International Middle East

Iran issues permit for transit of diesel to Afghanistan

Tehran [Iran] (ANI): Iran has said that it announced that Tehran has issued a three-month permit for the transfer of diesel to Afghanistan, a media report said.Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Special Representative of the President of Iran for Afghanistan, said in a tweet on Saturday that in order to meet the needs of the Afghan people, Tehran has issued a three-month permit for the transfer of diesel to Afghanistan, according to Ariana News. Qomi also said that Iran’s decision came following a request by the Taliban.“In order to meet the needs of the Afghan people in the winter and according to the request of the Afghan authorities from the Islamic Republic of Iran, a permit for the transit of diesel to Afghanistan from the territory of Iran was issued for three months,” Ariana News quoted the official as saying.The Taliban cabinet last week held a…

International Middle East

Houthis call on foreign companies to leave UAE as conflict escalates

Sana’a [Yemen] (ANI/Sputnik): Yemen’s Houthi movement has called on foreign companies to pull out of the United Arab Emirates following a series of airstrikes against Yemen by the US-Saudi-UAE coalition, Yahya Sare’e, a spokesman for the Houthi armed forces, said on Friday.“After the crimes committed by US-Saudi-UAE aggression today against Yemeni people , we advise the foreign companies in Emirates to leave because they invest in an unsafe country and the rulers of this country continue in their aggression against Yemen,” Sare’e said on Twitter. On Monday, several Houthi drones targeted the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, including the construction site of a new airport and fuel tankers near depots of oil company ADNOC, killing three people and injuring six others.In response, the Saudi-led coalition launched a campaign against Houthis, targeting their warehouses and other infrastructure. The movement accused the allies of bombing residential…

International Middle East

Turkey, Qatar reach deal with Taliban on security at Kabul Airport

Ankara [Turkey] (ANI): Turkey and Qatar have reached an agreement with the Taliban on the issue of maintaining security at the Kabul airport, reported Sputnik.“Negotiations in Kabul are ongoing. Our delegation is there. An agreement has been reached on the issue of security,” Sputnik quoted a source from the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying on Thursday. However, discussions are continuing regarding the calculation of the cost of this process, the sources said“The negotiation process is taking place in a constructive manner,” the source informed further.It came after the second round of negotiations over the running of Afghanistan’s airports had begun with a Qatar-Turkish company earlier this month.The Deputy Head of Civil Aviation, Ghulam Gilani Wafa, earlier in January had said the Afghan side will attempt to find the best choice when signing the contract, according to TOLOnews.“Today, we started online negotiations and they will…

International Middle East

Putin to hold talks with Iranian President in Moscow

Moscow [Russia] (ANI/Sputnik): Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks in Moscow with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi, the leaders plan to discuss joint projects in the economy and the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program, as well as international issues.“On January 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi will hold talks in Moscow. They plan to discuss the entire range of issues of bilateral cooperation, including implementation of joint projects in the trade and economic sphere, as well as current international and regional topics,” the Kremlin said in a statement. Attention will also be paid to the implementation of the JCPOA, it said. (Image source: Instagram)

International Middle East

UAE condemns Houthi attack in Abu Dhabi, says reserves ‘right to respond’

Abu Dhabi [UAE] (ANI): The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday condemned the Houthi attack in the capital Abu Dhabi that killed three civilians, including two Indians, and said that it reserves the right to respond to the terrorist attacks and criminal escalation.“We condemn the Houthi militia’s targeting of civilian areas and facilities on UAE soil. We reiterate that those responsible for this unlawful targeting of our country will be held accountable,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement. Nahyan stated that the UAE reserves the right to respond to the terrorist attacks and criminal escalation, describing them as crimes committed in flagrant violation of international law.“The ministry said that the terrorist militia has carried out a cowardly act to spread terrorism and chaos in the region in order to achieve its illegal aims…

International Middle East

Palestine reports 700 Omicron cases

Ramallah [Palestine] (ANI/Xinhua): A total of 700 Omicron infections has been reported in the Palestinian territories in less than two months, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.Kamal al-Shakhra, a spokesman for the ministry, told reporters that the rapid increase in Omicron cases “is worrying.” Noting that the coronavirus positivity rate in the West Bank rose to 30 percent, al-Shakhra said the Omicron variant “is very dangerous for those who still haven’t received proper vaccinations.”The spokesman warned of another surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming days, urging the public to get vaccines as soon as possible and abide by protective measures of wearing masks and social distancing.On Sunday, the Health Ministry said in a statement that it recorded three deaths and 642 new COVID-19 cases in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours. (Image source: Unsplash)

International Middle East

Iran reports 2,292 new COVID-19 cases, 6,221,033 in total

Tehran [Iran] (ANI/Xinhua): Iran’s Health Ministry on Sunday reported 2,292 new COVID-19 daily cases, taking the country’s total infections to 6,221,033.The pandemic also claimed 31 lives in the past 24 hours, bringing the national death toll to 132,075, said the ministry. A total of 6,064,646 people have recovered from the disease or been discharged from hospitals across the country, while 1,345 remain in intensive care units, it added.By Sunday, 60,321,108 Iranians have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Among them, 53,130,215 have taken the second dose, and 12,521,856 have received the third.The report added that 43,410,121 tests have so far been carried out across the country. (Image source: Unsplash)

International Middle East

Iran FM, Chinese counterpart announce implementation of comprehensive cooperation plan

Wuxi [China] (ANI): Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held talks with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province on Friday and the two sides announced the launch of the implementation of a comprehensive cooperation plan, reported Xinhua.The two sides conducted in-depth discussions and agreed to step up cooperation on energy, infrastructure, production capacity, science and technology, and medical and health care with the announcement of the launch of the implementation of the 25-year comprehensive cooperation plan, reported Xinhua. Wang and Abdollahian also agreed to expand cooperation in agriculture, fisheries and cyber security as well as promote tripartite cooperation, and deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges in education, film and personnel training.The Iranian nuclear situation was also discussed between the two sides.Stressing that Iran highly appreciates and will actively participate in the joint building of the Belt and…

International Middle East

Syria joins BRI as West continues to criticize Beijing for its debt trap tactics

Damascus [Syria] (ANI): Amid rising accusations against China for trapping countries in massive debts with larger infrastructure plans, Syria has joined Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative which Beijing says will open broad horizons of cooperation for the Middle-East country.The ceremony of Syria’s admission into the initiative took place at the Planning and International Cooperation Commission in the capital Damascus and was attended by Fadi Khalil, the head of the commission, and Feng Biao, China’s ambassador to Syria, during which both sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Syria joining the BRI, reported Xinhua. The admission of Syria into the initiative revives the old role of Syria on the ancient Silk Road, said Khalil, adding it will help in boosting bilateral cooperation with China and multilateral cooperation with other countries, which are desirous of cooperating with Syria.He also said that Syria had been one…

International Middle East

Transport workers block major highways in Lebanon in protest against rising gas prices

Beirut [Lebanon] (ANI/Sputnik): Drivers of taxis and mini buses blocked all the main roads in Beirut and important transport corridors across Lebanon on Thursday, protesting the continuous surge in gas and food prices and the decline of national currency.The demonstration was called by the Lebanese union of land transport workers. “We have to undertake such measures to be heard. The previous time we organized a preventive action and blocked [the roads] from 5 am – 10 am (03:00 – 08:00 GMT). Today, we have blocked all the roads since 04:00 am. Our demands are primarily related to the stabilization of the dollar exchange rate and the regulation of food prices. Petrol prices have become unacceptable and continue to grow even now, as the demonstration is taking place,” Ahmad Qubaisi, a union member from Nabatieh, told Sputnik.In Beirut, the protesters blocked the central square, Hamra…

International Middle East

Kazakh crime syndicate leader Arman Dikiy reveals his connection with Turkish govt

