Desk Writer

America Strikes Iranian Militia In Syria As Retaliatory Measure
Middle East & Africa

America Strikes Iranian Militia In Syria As Retaliatory Measure

The sly attack by Iran over American representatives in Iraq has left Syrian population vulnerable, once again. Under the instructions of the newly appointed President Joe Biden ordered retaliatory strikes against the Iranian militias that set off attacks in Erbil recently.

However, the attack was not as big as the retaliation has been ordered by Biden administration. The attack in Erbil of Iraq left one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member. 

It was not obviously one strike but more than one on property that apparently belonged to Iran backed militia. The latter has been using Iraq as its hideout and base to carry out attack and operations all over the Middle East or whenever necessary. 

According to confirmed American sources, a rocket attack was made by Iranian militia on February 15 on the airport in Erbil, in northern Iraq. This lead to the death of a Filipino contractor with the American-led military coalition and left six others wounded, including a Louisiana National Guard soldier and four American contractors.

In response, the Pentagon has confirmed that the counterstrikes have been well-planned and calibrated to target the ammunition buildings and storehouses of the Iranian militia. While Pentagon wanted to cover more area, Biden has been cautious not to disturb the diplomatic equation with Iraq, or harm general public. In the past, airstrikes have led to massive destruction and loss of human life in Syria. 

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Official reports have said that the retaliatory strikes are a way to shut the workings of notorious militia at work. While there are indications that the militia might be funded by Iran, there is no direct link found. The attack on the Erbil airport was finally claimed by a little-known group called Awliya al Dam, or Guardian of the Blood, brigades. The group also claimed responsibility for two bombings against U.S. contractor convoys in August 2020.

Biden administration has confirmed that there is no intention of rustling feathers or disturbing equation with Iran, at a time when his administration wants to discuss the nuclear deal, that was rail road(ed) by Trump all through his presidency. 

Assassination Of UN Ambassador To Congo First Ever Open Attack On Peace Attempts
Middle East & Africa

Assassination Of UN Ambassador To Congo First Ever Open Attack On Peace Attempts

The Italian Carabinieri is joining hands with the united nations to investigate the mysterious death of the Italian ambassador, his driver and his bodyguard. The Italian Ambassador to Congo was shot dead along with his Italian bodyguard recently, while his two-car convoy was on its way to one of the World Food Programme centres. 

Luca Attanasio and Carabinieri officer Vittorio Iacovacci were accompanied by a Congolese driver Moustapha Milambo who was also shot dead instantly. The car was ambushed on a deserted road which is usually given security clearance by WFP officials in Congo, before a convoy moves on the roads. There is now an investigation into understanding the slip in protocol that has led to the assassination of a key Italian official. 

The UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has already communicated that the United Nations has already underway to undertake a detailed investigation into the matter, as the bodies of the Italian official and his bodyguard received special respects back home from the Pope itself. 

For the last two or more decades, East Congo is a hotbed of rebel groups that have disturbed the peace and stability of this region that is the size of Western Europe. The sustained effort of UN led programmes like the World Food Programme is what has helped keep the innocent civilians alive. There could be many or one group to be blamed for the attack. But no one has come forward to claim responsibility of the attacks. 

The Congo government is blaming the Rwandan rebels who have denied the attack. According to Cure Ngoma, the spokesperson for the rebel group, We are not to be implicated in this heinous crime. The ambassador’s convoy was attacked in an area known as the ‘three antennas’, along the border with Rwanda, not far from positions of the Congolese army, the Fardc, and Rwandan military, the Forces de Defense Rwandaises.

The spokesperson continued, reiterating a version also circulated in a note: ‘Those responsible for this despicable murder are to be sought in the ranks of these two armies and their supporters, who have formed an alliance against nature to continue plundering the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo’.

Surprisingly, the provincial authorities of North Kivu, the area from which the convoy was to pass, had no idea about the ambassador’s presence and therefore did not provide him with adequate security measures, according to the Congo Interior Ministry. 

