NATO continues to monitor supply of weapons by Iran to Russia for use in Ukraine

NATO continues to monitor supply of weapons by Iran to Russia for use in Ukraine
A young man examines his car destroyed by a missile strike in Kyiv, on July 8, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 10 July 2024
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NATO continues to monitor supply of weapons by Iran to Russia for use in Ukraine

NATO continues to monitor supply of weapons by Iran to Russia for use in Ukraine
  • Senior NATO official tells Arab News recent attacks clearly show the ‘significant impact’ military support provided to Moscow by Tehran is having on the war
  • Alliance aims to draw attention to Iran’s actions and provide support for member states to take action against Tehran in form of sanctions or other responses

WASHINGTON: A senior NATO official on Tuesday told Arab News that the military support Iran has provided to Russia — including hundreds of attack drones, artillery rounds and tank ammunition — has had a “significant impact” on the war in Ukraine. The Alliance is also closely monitoring possible deliveries of missiles from Tehran to Moscow, he added.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We’ve seen Iran originally just exporting drone systems to Russia and now we’re seeing, with the Iranian government, we saw hundreds of one-way attack drones being shipped to Russia for battlefield use. We also saw artillery and tank rounds that were being delivered to Russia.”

He added that NATO continues to monitor “talk about missile deliveries from Iran to Russia as well, although I can’t confirm that those missiles have actually moved from Iran to Russia yet.

“And then we also see going beyond, moving to specific systems but actually giving Russia the capability to produce one-way attack vehicles themselves. So they’ve actually set up production plants in Russia to produce Iranian-design Shahed drones.”

The official was speaking on the sidelines of the annual NATO summit in Washington, which this year marks the 75th anniversary of the alliance.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said support for Ukraine will be the “most urgent task” during the summit, which began on Tuesday and continues until Thursday. NATO members were expected to unveil substantial new measures to aid the war-ravaged country, including security assistance and training, with a command center in Germany led by a three-star general and staffed by about 700 personnel, and logistical nodes in eastern parts of alliance territory.

NATO’s security assistance for Ukraine will be worth €40 billion ($43.3 billion) over the coming year, officials said. The support will include the provision of further air-defense systems and munitions.

Stoltenberg said during a recent press conference that the war in Ukraine “demonstrates and confirms the very close alliance between Russia and authoritarian states like North Korea, but also China and Iran,” as he emphasized the need to view security through a global lens and consider the importance of strengthening Indo-Pacific partnerships.

The NATO official who spoke to Arab News said the “significant impact” of Iranian weapons in Ukraine over the past two and a half years of war can clearly be seen, most recently in the attacks by Russia on Monday that killed 31 civilians and wounded more than 150. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 40 missiles hit several cities, causing damage to the largest children’s hospital in the country and other buildings and infrastructure.

The NATO official said: “When you talk about attacks that we are seeing regularly in Ukraine today, whether attacks like we saw in the past few days or for months, for years now, we’ve seen those Iranian vehicles, Iranian weapons have a significant impact on the battlefield in terms of depleting Ukrainian air-defense systems, but then also at times of striking targets that are of strategic value.”

He said Iran is already under heavy Western sanctions and what NATO is doing now “is calling attention to it, for allies to take individual action regarding Iranian sanctions or other actions that they want to take.”


Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications

Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications
Updated 11 sec ago
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Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications

Digital Cooperation Organization calls for urgent talks on recent global IT outage implications
  • The DCO, which includes Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and 14 other states, is the world’s first standalone intergovernmental body on digital economy
  • The DCO secretariat states the high level of impact the world witnessed as a result of the outage is ‘alarming’ and requires ‘agile’ cooperation

