Tunisians protest on Arab Spring uprising anniversary

People commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Tunisian uprising in Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP)
People commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Tunisian uprising in Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 14 January 2024
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Tunisians protest on Arab Spring uprising anniversary

People commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Tunisian uprising in Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP)
  • A number of President Kais Saied’s opponents are currently behind bars as the North African country prepares for presidential elections in December this year

TUNIS: Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrated on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the country’s 2011 revolution that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, and to demand the release of jailed opposition leaders.
They marched down the central thoroughfare of the capital Tunis waving the national flag, commemorating the day when dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted — which set off a series of uprisings across the Middle East.
“The spirit of January 14 is still here,” said Moncef Araissia, a retiree who was among the several hundred protesters that AFP journalists estimated turned out for the demonstration.
“Our vision is still the same, despite some mistakes we made, and despite the coup that took place,” he added, referring to President Kais Saied’s sweeping power grab.
Saied was democratically elected in 2019, but two years later he sacked the government and suspended parliament. He later amended the constitution to further centralize power.
A number of his opponents are currently behind bars as the North African country prepares for presidential elections in December this year.
Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, leader of the National Salvation Front (FSN) opposition coalition, said the polls should not be conducted under conditions set by Saied.
“Candidates are in jail or have been threatened to prevent them from running, the election authority is under (Saied’s) control... journalists are harassed and prosecuted,” he added.
“This is not free competition.”
Early last year, authorities arrested a number of Saied’s political opponents and others opposed to the government, and they were later jailed over an alleged plot against the state.
Among them were Rached Ghannouchi, the 82-year-old leader of the opposition Ennahdha party, and Jawhar Ben Mbarek, co-founder of the FSN.
Ghannouchi received a one-year prison sentence on terrorism-related charges in May.
At least 16 Tunisian journalists currently face trial, according to local media.
Many are being prosecuted under a law introduced by Saied to punish “spreading false news” with up to 10 years in prison.
 

 


Netanyahu rival Lapid says Israel lost ‘deterrence’ against Iran

Netanyahu rival Lapid says Israel lost ‘deterrence’ against Iran
Updated 6 sec ago
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Netanyahu rival Lapid says Israel lost ‘deterrence’ against Iran

Netanyahu rival Lapid says Israel lost ‘deterrence’ against Iran
  • Former PM says ‘Jewish terrorist violence’ against Palestinians in West Bank was ‘out of control’ under Netanyahu
  • Israeli settlers torched Palestinian homes, cars over weekend in West Bank, where violence has soared since Oct. 7

JERUSALEM: Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid on Monday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of leading to a “total loss of Israeli deterrence” in the wake of an unprecedented Iranian attack.
In a scathing criticism posted on X, former premier Lapid also said that under Netanyahu, “Jewish terrorist violence” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank was “out of control.”
Netanyahu, who returned to power in late 2022 at the helm of a coalition with far-right parties, has brought “heaps of destruction from Beeri to Kiryat Shmona,” Lapid said, calling for early elections.
Beeri, a kibbutz community near the Gaza border, came under attack when Hamas militants stormed the area on October 7, triggering the ongoing war, while the northern town of Kiryat Shmona has suffered during months of cross-border fire between Israeli forces and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Lapid’s remarks came two days after Iran — which backs both Hamas and Hezbollah — launched more than 300 missiles and drones at Israel in retaliation for a deadly strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus.
Israel, the United States and other allies intercepted nearly all launches in the late Saturday aerial attack — the first direct Iranian military action against arch foe Israel.
Netanyahu’s cabinet has weighed Israel’s response to the Iranian attack, but the prime minister has not made any public comments.
In the West Bank, where violence has soared since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Israeli settlers torched Palestinian homes and cars over the weekend, killing at least two people, after an Israeli teen was “murdered in a suspected terrorist attack,” according to the Israeli military.
Pointing to surging “terrorist” settler attacks, Lapid said: “If we don’t move this government, it will bring destruction upon us.”
The government, which includes hard-line settlers, has prioritized Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Netanyahu has faced in recent months mass protests over the fate of hostages held in Gaza and pressure from a resurgent anti-government movement.
The prime minister’s Likud party responded to Lapid in a statement stressing Netanyahu’s part in “the global campaign” to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons — which Tehran denies it is seeking.


Iraq’s deputy prime minister, in US meeting, calls for regional restraint

Iraq’s deputy prime minister, in US meeting, calls for regional restraint
Updated 1 min 38 sec ago
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Iraq’s deputy prime minister, in US meeting, calls for regional restraint

Iraq’s deputy prime minister, in US meeting, calls for regional restraint
  • “The government of Iraq is warning about escalation in the area to be dragged into a wider war," Tamim says

WASHINGTON: Iraq called on all parties to show restraint amid soaring tensions between neighboring Iran and Israel, Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Tamim said on Monday as he met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“The government of Iraq is warning about escalation in the area to be dragged into a wider war that will threaten international security and safety,” he said at the start of a meeting of the US-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee in Washington.
“And therefore we call on all parties for self restraint and respect the rules of diplomatic works and also international laws.”


