TEHRAN, 1 December 2020, (TON): A Senior Iranian security official on Monday accused Israel of using “electronic devices” to remotely kill Fakhrizadeh, a scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the 2000s.  
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, made the comment at the funeral for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, where Iran’s defense minister separately vowed to continue the man’s work “with more speed and more power.”  
“Unfortunately, the operation was very complicated and was done using electronic equipment and no [perpetrators] were at the scene,” he added. 
Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade.
He also accused the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) a foreign-based Iranian “regime change” organisation of having a role in the attack without elaborating. 
Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s so-called AMAD program, which Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured program” ended in 2003. US intelligence agencies concurred with that assessment in a 2007 report. 
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz has sent a cable to all Israeli diplomatic delegations around the globe urging diplomats to maintain “the highest level of readiness and awareness of any irregular activity” around missions and Jewish community centers. 
Iran has vowed revenge for the assassination of Fakhrizadeh. In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specifically mentioned Fakhrizadeh in a presentation, saying “remember that name.” 
The Iran–Israel proxy conflict is bound in threats, hostility of Iran's leaders against Israel. Neither Iran or Israel may seek war but a diplomatic breakdown after the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, strategic errors and a military buildup make a direct conflict.

GENEVA, 1 December 2020, (TON): Delegations from Syria’s government, opposition and civil society are meeting in Geneva for the latest round of talks toward revising the war-battered country’s constitution. 

The meeting, involving 15 people from each delegation, is the fourth among the so-called Constitutional Committee. Another meeting is planned for January. 

The U.N. envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, was hosting the various sides Monday a day after saying Swiss health officials signed off on hygiene measures in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Several cases cropped up among the Syrian envoys during a previous round of talks. 

Nearly a decade into Syria’s war, Pedersen acknowledged Sunday “challenges” in moving forward talks on the constitution, however, notably do not include extremist factions that control some parts of Syria -- notably much of northwestern Idlib province. 

He said overcoming “deep mistrust” would take a long time, but hoped that work toward possible exchanges of detainees and the establishment of common “principles” in the discussions could help to overcome it. 

“I hope that what we have achieved is actually the beginning of starting to build trust between the parties and that this building of trust could then be a door opener to a broader political process,” he told reporters on Sunday. 

Earlier, negotiations in Geneva aimed at drafting a new constitution for Syria were ended with an agreement to meet for further talks. There was no breakthrough in the complex process of drafting a constitution, a key prelude to forming a post-conflict government in Syria. However, there also was no rancorous breakup. 

BEIRUT, 30 November 2020, (TON): The talks which were scheduled for Wednesday, 1st  December  between Lebanon and Israel have been postponed until further notice, a Lebanese security source and an Israeli officials said confirmed.
Long-time enemies Israel and Lebanon commenced the negotiations in October this year with delegations convening at a UN Base to try to resolve a dispute about their maritime border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area.
The Lebanese security source said the reason for the delay was Israel’s rejection of Lebanese proposals.
Lebanese team has spelled out that the demarcation line should be start from the land point of RasNaqoura as defined under a 1923 agreement and extend seaward in a trajectory up to the area of some 2,300 square km from around 860 sq km.

These Israel-Lebanon maritime border talks are the culmination of three years of diplomacy by Washington, which were scheduled to resume in December 2020.

MARIB, 30 November 2020, (TON): Yemen’s Houthi fighters have claimed the killing of at least eight Saudi soldiers.

Yahya Saree, a military spokesman for the Iran-aligned group, said late on Sunday that fighters attacked the Tadawin camp in the Marib governorate, where Saudi forces are stationed with a ballistic missile.

Several Saudi soldiers were also wounded, Saree added.

There has been no comment from Saudi Arabia on the attack in Marib but its media reported the death of a lieutenant colonel without specifying the circumstances and location of his death.

Yemen is facing “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” according to the UN, and many people do not have the essentials they need to survive such as food and water.

The UN has called on Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the Houthi group to exercise restraint and stop the escalation in Hodeidah.

Confrontations between the forces of the two sides escalated in several areas of the governorate during the past several days, amid accusations of escalation.

Yemen suffers from an ongoing war between the pro-government forces and the Houthi rebels, who have controlled several provinces, including the capital, Sanaa, since 2014.

The crisis escalated in 2015 as a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

Saudi-led Arab military coalition has been supporting forces loyal to the Yemeni government against the Iran-backed Houthis.

WASHINGTON, 30 November, 2020, (TON): White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his team are heading to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week to secure more diplomatic agreements in the Middle East.

According to U.S. officials talks are aimed at resolving the dispute between the neighbouring Gulf countries, as the region is simmering with tension after the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist.

A senior US official told Reuters news agency that Kushner is to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Neom, and the emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in that country in the coming days.

According to officials Mr. Kushner and his team are hoping to use their political leverage to advance issues of U.S. interest, with a particular focus on resolving the three-year-old rift between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours, including Riyadh.

The trip could mark the last time that Mr. Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, meets as a White House official with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after a four-year relationship that brought substantive political changes in the Middle East.

Last month senior Saudi official signalled that there had been some progress in attempts to resolve three-year dispute, saying that Riyadh was “committed to finding a solution”.

Earlier this month, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said there were no winners in the Gulf crisis and that Doha was hopeful it will end “at any moment.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar in 2017, accusing Doha of “supporting terrorism”, a charge Doha denies and rejected the list of 13 demands.

JERUSALEM, 30 November 2020, (TON): In October, the Israeli magistrate court of Jerusalem ruled to evict 12 of the 24 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and to give their homes to Israeli Jewish settlers. The court also ruled that each family must pay 70,000 shekels ($20,000) in fees to cover the settlers’ legal expenses.

For at least a dozen Palestinian families living in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the threat of eviction from their homes looms over their heads, paralysing any thoughts of the future.

The families were given 30 days to file an appeal, but most expressed little hope for a ruling in their favour, saying the Israeli judiciary is no more than an instrument of the Israeli occupation policy of forcibly displacing and erasing the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.

“Since the eviction order, we’ve been living with the daily anxiety of not knowing when the Israeli army will come and evict us from our home,” said Ahmad Hammad, a resident of Sheikh Jarrah.

Sheikh Jarrah, located on the slopes of Mount Scopus just north of the Old City, is home to 3,000 Palestinians, all refugees who were ethnically cleansed from their homes in other parts of historical Palestine during the 1948 Nakba.

Israel’s settlements and eviction of Palestinians violate international humanitarian law, which prohibits the occupying power from transferring its civilian population into the territories it occupies. As Israel’s targeting of Jerusalem is continuing at a heightened pace.

TEHRAN, 30 November 2020, (TON): Iran will give a “calculated and decisive” response to the killing of its top nuclear scientist, said a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, while a hard-line newspaper suggested Tehran’s revenge should include striking the Israeli port, city of Haifa.

Head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations Kamal Kharrazi, said in a statement “Undoubtedly, Iran will give a calculated and decisive answer to the criminals who took Martyr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh from the Iranian nation.”

Fakhrizadeh, long suspected by Western and Israeli government of masterminding a secret nuclear weapons program, was ambushed on a highway near Tehran on Friday and gunned down in his car.

Iran’s clerical and military rulers have blamed the Iran’s long-time enemy, Israel, for the killing. Iran has in the past accused Israel of killing several Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has declined to comment on the killing.

Iranian hardline media called for tough revenge. Editor-in-chief Saadollah Zarei in an opinion piece wrote “the attack should be carried out in such a way that in addition to destroying the facilities, it should also cause heavy human casualties.”

Earlier, Soleimani’s death led to Iran retaliating with a ballistic missile barrage that injured dozens of American troops in Iraq. Tehran also has forces at its disposal all around Israel but they may face political and military difficulties by striking Israel this time. As Iran is already in difficult situation added by this anger and frustration; and have nothing to lose much. So, they may intend to carry out the strike.

TEHRAN, 28 November 2020, (TON): Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday demanded the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing of a nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Meanwhile, a group of Iranian protesters burn pictures of the US President-elect Joe Biden in a gathering in front of Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s widow spoke on state television and demanded revenge on Israel for the scientist’s slaying.

Early this year President Donald Trump tweeted, “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have.........targeted 52 Iranian sites, some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. USA wants no more threats." However, he shelved and spoke against all plans to target Iran.

There are reports that keeping the international politics, the situation inside Iran is intentionally being made tense and uncertain, to pave way for a regime change.

BAGHDAD, 28 November 2020, (TON): Violence erupted on Friday between the members of the November 2019 anti-government protest movement and supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, who had called on his followers to take to the streets in a show of force.

The death toll from clashes among rival protesters in Iraq’s southern hot spot of Nasiriya rose to eight. Strict security measures have been imposed in number of cities.

In the southern city of Nasiriya, anti-government activists accused of Muqtada al-Sadr supporters of shooting at them and torching their tents in their main gathering place of Habboubi Square.

Clashes continued and number of injured have increase to over 100.

Authorities sacked the city’s police chief, launched an investigation into the events and imposed an overnight curfew in Nasiriya.

As election scheduled for June next year, US is supporting underhand to Muqtada al-Sadr to come into power after US withdrawal.

TEHRAN, 28 November 2020, (TON): An Iranian top nuclear scientist, long suspected by the West of masterminding a secret atomic weapons programme, was assassinated near Tehran on Friday, Iranian state media reported.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died of injuries in hospital after armed assassins fired on his car, according to Iranian media.

Iran has long denied seeking to weaponise nuclear energy but Fakhrizadeh has long been suspected by Western, Israeli as a mastermind behind atomic bomb programme.

Iran’s armed forces said “Unfortunately, the medical team did not succeed in reviving (Fakhrizadeh), and a few minutes ago, this manager and scientist achieved the high status of martyrdom after years of effort and struggle,”

Fakhrizadeh has been the rare distinction of being the only Iranian scientist named in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2015 “final assessment” of open questions about Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javed Zarif condemned the move, hinted at the possibility of Israeli involvement in the attack.

In a tweet he said "Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators," while calling upon the international community "to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror."

Meanwhile, state television described Fakhrizadeh as “country's nuclear scientists having had an old and deep enmity of Israel towards him.”

Iran's armed forces chief of staff called Fakhrizdeh's death “a bitter and heavy blow to the country's defence system” and warned of “severe revenge” for those behind it.

Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri said in a tweet that “We assure (Iranians) that we will not rest until we have chased and punished” those involved.  

Earlier this month, the US authorities confirmed that Trump plans to carry out a possible strike on Iran however, Trump decided against it. Now, it may be an altered version of the plan perceived to target Iran nuclear programme. As the recent high-level visits by US officials to Israel “raised flags something being cooked up” to “provoke Iran & complicate for Bidden to return to diplomacy with Tehran.

NEW YORK, 27 November 2020, (TON): The United Nations and Qatar have finalised an agreement to establish an office in Doha for a UN counterterrorism programme.

The UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) Programme Office on Parliamentary Engagement will serve as a hub for research, knowledge, and capacity-building, leveraging on innovation and partnerships to enhance support to parliamentarians worldwide, according to a joint statement issued after the signing on Wednesday.

The agreement was signed by Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid Al Mahmoud, speaker of Qatar’s Shura Council, and Vladimir Voronkov, Under Secretary General of the UNOCT.

In a statement Al Mahmoud said , “Qatar is making every effort to assist parliamentarians worldwide in their noble task to save humanity from the scourge of terrorism,” He said preparations are under way to open the office and set an action plan in cooperation with the UN.

The programme is being assisted basically by the US counter terrorism authoty. 

 

VIENNA, 19 November 2020 (TON): IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi alledged in a press conference on Wednesday that Iran has begun operating advanced centrifuges that it had installed at an underground section of its primary nuclear enrichment facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had reported last week in a Report that Iran had installed the centrifuges in a buried part of the Natanz site.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi told a press conference on Wednesday that while at the time of that report “they had not started operations... it is now happening”.

Under the terms of Iran's 2015 deal with world powers, it is only meant to enrich uranium with a less sophisticated variety of first-generation IR-1 centrifuges.

However, Tehran has refuted the report and said that it has not carried out any activity that violates any laid down procedure in the deal.

JERUSALEM, 19 November 2020 (TON): The Palestinian Authority on the invitation of third parties and Tel Aviv made announcement two days back to resume suspended talks with Israel to prevent Israelis for undertaking its annexation plan of parts of the occupied West Bank, has seen on ground progress.

A senior Palestinian official, Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs minister said on the behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday tweeted that “the relationship with Israel will return to how it was” following “official written and oral letters we received” confirming Israel’s commitment to past agreements.

This is the first time that President Mahmoud Abbas  has admitted since announcement in May that the Palestinians would not be bound by any past agreements signed with Israel to carryout coordination on various matters.

The move came as Israel was preparing to annex up to a third of the West Bank, including all of its far-flung illegal settlements, as part of a plan unveiled earlier this year by United States President Donald Trump, a controversial policy of his administrations that favour Israel.