Nur-Sultan [Kazakhstan] (ANI): Kazakh crime syndicate leader Arman Dikiy, nicknamed ‘Wild Arman’ met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.The meeting between the two was disclosed by the Dikiy, who shared photos with Cavusoglu, reported Al Arabiya Post. The photos of the Turkish political leader with the Kazakh crime syndicate indicate Turkey’s political leaders’ contacts with them.Dikiy, who is described as the ‘crime ringleader’, and claimed to be the “rising star” of Kazakhstan’s organized crime world was taken into custody on January 07, 2022.Dikiy has connections with the local political establishment in Turkey as well as also connected with the Azerbaijani mafia leader Nadir Salifov, nicknamed ‘Lotu Guli’, who was killed in Antalya in August 2020, reported Al Arabiya Post.He was acquainted with Sedat Peker, who was convicted of leading an organized crime organization in Turkey. Dikiy was also involved with another Turkish crime leader,…

International Middle East

Turkey detains at least 113 suspects over failed coup in 2016

Ankara [Turkey] (ANI/Xinhua): Turkey on Tuesday detained at least 113 suspects over their alleged links to a network accused of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016.A detention warrant was issued for 185 suspects across 40 cities as part of an investigation into the Gulen Movement’s influence on the Turkish armed forces, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The suspects were accused of infiltrating into the state bureaucracy and then attempting a coup on July 15, 2016.Ankara has accused US-based Muslim preacher Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of masterminding the attempted coup, in which at least 250 people were killed.Turkey requested Gulen’s extradition, but Washington has been reluctant to do so, saying that Ankara has not presented sufficient evidence.The Turkish government has launched a massive crackdown on suspects with connection to the network after the coup attempt. (Image source: Instagram)

International Middle East

Iran upset at slow progress in nuclear talks: Foreign Ministry

Tehran [Iran] (ANI): Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday that the Government was unhappy with the pace of the talks that seek to salvage the nuclear deal with six world powers.“The other side cannot move at a snail’s pace and expect us to move at lightning speed. We must continue the negotiations toward a solid and secure agreement,” Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly briefing. The talks that aim to bring Iran and the United States back into compliance with the landmark agreement are scheduled to resume in Vienna on Monday. Iran and the US have been negotiating indirectly.Khatibzadeh told reporters that Iran felt “neither optimistic nor pessimistic” about the talks and would approach them “realistically.”Iran will only accept a full restoration of the 2015 deal that saw Washington ease sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, Khatibzadeh said. The…

International Middle East

New coronavirus variant ‘Deltacron’ emerges in Cyprus

Nicosia [Cyprus]: A new coronavirus variant Deltacron has emerged in Cyprus which has a similar genetic background to the Delta variant, as well as some of the mutations from Omicron, and experts say that it is not something to be worried about at the moment, a media report said.In total, 10 of the mutations from Omicron were found in the 25 samples taken in Cyprus. 11 of the samples came from people who were hospitalized due to the virus, while 14 came from the general population, reported Jerusalem Post citing Cyprus Mail. Dr. Leondios Kostrikis, the head of the laboratory of biotechnology and molecular virology at the University of Cyprus, said that the frequency of the mutation among hospitalized patients was higher and could point to a correlation between the new variant and hospitalizations.Kostrikis also emphasized that the variant has a similar genetic background…

International Middle East

Iran showcases Short-Range Ballistic Missiles amid Vienna talks on JCPOA

Tehran [Iran]: Iran showcases Short-Range Ballistic Missiles amid Vienna talks on JCPOA. The missiles were showcased a few days after the latest round of talks on the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal kicked off in Vienna. The US State Department report said that Iran should “add real urgency” to the negotiations or risk losing any chance of the accord being revived.Three Iranian short-range ballistic missiles have been put on display in central Tehran, with the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps describing them as already-known models. The showcase of the missiles, known as Dezful, Qiam, and Zolfaghar with official ranges of up to 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), comes amid the ongoing Vienna talks on the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).The latest round of talks on the JCPOA began in the Austrian…

International Middle East

Two Israeli newspapers hacked on anniversary of US assassination of Qasem Soleimani

Tel Aviv [Israel]: Israeli newspapers The Jerusalem Post and Maariv were attacked by hackers on Monday morning, which marks the second anniversary of the US assassination of Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani.“The Twitter account of Maariv and The Jerusalem Post website were targeted by pro-Iranian hackers in the early hours of Monday morning, with a photo of a model Dimona nuclear facility being blown up and the text ‘we are close to you where you do not think about it’ in English and Hebrew placed on the Twitter and website,” The Jerusalem Post said in a Monday statement. According to the newspaper, the photo spread by hackers also showed a ballistic missile falling from what appears to be a representation of Soleimani’s hand.“We are aware of the apparent hacking of our website, alongside a direct threat of Israel. We are working to resolve the…

International Middle East

UN disarmament chief urges Syria to come clean on chemical weapons

Damascus [Syria]: Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons programme cannot be considered accurate due to gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council on Wednesday.Izumi Nakamitsu also urged the country to cooperate with international body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), adding that “full cooperation” is “essential to closing these outstanding issues.” The UN disarmament chief was presenting an update on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) regarding the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme.According to Nakamitsu, Syria has submitted 17 amendments and several supplements to its initial declaration. So far, 20 of the 24 outstanding issues remain unresolved. She told Council Members that these outstanding points are “of concern” and involve undeclared research, production, and the arming of unknown quantities of chemical weapons.There are also “significant quantities” of chemical warfare agents or…

International Middle East

First Islamabad-Istanbul train reaches Turkey after nearly 10 years

Islamabad [Pakistan]: After a pause of around a decade, the first freight train between Istanbul and Islamabad via Tehran reached Ankara on Monday.The first train through Lahore, Taftan, and Zahedan completed its 17-day journey in 13 days and the second train is already on its way to Turkey, according to Dawn. Pakistan Railways Director (Operations) Imtiaz Ahmad said that the train consisted of eight wagons carrying pink salt weighing 150 tonnes“Second train, which had departed from Azakhel dry port on December 28, carried 525 tonnes of soapstone. It has entered Iran and will reach Zahedan very soon where the trans-shipment-related work will be completed,” he said.“Iran would only be used as a transit country for the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) train service, and all the goods loaded from Pakistan would only be transported to Turkey,” he added.Ahmad further revealed that a third train would also depart…

International Middle East

Two drones shot down in western Iraq

Baghdad [Iraq]: Two drones targeting an Iraqi military airbase in the country’s western province of Anbar were shot down without casualties on Tuesday, the Iraqi military said.The drones attacked the Ayn al-Asad Air Base at dawn, but the air defence system shot them down outside the perimeter of the airbase, the Iraqi Joint Operation Command said in a statement. An Iraqi army source anonymously confirmed to Xinhua that two drones attacked the Ayn al-Asad Air Base, which houses some US military experts and agencies, and were shot down.The attack came a day after two drones were reportedly shot down at an Iraqi military base known as Camp Victory near rport.The attacks came on the second anniversary of a deadly attack by a U.S. drone on a convoy near Baghdad International Airport that killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic…

International Middle East

Under Erdogan’s misguided policies, Turkey’s Lira has its worst performance in two decades

Nicosia [Cyprus]: As a result of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unorthodox and misguided economic policies and especially his conviction that high-interest rates raise prices, the Turkish Lira is expected to have lost 44 per cent of its value in 2021, scoring its worst performance in 20 years. On Friday Erdogan urged Turks to keep their savings in local currency and run their business on Turkish Lira. “A long as we don’t take our money as a benchmark, we are doomed to sink. I want all my citizens to keep their savings in our own money, and I recommend this,” he said.Earlier, on December 20, Erdogan announced a new deposit scheme aimed at stopping the frantic efforts made by ordinary Turks to preserve the purchasing power of their savings by exchanging them for dollars or gold. The Turkish President promised to those who can…

International Middle East

37 Houthi militants killed in battle with Yemeni army in Marib: Military source

Sanaa [Yemen]: Thirty-seven Houthi militants were killed on Saturday in a battle with the Yemeni army in Yemen’s central province of Marib, government military source told Xinhua.The ground battle took place in the area of al-Balak al-Sharki in the government-controlled southern Marib, during which the army recaptured several positions of the militia, he said on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led Arab coalition backing the Yemeni army announced the launch of 23 airstrikes, killing 160 Houthi militants and destroying 17 vehicles in southern Marib frontline, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported.Houthi media made no comment on the battle. In February last year, the Iran-backed Houthi militia began a major offensive against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government army to capture the strategic oil-rich province.

