Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’
Smoke billows in the distance amid ongoing fighting in Khartoum on June 6, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 06 June 2023

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’

Khartoum islanders ‘under siege’
  • Residents of Tuti island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages

KHARTOUM: Battles raged in Sudan’s war-torn capital of Khartoum on Tuesday, witnesses said, and the residents of an island in the Nile reported being “under siege” amid desperate shortages.

Eight weeks of fighting have pitted army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan against his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

A number of broken ceasefires have offered brief lulls but no respite for residents of the city, where witnesses again reported “the sound of heavy artillery fire” in northern Khartoum.

Witnesses also said there were “clashes with various types of weapons” in south Khartoum, where “the sound of explosions shook our walls.”

In the city center, at the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile rivers, the island of Tuti is “under total siege” by RSF forces, resident Mohammed Youssef said.

Paramilitaries have blocked the only bridge to the island and prevented residents from going by boat to other parts of the capital.

“We can’t move anyone who’s sick to hospitals off the island,” Youssef said. “If this continues for days, stores will run out of food.”

Since the fighting began on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

Al Arabiya channel reported that the warring parties had resumed indirect ceasefire talks in Jeddah on Tuesday.

The UN says that more than a million and a half people have been displaced, both within the country and across its borders.

For those still in Khartoum and the western region of Darfur — which together have seen the worst of the fighting — the situation is growing increasingly dire.

“We face a massive humanitarian crisis that is only going to get worse with the collapse of the economy, collapse of the health care system,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned.

The danger will increase with “the flood season fast approaching and the looming hunger crisis and disease outbreaks that now are becoming more inevitable.”

Sudan’s annual rainy season begins in June, and medics have repeatedly warned that it threatens to make parts of country inaccessible, raising the risks of malaria, cholera and water-borne diseases.

Family seeks body of Morocco jet skier killed in Algeria

Updated 13 sec ago

Family seeks body of Morocco jet skier killed in Algeria

Family seeks body of Morocco jet skier killed in Algeria
CASABLANCA, Morocco: The family of a Moroccan jet skier killed at sea by gunfire blamed on Algeria decried on Tuesday the sluggish repatriation of the body, one month after his death.
Abdelali Mechouar, a Moroccan who resides in France, and his French-Moroccan cousin Bilal Kissi were killed on August 29 allegedly by Algerian coast guards while they were lost on jet skis, according to a survivor.
Kissi’s corpse was found on the Moroccan side of the border.
“We have zero information on the body of our son,” Mechouar’s father Mostafa told AFP on Tuesday. “We want the process to be accelerated so we can grieve.”
The incident comes at a time of increased tensions between the neighboring North African countries which have no diplomatic ties.
Hakim Chergui, the Mechouar family’s French lawyer, said they “have arrived at a blockage,” in which the “military prosecutor’s office has not been responding for a week,” he said, wondering about the “slowness.”
An investigation has been opened by the prosecutor’s office in Oujda, in eastern Morocco near the border with Algeria, and another in France.
Algeria’s defense ministry on September 3 said its security forces had opened fire on the jet skiers “after issuing an audible warning and ordering them to stop several times,” adding that “the suspects refused to comply and fled.”
The defense ministry said that after several warning rounds, “shots were fired, forcing one of the jet skis to stop, and the other two fled.”
In a letter to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, seen on Tuesday by AFP, the Mechouar family asked Tebboune to intervene for the restitution of Mechouar’s body as soon as possible.
Mechouar and Kissi were accompanied by Smail Snabe, a French-Moroccan who was wounded and detained in Algeria, according to Kissi’s brother, Mohamed, who was with the group before being rescued by the Moroccan navy.
They all left from the tourist beach of Saidia near the Algerian border, before getting lost at sea and running out of fuel, he said.
Rabat has made no official statement.
Algiers cut off diplomatic relations with Rabat in August 2021, accusing Morocco of “hostile acts” — a decision Rabat called “completely unjustified.”
The dispute over the Western Sahara territory has exacerbated tensions.

Emirati and Chinese ministers discuss cooperation in development of human resources

Emirati and Chinese ministers discuss cooperation in development of human resources
Updated 15 min 29 sec ago

Emirati and Chinese ministers discuss cooperation in development of human resources

Emirati and Chinese ministers discuss cooperation in development of human resources
  • Officials presented respective plans for developing priority business sectors, reviewed UAE labor market legislation

LONDON: Abdulrahman Al-Awar, the UAE’s minister of human resources and Emiratization, and a delegation from China led by his vice-ministerial counterpart, Li Zhong, discussed opportunities for cooperation between their countries in areas related to labor, the development of human resources, and skills enhancement.

