Monday, December 3, 2018

''Almost all of UNRWA's buildings in camps Yarmouk and Dera'a in Syria have to be rebuilt

Yarmouk camp

After conducting a damage assessment of its installations in the unofficial camp of Yarmouk, near Damascus, as well as the Dera’a Palestinian camp in the South of Syria, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has concluded that almost all of its installation in the two camps were severely damaged or destroyed in the five-year long Syria civil war.
“The Agency has 23 premises including 16 schools in Yarmouk. Almost all UNRWA premises need major repairs, 75% need to be completely rebuilt and all three of the Agency’s health centers in Yarmouk are completely destroyed. In Dera’a camp, only one distribution center has been left untouched. The other 6 installations, including three school buildings and a clinic will need substantial repairs,” said UNRWA on Saturday.
People have already slowly started to return to Dera’a camp, despite the huge damage and lack of basic infrastructure, it said.
Dera’a camp was home to 10,000 Palestine refugees before 2011. So far, 400 families have returned since the government retook control in July 2018.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Egypt creates new human rights watchdog - to protect itself

Egypt has created a new high-powered human rights watchdog agency, but its primary mission isn’t to protect Egyptians from violations. Instead, the body is foremost aimed at protecting the government from allegations of rights abuses and defending it on the international stage.
The new body reflects an attitude of the state under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi that sees criticism over human rights as intended to undermine the government and cause instability at a time when it is facing militant threats and trying to rebuild a battered economy.
Officials have already started a campaign against “false rumors” and “fake news” and have in some cases detained those who speak out. At the same time, the government has sought to redefine or broaden human rights, declaring new “rights” to fight terrorism and protect the state. Critics see that as an attempt to legitimize and draw international attention away from alleged abuses by security forces.
“Human rights cannot be divided, nor can some be given priorities over others,” said Nasser Amin, a prominent rights lawyer.
The High Permanent Commission for Human rights does not include any rights activists. Its main members are representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the military, the intelligence agencies and the Interior Ministry, which oversees a police force accused of torture and forced disappearances, claims that are categorically denied by the government.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Trump chooses to ignore CIA conclusion about Saudi crown prince's involvement in Khashoggi murder

U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the "United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region."
""Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information," Trump said of the Khashoggi killing, but added that "it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran," Trump said in a statement.
"After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money," Trump said. "It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States," he continued, adding that "of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors."

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tariq Ramadan after 10 months free on bail

Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Islamic scholar, has been released on bail after being held in detention for nearly 10 months over charges of sexual assault, his lawyer said. A Paris Court of Appeal granted the 56-year-old Swiss academic bail on Thursday even as the investigation into the case continues.
"Where would I flee to," he asked during his hearing, his first public appearance since the arrest in February.
His bail was set at 300,000 euros ($340,000) and it requires him to hand over his passport and report to police once a week.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Turks found traces of acid at home Saudi consul

Saudi authorities used acid and other chemicals to dispose of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi's body, a source at the Turkish attorney general's office  told Thursday. The source said traces of hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals were found in a well at Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi's home in Istanbul.
Turkish investigators were able to take samples from the well when they were first granted access last month. the night of October 16 to 17. When the Turkish investigators were working inside the residence and wanted to gain full access to the garden and the well shaft, they were not given permission. However they were able to briefly take some samples from it with rods from the top of it. Those samples have been processed and they include proof that there had been hydrofluoric and other chemicals.  Other samples taken from the sewerage and drainage system around the diplomatic district also showed the use of acid.

America's ''war on terror'' killed about half a million people

Hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have been killed due to the so-called "war on terror" launched by the United States in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attack, according to a new study.
The report, which was published on Saturday by the Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, put the death toll between 480,000 and 507,000.
The toll includes civilians, armed fighters, local police and security forces, as well as US and allied troops.
The report states that between 182,272 and 204,575 civilians have been killed in Iraq; 38,480 in Afghanistan; and 23,372 in Pakistan. Nearly 7,000 US troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same period.
The paper, however, acknowledged that the number of people killed is an "undercount" due to limitations in reporting and "great uncertainty in any count of killing in war".