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Eastern Congo remains one of the most insecure parts of the expansive country. More than 2,000 civilians were killed last year in eastern Congo provinces by armed rebel groups, according to U.N. reports last week.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission has been working toward reducing its more than 17,000-troop presence in the country and handing over its security work to Congolese authorities.

However, it is for the first time that an attack has been carried off on a senior official of a humanitarian organization. 

Why Biden Administration Might Not Reverse The Western Sahara Arrangement?
Middle East & Africa

Why Biden Administration Might Not Reverse The Western Sahara Arrangement?

There seems to be no indication that the Biden administration is going to change its stance on the Western Sahara recognition decision that was taken earlier on. In the last few weeks, twenty-seven US senators have written a letter to the President asking him to reverse what damage seems to be have done in the Western Sahara decision, under his predecessor’s leadership.

The letter was headed by the Oklahoman senator, James Inhofe, and senior senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy that was later co-signed by 25 other US senators urging Biden to reverse US policy on Western Sahara. Apparently, both senator’s previous attempts to garner support have never met with success and there have been confirmed news that their alliance is funded by an Algerian top lobbying firm.

According to the letter by not reacting to the US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, it is a “misguided” move and has also called the US’ key non-NATO ally’s claims as “illegitimate.” Further, the letter said that the move in the first place was shortsighted that has alienated many African nations. 

As of now, Ned Price, the spokesperson of the state department, spoke at a press briefing and has referred to Morocco’s position favorably welcoming the tripartite agreement, according to which, the US recognized the Moroccan territorial integrity and Morocco re-established its relations with Israel.

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The fact that Price has said ‘there is no update’ is being interpreted as Biden’s administration might not have any intentions of reversing the decision made in Trump’s administration. The underlying reasons for refusal for reversal are rules of international law, US intends to use Morocco as an ally to re-strengthen America’s position in MENA, maintain or balance an arms status quo if not increase the sales, counter-back China and Russian elements working in the African region, amongst many other. 

Haber Gaalu apologies on behalf of Somali Information Minister Osman Dubbe’s Remarks
Middle East & Africa

Haber Gaalu apologies on behalf of Somali Information Minister Osman Dubbe’s Remarks

On Tuesday, Haber Gaalu, a sheik representing the tribe of Emiratis in Somalia issued an official statement apologizing to the partner Arab nations, especially the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Somali Information, Culture, and Tourism Minister, Osman Dubbe. Dubbe in his recent remarks supported the extension of the rule of the outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, whose tenure ended on February 7. Gaalu said that Dubbe despite being a member of the tribe and being governed by tribal laws and customs, seems to have betrayed the tribe by siding with the autocratic president. 

Gaalu said that being the head of the tribe he would like to apologize to everyone who was been offended by Dubbe’s recent claims, including countries, institutions, or individuals, as the Somalian minister said that he represented Farmajo’s government and stood by the Somali president’s brutal politics. Gaalu said that Dubbe’s remarks might have insulted the neighboring countries such as Djibouti, Kenya, and even the UAE, who had been supporting the African nation for years. He emphasized, “They have historical ties, and I especially mention the UAE, which has never stopped supporting the Somalis.”

The tribe head added the Somali minister didn’t know the extent of the harm he was inflicting on his fellow countrymen with his speech, which he clearly made to appease the Somali president. Gaalu said that Dubbe was unknowingly hurting not only the sentiments of his own nation and also its people residing in the neighbouring friendly nations and putting at stake the historical ties between them, just to secure his position in the current regime.

In his recent statement, Gaalu stressed that the recent statements made by Dubbe and his companions, who no longer held any legal authority to lead the country, did not represent the voice of the African nation.

He added, “Finally, I advise this disobedient son to return to his senses, to withdraw from these stances, and to ask for forgiveness from Somaliland and return to it, to distance himself from imminent dangers emerging because of these situations.”

Earlier this month, the Somalian parliament ruled out the possibility of extending the tenure of incumbent President Farmajo. As per the Somalian constitution, a President’s terms lasts for four years, hence Farmajo has been asked to step down which the power-hungry leader denied. The Parliament Speaker Mohamed Mursal Sheikh emphasized that the National Assembly in no way permitted Farmajo’s term expansion beyond its expiry date. 