During the meeting in Dubai, both sides presented their respective plans for developing business sectors they have identified as priorities, the Emirates News Agency reported on Tuesday. They also reviewed labor market legislation in the UAE, and the mechanisms in place to streamline corporate operations and provide social protections for workers across the country.

They reaffirmed their shared commitment to strengthening collaboration by pledging to hold further meetings to discuss future developments.

A number of Emirati officials were also present at the meeting, including Khalil Ibrahim Al-Khoori, undersecretary for human resources affairs, Mohammed Saqer Alnuaimi, assistant undersecretary of the support services affairs sector, Shayma Al-Awadhi, assistant undersecretary for communication and international relations, and Ayyoob Abdulla Al-Marzooqi, acting assistant undersecretary for policy and strategy affairs. Li Xuhang, the consul general of China in Dubai, also took part.

Jordan downs two drones carrying drugs from Syria — army

Jordan downs two drones carrying drugs from Syria — army
Updated 32 min 26 sec ago

Jordan downs two drones carrying drugs from Syria — army

Jordan downs two drones carrying drugs from Syria — army
  • The drones had crossed into its territory and their hauls of crystal methamphetamine were seized
  • Jordanian officials say the increasing use of drones carrying drugs, weapons and explosives is adding a new dimension to a cross-border billion-dollar drug war

AMMAN: The Jordanian army said on Tuesday it downed two drones carrying drugs from Syria in the latest incident raising concerns over increased smuggling across the border.
The army statement said the drones had crossed into its territory and their hauls of crystal methamphetamine were seized. It warned it would act forcefully to prevent any attempt to destabilize the country’s security.
Jordanian officials say the increasing use of drones carrying drugs, weapons and explosives is adding a new dimension to a cross-border billion-dollar drug war the US ally has blamed on Iranian-backed militias that hold sway in southern Syria.
Syria is accused by Arab governments and the West of producing the highly addictive and lucrative amphetamine captagon and other drugs and organizing its smuggling into the Gulf, with Jordan a main transit route.
President Bashar Assad’s government denies allegations of Syria’s involvement in drug-making and smuggling, as well as any complicity by Iranian-backed militias protected by units within the Syrian army and security forces.
Iran says the allegations are part of a Western plot against the country.
Jordanian officials say talks with senior Syrian officials to curb Iranian-run smuggling networks have reached a dead-end due to the inability of Damascus to impose order over its southern region where a state of lawlessness prevails.

Syria slams US ‘terrorist war’ in UN address

Syria slams US ‘terrorist war’ in UN address
Updated 42 min 58 sec ago

Syria slams US ‘terrorist war’ in UN address

Syria slams US ‘terrorist war’ in UN address
  • Washington spent ‘billions of dollars’ to ‘demolish and destroy’ Syrian achievements, says vice FM
  • Damascus will push for independent Palestine, return of Golan ‘no matter how long it takes’

NEW YORK: The US launching a “terrorist war” in Syria has led to “creative American chaos” and destabilization in the Middle East, Syria’s vice foreign minister told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Bassam Sabbagh, who previously served as Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, condemned the policies of successive US administrations “to serve geopolitical and selfish interests” and “work to create and exaggerate problems to ignite tensions and then conflicts.”

The world is facing myriad challenges, he said, listing “devastating conflicts,” the “continued occupation of some peoples,” “sharp rises in poverty and hunger” and “economic blockade policies.”

Confronting these challenges requires global cooperation among all UN member states and the building of a “new multipolar world order that achieves a new balance,” he added.

Sabbagh accused the US of misinterpreting the UN Charter to “justify attacks committed against the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of other countries.”

This led to Washington spending “billions of dollars” to “demolish and destroy development achievements (in Syria) made over decades,” he said.

The emergence of terrorist groups, including Daesh and Al-Nusra Front, can also be blamed on “creative American chaos,” Sabbagh added.

“The basic principle affirmed by the UN Charter is respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of member states,” he said.

“Therefore, any acquisition of the lands of others by force is an occupation, and any illegal military presence on the territory of any sovereign state is a clear violation of this charter.”

He named Israel, the US and Turkiye as the chief exponents of territory violation, saying the activities of the former in Palestine are “consistent with the destructive role” played by the latter two in Syria.

Damascus “spares no effort” in “standing alongside the brotherly Palestinian people,” Sabbagh said, defining the issue as “the central Arab cause.”

He condemned Israel’s occupation of “Arab lands in Palestine and the Syrian Golan” since 1967, demanding that it end “immediately and unconditionally.”

As part of its occupation, Israel is committing the “most heinous forms of grave and systematic violations” of the UN Charter, Sabbagh said.

Israel’s actions this year have pushed the region to “unprecedented levels of tension and instability,” he added, naming a litany of policies targeting Palestinians as well as Syrians in the Golan Heights.

