Middle East & Africa

Initial results: Gnassingbe re-elected by an overwhelming majority.
Middle East & Africa

Initial results: Gnassingbe re-elected by an overwhelming majority.

Initial results announced by the Togolese Electoral Commission indicated that President Fourier Gnassingbe was re-elected after receiving 72 percent of the votes, extending his 15-year rule and his family’s rule that began 50 years ago when his father took power in A coup in 1967.

Despite widespread discontent and protests calling for his resignation, the divided opposition has struggled to mount a convincing campaign to topple Gnassingbe in this small West African country of eight million people.
His closest rival, former Prime Minister Gabriel Maysan Ajbumi Kudjou, received 18 percent of the vote, and longtime opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre got 4 percent.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce the final results in the coming days. If confirmed, this result would give Gnassingbe five more years in power in a blow to opposition protesters who have demonstrated in recent years to demand his resignation.
In response to political pressure, Gnassingbe enacted a law last year restricting presidential terms to two terms of five years each. However, this law is not applied retroactively, taking into account the three terms that Gnassingbe spent in the presidency, and therefore he can remain in power until 2030.

Some political observers feared that the Gnassingbe victory would spark new protests. When Gnassingbe came to power in 2005 after the death of his father, huge protests erupted, which were met with violent repression by the police, during which at least 500 people were killed. Gnassingbe has long promised to boost economic growth and the country has witnessed economic growth of about five percent in recent years, driven by investments in Energy and transportation sectors.

But extreme poverty and labor strikes are constantly reminiscent of the challenges facing the country.

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US State Department warns again Iran backed militias  from attacking Americans in Iraq
Middle East & Africa

US State Department warns again Iran backed militias from attacking Americans in Iraq

On Monday Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson of the US State Department, reaffirmed speaking to Nadia Bilbassy, Al Arabiya correspondent in Washington that the USA are still going to do everything they can to deter the Shia militias from attacking USA in Iraq as it started with the attacks that were sponsored by Iranian militias to the US embassy earlier this year. “We’re starting to see and continue to see more of this activity start to creep up again,” stated Ortagus adding that Washington will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any actions by the Shia militias in Iraq against US interests, reminding also the killing of the top Iranian general Qassim Soleimani on January 3, in Baghdad.

“We put real pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran. We will continue to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable wherever we find their malign activity and we will make sure we have the resources to do so.” Previously affirmed US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, commenting the death of Soleimani.

Ortagus reaffirmed that USA are deeply concern for the killing of innocent protesters in Iraq. “You know, we have seen a lot of protests around Iraq, and we understand that people are frustrated with their government. It’s one of the reasons that you’ve seen a change in leadership and that we saw the last prime minister resign.” The spokesperson said to Al Arabiya, stressing the necessity that the newly-designated prime minister form a representative government comprising all political groups, included Sunni, Shia, Kurds, and everyone. “We need a unifying presence in the central government in Iraq, and so we think the stability and security of Iraq, and especially the central government, is important. We will continue to work on that relationship quite closely”.

The Ortagus’ statement confirms the US strategy in the area and sounds like a new warning for Tehran that will always be held accountable for any malign activity. According to the US State Department spokesperson, the United States were serious at the beginning of the year when they warned Iran on this before Qassim Soleimani was killed and they’re serious about it now. Iran need to take those warnings seriously.

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Iran Blames Virus Outbreak For Low Election Turnout
Middle East & Africa

Iran Blames Virus Outbreak For Low Election Turnout

Bitten by the unpopularity bug, Iran has faced a poor turnout in its 2020 parliamentary election attempt. The poll turnout showed at 42percent. Authorities are still averting the responsibility of poor governance due to which the civilian population is refusing to vote for any of the nominations standing for the election.

The population is not happy with the way Tehran has dealt with mounting crises, one after the other. Iran has been faced with growing isolation from the west and Europe. The result has been that the economy has had to suffer set back. Iran is an essentially import dependent country. Threats of conflict over its nuclear standoff with the United States had led to an increase in gasoline prices, burning a hole in the pocket of the civilian population.

Undeniably, there is a pronounced increase in discontent at home. The turnout has been therefore seen as a referendum on the popularity of the Islamic republic’s rulers.

In comparison to the recent turnout, the previous years have been much healthier. Turnout was 62% in the 2016 parliamentary vote and 66% of voters cast ballots in 2012.

