PM told to reveal fate of Sunni tribesmen detained in Baghdad

The Iraqi Forces Alliance, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, demanded on Tuesday that Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and the Baghdad Operations Command should reveal the fate of 45 Sunni citizens who were detained by men wearing military uniforms in the “Baghdad belt”. The area is home to a number of Sunni Arab tribes. “An armed force conducted a broad campaign in the district of Tarmiya, north of Baghdad, on Thursday, 19 January,” Ahmad Al-Mashhadani MP told a press conference accompanied by colleagues from the bloc. “This resulted in the arrest of 45 of the area’s residents.” He pointed out that the official security agencies in the region had denied arresting any citizens, hence the demand for a statement from […]

Sisi wants to ban verbal divorce statements

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has urged men in Egypt to deal with women well, it has been reported. The Egyptian president’s plea was made in response to personal stories he heard from the wives and mothers of a number of police officers who have lost their lives in the wave of militant attacks that has plagued the country since 2013. During a televised speech he gave in a ceremony held on Tuesday to commemorate National Police Day, Sisi expressed resentment at the high rate of divorce that Egyptian society is witnessing. “The divorce rate has reached 40 per cent [of marriages],” explained the president, “so there is a necessity to [introduce] a law banning divorce except in front of a marriage […]

Sisi renews Sinai state of emergency for 10th time

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has issued a presidential decree extending the state of emergency and a partial curfew in some areas in Northern Sinai, Anadolu reported on Tuesday, citing the state-owned MENA news agency. The three-month renewal is the tenth since October 2015, when the state of emergency was initially imposed in reaction to a militant attack that killed 33 security personnel. The presidential decree, which appeared in the official Gazette, will be effective from 30 January, subject to parliamentary approval, which is virtually guaranteed. It declares a curfew in the specified areas from 7 pm to 4 am, except in El-Arish and the international road from Maydan, where the curfew will start at 1 am and end at […]

Catholic development agencies slam Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians

Leading Catholic development agencies have condemned the “forced displacement” of Palestinians by Israeli authorities in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), and inside Israel’s pre-1967 lines. The new report, ‘No Place Like Home’, is published this week by International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE), an alliance of Catholic development agencies, and “examines the forced displacement of Palestinians as a central issue in the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.” “Half a century after Israel seized control of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip”, states CIDSE, “forced displacement of Palestinians is making them poorer and keeping them in misery and despair, according to a group of Catholic development agencies.” The report highlights what it claims are the three main […]

NATO Secretary General opens new cooperation centre in Kuwait

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has attended the inauguration of the NATO-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative Regional Centre in Kuwait, reported Anadolu. Stoltenberg said that the NATO-ICI Centre represents an important milestone in the organisation’s deepening cooperation with Kuwait and the Middle East. The NATO chief stressed that the security of Gulf countries is linked directly to the security of all NATO member states. “The centre will enhance cooperation between the two sides in many aspects, including strategic analysis, civil emergency planning, and military cooperation,” explained Stoltenberg. “We face common security threats like terrorism, weapons proliferation and cyber-attacks. And we share the same aspirations for peace and for stability.” The secretary general pointed out that NATO has developed individual cooperation programmes with […]

PA calls for UN to brand 2 settler orgs as ‘terrorists’

The Palestinian Authority (PA) called for the UN Security Council to brand two Israeli Jewish settler organisations as “terrorist groups,” Quds Press reported yesterday. In a statement, the PA’s information ministry said that the Hebrew Shepherd group works on “gathering failed students and those who dropped out of schools to work in the Israeli settlements that swallow up Palestinian land.” The ministry said that the Israeli education ministry, headed by hardliner Naftali Bennett, offers official funds for this organisation and cooperates with it regarding the implementation of its programmes. “This reinforces settlement and confiscation of [Palestinian] land,” the statement said. The coordinator for public relations in the Palestinian information ministry, Nidaa Younis, noted that her ministry had been working to […]

Israel: Gaza offensive report will be an ‘earthquake’

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said yesterday that the publication of the state comptroller’s report on the military’s performance during the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza would be an “earthquake,” Israeli media reported. Bennett hailed the publication of the report, which was prepared by State Comptroller and Ombudsman Joseph Shapira, and said that it would shake the Israeli military establishment. Speaking at the annual conference organised by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, Bennett said the report includes details of the threat posed by the Palestinian cross-border tunnels and the functioning of the Israeli security cabinet during the 51-day offensive. “It [the report] shows that the rigidity of thinking among Israel’s leaders is the root cause […]

Syrian opposition says regime rejects proposed ceasefire mechanisms

Sources in the Syrian opposition delegation in the Kazakhstan capital Astana said on Tuesday that the delegation from Damascus has rejected proposed ceasefire mechanisms. The proposal was made by the opposition during meetings with the guarantors of the talks, Russia and Iran, as well as the United Nations. “The opposition delegation is working hard to consolidate the ceasefire as the primary focus of the talks,” explained the sources, who requested anonymity. They did not disclose the details of the proposed mechanisms or the regime’s reason for rejecting them. A fragile ceasefire has been in place in Syria since 30 December, under the auspices of Turkey and Russia. According to spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi, the opposition delegation met on Monday with the […]

Egyptian differences and the anniversary of the January Revolution

For the third year in a row, Egypt’s revolutionary forces are preoccupied by suspicious internal differences that tend to appear just weeks before each anniversary of the 2011 January Revolution. This is the season of calls for the renewal of the revolution in Egypt, a time that the post-revolution government fears, in case the people take to the streets once more. The differences amongst the opposition forces are the main reasons why the government of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has survived with some degree of stability and strength. It has succeeded over the past four years in stripping the Egyptians of any effective popular leadership and has fragmented and divided the opposition forces. The same forces, it must be noted, which […]

Egyptian differences and the anniversary of the January Revolution

For the third year in a row, Egypt’s revolutionary forces are preoccupied by suspicious internal differences that tend to appear just weeks before each anniversary of the 2011 January Revolution. This is the season of calls for the renewal of the revolution in Egypt, a time that the post-revolution government fears, in case the people take to the streets once more. The differences amongst the opposition forces are the main reasons why the government of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has survived with some degree of stability and strength. It has succeeded over the past four years in stripping the Egyptians of any effective popular leadership and has fragmented and divided the opposition forces. The same forces, it must be noted, which […]