International Middle East

Israel Defence forces say two rockets launched from Gaza strip land near Tel Aviv coast

Tel Aviv [Israel]: Israel detected the launch of two missiles from the Gaza Strip towards the sea and established that the shells fell off the coast of Tel Aviv, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Saturday.“This morning, two rocket launches were detected from the Gaza Strip towards the Mediterranean. The rockets fell off the coast of Tel Aviv,” IDF’s press service said. Israeli military noted that the current protocol did not require sounding air sirens or launching interception in this situation.Since Hamas movement took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the enclave has been under a blockade by Egypt and Israel. Last year saw a significant escalation of tensions between Israel and Hamas. The hostilities left hundreds dead and were resolved with a truce in late May.

International Middle East

Iran launches satellite-carrying rocket into space

Tehran[Iran]: Iran on Thursday launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space with three devices onboard, though it’s unclear if any of the objects entered orbit around the Earth, Deutsche Welle reported.The launch comes when the negotiations in Vienna between Tehran and world powers over a landmark 2015 deal aimed at restricting Iran’s nuclear program are taking place. “The satellite-carrying Simorgh rocket successfully launched three devices into space,” Defense Ministry spokesperson Ahmad Hosseini told state television, DW reported.In addition to that he also said, “For the first time, three devices were launched simultaneously to a distance of 470 kilometres (292 miles) at a speed of 7,350 meters per second”Previously, Tehran had launched rockets but met with failed attempts. The US has always been a critic of the rocket launches by Tehran.In 2015, Donald Trump signed a deal with Iran and lifted sanctions on Iran in return…

International Middle East

Saudi King hopes that Iran will abandon ‘negative behavior’ in region

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has expressed hope that Iran will abandon what he described as a destabilizing regional policy.“Iran is a neighboring country for the Kingdom [Saudi Arabia] and we hope that it will change its policy and negative behavior in the region, and will switch for dialogue and cooperation. We are very concerned over the policy of the Iranian regime aimed at undermining security and stability in the region,” the king told Majlis ash-Shura on late Wednesday, as quoted by the SPA news agency. The king also voiced concern over the Iranian refusal to cooperate with the international community on its nuclear program as well as over the development of ballistic missiles by Tehran.Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran remain strained over Riyadh’s concerns over the Iranian military buildup as well as Tehran’s support for Shia movements…

International Middle East

Israel reports 2,967 daily COVID-19 cases, highest since October

Tel Aviv [Israel], December 29 (ANI/Xinhua): Israel on Wednesday reported 2,967 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number in the country to 1,372,386, said the Ministry of Health.The new daily figure is the highest registered in Israel since Oct. 4, according to the ministry. The number of deaths from the virus increased to 8,243, with one new fatality.The number of patients in serious condition rose from 85 to 88, while the number of active cases increased by 1,773 to 17,260.Israel’s COVID-19 reproduction number indicator, also known as the R number, has risen to 1.53, up from 0.73 in early November.When the R number is greater than one, the number of coronavirus patients rises at an exponential rate and multiplies from time to time.

International Middle East

Syrian state TV says Israel attacked Latakia, near Russia’s Hmeimim airbase

Damascus [Syria]: Syrian state television reported that Israel attacked Latakia, near which Russia’s Hmeimim airbase is located, with missiles.Syrian air defence systems were used to repel the attack, it said. The attack reportedly targeted a container site in a trade port in the Syrian province.

International Middle East

Iran bans travelers from Omicron-hit European, African countries from entering

Tehran [Iran]: Iran’s Tourism Ministry announced on Sunday a 15-day halt in travel from the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Denmark and eight African countries amid fears over the Omicron coronavirus variant.Deputy Tourism Minister Ali Asghar Shalbafian said in a statement that entry would be denied to foreigners coming by land, air and transiting through third countries if they departed from the blacklisted ones. Iran reported 1,857 new COVID-19 cases and 52 virus-related deaths in the past day. The country’s first case of infection with the highly mutated Omicron strain was confirmed last Sunday.

International Middle East

Iran closing land borders amid Omicron concerns

Tehran [Iran]: Iran is closing its land borders with the neighboring countries amid a rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Rohollah Latifi, the spokesman for Iran’s Customs, said.“According to the decision of the National Headquarters for Combating the Coronavirus and the Ministry of Interior, starting from today, foreign citizens are prohibited from entering Iran for 15 days,” Latifi said on Saturday, as quoted by the Iranian Fars News Agency. The spokesman specified that the travel restrictions concern Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iraq.Only those who have student, medical and working visas, and residency permits will be allowed to enter Iran, Latifi said.The first case of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus was registered in Iran on December 19. On Saturday, the country’s health ministry reported more than 1,100 new cases of COVID-19.

International Middle East

Turkey, Qatar enter into deal with Taliban on running airport of Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Turkey and Qatar have entered into an agreement with the Taliban on the management over the international airport of Kabul and four other airports in Afghanistan, Sputnik reported.The parties held “productive and effective” negotiations during which they agreed to create technical groups to work on details of the operations in the coming days, the Anadolu news agency reported on Friday, citing its sources. “Doha and Ankara have agreed to jointly operate Kabul International Airport,” said the sources.The Turkish-Qatari Delegation will visit Kabul to continue the joint work, Sputnik reported.Earlier, the Qatari technical team had repaired Kabul International Airport after the US withdrawal was completed on August 31.International and local flights were suspended at Kabul’s international airport and across Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in mid-August.

International Middle East

Turkey, Qatar to discuss airports management with Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban on Thursday said that a joint delegation of Turkey and UAE are negotiating over the management of five airports of Afghanistan.Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan spokesperson Imamudin Ahmadi said that delegations of the two countries will begin talks with officials and technical teams of the ministry, reported Khaama Press. As per Ahmadi, the five airports in the discussion were Kabul International Airport, Kandahar International Airport, Mazar-e-Sharif International Airport, Khost Airport, and Herat Airport.The ministry said that the government will fully focus on the country’s national interests while signing agreements with Turkish and Qatari companies, reported Tolo News.“The contract will be about the tower, ground handling and some more technical sections,” said Imamuddin Ahmadi, a spokesman of the transport ministry.The ministry said that after the agreement is signed, international flights will be operational for 24…

International Middle East

Yemen: 8 million face reduced rations amid funding shortages, says UN

New York [US]: The UN food relief agency warned on Wednesday that it is running out of funds to continue providing food assistance to 13 million Yemenis.From January, eight million who are going hungry in Yemen will receive a reduced food ration, while five million others who are at immediate risk of slipping into famine, will remain on a full ration. “Desperate times call for desperate measures and we have to stretch our limited resources and prioritize, focusing on people who are in the most critical state”, said Corinne Fleischer, Regional Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) for the Middle East and North Africa.The reductions come at the worst possible time for families in Yemen who are dependent on WFP’s food assistance to survive.As currency devaluation and hyper-inflation drive the economy to near collapse, inadequate food consumption has risen rapidly, affecting half of…

