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Chinese Uighur refugee fears deportation from Turkey

AMMAN: At least 14 Palestinians were injured on Sunday when Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at up to 100,000 worshippers during prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque compound to mark the first day of Eid Al-Adha. The clashes erupted after the Israeli police and government allowed Jewish extremists to visit the site, after initially barring…

Chinese Uighur refugee fears deportation from Turkey

AMMAN: At least 14 Palestinians were injured on Sunday when Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at up to 100,000 worshippers during prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque compound to mark the first day of Eid Al-Adha.

The clashes erupted after the Israeli police and government allowed Jewish extremists to visit the site, after initially barring entry. Jerusalem police commander Doron Yedid said the policy had changed “with the backing of top political officials.”

Jews are barred from praying at the compound under a longstanding arrangement between Israel and Muslim authorities, but in recent years right-wing nationalists have stepped up visits to the site to challenge the arrangement. Jewish extremists have called for the mosque to be destroyed and the biblical Jewish temple to be rebuilt on the site.

Israeli security forces scuffle with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019. (AFP / Ahmad Gharabli)

Islamic Waqf officials had postponed morning prayers for an hour on Sunday, closed all Jerusalem mosques and called on Muslims to stay on the grounds to prevent the extremists’ incursion.

“This is a clear violation of an understanding that has existed since 1967, and it is aimed at trying to show that Al-Aqsa is not for Muslims by themselves,” Khaleel Assali, a member of the Islamic Waqf council, told Arab News.

Jordan, the custodian of the holy site, blamed Israel for Sunday’s violence and submitted a formal complaint to the Israeli government. “We condemn the continued Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque, and attacks on worshippers and Waqf teams on the ground,” the Foreign Ministry in Amman said. “We hold the Israeli government responsible.”

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of the PASSIA think tank in Jerusalem and a member of the Waqf council, told Arab News the decision to delay the prayer time and to call people to Al-Aqsa was wise.

“Jerusalemites sent a strong message that has defeated attempts at storming the mosque, but the blind military machine injured youth, women, and children in order to try and enforce its dominion on Al-Aqsa,” he said.

“The people of Jerusalem defeated similar attempts in 1928, 1969, 2017 and now in 2019.”

Nasser Laham, editor of the independent Palestinian website Maan News, told Arab News the Israeli media was exaggerating and contributing to the violence. “A quick look at their headlines and you can see them full of lies, incitement, and violence,” he said.

Jamal Dajani, former head of the Palestinian prime minister’s media office, said the actions of the Israeli government were intentional. “Netanyahu is deliberately allowing extremist colonial settlers to antagonize Palestinian worshippers during Eid in order to provoke clashes and have a pretext to take control of Al-Aqsa, just as was done with Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron,” he said on Twitter.

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Middle East News

Blast in northern Sinai kills 3 Egyptian troops

Hariri and Aoun trade blame as prime minister candidate’s withdrawal plunges Lebanon further into crisis BEIRUT: Lebanon’s outgoing prime minister blasted the party of the country’s president on Sunday after the withdrawal of a top candidate to replace him plunged the country into further turmoil. Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, withdrew his candidacy late…

Blast in northern Sinai kills 3 Egyptian troops

Hariri and Aoun trade blame as prime minister candidate’s withdrawal plunges Lebanon further into crisis

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s outgoing prime minister blasted the party of the country’s president on Sunday after the withdrawal of a top candidate to replace him plunged the country into further turmoil.

Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, withdrew his candidacy late on Saturday, saying it was too difficult to form a “harmonious” government with broad political support.

Safadi was the first candidate who had appeared to win some consensus among Lebanon’s fractious sectarian-based parties since Saad Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, pushed out by sweeping protests against the ruling elite.

The withdrawal of Safadi narrowed the chances of creating a government needed to enact urgent reforms.

Reflecting the brittle political climate, President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) accused Hariri of undermining Safadi’s bid in order to keep the job for himself.

“Saad (al-Hariri) is delaying things with the goal of burning all the names and emerging as the saviour,” said a source familiar with the FPM’s view.

A statement by Hariri’s office rejected the FPM assertion as an irresponsible attempt to “score points” despite Lebanon’s “major national crisis”.

Faced by the worst financial strains since a 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon has pledged urgent reforms it hopes will convince donors to disburse some $11 billion pledged last year.

The unrest has kept banks shut for most of the last month. They have imposed controls on transfers abroad and US dollar withdrawals, and the pegged Lebanese pound is under pressure on an informal market.

Safadi became the presumed front-runner for prime minister after a meeting between Hariri, a Sunni politician, and Shiite groups Hezbollah and Amal, according to political sources and Lebanese media, but no political force later endorsed him.

Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, according to its sectarian power-sharing system.

Protesters who have filled the streets since Oct. 17 hit out at the choice of Safadi, a prominent businessman and longtime politician they said was part of the elite they sought to oust.

“We are in a deadlock now. I don’t know when it will move again. It is not easy,” said a senior political source. “The financial situation doesn’t tolerate any delay.”

A second political source described efforts to form a new government as “back to square one.”

Safadi’s withdrawal leaves the powerful, Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies with even fewer options unless they push for a close Sunni ally, a scenario that would likely reduce the chances of Lebanon winning international support. Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist group by the United States and many other countries.