Sudden heavy rains in Oman kill at least 17 including schoolchildren

Sudden heavy rains in Oman kill at least 17 including schoolchildren
Updated 13 min 46 sec ago
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Sudden heavy rains in Oman kill at least 17 including schoolchildren

Sudden heavy rains in Oman kill at least 17 including schoolchildren
  • Civil defense officials gave the death toll for the rains, which saw Oman’s North Al Sharqiyah province hardest hit
  • Heavy rains also were expected over Dubai in the neighboring UAE and other regions of the Arabian Peninsula

DUBAI: Heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in Oman on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, killing at least 17 people as rescuers searched for survivors, authorities said Monday. In one incident, a group of school children and a driver died when their vehicle was overtaken, authorities said.
Heavy rains also were expected over Dubai in the neighboring United Arab Emirates and other regions of the Arabian Peninsula.
Civil defense officials gave the death toll for the rains, which saw Oman’s North Al Sharqiyah province hardest hit. The Royal Oman Police and the Omani military deployed to the province to transport citizens out of flooded areas, Oman News Agency reported.
Heavy rainfall often causes flash flooding in the sultanate, drawing the curious from their homes to nearby dry riverbeds, known in Arabic as “wadi.” In flooding, they can quickly fill and wash away people and vehicles.
In Dubai, authorities expected heavy rains to begin Monday night and last into Tuesday morning. The Emirates’ National Center of Meteorology warned of thunder, lightning, rain and possibly hail, with winds reaching up to 70 kph (43 mph). Government schools announced they would hold classes remotely Tuesday and Wednesday.


Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon
Updated 15 April 2024
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Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon
  • Injuries as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border

JERUSALEM: Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion hundreds of meters inside Lebanese territory, an Israeli military official said on Monday.
Earlier, the military said four soldiers were injured overnight, one severely, as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border and that the incident was under review.


US destroys about 90 Iranian and Houthi drones, missiles in two days

US destroys about 90 Iranian and Houthi drones, missiles in two days
Updated 9 min 26 sec ago
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US destroys about 90 Iranian and Houthi drones, missiles in two days

US destroys about 90 Iranian and Houthi drones, missiles in two days
  • Iran’s ‘continued unprecedented, malign, and reckless behavior endangers regional stability and safety of US and coalition forces,’ CENTCOM says

AL-MUKALLA: More than 90 ballistic missiles and drones fired by Iran and the Houthis in Yemen at Israel and international shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden were intercepted by US military and navy forces, supported by ships from European Command, on Saturday and Sunday, according to two US military statements on Monday.

The US Central Command, or CENTCOM, said in a statement on Monday afternoon that its troops destroyed four drones fired by the Houthis from controlled areas in Yemen between 4:00 a.m. and 9:15 p.m. on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Houthis fired one anti-ship ballistic missile against US Navy and commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden.

“There were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships,” CENTCOM said.

In a separate statement issued early on Monday, CENTCOM stated that its forces, backed by US European Command ships, destroyed more than 80 drones and at least six ballistic missiles launched by Iran and the Houthis in Yemen at Israel on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The intercepted volley of drones and missiles includes a ballistic missile destroyed on its launcher vehicles, as well as seven drones destroyed in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen before launch.

“Iran’s continued unprecedented, malign, and reckless behavior endangers regional stability and the safety of US and coalition forces,” CENTCOM said.

“CENTCOM remains postured to support Israel’s defense against these dangerous actions by Iran. We will continue to work with all our regional partners to increase regional security,” the military said in the second statement.

Iran blasted hundreds of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones toward Israel on Saturday night in retaliation for a purported Israeli airstrike in Damascus that killed senior Revolutionary Guards leaders.

The Houthis have not formally confirmed their participation in Iran’s retaliatory strike, despite reports from the US Central Command that missiles and drones launched by the Yemeni militia at Israel were intercepted.

Ambrey, a UK marine security company, also said that the Houthis launched drones at Israel during the Iran strike.

Since November, the Houthis have shot hundreds of ballistic missiles and drones toward Israel and ships in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden, claiming that their acts are in support of the Palestinian people.

The Houthis claim that they want to put an end to Israel’s heavy shelling of the Palestinian Gaza Strip while also allowing humanitarian aid to reach the territory. 

The US and UK have launched strikes against Houthi sites in Yemen since mid-January, attempting to force the Yemeni group to cease their attacks on ships.

Houthi media said on Sunday that the US and UK had launched strikes on an area under their control in the southern province of Taiz.

Meanwhile, deputy foreign minister Hussein Al-Ezzi has threatened to strike a recently built airport in the Red Sea town of Mokha to prevent what he calls “hostile” countries, such as the US as well as Israel, from using the airport as a platform for operations against them.

“We will not allow any Americans, Israelis or hostile parties to use Mokha Airport,” Al-Ezzi said on X. 

Yemen’s Aviation and Metrology Authority in Aden announced earlier this month that the Mokha Airport in Taiz province was ready for flights into and out of Yemen. 

Sadiq Dwaid, a spokesman for the National Resistance Forces, a military unit commanded by Presidential Leadership Council member Tareq Saleh, refuted the Houthi charges that the airport was open to Americans and Israelis.

“Mokha Airport is a civilian airport built to serve civilians and is not utilized for military operations. Any attempts to target the airport will be met with severe retribution,” Dwaid said on X.