International Middle East

Israel reports 166 new Omicron cases, 341 in total

Tel Aviv [Israel]: Israel on Tuesday reported 166 new cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, according to the country’s health ministry.This has raised the total Omicron cases in Israel to 341 since the ministry started to add Omicron cases to its report on Sunday. The ministry also said 234 of all the infected are returning passengers from South Africa, Britain, France, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Italy, Namibia, Tanzania, Germany, Morocco, Spain, Serbia, Belgium, Cyprus and Turkey.Meanwhile, 29 others were infected in Israel through close contact with travellers returning from South Africa, the United States, France and Britain, while 66 people were infected in Israel without being abroad nor in close contact with returning passengers, it added.The remaining 12 cases are still being examined, according to the ministry.In addition, 95 of the 341 infected are unvaccinated or recovered more than…

International Middle East

Iran begins technical, security inspection of cameras to be installed in Karaj centrifuge producing plant

Tehran [Iran]: The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) on Sunday began technical and security inspection of cameras which are to be installed at Iran’s Karaj centrifuge producing plant by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the AEOI announced.Iran had set three conditions for the replacement of damaged cameras in Karaj, which are “carrying out judicial and security investigations on the dimensions of sabotage, condemnation (of sabotage act) by the IAEA and technical and security inspections of the cameras before installation,” Kamalvandi told Iran’s state TV in an interview.“Iran’s voluntary act to issue a license to replace these cameras was not due to a new agreement (with the IAEA), but it was done after these three preconditions are met,” he said.On Thursday, Kamalvandi said that following exchange of views between the AEOI and the IAEA, it was decided that…

International Middle East

Israel bans travel to 10 more countries over concern of Omicron variant

Tel Aviv [Israel]: Israel’s Ministry of Health on Sunday said it decided to ban travel to ten more countries to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.The ban will take effect on Wednesday and will include the United States, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Canada, Switzerland and Turkey, which will be labelled as “red” countries, according to the ministry. The list of “red” countries already includes most of the African countries, eight European countries and the United Arab Emirates.All Israelis returning from the banned countries, including vaccinated and recovered ones, must enter quarantine for at least seven days.Foreign nationals are not allowed to travel from these countries to Israel, except in humanitarian cases with the approval of a special governmental committee.To date, the ministry has reported 134 cases of the Omicron variant, of which 86 are passengers who have recently returned from…

International Middle East

Egypt confirms first 3 cases of coronavirus Omicron strain

Cairo [Egypt] Egypt has confirmed the first three cases of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus, the national Ministry of Health said.“Yesterday [on Thursday], the results of the genome sequence test showed three positive cases of the Omicron strain,” the ministry said on late Friday on Facebook. Two of the patients have no symptoms of the disease, the third one has slight ones. All of them have been placed in isolation.The World Health Organization during an emergency meeting on November 26 designated the new COVID-19 strain as a “variant of concern” and called it Omicron. The variant first originated in South Africa and is spreading around the world with more and more countries reporting on Omicron cases.The spread of Omicron prompted many countries to close borders for foreigners arriving from Africa regardless of whether they hold a vaccination or recovery certificate or a negative…

International Middle East

Israel to donate one million COVID-19 vaccine doses to African countries through COVAX mechanism

Tel Aviv [Israel]: In the coming weeks, the State of Israel will transfer one million Astra Zenica COVID-19 vaccine doses to African countries through the International Covax Vaccine Distribution Mechanism.The decision to donate the vaccines was taken today in a discussion involving the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health. In recent months, the State of Israel has strengthened its relations with the countries of the African continent, including its return to observer status in the Organization for African Union. This significant donation of vaccines, which will reach close to a quarter of the continent’s countries, will contribute to strengthening ties between Israel and these countries.COVAX is a global vaccine distribution mechanism centered in Geneva, for the procurement and equitable distribution of Corona vaccines.The mechanism is the product of exceptional global cooperation and for many developing countries this…

International Middle East

UN agency begins COVID vaccine rollout for 7,500 stranded migrants in Yemen

Geneva [Switzerland]: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has begun a COVID-19 vaccination campaign for migrants stranded in Yemen.The goal is to inoculate around 7,500 people at its Migrant Response Points in Aden and Ma’rib. IOM’s Chief of Mission, Christa Rottensteiner, explained that “immunizing people on the move is key to combatting the spread of the disease.”An estimated 36,000 migrants have been stranded on their journeys due to mobility restrictions, nearly 3,500 in Ma’rib alone. Many are sleeping in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions where the virus can easily spread.“Vaccinating against COVID-19 is even more crucial in places like Ma’rib where ongoing conflict continues to weaken health facilities and disrupt the supply chain for medicines,” Rottensteiner said.According to her, there are still not enough doses to protect everyone in Yemen from this disease.“More support from the international community to supply the country with enough vaccines…

International Middle East

Israeli nurses strike over violence against medical staff

Jerusalem [Israel]: The Israeli Nurses Association (INA) on Wednesday declared a 24-hour strike in all hospitals and clinics nationwide in protest of violence against nurses in the country’s health system.The nurses demand the immediate implementation of a government plan to eradicate violence against them in hospitals, said a statement issued by the INA. “This is a serious situation for years, in which the state abandons the nurses without any means of protection against the incessant violence in the health system,” said Ilana Cohen, chairperson of the INA.“It is very sad that those who are on the medical front for everyone day and night, including the fight against the coronavirus, do not get the basic right to return home safely,” she noted.“Every incident of violence is like a terrorist attack and must be addressed accordingly,” Cohen added.The nurses warned that if the violence continues, they…

International Middle East

Mohamed bin Zayed, Israeli Prime Minister discuss ties, regional issues

Abu Dhabi [UAE]: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Monday received Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of Israel, who is currently visiting the UAE.At the outset of the meeting, Sheikh Mohamed welcomed Bennett, expressing hope that the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit, which is the first visit to the country, would contribute to further cooperation for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries and the peoples of the region. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and the Prime Minister of Israel reviewed bilateral cooperation and means to further develop them in various investment, economic, trade and development areas, especially the agriculture, food security, renewable energy, advanced technology, health and other vital sectors under the framework of the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement that the two countries signed last year.The meeting…

International Middle East

Erdogan’s personalization of power is blurring the line between domestic and foreign policies

Nicosia [Cyprus]: Since the failed coup of 15 July 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has progressively been following personal domestic and foreign policies, which prove to be quite risky. Having succeeded to change the Constitution and becoming a President vested with considerable powers, while being surrounded by people who do not dare to contradict him, he has been exercising increasingly personal policies, blurring the line between domestic and foreign policies.Clearly, Erdogan is making far-reaching foreign policy moves aiming basically at boosting his domestic power base and winning elections.At the same time, by “fighting a war on high-interest rates” and changing the Central Bankers who disagree with him, he has caused the sharp devaluation of the Turkish Lira and made it very difficult for the average Turk to make ends meet.When he came to power back in 2003, Erdogan felt threatened by Turkey’s powerful…

International Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister departs to UAE on first official visit

Tel Aviv [Israel]: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has departed on Sunday for the United Arab Emirates on his first official visit to the kingdom.“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will depart today, on his first official visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” the prime minister’s office said in a statement. Bennett is expected to meet with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to discuss bilateral relations.Economic and regional issues will also be discussed by both leaders.

International Middle East

Palestine holds municipal elections on West Bank

Gaza [Palestine]: Municipal elections are taking place in the West Bank on Saturday, and over 4,05,000 Palestinians can cast their votes, the chairman of the Central Elections Commission said.“Elections of lawmakers to 154 municipal councils on the West Bank began at 07:00 [05:00 GMT]. Currently, 4,05,687 citizens of Palestine are eligible to vote,” Hanna Nasir told a press conference. The Gaza Strip, the other Palestinian area, does not hold elections as it is prohibited by the Hamas, which controls the enclave.

International Middle East

Pentagon not commenting on possible anti-Iranian drills with Israel

Washington [US]: The US Department of Defence is not commenting on possible joint drills with Israel that may be targeted at Iran, Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica McNulty told Sputnik.On Wednesday, the Reuters news agency reported citing a senior US official that US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz during a meeting at the Pentagon on Thursday would discuss plans to conduct military drills to prepare for the possibility of an attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities should diplomacy fail with Tehran. “We routinely conduct training with our Israeli counterparts as we deal with common threats in the region. We have nothing to add to the press reports,” McNulty said on late Wednesday.On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that Austin and Gantz would discuss Iran’s nuclear provocations and destabilizing actions during the upcoming meeting.