RIYADH, 18 November 2020, (TON): Arar crossing opens for transportation of goods and people for the first time since 1990, official statement says.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have opened the Arar border crossing for trade for the first time in three decades, the Iraqi border ports commission has said in a statement.

Top officials, including Iraqi interior minister and the Saudi ambassador to Iraq, travelled from Baghdad to formally open Arar, where a line of cargo trucks had been waiting since Wednesday morning.

Arar had remained closed since 1990 after the two countries severed ties following former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

The border reopening will likely improve their relations. Resultantly, paving a way for further cooperation as Iraq is in the phase of reconstruction. However, it would be seen that how Iraq keeps a balance in their relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia as similarly, Iran is its closest ally and a largest trading partner.

DUBAI, 16 November 2020 (TON): The United Arab Emirates on Sunday said that it will extend its “Golden” visa system which grants 10-year residency in the Gulf state to certain professionals, specialised degree-holders and others, the UAE’s vice president said on Sunday.

All holders of doctorate degrees, medical doctors and also computer, electronics, programming, electrical and biotechnology engineers are eligible, UAE Vice President and the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said in a statement.

Also eligible are those with specialised degrees in artificial intelligence, big data and epidemiology, as well as high school students living in the UAE who rank top in the country and students from certain universities with a GPA of 3.8 or higher.

After first announcing a long-term visa plan in 2018, the UAE in 2019 started granting  five and ten year renewable visas to certain foreign investors, entrepreneurs, chief executives, scientists and outstanding students.

The Emirate of Dubai would grant visas renewable every five years to wealthy foreign retirees.

The changes will take place from 1 December 2020, onwards.

Foreigners in the UAE usually have renewable visas valid for only a few years tied to employment however, the move will be a great opportunity for investers, professionals and even talented students to benefit from it to pursue their ambitions.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, 13 November 2020, (TON): Eight Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) including six US, one French, and one Czech serviceman were killed in a helicopter crash in Sinai Peninsula.

Acting Secretary of Defence Christopher Miller in a statement said, "We are saddened by the loss of six US and two partner nation service members in a helicopter crash in the Sinai Peninsula operating with the Multinational Force and Observers".  

In a statement, the Multinational Force and Observers also confirmed that eight members of the multinational peacekeeping force in Sinai Peninsula were killed in a helicopter crash, which took place during a routine mission in the vicinity of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The authority is carrying out inquiry to determine the cause of crash.

MANAMA, 11 November 2020 (TON): Bahrain’s Prince Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa, who had held the post since independence in 1971, had been died at the age of 84 while, receiving treatment at Mayo Clinic, state TV reported without specifying a cause of death.

Sheikh Khalifa was one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers who held the post since Bahrain’s independence in 1971.

According to the state news agency “The Gulf state’s King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa announced official mourning for a week during which flags will be flown at half-mast.”

It added “The burial ceremony will take place upon the repatriation of his body and the funeral will be limited to a specific number of relatives.”

Sheikh Khalifa was one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers who held the post since Bahrain’s independence in 1971 and survived the 2011 Arab Spring protests that demanded his removal over corruption allegations.

“Khalifa bin Salman represented the old guard in more ways than just age and seniority,” said Kristin Smith Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Washington-based Arab Gulf States Institute.

“He represented an old social understanding rooted in royal privilege and expressed through personal patronage.”

The son of Bahrain’s former ruler, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who ruled from 1942 to 1961, Sheikh Khalifa learned governance at his father’s side as the island remained a British protectorate.

Though, less powerful in recent years as he faced unexplained health problems yet, his machinations still drew attention in the kingdom as a new generation now jostles for power.

DAMASCUS, 9 November, 2020, (TON): Four US soldiers were killed by an explosive device in Syria's Hasakah province, according to a state media report.

On Sunday, explosive device tore through a US military vehicle in the village of Markadeh on the Hasakah-Deir al-Zour road. It added that a translator was among the slain soldiers.

Following the explosion, the US forces cordoned off the area.

According to the state media the slain soldiers were taken to a US base in the Shaddadi area in the Hasakah countryside.

It said the US forces and their allies of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control the majority of oil fields in northeastern Syria.

After Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria the US left just about 500 soldiers in the country which is rather symbolic military presence that is enough to complete American tasks.

US don’t want Kurds to engage in a meaningful dialog with the Syrian government encouraging Kurdish separatist aspirations, otherwise, Washington will have no reason to stay in Syria. Therefore, the US continues to play deterrent role. The Americans support local Kurdish fighters, part of a civil war that has convulsed the country since 2011.

TEHRAN, 9 November, 2020, (TON): On Sunday Iranian Foreign Ministry called for cessation of the U.S. economic pressures against the country.

In an interview to Iran’s state TV Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said The U.S. administration "must make up for its past measures and stop its economic war against the Islamic Republic."

"We are waiting for practical steps" to be taken by the United States, said Khatibzadeh, adding that Washington should commit its international obligations.

The minister said it was the United States that "violated" its obligations pertaining to Iran's nuclear deal.

The United States should also compensate for losses that Tehran has suffered due to Washington's economic pressures, he added.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015, which is also known as the Iranian nuclear deal. However, on May 8th, US President Trump announced his country’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement following implementation of US secondary sanctions.

On May 8, 2019, the United States sanctioned Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors, which account for Iran’s largest export revenue other than oil. In June 2019, the Trump administration sanctioned Iran’s largest petrochemical company and its subsidiaries. In 2020, the administration imposed sanctions on four additional sectors of the Iranian economy including construction, mining, manufacturing, and textiles.

DUBAI, 9 November 2020, (TON): The first Boeing 737s flight took off from Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv earlier Sunday morning and landed at United Arab Emirate (UAE). The arrival of group of tourists comes as Dubai after historic agreement of peace between Israel and UAE last month.  The agreements, which were seen as a foreign policy victory for President Donald Trump is likely to be followed by the incoming President-elect  in January 2021.

Fly Dubai flight FZ8194 landed at Dubai International Airport just after 5:40 p.m. on 8 November 2020.  Members of Gaya Tours, Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis were on board.

Tel Aviv is positive that the two way tourism between UAE and Israel is likely to improve a lot despite COVID-19 as many Israelis are eager to visit UAE in the coming days.

JERUSALEM, 5 November 2020, (TON): In a military supervised operation targeting an entire Palestinian community, Israel’s army demolished the houses of nearly 80 Palestinian Bedouins in the occupied West Bank, officials and witnesses said on Wednesday. Late on Tuesday, Israeli bulldozers razed the village — including tents, sheds, portable toilets and solar panels — near Tubas in the Jordan. The operation has made over several hundred people homeless.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on the international community to intervene against Israeli troops’ breach of human rights in which they displaced the citizens of Khirbet Humsa and tens of similar communities from their homes and lands, pointing to the fact that Israel “choose this evening to commit another crime” as the attention is focused on the United States presidential election.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem accused Israel and said the late-night operation in Homsa al-Baqia was unusual given that so many homes were targeted at the same time. It implied that the Jewish state timed the demolition to take place while world attention was focused on the US presidential election. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past said he intended to annex parts of the West Bank and Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory, including the Jordan Valley.

CAIRO, 4 November 2020, (TON): Mohamed al-Sebai, spokesman of Egypt's Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation would present Egyptian viewpoint during a virtual meeting of their water ministers scheduled to be held on Thursday. The recent round of talks by the three countries on the filling and operation of the GERD started in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Sunday.

Meanwhile, legal and technical committee, which comprises experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, concluded its meetings on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) built on the Nile river. Mohamed al-Sebai, spokesman of Egypt's Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, said the committee of experts ended its meetings on Tuesday, during which the process of upcoming ministerial negotiations on the filling and operation of the GERD was discussed, reports Xinhua news agency.

The three countries have also agreed to work during the week-long round to set up an agenda as well as timetable for the negotiations and a list of the outcomes to be reached with the help of the observers and experts in a manner that is different from the previous rounds.

ANKARA, 29 October, 2020 (TON): Turkish military and Russia are heavily involved in ongoing world’s most significant conflicts in a region stretching from Syria to the Caucasus and the Mediterranean.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly criticized Russia for conducting an airstrike that killed dozens of Turkey-backed rebels in Idlib province of Syria.

According to a news agency Erdogan while addressing his lawmakers at the parliament on Wednesday said  “Russia's attack on the training center of the Syrian National Army forces in the Idlib region shows it does not want lasting peace in the region."

In the bloodiest surge in violence since a truce almost eight months ago, air strikes by Damascus regime ally Russia against an opposition military camp in Idlib killed 78 Turkey-backed rebels in northwestern Syria. About 90 were injured by the Russian airstrike which targeted the camp said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Erdogan added that Turkey had the legitimate right to act once again if militants are not cleared along its border with Syria, referring to Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey sees the YPG group as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The Turkish army launched Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016, Operation Olive Branch in 2018, Operation Peace Spring in 2019, and Operation Spring Shield in 2020 in northern Syria in order to create a YPG-free zone along its border within the neighboring country.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the EU, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for over 30 years, which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people.

According to the United Nations of the almost one million people displaced in the last Idlib offensive, more than 200,000 have returned home.

Idlib is a war-battered province and home to more than three million people, has remained fragile with intermittent bombardment in the area from both sides.

Russia and Turkey are the two sides of the same coin. Though both countries are also waging proxy battles, it is rare to see them come head-to-head.

IDLIB, 28 October, 2020, (Media Report): Russia and Turkey are two sides of the same coin. They are both heavily involved in some of the world’s most significant ongoing conflicts including in Libya, the Caucasus and Syria.

They remain at loggerheads, supporting opposing sides with both hoping to expand their military presence and political reach in the Middle east and the Mediterranean.

Though both countries are also waging proxy battles, it is rare to see them come head-to-head.

But a deadly Russian air strike that took out dozens of Turkish-backed rebel fighters in northwest Syria on Monday has marked a significant escalation.

Observers say the attack in the Jabal al-Dweila area, which targeted a military training camp for Failaq al-Sham, one of the largest Turkey-backed armed groups in the area, was a “message” to Ankara.

As Turkey’s closest proxy in Idlib province, this “wasn’t a Russian attack on the Syrian opposition as much as it was a direct hit against – and message to – Turkey”, Charles Lister, director of the US-based Middle East Institute, told Al Jazeera.

Given the “enormity” of the attack, which killed at least 35 fighters and wounded more than 50, Lister said it is possible that wider geopolitics may have pushed Russia to strike.

Though Russia – a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey negotiated a fragile ceasefire in Idlib, which largely held since March this year, the latest escalation points to signs of strain over Turkey’s involvement in various battles.

Most notably, in the Caucasus, where Ankara has declared support for Azerbaijan in its fight against Armenia in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Moscow, traditionally closer to Armenia, has voiced dismay at reports indicating Syrian mercenaries have been sent to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces – opening up a new front in the proxy standoff.

And in Libya, thousands of Syrian fighters have been reportedly sent by Turkey over the past year to fight on behalf of the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which is fighting Russian-backed forces.

But in Syria, although they support opposite sides in the country’s nine-year conflict, Moscow and Ankara have worked together to maintain a ceasefire in the last rebel-held enclave in the northwest.

But the truce in Idlib, a war-battered province that is home to more than three million people, has remained fragile with intermittent bombardment in the area from both sides.

JEDDAH, 23 October 2020 (Media Report): United Arab Emirates citizens will be able to stay in Israel for up to 90 days on a single visit, Israel Hayom reported.

United Arab Emirates citizens will be able to stay in Israel for up to 90 days on a single visit, the Gulf power's state news agency WAM said on Thursday, after it became the first Arab nation to reach a visa-exemption agreement with Israel.

Until recently, only Egypt and Jordan had full relations with Israel, but their nationals must still apply for entry permits. Some citizens of Arab states without formal ties have been admitted on a case-by-case basis for trade or pilgrimage.

Diplomatic sources said the application process helps Israel screen potential security threats.

Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis told Army Radio that security "was a weighty issue and remains a weighty issue" in the decision to grant UAE citizens the same access Israel offers Western countries with which it has visa exemption arrangements.

"Happily there are other means of distinguishing terrorists from people who you explicitly know are peace-seekers coming here to do business or just tour around Israel."

 The UAE and Bahrain formally established relations with Israel at a Sept. 15 ceremony in the White House, becoming the first Arab states in more than a quarter of a century to break what had been a long-standing taboo in the region.

 The rapprochement, which has uncorked bilateral commerce, has been decried by Palestinians but cast by the Gulf states as consistent with values of coexistence and progress.

 An Israeli diplomat said visa exemptions are "not on the cards" with Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim minority rules a Shi'ite majority and which has seen protests against the accord with Israel.

 

TEL AVIV, 18 October 2020, (TON): As a part of "Abraham Agreement" signed at the White House last month between Israel and UAE, Aviations of both countries  will sign an  agreement on Tuesday allowing 28 weekly flights in each direction between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi and Dubai.  The agreement will officially allow the start of scheduled flights between Ben Gurion airport and Dubai and Abu Dhabi. 