The results have been tilted towards hardline loyalists close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters. Strangely, however, Khamenei, who on Friday said that voting was “a religious duty”, blamed the low turnout on the “negative propaganda” about the new coronavirus by Iran’s enemies.

“This negative propaganda about the virus began a couple of months ago and grew larger ahead of the election,” said Khamenei, according to his official website Khamenei.ir.

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American Universities  Compelled To Support Big Donators Like Qatar
Americas, Middle East & Africa

American Universities Compelled To Support Big Donators Like Qatar

Prestigious universities like Yale and Harvard might have failed to report the hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign gifts and contracts as required by law. This has been shared by the US Justice Department Of Education. According to the department, the Yale University in Connecticut received hefty amounts as foreign money. But it has failed to report at least $375 million of such gifts over the last four years.

The worms are out of the can since last week when Yale received a request from the Education department for records of certain gifts and contracts from foreign sources under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, said university spokeswoman Karen Peart.

But by doing so and not declaring the same, the university might land up favoring admission to those who can grease their palms than to those who genuinely deserved admission. It has been reported in the past, that countries like Qatar have tried to swindle their way into such prestigious universities by giving in large amounts of aid to professors and research scholars. There have been connections found between the money gifts given by Qatar and the sudden presence and favored admission to pro-Palestinian groups on college campuses.

The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) has conducted a study called ‘Follow the Money’ that reveals how universities were crossing the line when not disclosing actual amounts of donations given to them by foreign parties. Through the research it was discovered that actually, a total of $3billion Qatari donation remained undisclosed.

Media resources confirm that Qatar has used bought over PR as its trusted tool to buy favorable opinion. Qatar continues to provide anti-American terrorists such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban with “safe haven, diplomatic mediation, financial aid and, in certain instances, weapons.” Because these American universities have professors’ salaries, fellowships, or think-tanks funded in part by Qatar, their allegiance is obviously a ‘said’ thing.

According to Federal law, most colleges and universities need to report gifts from and contracts with foreign sources that are more than $250,000 twice a year. But both the top universities seemed to have failed to do so, raising a red flag. Speaking over the matter, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has said, “This is about transparency. If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom.”

Further, danger lies in the anti-Jewish activities that are also getting focus in a university environment. There is a correlation seen between the funding of universities by Qatar and the Gulf States with the presence of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and a deteriorating environment that fosters an antisemitic and aggressive atmosphere. This has been confirmed by a report by ISGAP. Also, the Anti-Defamation League has confirmed that often members of Students for Justice in Palestine “demonize Jewish students who identify as Zionists.”

The fact that universities are being exploited by rich Arab countries to meet their political agendas is not only unfair but scary and defeats the whole purpose of education.

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Lesotho’s’ Prime Minister absent in the murder case of his first wife and leaves the country.
Middle East & Africa

Lesotho’s’ Prime Minister absent in the murder case of his first wife and leaves the country.

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Tabani failed to appear in court on Friday in the case of the murder of his first wife, his son said that he had traveled to South Africa to visit a doctor and had not “escaped from the country”.

Tabani was due to appear before the court at 9:00 am local time (0700 GMT) in the case of the murder of Lipolillo Tabani in June 2017 near her home in the capital, Maseru, two days before he took office.
But the 80-year-old leader was absent from attendance.

On Thursday, police said, Tabani would be charged with the murder of his wife, Lippolillo. After the Prime Minister was absent from the session, the Deputy Commissioner of Police said that if it was established that Tabani was trying to escape justice, the police would issue an arrest warrant for him.

Tapani’s current wife, Masayah, 42, has already been charged with ordering the murder of Lepolillo, but she is currently out of prison on bail.

His son in law, Botlaco, said by phone that his father “went to South Africa to visit his private doctor”. He added, “He did not flee the country.”
Takalikwala, Tabani’s private secretary, said that the prime minister will return to Lesotho sometime in the weekend.

Libolillo, 58, at the time, and Tabani were in a difficult divorce at the time of her death when an unknown attacker shot her in her car.

Tappani and Maisayaiah, who were married two months after Lippolello’s murder, denied any role in her murder.

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Global watchdog blacklisted Iran after it failed to follow FATF norms
Middle East & Africa

Global watchdog blacklisted Iran after it failed to follow FATF norms

On Friday, The global watchdog put Iran on its blacklist after it failed to follow the global anti-terrorism funding norms, a step that will advance the nation’s disengagement from the financial market.

