Archive for October, 2013

Palestinian man dies in Egypt prison


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The body of a Palestinian man was returned to Gaza late Monday after he died in an Egyptian prison.

Yousef Amro Abu Zayed, 51, was detained in Egypt because his visa had expired. He died three days ago but his family were unable to bring his body back until Tuesday.

The circumstances around his death are unclear, his family say, although there were no signs of torture.

Egyptian authorities have detained a number of Palestinians, claiming that their visas have expired.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.


4 new Palestinian ambassadors sworn in


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) – Four new Palestinian ambassadors were sworn in by President Mahmoud Abbas in his office in Ramallah Monday, according to the official Palestinian Authority’s news agency Wafa.

Marwan Tubasi was sworn in as ambassador of Palestine to Greece, while Issa Qassisiya was sworn in as ambassador to the Vatican. Mary Antwanit Seden was sworn in as ambassador to Hungary. Abdul-Hafith Nofal was sworn in as ambassador to South Africa.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.


Lebanon president laments burden of Syria refugees

September 25, 2013

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Lebanon’s president said Tuesday that his country was struggling under the weight of at least a million Syrian refugees as the U.S. pledged tens of millions of dollars in aid to offset the costs of the war spillover.

Michel Suleiman spoke of the crisis in his country in his address to world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Hours earlier, he met with President Barack Obama, who praised Lebanon for its generosity in welcoming refugees fleeing the crisis in neighboring Syria.

Obama announced $339 million in additional humanitarian aid in response to Syria’s crisis, including $74 million for Lebanon. He also said the U.S. was sending $8.7 million to help Lebanon’s military protect its borders against terrorist threats and illicit goods.

Suleiman said Lebanon is overwhelmed by Syrian refugees who have reached around a fourth of Lebanon’s population of 4.5 million. He said the burden of hosting them was beginning to take on “an existential dimension” for his nation.

The impact of Syria’s refugees on Lebanon will be the focus of a meeting Wednesday on the sidelines of the General Assembly. The meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon will draw donors and others to discuss the dimensions of the crisis.

The Washington-based World Bank has concluded a quick assessment at the request of the Lebanese government to determine the economic and social impact of spillover from the conflict in Syria and the financial resources Lebanon will need to cope with it. It was done in preparation for Wednesday’s meeting.

Lebanon faces billions of dollars in lost economic activity, and the massive influx of refugees is overwhelming public services and risks driving up unemployment and poverty rates, according to the assessment.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim met Suleiman on Tuesday to begin work on a plan for coping with the Syrian spillover. He thanked Lebanon for its generosity and discussed how the World Bank and the international community can do their part so that Lebanon does not shoulder the costs alone, according to a World Bank statement.

“We now have a clear picture of the costs Lebanon faces for sheltering nearly a million refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria,” Kim said. The assessment covered the period of 2012-2014 and is meant to both guide government policy and provide a basis for coordinating global support.

It concluded that Syrian refugees in Lebanon could reach 1.3 million by the end of 2013. “If the conflict continues, there could be as many as 1.6 million refugees in Lebanon by the end of 2014,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa region.

The demand on public services has surged along with the population. If things continue on the same course, rising demand will drive up government expenditures by an estimated $1.1 billion for 2012-2014. Government revenues are expected to drop by $1.5 billion because of interrupted trade and an erosion of business and consumer confidence, the assessment found.

More than 170,000 Lebanese will be pushed into poverty by 2014, and unemployment could double to more than 20 percent over the same period, the World Bank said. Up to $1.6 billion will be needed to maintain the quality of social safety nets and health and education systems, and to restore access to pre-crisis levels, according to the World Bank report. In addition, services such as electricity, waste management, transportation and water will need additional investments to meet the needs of the Lebanese population and the refugees.

Jordanians arrested for supporting Egypt Islamists

October 01, 2013

AMMAN: Three Jordanian men have been arrested for carrying posters supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, a judicial official said on Tuesday.

“The three men were arrested last week. They were carrying posters with the slogan of Rabaa,” he told AFP.

The yellow posters show a black hand with four fingers raised, symbolizing Cairo’s pro-Morsi Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp, which was broken up on August 14, sparking clashes that killed hundreds of protesters.

“The state security court charged the suspects on Monday with acts the government does not approve that would harm Jordan’s relations with a brotherly Arab country,” the official said.

“One of the suspects was accused of insulting heads of states. The authorities found text messages on his mobile phone’s Internet messenger application WhatsApp that insult the Jordanian regime and other regimes.”

The three face up to three years in jail if convicted, the official said, adding that the court refused to release them on bail.

Jordan was among the first countries to welcome the July 3 military coup ousting Morsi, which was strongly condemned by the kingdom’s Muslim Brotherhood.

King Abdullah II, who himself faces challenges at home from Islamists, was the first head of state to visit Egypt, 17 days after the coup.

Source: The Daily Star.


Salafist control of border crossing embarrasses Jordan

Friday, 27 September 2013

Retired Egyptian Brigadier General Safwat Al-Zayyat said on Wednesday that Islamist control of the borders between Syria and Jordan embarrasses the Jordanian government.

The military expert, who often appears on Al-Jazeera, suggested that the current position of the Salafist Al-Nusra Front, which is fighting against the regime in Syria, is an “embarrassment for the Jordanian government”.

Therefore, Al-Zayyat expects that the Al-Nusra Front will concede control over the crossing to the Free Syrian Army, a solution that is more acceptable to the Jordanians.

There are many ideological differences between the Jordanian government and the Al-Nusra Front. The Jordanian government and other regional and international governments accuse the Front of being affiliated to Al-Qaeda.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Jordan: No attack on Syria from our soil

August 28, 2013

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan will not be used as a launching pad for attacks on Syria and the kingdom favors a diplomatic solution to the crisis, a Jordanian government spokesman said Wednesday.

A U.S.-led strike on Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad’s regime likely would involve cruise missile attacks from the sea, which would not need to cross or make use of Jordanian territory.

But the remarks underline the U.S. ally’s efforts to avoid further friction with its larger neighbor for fear that Assad or his Iranian backers could retaliate. The remarks come a day after Jordan hosted a meeting of top commanders from Western and Middle Eastern countries, including some that are likely to participate in a military action.

“Jordan will not be a launching pad for any military action against Syria,” said spokesman Mohammad Momani, who is also the country’s information minister. He said Jordan prefers a “diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis” and called on the international community to “consolidate efforts in that regard.”

Tuesday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Arab and Western peers to discuss ways to bolster the security of Syria’s neighbors against possible attacks, chemical or other, by Assad’s regime, a Jordanian security official said. Army chiefs of staff from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada also attended the meeting in Jordan.

Syrian state radio, quoting an unnamed political commentator, accused Jordan in news bulletins Tuesday of participating in a U.S.-led “aggression” for hosting the meeting. Similar meetings took place earlier this year in Britain and Qatar. The Jordanian official said more meetings were planned in the near future. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak publicly to journalists.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, condemned a possible U.S. military intervention in Syria. “It will not help the Syrian people, but aims first and foremost at boosting American and Zionist interests by weakening and dividing Syria and imposing a political regime that would be a puppet to the Americans,” the group said in a statement.

The group also warned of the “serious repercussions” on the Palestinian issue, saying a weakened Syria would allow Israel to impose “self-tailored solutions to the lingering Arab-Israeli conflict.”