Under the terms of the agreement to be signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unlimited numbers of charter flights from Ramon Airport near Eilat will be allowed to operate on the route to the UAE in addition to the 28 weekly flights. There will also be 10 weekly cargo flights between Israel and the UAE.

JERUSALEM, 17 October, 2020, (TON):  A delegation of top United States officials, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, will travel to Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the coming days in support of recently signed normalization deals between the three countries.

The trip from October 17-20 seeks to strengthen recent US-brokered normalization deals between the three countries.

On August 13 the United States announced that Israel and the United Arab Emirates had signed a pact to normalize diplomatic relations and Bahrain followed suit less than a month later.

On Friday, the US Treasury Department said in a statement that Mnuchin would lead the delegation from October 17-20 “to support expanded economic cooperation” under the pacts brokered by US President Donald Trump’s administration.

During a ceremony at the White House, representatives from all three countries formally signed the agreements on September 15.

The treasury department said Mnuchin and the US delegation will join Israeli officials on a direct flight from Israel to Bahrain. They will meet with Bahraini officials in Manama before flying to Abu Dhabi, where “the first-ever Abraham Accords Business Summit” will be held.

However it was not immediately clear which Israeli, Bahraini or Emirati officials would take part.

When the Israel-Bahrain deal was signed, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), based in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, called it “another treacherous stab to the Palestinian.

WASHINGTON, 16 October, 2020, (TON): In a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said while security concerns must be addressed, a path to ending rift may be in ‘relatively near future’.

Saudi FM signaled progress maybe under way towards resolving the three year old rift with its Gulf neighbour Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt disengaged diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar and imposed a sea, land and air blockade on the gas-rich country.

On Thursday in a virtual discussion hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Saudi FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan said “We are committed to finding a solution, “If we can find a way forward to address the legitimate security concerns… which have driven us to make the decisions we have taken, that will be good news for the region”. 

Number of past attempts to end the dispute were unsuccessful, with Qatar rejecting demands from nations blocking the blockade, including shutting down Al Jazeera news outlets, severing ties with Islamist groups, limiting ties with the Iran and the expulsion of Turkish troops stationed in the country.

The four countries blocking the blockade have accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism” and interfering in their internal affairs for years. Doha has also been accused of being too close to its regional rival, Iran but Qatar has strongly denied these allegations.

Prince Faisal visited Washington for a US-Saudi strategic dialogue at the State Department that included discussion on relations with Israel, the US ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran and the war in Yemen.

ADEN, 16 October, 2020, (TON): Planes carrying prisoners to be exchanged by Yemen’s warring parties took off on Friday on the second day of an operation to return about 1,000 men home and help build momentum for a new push to end a catastrophic war.

According to International Committee of the Red Cross more than 700 prisoners were exchanged as the operation started on Thursday.

A Saudi-led military coalition, which supports the internationally recognised Yemeni government, and Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement agreed last month in Switzerland to exchange 1,081 prisoners, including 15 Saudis, in the largest swap of its kind in the five-year-old conflict.

According to Al Arabiya Tv about 355 prisoners are expected to be exchanged on Friday.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said the swap “brings hope for peace-building”.

On Thursday U.N. Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council that the swap was an “airlift of hope”, and added that both parties remain in negotiations for a permanent ceasefire, which he hoped could be agreed by the end of the year.

The warring sides had agreed in 2018 to swap 15,000 detainees were divide between both sides to pave the way for political negotiations to end the conflict, but progress has been slow.

Yemen has been at war since the Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government from power in Sanaa in late 2014, prompting the alliance to intervene in 2015.

JARUSALEM, 16 October, 2020, (TON): Normalization deal signed between Israel and UAE last month has been approved by Israeli parliament on Thursday.

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at Israel Parliament in Jerusalem for the peace treaty discussions with UAE.

According to Xinhua news agency the agreement was approved in an 80-13 vote in a special session of the parliament.   Last month on September 15 in a ceremony at Washington Unite Arab Emirate and Bahrain signed agreements to normalize relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle East countries against Iran. UAE and Bahrain are the first two Gulf countries who agreed to form official relations between each other by signing an agreement. Bahrain is in the process of formalizing ties with Israel.

Before this two Arab countries Egypt and Jordan signed peace agreement with Israel.

On the other hand Palestinians, who have long relied on united Arab support to boost them against Israel, have condemned the deal and accused the UAE of betrayal. Where United States is trying to persuade more Gulf countries to strike similar accords with Israel, Riyadh has also given the signal of not being ready to take action.

 

JERUSALEM, 15 October, 2020, (TON): Israel has given the green light for in excess of 1,300 new pioneer homes in the involved West Bank, finishing eight-month calm in settlement development. The choice has managed another hit to any expectations of a more extensive Israeli-Arab harmony bargain.

The choice drew a furious reaction from Palestinians, who try to set up a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

"We ask the global network to intercede quickly to stop this settlement frenzy, which annihilates any opportunity for an authentic harmony measure," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a representative for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The development could help quiet analysis of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from pilgrim pioneers, who are conventional partners.

They had shuddered at the extension suspension that helped make ready for a month ago arrangements to fashion political ties among Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Israel's West Bank Civil Administration arranging council gave last endorsement for building 1,313 lodging units in a few settlements, it said in an announcement. Plans for another 853 units were progressed yet have not yet been given last endorsement.

An announcement from Beit El settlement said 350 new lodging units would be worked there. It hailed the council's choice as "a huge accomplishment for Beit El".

The discussion, which last held such a meeting eight months back, was expected to reconvene on Thursday to propel extra undertakings in settlements; its openly accessible plan appeared.

Harmony Now, an Israeli settlement guard dog, said that altogether the council was set to push ahead with ventures including in excess of 4,000 new pioneer homes.

Most nations see settlements Israel has an underlying area caught in the 1967 Middle East battle as unlawful and as an impediment to harmony with the Palestinians. The United States and Israel debate this.

Israel refers to recorded and scriptural connects toward the West Bank and around 450,000 of its pilgrims live there, among 3 million Palestinians.

NAGORNO-KARABAKH, 15 October, 2020, (TON): One of the world's most established clashes, a regional question among Armenia and Azerbaijan, has re-ejected with the heaviest conflicts in years.

In any event 23 individuals were accounted for to have been killed on Sunday as the two ex-Soviet republics struggled over the Nagorno-Karabakh district.

The area is globally perceived as a feature of Azerbaijan however constrained by ethnic Armenians.

At the point when it split away in the mid 1990s, many thousands kicked the bucket in battling.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday he was sure of recapturing command over the district.

Military law has been pronounced in the midst of the savagery in certain pieces of Azerbaijan, just as in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The contention in the Caucasus Mountains has stayed uncertain for over thirty years, with intermittent episodes of battling.

Outskirt conflicts in July murdered in any event 16 individuals, inciting the biggest exhibition in years in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, where there were requires the district's recover.

Any upsurge in viciousness could agitate markets as the South Caucasus is a passage for pipelines conveying oil and flammable gas from the Caspian Sea to world business sectors.

Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan swore uphold for Azerbaijan, asking the world to remain with the nation in its "fight against intrusion and savagery". Azerbaijanis are prevalently Turkic individuals with whom Turkey has close ties.

Russia, customarily observed as a partner of Armenia, required a quick truce and converses with settle the circumstance.

 

 

BEIRUT, 15 October 2020, (TON): Lebanon and Israel began the hotly anticipated US-interceded converses with outline their oceanic fringes under the oversight of the United Nations, on October 14. The system arrangement that was at the same time declared by the gatherings worried on October first is the most genuine endeavor to determine this sea debate and secure gas penetrating activities; notwithstanding, there are inalienable difficulties that can prompt extended dealings and at last wreck the discussions. 

For as long as decade, progressive US moderators (Frederick Hoff, Amos Hochstein, David Satterfield, and right now, David Schenker) have endeavored to arrive at a forward leap in these exchanges. The petulant issues were identified with both structure and substance, for example, who will run the discussions, where will they be held, and what are the course of events and bases for the arrangements. Lebanon and Israel have been in a condition of battle since 1948 and don't have political relations or plainly characterized fringes. It is significant that this isn't the first run through the two states have examined limit issues; they recently settled an outskirt observing gathering in 1996 and a three sided panel run by the United Nations, which keeps on meeting today. The advancement is that unexpectedly, both Lebanon and Israel consented to arrange last outskirt boundary. Lebanon gauges it has 96 trillion cubic feet of flammable gas saves and 865 million barrels of oil seaward. Israel has less monetary desperation to determine this question and is looking at some level of a challenged territory of 860 square kilometers that Lebanon is guaranteeing. While a few issues were settled in front of these discussions, others stay forthcoming.

BAGHDAD, 12 October 2020, (TON): Iraq’s Foreign Minister said on Sunday that Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is expected to pay an official visit to United Kingdom. As US has hinted withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of this year or early next year, Prime Minister Mustafa is much perturbed about his governments future. In April this year, Kataeb Hezbollah, issued a statement accusing Al-Kadhimi of American links and role in the killings of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, and accused him of collaborating with the US. Beside other issues of mutual interests, Iraqi Prime Minister is likely to discuss during his UK's visit the ongoing situation arising from the US announcement of its troops from foreign countries including Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Mustafa Abdellatif Mshatat al-Kadhimi was born in Baghdad but in 1985 he left for Iran. Later, he moved to Germany and finally moved to United Kingdom and acquired British citizenship. He was deadly against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain therefore after US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Al-Kadhimi returned to Iraq and cofounded the Iraqi Media Network. Later, he founded an organization to document crimes under Saddam Hussain’s Baath party.

RAMALLAH, 12 October, 2020, (TON): Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the Palestinian government is ready to hold “free and democratic” general elections immediately as presidential decree was issued on the matter. During the celebrations of olive harvest season in Ramallah Ishtaye said "We will go to a national celebration when we hold our democratic elections in order to restore our national institution. All the Palestinians will meet under our parliament in true national unity, as it was in the past, under the framework of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in order to establish the Palestinian state on the ground".

He added that a ministerial delegation is going to travel to Cairo to discuss economic cooperation.

Shtayyeh also thanked Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria and Qatar for their continous support for the Palestinian people and the $50 million support provided by Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds Funds during its 76th annual meeting held on Sunday in Jeddah, to execute development projects in Palestine.

Initially general elections in Palestine were scheduled to be held in 2014 in accordance with the Fatah-Hamas Gaza Agreement signed in the same year but were then delayed indefinitely. In October 2017, Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in which Hamas agreed to dissolve the unity government in Gaza and hold general elections by the end of 2018, but the elections again were not held.

Now Palestine’s general elections are scheduled to be held in 2021 between February and March. The present efforts to unify Palestinians and to hold elections will significantly increase credibility and legitimacy of Palestinian leadership.

KUWAIT, 8 October, 2020, (TON): Kuwait’s parliament on Thursday endorsed Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad as crown prince, after the new emir named him on Wednesday, the parliament said on its Twitter page.

Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah assumed power as emir following the death of his brother Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad last week. Octogenarian Sheikh Meshal is deputy head of the country’s National Guard.

ISLAMABAD, 8 October 2020, (TON): Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to exchange views on bilateral relations, regional situation and issues of common interest.

Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined that Pakistan and United Arab Emirates have deep, historic and fraternal ties. Millions of Pakistanis living in the UAE have been playing their part in building and developing the UAE for decades.The two brotherly countries fully supported each other in every difficult hour including during Covid-19 pandemic. Foreign Minister thanked Emirati Foreign Minister for taking special care of Pakistani community in UAE during Corona global epidemic challenge.

The two Foreign Ministers agreed to enhance bilateral ties and continue close collaboration on all issues of mutual interest.

 

AMMAN, 8 October 2020, (TON): Jordan's King Abdullah on Wednesday appointed Bisher Al Khasawneh as the country's new Prime Minister.

King Abdullah dissolved parliament in a constitutional requirement on 27 September at the end of its four-year term. Accordingly, Prime Minister Omar Al Razzaz resigned.

King Abdullah issued letter of appointment to Bisher Al Khasawneh, who also remained as adviser and was involved as peace negotiator with Israel.  

RIYADH, 7 October 2020, (TON): Saudi Arabia’s Chamber of Commerce asks its Nationals to Boycott Turkish goods including investment  and tourism.

Saudi Arabia’s Chamber of Commerce head Ajlan Al Ajlan on Saturday tweeted,” The boycott of everything Turkish, whether on the level of import, investment or tourism, is the responsibility of every Saudi – trader and consumer – in response to the continued hostility of the Turkish government against our leadership, our country and our citizens.”

Although, overwhelming majority of the people of Turkey love their Saudi brothers and consider Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as their second country, however, the development surfaced after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan passed statements of world politics including war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. During his recent address to the Turkish General Assembly, Erdogan said, “It should not be forgotten that the countries in question did not exist yesterday, and probably will not exist tomorrow; however, we will continue to keep our flag flying in this region forever, with the permission of Allah.” The media carried out negative propaganda and cautioned many countries of the intentions of Turkish Presidents statement.