Hezbollah and Amal, along with Aoun, a Maronite Christian, have sought for Hariri to return as premier while including both technocrats and politicians in a new cabinet.

But Hariri, who is aligned with Gulf Arab states and the West, has said he will only return as prime minister if he is able to form a cabinet composed entirely of specialists capable of attracting the international support.

Global ratings agency S&P flashed the latest warning on Lebanon’s debt-saddled economy on Friday, lowering its foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings deeper into junk territory to ‘CCC/C’ from ‘B-/B’.

Lebanon’s bank staff said they would continue a nationwide strike on Monday that has kept banks shut. The strike is over safety fears as depositors demand access to their money. Union members are set to meet on Monday to discuss a security plan to keep branches safe.

 

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Middle East News

Hariri and Aoun trade blame as prime minister candidate’s withdrawal plunges Lebanon further into crisis

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s outgoing prime minister blasted the party of the country’s president on Sunday after the withdrawal of a top candidate to replace him plunged the country into further turmoil. Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, withdrew his candidacy late on Saturday, saying it was too difficult to form a “harmonious” government with broad political…

Hariri and Aoun trade blame as prime minister candidate’s withdrawal plunges Lebanon further into crisis

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s outgoing prime minister blasted the party of the country’s president on Sunday after the withdrawal of a top candidate to replace him plunged the country into further turmoil.

Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, withdrew his candidacy late on Saturday, saying it was too difficult to form a “harmonious” government with broad political support.

Safadi was the first candidate who had appeared to win some consensus among Lebanon’s fractious sectarian-based parties since Saad Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29, pushed out by sweeping protests against the ruling elite.

The withdrawal of Safadi narrowed the chances of creating a government needed to enact urgent reforms.

Reflecting the brittle political climate, President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) accused Hariri of undermining Safadi’s bid in order to keep the job for himself.

“Saad (al-Hariri) is delaying things with the goal of burning all the names and emerging as the saviour,” said a source familiar with the FPM’s view.

A statement by Hariri’s office rejected the FPM assertion as an irresponsible attempt to “score points” despite Lebanon’s “major national crisis”.

Faced by the worst financial strains since a 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon has pledged urgent reforms it hopes will convince donors to disburse some $11 billion pledged last year.

The unrest has kept banks shut for most of the last month. They have imposed controls on transfers abroad and US dollar withdrawals, and the pegged Lebanese pound is under pressure on an informal market.

Safadi became the presumed front-runner for prime minister after a meeting between Hariri, a Sunni politician, and Shiite groups Hezbollah and Amal, according to political sources and Lebanese media, but no political force later endorsed him.

Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, according to its sectarian power-sharing system.

Protesters who have filled the streets since Oct. 17 hit out at the choice of Safadi, a prominent businessman and longtime politician they said was part of the elite they sought to oust.

“We are in a deadlock now. I don’t know when it will move again. It is not easy,” said a senior political source. “The financial situation doesn’t tolerate any delay.”

A second political source described efforts to form a new government as “back to square one.”

Safadi’s withdrawal leaves the powerful, Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies with even fewer options unless they push for a close Sunni ally, a scenario that would likely reduce the chances of Lebanon winning international support. Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist group by the United States and many other countries.

Hezbollah and Amal, along with Aoun, a Maronite Christian, have sought for Hariri to return as premier while including both technocrats and politicians in a new cabinet.

But Hariri, who is aligned with Gulf Arab states and the West, has said he will only return as prime minister if he is able to form a cabinet composed entirely of specialists capable of attracting the international support.

Global ratings agency S&P flashed the latest warning on Lebanon’s debt-saddled economy on Friday, lowering its foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings deeper into junk territory to ‘CCC/C’ from ‘B-/B’.

Lebanon’s bank staff said they would continue a nationwide strike on Monday that has kept banks shut. The strike is over safety fears as depositors demand access to their money. Union members are set to meet on Monday to discuss a security plan to keep branches safe.

 

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Middle East News

Egypt to reduce subsidised staple food prices

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security and medical officials say protesters have pushed closer to the Green Zone, Baghdad’s fortified seat of government, after security forces pulled back following a night of violent altercations.The officials said Saturday that protesters took control of the strategic Khilani Square and part of Sinak bridge leading to the Green Zone, which houses…

Egypt to reduce subsidised staple food prices

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security and medical officials say protesters have pushed closer to the Green Zone, Baghdad’s fortified seat of government, after security forces pulled back following a night of violent altercations.The officials said Saturday that protesters took control of the strategic Khilani Square and part of Sinak bridge leading to the Green Zone, which houses Parliament and several foreign embassies.Security forces are still deployed on part of the bridge in order to block the protesters from pushing into the Green Zone.

Meanwhile, Iraq closed its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran to travellers from both countries on Saturday, an Iraqi security source and an Iranian diplomat said.The security source said Tehran had demanded the closure because of ongoing public protests in both Iran and Iraq. The border would remain shut until further notice but would not affect goods or trade, the security source and the diplomat said.Officials say a roadside bomb killed three people and wounded 18 late Friday near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement. Another roadside blast in the southern city of Nassiriya wounded 18 that same evening.The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

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