Archive for May, 2016

Protest at Israeli Embassy in Amman Thursday

10/12/2011

AMMONNEWS – A group of political activists called on citizens to partake in a protest scheduled to take place near the Israeli Embassy in Amman on Thursday.

In a press statement, the group said that their movement and protest against the presence of an Israeli diplomatic mission on Jordanian land is not “incidental or seasonal” but ongoing until Jordan expels the mission and closes the Israeli Embassy.

The group, which has been holding the protest in front of Al Kaluti Mosque in Rabiya district near the Israeli Embassy, will hold its 82nd protest on Thursday at 6 PM.

It is noted that the a group on the social networking site ‘Facebook’ had called for a “million person march” against the presence of the Israeli Embassy in Amman back in September, which caused Israel to recall its diplomatic mission for several days out of fear of a similar incident as took place at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

The Israeli Ambassador and the diplomatic mission returned to Amman after the weekend following the protest in which only several hundred protesters took part in.

Source: Ammon News.

Link: http://en.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleNO=14116.

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3 Spanish reporters home after 10 months captivity in Syria

May 08, 2016

MADRID (AP) — Three Spanish freelance journalists held captive in Syria for nearly 10 months returned home Sunday, tearfully hugging relatives as they got off a military jet sent to Turkey to bring them back.

Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre shook hands with Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria on the tarmac of the Torrejon de Ardoz air force base on the outskirts of Madrid. They then smiled and cried as relatives ran to hug them.

Images on Spain’s state-owned TVE television channel showed their arrival but reporters were kept outside the base and away from the three journalists, only catching sight of a dark blue van carrying them from the base.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy posted a photograph of the journalists descending from the aircraft with a caption saying “Welcome!” on his official Twitter account. “Allied and friendly” countries had assisted in ensuring the journalists’ release, his office said in a statement late Saturday.

It highlighted Turkey and Qatar, saying they had helped out “especially in the final phase” of the journalists’ liberation. It provided no information on the captors and how they were convinced to give up the journalists.

The three journalists went missing on July 12, near the city of Aleppo in northern Syria. At the time, the region was under the control of al-Qaida’s branch in Syria known as the Nusra Front. Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said the journalists had taken off “at midnight from a city in southeast Turkey called Hatay,” accompanied by Ambassador Pablo Gutierrez Segou, head of consular emergencies.

“This adventure has ended happily,” Garcia-Margallo said. TVE said in its afternoon news bulletin that the journalists had gone to a cafe in Madrid with their friends and relatives, where they received a phone call from King Felipe VI. They told journalists that they had no idea what part of Syria they had been held captive in.

The broadcaster said Lopez explained that the three had been incarcerated together for the first three months, after which Pampliega was taken away and not seen again until just before the flight home.

Pampliega’s mother, Maria del Mar Rodriguez, told the Reporters Without Borders organization that it had been “marvelous” to be able to speak with her son. “He had the same voice he’s always had, since he was a boy, and he continually asked my forgiveness for what he’d put me through,” she said. “I’m going to prepare him a plate of spinach in bechamel sauce, his favorite dish.”

Many of the country’s political leaders, out campaigning for a general election due June 26, expressed their relief and joy at the release. “I join in with the happiness felt by their families, colleagues and friends,” Rajoy said in another tweet.

The journalists, who provided news to several media outlets, had traveled to Syria to report on the war that broke out there in 2011. All three were experienced freelance journalists who had worked in Syria before and knew what type of precautions they would need to take, according to Elsa Gonzalez, president of Spain’s federation of journalists.

Three other Spanish journalists were released in March 2014 after being held hostage by Syrian extremists for months. The Spanish government has never given details of how it secured the releases.

Israeli defense minister announces resignation

May 20, 2016

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s defense minister announced his resignation on Friday, citing a lack of “trust” in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after reports in recent days that he is soon to be replaced.

In a Facebook post, Moshe Yaalon said that he told Netanyahu that “following his conduct in recent developments and in light of the lack of trust in him, I am resigning from the government and the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and taking a time out from political life.”

Netanyahu and Yaalon have clashed in recent days over the role of the military in public discourse, with the prime minister arguing that military officials should not discuss policy matters publicly. Tensions between Yaalon and Netanyahu escalated in March, when military leaders criticized a soldier who was caught on video fatally shooting an already-wounded Palestinian attacker. The solider is now on trial for manslaughter. While Yaalon has backed the military, hard-liners have backed the soldier.

Reports over the past few days indicate that Netanyahu intends to appoint former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman to the post. Lieberman, 57, is one of the country’s most polarizing politicians. Over three decades, he has at times been Netanyahu’s closest ally and at other times a fierce rival.

Netanyahu this week invited Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beteinu party to shore up his shaky parliamentary coalition and negotiation teams have been meeting to hammer out the details of their alliance.

Yaalon’s resignation solidifies the takeover of hardliners in the party. Cabinet Minister Gila Gamliel said that Yaalon’s leaving is a “tremendous loss” for the ruling Likud party. She told Israel Radio she believes it was a “mistake” not to offer Yaalon another position and keep him in the coalition.

Many Israelis have questioned the wisdom of appointing Lieberman to the sensitive post of defense minister over Yaalon, a former army chief of staff who is generally respected for his knowledge of military affairs. Polls commissioned by Israeli TV stations broadcast Thursday showed that a majority of Israelis prefer Yaalon as defense minister over Lieberman.

Lieberman has held a number of Cabinet posts in the past, including stints as foreign minister. His hard-line stance has made him an influential voice at home but has at times alienated Israel’s allies overseas. He has questioned the loyalty of Israel’s Arab minority and confronted Israel’s foreign critics. He has expressed skepticism over pursuing peace with the Palestinians, and is now pushing a proposal to impose the death penalty against Arabs convicted of acts of terrorism.

With Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in a deep freeze, Lieberman’s addition to the government could push the prospect of reviving talks even further into the distance. Lieberman rose to prominence as the engineer of Netanyahu’s successful run for prime minister in 1996, and he later became Netanyahu’s chief of staff.

His tough stances have long stoked controversy. As a Cabinet minister last decade, he called for the bombing of Palestinian gas stations, banks and commercial centers. He also led a recent parliamentary drive to exclude Arab parties from running for election — a move that was overturned by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Yet despite his rhetoric, Lieberman has shown signs of pragmatism. He served as a Cabinet minister in two centrist Israeli governments, though he was fired for opposing Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and resigned to protest peace talks that begun at the 2007 conference in Annapolis. His plan for redrawing Israel’s borders would also mean dismantling some Jewish settlements.

Jordanians to replace UAE forces in war on Yemen: Report

Thu Apr 14, 2016

Jordanian military forces and advisers will be replacing UAE troops fighting in the Saudi war on Yemen, following reports of serious disputes among the few “coalition” members, a report says.

Yemen’s Khabar news agency, citing informed sources, reported on Thursday that the decision had been made following a recent visit by Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud to Jordan.

Prince Mohammad, who is the Saudi defense minister, met King Abdullah in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba and signed a package of agreements, including on development of military cooperation.

The report said the deployment of Jordanian forces will now be coming after the United Arab Emirates withdrew the bulk of its military force from Yemen’s Ma’rib following a series of military setbacks.

The Saudi crown prince also traveled to the UAE in an effort to mend fences after reports of significant frictions between the two allies over the war on Yemen.

Emirati authorities are reportedly angry with a Saudi decision to dismiss a former general with close ties to the UAE.

In February, the Saudi kingdom sacked Khaled Bahah and appointed Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar to lead the fight against Yemen’s Houthis.

Ahmar has been based in Saudi Arabia since the Houthis took over Sana’a in 2014.

Jordanian military forces reportedly took part in the Saudi operation in Aden last July following the flight of Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Early on Thursday, Saudi military aircraft carried out a fresh round of aerial assaults against the Nihm district of Sana’a Province, though there were no immediate reports of possible casualties and the extent of damage caused.

The development came only hours after Saudi-backed militiamen fired a barrage of artillery rounds at Dhubab, Harir and al-Jumhuri districts in Yemen’s southwestern province of Ta’izz and Ghorab and al-Madaniyah neighborhoods in the provincial capital city of Ta’izz.

Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015, in a bid to bring Hadi — who is a staunch ally of Riyadh — back to power and undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggression.

The Saudi strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

Source: PressTV.

Link: http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/04/14/460698/Yemen-Jordan-UAE-forces/.

Lebanese hope for change in first vote after trash crisis

May 07, 2016

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s capital on Sunday will hold its first elections since a months-long trash crisis left mountains of garbage festering in the streets, with an outsider group of candidates challenging a political establishment widely seen as corrupt and incompetent.

Beirut Madinati, Arabic for “Beirut, My City,” has vowed to clean up the city’s streets — and its politics. “We will go to the polls and throw out the corrupt politicians,” declared list leader Ibrahim Mneihmneh, a 40-year-old architect, at a recent rally attended by hundreds of people. “We will no longer whine about the trash, traffic, or corruption.”

Polling stations for the municipal election will be open on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (0400 GMT to 1600 GMT). Results are expected as early as Monday. Madinati hopes to channel the energy of the “You Stink” protest movement, which emerged in response to the trash crisis and went on to challenge the political class that has governed Lebanon since the end of its 1975-1990 civil war.

The leaders behind the “You Stink” movement, which brought thousands of protesters into the streets at the height of the trash crisis, have not formally endorsed Madinati but have attended its rallies.

Since the end of the war, Lebanon has been governed by a power-sharing arrangement among political blocs — many led by former warlords — that represent its various religious sects. That has led to widespread patronage and corruption, and more recently to the breakdown of public services.

The trash crisis began last summer when the government closed the city’s main landfill without agreeing on a replacement. For eight months trash piled up across the city. An agreement was reached in March to open a new disposal facility, but critics cast it as simply another backroom deal that failed to address the root of the problem.

And the stench grew even worse in April, as excavators dismantled the piles of garbage to carry it out of the city. “When you talk about Beirut, you say she’s a beautiful woman,” said the well-known Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, who is a candidate on the Madinati list. “Unfortunately, this is not what I’m seeing now.”

The Madinati list is made up of independent technocrats who have reached out to voters through town hall-style meetings, rallies and fundraisers. But many wonder if they can succeed in a system dominated by lifelong politicians.

“It’s like in the village,” said Mohammad Hamza, a Beirut barber. “The outsiders win the elections, and for the next six years nothing gets done, because the political bosses block everything.”

Jordan’s parliament blocks Israeli delegation from conference in Amman

May 4, 2016

The Jordanian Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh has said that the Lower House has rejected the participation of an Israeli delegation in the 2016 Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP) which is scheduled to begin in Amman on Wednesday.

Tarawneh told reporters on Tuesday that the chamber has called on the conference organizers not to allow any Israeli representation in the event.

Tarawneh said the WIP, which will be held under the patronage of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, is an important global event held for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa.

The two-day world summit, which hundreds of political and parliamentary women leaders from 89 countries will participate in, highlights the Kingdom’s international status and the important role of its diplomacy, he added.

Tarawneh expressed hope that the forum’s results will be focused towards the empowerment of women in the decision making process.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160504-jordans-parliament-blocks-israeli-delegation-from-conference-in-amman/.

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