Turkey was quoted also to have accused Arab countries of destabilizing the region. Although, Erdogan blamed the Arab countries for instability in the Middle East and did not name Saudi Arabia but the statements from Tel Aviv and NATO Headquarters compelled Saudi Arabia to express their view point.

MARIB, 5 October, 2020, (Reuters): In Yemen’s gas-rich region of Marib, fighters loyal to the Saudi-backed government recited Koranic verses before launching a hail of mortar and machine gun fire towards rocky mountains, in a desperate bid to push back Houthi forces.The commanding officer peered through his binoculars at the dust and plumes of black smoke thrown up by the firing, aimed at a group of elusive enemy Houthi snipers.A few dozen kilometres (miles) away, hundreds of displaced civilians in makeshift camps waited for water, food and medicine from humanitarian groups - a further sign that despite United Nations peace efforts, the near six-year-old war grinds on.
“We have more than 1,500 families in this camp and they already moved three times ... because the fighting keeps following them,” said Mohsen Mushalla, director of al-Sowaida camp some 15 km from Marib city.
“They don’t have water, electricity, a hospital and the nearest town is 10 km away. Just bringing water is enough hardship,” Mushalla added.
Fighting has raged for months in Marib, the last stronghold of the internationally recognised government.
It was ousted from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014 by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene.
The war, which has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, has been in stalemate for years. The government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has also fought separatists in the south who seek independence.

AMMAN, 5 October, 2020, (Reuters): Syrian President Bashar al Assad said the continued presence of Russia’s major naval and air bases in his country help counter the influence of Western powers in the region as the battle to crush insurgents was winding down. In an interview with Russia’s Ministry of Defence TV channel Zvezda on the fifth anniversary of Moscow’s intervention in Syria that tipped the conflict in his favour, Assad said Russia’s two main bases were important to counter the West’s military presence in the region.“This global military balance needs Russia’s role. This needs (military) bases, we benefit from this,” Assad said adding Syria needed such a presence that his military commanders say countered Washington’s dominance in the region. Alongside the Hmeimim base, from which Russia launches air strikes in support of Assad, Moscow also controls the Tartus naval facility in Syria, its only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, in use since the days of the Soviet Union Russia launched air strikes in Syria in 2015 and began cementing its permanent military presence in 2017, following a deal with the government in Damascus.

A Russian government document published last August showed that Syrian authorities have agreed to give Russia additional land and coastal waters in order to expand its military air base at Hmeimim.
Assad said his army, before Moscow’s military intervention, had been facing a “dangerous situation” with an armed opposition directly funded and equipped by Washington and other Western powers, alongside Saudi Arabia and Qatar who had seized main cities and towns.
Assad has been able with Moscow’s massive aerial power and Iranian-backed militias’ support to regain most of the territory he lost in a decade long conflict.
Washington and backers of the Syrian opposition say the Russian and Syrian bombing of opposition-held areas amounted to war crimes and were responsible for the displacement of millions and the death of thousands of civilians.

Moscow and Damascus deny indiscriminate bombing of civilians and say they are fighting to rid the country of Islamist militants.

WASHINGTON, 3 October 2020, (African News): US Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a 10-year military cooperation deal with Tunis Wednesday during his first stop on a regional tour, hailing US-Tunisia collaboration over the conflict in neighbouring Libya.

The past decade has seen growing cooperation between the Pentagon and Tunisia, particularly on counter-terror training and securing the North African country's long border with Libya, where jihadist groups operate and world powers back rival sides in a complex war.

"We look forward to expanding this relationship to help Tunisia protect its maritime ports and land borders, deter terrorism and keep the corrosive efforts of autocratic regimes out of your country," Esper said in a speech after meeting President Kais Saied.

Speaking at a cemetery in Carthage housing the remains of over 2,800 American soldiers, mostly killed in World War II, he warned of the worldwide threat posed by "violent extremists".

Esper also accused US rivals China and Russia of continuing "to intimidate and coerce their neighbours while expanding their authoritarian influence worldwide, including on this continent."

He said Moscow and Beijing's "malign, coercive, and predatory behaviour" aimed to "undermine African institutions".

TEL AVIV, 2 October 2020, (TON): An agreement between the two countries, who are still formally at war, would allow them to tap offshore natural-gas reserves

A resolution would allow Israel and Lebanon to pursue natural-gas production in the 330-square-mile disputed area. Israel's offshore Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel and Lebanon agreed to begin U.S.-brokered talks this month aimed at resolving a long-running maritime border dispute, an achievement that would allow both sides to exploit natural-gas reserves in the disputed area off their eastern Mediterranean coasts.

The U.S.-mediated talks between the foes, who are still formally at war, will begin in about two weeks at a United Nations base in the city of Naqoura on the Lebanese side of their de facto land border. Israel and Lebanon have regular indirect contacts at the same base to discuss border violations.

“Our presumptive goal is to arrive at a peaceful resolution on the matter of the exclusive economic zone bordering between Israel and Lebanon in a way that benefits both neighboring nations,” said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is overseeing Israel’s participation in the talks.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said he would serve as the U.S. mediator of the discussions. Army officials will participate for Lebanon.

Lebanese officials, whose management of the country has been under fire since the August port explosion, are pinning their hopes on possible oil and gas reserves to steer Lebanon away from economic ruin. “If the demarcation succeeds...that would be one of the reasons behind us paying our debt,” said Nabih Berri, Lebanon’s parliamentary speaker, who has led negotiations with Washington on Lebanon’s behalf.

KUWAIT CITY, 1 October 2020, (TON) -  After the demise of Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah on Tuesday, Kuwait's Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah became nation's new ruling Emir. Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who had served as the crown prince since 2006 has been sworn in as the new Emir of Kuwait on Wednesday, 

State television carried an address by Anas Khalid al-Saleh, Kuwait's interior minister and deputy prime minister, announcing Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah had taken the position just hours after Sheikh Sabah's death.

All the leaders of the Muslim world including Pakistan have expressed deep condolences over the sad demise of Pakistan Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and have congratulated Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah on becoming the Emir. Pakistan enjoys brotherly relations with Kashmir and there are many areas of collaboration between the two nations. Kuwait in the past had shown interest in the purchase of JF-17 Fighter Jets and Super Mushshak trainer aircraft for the Kuwait Air Force from Pakistan.

KUWAIT, 30 September, 2020, (Reuters): Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah died on Tuesday aged 91, plunging his country into mourning for a leader regarded by many Gulf Arabs as a savvy diplomatic operator and a humanitarian champion.

The cabinet announced his brother and designated successor Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah as the new ruler in a statement read on state television. The parliamentary speaker tweeted that Sheikh Nawaf, 83, would be sworn in on Wednesday.

Sheikh Sabah had ruled the wealthy oil producer and U.S. ally since 2006, and steered its foreign policy for more than 50 years.

“With hearts filled with pain and sadness for the Kuwaiti people, the Islamic and Arab world and nations of the world, and with faith in the will of God, the cabinet mourns ... Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah who died in the United States on Tuesday,” the statement said.

The emir’s body will arrive on Wednesday in Kuwait from the United States, where he had been in hospital since July following surgery in Kuwait that month, state media reported on Tuesday, citing the Amiri Diwan.

The minister of the Amiri Diwan said on Tuesday that in compliance with safety and public health requirements, the burial ceremony for the deceased emir will be limited to relatives only, state media reported.

Flags were flying at half-staff in Kuwait, which announced 40 days of mourning. “Goodbye, Emir of Humanity,” read a large banner on a street near the Kuwait Stock Exchange. Kuwait Towers, a seaside landmark normally lit at night, went dark.

Condolences poured in from Arab leaders and several countries in the region announced mourning periods.

Sheikh Sabah sought to balance relations with Kuwait’s bigger neighbours - forging close ties with Saudi Arabia, rebuilding links with former occupier Iraq and keeping open dialogue with Iran.

He tried to mediate in a Gulf dispute in which Riyadh and its allies imposed a boycott on Qatar, and made fundraising for humanitarian aid in Syria one of Kuwait’s priorities.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in an Arabic-language tweet, lauded Sheikh Sabah for fostering “moderation and balance” in Kuwait and the region.

“Today we lost a big brother and a wise and loving leader ... who spared no effort for Arab unity,” said Jordan’s King Abdullah, also on Twitter.

Sheikh Sabah kept strong ties with the United States, which led a coalition that ended Iraq’s 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait and used the Gulf state as a launch pad for the 2003 Iraq invasion.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement he was saddened by the death of a dear friend and called Sheikh Sabah an “unwavering friend and partner to the United States”.

Trump earlier this month awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, to Sheikh Sabah in what the White House said was the first time the honour has been given since 1991. The emir’s eldest son, Sheikh Nasser, accepted the award.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the emir as “an extraordinary symbol of wisdom and generosity, a messenger of peace, a bridge builder.”

ISTANBUL, 29 September 2020, (Anadolu News): Prosecutors seek life imprisonment for two suspects and up to five years in jail for four others, report says.

Turkish prosecutors have filed a second indictment against six Saudi suspects over the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, according to Turkey’s state news agency. Two of the suspects were facing charges carrying aggravated life jail sentences. The charges against the other four carry sentences of up to five years in jail.

According to the indictment, the two were consulate staff members and were part of the team that left Turkey after carrying out the murder of the Saudi journalist. The other four suspects are reportedly accused of tampering with evidence by going to the crime scene immediately after the murder. They are also not in Turkey.

In a separate case launched in July, an Istanbul court began to try in absentia 20 other Saudis over the murder, including two former aides to MBS.

Turkish prosecutors claim Saudi deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court’s media adviser Saud al-Qahtani led the operation and gave orders to the Saudi hit team.

In September, a Saudi court overturned death sentences handed down to five defendants after a closed-door trial in Saudi Arabia last year, sentencing them to 20 years in prison instead.

RIYADH, 27 September 2020, (Verity Ratcliffe Bloomberg) -- The world’s first shipment of blue ammonia is on its way from Saudi Arabia to Japan, where it will be used in power stations to produce electricity without carbon emissions.

Saudi Aramco, which made the announcement Sunday, produced the fuel, which it does by converting hydrocarbons into hydrogen and then ammonia, and capturing the carbon dioxide byproduct. Japan will receive 40 tons of blue ammonia in the first shipment, Aramco said.

Ammonia can be burned in thermal power stations without releasing carbon emissions. That means it has “the potential to make a significant contribution to an affordable and reliable low-carbon energy future,” according to state-controlled Aramco.

Japan aims to be a world-leader in the use of hydrogen, which is contained in ammonia. The country has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 26% by 2030 from 2013 levels, under the Paris climate pact.

Blue ammonia is a feedstock for blue hydrogen, a version of the fuel made from fossil fuels with a process that captures and stores C02 emissions. Hydrogen from renewable energy that creates no emissions is known as green hydrogen.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is increasingly trying to counter its reputation for producing dirty energy. In recent months, Aramco has highlighted the low volume of greenhouse gases emitted from pumping Saudi crude, programs to boost gas production and plans to grow carbon-absorbing mangroves.

U.S. firm Air Products & Chemicals Inc. signed an accord in July with Saudi-based ACWA Power International and the kingdom’s planned futuristic city of Neom to develop a $5 billion hydrogen-based ammonia plant powered by renewable energy.

Saudi chemicals maker Sabic -- majority-owned by Aramco -- and Mitsubishi Corp. are overseeing transport logistics for the blue ammonia project in partnership with JGC Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. and UBE Industries.

“This world-first demonstration represents an exciting opportunity for Aramco to showcase the potential of hydrocarbons as a reliable and affordable source of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia,” said Aramco’s chief technology officer, Ahmad Al-Khowaiter.

RIYADH, 25 September 2020, (IP):  This step was taken by Saudi Arabia government in the over view of increased number of corona patients. Corona patients are seems to be getting out of control in India.  India has been listed number two among other countries with gradual increase in number of patient’s every day. In the light of these circumstances Saudi Arabia has imposed a travelling ban on India. Saudi government has issued an order in which it has been stated that the passengers who have an official invitation from the government will be exempted from this ban. Besides India, Saudi Arabia has also imposed travel ban on Brazil and Argentina. Government officials also said that no one will be allowed to travel to and from these countries because Corona Virus is spreading fast in both countries. Saudi government does not want any infection from these countries to reach Saudi Arabia because it can cause a lot of problems. It should be noted that the number of Indians in Saudi Arabia is very high. On 18 September Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has suspended Air India Express flights until 2 October for allegedly carrying passengers with a positive certificate of corona virus infection confirmation. PCR test has to be done and should be having clearance certificate of infection.

JEDDAH, 24 September, 2020, (TON): According to reports, Saudi government allowed increased number of natives performing Umrah from 4th October.    According to Saudi Arabian Government press agency permission for Umrah without any interruption will be given gradually in four steps. Following common safety measures, from 4th October, 6000 Saudi pilgrims will be allowed on daily basis to perform Umrah at Al Haram mosque. From 18th October onwards 75 percents of pilgrims will be allowed to perform Umrah. From the start of November more five thousand visitors will be allowed from those specific countries which are considered by Saudi Government as safe from coronavirus. When the concerned authorities will announce that risk of epidemic is decreased then the pilgrims from the country and abroad will be allowed to perform Umrah as per normal capacity. Mobile application has been developed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah which will be available a week before Umrah resumes. It will help the pilgrims for booking and registration. Last year total of 19 million pilgrims performed Umrah.