The decision came after over three years of forewarning from the Paris-based Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), pressing the Islamic Republic to either order militant financing conventions or see its pardon from the blacklist lifted and some forced counter-measures.

The group’s 39 members stated in an announcement following a week-long meeting, “Given Iran’s inability to authorize the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions following the FATF Standards, the FATF completely lifts the suspension of counter-measures and approaches its individuals and urges all jurisdictions to apply successful counter-steps,” The Reuters revealed.

These would involve more scrutiny of dealings with Iran, harder external evaluating of financing firms working in the nation, and additional stress on foreign banks and organizations continuing business with Iran.

The United States recognized the team’s action after what it said was Tehran’s inability to follow FATF’s norms.

Iran “must face ramifications for its continued failure to submit to global standards,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an announcement.

Iran’s central bank chief rejected FATF’s decision as “politically driven and not a professional decision,” the state news agency IRNA cited Abdolnasser Hemmati as stating.

“I can guarantee our country that it will not affect Iran’s stability and foreign trade,” Hemmati added.

US sanctions have disabled Iran’s economy, wrecking its oil exports and, to a great extent, closing it from the global financial system. Washington has since long forced a policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, The National reported.

Article Credit: The National

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Iran’s preparation for elections could test the popularity of the ruling party.
Middle East & Africa

Iran’s preparation for elections could test the popularity of the ruling party.

On Thursday, Iran’s parliamentary election campaigns officially ended a day before the vote, which is seen as a crucial test of the popularity of the ruling religious establishment.

Workers went out early in the morning to clean the streets from posters and banners in preparation for the first Iranian elections after US President Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions in 2018.

Analysts said that the turnout in the elections would be a referendum on the Islamic Republic’s leaders dealing with political and economic crises, while Iran faces increasing isolation on the international stage and resentment at home from economic difficulties.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the vote was a “religious duty” but some prominent politicians of the reformist movement in Iran and activists abroad have called for a boycott of the elections. “We need to launch a strong boycott campaign to respond to the regime’s oppressive policies,” said imprisoned human rights activist Narges Mohammadi from her cell in the city of Zanjan in a message posted on her husband’s Facebook page this week.

Iranian activists, opposition groups, and two advocates of boycotting the elections are posting heavily on social media.
The vote to choose the 290 members of parliament will have little impact on Iran’s foreign policy or nuclear policy, which Khamenei sets, and his supporters are likely to dominate parliament.

The Guardians Council, which is responsible for reviewing applications for those who want to run, refused 6850 moderates and conservatives from among the 14,000 applicants who qualified.

“We expect that 50 percent of citizens will participate in the elections,” Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhadai told a televised news conference on Wednesday.

The turnout was 62 percent in the 2016 parliamentary elections and 66 percent in the 2012 elections. There are about 58 million Iranians who are eligible to vote.

While supporters of the foundation will vote for hard-line candidates, many Iranian reformists are outraged by the authorities’ handling of protests in November over high fuel prices, which quickly turned into political protests in which protesters demanded “regime change”.

Human rights groups said a campaign led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to quell the protests had killed hundreds and arrested thousands. Iranian authorities have accused the opponents of the Islamic Republic and foreign enemies of fomenting the unrest.

Many are also angry that a Ukrainian passenger plane was downed in January, killing all 176 people on board, mostly Iranians. After days of denial, the Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for the downing of the plane.

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Tunisia reveals new government in a proposal to end political standstill
Middle East & Africa

Tunisia reveals new government in a proposal to end political standstill

On Wednesday, Tunisia’s Prime Minister-designate, Elyes Fakhfakh, declared his proposed government, which led to the closure of the political standstill that has grasped the nation since legislative elections were held in October 2019.

On Monday, President Kais Saied announced legislators that he was set up to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections if Fakhfakh’s proposed government failed to get the vote of confidence from the parliament.

For four months, Tunisia has been without a working government. Ennahda had initially been given a chance to come to power in October. Yet, their proposals couldn’t make it due to a fragile and split parliament, which prompted Elyes Fakhfakh, head of the Ettakatol party, being endowed to shape a legislature by President Kais Saied on January 20.

Fakhfakh’s proposals will be presented to Tunisia’s legislature, where they are required to get the vote of confidence in the parliament, which is on February 26.

As it has been anticipated, Fakhfakh’s administration of two secretaries of state and thirty ministers is arranged from a broad alliance of leading political parties and independents. Attayar, Achaab, Tahya Tounes, and the El Badil party are all represented in the administration, with the moderate Islamists, Ennahda, who won a majority in the October elections, doing a remarkable job.