RIYADH: The Digital Cooperation Organization’s (DCO) General Secretariat said in a statement that it will hold urgent discussions with its Member States and digital economy experts to address the implications of the global IT outage that disrupted vital operations around the world, affecting critical business sectors like aviation, banking, broadcast media, software providers, and more.
The DCO General Secretariat states that “the high level of impact the world witnessed as a result of the unfortunate outage is alarming and indicates the dire need for a more effective and agile international digital cooperation.” The incident raised questions on continuity and sustainability in a world rapidly moving toward being highly dependent on digital channels and platforms. It is very crucial that the international community develops proper policies and protocols to mitigate the risks of such incidents and ensure the continuity of essential operations.
To this end, the DCO General Secretariat has called for an urgent deliberation for its Member States and digital economy experts to capture the lessons learned from this incident, assess its impact on national digital transformation plans in Member States, and plan practical steps to ensure that relevant stakeholders across sectors are aligned and ready to deal with such mishaps.
The Digital Cooperation Organization is the world’s first standalone international intergovernmental organization focusing on the acceleration of the growth of an inclusive and sustainable digital economy. It is a global multilateral organization founded in November 2020 that aims to enable digital prosperity for all.
The 16 DCO Member States include the Kingdom of Bahrain, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Djibouti, the Republic of The Gambia, the Republic of Ghana, the Hellenic Republic (Greece), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Kuwait, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Sultanate of Oman, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the State of Qatar, the Republic of Rwanda, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — collectively representing nearly $3.5 trillion in GDP and a market of nearly 800 million people, more than 70 percent of whom are under the age of 35.


US Secret Service chief resigns following Trump assassination attempt

US Secret Service chief resigns following Trump assassination attempt
Updated 12 min 57 sec ago
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US Secret Service chief resigns following Trump assassination attempt

US Secret Service chief resigns following Trump assassination attempt
  • Cheatle faced bipartisan condemnation when she appeared before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee on Monday
  • Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers called on her to resign

WASHINGTON: U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle resigned after the agency came under harsh scrutiny for its failure to stop a would-be assassin from wounding former President Donald Trump during a campaign rally, the White House said on Tuesday.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Secret Service, which is responsible for the protection of current and former U.S. presidents, faces a crisis after a gunman was able to fire on Trump from a roof overlooking the outdoor rally in Butler, Pennsylvania on July 13.
Cheatle faced bipartisan condemnation when she appeared before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee on Monday, declining to answer questions from frustrated lawmakers about the security plan for the rally and how law enforcement responded to the suspicious behavior of the gunman.
Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers called on her to resign.
Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, was grazed in the right ear and one rallygoer was killed in the gunfire. The gunman, identified as a 20-year-old Thomas Crooks, was shot and killed by s Secret Service sniper.
"While Director Cheatle’s resignation is a step toward accountability, we need a full review of how these security failures happened so that we can prevent them going forward," James Comer, the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement. "We will continue our oversight of the Secret Service."
Cheatle, who has led the agency since 2022, told lawmakers she took responsibility for the shooting, calling it the largest failure by the Secret Service since then-President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981.
The Secret Service faces investigations from multiple congressional committees and the internal watchdog of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, its parent organization, over its performance. President Joe Biden, who has ended his reelection campaign, has also called for an independent review.
Much of the criticism has focused on the failure to secure the roof of an industrial building where the gunman was perched about 150 yards (140 m) from the stage where Trump was speaking.
The rooftop was declared outside the Secret Service security perimeter for the event, a decision criticized by former agents and lawmakers.
Cheatle held a top security role at PepsiCo when Biden named her Secret Service director in 2022. She previously served 27 years in the agency.
She took over following a series of scandals involving the Secret Service that scarred the reputation of an elite and insular agency.
Ten Secret Service agents lost their jobs after revelations they brought women, some of them prostitutes, back to their hotel rooms ahead of a trip to Colombia by then-President Barack Obama in 2012.
The agency also faced allegations that it erased text messages from around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those messages were later sought by a congressional panel probing the riot.


Indonesian Ulama Council urges government to protect consumers from Israeli products

Indonesian Ulama Council urges government to protect consumers from Israeli products
Updated 46 min 10 sec ago
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Indonesian Ulama Council urges government to protect consumers from Israeli products

Indonesian Ulama Council urges government to protect consumers from Israeli products
  • New data shows there has been growth in Indonesia’s trade with Israel
  • Top religious body suggests use of consumer protection law to contain the activity

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Ulama Council called on the government on Tuesday to protect consumers from products linked with Israel, as imports have grown despite there being no diplomatic relations between Jakarta and Tel Aviv.

Indonesia has been among the most vocal countries in demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and a stop to international military support and weapons sales to Tel Aviv, especially since the beginning of the deadly Israeli invasion of Gaza. 

