Archive for April, 2016

Jordan recalls Iran envoy over alleged ‘interference’

April 18, 2016

Jordan recalled its ambassador to Iran on Monday for consultations over alleged Iranian interference in Arab affairs.

Government spokesman Mohammad Momani was quoted by the official Petra news agency as saying that the move was meant to protest “Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries, particularly the Gulf states”.

Tensions have been high between Sunni Arab countries and Shia Iran since Saudi Arabia severed relations with Tehran in January after angry protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran following the execution of a prominent Shia Saudi imam.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160418-jordan-recalls-iran-envoy-over-alleged-interference/.

Qatar agrees to projects worth $20m in Gaza

April 19, 2016

Qatar yesterday signed a $20 million package of new projects in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Minister of Public Works and Housing, Moffeed Al Hasina, and the Chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, Ambassador Mohammed Al-Emadi,signed the deal in Gaza City.

“Today we celebrate together the signing of a contract for a new package of projects under the $407 million Qatari grant announced by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani during his historic visit to Gaza,” Al Hasina said.

Al-Emadi said that Qatar has now spent $300 million of the $407 million grant. The new projects include the construction of the first phase of Hope City for detainees and former detainees, a rehabilitation centre in Khan Younis, in addition to the supply and installation of medical equipment for the Hamad Rehabilitation and Prosthetics Hospital.

Al Hasina explained that Qatar had previously funded the reconstruction of 1,000 destroyed housing units and expressed his hope over the renewed support for the reconstruction of 1,000 more housing units as part of the $1 billion grant pledged by the State of Qatar during the donors’ conference in Cairo.

According to Al Hasina, 30 per cent of the money pledged during the Sharm El-Sheikh conference has reached the Gaza Strip, while hundreds more families are still living in caravans.

He stressed the need for an immediate end to the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and the unconditional access to all materials and equipment needed for reconstruction in order to bring life and hope back to the besieged territory.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160419-qatar-agrees-to-projects-worth-20m-in-gaza/.

15% of Jews from former Soviet Union leave Israel

April 19, 2016

Some 15 per cent of the Jews who moved to Israel from the former Soviet Union have now left the country, Israel’s Channel 10 revealed yesterday.

They moved to many countries with the majority now living in Canada.

Many had lived in Israel for 25 years however they did not feel they integrated into society, the report said.

One migrated said: “I came to Israel when I was six alongside hundreds of young families. I served in the army and got married, but I did not feel part of the Israeli community.”

Israeli reports indicate that Jews from the former Soviet Union, who were once the second largest community in Israel, suffered discrimination at the hands of Western Jews and the Israeli government.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160419-15-of-jews-from-former-soviet-union-leave-israel/.

Turkey sticks to condition that Israel lifts siege on Gaza in return for normalizing relations

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Turkey has not given up its condition to lift the Gaza siege in return for normalizing relations with Israel, Turkish Presidency Spokesman Ibrahim Kalın said Monday, adding that the two sides have not reached a final agreement yet and that talks would continue over the coming weeks.

Al- Araby al- Jadeed news agency cited a source familiar with the Turkish foreign ministry as saying that Israel has accepted two out of three of Turkey’s conditions, including to publicly apologize for what happened in the Mavi Marmara incident and to pay $20 million in compensation for the activists’ families.

Israel has also agreed to facilitate the access of Turkish ships to the Gaza Strip to deliver aid.

Ankara also demanded that the electricity situation in Gaza improve by sending a power generating ship. According to the source, the Israeli delegation did not object to the Turkish demand but asked for more time to consult with the government in this regard.

The Turkish foreign ministry said on Friday that the negotiating teams from both sides have agreed to rapidly reach a deal on normalizing ties after talks in London.

“The teams made progress towards finalizing the agreement and closing the gaps and agreed that the deal will be finalized in the next meeting which will be convened very soon,” the ministry said in a statement.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/24966-turkey-sticks-to-condition-that-israel-lifts-siege-on-gaza-in-return-for-normalising-relations.

Druze youths protest in Syria’s Suweida

14/04/2016

BEIRUT – Students have been at the forefront of a recent protest movement in Syria’s Druze-populated Suweida province calling for comprehensive reforms in the regime-controlled region.

The newly-formed “You Broke Us” campaign called for Suweida residents to hit the streets early Thursday afternoon, the latest protest organized by the movement making a raft of social and economic demands that implicitly blame the government with mismanaging the province.

