Middle East & Africa

Ethiopian war further escalates as Government orders consecutive airstrikes
Middle East & Africa

Ethiopian war further escalates as Government orders consecutive airstrikes

 EthiopiaEthiopia -WIth the current series of events in Ethiopia, there is no immediates solution available for the war escalation between the government and the Tigray community. On Wednesday, the Ethiopian government ordered a second air strike within hours of the first one.

The officials are attempting to weaken the already struggling Tigray community by sending out forces to restrict their steps towards the centre of the nation. The war has now been going on for years, which started after Tigray started its rebellion against the Ethiopian administration.

The second strike targeted the military training centre and heavy artillery depot. It was in the Temben region in the Agbe area, which has many arms and ammunition stored as per earlier reports.

Before this, the government had also carried out an air strike in Mekelle and as per local media reports, the attack targeted the centre of the city. However, the Ethiopian government stressed that the airstrike targeted the buildings where Tigrayan forces were repairing armaments.

One of the spokesmen from the government Legesse Tulu blamed the Tigray community for this attack. He said, “Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has been adept at hiding munitions and heavy artillery in places of worship and using ordinary Tigrayans as a human shield.”

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A Reuters report states that the air strike was targeting the Mesfin Industrial Engineering PLC, which the government feels supports the TPLF. The information about the attack was given by two witnesses and a humanitarian source in Mekelle.

When the TPLF leader was contacted for comment on the matter, he said that the centre was desperate on the war front. Debretsion Gebremichael stressed that the government has been attacking their areas because they are losing on ground so this is their way fo retalianting.

He also said that the strike did not hit any of their facilities rather it hit a private company’s compound but refrained from sharing any further details regarding the attack. The attack did not do much damage for the facilities as it did for people. The airstrike injured nine civilians in total including a five-year-old child.

“Four of them were factory employees and the fifth one is a lady who lives near the factory. Her house was destroyed by the air strike,” said the doctor working in the Ayder Referral Hospital. The war between two sides has resulted in numerous killings and also displaced thousands of people from their original accommodations. Conflicts between the two sides further grew when the TPLF ruling the Horn of Africa decades was outhrown by Abiy, who is not a Tigrayan in 2018

CENTCOM Commander General thanks UAE for its efforts to evacuate Afghan people
Middle East & Africa

CENTCOM Commander General thanks UAE for its efforts to evacuate Afghan people

 Afghan Afghan -The Commander general of CENTCOM Frank McKenzie talked to the leadership of the United Arab Emirates recently where the two discussed how to continue to maintain pressure on the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, Iraq, and their countries while also discussing Afghanistan issues.

Since the takeover of the Taliban, the UAE has stepped up its efforts to help Afghanistan while also ensuring that it safely managed to evacuate those seeking to leave the country.

On Tuesday, in line with the efforts made by the UAE,  McKenzie thanked the Arab nation for not only temporarily hosting American citizens but also giving shelter to the Afghan evacuees after America’s exit from Afghanistan in August this year.

Earlier even the United States had thanked the UAE for providing temporary relief to the Afghan population by giving a roof above their head. Joe Biden had thanked the leadership of the UAE for helping evacuate American diplomats and nations from Kabul. He also showed his gratitude for also helping other allied nations to evacuate their citizens from the country.

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To express his thankfulness, the president had ringed  Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi where he talked about the UAE’s efforts in the evacuation process and also ensuring the safety of citizens of different nations around the world.

“We highly appreciate the UAE’s humanitarian efforts in facilitating the safe transit of American citizens, embassies’ employees and foreigners who were evacuated from Kabul on their way to a third country,” said Biden.

Other than that, the leaders of the two countries also talked about various sectors that could promote development in the region while also strengthening the partnership between the UAE and the US. As per data released by the UAE officials last week, the country has till now evacuated 28,000 individuals from Afghanistan. This is in addition to the already transferred 8,500 individuals who came via national carriers and UAE airports since the beginning of the evacuation process.

Syrian Govt, opposition drafting constitutional reforms
Middle East & Africa

Syrian Govt, opposition drafting constitutional reforms

Syria’s government and opposition have started drafting constitutional reforms, a significant step after nine months of talks and several fruitless rounds.

Geir Pedersen – UN special envoy for Syria – didn’t talk of the core of this agreement or offer details of what is coming next.

It merits mentioning that the drafting sessions will formally begin on Monday.

The drafting committee consists of 45 members from the Syrian government, its opposition, and civil society. They haven’t met since last January.

Pedersen said that it was concluded that sufficient progress was being made, and it could not continue the way it had been working.

“I have been negotiating between parties in a bid to establish a consensus on how we are going to move forward.”

