Tag Archives: Arab World

Arab League Says Ready to Help Solve Lebanon Crisis

The Arab League expressed its willingness to help Lebanon solve its political stalemate, after weeks of mass protests and amid the country´s worst financial crisis in decades.

The office of Lebanon´s president, Michel Aoun, said he discussed the situation Thursday with the visiting Arab League assistant secretary-general, Hossam Zaki.

Lebanon´s prime minister, Saad Hariri, resigned late last month in response to nationwide protests that erupted on Oct. 17. They´re targeting the country´s entire political class.

Protesters have resorted to road closures and other tactics in an effort to pressure politicians into responding to their demands for a new government.

Aoun has not set a date for binding consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new premier.

Political factions remain deadlocked over the new Cabinet´s composition.


Israel Endorses Hamas’ Statement That ‘Rebellious Organizations’ Fired Rockets From Gaza

Senior Israeli security officials on Wednesday endorsed Hamas’ message that rocket attacks on Israel were not initiated by the movement, not even by the Islamic Jihad, but by “rebellious organizations that do not comply with Hamas’ strict orders to refrain from violating the truce.”

Sources said that the Israeli security services do not yet know the identity of those who fired rockets from Gaza towards the southern Israeli towns, but they believed Hamas and Jihad messages that they have not changed their policies and that they were strictly committed to calm the situation.

The sources said those who fired the rockets were “chaotic and rebel organizations,” adding: “There are many such organizations in the Gaza Strip that have a lot of weapons.”

These explanations came after the Israeli army had responded to the shelling from the Gaza Strip, with heavy raids on Hamas positions. According to a statement by the military spokesman in Tel Aviv, “Hamas is responsible for firing the shells.”

Gunmen from Gaza fired two rockets. One was intercepted the Iron Dome system, while the second landed in an open area. It is believed that the gunmen are opposed to Hamas or dissatisfied with the recent truce and aim to embarrass the movement, which did not participate in the latest round of fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad.

Since then, in a rare shift, Friday’s demonstrations on the Gaza border have been canceled for two weeks in a row.

Israel and Hamas are not seeking a new confrontation, as evidenced by Israel’s deliberate attack on open positions and Hamas’ failure to respond.

Palestinian rockets or Israeli shelling caused no casualties. Observers noted that Israel sometimes allowed sporadic fire without response in order to avoid escalating tensions.


Turkey, Sarraj’s GNA Sign Military Deal

Turkey signed a military deal late Wednesday with the head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) following a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, his office said.

Erdogan met with Fayed al-Sarraj to sign agreements on security and military cooperation, as well as maritime jurisdictions. 

“We are confident that we will improve the security situation for the Libyan people together,” Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, wrote on Twitter.

He called on other countries to support the GNA. 

“Stability of Libya is critically important for the safety of Libyans, regional stability, and prevention of international terrorism,” Altun tweeted.

The deal comes despite calls from the Arab League — which includes Libya — to end cooperation with Turkey in protest at its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria last month. 

The Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar has repeatedly said that Turkey has been providing military support to Sarraj’s forces.

Last week, the LNA said it had carried out air strikes on the port city of Misrata, targeting armored vehicles delivered from Turkey and a munitions depot.

The LNA has been on the offensive since early April to take the Libyan capital Tripoli.


Moroccan Security Forces Arrest ISIS Extremist

The Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) arrested an ISIS-linked extremist on Tuesday in the city of Guelmim, southern Morocco.

According to the BCIJ statement, investigations revealed that the terror suspect is promoting ISIS extremist ideology through apps to “serve the agenda of this terrorist organization.”

BCIJ agents seized several electronic devices, mobile phones, and electrical cables during the operation.

BCIJ has carried out several other crackdowns against terror cells throughout the year.

Morocco introduced the BCIJ in 2015. The bureau has been monitoring security threats across the country and has also assisted foreign security agencies in combating terrorism.

This year, Moroccan security services dismantled 13 terrorist cells that were preparing to commit criminal acts targeting the security and safety of the Kingdom or friendly countries, and recruited young Moroccans to fight in areas where militant groups are active.

BCIJ, which specializes in combating terrorism, also dismantled a number of terrorist networks, including thwarting a terror cell operating in Morocco and Spain.

Morocco has accumulated an important experience in the fight against extremism, thanks to upholding a proactive and precautionary security policy approach.