Campaigns calling for the boycott of companies that have direct or presumed links with Israeli institutions have also been regular events in the country, where many people see Palestinian statehood as mandated by their constitution.

In this context, many were shocked when the latest data from the country’s Central Statistics Agency showed increasing economic ties with Israel, with imports to Indonesia amounting to more than $35 million between January and May.  

While the amount is not significant in Indonesia’s overall trade volume, it is nearly four times higher than the $8.85 million recorded in the same period in 2023 and surpasses last year’s total of $21.9 million. The official data also showed exports to Israel from Indonesia had by May reached more than $66 million.

The growing trade volume made national headlines earlier this month, prompting calls on the government to act. 

While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on matters relating to trade, and the Ministry of Trade did not respond to questions on commercial relations with Israel, the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, which is the top religious body in the country, said that the trade links “must be stopped.”

The MUI’s chair of foreign relations, Dr. Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim, told Arab News that the government must protect Indonesian consumers under the existing laws. 

“We have the Consumer Protection Law, so the government should follow it to protect consumers from Israeli products, whatever they may be,” he said. 

Weeks after the beginning of Israel’s invasion, the MUI issued a fatwa, or a religious decree, prohibiting Indonesian Muslims from buying products that had any links to Israel.

“Any trade will surely yield profits, and whatever the value of our import from Israel, of course there are profits involved. This financial gain is what could potentially play an important role in funding Israel’s main programs right now,” Hakim said. “Since Israel’s current main agenda is to finish Palestine, let’s not support that.” 

Israel’s ground and air attacks in the past nine months have killed more than 39,000 Palestinian citizens in Gaza, according to official estimates, though a study published in the Lancet journal earlier this month estimated the actual death toll could reach in excess of 186,000 people. 

“The existence of trade relations, especially their growth, gives room for Israel to try other channels of relations with Indonesia, and that is dangerous. It will weaken Indonesia’s spirit in defending Palestine.”

Members of Indonesia’s civil society have also been calling on the government to halt trade ties with Israel. 

“For me, this is a hypocritical double standard. On the one hand, the government is condemning the zionist’s genocide and urging for a ceasefire, but continuing with trade relations on the other,” Muhammad Anshorullah from the Jakarta-based Aqsa Working Group, told Arab News.

“I am urging the government … to also take firm steps … stop trade ties with zionist Israel.”

Cecep Jasim, who coordinated a thousands-strong march for Gaza in West Java last November, said that commercial ties with Israel contradicted Indonesia’s stance on Palestine. 

“We urge a stop to all trade activities with Israel … The government must firmly refuse all kinds of relations with zionist Israel, so that Indonesia will not be seen as having a foot in both camps for their own gain,” he said. 

The Indonesian chapter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for economic and trade pressure in opposition to Israel, also protested against Indonesia-Israel trade ties. 

“BDS rejects Indonesia’s trade relations with Israel in all its forms, that’s clear. We demand that the Ministry of Trade put an end to it… With regard to the growing volume, this is extremely regrettable, especially as it is happening in the middle of an ongoing genocide, such growth should not be happening and it must be corrected,” BDS Indonesia head, Muhammad Syauqi Hafiz, told Arab News. 

“Indonesia shouldn’t be satisfied with its existing stance, it’s not enough. There must be more, a policy escalation to also try and stop Israel, not just merely defending Palestine. That’s how it should be if Indonesia is sincere in its commitments.” 

Media Wahyu Askar, director of public policy at the Center of Economic and Law Studies, said that Indonesia was not dependent on Israeli products and could find substitutes from other countries.

“The government should seriously consider the calls to boycott products affiliated with Israel and even products from Israel, because such calls for boycott are extremely effective to pressure the private sector to stop working with Israel,” he told Arab News, adding that it “would not have any significant negative impact on the Indonesian economy.”

Indonesia’s imports between January and May 2024 were worth about $91 billion, which means imports from Israel — most of which took place through third countries — made up less than 0.05 percent.

But for Israel, Indonesia has a “strategic value,” Askar said. 

“In the next few years, it is expected that Israel will continue to find ways to influence Indonesia’s political economy and normalize trade relations in order to gain global influence,” he said.


