Preserving Palestinian history through poetry

“We didn’t need anything, the soil was enough,” he says as he looked into the distance, reminiscing about his early memories in Palestine. Poet Mohammed Abu Daya draws people in wherever he goes. Speaking on the sidelines of the Palestinians Abroad conference in Istanbul, Turkey, Abu Daya is sat with his supportive grandson by his side. I was born shortly after the First World War. By then, Palestine was in ruins as a result of the war. The soil was infertile, the infrastructure was a wreck and we had to rebuild our lives and our country. “Because of that, my family began to plant and bring the soil around us back to life. Eventually, the land was restored and we […]

Daesh planning attacks in Britain – anti-terrorism lawyer

Daesh militants are planning “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians” in Britain on a scale similar to those staged by the Irish Republican Army 40 years ago, the head of the country’s new terrorism watchdog said. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph published on Sunday, Max Hill, the lawyer tasked with overseeing British laws on terrorism, said the militants were targeting cities and posed “an enormous ongoing risk which none of us can ignore”. “In terms of the threat that’s represented, I think the intensity and the potential frequency of serious plot planning – with a view to indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians of whatever race or colour in metropolitan areas – represents an enormous ongoing risk that none of […]

Iran’s Rouhani chides critics as aide says he will seek re-election

President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday accused his hardline critics of wanting to deprive Iranians of the basic joys of life and isolate the country, as an aide said he had decided to run for a second term, state media reported. Iran will hold a presidential election on May 19, but Rouhani, a moderate who is eligible to seek a second four-year term, has stopped short of saying he would run to push ahead with reforms resisted by powerful hardliners. “Soon it’s the (Iranian) New Year, so let the people have some joy,” Rouhani, who has advocated greater social freedoms, said in a speech carried live on state television. “How come crying a lot is halal (allowed under Islam) and if […]

Syrian army advances against Daesh near Aleppo; blocks Turkish-backed FSA’s advance

The Syrian army and its allies made a sudden advance on Saturday and Sunday into areas held by Daesh in northwest Syria, a war monitor said, as the militant group retreated after losing the city of al-Bab to Turkey-backed rebels on Thursday. On Sunday, the army also took the town of Tadef, just south of al-Bab after Daesh withdrew from it, state television reported. Earlier this month, a senior Russian official said Tadef marked an agreed dividing line between the Syrian army and the Turkey-backed forces. The eastwards advance in an area south of al-Bab has extended Syrian army control across 14 villages and brought it within 25km (15 miles) of Lake Assad, the stretch of the Euphrates above the […]

Iraqi forces aim to secure Mosul bridge, link up to east bank

US-backed Iraqi forces pushed deeper into western Mosul on Sunday, aiming to capture a bridge across the Tigris which would link the city’s government-held eastern bank with the ongoing offensive against remaining militants in the west. The bridge is the southernmost of five bridges spanning the Tigris. All were damaged in strikes by the US-led air coalition, and later by Daesh fighters trying to seal off the western bank still under their control. “The bridge is very important,” Colonel Falah al-Wabdan of the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response unit, one of the two main forces spearheading the campaign in western Mosul, told Reuters. The bridge is about 400 metres away. By the end of the day you will hear that our […]

Egypt MP seeks end to constitutional restrictions on presidential terms

An Egyptian lawmaker started collecting signatures on Sunday for a motion to extend presidential terms and lift restrictions on re-election – a year before general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s first term is due to expire. As defence minister, Sisi overthrew elected President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood official, in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule and launched a crackdown on the organisation and it’s supporters. Sisi, now 62, went on to win a presidential vote in 2014. He has not said whether he will seek re-election when his current term ends in 2018, but has made much of his popular mandate and promised to respect the will of Egyptians. Sisi: Egyptians will not let me serve more than 4 years […]

‘Different languages, same dialect’: Passion for the cause unites the Palestinian diaspora

No matter where the Palestinian youth have been raised, they always identify with their Palestinian heritage, that was evident from the thousands who turned out to attend the first day of the Palestinians Abroad conference yesterday. Held in the Turkish capital Istanbul, the conference was attended by over 4,000 people from 50 countries. Mona Hawaa, a Palestinian who holds the Sudanese passport spoke of her cosmopolitan identity. “I am Sudanese, I love Sudan. I have lived around Sudanese people. I know their country, I know their culture, I know their tribes and I speak in their dialect better than they do. But does that make me less Palestinian? No.” Identity is a unique and personal concept and having a complicated […]

The Palestinian diaspora is the resistance

The battle to regain Palestinian rights and lands will continue as long as the Palestinian youth in the diaspora remain, Turkish writer Ismail Yasa tells MEMO. Speaking at the Palestinians Abroad conference in the Turkish capital Istanbul, Yasa says: “Palestinians who are abroad are not less Palestinian, the passion we see today is proof of this. The cause will remain alive as long as the people outside of Palestine do not forget their roots, their language, or their struggle.” Wearing his keffiyah which he says displays his “perpetual solidarity with  the Palestinian people and their right to return”, Yasa adds: “I am here because I’m with Palestine. I may not be Palestinian, but Palestine is indeed my cause as well.” […]

Egypt acquits Mubarak’s closest aides

A Cairo court acquitted one of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s closest aides in a retrial in a corruption case, state news agency MENA reported today. While courts have absolved several Mubarak-era officials, they have been handing down lengthy sentences to liberal and Islamist activists in cases ranging from protesting to committing acts of violence. Zakaria Azmi, Mubarak’s former chief of staff, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2012 and fined 36.4 million Egyptian pounds ($6 million) on charges of making illegal gains. But in 2013, the appeals court ordered a retrial in that case, and a separate criminal court ordered his release. Meanwhile, thousands of Egyptians have been sentenced either to life in prison or handed death […]

Saudi to appoint new envoy to Iraq

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told Iraqi officials in Baghdad today that the kingdom plans to appoint a new ambassador, an Iraqi foreign ministry official said. Iraq last year asked Saudi Arabia to replace its ambassador, Thamer Al-Sabhan, after his comments about Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs and government persecution of Sunni Muslims angered local Shia Muslim politicians and militia leaders, many of whom are directly connected to the Iranian regime. Al-Jubeir’s visit to Baghdad is the first by a Saudi foreign minister since 1990. On his visit, Al-Jubeir met his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al-Jafari and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. Al-Sabhan was the first ambassador appointed by Saudi Arabia after it reopened its embassy in Baghdad in 2015 […]