Middle East & Africa

Iran Mistakes Previous Owned Israeli Cargo Ship For Missile Attack
Middle East & Africa

Iran Mistakes Previous Owned Israeli Cargo Ship For Missile Attack

One of the Israeli ships travelling from Jeddah to United Arab Emirates was strangely attacked, an attempt which seems to have been made by Iranian forces, sources have claimed.

The ship was possibly hit by a missile but no crew was hurt in the attempt to sabotage the ship, which then travelled comfortably to its destination.

Ship-tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon showed the CSAV Tyndall container ship, which sails under a Liberian flag, was last docked in Jeddah and was now off the coast of Dubai.

Apparently, the cargo ship that is owned by Israeli business tycoon Eyal Ofer, was attacked by suspected Iranian forces as a retaliation to Israel’s previous hit. Israel and Iran have been arch enemies for the longest time. Ofer had some month’s back sold his stake in the vessel.

In February and April, Israeli-owned commercial vessels were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. In April, an Iranian cargo ship was attacked in the Red Sea, and in June, Iran’s largest navy ship sank in the Gulf of Oman after a fire. 

The cargo ship had recently been taken over by another company, with no Israeli connection whatsoever. The incident comes after 10 days of a massive destruction at the Iranian Nuclear site as well. Apparently, this site had been on a list of targets that Israel presented to the Trump administration early last year. It is one of Iran’s main manufacturing centers for the production of the centrifuges.

Israel has been openly attacking Iranian ships carrying oil since 2019, especially in the Mediterranean and Red Sea.

Since ships with ties to Israel started coming under fire in March and April, the United States has provided Israeli ships in the Persian Gulf and nearby areas with escorts, and given warnings about Iranian intentions to attack them, according to U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials.

The last warning of a possible Iranian attack, which came from the American intelligence community, was on June 1, the same day that David Barnea, the new chief of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, took office, an intelligence official said.

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KS relief, UN agency join forces in nutrition drive across developing world
Middle East & Africa

KS relief, UN agency join forces in nutrition drive across developing world

Since COVID-19 has amplified the hardships faced by the world’s most vulnerable people, there have been many who are also now experiencing an increase in hunger and poverty. The organizations will draw on their respective expertise and share knowledge to address malnutrition and hunger. This is said to be an agreement between Saudi Arabia and IFAD. This is meant to be an extended step to further strengthen the partnership.

Dr Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Saudi Royal Court and supervisor general at KSrelief, and Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, signed a cooperation agreement at the UN agency’s headquarters in Rome to respond with concrete action to escalating hunger and malnutrition around the world that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Both organizations share a mission to alleviate poverty and hunger. As part of the agreement, they will draw on their respective expertise and reach, and share knowledge to jointly address malnutrition and hunger. This includes collaborating on the strategy, design and implementation of projects in impoverished countries, including Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

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Al-Rabeeah further adds this humanitarian step will build a wide network of partnerships aiming to alleviate the suffering of those in need. This is a collaborative opportunity to ensure that people living in the direst situations can sustainably grow, market and consume enough nutritious food.

In 2019, around 135 million people across 55 countries experienced acute food insecurity, which required urgent food, nutrition, and livelihoods assistance for survival. The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and ‎Relief Center (KSrelief) have joined forces to deliver sustainable access to nutritious food in the world’s most impoverished countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jordon Wins Loan Installment But Needs Support From Western Allies Too
Middle East & Africa

Jordon Wins Loan Installment But Needs Support From Western Allies Too

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to increase Jordon’s funding by another $200 million towards the Covid-19 pandemic recovery. The United Nations’ funding wing has also released $206 million as a part of its promise to fund the country under a four-year loan program to the tune of $1.3 billion. 

The release of funds come after a successful completion of Jordon’s second review of its Extended Financing Facility for which it was commended as the country has been able to meet its fiscal targets despite fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Augmentation of the facility was the need of the hour; something that is now going to increase Jordon’s spending power towards Covid-19 recovery and inoculation drive. However, the IMF has put out a word seeking support from donors, an action that will greatly increase Jordon’s ability to take care of a huge surge of Syrian refugee population too. 

Jordan is currently hosting some 1.3 million Syrian refugees all in need of Covid-19 vaccinations too. Overall performance of the Middle Eastern nations has been better in taking care of its economic stability despite the net closing in on them due to Covid-19 restrictions over trade. 