“You Broke Us” announced its public presence on March 13 in an opening statement in which it vowed to organize a “long-term protest” until its demands to help “build a better future for the province” were met.

The organization’s manifesto is not overly political and does not take any firm stance on the regime’s presence in Suweida, similar to a previous grassroots movement that briefly held a series of protests in the fall of 2015.

Instead, “You Broke Us” lists eight main problems it says are blighting the lives of the province’s residents: rampant corruption, poor electrical services, declining provision of fuel and heating gas, the firing of state employees who refuse military service, the fixed salary of state employees amid the inflation wracking the country, high prices for basic commodities, increased lawlessness, and poor healthcare.

Although the campaign has avoided anti-regime rhetoric, it launched an implicit broadside against local government figures in a March 22 post, saying: “We send a message to the concerned dirty and corrupt authorities that the people soon will direct their judgments against you, O criminals.”

So far, the student-led civil society movement’s protests have focused on the dismissal of public teachers who refused to sign-up for state military reserve service, a heavy-handed regime move that ran contrary to Suweida residents’ long-running opposition to conscription in the Syrian army to potentially fight in far-off battlefronts.

The first student protest over the matter was held on March 1 in front of Suweida’s Department of Education amid a heavy presence of security forces. Although the sit-in came over a week before the official launch of “You Broke Us,” the group has since claimed it organized the demonstration.

In the ensuing weeks, “You Broke Us,” dozens of students have gathered five subsequent times for marches and sit-ins, all of which were peaceful in nature and were not brutally suppressed by regime forces, as other protests in the early days of the Syrian uprising were.

Their latest protest on April 12 went beyond the local situation, with “You Broke Us” organizers saying the rally was in response to the situation in not only Suweida, but the country as whole. The call for action for the sit-in railed against “injustice, corruption and the violation of the rights of young people.”

Although Suweida is under regime control, a number of grassroots movements have sprung up in the past two years to protest decreasing living standards in the Druze-populated province.

In the fall of 2015, the short-lived “We Are Being Strangled” movement organized a series of protests, one of which turned into an unprecedented show of anger on September 2 when demonstrators went as far as storming the provincial government’s local HQ in Suweida.

Two days after the protest, the leader of the fiercely independent Sheikhs of Dignity Movement—the most powerful group challenging regime authority in Suweida—was assassinated by a massive car bombing in the provincial capital.

The Sheikhs of Dignity never made any official statement of support for the “We Are Being Strangled” movement, and the group has also remained mum on the recently-formed student protest group.

Although the Sheikhs of Dignity and its armed affiliates insist they are neutral, they have struck increasingly challenging positions against the Syrian government, and have announced they seek self-security.

Source: NOW.

Link: https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/NewsReports/566869-druze-youths-protest-in-syrias-suweida.

Syrian regime jet downed near Aleppo

Wednesday, 06 April 2016

A fighter aircraft belonging to the Syrian government was shot down by a surface to air missile on Tuesday, Syria’s SANA news agency has reported. Pro-regime media sources said that the pilot of the Sukhoi-22 was captured after his jet was downed in the town of Eis, near Aleppo.

No Syrian faction has claimed responsibility for bringing the fighter down. However, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, rebels from Al-Nusra Front were responsible.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/24867-syrian-regime-jet-downed-near-aleppo.

Palestinians in Israel launch new Islamic movement

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Arab Israeli politicians yesterday announced the formation of a new party called Al-Wafaa and Al-Islah (Gratitude and Reform), AlKhaleejOnline.com reported. Sheikh Husam Abu Leil, the chairman of the new party, said in a press conference held in Nazareth: “We announce the birth of Al-Wafaa and Al-Islah party as a political, popular and non-parliamentary party based on Islamic values.”

“We reaffirm sticking to our national principles, as well as to undermining all plans aiming to expel us from our homeland. We pledge to help all our people in the occupied land.”

AlKhaleejOnline.com said it expects the party to be the political cover for the Islamic Movement which was banned in November last year. Many of the new party’s leaders were members of the Islamic Movement, including Abu Leil who was the second deputy head of the movement.

The party will not run for seats in the Knesset.

When asked whether the Israeli government might ban his party like it banned the Islamic Movement, Abu Leil said: “All of us, in occupied Palestine, are being targeted by the ruling institution [Israeli government].”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/24967-palestinians-in-israel-launch-new-islamic-movement.