International Middle East

Israel announces completion of high-tech barrier around Gaza

Jerusalem [Israel]: Israel announced on Tuesday the completion of a high-tech underground wall around the Gaza Strip aimed at preventing militants from entering the country.The barrier includes hundreds of cameras, radars and other sensors, command centres and control rooms, the defence ministry said in a statement. It also includes a maritime barrier equipped with means to detect infiltrations at sea and a remote-controlled weapon system. The barrier spans over 65 km and more than 140,000 tons of iron and steel were used in its construction.Its construction lasted about three and a half years.“The barrier, which is an innovative and technologically advanced project, deprives Hamas of one of the capabilities it tried to develop,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in the statement.According to Gantz, the barrier will provide Israeli citizens “a sense of security.”

International Middle East

What is behind UAE’s bold normalization campaigns with its former opponents

By John Solomou Nicosia [Cyprus]: In the last 18 months or so the United Arab Emirates has taken bold steps and changed its foreign policy towards countries with which it used to have bad, almost hostile, relations and, what is more, it now seeks to become one of the most important players in the region and assume the role of peacemaker.In recent years the UAE has intervened in several wars, taking on Iran’s regional paramilitary partners in countries like Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, in parallel to its campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, the UAE has normalized relations with Israel and is on the road of restoring good relations with the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad and the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Moreover, the UAE has healed a political rift with Qatar, which lasted for many years, and is making efforts…

International Middle East

Several Iranian guards suffer casualties after border clashes near Afghanistan, say Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Iranian forces had suffered at least nine casualties during clashes on the Afghanistan-Iran border after fuel smuggling attempts from the Iranian side, the Taliban authorities said on Thursday, reported The Frontier Post.Fighting between the two countries’ respective security forces broke out in Konjak, Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan on Wednesday at around midday, and continued until the late evening. Local authorities and witnesses said the Taliban seized three Iranian check posts, according to The Frontier Post. Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman said in a statement that the clashes were triggered by “a misunderstanding at the local level”.He also emphasised that “the situation is now under control with the understanding of both sides”Salahudin Ayobi, the spokesperson for the governor of Nimroz province, said that tensions had been resolved and the “misunderstanding” had been over fuel smuggling, according to Arab News.The fighting started…

International Middle East

Kazakhstan suspends air traffic with Egypt over Omicron variant from today

Nur-Sultan [Kazakhstan]: Kazakhstan is suspending flights to Egypt starting Friday in an effort to prevent the emergence and spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, the Civil Aviation Committee of the Kazakh Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development said.The air traffic between the two countries has been operated by Kazakh domestic carriers Air Astana and SCAT from the cities of Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent, Kostanay, and Aktobe to the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh. “To prevent the emergence of the new strain of coronavirus infection Omicron on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in line with the decisions of the Interdepartmental commission on preventing the occurrence and spread of coronavirus infection on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, it was decided to suspend flights to Egypt from December 3 this year,” the committee said in a statement.The airlines mentioned list around 2,800 Kazakh passengers…

International Middle East

Saudi Arabia detects 1st case of Omicron variant

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday the detection of its first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the Saudi Press Agency reported.The variant was detected for an inbound citizen coming from a North African country, the Saudi Health Ministry said, adding that the infected one was quarantined and those close contacts were tested. The ministry called on the public to complete their COVID-19 vaccinations to protect the safety of all.Saudi Arabia has been witnessing a drop in daily COVID-19 cases after serious efforts were made in fighting the spread of the virus, especially the nationwide vaccination drive.

International Middle East

Angry protests in Amman against Jordan-Israel solar power for water deal

Nicosia [Cyprus]: Thousands of Jordanians took part in a huge protest at the heart of the Jordanian capital Amman on Thursday against the declaration of intent signed last Monday in Dubai for water for energy deal by Jordan, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. The protesters shouted slogans that normalization of relations with Israel was treason and demanded that the government immediately scrap the deal and sever ties with Israel. Soon after the deal was announced hundreds of students organized protests in various university campuses all over the country.It should be noted that there is a very strong anti-Israel sentiment in Jordan, as almost 10 million of its citizens are Palestinians who were expelled or fled to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the fighting that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan condemned the deal and said: “We reject…

International Middle East

Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia suspend travel with African countries over Omicron variant

Al Masnaah [Oman]: Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait have announced suspending air travel from several African countries amid the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.The Saudi Ministry of Interior said on Sunday that the kingdom is stopping travels with Angola, Zambia, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi, the Seychelles and Comoros islands, as well as prohibiting their citizens from entering the Arab country. At the same time, Riyadh will allow entry to those who are coming from a third country, provided they spend 14 days in quarantine there as well as another five days in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Oman has decided to bar entry from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique starting Sunday. According to the state-run Oman News Agency, the ban does not affect the sultanate’s citizens, diplomats and health workers.Kuwait is also postponing passenger flights with the same countries as Oman…

International Middle East

Some 1,000 refugees in Belarus ready to return to Iraq

Minsk [Belarus]: Roughly 1,000 Iraqi refugees in Belarus have expressed their readiness to return home, and a group of refugees returned to Iraq by plane from Minsk airport on Wednesday, reported Belarusian media.The Iraqi side received requests from about 1,000 people wishing to return to Iraq, Majid al-Kinani, the Iraqi consul in Russia and Belarus, was quoted as saying. Thousands of refugees, mostly from the Middle East, are attempting to enter Poland, Lithuania and other European Union countries from Belarus in order to eventually obtain asylum in Western Europe. Countries like Poland have tightened border controls and prevented illegal entry, leaving large numbers of immigrants stuck at the border.

International Middle East

Palestine welcomes Belgium’s decision to label Israeli settlements’ products

Ramallah [Palestine]: Palestine on Wednesday welcomed Belgium’s decision to label products of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, saying it’s a move “in the right direction.”Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said in a press statement that Belgium’s decision was based on the fact that the Israeli settlements are “contrary to international laws and resolutions,” and expressed its “alignment with the values of truth, justice, and freedom.” He called on countries worldwide “to follow the footsteps of Belgium by labelling the Israeli settlements’ products, condemn settlement expansion and act on putting pressure to halt the growing settlers’ assaults on the Palestinians.”On Wednesday, the Belgian government decided to put clear labels on the products of Israeli settlements to show that these settlements are built on Palestinian lands.According to Israeli media reports, the Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned the Belgian government’s decision, saying in a statement that “it…

International Middle East

Apple files lawsuit against Israeli NSO Group over Pegasus surveillance

Washington [US]: Apple has filed a lawsuit against Israeli NSO Group holding it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of the company’s customers, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.“Apple today filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and its parent company to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users,” the company said. “The complaint provides new information on how NSO Group infected victims’ devices with its Pegasus spyware.” To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices, according to the release.“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change,” Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said in the release.“Apple devices are the most secure consumer…

International Middle East

Saudi-led coalition in Yemen warns of danger to global trade in Red Sea

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen said it detected an imminent danger to the global trade in the Red Sea, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.“There are indicators of the imminent danger to shipping and world trade in the south of the Red Sea. We are taking prompt actions to detect the maritime threat and ensure freedom of navigation,” the coalition said. It also stated that the concerns were raised after the coalition had detected hostile movements by the Yemeni Houthi forces using explosive-laden boats, according to SPA.The statement was delivered after the coalition had intercepted and destroyed remotely piloted aircraft launched by Houthi rebels targeting the Najran airport on Sunday.Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi insurgents took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, demanding lower fuel prices and a new government. The rebels seized…