NEW YORK, 24 September 2020, (TON): All hopes of Riyadh following the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel faded away at UN headquarters.

It was shocking for many enemies and adversaries of Saudi Arabia, when King Salman of Saudi Arabia, seen on a video screen addressing the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly on 23 September at UN headquarters, did not give any signal of following the path of UAE with regard to peace with Israel.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz told the virtual forum in a videotaped message. “We will spare no effort to work together towards achieving a bright future where peace, stability, prosperity and co-existence among all the region’s peoples prevails.” He said, “Peace in the Middle East is our strategic option.”

 

Over the issue with Iran, the Saudi King said that his government has extended its hand in peace to the majority Tehran in the past but there were no results. He highlighted that the Houthi rebels in Yemen launched more than 300 ballistic missiles and over 400 armed drones into Saudi territory since the start of the conflict. He also criticized Tehran for exploiting the 2015 nuclear deal to fuel its expansionist projects in the region. However, Iran’s U.N. mission spokesperson, Alireza Miryousefi, rejected Saudi Arabian claim and termed it as "baseless allegations.”

NEW YORK, 23 September, 2020, (AlJazeera): Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has questioned the credibility of the international community as it “stands by, unable to take any effective action to confront Israeli intransigence and its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab land”.

In his video speech at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the emir questioned the role of countries and organisations for failing to uphold the resolutions against the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and its expansion of settlement building.

He accused Israel of carrying out “flagrant violation of international resolutions and the two-state solution as agreed upon by the international community”.

“The international community stands by, unable to take any effective action to confront Israeli intransigence, its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab land, the imposition of a stifling siege on the Gaza Strip, [and] the expanding settlement policy, among others,” he said.

“Peace can only be achieved when Israel fully commits to the international terms of reference and resolutions that are accepted by the Arab countries and upon which the Arab Peace Initiative is based.”

The Arab Peace Initiative was a plan put forth by Saudi Arabia in 2002 that called for normalising relations with Israel in exchange for an end to its occupation of Palestinian territories, the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a just solution for Palestinian refugees.

He called upon the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, to assume its legal responsibilities and “compel Israel to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to put the peace process back on track through credible negotiations based on international resolutions and not on force”.

DAMASCUS, 21 September 2020, (The National):  Witnesses said the warplanes struck the western outskirts of Idlib city and that there was heavy artillery shelling

Syrian opposition sources said Russian jets bombed rebel-held northwestern Syria on Sunday in the most extensive strikes since a Turkish-Russian deal halted major fighting with a ceasefire nearly six months ago.

Witnesses said the warplanes struck the western outskirts of Idlib city and that there was heavy artillery shelling in the mountainous Jabal Al Zawya region in southern Idlib from nearby Syrian army outposts. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

"These 30 raids are by far the heaviest strikes so far since the ceasefire deal," said Mohammed Rasheed, a former rebel official and a volunteer plane spotter whose network covers the Russian airbase in the western coastal province of Latakia.

Other tracking centres said Russian Sukhoi jets hit the Horsh area and Arab Said town, west of the city of Idlib. Unidentified drones also hit two rebel-held towns in the sub-Sahara Al Ghab plain, west of Hama province.

There has been no wide-scale aerial bombing since a March agreement ended a Russian-backed bombing campaign that displaced over a million people in the region which borders Turkey after months of fighting.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow or the Syrian army who have long accused militant groups who hold sway in the last opposition redoubt of wrecking the ceasefire deal and attacking army-held areas.

The deal between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's President Vladimir Putin also defused a military confrontation between them after Ankara poured thousands of troops into Idlib province to hold back Russian-backed forces from new advances.

Western diplomats tracking Syria say Moscow piled pressure on Ankara in the latest round of talks on Wednesday to scale down its extensive military presence in Idlib. Turkey has more than ten thousand troops stationed in dozens of bases there, according to opposition sources in touch with Turkish military.

Witnesses say there has been a spike in sporadic shelling from Syrian army outposts against Turkish bases in the last two weeks. Rebels say the Syrian army and its allied militias were amassing troops on front lines.

Two witnesses said a Turkish military column comprising at least 15 armoured vehicles was seen overnight entering Syria through the Kafr Lusin border crossing in the direction of a main base in rural Idlib.

CAIRO, 21 September 2020, (Al Jazeera): Videos on social media show demonstrators calling on Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi to step aside.

Dozens of anti-government protesters took to the streets in the Egyptian governorate of Giza on Sunday, despite heightened security in the country in advance of anticipated demonstrations.

Video clips circulating on social media showed the demonstrators holding banners and chanting slogans calling on Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi to step down. Others set a police car on fire while some threw stones at security forces who tried to stop them.

Egypt went into high alert after former army contractor Mohamed Ali called for anti-government protests on September 20 to commemorate a year since similar demonstrations were launched in the country.

 

 

In a rare show of dissent, thousands of people rallied in cities across Egypt in September last year, demanding the resignation of el-Sisi following a call for protests by Ali, also an actor and businessman who said his company used to carry out projects for the Egyptian military.

In response, authorities launched the "biggest crackdown" under el-Sisi's rule, according to Amnesty International, rounding up more than 2,300 people.

Security services pre-empted Sunday's protests by launching a campaign of arrests that included political figures, including the left-wing political thinker Amin al-Mahdi, and a number of activists, especially in the eastern city of Suez.

Several social media users also reported cafes being forced to close over the past week.

In addition to the government crackdown on opposition figures and activists, pro-government media called people who planned to demonstrate part of an external conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the government.

Anger in Egypt over demolition of thousands of illegal homes 

'Take back your country'

Ali, who lives in self-imposed exile in Spain, had expected a strong response to his calls for demonstrations against the government and over deteriorating living conditions.

In an interview with Al Jazeera last week, Ali said: "If five million people took to the streets [on Sunday], no one would be arrested at all.

"Last time [September 2019], the demonstrators returned to their homes, which made it easier for the regime to arrest them," he added.

In a video message, Ali called on protesters to stay out until their demands are met. "Egyptians unite. Out of love for the Egyptian people, take back your country again. Don't leave it in el-Sisi's hands," he said. "Do not go home. If we go home, they will detain us. We're in the streets and now we need to stay there."

William Lawrence, a former US diplomat and a professor of political science and international affairs at the American University, said the protests were "not that large and widespread" largely because "of the actions of the Egyptian regime.

"There were over 1,000 pre-emptive detentions … and there's been a crackdown [with] arrests of intellectuals, university students, common citizens - all to pre-empt larger protests," he told Al Jazeera. "What's important here is not the size of the protests but the fact that they are happening at all in such a tightly controlled situation."

Egypt outlawed all unauthorised demonstrations in 2013 after el-Sisi, as defence minister, led the military's overthrow of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi following mass demonstrations.

Since then, Egyptian authorities have imprisoned and prosecuted thousands of people, according to human rights groups, with a nationwide crackdown intensifying after el-Sisi was first elected in 2014 with 97 percent of the vote.

Some Egyptian activists have warned of the danger protesting poses to the lives of demonstrators, given what they called a tight grip on security by authorities.

On January 25, 2011, the Egyptian people began their revolution that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

SAUDI ARABIA, 19 September 2020, (CNN): Saudi Arabia has signed a series of deals to provide more than $200 million in funding to United Nations aid agencies operating in Yemen, just days after a CNN investigation highlighted a crisis in aid funding for the war-stricken nation.

The investigation revealed that support pledged to UN agencies by Saudi Arabia for Yemen had more than halved in 2020, falling from more than $1 billion to just $500 million this year. Of this amount, the UN told CNN only $23 million had so far come through its appeal.

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) announced the additional Saudi funding in a televised statement Friday.

"Today, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), signed three important agreements with UN organizations, namely the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNHCR for a total of $204 million," said KSrelief's Supervisor General, Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah.

"The amount was pledged by the Kingdom to support the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2020, and the Kingdom hopes that these UN organizations will do their utmost to implement these programs as soon as possible," he added.

The $204 million in funding announced by KSrelief on Friday will form part of the $500 million originally pledged by the Kingdom during a conference hosted by the United Nations and Saudi Arabia in June of this year, $300 million of which was promised to UN agencies.

The funds announced Friday will all go toward the UN Humanitarian Response Plan, with the lion's share -- $138 million -- allocated to the WFP, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

A further $46 million has been allocated to WHO and $20 million to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, leaving $94 million of the $300 million pledged to UN agencies to be finalized, OCHA said.

Kuwait also pledged $20 million at a high-level UN meeting on Yemen held Thursday but it is not yet clear how the funds will be allocated, according to OCHA.

"We welcome these developments and continue to urge all donors to fulfill their pledges and increase their support, given the increasingly desperate situation on the ground," an OCHA spokeswoman said.

Funding shortfalls

CNN's report, published Tuesday, revealed the devastating impact of funding cuts to humanitarian aid organizations in Yemen by the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which have pushed the war-torn country ever closer to the brink of famine.

A spokesperson for KSrelief told CNN at the time that the country had been ready to fulfill its unmet funding commitments to Yemen in July, but was waiting to finalize agreements with the agencies, citing concerns over appropriation of aid by the Iran-backed Ansarullah -- known as Houthi rebels.

"Previously, there were concerns about the lack of funding, but now we can assume that with the arrivals of the funds this afternoon, the UN organizations will begin to implement their programs tomorrow, now that the money is available," Al Rabeeah said Friday.

"I can assure you that the funds will be transferred today and that I do not anticipate any delays," he added.

The UN Financial Tracking Service (FTS) has since updated the total amount received from Saudi Arabia to $231.1 million in funding to its Yemen humanitarian response plan. However, according to data from the FTS, there is still more than $214 million in unmet funding commitments to Yemen from Saudi Arabia.

In Yemen, 80% of the population is dependent on aid, but UN data has revealed billions of dollars in funding shortfalls this year alone.

The WFP also estimates that more than 66% of people in Yemen are considered "food insecure" and that more than 14 million of them could die if they are no longer able to access food assistance from aid groups operating in the country.

According to KSrelief, Saudi authorities will be "closely following up" the situation in Yemen to ensure that humanitarian programs are being funded to help those most in need.

"We pray that these programs will be beneficial," Al Rabeeah added.

The US, Saudi Arabia and UAE are key actors in the conflict in Yemen, and in 2018 and 2019 they were the biggest donors to the UN response in Yemen.

In 2019, the US contributed almost $1 billion to the UN appeal, but this year, it has donated less than half that so far, giving $411 million, UN data shows. Despite the US' sizeable cut in funding, it is still the biggest donor to the UN's Yemen appeal.

A spokesperson for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) told CNN that the country would resume all operations in the Houthi-controlled north "when we are confident that our partners can deliver aid without undue Houthi interference and account for US assistance."

The Houthis have placed harsh restrictions on UN agencies trying to access parts of the country it controls in the north. Tensions have been high since the World Food Program, along with the US and its allies, accused the Houthis of stealing food aid from other parts of Yemen.

The Houthi rebels overthrew the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2015. A Saudi-led coalition, in which the UAE is a key partner, has waged a campaign against the Houthis for the past five years, destroying much of the Houthi-controlled areas with US backing.

Previous CNN investigations have shown that the US government profited from the war, by selling Saudi Arabia and the UAE American-made bombs and armaments.

 

 

 

WASHINGTON, 19 September 2020, (TON): Pentagon announced on Friday, 18 September that it intend to send mechanized troops back into Syria as a result of last month’s encounter with Russian forces in which  a Russian vehicle sideswiped a light-armored American vehicle, in which four American troops were injured.

US Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in a statement, “The return of mechanized units also comes as the US military deployed Sentinel radar and increased the frequency of fighter jet patrols over US forces in that part of Syria.” It was revealed that move is aimed to support Kuwait–based Operation Spartan Shield.

As per the sources US has less than 300 troops in Syria and borders, controlling oil fields and terminals for supply and sale of oil. It is also aimed to keep check on foreign deployment, especially from Turkey. 

GHAZA, 16 September 2020 (TON): Amid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's signing of normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain in Washington, at least two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip by unidentified miscreant elements that landed inside Israel. The Israeli authority claims that one of rocket was intercepted by Israel's anti-missile system while the other hit Ashdod, wounding at least two people. Palestinian factions operating in Gaza had denied any involvement and claimed that it was an Israeli conspiracy to target Hamas. Palestinians said that they carried out only peaceful protests and demonstrations in the Palestinian territories.

Israel bombed Gaza on Wednesday morning after rocket fire from the territory coinciding with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's signing of normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain in Washington. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas issued a statement claiming that the deals would not achieve peace in the region until the US and Israel acknowledged the right of self determination of the people of Palestine. President Mahmud Abbas warned that "attempts to bypass the Palestinian people and its leadership, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, will have dangerous consequences".