Ukraine’s foreign minister arrives in China to discuss ‘fair peace’

Ukraine’s foreign minister arrives in China to discuss ‘fair peace’
Updated 51 min 46 sec ago
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Ukraine’s foreign minister arrives in China to discuss ‘fair peace’

Ukraine’s foreign minister arrives in China to discuss ‘fair peace’
  • Kuleba said he would hold “extensive, detailed, substantive negotiations” with his Chinese counterpart
  • “We must avoid competition between peace plans. It is very important that Kyiv and Beijing conduct a direct dialogue,” he wrote in a statement on Instagram

KYIV: Ukraine’s foreign minister arrived in China on Tuesday for talks with Foreign Minister Wang Yi on ways to achieve a “fair peace” in the war with Russia and also to discuss bilateral relations, he said.
Dmytro Kuleba’s visit is the first by a high-ranking Ukrainian official since Russia’s full-scale February 2022 invasion, which China, the world’s second largest economy, has not publicly condemned.
Kuleba said he would hold “extensive, detailed, substantive negotiations” with his Chinese counterpart, but did not say when the talks would happen. He said earlier his trip would continue until Thursday.
“We must avoid competition between peace plans. It is very important that Kyiv and Beijing conduct a direct dialogue,” he wrote in a statement on Instagram, announcing his arrival in China.
Various peace initiatives have emerged in recent months ahead of a US election in November that could see the return to the White House of former president Donald Trump who has threatened to cut vital aid flows to Ukraine. The United States under President Joe Biden has been Ukraine’s biggest backer.
Kyiv is pushing to hold a second international summit later this year to advance its vision for peace after an initial gathering in Switzerland in June drew dozens of delegations from around the world but not from Russia or China.
Ukraine has said it would like its second summit to be hosted by a “Global South” country and that Russia could attend. Kyiv has also said it would like to see China play a more active role in ending the war.
China and Brazil published a joint six-point peace proposal in May, saying they supported the holding of an international peace conference that both sides in the war would recognize.
Kuleba said his trip to China, the first by a Ukrainian foreign minister since 2012, aimed to develop contacts between Chinese and Ukrainian leaders.
China declared a “no limits” partnership with Russia in 2022 days before the invasion and has helped Russia keep its economy afloat. China says its ties with Russia are built on the basis of non-alliance and do not target any third party.


In push for more Ukraine troops, city of Moscow hikes pay for contract soldiers to $60,000 a year

In push for more Ukraine troops, city of Moscow hikes pay for contract soldiers to $60,000 a year
Updated 23 July 2024
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In push for more Ukraine troops, city of Moscow hikes pay for contract soldiers to $60,000 a year

In push for more Ukraine troops, city of Moscow hikes pay for contract soldiers to $60,000 a year
  • The increase means that annual pay for Russian contract soldiers from Moscow will exceed Russia’s average nominal wage more than five-fold
  • Generous payments for volunteers have helped Russia avoid a new nationwide mobilization

MOSCOW: Residents of Moscow who sign up to fight in Ukraine will receive a down payment of 1.9 million roubles ($21,777) from the city, taking their annual pay in their first service year to 5.2 million roubles ($59,600), the mayor’s office said on Tuesday.
Total pay will include the downpayment, wages from the defense ministry, as well as regional and federal handouts, the office of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a statement.
The new payments will enter into force immediately, it said.
The increase means that annual pay for Russian contract soldiers from Moscow will exceed Russia’s average nominal wage more than five-fold, based on statistical data for the first quarter of 2024.
Generous payments for volunteers have helped Russia avoid a new nationwide mobilization after a troubled campaign in 2022 led to a mass exodus of people to neighboring countries.
However, some economists say the payments create risky imbalances.
They argue that high wages for soldiers serving in Ukraine have become a benchmark for the rest of the economy, leading to a wage growth spiral across sectors as workers demand increases to bring their wages more into line with what the army pays.
Russian officials say about 190,000 people have so far volunteered this year to fight in Ukraine, in what Moscow describes as a “special military operation.” That, they say, compares with 490,000 contracts signed in 2023.
The City of Moscow, where much of Russia’s educated workforce is concentrated, has been seen as lagging behind many other regions in the number of volunteers joining the army as a percentage of the total population. There is no official data on the number of volunteers from Moscow but city officials put the total number of Muscovites fighting in Ukraine as of June 13 at 45,000.