International Middle East

US manages to halt construction of secret Chinese port project in UAE

Washington [US]: The Biden administration has managed to halt the construction of a secret development inside of a Chinese shipping port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the US’s closest Mideast allies, after intense pressure from the US.This project, near Abu Dhabi, was halted after several rounds of meetings and visits by US officials, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported citing people familiar with the matter. After the intelligence agencies in Washington learned that Beijing was secretly building what they suspected was a military facility at a port, the Biden administration warned the Emirati government that a Chinese military presence in its country could threaten ties between the two countries.“Last we checked, we had successfully convinced the Emiratis to shut down the project,” said one source familiar with the intelligence, as quoted by CNN. “But it’s still a live issue.”Although the project…

International Middle East

Iran says IAEA chief to visit Iran “soon”

Tehran [Iran]: Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will make an official visit to the capital Tehran soon, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announced on Monday.The Iranian spokesman said that Iran is waiting for Grossi to respond to its invitation. Technical relations between Iran and the IAEA are going in a good direction, he said, adding that “Grossi has very close relations with both our atomic energy organization and our friends at the Iranian embassy in Vienna.”On his next trip, Grossi will meet the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) as well as Iran’s foreign minister, said Khatibzadeh.During a meeting between Mohammad Eslami, vice president and the head of the AEOI, and Grossi in Tehran in September, IAEA’s inspectors were permitted to service the identified monitoring equipment, installed in Iran’s nuclear facilities, and replace their…

International Middle East

Turkey favours lifting of US sanctions against Iran: Foreign Minister

Ankara [Turkey]: Turkey has urged the United States to lift the unilateral sanctions it imposed on Iran, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, describing the punitive measures against his country’s eastern neighbour as “inappropriate.” “Unilateral sanctions against Iran are inappropriate, they must be removed,” Cavusoglu said during a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, in Tehran.In 2015, Iran signed a nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA) with the P5+1 group, which includes the United States, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union. It required Tehran to scale back its nuclear program and drastically reduce its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief, including the lifting of an arms embargo five years after the deal was made. In May 2018, the US abandoned its conciliatory stance, withdrawing from the JCPOA…

International Middle East

Egypt to host COP27 international climate conference next year

Glasgow [UK]: The UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow has announced that Egypt was chosen to host the upcoming session of the conference in 2022 (COP27).At the summit on Thursday, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change congratulated Egypt, highlighting that the UAE will cooperate with partners everywhere to identify lessons learned in order to achieve effective results, Gulf News reported. He added that the UAE will work to ensure that all segments of society are part of this great effort to allow humanity to change course to a better future, extending an open invitation to the world to advance real climate action through inclusion, transparency and responsibility.The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host the 2023 edition of the conference, Gulf News reported.His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister…

International Middle East

Iran to consider experience of past nuclear deal talks in Vienna, says Foreign Minister

Tehran [Iran]: Tehran will take into account the experience of the previous rounds of nuclear deal talks to promote its interests in the upcoming negotiations in Vienna, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Saturday.“Taking into account the experience and trends of previous negotiations, Iran will work hard to defend its interests during the upcoming negotiations,” he said in a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as quoted by the Iranian Embassy in Moscow in Telegram. In order to see the real progress in the negotiations, European countries (Germany, France and the United Kingdom), as well as the United States, must refrain from excessive demands and proposals that go beyond the nuclear deal and take a constructive approach, Amirabdollahian added.He also noted that no one should doubt Iran’s serious intentions for the upcoming negotiations and stressed the need for all parties to…

International Middle East

Teen dies, 70 people injured in clashes between Palestinians, Israeli soldiers

Gaza [Palestine]: At least 70 Palestinians were injured on Friday in clashes with Israeli soldiers in the vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.“Seventy Palestinians were injured today as a result of clashes with Israeli forces in the Bayt and Deir al-Hatab areas near Nablus,” Red Crescent said. Also on Friday, a 13-year-old Palestinian teenager died in hospital after being wounded in clashes with Israeli soldiers to the east of Nablus, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.The Israeli army is conducting an investigation into the incident with the death of the Palestinian, the military press service told Sputnik.In May, the construction of a small Jewish settlement began near Nablus. Every Friday, Palestinians protest the construction of the new Jewish settlement and the confiscation of Palestinian land in the area.The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank,…

International Middle East

Iran says reserves of 60% enriched uranium hit 25 kg

Tehran [Iran] : The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said Iran’s reserves of 60-percent enriched uranium have reached 25 kg, Tasnim News Agency reported Friday.“Iran is among the few countries that are able to produce it (60-per cent enriched uranium),” AEOI’s spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi was quoted as saying. Iran’s “stockpile of 20-per cent enriched uranium has surpassed 210 kg,” he added.According to a law passed by the Iranian parliament in December 2020, the AEOI was required to produce at least 120 kg of 20-per cent enriched uranium by the end of 2021.Under the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran was obliged to limit its uranium enrichment to a 3.67-per cent purity and to stockpile no more than 300 kg of the material.Iranian authorities have said the boost in uranium enrichment, along with other measures…

International Middle East

Saudi Arabia’s oil company Aramco’s net income rises to USD 30.4bn in 3rd quarter 2021

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia] : The world’s largest oil company, Saudi Arabia’s Aramco announced on Sunday that its net income in the third quarter 2021 increased to $30.4 billion, which is 158% more than in the same period 2020.“The increase in net income was primarily the result of higher crude oil prices and volumes sold and stronger refining and chemicals margins in Q3, which were underpinned by rebounding global energy demand and increased economic activity in key markets,” Aramco stated. The company also said that free cash flow rose to $28.7 billion in the third quarter 2021. Aramco declared a dividend of $18.8 billion to be paid to its shareholders. 

International Middle East

Syrian soldiers injured in Israeli attack on Damascus suburb

Beirut [lebanon]: Two Syrian soldiers were injured in an Israeli attack on a suburb of Damascus, directed from the Golan Heights area, the Syrian Armed Forces said Saturday.Earlier in the day, Syrian state-run media reported that the country’s air defence systems were repelling an attack from the general area of the Golan Heights. “At approximately 11:17 [08:17 GMT] this morning, Israel carried out attacks, using surface-to-surface missiles,” the military said, adding that the attacks targeted a suburb of the Syrian capital.“Our air defence systems repelled the attacks and downed several missiles. As a result of the attack, two soldiers were injured and some material damage was incurred,” the military said.

International Middle East

Erdogan vows to make Turkey one of world’s 10 largest economies

Ankara [Turkey]: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to make his country one of the world’s 10 largest economies as it celebrates the 98th anniversary of the republic’s creation on Friday.“We are aspiring to make Turkey one of the world’s top 10 leading economies,” he wrote in the guest book during his visit to Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, as quoted by the Anadolu news agency. Erdogan said Turkey had been making steady progress in foreign trade, employment, manufacturing and investment in the face of pandemic headwinds.Turkey remains the 19th largest economy in the world in terms of nominal gross domestic product despite a severe economic slowdown and the slumping national currency, which lost over 20% of its value so far this year.