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However, IMF feels that support from Jordon’s main western and Arab donors is also important to continue in its sustained efforts to maintain stability and reform apart from supporting a refugee population. 

The gradual reopening of most of Jordan’s key business and manufacturing activities in the last few months is helping its economy to consolidate a gradual recovery, economists say. The IMF’s approval of Jordan’s second review signalled confidence in the country’s tempo of reforms and fiscal stability, the ministry said. 

Iran-backed groups in Iraq promise revenge against the US at the memorial for slain fighters
Middle East & Africa

Iran-backed groups in Iraq promise revenge against the US at the memorial for slain fighters

Amid tight security measures, hundreds of Shiite militiamen and supporters converged in Baghdad for the symbolic funeral procession of four fighters killed in a recent US strike along the Iraq-Syria border. This has called for critical retaliation by the soldiers. All the fighters in military uniforms held pictures of the slain fighters, waiving Iraqi and Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). Although Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi condemned the attack as a ‘blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security. He added that Iraq reiterates its refusal to be an arena for settling scores and urged all the sides to avoid any further escalation.

On the other hand, a spokesperson from Iran’s foreign ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said that the Biden administration was ‘taking the wrong path’ in the region and was continuing the ‘failed legacy’ of the Trump administration. During the conference, he mentioned that instead of emotional actions and creating tensions and problems in the region, the U.S. should change its behaviour and let the regional people establish security without Washington’s interference. However, he also emphasized that all the fighters were stationed there to prevent jihadists from infiltrating Iraq, denying that they had taken part in any attacks against U.S. interests or personnel.

PMF which is an umbrella organisation of militia groups under the control of the Iraqi government, majority of them are still backed by Iran. At the protest, some of the banners had slogans, “The blood of our sons will terminate America forever,” and “targeting PMF must expedite the evacuation and withdrawal of all foreign troops.” Some shouted, “Death, death for America” and “No, no for America.”

A fighter from the scene said that those who were killed are our brothers and sons and their blood will not be in vain and we will have revenge. America has violated Iraqi sovereignty and wants to draw Al Hashid to a confrontation. 

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Assad Should Be Kept Away From Syrian Resurrection Plans: UN
Middle East & Africa

Assad Should Be Kept Away From Syrian Resurrection Plans: UN

Amidst the resurrection of a Syrian population that has been troubled with civil war over a decade, there is a dilemma whether to include the Assad regime in this process at all or not.

Even today, as many as 11 million Syrians are in need for humanitarian aid. The Syrian Assad regime has been responsible for wiping out a sizable population of its own, in an attempt to regain control over the country. An estimate of 500,000 people have lost their lives in this battle of ownership.

With Assad being re-elected without fair competition, he sleeps peacefully while 90percent of the country reals under the poverty line. Bread and fuel supplies are scarce and famine is on the brink of breaking into the country at time.

Constant humanitarian aid has kept the families afloat, that are surviving without permanent homes, in hutments and makeshift shelters. Most of the infrastructure has been reduced to rubble in air-raids and strikes.

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International fraternity isn’t willing to accept the damage that the government and its leadership did to its own. There is indeed a moral stain that would come if Assad was forgiven. UN agencies and intelligence could prove earlier in the year and indeed he had ordered the use of chemical weapons against its own people, intentionally targeted hospitals in airstrikes, and committed mass executions of political prisoners — among other things.

He was supported by Western powers that have vested interest in gaining control over Syria’s rich natural resources. Syria remains bifurcated between Assad and other factions. It is a messed-up situation for the international fraternity to think of helping the people receive a decent standard of living.

Currently, Assad currently only controls two-thirds of Syrian territory while Turkey has control over rebel-held Idlib province in the north and also Afrin and another swathe of territory in the northeast. Meanwhile, Syrian Kurds are holding on territory that makes up for 90 percent of Syrian oil reserves and a sizable area for agricultural yield. There are rumours to give more power to this part of Syria, with freedom to be run through by Damascus. With coffers not getting anything from oil reserves, there is a different strategy at play to penalize Assad. Further, aid movement through Assad’s controlled areas have never seen the light of the day. There is enough precedence to prove this.