Monday, November 5, 2018

Rouhani vows to ''proudly bypass'' US sanctions

Iran responded to the United States’s imposition of tough new sanctions on Monday with air defence drills and confident and confrontational rhetoric. "We are in the war situation," President Hassan Rouhani said in a television address as the sanctions snapped into place."We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win."
"I announce that we will proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions because it's against international regulations," he said. “I don't think that in the history of America, someone has entered the White House who is so against law and international conventions."
Reneging on the 2015 deal was a cornerstone of US President Donald Trump’s election campaign.Nuclear inspectors have regularly said Tehran has abided by the nuclear deal, which other signatories Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have promised to uphold. But the US says that the pact failed to address issues such as Iran’s support of armed groups in countries such as Yemen and Lebanon, or its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Turkish paper: Khashoggy's body dismembered and taken ouside consulate in five suitcases

Jamal Khashoggi's body was dismembered and put into five suitcases after he was strangled upon entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul last month, according to a report by a Turkish pro-government newspaper.
Citing unnamed officials, Sabah reported on Sunday that the suitcases were then taken to the Saudi consul-general's residence near the consulate the day the journalist - a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS - was killed on October 2.
The officials said that Maher Mutreb, Salah Tubeigy and Thaar al-Harbi were the three key figures from a 15-member hit squad reportedly involved in dismembering Khashoggi's body and removing it from the premises.
Mutreb was a direct aide to MBS, while Tubeigy was the head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics and a colonel in the kingdom's army.

Bahrain sentences three opposition leaders to life

Sheikh Ali Salman
Bahrain's appeals court has sentenced three senior members of the country's opposition movement to life in prison over charges of spying for neighbouring Qatar, according to a statement from the public prosecutor.The verdict against Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-outlawed al-Wefaq movement, as well as Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad came on Sunday, months after their acquittal by the high criminal court in June. 
Salman is currently serving a four-year sentence in a separate case - "inciting hatred" in the kingdom, which has seen mainly Shia protests against the Sunni monarchy since 2011. Sultan and al-Aswad were tried in absentia.The trio was sentenced for "acts of hostility" against Bahrain and "communicating with Qatari officials... to overthrow constitutional order", the public prosecutor's statement said. The latest ruling can be appealed.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Netanyahu meets with sultan Qaboos in Oman

Netanyahu talking to sultan Qaboos. (Foto:no credt)

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an official visit to Oman, where he met with Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, his office said Friday. Oman has no official diplomatic ties with Israel, although a slight warming in relations followed the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.
Netanyahu and his wife were invited to visit by the sultan after lengthy contacts between the two countries, the Prime Minister Office's said in a statement. The prime minister flew to Oman on Thursday and spent the night there before returning to Israel. Yje visist came after a visit by the Palestinian presidnet Abbas, who visited Oman eatlier this week
 Netanyabhu;'svisit wasn't the first visit by an Israeli leader. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made the first visit by an Israeli premier to Oman in 1994. In 1996, Rabin's successor, Shimon Peres, met with the sultan. Oman's foreign minister visited Israel in 1995. In 2008, then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Oman's foreign minister. 
Joining Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were Mossad Director Yossi Cohen; National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat; Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem; Netanyahu Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz; and Col. Avi Blot, Netanyahu's military secretary.

Flash floods in Jordan sweep away bus: at least 19 people killed

At least 20 people, mostly young children,  died and 34 were injured and rescued by Thursday evening from flashfloods in the hot springs area near the Dead Sea as the country witnessed heavy quick rain, according to authorities. The number of dead on Friday rose to 20 after the body of a 12-year old girtl was found.
The Civil Defence Department (CDD) said it was no longer sure on the number of those missing, indicating that 44 students and teachers from a private school in Amman were swept away with the water, in addition to an unidentified number of families at the site.
A total of 2,000 personnel from military and civil state agencies participated in the large scale rescue operation, in addition to 100 rescue machineries, four helicopters and several boats, which were roaming the lake of the Dead Sea in search for survivors or victims, according to the CDD.
Police chief Brigadier General Farid al Sharaa told state television the torrential rains swept away a bus carrying 44 children and teachers who were on a school trip picnicking in the popular destination.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Saudi Arabia admits killing Khashoggi, Turks will reveal the ''real'' truth

Saudi Arabia has admitted to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside its consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.Khashoggi, a Saudi writer and dissident, entered the building on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife. He never came out.
After two weeks of repeated denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance, the kingdom admitted on Saturday that the dissident journalist died in a "fist-fight" inside the consulate but made no mention of where his body is.
 Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said Khashoggi died after "discussions" at the consulate devolved into an altercation.
"Discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him … at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to a brawl and a fist fight with the citizen, Jamal Khashoggi, which led to his death, may his soul rest in peace," the attorney general said in a statement.The investigations are still under way and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested."Royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri were fired from their positions, the statement said.
Turkey will uncover the full details of Khashoggi's killing using all possible means, a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said.Turkey will reveal whatever happened. Nobody should ever doubt it," spokesperson Omer Celik was quoted as saying by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.
"We are not accusing anyone in advance but we don't accept anything remaining covered [up]," Celik added.