the presidential palace.
During the wave of arrests that accompanied Saied’s power grab, Charfeddine held news conferences to defend the incarceration of opposition politicians.
When the vice president of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, the largest in parliament before its dissolution by Saied, went on hunger strike to protest his detention, Charfeddine alleged that terrorism fears had forced the security forces to respond.
“There were fears of acts of terrorism targeting the country’s security and we had to act,” the minister said last year of the arrest of Noureddine Bhiri, a former justice minister.
Last month, Charfeddine was by Saied’s side as Tunisia faced an international outcry over a tirade by the president against illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.
“There is no question of allowing anyone in an illegal situation to stay in Tunisia,” the president said in one of his videotaped meetings with the minister.
“I will not allow the institutions of the state to be undermined or the demographic composition of Tunisia to be changed.”
The president’s speech two nights previously had triggered a wave of violence against African migrants and prompted several West African countries to organize repatriation flights for fearful nationals.
On March 8, more than 30 Tunisian non-governmental organizations demanded an apology from Charfeddine after he branded as “traitors” the president’s many critics in the private sector, the media and trade unions.
They accused him of using the “language of threat and intimidation” to “sow division” among Tunisians as part of a “dangerous populist discourse that foreshadows a police state” like the one overthrown in the country’s 2011 uprising.


Egyptian FM raises concerns over Red Sea tensions in talks with Iranian counterpart

Egyptian FM raises concerns over Red Sea tensions in talks with Iranian counterpart
Updated 27 February 2024
Follow

Egyptian FM raises concerns over Red Sea tensions in talks with Iranian counterpart

Egyptian FM raises concerns over Red Sea tensions in talks with Iranian counterpart

DUBAI: Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, voiced concerns regarding the escalating tensions in the Red Sea, directly impacting Egypt, during discussions with his Iranian counterpart, Amir Abdolahian, Al Arabiya news channel reorted on Tuesday. 
Shoukry emphasized the unprecedented threat the tensions posed to international shipping traffic. 
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.
The officials delved into bilateral relations between Egypt and Iran, particularly following the summit between President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and President Ebrahim Raisi in November. 
They addressed the ongoing conflict in Gaza, expressing concerns over its potential escalation.


Yemen’s Houthis say Red Sea attacks will only be reassessed if Israeli ‘aggression’ stops

Yemen’s Houthis say Red Sea attacks will only be reassessed if Israeli ‘aggression’ stops
Updated 27 February 2024
Follow

Yemen’s Houthis say Red Sea attacks will only be reassessed if Israeli ‘aggression’ stops

Yemen’s Houthis say Red Sea attacks will only be reassessed if Israeli ‘aggression’ stops
  • Situation to be reassessed if Gaza siege is ended and humanitarian aid is free to enter

ADEN: Yemen’s Houthi spokesperson said on Tuesday that the group’s operations in the Red Sea, where its missiles and drones have been threatening international shipping, will only stop when Israeli “aggression” on Gaza ends and the siege is lifted.
Asked if the attacks on ships would seize if a ceasefire deal was reached for Gaza, Mohammed Abdulsalam said the situation would be reassessed if the siege ended and humanitarian aid was free to enter.


Gaza war death toll at 29,878, Hamas-run health ministry says

Gaza war death toll at 29,878, Hamas-run health ministry says
Updated 27 February 2024
Follow

Gaza war death toll at 29,878, Hamas-run health ministry says

Gaza war death toll at 29,878, Hamas-run health ministry says
  • Death toll includes at least 96 deaths in the past 24 hours

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Tuesday that at least 29,878 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory during the war between militants and Israel.
The toll includes at least 96 deaths in the past 24 hours, while 70,215 people have been wounded since the conflict began on October 7, a ministry statement said.


Hezbollah and Israel exchange fire as peacekeepers issue warning

Hezbollah and Israel exchange fire as peacekeepers issue warning
Updated 56 sec ago
Follow

Hezbollah and Israel exchange fire as peacekeepers issue warning

Hezbollah and Israel exchange fire as peacekeepers issue warning
  • Hezbollah rocket fire was in response to Israel’s first strikes of the war on eastern Lebanon

BEIRUT: Hezbollah and Israel exchanged fire on Tuesday following deadly Israeli strikes on east Lebanon a day earlier, while United Nations peacekeepers warned the intensifying attacks could jeopardize a political solution to the hostilities.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, has exchanged near-daily fire with the Israeli army since war erupted between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group on October 7.
Israeli raids near east Lebanon’s Baalbek on Monday were the first in the area since hostilities began, and hit far beyond the usual border regions.
The Israeli army said the strikes targeted Hezbollah air defenses after the group downed an Israeli drone.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) warned Tuesday of a “concerning shift in the exchanges of fire” in recent days and “an expansion and intensification of strikes.”
“Recent events have the potential to put at risk a political solution to this conflict,” the force said in a statement, urging “all parties involved to halt hostilities... and leave space to a political and diplomatic solution.”
Hezbollah said it targeted the “Meron air control base... with a large salvo of rockets from several launchers” on Tuesday, in response to the Baalbek strikes.
Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee said the rockets caused no casualties or damage to the base, while Israeli fighter jets raided and destroyed “a military site” and “military infrastructure” belonging to Hezbollah in retaliation.
One of the strikes targeted Baisariyeh, almost 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the nearest Israeli boundary.
Two Hezbollah fighters were killed in the east Lebanon strikes on Monday. Later that day, the Iran-backed group fired 60 rockets at an Israeli base in the annexed Golan Heights.
Cross-border exchanges since October have killed at least 284 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 44 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.


Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal
Updated 27 February 2024
Follow

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal
  • Israel is under pressure from the US to agree on a truce

JEDDAH: A high-level Israeli delegation arrived on Monday in Qatar, where political leaders of Hamas are based, as the combatants in the Gaza war closed in on a ceasefire and hostage deal that the US says is now within reach.
The presence of both sides suggested talks were further along than at any time since a big push at the start of February, when Israel rejected a Hamas proposal as “delusional.”
In public, both sides continue to blame each other. Israel says it will agree only to a temporary pause in fighting to secure the release of hostages. Hamas says it will not free them without a permanent end to the war.
After meeting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group had embraced mediators’ efforts to find an end to the war, and accused Israel of stalling while Gazans die under siege. “We will not allow the enemy to use negotiations as a cover for this crime,” he said.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said any ceasefire agreement would require “securing an end to the aggression, the withdrawal of the occupation, the returning of the displaced, the entry of aid, shelter equipment, and rebuilding.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready for a deal, and it was up to Hamas to drop demands he described as “outlandish” and “from another planet.”
Israel is under pressure from the US to agree on a truce to prevent a threatened assault on Rafah in southern Gaza.