American Strike At Syrian-Iraq Border Triggers Panic Amongst Iranian Proxies
Middle East & Africa

American Strike At Syrian-Iraq Border Triggers Panic Amongst Iranian Proxies

Hezbollah has turned around and called the US action in Syria and Iraq as shameless brazen insult to the sovereignty of both countries. Earlier in the month, American warplanes had struck one location in Iraq and two in Syria along the Arab countries’ border. It was Pentagon’s affirmation that the targets were ‘facilities’ being used by Iraqi resistance groups to stage drone attacks on American interests.

According to an official statement by US defense spokesman John Kirby, three military facilities used by Iran-backed militia had been hit — two in Syria and one in Iraq.

In response, American facilities at the Syria-Iraqi border have been under attack by the Hezbollah and the Iraqi resistance groups aka Takfiri terrorists. This is a second attack under the leadership of US president Joe Biden even before any kind of reconciliation could be reached with Iran over the nuclear agreement.

It seems that the American strike is going to see Iranian interference eventually. The Iraqi resistant groups have been identified as ones having links with Hezbollah and another similar group. Intel confirms that both Kataeb Hezbollah and Kataeb Sayyid al-Shuhada, two Iraqi armed factions with close ties to Tehran, were among the “several Iran-backed militia groups” that had used the facilities.

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Kirby further added while speaking to the media that the targets on both sides of the Syria-Iraqi border were being used by “Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq.

The Hashed, a paramilitary alliance that includes several Iranian proxies and has become the main power broker in Baghdad, admitted to losses in the strikes and vowed revenge.

Political analysts believe that this is America’s way of not letting Iran silently take over the sovereignty of both these war-torn nations. Iran has been using Iraq as its weapon storage facility and has been gradually moving into Syria by trying to control its government functioning. Iraq is desperately trying to take flight of prosperity as it moves closer to neighours like Jordon and Egypt, giving the US a message that it has no intentions of letting Tehran call the shots anymore. However, getting the Iranian equation out of the way would be a difficult task for the US and the rest of the world. The only way as of now, to keep a control is to not go light on the nuclear agreement.

Trilateral Talks In Baghdad Sent Message To Washington
Middle East & Africa

Trilateral Talks In Baghdad Sent Message To Washington

 The countries that want peace entered into a tripartite dialogue recently. Egypt, Jordon and Iraq have many things to agree on. All three met in Baghdad, the official capital of Iraq. It is for the first time in three decades that someone high in the ranks from Egypt has visited Baghdad aka Iraq.

All three countries have agreed to bolster security and economic cooperation, in the mutual interest of all. The countries have also discussed other areas of concern like large-scale industrial projects, and trade in medicine and agricultural pesticides.

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“This visit is an important message to our people that we are mutually supportive and unified to serve our people and the people of the region,” Al-Kadhimi said, according to a statement from his office. Mustafa Abd al-Latif Mishatat al-Ghuraybawi, known as Mustafa al-Kadhimi, is an Iraqi politician.

Major areas of focus between the nations will also be drug trafficking and cybercrime, increasing precarious issues to deal with.  Additionally, Kadhimi has also said that it is the intention of Iraq to ‘try to shape a common vision through cooperation and coordination’ regarding Syria, Libya, Yemen and Palestine.

On the aspect of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam project, Iraq and Jordan sided with Cairo. Currently, Egypt fears for its survival as it heavily depends on the Nile to meet its irrigation needs. All three countries agreed that a political solution and the return of refugees was needed to end the Syrian crisis, said Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. Trade relations have been gradually growing between Iraq, Jordon and Egypt. Iraq already has plans to build a pipeline that is meant to export 1 million barrels per day of Iraqi crude from the southern city of Basra to Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba. With Iraq spreading its wings to fly and offering a hand of friendship elsewhere, political analysts believe this kind of a summit is to drive to Washington a message that Iraq has other options to grow and has no intentions of being used by Iran as a proxy to forward its own political agenda.

Fossilized bones excavated in Israel hint at ‘mysterious’ extinct human
Middle East & Africa

Fossilized bones excavated in Israel hint at ‘mysterious’ extinct human

 Researchers have unearthed fossilized bones from an ancient sinkhole at Nesher Ramla prehistoric site near Ramla city in central Israel. The recovered fossils hint of belonging to an earlier unknown group of extinct human that lived over 10,000 years ago in Levant. The fossil bones were found alongside stone tools, along with remains of horses, fallow deer and wild ox.

The “major discovery” is said by expert researchers to be a precise combination of features of Neanderthal and early humans, setting them apart from Homo Sapiens that are believed to have lived in the same region at the same time. Though the experts are refraining from calling the fossils of a new species as of now, they do believe it to hold a significant place in evolution of human.