International Middle East

Palestine to appeal to UN agencies, international courts over Israeli settlement issue

Ramallah [Palestine]: Palestine has decided to appeal to United Nations (UN) agencies and international courts to stop the Israeli settlement plans and other measures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported Monday.The decision was made during a joint meeting of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the central committee of the Fatah party, according to the report. The meeting was chaired by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday night. Leaders of Palestinian factions and chiefs of various security apparatuses attended the meeting.A statement issued at the end of the meeting said that the Palestinian leadership has decided to address all the world’s leaders and appeal to international agencies against the Israeli settlements in Palestine, said WAFA.“The decision was made to urge the world to…

International Middle East

Sectarian militias clash in Beirut raising fears of repetition of 15-year civil war

Nicosia [Cyprus]: While Lebanon is facing unprecedented economic meltdown, the consequences of the huge explosion in Beirut port and the spread of Covid -19 pandemic, last Thursday unidentified snipers started firing at protesters in the Tayouneh area of capital Beirut, killing seven civilians and combatants and wounding more than 30 people. Many of the protesters were armed. A few minutes later scores of armed gunmen exchanged fire with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, bringing to memory the ghastly civil war that ravaged Lebanon from 1975 to 1990, which never really ended.Beirut residents crouched in fear in their homes while teachers herded children in basements to protect them from the fierce shooting.Hezbollah officials accused the Lebanese Forces (LF)- a Christian militia led by Samir Geagea – of starting the shooting, but said that Hezbollah would not be pushed into more violence.The protesters claim that authorities…

International Middle East World Updates

EAM Jaishankar visits WWI cemetery in Jerusalem, pays homage to Indian soldiers

Tel Aviv [Israel] : External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Sunday visited the Indian cemetery in Jerusalem and paid homage to the Indian soldiers who died during World War I.Jaishankar arrived in Israel on Sunday on a three-day visit. He is scheduled to hold talks with Israel’s top leadership. “Visited the Indian Cemetery at Talpiot as my first engagement in Jerusalem. Paid homage to the brave Indian soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice during World War I,” Jaishankar tweeted.This ongoing visit is Jaishankar’s first to the country as the External Affairs Minister.After reaching Israel, the minister wrote on Twitter: “Shalom Israel! Arrived on my first visit as External Affairs Minister. Looking forward to a great visit.”During his three-day visit, Jaishankar will hold a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Israel Yair Lapid and will also call on Israeli President Isaac Herzog and…

International Middle East

UAE, Israel review growing economic ties, agree on promoting tourism cooperation

Abu Dhabi [UAE]: Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, met with the Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov at the opening of the Israeli Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai to review advancing economic cooperation and increasing direct flights between the two nations.The two ministers deliberated the prospects of further growing business opportunities across priority sectors, accelerating non-oil trade exchanges and diversifying bilateral investments in the post-pandemic phase. “The UAE-Israeli relations are steadily growing and we’re determined to further develop them over the coming period,” Al Falasi said, noting that Expo 2020 Dubai represents a valuable opportunity for the Israeli businesses to benefit from the opportunities up for grabs during the global fair. He remarked that the non-oil trade exchanges between the two nations amounted to USD 700 million during the first year that followed the signing of the Abraham…

International Middle East

UNRWA starts rebuilding Palestinian refugees’ homes destroyed in fighting in May

Gaza [Palestine]: The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) started rebuilding Palestinian refugees’ homes, which had been destroyed by Israel in the Gaza Strip in May, a UN official said on Tuesday. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told a news conference before the agency started to reconstruct a destroyed home in a refugee camp in western Gaza city as the beginning of reconstruction process of refugees’ homes.“The process includes 1,200 Palestinian refugee families who left their homes with severe damage and were unable to return to them due to the massive destruction,” Lazzarini said. He added that there are 7,000 other families that will be provided with assistance once the financial support is available, reminding that UNRWA needs 20 million U.S. dollars “in order to deal with these cases.” On May 21, Egypt brokered a cease-fire agreement which…

International Middle East

Iran to continue supporting Lebanese “resistance” amid threats, says Foreign Minister

Tehran [Iran]: Iran will continue supports to the Lebanese “resistance” amid pressures, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian was quoted by state TV on Sunday.Despite the economic pressures and the US. “oppressive” sanctions, Iran is prepared to assist Lebanon, he noted. “We have defended the Lebanese resistance in the face of threats posed to Lebanon’s sovereignty, security, independence, and territorial integrity … and our support for the Lebanese resistance in the face of potential threats of the Zionist regime (of Israel) will continue,” he added.“Supporting the brotherly country of Lebanon is a moral duty that we will never spare any effort for,” the Iranian Foreign Minister said in a tweet at the end of his three-day visit to Lebanon on Sunday.

International Middle East

Iran’s first president Banisadr dies at 88

Tehran [Iran] : Iran’s first President Abolhassan Banisadr died Saturday at the age of 88, according to Iranian state media.After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Banisadr, a politician and economist, was elected as the country’s first president on January 25, 1980. The 1979 revolution transformed the U.S.-backed and monarch-ruled country into a republic under Islamic ideology.

International Middle East

10 killed in road accident in Egypt’s capital

Cairo [Egypt]: Ten people of one family, including five children, were killed on Friday in a van accident in the desert road in the south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, state-run Ahram newspaper reported. Ambulances have transferred the only survivor, a nine-month baby, to the nearest hospital, and teams were immediately sent to clear debris that halted the traffic, said the report.Daily road accidents are common in Egypt because of poorly maintained road infrastructure and loosely applied traffic regulations. Over the past few years, Egypt has been upgrading its road network by establishing new roads and bridges to reduce traffic accidents. (ANI/Xinhua)

International Middle East

Iraqi security services say foiled terrorist attack in Western province of Anbar

Anbar [Iraq] : The Iraqi security services announced on Sunday that they had prevented a terrorist attack in the country’s western province of Anbar.“Our heroic police officers in Anbar were confronted by a booby-trapped vehicle, that terrorism was desperately trying to target a police station,” Anbar operations commander Nasser Ghannam said, as quoted by the state-run Iraqi News Agency (INA). Later in the day, the Security Media Cell, a service that reports data on security incidents in the country, provided more details on the incident.“Through field follow-up and intensified intelligence efforts, security forces in Anbar province were able to surround a vehicle driven by a suicide terrorist on 100 Street in Ramadi,” the service said in a statement, as quoted by the INA, adding that “our security forces shot him, causing this terrorist to blow himself up inside the vehicle, without causing any casualties…

International Middle East

Israeli FM flies to Bahrain to open embassy

Jerusalem [Israel]: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid departed for Manama on Thursday to open the first Israeli embassy in Bahrain since the two countries established diplomatic ties last year.During his one-day trip, Lapid is expected to meet with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani. The two would jointly inaugurate the Israeli embassy in Manama and sign a series of bilateral agreements. The trip marks the highest-level official Israeli visit to Bahrain, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.Lapid is leading a delegation that includes Foreign Ministry’s Director-General Alon Ushpiz and Deputy Director-General for Middle East and Peace Process Affairs Oded Joseph.In the Abraham Accords, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates reached US-brokered agreements to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in September 2020.

International Middle East

Will the grey wolves- Erdogan’s long arm in the world-end up on EU and US terrorist list?

By John Solomou Nicosia [Cyprus], September 20 (ANI): Last week US Representative (D. Nevada) Dina Titus proposed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defence Authorization Act to ban the Turkish ultranationalist group known as the Grey Wolves.She also asked US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to report to the Congress within 180 days on the activities of the Grey Wolves – described by some as a paramilitary death squad- “including a review of the criteria met for designation as a foreign terrorist organization.” The far-right Group has already been banned by France, after its members desecrated a memorial for the victims of the Armenian Genocide near Lyon and scuffled with Armenian protesters. Last October, French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin announced that the Grey Wolves Group had been banned in France, saying it “incites discrimination and hatred and is implicated in violent actions.”…

International Middle East TOP NEWS UPDATES

Over 30 bodies of Houthi rebels pulled from frontline in Yemen’s Marib: medic

Sana’a [Yemen], September 7 : Altogether 32 bodies of Yemen’s Houthi rebel fighters were pulled from a frontline in the country’s Marib province on Tuesday, according to a medic from neighboring province of al-Bayda.“The bodies were pulled from Marib’s southwestern district of Rahabah and brought to a health facility in al-Bayda’s district of Rada’a,” the medic told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. “They would be sent to their villages in the northern provinces of Amran, Saada and Hajjah for burial,” he said.Last week, the Houthis advanced into al-Kulah, the center town of Rahabah district, after deadly fighting with the government troops.Fighting in the western part of Marib is still ongoing, according to military sources.The Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched in February a major offensive on Marib in an attempt to seize control of the oil-rich province, the last northern stronghold of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government. 