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The country which is currently mired in political crisis was also heading towards a constitutional crisis as Farmajo has been trying to manipulate the county leaders into accepting his electoral agreement. The agreement introduced on September 17, 2020, would turn his 4 years of the semi-authoritarian rule into an untrammeled despotism. Contrary to Farmajo’s arm twisting of the constitution, Somalia had a history of peaceful transition of leadership after every four years since 2000, and it earned the distinction of being the first African nation to have a democratically elected president to peacefully step down.

To gain absolute control over the nation, Farmajo orders the security forces to snub the ongoing peaceful demonstrations by his opponents. Last week the country witnessed an unprecedented bloodbath as the forces fired shots at its own citizens, labeling them as militia. Dubbe issued a statement in support of the government and said that “armed militia” attacked a military post but were repulsed. 

Former Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed contested Dubbe’s claims stating that the government forces raided the hotel near the palace where he and another former president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, were staying ahead of the protest. The attack was ordered by the outgoing president,Ahmed said. Mohamud accused the Farmajo of orchestrating a “coup” in order to stay in power.

Prisoner Exchange Has Hiccups For Syria, Russia and Israel
Middle East & Africa

Prisoner Exchange Has Hiccups For Syria, Russia and Israel

Russia might be trying to act as the peacemaker between Israel and Syria. Moscow has supported the Assad government since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2015. 

It is now seems to be mediating exchange of prisoners as its first step towards creating an atmosphere of mutual peace, as Syria tries to get its government back on tracks.

In the exchange, two Syrian shepherds were exchanged for an Israeli woman under a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Syria. Both shepherds seemed to have crossed the Israeli occupied Golan Heights and were arrested by the army that later handed them over to the International Committee of the Red Cross representatives. 

As a part of the exchange agreement, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has shared that a Syrian activist called Nihal al-Mokt who is currently serving community service would have her sentence shortened by three months too. 

Israel continues to carry airstrikes on Syria, in a bid to ensure that Iran does not create a stronghold on the northern border. Syria has been through a huge loss of infrastructure,  human capital, and much more since 2010 when the civil war started amongst factions and the Syrian legitimate government. 

Apparently, the Israeli lady was sent to Russia from Syria from where she was later picked up and sent to Israel. PM Netanyahu said that he was indeed thankful to his friend Vladimir Putin who engineered the pickup. In the whole exchange process, two more Syrians were seen as a part of the exchange program

The two Syrians were identified as Nihal al-Makt, who had been under house arrest in her village in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, and Ziyab Qahmouz, detained in 2016 and serving 14 years in Israeli jails. But the deal ran into complications after al-Makt and Qahmouz, who are both from the Golan, refused to be transferred to Syria.

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While Al Makt’s sentence has been shortened to three months, both continue to be in Israel and are not willing to go to Syria. 

After criticized vaccine hold up, Israel delivers 2000 doses to Gaza
Middle East & Africa

After criticized vaccine hold up, Israel delivers 2000 doses to Gaza

Israel has finally permitted Palestine to deliver blocked 2000 doses of Sputnik Covid-19 vaccine to the Gaza Strip after much-criticized development in which vaccine doses were blocked at an Israeli checkpoint on Monday. After Palestinian authorities criticized the hold-up, Israel released vaccines that would vaccinate 1000 people in Gaza out of 2 million population. 

An Israeli security official said over vaccine release on Wednesday, “The 1,000 Sputnik vaccines delivery, donated by Russia and provided to the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Authority, have just been transferred.”

The rather small batch of vaccine doses was planned to be transferred on Monday when it was blocked to the coastal Gaza Strip that is geographically disconnected from the West Bank that is under the control of Palestinian authorities. The vaccine blockage at the border was initiated by the national security council, which is under the Israeli prime minister’s office, who said that it isn’t yet decided whether to provide vaccines to Gaza. 