RIYADH, 14 September 2020 (TON): Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighter jets conducted 14 airstrikes at different positions in Yemen on early Sunday. They targeted barracks and military sites of the armed Houthi movement in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel reported.

Among the targets was the former command center for the Republican Guard located south of Sanaa and a maintenance camp that Iranian-led militias use to produce, develop, and manufacture weapons. The coalition also destroyed four Iranian-backed Houthi drones at al-Dulami air base north of Sanaa, al-Arabiya said, quoting local sources.

The Houthi militia’s al-Masirah TV channel likewise reported the airstrikes.

The Saudi-led coalition has not given any official confirmation of the attacks. However, these latest airstrikes follow attacks, which were conducted on Saturday, against two missile and drone depots sites in Sanaa.

Saturday’s strikes followed a Houthi claim that it had attacked an “important target” in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday using a ballistic missile and drones. The Houthis’ military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, had released a statement on Twitter claiming that Houthi missiles and drones had hit “military and sensitive objects” at the Abha international airport,

The coalition did not confirm an attack on Riyadh but said it had intercepted and destroyed ballistic missiles and explosive drones launched towards the kingdom on Thursday. According to Saudi news sources, Houthi rebels conducted five drone attacks against the kingdom this week.

WASHINGTON, 13 September 2020, (TON): US President Donald Trump has scored another trump through his telephone diplomacy, which has further consolidated his victory for the polls on 3 November. President Trump had announced on Friday that following a three-way telephone call, the leaders of the United States, Israel and Bahrain had reached an agreement for relations between the countries to be normalized.

In the meanwhile, Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat said the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to be resolved first before peace can be achieved. He said, “The Bahraini-American-Israeli agreement to normalize relations is now part of a bigger package in the region. It is not about peace, it is not about relations between countries. We are witnessing an alliance, a military alliance being created in the region, maybe you want to call it an Arab-Israel-NATO.” Sensing a major disaster in the region, Palestinians view that it is going to be a military alliance in the region.

WASHINGTON, 11 September 2020, TON: US President Donald Trump has announced in a statement that signing of bilateral agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will take place at the White House next week.

President Trump said that after the recent peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, he had a dialogue with Saudi Arabia regarding the Middle East peace talks. He did not claim any breakthrough, however, said, "I spoke to the king of Saudi Arabia, so we're talking. We just started the dialogue and you'll have them come in…" He further hinted that one other country could be joining the bilateral agreement between Israel and the UAE by the time ceremony takes place at the White House.

JEDDAH, 21 August 2020, Saudi Gazette report: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has issued a royal order dismissing officials from their posts based on the information received from the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, Red Sea Company, and Al-Soudah Development Company about encroachments on the Red Sea project land plots.

Encroachments on the Red Sea project land plots have exceeded 5,000, in addition to other violations in Al-Ula. These violations are considered to be an infringement on law and constitute environmental damage, in addition to their great impact on the completion of projects and their plans, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Friday.

Since it was found that these infringements have been illegally authorized by some officials which is an infringement on the commission and/or the aforementioned companies' jurisdiction, the royal order stipulated the following:

— Termination of the services of Lt. Gen. Awwad Al-Balawi, the director-general of Saudi Border Guards, by referring him to retirement.

— Ending the services of the governors of Umluj and Al-Wajh, and the head of the Souda Center.

— Ending the services of the commanders of the border guard sectors in Umluj and Al Wajh.

— Ending the services of the official responsible for infringements and his deputy at the ministry of the interior, and those responsible for infringements in the governorates of (Madinah, Tabuk, and Asir).

— Ending the services of the Secretary of Tabuk Region, and heads of municipalities of Umluj, Al-Wajh, and Al-Souda.

— Ending the services of the person responsible for infringements in the municipalities of Madinah and Tabuk regions.

— The Ministries of Interior and Municipal and Rural Affairs, Madinah, Tabuk, Asir are given one month from this date to remove all infringements, and very strict measures shall be taken in the event of any further infringement after that.

— The Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) shall immediately investigate all the officials referred to above about their responsibility for the above-mentioned infringements, and take legal action against them, and submit the results.

 

 

SAUDI ARABIA, 21 August 2020, TON: Islamic New Year begins today on 20 August 2020. The holy Quran guides that there are four months of “Hurmat” or prohibited in which Allah has ordered to abstain from fighting, killing and every kind of aggression. 

As per the Islamic tradition there were number of testimonies received from various cities and individuals about the sighting of Muharram moon, hence, Thursday was marked as the first day of the first month of the Islamic calendar.

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has announced that Thursday, 20 August is the first day of Muharram, the first month of the new Hijri year of 1442. The Saudi Press Agency reported that the crescent of the month of Muharram 1442 for Umm Al-Qura calendar was sighted on Wednesday evening, Dhul Hijjah 29, corresponding to 19 August 2020.

Meanwhile, in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan Friday August 21, 2020 is the first day of the Islamic New Year 1442 Hijri. 

ROME, 4 August 2020, TON: King Juan Carlos born in Italian capital Rome in 1938 and ascended the throne on 22 November 1975, two days after the death of General Francisco Franco. He stepped down in favour of his son Felipe on 18 June 2014. Presently, former King Juan Carlos is linked to an inquiry into alleged corruption so he has decided to leave the country.

Statement from the royal palace says, “Juan Carlos made the announcement in a letter to his son, Felipe, to whom he handed power six years ago. He said he would be available if prosecutors needed to interview him.” Spanish press reports also confirmed that he is no longer in the country. The media gave reference to his letter said; the former monarch wrote that he was making the decision in the face of the public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating and in the hope of allowing his son to carry out his functions as king with tranquility.

In June, Spain's Supreme Court opened an investigation into the alleged involvement of Juan Carlos in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia. As per the details Spanish firms won a €6.7bn (£6bn) deal to build a Mecca-Medina rail link. Spanish anti-corruption officials suspect that the former king kept some undeclared funds in Switzerland, and a Swiss investigation is under way. There were investigations involving his daughter's husband and a controversial elephant hunting trip the monarch took during Spain's financial crisis.

There are reports that that Western world was dissatisfied over Spanish monarch involvement in Headquarters of Islamic world and  was taken as tilt of Royal family towards Islam. If we recall, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman was due to attend a banquet with Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia before meeting with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and with Defense Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal on 12 April 2018. Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Oxfam and Spain’s Fundi Pau have criticized a possible contract to build and sell five Navy corvettes, valued at €2 billion that Spain is seeking to sign with Saudi Arabia that could be used by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran.

MECCA. 27 July 2020, TON: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday the arrival of pilgrims to the new King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah from the country’s five cities for the annual Hajj. The cities included Madina, Riyadh, Abha, Tabuk and Jazan. Priority was given to non-Saudis who do not have any pre-existing health conditions and have not previously performed the Hajj pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, the Hajis have started visiting Kaaba and offering their prayers and other Ibadat. The people attending the Hajj were satisfied with the arrangements and tanked the Kingdom for making arrangements and looking after them.

According to the Hajj and Umrah Ministry due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Kingdom has decided to limit the current Hajj season to domestic pilgrims. Saudi Minister Dr. Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Banten commented in a statement, “This selection was not a human selection, but it was Allah’s selection to choose this person to be one of the limited number of people to perform Hajj.”

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has implemented strict precautionary measures at the hotel to maintain the safety of the pilgrims including providing a separate room and hand sanitizers for each person. Those who live close enough to Mecca are not required to stay in the hotel.

MECCA, 21 July 2020, TON: The moon-sighting committees of Saudi Arabia was constituted to determine the 1st or beginning of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. The committees gave a unanimous decision that Wednesday, 22 July   will mark the first of Zul Hijjah and the 10th day of Zul Hijjah will be 31 July 2020. Hence, 31 July will be celebrated as first day of Eid Al Adha.

As per the details, the committees confirmed that the crescent of Zul Hijjah was not visible on Monday, 20 July  and will be clearly visible after the sunset of on Tuesday 21 July, which means that Wednesday, 22 July will be the first of Zul Hijjah that marks the start of this year’s Hajj. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has organized the Hajj with usual high level of arrangements but has limited to only 10,000 pilgrims from within the Kingdom due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

WASHINGTON, 29 April 2020, TON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has granted further relief and extension on a waiver to let Iraq import electricity from Iran.  US has confirmed the deal but Iranian side showed disinterest in State Department waiver.

 The secretary Pompeo was quoted to have said that US granted waiver to Iran up to 26 May 2020, to allow time for the formation of a credible government in Iraq.  However, the conditions for wavier was not immediately known.
Washington has been prodding Iraq, which is OPEC's second-biggest oil producer, toward self-sufficiency in the energy sector as it has allowed the import of energy from longtime U.S. foe Iran.
 Iraqi President Barham Salih recently allowed Intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi, to lead a government amid anti-government protests last year. Once that government took the seat, Washington is likely to extend the wavier.

TEHRAN, 22 April 2020, TON: In a latest tweet, US President Donald Trump said, “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea”.

The instructions are Trump's reaction to a recent confrontation between US warships and Iranian boats in the Arabian Gulf and launch of multiple purpose satellite on 22 April 2020.  A video was also  released by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps on Sunday shows the IRGC Navy warning off a flotilla of US warships in Arabian Gulf as they try to approach the Iranian territorial waters.

US President Donald Trump is stepping up his anti-Iran threats by claiming that he has instructed the US Navy to destroy Iranian boats. Washington is aiming at regime change in Iran to pave way for ultra modern leadership to emerge as a joint collation representing all sections of the Iranian society. . 

TEHRAN, 22 April 2020, TON: Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has successfully launched country’s first military satellite into the orbit on Wednesday 22 April 2020.

The elite force fired the satellite ‘Nour’ - 1 through ‘Qased’ satellite carrier from Dasht-e Kavir site in Iran’s Shahroud region.

Speaking on the occasion, Major General Hossein Salami of IRGC congratulated Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei and the Iranian people on the achievement and said that the new satellite could now assist Iran in “Intelligence Warfare.”

Analysts are of the view that launch was not possible during US’s tough sanctions so either US is collaborating with Tehran or it is the achievement from neighbourhood.

 

 

 

TEHRAN, 21 April 2020, TON: Iranian Revolutionary Guard announced Monday that it has successfully upgraded the range of its anti-warship missiles. The report released by the official quarters said, “the Iranian Revolutionary Guard now possesses surface-to-surface and subsurface anti-warship missiles with a range as high as 700 kilometers (430 miles). Iranian Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri said that Iran is in the position to defend its sea.

Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri’s remarks came a day after the Iranian naval forces had an encounter with US 5th Fleet warships in the Arabian Gulf.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. remain high in the Arabian Gulf, following US President Donald Trump’s announcement that it withdrew from the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.   

SANA, 9 April 2020, TON: The Saudi-led coalition, in an announcement on Wednesday declared a “ceasefire” with Yemen. Riyadh announcement came in support of UN efforts to end its five-year conflict, which has killed hundreds. Saudi authorities in  statement on Thursday said that Saudi Arabia is still holding ceasefire in effort to help Yemen in difficult situation. 

Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki explaining the ceasefire said, the decision has been taken to avoid a potential outbreak of the new coronavirus in Yemen.

The spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces has categorically dismissed a claim by Saudi-led military coalition that it was observing a two-week ceasefire and suspension of hostilities in its devastating war against Yemen. In a Twitter post on Thursday, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces said that the Saudi-led forces had stepped up their offensives and attacks across various parts of the country over the past few hours. The Tweet said, “Saudi and Emirati forces have carried out at least five large-scale airstrikes on Yemeni areas near the kingdom's southwestern border region of Najran since the early hours of this morning.” 

A Saudi Arabian officer disclosed that they have not attacked Yemen since the announcement of ceasefire and this has been done by some other country intentionally so that peace should not be restored. Media reports claimed that coalition’s warplanes struck positions at several Yemeni regions, including Al-Bayda and Sa’ada, Amran. Other media reports said, Yemeni army forces and their allies fired US ballistic missiles at their camp in the southern Yemeni provinces of Abyan.

The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

 

AMMAN, 6 April 2020, TON: His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordon on Sunday directed the government to examine the gradually resumption of operations in productive sectors, especially in the export sector to support the economy.
 
Chairing a National Policies Council (NPC) meeting which was also attended by His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein, adviser to the King, urged creative solutions that create balance between public health and economic plans. He stressed on studying small and medium sized enterprises with focus on  public-private partnerships.  
King Abdullah also discussed progress of remote learning and the measures being taken to sustain the educational process.

DUBAI, 3 April 2020, TON: Commerce ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held an extraordinary virtual meeting to discuss the economic impact of the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), citing the role of their ministries to guarantee the provision and flow of basic and necessary commodities to citizens and residents in their countries, assist the private sector to enable it fulfill its role in the economy amid the current extraordinary circumstances and assess the developments as well as the precautionary measures being implemented by the GCC countries to curb the epidemic.