“This is evident in it (Israel) committing more massacres, the escalation of its military aggression, and its repeated missile bombing of Syrian cities, ports and civil airports, which endangered civilian lives and the safety of civil aviation, and hampered United Nations humanitarian operations,” he said.

“This is in addition to its continuation of policies of settlement, Judaization, sieges, arbitrary arrest, forced displacement and racial discrimination in the occupied Arab territories.”

Sabbagh also denounced the “continued support for such practices and silence about them” by some countries that “declare themselves protectors of international humanitarian law.”

He repeated Syria’s support for an independent Palestinian state along the June 1967 borders and the return of the Golan Heights to Syria, “no matter how long it takes.”

He accused the US of causing $115 billion in losses to Syria’s oil sector since 2011. This “systematic and exposed American plunder of the Syrian people’s national wealth” also included gas and wheat, and has led to deprivation and human suffering in an “unprecedented manner,” Sabbagh said.

He urged the UN to meet its obligation in holding the US accountable for the “looted money,” demanding its return to Syria.

As well as siphoning wealth, Sabbagh accused both the US and Turkiye of “infiltrating” Syrian territory and launching an illegal military presence as part of a “flagrant interference” in his country’s internal affairs.

Syria is seeking an end to the “unilateral coercive measures” of the US and its European allies, including sanctions on the “public health, banking and energy sectors.”

These “illegal, immoral and inhumane” measures have only “exacerbated the suffering of Syrians wherever they are, given that their impact includes third countries,” Sabbagh said.

The devastating earthquakes in Syria this year added “a new burden and suffering” for its people, he added, saying Damascus has tried to open all aid tracks for the arrival of humanitarian relief.

“Syria was one of the most stable and prosperous countries in the world. It was achieving food self-sufficiency and providing all the basic necessities of life for its people in a way that was rarely seen in the region,” Sabbagh said.

“However, the terrorist war launched against it since 2011 changed this situation and caused a significant humanitarian crisis.”

He thanked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for launching a flash funding appeal in the wake of the earthquakes, but called on international donors to fulfill their funding pledges in order to improve the humanitarian situation.

Sabbagh declared Syria’s readiness to “welcome the return of every Syrian refugee who left their home, village or city” since 2011, including citizens “who were forced by terrorist organizations to seek refuge.

“I call on Western countries that ask refugees not to return to their homeland to stop these inhumane practices.”

He hailed the achievements of the Arab League Summit in Jeddah in May, which “restored to the collective Arab position its shine, and to Arab joint action its momentum.

“The Arab countries affirmed their support for Syria in preserving its sovereignty … and overcoming the difficult circumstances it’s going through.”

Sabbagh also expressed Syria’s “support and solidarity” with Libya and Morocco in the wake of the recent natural disasters in the two North African countries.

He ended his address by calling for the UNGA to be used as a platform for “dialogue and public diplomacy,” not for “leveling false accusations and launching hostile campaigns.”

Working to translate the UNGA slogan of “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity” into “real and serious action” will ensure no one is left behind, Sabbagh said.

UAE President and Dutch PM discuss bilateral ties

UAE President and Dutch PM discuss bilateral ties
Updated 26 September 2023

UAE President and Dutch PM discuss bilateral ties

UAE President and Dutch PM discuss bilateral ties
  • Leaders reaffirmed shared commitment to achieving a breakthrough in international climate action

LONDON: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday to discuss bilateral ties and strategic cooperation between the two countries, Emirates News Agency reported.

The two leaders discussed investment, the economy, education, culture, technology, and science during their meeting in Abu Dhabi. They also talked about renewable energy, sustainable development, and climate change, and addressed COP28 which will kick off in November in Expo City Dubai.

Sheikh Mohamed and Rutte reaffirmed their shared commitment to achieving a major breakthrough in international climate action.

The two exchanged views on a variety of regional and international issues of mutual interest, emphasizing the importance of working together to promote ideals of tolerance, harmony, peace, and human fraternity.

Sheikh Mohamed affirmed the strength of UAE-Netherlands relations, highlighting economic ties in critical sectors such as renewable energy, food security, technology, water, agriculture, and trade. 

He noted that non-oil trade exchange between the two countries reached $4.6 billion last year, representing a 7.2 percent increase over 2021.

Sheikh Mohamed said that the UAE is one of the Netherlands’ most important trading partners in the Arab world, highlighting that there are roughly 350 Dutch companies operating in the country.

Rutte extended his gratitude to Sheikh Mohamed for the warm welcome, emphasizing his country’s desire to enhance ties with the UAE.

Rutte also stated that the Netherlands and the UAE share many interests, particularly in the areas of sustainable development, the green economy, renewable energy, food security, and climate action.