Israeli authorities said that these vaccines are intended for healthcare workers in Gaza, giving priority to medical staff working in Intensive Care Units and emergency rooms. But Gaza officials said that vaccine would first be given to vulnerable groups of people like those with organ transplants, and elderly people with kidney problems. 

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Gaza Strip is under the control of an Islamic militant group, where Israel maintains border control along with Egypt. Fatah, the Palestinian political group, and Hamas are rivals but cooperate on many issues like healthcare. Many Israeli officials argued that vaccines must be delivered to Gaza in exchange of some concessions from Hamas. In an argument parliamentarian from Israel’s Arab Minority, Ahmad Tibi said that even discussion around withholding vaccine from people in need was shocking and inhumane. He said, “Your children will be ashamed”, as quoted by Jerusalem Post. 

Israel is conducting one of the most successful vaccination drives in the world and is targeting all individuals over 12 years of age.  

Israel Calls For Secret Agenda Meeting With Moscow About Syria
Middle East & Africa

Israel Calls For Secret Agenda Meeting With Moscow About Syria

The Israeli cabinet along with Russia involved in taking Syrian humanitarian efforts seriously, as they called for an urgent ‘unscheduled’ virtual voting session recently. 

The military censor has barred any publication of the details of the meeting as of now. The cabinet was informed only an hour before the unscheduled voting happened about a sensitive security matter. 

Russia is roped in as it continues to act as a mediatory between Damascus and Jerusalem. The discrete discussion comes after an alleged Israeli attack on the capital of Syria, Damascus recently. According to the Assad regime, Syria intercepted Israeli missiles. Damascus is home to various military groups including the Syrian regime army, Iranian representation, and other foreign terrorist groups. 

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, Israel has launched several attacks on Iran-backed Hezbollah forces and the Syrian military, claiming it had to do this in retaliation of rockets Syria was firing on Israeli territory from time-to-time from Syria and the Golan Heights.

The recent voting meeting was conducted along with both Netanyahu and Gantz, who ensured that the ministers signed non-disclosure agreements before the start of the meeting. The meeting used secure video conferencing software.

Indeed, political analysts feel that the meeting is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. There has been an unusual amount of discussion between Israel and Russia over the hidden matter, which also saw Gantz and Netanyahu come on a level plain. 

While previous discussions with Russia have centered around Israel’s interest in IDF aerial activity to root out Iranian military entrenchment, this time, it remains unclear as to the nature of humanitarian assistance that Jerusalem is seeking as of now.  

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A few weeks back, discussions were centering around security concerns of the Middle East, especially Syria, between Russia and Gantz. The Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu’s office has confirmed that “both had agreed to continue the dialogue between Russia and Israel to ensure troop safety, and affirmed the importance of taking steps to ease humanitarian conditions on the ground.”

There is a rumor emerging that Russia might be helping Israel recover the remains of commanders and soldiers who expired or were lost in action at the Syrian border. But the intention of the meeting continues to be unclear. 

How ISIS Uses Down Below To Send Terrorists Into Turkey
Middle East & Africa

How ISIS Uses Down Below To Send Terrorists Into Turkey

Members of the Islamic State have been spotted entering Turkey via Syria.  They all belong to other nationalities, especially from Down Below or Australia- New Zealand. Many of them are New Zealanders and one of them was a woman. 

Border guards discovered the nationality as they intercepted these individuals in the Reyhanli district in the southern province of Hatay, bordering war-torn Syria. One of these women who was caught has already got a blue notice issued against her through Interpol. 

Surprisingly, New Zealand Foreign Ministry said it was already aware of the movement but did not elaborate on the action thereafter. 

The movement of the New Zealanders is now being looked at as a trans-Tasman issue. This has been blown up now that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lambasted Australia for unilaterally “exporting its problems”. This is one reason New Zealand didn’t say anything immediately in the open. 

Suhayra Aden of Melbourne is one of New Zealand- Australian citizen who has been detained at the border with her two children, discovered as an ISIS member. She said while she is New Zealand-born, she has resided in Australia since she was six years old. 