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Formed in 2019, the Syrian Constitutional Committee comprised 150 men and women, with the opposition, government, and civil society nominating 50 people each.

This larger group then established a 45-member small body, consisting of 15 representatives from the three sectors.
Pedersen told journalists that the Syrian Constitutional Committee is a significant contribution to the political process. However, he said, “the committee itself would not be able to solve the crisis, so we all need to come together, with much serious work, on the Constitutional Committee, but address other aspects of the Syrian crisis as well.”

Pedersen met with the co-chairs of a committee including figures from fourth-term President Assad‘s government and civil society representatives and exiles. They sat together for the first time to convene over the way to proceed, and plans for ahead, Pedersen said. Syria’s 10-year-old conflict has resulted in over 350,000 people being killed and displaced. More than 5 million refugees are in neighboring countries mostly. The last round of talks ended without progress in January. Pedersen announced an agreement on “methodology”, late September for a sixth round.

Bread Shortage seen in Sudan due to Mass Protest
Middle East & Africa

Bread Shortage seen in Sudan due to Mass Protest

 Sudan Sudan -Protests on the main road to Sudan have caused critical food problems, leading to a shortage of bread. People were observed standing out in queue for long hours outside the bakeries to get their basic meals.

The blockade, which began more than three weeks ago, is also causing a shortage of fuel oil used for power generation, jeopardizing the country’s fragile electricity supply.

State-subsidized bread selling at five Sudanese pounds a loaf has been in shorter supply than the commercial variety sold at up to 35 pounds apiece. Residents of the Khartoum region mention that they had to wait for more than five hours to get the cheaper type has become the norm.

A government official from the state highlighted that these lines for the subsidized bread are incredibly long, and we are just buying the commercial bread at 30 pounds apiece. There are several workers who cannot afford expensive bread at increased cost, they just have to wait till the situation improves and balance in the food chain is restored.

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A bakery owner Yahya Moussa asserted that this shortage of wheat flour has forced many bakeries in the Sudanese capital to close their business. Rather these bakers who managing to run their business somehow have to wait for few days in between until they get more raw flour to use.

The transitional government has announced to annul and renegotiate a peace deal for their region signed a year ago. They say that those who signed on behalf of their area, which includes Port Sudan, have no following to speak of.

Political leaders are of the opinion that the military aims to embarrass the civilian-led Cabinet by not taking action to lift the blockade. The military denies the charge to take the blame and responsibility; they pass on the charge to police and say police should be the ones to deal with the demonstration.

Plan B On Cards With Iran: Washington Israel Decide
Middle East & Africa

Plan B On Cards With Iran: Washington Israel Decide

 Washington Washington – The United States and Israel has decided to come up with a Plan B in case of Iran does not come through on its side of the agreement to get the 2015 Nuclear Deal going.

This was decided over a recent meeting held between the Israeli and American counterparts. In conversation were Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a joint news conference at the State Department in Washington recently.

The nature of those options is going to be non-diplomatic, according to wide sources. This could mean just more sanctions for Iran or covert and military movement as well. The exact nature of Plan B has not been put out on the table by either side.

Unlike the Trump administration, Biden wants to revive the deal, and moving anywhere away from that goal would jeopardize the administration’s foreign policy objectives. Maybe this is the reason that Washington’s acceptance of the need of a Plan B is being seen as a ‘rare acknowledgment’. There is an acknowledgment that in the event diplomacy fails, Iran will need an iron fist approach.  

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Israel has never been a party to the nuclear deal, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, and its former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a vocal opponent of the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration.

While Iran has not denied coming to talks with Washington, no date has been set as to when this would happen. Meanwhile Washington is losing patience and says that the window of negotiation cannot remain open forever. All this time, Iran has been indulging in nuclear activities that were curtailed under the deal.

Israel doesn’t seem to be in the mood of long drawn dialogues. This is indicative of how Lapid is said to have bene blunter at the discussions, raising anew Israel’s warnings that it will act, with military force, if necessary, to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The discussion also had the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates in attendance.

Facebook Shuts Down Sudanese And Iranian Propaganda Fake Accounts
Middle East & Africa

Facebook Shuts Down Sudanese And Iranian Propaganda Fake Accounts

 Sudan Sudan – In their September 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, Facebook has declared there are some Sudanese and Iranian accounts suspected connected to military organizations, which it has now deleted from its servers.

A new report shows Facebook removed 666 accounts in Sudan and 93 accounts in Iran. Of these, there were two networks linked to military organizations in Sudan and Iran for violating its policies.

The report stated that they “found abnormal activity as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region and linked it to the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group operated by the Sudanese government and with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Facebook removed 116 pages, 666 Facebook accounts, 69 groups and 92 Instagram accounts, that targeted domestic audiences in the country. All the accounts are said to be fake accounts that manage groups and pages often posting commenting and reacting to their own content to make it appear as authentic. They encourage violence, discrimination, radicalism and fascist thought processes.