The meeting was headed by the Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri in the attendance of his GCC counterparts in addition to the GCC Secretary General Dr. Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf.


During the meeting, the ministers of commerce reviewed the recommendations submitted by the undersecretaries of their ministries of commerce, focusing on the importance of cooperation to guarantee the flow of basic goods and commodities to citizens and residents in the GCC countries, got informed of the precautionary measures being taken by their countries to prevent the spread of the disease and reviewed the urgent initiatives taken by the GCC countries to provide support for the private sector, particularly the small and medium enterprises as well as the economic activities affected by the epidemic.


The ministers underscored the importance of goods smooth flow among the GCC countries so that no contradiction could take place between measures allowing goods to move and precautionary measures barring humans from moving as both measures constitute a common goal to curb the epidemic. They also asserted the importance of keeping their airports, sea ports and land exits open to transport commodities among the GCC countries.
The ministers formed a task team from their ministries to coordinate with each other in an endeavor to follow up and eradicate any obstacle that might face the flow of goods among the GCC countries.

RIYADH, 1 April 2020, TON: Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Banten  asked the countries of the world to be patient in concluding Hajj contracts for current 2020 (1441 AH), until the status about the epidemic is clear. He impressed upon the Muslims about Saudi Arabia’s responsibility towards the public health of the world.
He said that the Kingdom, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and His Royal Highness Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense are concerned about the safety of all pilgrims.

He ensured those Muslims who obtained Umrah visas and couldn't perform Umrah due to the precautionary will be refunded their amount.

TRIPOLI, 30 March 2020, TON: Forces loyal to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) repulsed an attack on south of Tripoli, launched by the rebels under General Khalifa Haftar.

A spokesman for GNA, Mustafa Al-Majei said “The air force carried out three strikes against concentrations of Haftar militia fighters in the vicinity of Sirte. A number of individuals and other locations were also targeted.”

On Saturday, the GNA forces announced that their air strikes killed the operations commander of Sirte, Salem Driaq, his aide, Gaddafi Al-Sadai, and eight of their soldiers. Artillery also targeted buildings in Qasr Bin Ghashir, south of Tripoli, where Russian, American and African mercenaries were sheltering. If we recall, on Thursday, UN recognized GNA, launched Operation Peace Strom and took over airfield and arrested a number of mercenary.

RIYADH, 29 March 2020, TON: Saudi Arabia has successfully intercepted missiles fired from across the border at Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on Saturday, 28 March.

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Air Defense Forces intercepted and destroyed the ballistic missiles at midnight, state media said. Saudi state TV reported that its missile defense systems were used in the interception.

Meanwhile, US is praising its Patriot missile defence systems while Russian head of the Defence Committee, Vladimir Shamanov negotiated and advised Saudi Arabia to replace old Air Defence systems with Russian S-400 or S-300 systems.

Another report by the Israeli news agency said that Saudi Arabia intercepted two ballistic missiles on Saturday night launched by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group towards Riyadh and the city of Jizan as reaction to Saudi-led coalition fighting against Houthi militia.

In the recent past, a third country was trying to establish communication between Saudi Arabia and Yemen as well as the rebel groups. The talks were in mid way and the missiles attack seems deliberate attempt, intended to create suspicion in the path of peace between various stakeholders.

RIYADH, 24 March 2020, TON:  Minister of Education Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh, in the presence of Minister of Commerce and Acting Minister of Media Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Eng. Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha, inspected the Virtual School Content Production Center in Riyadh that serves distantly 6 million students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the period of the schools suspension.
At the outset of the inspection tour, the ministers were briefed on the services of the virtual school through a documentary film that tells the story of distance education in the public education, the educational operations that take place by the efforts of teachers and supervisors in preparing the educational content for the daily lessons according to the study plan, and transferring them directly through 20 channels of IEN educational channels. They were also briefed on the statistics and numbers of distance education in public and university education since the decision of schools suspension.
At the end of the inspection tour, the Minister of Education explained that after 10 hours of the announcement of the schools suspension, the Ministry shifted from an educational system dependent on the attendance of students to another educational system dependent on the option of distance education, stressing that this transformation was not easy, but the Ministry was able to serve 6 million students in the public education within hours, and about 1 million and 600,000 students in the universities sector through technical platforms and programs.
The Acting Minister of Media praised the great efforts exerted by those responsible for the virtual school with the support and guidance of the Minister of Education, as well as the efforts of teachers and their dedication to deliver the education message without stopping, stressing the role of every mother and father in supporting their sons and daughters to continue their studies distantly.
He affirmed that the Coronavirus crisis has created a united team capable of achieving an educational achievement that we are proud of.
Then, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology said that the digital infrastructure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is solid today with the support and directives of the leadership, adding that the rate of internet access has exceeded 94 percent.
He affirmed that these numbers come with a support of a network of optical fibers, which reaches today to 3,500,000 houses.

DHAKA, 24 March 2020, TON:  Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Issa bin Youssef Al-Duhailan has met here with Bangladesh's President Mohammed Abdul Hamid.
During the meeting, Al-Duhailan presented his credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the People's Republic of Bangladesh.
On this occasion, the Ambassador conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince to the President.
For his part the President praised the historical and brotherly relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of Bangladesh, expressing thanks to the Kingdom for supporting Bangladesh in various fields.

CAIRO, 19 March 2020, TON: The Egyptian government has approved collaboration between space agencies of Egypt and China. Egyptian space agency would Chinese institution for using its satellite launching stations.

The Egypt's official news agency MENA  reported that Egyptian Space Agency has been authorized to sign a contact with the China Great Wall Industry Corporation to use its stations to launch Egyptian satellites.

Egypt and China signed an agreement in September 2019, to commence the construction of satellite assembly, integrating and testing facilities in Egypt with the development of the China-funded Egyptian satellite MisrSat-II.

Egypt launched TIBA-1, a state-owned civil communication satellite in November 2019. 

Beijing and Cairo signed a USD 72 million grant for Egypt's space programme for EgyptSat-2 Earth observation satellite programme on 21 January 2019, In this year more meetings between the two space agencies are taking place and in the coming months important breakthroughs are expected. .

What measures should parents take in ensuring their child is safe from Coronavirus?

Dubai: 18 March 2020, TON:  Keeping children safe is a concern among many parents, specifically with the children home from school. While there are many ways that preventative measures should be implemented in the home,  Consultant and Head of pediatric dentistry in Dubai Health Authority to ensure the safety of their children.

Dr. Mansoor pediatric firstly advises that children are sleeping well. Although it might be tempting during the holidays for children’s sleep schedules to shift, it is important that they are resting.

“These things are definitely important to ensure that their immunity is optimized. They should engage in any activity. In addition to all that, it’s extremely important to take this opportunity to teach them about hand hygiene and the importance of hygiene etiquette like washing their hands frequently, trying to avoid touching their faces with their hands and to know the etiquette of how to sneeze into a tissue or their elbow,” Dr. Mansoor says.

The pediatrics doctor understands that teaching children about certain habits differs from each individual depending on their age and character, “Every child has a unique personality so understanding what they like can make a huge difference. For example, parents can reward the children every time they wash their hands, they can have a timetable to keep track of handwashing, there can be small competitions in the house between the siblings, there could be a song that they sing while washing their hands, they can be watching a little clip, there are many different things they can follow and it just really depends on the personality of the child.”

 

Baghdad, 17 March 2020, TON: Iraq's president named ex-Najaf city governor Adnan Zurfi as the new prime minister, tasked with ruling a country hit by street protests, military unrest and now the coronavirus pandemic.

The nomination came hours after two rockets hit an Iraqi military base hosting US-led coalition and NATO troops, the third such attack within a week, without causing casualties according to military officials.

Lawmaker Zurfi, 54, is the former governor of the Shiite holy city of Najaf and once belonged to the Dawa party, the longtime opposition force to ex-dictator Saddam Hussein who was ousted in the 2003 US-led invasion.

President Barham Saleh said he had nominated Zurfi to replace outgoing premier Adel Abdel Mahdi, who resigned in December, at a time when Iraq has been rocked by an unprecedented wave of anti-government rallies. Zurfi, a member of the Nasr coalition led by ex-PM Haider al-Abadi, now has 30 days to pull together a government, which must then be confirmed by parliament.

His nomination comes at an especially tumultuous time for Iraq, which has been battered by almost six months of street protests, collapsing oil prices, the novel coronavirus outbreak and the renewed rocket attacks which Washington blames on pro-Iranian forces.

A senior government source told that political factions had intensely debated names for days, seeking a "non-confrontational" figure in an attempt to preserve the status quo. Iraq has since 2003 been governed under a sectarian power-sharing system characterised by intense horsetrading between sects and parties. An earlier nominee, Mohammad Allawi, had failed to form a cabinet by March 2, triggering a new 15-day deadline for Saleh that was set to end late Tuesday. The president's announcement came just hours after a new pre-dawn rocket attack targeted foreign troops stationed in Iraq.

Two rockets hit the Besmaya base about 60 kilometres (40 miles) south of Baghdad, according to the Iraqi military, the US-led coalition and NATO, all of which have forces stationed there. The Iraqi military made no mention of casualties and a NATO press officer told that  none of its forces were hurt. The past week has seen a renewed spike in rockets hitting Iraqi bases hosting foreign forces, with three coalition troops killed on March 11 in an attack on the Taji air base, which was targeted again on March 14. Iraq's parliament, which sees the US strikes as a violation of its sovereignty, has voted to oust all foreign forces -- but the paralysis gripping the political class has slowed the implementation of the decision.

 

TEL AVIV, 17 March 2020, TON: Israel's ex-military chief Benny Gantz, who won recommendations  by 61 lawmakers, a razor thin majority in the 120-member parliament,  was nominated to form a government but further talks were expected with his rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on alliance to fight coronavirus.

Gantz, who heads the centrist Blue and White party, called for unity and urged Netanyahu to join him as Israel seeks to end a crippling political stalemate after three inconclusive elections in less than a year.

Gantz formally nominated by President Reuven Rivlin to attempt to form an administration.

"I will do everything to form in as few days as possible a national, patriotic and broad government."

 Rivlin later addressed the new Knesset, with lawmakers having their temperatures taken before being brought into the chamber in twos and threes, to reduce risk of virus transmission.

In remarks to a chamber empty but for Netanyahu and Gantz, he implored all lawmakers to end the impasse.

The vote saw Likud secure the most seats but, along with its religious party allies, it fell three seats short of a majority. Gantz made calls to Netanyahu's religious allies on Monday, but was rebuffed for now. The head of the religious, nationalist Yemina party, Defence Minister Naftali Bennett, urged Gantz to let Netanyahu lead a short-term emergency government.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing. The trial had been due to open on Tuesday, but Jerusalem's District Court postponed it to May 24, blaming the virus outbreak. The prime minister's rivals cried foul, accusing him of using the public health crisis to push back his long-anticipated day in court.

Tel aviv, 17 March 2020, TON: Israel’s government has approved emergency measures to track people suspected or confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus by monitoring their mobile phones, immediately raising privacy concerns in the country.

The cabinet unanimously approved the use of the technology, developed initially for counter-terrorism purposes, in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, first raised the issue during the weekend. He said authorities would use the data to notify people who may have come into contact with someone infected with the virus, and also to enforce quarantine orders.

In a Monday evening televised speech, the leader said the cyber monitoring would be in effect for 30 days. “Israel is a democracy and we must maintain the balance between civil rights and the public’s needs,” Netanyahu said. “These tools will very much assist us in locating the sick and stopping the virus from spreading.”

Using emergency powers, he bypassed what would typically be a process of approval by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. It had looked likely a parliamentary subcommittee would have delayed the rollout. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said providing the country’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, with new secretive powers was a “dangerous precedent and a slippery slope that must be approached and resolved after much debate and not after a brief discussion”.

Netanyahu’s authority to implement such measures has also been questioned. The country is battling the coronavirus while also under an extending political crisis, with Netanyahu ruling as interim leader. His opponent, Benny Gantz, is prime minister-designate and attempting to form a government although it is unclear if enough lawmakers will back him.

TEHRAN, 17 March 2020, TON: A statement was issued by the office Ayatollah, Nasser Makarem Shirazi in which he reiterated that he was never asked about an anti-coronavirus vaccine produced by Israel.

Following reports on Israeli scientists' progress toward producing an anti-novel coronavirus vaccine, a daily in Iran, Hamdeli (Empathy), published the opinions of Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi and parliament’s Legal Committee Chairman Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi.

Affiliated with the so-called pragmatic conservative camp in the clergy-dominated Iran, Hamdeli cited Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi as approving the purchase of a vaccine from Israel, if it is the only vaccine on the market.

"Is it permissible to use a coronavirus vaccine discovered and manufactured by Israel?" Hamdeli claimed to have asked the Ayatollah on March 11.

Makarem Shirazi responded, "It is forbidden to purchase or sell the vaccine if we know for certain that the profit made by the companies [producing it] will go to the Zionists and Israel unless this is the only medicine [available] and there is no other alternative."