New Zealanders have been seen supporting ISIS silently, and have traveled to Syria. Their numbers were never reported.  In 2015, Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge​ told a parliamentary committee that fewer than a dozen had left for the war-ravaged country. But those who have traveled have usually come back to promote the jihadist movement. 

Arden has said publicly that Australia decided to wash its hands of the woman’s existence. As Ardern raised the woman’s status with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the latter conveniently seems to have “abdicated its responsibilities” and acted in bad faith by unilaterally canceling the woman’s citizenship.

Aden had moved from Australia to Syria where she had raised a family with two Swedish men. She continued to hold an Australian passport, which has recently been revoked. According to Australian terrorism rules and regulations, the country has legislation that automatically cancels the citizenship of a dual citizen that had engaged in terrorist activity.

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So, while the woman has been caught, Australia and New Zealand continue to throw the ball of blame in each other’s court. 

Pope Francis will visit Iraq and promote interfaith dialogue
Middle East & Africa

Pope Francis will visit Iraq and promote interfaith dialogue

In the primary visit to Iraq, Pope Francis plans to emphasize the difficulty of Iraq’s Christian populace and advance interfaith dialogue. 

On Monday, the Vatican issued the itinerary of Pope Francis’ March visit to Iraq. The timetable, loaded with meetings and events with political and religious figures the nation, aimed at two missions, talks on the nation’s decreasing Christian populace and promoting interfaith discourse. 

This will be Pope Francis’s first trip after the Covid pandemic. He will be landing in Baghdad International Airport amid an uprise in new coronavirus cases that have been reported in the country, the developing impact of armed groups, and a couple of shellings in Baghdad have been declared by the Islamic State. 

The Catholic head states that now is an ideal opportunity to visit the oldest Christian communities on the planet. 

Two years back, Francis had announced his desire to visit Iraq by 2020; however, the plan was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak.

So when Francis again declared to visit Iraq in 2021, groups were at first doubtful as the virus kept on the nation. The Iraqi Health Ministry announced 1,660 new cases on Saturday. However, the pope believes there is currently an open door to push forward with this visit. 

On March 5, Pope Francis will land in Baghdad preceding he will head out to Nasiriya, Najaf, Mosul, Erbil to meet with the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali-Husaymi Al-Sistani in Najaf and the Iraqi President Barham Salih as well as local clerics and bishops. He will also be attending the mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Baghdad. 

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Pope will be holding a prayer service especially for the individuals who have lost their lives when the radical extremists took control over the area.

Abu Dhabi’s Stem Cell Center successfully treats hematomas
Middle East & Africa

Abu Dhabi’s Stem Cell Center successfully treats hematomas

The Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre (ADSCC), which introduced the Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant program (AD-BMT) in July 2020, exhibited exemplary results as it successfully teated patients suffered from leukemia. It marked a pathbreaking success, given the short span of time since the program was launched. Many believed that the success of the treatment vouched for the high standards of health care provided by the UAE.

The success story of six patients, who got treated of hematomas, using hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, placed Emirates among some of the finest medical facilities in the world. The AD-BMT program, which started taking cases from early August 2020, treated patients with different types of blood malignancies including Multiple Myeloma, Plasma Cell Leukemia, Large Diffuse B-Cell Lymphoma and Hodgkin Lymphoma. The treatment which generally varied for each patient, lasted from about 19 days to up to one month.

The programme’s successful medical record encouraged ADSCC to apply for international accreditation. The ADSCC has been working towards adopting a more environmentally conscious approach by coupling technology with sustainable and eco-friendly practices. It also committed to embrace more innovative measures and translational research. The programme’a futuristic approach sets a high mark, which the authorities believe would help in its expansion plan, eventually offering other procedures and treatments.

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The ADSCC reported that the AD-BMT program has been continuously taking more cases and treating patients while working towards its expansion so that it can treat more than one patient simultaneously. Its goal for the near future is to provide treatment for not only hematological issues but also other disorders including autoimmune diseases and primary immune deficiencies.

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