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Further, the pages, accounts and groups deleted were all said to violating Facebook’s policy against foreign or government interference. According to the company’s investigation, the network originated in Sudan. Most of these accounts were also spending money on Facebook marketing channels too. They were posing to be independent news channels, blogs by journalists, media professionals. Some were making use of celebrity images to look as authentic.

The modus-operadi is to use Instagram fake accounts as local news outlets. Some accounts also posed as Kurds, including young Kurdish women, and others purported to be supporters of an exiled militant opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq in an apparent attempt to build audiences among these different communities, according to the report.

The suspended network is said to have also purchased fake followers for its accounts. Inorganic buying of followership has become common practice with small time influencers too. The fake accounts posted primarily in Farsi about local news and current events in Lorestan, including encouraging voter turnout in the 2020 Iranian elections and criticizing MEK, the Kurdish nationalist movement, the US and Saudi Arabia. They also re-posted content related to Iranian state media and government officials. “We monitor for efforts to re-establish a presence on Facebook by networks we previously removed. Using both automated and manual detection, we continuously remove accounts and pages connected to networks we took down in the past,” Facebook said in the report.

UAE leads by example as it set out to help Afghanistan in crisis. What can other nations learn?
Middle East & Africa

UAE leads by example as it set out to help Afghanistan in crisis. What can other nations learn?

 UAE UAE – The United Arab Emirates has set a new example when it comes to helping neighbouring nations in their struggling phase. The situation in Afghanistan is hidden to no one but despite being well-aware of the struggles of Afghani people, there are hardly any countries stepping forwards except the UAE.

The UAE is only concerned about the humanitarian grounds in the region and keeping that as its first priority, the Arab nation is providing all the help that the nation in crisis requires. Currently, there are quite a few organisations who are actively concerned or are raising efforts to help Afghanistan but the UAE has been providing aid as a nation itself.

The efforts prove that the UAE leadership is focused on helping the people and providing them with basic necessities rather than having a stereotypical view of the whole situation. With its efforts, the UA has shown the world what it is capable of and how to lead by example in crisis situations.

Even the World Health Organisation acknowledged the UAE’s efforts and thanked it for the assistance that it was providing to the UAE. The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had visited hospitals in Kabul earlier where he thanked the UAE for contributing to the welfare programmes in the country.

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The first African to be elected as the head of the WHO, Ghebreyesus, was visiting a hospital in the Afghan capital where he said, “We laud the ongoing support facilitated by the UAE, the World Food Programme and UN partners, with this support, we managed to deliver eight separate life-saving shipments of medicines and medical supplies into the country.”

The UAE has been extremely active in the crisis prone area and has also become one of the first ones to welcome over 8,000 Afghan refugees as the first contingent on its land. Post this, many other refugees were also taken to the UAE to provide them with a safe and secure environment.

Not only is the nation providing them with a shelter but also welcoming them with open arms making them feel protected. The refugees also expressed joy upon being welcomed with so much warmth to the country.

The country’s leadership has also sent tonnes of aid to the struggling nation. The leadership is well aware of the medical emergencies and the deteriorating conditions of the country after the Taliban takeover and hence they are taking every possible step to ensure that medical negligence does not take place. Nations with a larger presence in the country have a lot to learn from the UAE. There are many nations who have control and the power in Afghanistan and yet are not stepping up to help but the UAE’s efforts have proven that for it, humanity is the number one ground for help.

Catastrophe in Libya as 5000 migrants captured in a Single week kept under inhumane conditions
Middle East & Africa

Catastrophe in Libya as 5000 migrants captured in a Single week kept under inhumane conditions

 Libya Libya – Past one week has seen catastrophe in Libya to the extreme with 5000 migrants being detained by authorities in a radical crackdown on refugees and migrants living in the oil-rich North African country. This number of arrests made in Tripoli’s detention centres has further tripled in the past three days after 5000 people were arrested in a violent crackdown on October 1.

The Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) report that these people have been subjected to severe abuse and sexual torture. According to MSF, which provides medical services to these detention centres, numerous people are kept in overcrowded facilities with no access to clean water, food or medical care.

“Many of those arrested were reportedly subjected to serious physical assault, including sexual violence, during searches on their houses,” the MSF stated in a statement.

Many of the arrested migrants were first detained by the EU backed Libyan coastguard and then transported to the detention centres under “inhumane conditions” before being released on Libyan streets. Libyan authorities have defended that the majority of the arrests of migrants from across Africa are due to alleged links to drug trafficking and illegal immigration.