A few days after the article, the ayatollah’s office issued the denial.

Nonetheless, the statement has stopped short of reflecting Makarem Shirazi's opinion on the initial case, whether it is permissible for the Islamic Republic of Iran to buy vaccines manufactured by Israelis or not.

Meanwhile, Hamdeli also published the response of Rahimi Jahanabadi, to the same question.

"Not only we but everyone, will be delighted when some country manages to [develop a vaccine] and save human lives. If some country, including America, with whom we have no relations, and the 'Zionist' regime, which we do not [even] recognize as a state, discovers the vaccine, it will surely [place it] on the global market, and we too will be able to purchase it via go-betweens or other countries", the parliamentarian said.

Rahimi Jahanabadi has not denied his comments, so far.

During the deadly and destructive eight-year war between Iran and Iraq (1980-88), the Islamic Republic, on several occasions, managed to clandestinely by Israeli manufactured weaponry.

The Jerusalem Post (JP) reported on February 28 that scientists at the Galilee Research Institute, known as MIGAL, were adapting its vaccine against the avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus, or IBV, to work for the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

RIYADH: 15 March, 2020, TON:  Saudi Arabia will suspend international flights for two weeks from Sunday, 15 March 2020 to show solidarity with international community to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. 

It was reported by media on Friday that 24 new cases of Coronavirus infections were reported in the Kingdom, raising the total to 86.

Following are the updates so far:

  • During the two-week period, some flights would only be allowed in "exceptional cases". 
  • For residents who cannot come back during this period, it will be considered as an official holiday.
  • Arrangements will be made regarding health procedures such as examination and isolation according to the preventive measures approved for all arrivals.
  • For Saudi citizens who wish to return, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, the Civil Aviation Authority and other relevant parties, will arrange for their arrival, and the relevant procedures will be soon announced.

The Kingdom has suspended travel to and from the entire European Union and 12 other countries in Asia and Africa.

ANKARA,15 March 2020, TON:  The first Turkish-Russian joint land patrol was carried out on M4 highway in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, Turkish National Defense Ministry announced Sunday.

The ministry said on Twitter that the joint land patrol was carried out with participation of land and air elements as part of the agreement reached in Moscow between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

On Friday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced the date of the first joint patrol of Turkey and Russia, adding that the two countries will establish joint coordination centers in the region.

Erdogan and Putin on March 5 agreed on a new cease-fire for Idlib.

Under the deal, all military activities are to end in Idlib with the establishment of a security corridor 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the north and south of the key M 4 highway.

RIYADH, 27 February 2020, TON: Saudi Arabia has restricted  travel to Holy Kaabah over fears about a viral epidemic. The move came as there were reports of over 245 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the neighbouring countries. In an official statement announcing the decision, Saudi Foreign Ministry said “We ask God Almighty to spare all humanity from all harm.”

The extraordinary decision by Saudi Arabia stops movement of foreigners from reaching holy city of Mecca and Medina. Otherwise those already in Mecca and suburbs have not been stopped from offering prayers five times a day and other rituals. The decision also affected travel to Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina.

In the neighbouring Iran, reportedly death toll from the virus has reached 22 dead and 142 confirmed cases. In Kuwait so far 43 cases have been reported while Bahrain confirmed 33 cases, all linked to travelers who recently came from Iran. In Iraq government has ordered schools and universities closed for 10 days. The government also ordered the closures of cinemas, cafes, clubs and other social gathering.

       28 January 2020: Saudi Arabia confirmed on Monday that Israeli passport holders were not permitted to enter the Kingdom.

Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the policy was unchanged despite Israel saying on Sunday that its citizens could now travel to Saudi Arabia.

“Our policy is fixed,” Prince Faisal told CNN. “We do not have relations with the state of Israel, and Israeli passport holders cannot visit the Kingdom at the current time.

“When a peace agreement is reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis, I believe the issue of Israel’s involvement in the region will be on the table.”

Analysts said the statements by both countries were significant as US President Donald Trump prepared to unveil his Middle East peace plan in Washington.

“Israel wanted to fool the Arabs, and to put Saudi Arabia in a difficult position, saying they had resolved the issue with the Kingdom and were ready for peace,” the Saudi political analyst Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“But the Kingdom is saying, ‘No, you cannot visit until there is a solution,’ and we will find out tomorrow if the Trump peace plan is that solution.”

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, calling for normal Arab relations with Israel in return for its withdrawal from occupied land, was the benchmark, Al-Shehri said.

“If they are going to override the Arab Peace Initiative without a workable alternative, then of course the Kingdom will not establish diplomatic relations.” 

Rockets hit near US embassy in Baghdad

Expresstribune: A volley of rockets landed near the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad Sunday, two security sources told AFP, in the latest unclaimed attack on American installations in the country.

AFP reporters heard loud thuds emanating from the western bank of the Tigris, where most foreign embassies are located.

One security source said three Katyusha rockets hit near the high-security compound while another said as many as five struck the area.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

 

Erdogan says Haftar pursues Libya attacks 'with all his resources

 

Morungexpress: Eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar is violating Libya's truce and so cannot be expected to respect the ceasefire called between his forces and pro-government troops, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

Despite efforts by Turkey and Russia, Haftar abandoned talks on a ceasefire in Moscow earlier this month and his blockade of Libyan oilfields overshadowed a summit in Berlin last week aimed at agreeing on a permanent truce.

 

His Libyan National Army (LNA) faction aims to capture the capital, Tripoli, through the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russian mercenaries and African troops.

Turkey meanwhile backs Fayez al-Serraj's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Fighting has abated in the past weeks but picked up at the weekend at the frontline in southern Tripoli, where artillery fire could be heard, a Reuters reporter said. More than 150,000 people have been displaced by the months of fighting.

Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

MorungExpress: Pope Francis met Iraq's president on Saturday and the two agreed that the country's sovereignty must be respected, following attacks on Iraqi territory this month by the United States and Iran.

 

President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican's two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, its foreign minister.

The talks "focused on the challenges the country currently faces and on the importance of promoting stability and the reconstruction process, encouraging the path of dialogue and the search for suitable solutions in favour of citizens and with respect for national sovereignty," a Vatican statement said.

Earthquake in eastern Turkey kills 21

 

Siasat: A powerful earthquake has killed at least 21 people and injured more than 1,000 in eastern Turkey, as rescue teams searched through the rubble of collapsed buildings for survivors on Saturday.

The Turkish government’s disaster and emergency management agency (AFAD) said in a series of tweets early on Saturday that five people were pulled alive from the rubble in the eastern province of Elazig.

State news agency Anadolu said among those found alive was a pregnant woman who was rescued 12 hours after the quake hit.

At least 30 people were missing following the magnitude 6.8 quake on Friday night, which had its epicentre in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in Elazig.

Prince Charles: 'My dearest wish is freedom and equality for Palestinians

Skynews: Prince Charles has said it is his "dearest wish" that Palestinians see "freedom, justice and equality" in the future.

Speaking during his historic first visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the royal said there should be an end to the "suffering and division" in Bethlehem.

The Prince of Wales's words of support came as US President Donald Trump was expected to unveil his long-awaited Middle East peace plan.

But the initiative, intended to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is thought to be an unfavourable one for Palestinians with the Israelis reportedly set to receive territory gains and other concessions.

"It breaks my heart, therefore, that we should continue to see so much suffering and division," Charles said.

Huge rally as Iraqis demand US troops pull out

BBC NewsHuge crowds have taken to the streets of Iraq's capital, Baghdad, to demand that US forces leave Iraq.

Powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr earlier called for a million people to join Friday's march, close to the US embassy in the capital.

Iranian-backed militias are among those protesting in the city.The US killing of the top Iranian military commander, Gen Qasem Soleimani, on 3 January at Baghdad airport has fuelled tensions.

Also assassinated in the US drone strike was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi who had commanded the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group

Israel's Netanyahu calls Iran 'most anti-Semitic regime

The Morung Express: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called Iran "the most antisemitic regime on the planet" during an address during a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

"I am concerned that we have yet to see a unified and resolute stance against the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet. A regime that openly seeks to develop nuclear weapons and annihilate the one and only Jewish state," Netanyahu told assembled world leaders.

Lebanon announces new government after months of uncertainty and protests

 

The Telegraph: new Lebanese government was formed Tuesday night, breaking a months-long impasse amid ongoing mass protests against the country's ruling elite. Hassan Diab, the new prime minister, had struggled to form a government since being nominated in December.

Mr Diab vowed on Tuesday that his newly unveiled government would strive to meet the demands of a three-month-old protest movement demanding radical change.

"This is a government that represents the aspirations of the demonstrators who have been mobilised nationwide for more than three months," he said, moments after the line-up was read out at the presidential palace.

He said his government "will strive to meet their demands for an independent judiciary, for the recovery of embezzled funds, for the fight against illegal gains."

Iranian MP offers $3 million reward for 'whoever kills Trump

Express Tribune:An Iranian lawmaker offered a $3 million reward to anyone who killed US President Donald Trump and said Iran could avoid threats if it had nuclear arms, ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday amid Tehran’s latest standoff with Washington.

Tensions have steadily escalated since Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions. The standoff erupted into tit-for-tat military strikes this month.

On behalf of the people of Kerman province, we will pay a $3 million reward in cash to whoever kills Trump,” lawmaker Ahmad Hamzeh told the 290-seat parliament, ISNA reported.

 

 

No more shop closing for five times prayer in Saudi Arabia

 

After Saudi Arabia had long been engaged in a debate to halt businesses during the five times prayer, the kingdom recently announced allowing commercial activities to function for 24 hours, with a new string of promised boosts of business and provide services for all.

While the change solves many problems, such as congestion and loss of potential income, many Saudis still debate whether or not it will include the custom of shops closing during prayer time, five times a day, Arab News reported on Sunday.

A custom that has uniquely defined Saudi Arabia among all Muslim countries, which typically require shops to close only during the weekly Friday prayer, this practice has long been discussed and disputed in the society.

Libya civil war: Rivals to join major powers in Germany

 

BBC News:Libya's warring rival factions are expected to join major powers in Germany in a renewed push to secure a ceasefire to halt the civil war.

The talks follow the collapse of an earlier truce amid recriminations.

The conflict pits powerful General Khalifa Haftar against the UN-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.

Sunday's summit also aims to extract a pledge from foreign powers to honour a UN arms embargo and to halt any further interference in the conflict.

On Saturday, forces loyal to Gen Haftar blocked oil exports from major ports - a blow to the country's main source of income.

And reports on Sunday suggest the general's forces had shut down pipelines in Libya as the conference got under way.

إسلام آباد: 02 – يناير 2020م (وكالة الأنباء الباكستانية الرسمية – APP).
رفضت باكستان بشدة تصريح قائد الجيش الهندي الجنرال “منوش ماكنداي” حول هجوم مسبق على الخط الفاصل في كشمير، ووصفت وزارة الخارجية الباكستانية في بيان لها اليوم التصريح من قبل قائد الجيش الهندي بأنه إياه غير مسئول، وأكد البيان بأن باكستان مستعدة وقادرة للرد على أي العدوان من جانب الهند، وأشار إلى أنه على الهند أن لا تنسى الرد من قبل باكستان عندما أسقطت القوات الجوية الباكستانية طائرتين مقاتلتين هنديتين أثناء محاولتهما لاختراق المجال الجوي الباكستاني في 27 من فبراير العام الماضي، كما أكد البيان بأنه بالرغم من الاستفزاز من قبل الهند إن باكستان ستواصل لعب دورها لتعزيز الأمن والسلام في المنطقة.

ISLAMABAD, Jan 2 (APP):Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Thursday arrived here on daylong visit to meet the leadership and discuss the bilateral and regional matters.

As the foreign dignitary landed from his special aircraft at Nur Khan Airbase, Prime Minister Imran Khan received him warmly along with his cabinet members.

Traditionally attired two children presented bouquet to the foreign guest who is the first foreign dignitary to visit Pakistan in the new year.

The crown prince was accompanied by a high-level delegation who is here on his second visit as he had last visited the country in January last year.

The crown prince would have a one-on-one meeting with the prime minister who would also host a luncheon for the guest.

During the meeting, the leadership would exchange views covering bilateral matters and regional and international issues of common interest.

According to Foreign Office, the frequent exchange of high-level visits between Pakistan and the UAE was reflective of the importance that the two countries attached to their fraternal ties. The crown prince’s visit would contribute to further enhancement of multi-faceted collaboration between Pakistan and the UAE.

The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investments. The UAE is also among Pakistan’s prime development partners in education, health and energy sectors. It hosts more than 1.6 million expatriate Pakistani community, which contributes remittances of around $4.5 billion annually to the GDP.

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi AMMAN

Syrian army command said on Friday that Israel fired rockets at a major military airport west of Damascus, the capital, and warned Tel Aviv of repercussions of what it called a "flagrant" attack.

United Nations: Israel’s UN ambassador on Friday raised concern over what he said were moves at the Security Council to adopt a new measure to build on the Paris Middle East conference

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