Few are listed below: – Diplomat Nourddine Erray is relied upon to take the post of foreign minister, and financier Nizar Yaiche is expected to become the finance minister. An Independent, Imed Hazgui, is set to take charge of the Defense Ministry. Politician Mongi Marzouk is anticipated to take responsibility of energy ministry.

The job before the new government is critical. Tunisia needs to get an expected $3 billion (Dh11 bn) globally to make it through its 2020 spending obligations.

Beyond the IMF credit, Tunisia has depended upon a list of global loans to keep up its economy since its 2011 upheaval.

As of late, Tunisia has observed a sharp accretion in the number of Tunisian youth illegally migrating to Europe, as their trust in the nation’s future wavers.

Article Credit: The National

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to confront corruption lawsuit on 17 March
Middle East & Africa

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to confront corruption lawsuit on 17 March

Benjamin Netanyahu is required to appear at a court hearing on 17 March for the beginning of a corruption case against him, the Israeli legal judiciary has declared.

The first day of the case is scheduled only two weeks after general elections on 2 March in which the PM is battling to stay in power, despite the damaging charges leveled on him.

Following a three-year police investigation, the nation’s attorney general charged the 70-year-old pioneer in November in each of the three of the leading cases against him.

Netanyahu is charged with bribery, fraud, and violation of trust after allegedly accepting a considerable number of dollars worth of gifts from wealthy friends and trading administrative favors for constructive media coverage.

Israel’s Justice Ministry told that he expected to attend court in Jerusalem, where three judges will hear his trial.

He could face up to ten years in jail whenever indicted for bribery charges and a maximum three-year sentence for breach of trust and fraud.

Netanyahu, who denies the charges, is the first Israeli sitting PM to be indicted for corruption.

The general election results could majorly affect his preceding. Netanyahu has already backtracked on a request for parliamentary immunity, yet his adversaries in the Knesset had just demonstrated they would obstruct any solicitation.

Israelis have been requested to take part in the upcoming elections for the third time in under a year following two failed to form a majority government.

Netanyahu’s greatest adversary is politician Benny Gantz, who has centered firmly on the corruption allegations and the Prime Minister’s friendly relationship with US President Donald Trump.

Gantz had rejected after September elections to join a unity government headed by Netanyahu, saying he should initially settle his legal issues before taking control.

As occurred in both the April and September political elections, neither one of the candidates is anticipated to have enough seats to frame a majority government. If that situation occurs again, Israel could dive into fourth general elections, expanding the political crisis well over a year.

In coalition discussions following the last political elections, Netanyahu couldn’t accumulate any help from the centrist or left-wing parties, who declined to stand behind a leader confronting indictment.

Article Credit: The National/ CNN

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Trump Control Comes Through Congressional Vote On Iran
Americas, Middle East & Africa

Trump Control Comes Through Congressional Vote On Iran

A Republican controlled senate has finally passed a resolution to control President Donald Trump’s military moves against Iran. Now, Trump cannot make a move towards Iran with a congressional authorization.

This development has come through after a vote fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary to overcome a promised veto by the White House.

This reiterates that there is lack of faith in Trump’s administration that does not speak for the betterment of the United States as a whole. The vote shows that some Republicans have no qualms about break away from Trump on foreign policy, even if they largely remained aligned with the administration on most other issues.

While being a Republican leader, he has not received thumps up for his obtuse point of view when it comes to trade and foreign policy. His various decisions in Syria, China and Iran, have done nothing but created sense of unrest and disturbed inter-government dynamics.
In 2019, Republicans had joined Democrats to challenge the Trump administration on several foreign-policy measures. Nearly 130 House Republicans voted to oppose Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria last year.

Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate also have approved resolutions that aimed to withdraw U.S. support for a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and block arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Trump vetoed both of them.
Sen. Tim Kaine is a democrat from Vermouth and the author of the resolution. According to Kaine, “While the President does and must always have the ability to defend the United States from imminent attack, the executive power to initiate war stops there,” Mr. Kaine said. “An offensive war requires a congressional debate and vote. This should not be a controversial proposition.”

In America, most such strategic decisions that can affect the national security of the country cannot be taken by the President without running it through the congressional approval. This is done merely to ensure the onus of a major decision does not lie with one person only. Read more Latest news on africa .

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