International Middle East TOP NEWS UPDATES

Syria: Prevent ‘entire generation from being lost’, urges UN humanitarian chief

Geneva [Switzerland]: Some 13.4 million Syrians throughout the beleaguered country are in need of assistance, the UN humanitarian office said on Saturday, calling for “greater access and expanded funding”, to better help them.Concluding a seven-day visit to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey – his first official mission in the region since assuming the function of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator – Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths stressed that “the UN needs to be able to reach people who depend on its aid both from Turkey and from within Syria”. “Humanitarians and donors must keep Syria high on our collective agenda to prevent an entire generation being lost”, he underscored.During meetings with the Syrian Foreign Minister and his deputy, Griffiths emphasized the need to expand humanitarian access, protect civilians and help Syrians envision a future for themselves.His visit coincided with the first humanitarian cross-line operation into…

International Middle East TOP NEWS UPDATES

UN humanitarian funds allocate $10M for fuel crisis response in Lebanon

Beirut [Lebanon]: The United Nations said its humanitarian funds have allocated USD 10 million to respond to the fuel crisis in Lebanon and help avert the deterioration of the country’s humanitarian situation.The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, on Wednesday allocated USD 4 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to respond to the fuel crisis in Lebanon. The allocation will help 2.3 million people across Lebanon by making sure there is enough fuel to keep water stations functioning.The CERF allocation goes alongside a USD 6 million allocation from the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund to help 65 hospitals in Lebanon, as well as primary health-care centres, dispensaries and medical cold chain storage.The fuel shortage, a result of the ongoing socioeconomic and political crises, is jeopardizing the availability of health care and drinking water for nearly everyone in Lebanon.“Fuel and…

International Middle East TOP NEWS UPDATES

Erdogan’s grand and costly projects fail one after another

Nicosia [Cyprus]: Turkey’s increasingly autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan always had a penchant for very big projects and, according to official data, since 2003 when Erdogan came to power, some 181 mega public-private partnership projects were launched in Turkey. Many of these projects are modelled on the build-operate-transfer system and involve state guarantees if the often over-optimistic projections fail to materialize.One such project is the “Wonderland Eurasia” in Ankara, which was supposed to become Europe’s largest amusement venue, like Disneyland, but instead of being “a symbol of pride” as Erdogan boasted, is now a symbol of failure.Inaugurated in March 2019, the “Wonderland Eurasia”, built at an estimated cost of 801 million US dollars, failed to attract an adequate number of visitors and closed less than a year later, as the operator could not even pay the park’s electricity bills and the salaries of staff.The…

International Middle East

Lebanon shows gratitude to India for evacuating its citizen from Afghanistan

Beirut [Lebanon], August 22 : Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants on Sunday expressed its gratitude to India for evacuating one of its citizens from the violence-marred Afghanistan.The Lebanese citizen, Muhammad Khattab worked for Tremplin, a subsidiary of the Indian company Oracle in Afghanistan. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants expresses its thanks and gratitude to the friendly State of India for the unremitting efforts it has made under the difficult circumstances that Afghanistan is going through in order to evacuate the Lebanese citizen Muhammad Khattab, who works for Tremplin, an Indian subsidiary of Oracle in Afghanistan,” tweeted The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants.A humanitarian crisis has been unfolding in the war-torn country. The recent regime change has forced many Afghans and citizens of other countries to flee the country, fearing an oppressive Taliban rule.He was transported with Indian nationals to…

International Middle East

Israel tightening restrictions due to increase in number of delta variant cases

Jerusalem [Israel] : New restrictions on controlling the spread of coronavirus came into force in Israel on Wednesday, after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on citizens to get vaccinated, and after the highest daily number of coronavirus infected since January. The measures require vaccination certificates or negative coronavirus tests to enter most enclosed spaces, including restaurants and bars, cultural and sports venues, hotels and gyms, news agencies reported.The same applies to believers who want to enter synagogues, mosques or churches where there are more than 50 people. The capacity of shops, malls and industrial parks is also limited to one person per seven square meters. After vaccination began in Israel in December last year, the number of infections and new cases has drastically decreased. According to the Ministry of Health, more than 78 per cent of Israel’s approximately nine million people received two doses…

International Middle East

Firefighting plane crashes in southern Turkey

Ankara [Turkey]: A firefighting plane, that was rented from Russia, crashed in southern Turkey on Saturday, local media reported.According to Anadolu Agency, a firefighting plane of Turkey’s General Directorate of Forestry crashed in the southern province of Kahramanmaras. Contact was lost with the plane which had been rented from Russia to help in Turkey’s effort to contain forest fire in Kahramanmaras, Governor Omer Faruk Coskun told Anadolu Agency.A large number of search and rescue teams were dispatched to the region, Coskun added.The cause of the crash remains unknown.

International Middle East

‘China hacks groups in Israel, Iran to gain business interests’

Jerusalem [Israel]: China has hacked multiple public and private sector groups of Israel in an attempt to gain business interests, a local media report said on Tuesday. The Chinese cyberattacks have been doing the same thing in Iran, Saudi Arabia and a variety of other countries.The massive cyber attack appears to be part of a long-term spying strategy in the area of technology and business competition and advancement, as opposed to any attempt to directly harm any of the target countries or businesses, The Jerusalem Post reported. The daily cited cybersecurity firm FireEye to say Beijing used its cyber tools to spy on a wide array of Middle Eastern countries, which are often at odds with each other, while all do business with China, The Jerusalem Post reported.The cybersecurity firm FireEye believes that the goal of hacking seems to gain intelligence into achieving better…

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Nearly 20 rockets fired from Lebanon: Israel Defence Forces

Tel Aviv [Isreal]: Nearly 20 rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon on Friday morning, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.Citing IDF, Times of Isreal reported that 10 projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system and six landed in open around Mount Dov. While another three rockets failed to clear the border and landed in Lebanese territory, it added, citing the military. Lebanese group Hezbollah has accepted that it fired rockets at an open ground near Israeli positions in response to Israeli air raids on southern Lebanon.Citing an official statement, Al Jazeera reported on Friday that Hezbollah had fired “dozens” of rockets in the disputed Shebaa Farms area after Israeli fighters early on Thursday launched rare air raids on neighbouring Lebanon following the second day of rocket fire across the border.Earlier, in response to Wednesday’s rockets fire, the IDF fired artillery…

International Middle East TOP NEWS UPDATES

Iran: Ebrahim Raisi sworn in as new president

Tehran [Iran]: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took the oath of office before Parliament in the presence of the Judiciary chief and members of the Expediency Council and foreign guests in Tehran on Thursday, Islamic Republic News Agency reported.The swearing-in of the president in Iran is based on Article 121 of the constitution. According to the constitution, in the swearing-in ceremony, the Judiciary chief and members of the Expediency Council should be present in the parliament, it said. Raisi won the June 18 presidential race in Iran with nearly 62 per cent of the vote to replace Hassan Rouhani, who has served the maximum two terms in officeRaisi, 60, was born in Mashhad to a Persian clerical family of Sayyids, descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. At the age of 15, he enrolled in the Qom Seminary — the largest Shi’a seminary in Iran.For 40…

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COVID-19 vaccination for 12 – to 15-year-olds starts in Cyprus

Nicosia [Cyprus]: Cyprus’ Health Ministry said it on Monday started a vaccination program for 12- to 15-year-olds.The ministry said that the decision was made after it was established that 20 per cent of new COVID-19 infections related to these age groups. The ministry also said that the youngsters would be eligible for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, provided they had the consent of their parents or legal guardians.The vaccination program was launched after the Cyprus Pediatric Society issued a recommendation to immediately include 12- to 15-year-olds.The Society said that it came to the conclusion after establishing that the mRNA vaccines are safe and effective and that the benefit of vaccinating these age groups far outweighs any potential risks.Meanwhile, Cyprus Pediatric Society Chairman Michalis Anastasiades said that some of its members became targets of insults and threats in postings on social media for coming out…