Old school of theories say that the Neanderthals originated in Europe and lived there as the oldest Neanderthal fossils were found there. But recent findings have casted a doubt on this and raised assumptions that there were groups of “mysterious” extinct humans that shaped the evolution of the heavy-browed Neanderthals. Anatomy of fossils found in Israel are more primitive than Neanderthals found in Eurasia and Homo Sapiens in the Levant. This has pushed the researchers to believe that the “Nesher Ramla Homo” may have been an obscure group that led to evolution of Neanderthal.

Dr Yossi Zaidner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said, “Together with other studies, this work shatters the simple picture of modern humans coming out of Africa and Neanderthals living in Europe. The picture is much more complex.”

“The idea is what we catch here are the last survivors of a population that contributed to the development of Neanderthals. They were living alongside Homo sapiens.”

Prof Marta Mirazón Lahr, a palaeoanthropologist at the University of Cambridge said, “The hominin fossils from Nesher Ramla now suggest that a different population, with anatomical features more archaic than those of both humans and Neanderthals, lived in this region at broadly the same time. The interpretation of the Nesher Ramla fossils and stone tools will meet with different reactions among paleoanthropologists. Notwithstanding, the age of the Nesher Ramla material, the mismatched morphological and archaeological affinities and the location of the site at the crossroads of Africa and Eurasia make this a major discovery.”

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Raisi Might Push Iranian Future To The Dark Ages
Middle East & Africa

Raisi Might Push Iranian Future To The Dark Ages

Being called the ‘Race of One’, the Iranian election is in for a boycott. For one, there is no fair competition and it looks like a monopoly where a corrupt Ebrahem Raisi is seeing been pushed to power. As the conservative head of the Iranian judiciary, the frontrunner has blood of his hands and a huge list of human right’s violations. Apart from the international community, many Iranian reformists are asking for the boycott of the elections, unless anyone wants Syrian history to be the fate of Iran as well. Ironically, both these nations are close allies.

Raisi’s election manifesto talks about fight against corruption and economic reform. However, Raisi’s connivance with the political clout and working as their ring master in the prisons of Iran, shows no credibility of his statements and promises made in public.

In the last few months, only four candidates were seen standing as rivals to his selection. Most of them have been sidelined as they hold the support from the reformist groups in Iran. It is being seen as an action that has been prompted by Iran’s unelected Guardian Council. Strangely, all women candidates were blocked from contesting. On May 25, the Guardian Council approved only seven of 592 presidential candidates. The only hope for Iran, if it wants any change in its democratic set-up would be for Raisi’s main rival Abdolnaser Hemmati to block him with securing 50 percent votes. If this happens, then there is a chance of a run-off election. Hemmati is a centrist and former governor of the Central Bank of Iran. The 13th Presidential Election saw Mohsen Rezaei, Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Abdolnaser Hemmati giving Raisi some competition. But of all four, Ebrahim Raisi enjoys a significant lead over the others.

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Iran and Syria To Enter Barter Trade
Middle East & Africa

Iran and Syria To Enter Barter Trade

At a recent meeting between the Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister and Syria’s Internal Trade and Consumer Protection Minister Talal al-Barazi, a mutually beneficial arrangement has been made.

Both have agreed to enter into a barter arrangement that will help in organic growth of both the countries.  Both have promised to work within free trade agreement framework.  The barter is going to include supply of goods and products required by the two countries using the capacities of the two countries’ private sectors to develop trade cooperation.

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This development has already been facilitated by Eslami, the head of the two countries’ Joint Economic Committee. A four-day visit saw Eslami discuss with senior Syrian officials including Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous.

Of all things, Syria does look at Iran to contribute into its construction infrastructure. Other areas of interest will gradually include bridge and dam building, electricity supply, and technical and engineering services are at the top of Iran’s list of exports to this country. Political analysts continue to stress upon the fact that Iran’s interest in Syria is a political one. Iran’s support for the Syrian regime is one of the key elements safeguarding the survival of Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad, who has been fighting a fierce anti-government uprising since Spring 2011. The relationship between Iran and Syria is based on a unique convergence of interests. The one is a war against the Middle East and then US interference in the Arab states of power.  Syria has been seen as Iran’s closest ally and will continue to go back to it for support in some way or the other.

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