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“We are seeing security forces take extreme measures to arbitrarily detain more vulnerable people in inhumane conditions in severely overcrowded facilities,” said Ellen van der Velden, MSF’s operations manager for Libya. “Entire families of migrants and refugees living in Tripoli have been captured, handcuffed and transported to various detention centres. In the process, people have been hurt and even killed, families have been split up and their homes have been reduced to piles of rubble.”

MSF reported that one detention centre was crammed up with over 550 women, some of who are pregnant, along with children and newborn babies. Overcrowding led to men being forced to stand for hours together while many were held outside without any shelter. One Eritrean man who was detained shared the ordeal, “There is no water, no food, no stuff for sleeping. More than 90 per cent of all migrants are arrested. It’s like we are playing hide-and-seek with the police or other forces now.”

A United Nations Human Rights Council commissioned independent investigating mission in Libya said on Monday of finding “murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts committed against migrants (in Libya) form part of a systematic and widespread attack directed at this population, in furtherance of a state policy”.

Libyan Coastguard is supported by the EU to steer back migrants from the African continent trying to reach Europe, making Libya a hub of migrants facing the ordeal of another extremity.

How Western powers have failed Yemen
Middle East & Africa

How Western powers have failed Yemen

 Yemen Yemen – Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have voted against a resolution that was led by the Netherlands advocating two years extension being given to independent investigators, known as the Group of Eminent Experts (GEE), to monitor war crimes and atrocities in Yemen. In what is a callous defeat to Western powers who pursued for monitoring war crimes investigations ongoing in Yemen, the UNHRC will move to shut down the mission in a war-torn nation. This also marks the first time a resolution was defeated in the 15 years history of the council.

The seven years-long conflicts has been ongoing in Yemen that has witnessed Saudi-led coalition standing against Houthi rebels backed by Iran. Independent investigators in the country have said that the past year has seen war crimes at the hands of both sides, stressing the havoc wrecked on the Yemeni citizens. The activists report over 100,000 people been killed and at least 4 million displaced.

Calling the resolution rejection a big setback to UNHRC’s attempts to keep peace and tackle war crimes in Yemen, Dutch Ambassador Peter Bekker said, “I cannot help but feel that this council has failed the people of Yemen.” He added, “With this vote, the council has effectively ended its reporting mandate; it has cut this lifeline of the Yemeni people to the international community.”

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But the accountability to Yemen people is indispensable, believes UN secretary-general, António Guterres. “We will continue to press for accountability in Yemen, a place … in which civilians have seen repeated crimes committed against them,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Katharine Stasch, Germany’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, addressed the council, “While we acknowledge the [Saudi-led] coalition’s efforts to investigate civilian casualty claims through the joint incidents assessment team, we are convinced that it is indispensable to have an UN-mandated international, independent mechanism working towards accountability for the Yemeni people.”

The resolution by Western nations was strongly opposed by Saudi Arabia, which leads the coalition in Yemen. Bahrain, a Saudi ally, along with Russia and 19 other nations voted against the Netherlands-led resolution. Eighteen nations, including Britain, France and Germany, voted in support of the resolution.

Jordon Supports Lebanon Through Syrian Energy Trade
Middle East & Africa

Jordon Supports Lebanon Through Syrian Energy Trade

 Lebanon Lebanon – Despite its own reeling energy crises, Syria has held out a helping hand to Jordon. And on a stranger side of a looming energy crisis, Lebanon is seeking help from Jordon, which has apparently come through as well.

Efforts are underway for Lebanon to import gas from Egypt efforts and use a supply mechanism of electricity from Jordan via Syria. On Wednesday, Jordan has fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria, a move that political experts feel like a signal to bring Syria back into the Arab fold.

Lebanon earlier was getting unsolicited help from the Hezbollah Party via Iran. But the new legitimate governance under billionaire PM Mikati is seeing some solid build of trade relations with its neighbors.

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This is one reason that Jordon has shown keen interest in securing electricity through Syria. Amman is also keen to rekindle its relations with Damascus as well. The one reason for this is the intent to welcome President Bashar Al Assad. For electricity to flow from Jordan to Lebanon, an old, mostly disused high voltage network built during Syria’s reliance on the former Soviet Union would need to be repaired, Jordanian and Syrian engineers say.

The process is going to start, according to an official statement made by Syrian Electricity Minister Ghassan Al Zamel in Amman. Repairs started in August but with some hiccups. Ministers of all three countries are in tandem with this shared energy alliance. Jordon has reasons to tie up with Syria. Its recession has been bad and the unemployment rate is 24percent. Also, President Assad seems to be getting a lot of support from his Middle Eastern neighbors and Russia too. Steering clear of the internal strives both in Lebanon and Syria, Jordon wishes to ensure its trade continues to fuel its economy.

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