As for the Moroccan Interior Ministry, it reiterated that it is actively pursuing continuous coordination with security services in combating terrorism.


Libyan National Army Targets GNA in Sirte

The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, said it has raided sites of armed militias loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the coastal city of Sirte, and thwarted an attack south of the capital, Tripoli.

LNA’s air force attacked Wednesday morning various targets in Qaradabiya airbase in Sirte after it had received military intelligence tips on the locations, according to LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari.

Mismari added that the targets included a military operations room used to control drones and some sites storing and hiding drones.

He added that fighter jets bombed the sites in precise targets.

The spokesman said in the statement that the operation has achieved its objectives, and completely destroyed the facilities.

The LNA leadership announced that the main purpose of the strikes was to destroy the terrorist militias’ capabilities and prevent them from targeting the National Army.

In other news, Volcano of Rage Operation launched by the forces and militias loyal to the GNA, chaired by Fayez al-Sarraj, distributed photographs showing the destruction caused by the LNA in what it termed as an “indiscriminate shelling” in Saladin area in an attempt to compensate for the National Army’s losses south of Tripoli.

Meanwhile, Sarraj has ordered a 40 percent drop in the salaries of GNA representatives, and another decrease of 30 percent in salaries of advisers, starting 2020.

Sarraj’s office issued a statement on Facebook, saying the decrease in the wages will also include the Prime Minister and will be in effect starting January.

It also asked the Ministry of Finance to provide a proposal for the percentage to be cut from the salaries of the state administrative authorities’ employees as well as to take the necessary measures to unify the salary for all public sector staff in Libya.


Morocco Worried About Return of ISIS Militants

Morocco’s Interior Ministry described the return of terrorist militants from hotbeds of tension in Syria, Iraq and Libya as “worrying” for the country and one of the most important challenges facing the concerned countries.

It stressed that efforts exerted in the Kingdom has enabled it to uncover 13 terrorist cells until late October that were working on recruiting young Moroccans to fight in areas where militant groups are active.

The Ministry issued a report and distributed it to members of its committee and the House of Representatives on the occasion of presenting the sub-budget for 2020.

According to the report, terrorism phenomena affects all the regions in the world and threatens the countries’ security and stability, including Morocco.

Terrorist organizations are calling on the returning militants to infiltrate their “home countries to carry out terrorist operations, the Ministry explained.

This contributes to targeting stability, disrupting the economic movement and encouraging the establishment of sleeper cells to revive the so-called ISIS “caliphate.”

The report noted that the Ministry has “continued to work during this year with the highest levels of vigilance and preparedness, contained in the national plan to combat terrorism, both at the level of the territorial administration and security interests.”

The Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) was able to dismantle a number of terrorist networks, including thwarting an ISIS affiliated terrorist group active in Morocco and Spain, the report added.

It said the Kingdom has accumulated a significant experience in the fight against extremism and terrorism, thanks to approaching a proactive and precautionary security policy in the fight against the terrorist threat.

In coordination with the security services in the field of combating terrorism, the Ministry pointed to adopting “a policy that changes according to the terrorist groups’ strategies taken.”

“These groups receive financial resources and continues to use extremist ideologies and violent speeches through social media and modern sites among the fragile population.”

In March, the Moroccan authorities deported a group of eight Moroccan nationals, who were in the conflict zones in Syria.

This step came in line with its contribution to the international efforts related to combating terrorism.


Uproar Continues over Removal of Iraq’s Head of Counter-Terrorism Forces

Outrage continued in Iraq over Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s decision to remove commander of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, Abdul Wahhab al-Saadi, and transfer him to the Defense Ministry.

Saadi is one of the most prominent commanders who led the war against ISIS in Iraq. He suffered injuries throughout the battle and is often hailed as a hero. Uproar over his dismissal has been unprecedented in the country.

Critics of the move said it was a like an “insult” to the widely-respected military commander.

The transfer to a specific department in the Defense Ministry is tantamount to their punishment or dismissal, they added.

Saadi had previously said he would rather be imprisoned or forced to retire than made to move to the ministry.

Speculation was rife over the motives of Abdul Mahdi’s decision.

Some said it was part if regular procedures and appointments that take place in the upper ranks of the military. Others speculated that it was driven by “foreign agendas” aimed at breaking the image of the military in favor of armed factions.

Some even spoke of Iran’s potential role in ordering the transfer given its animosity to the military institution that has fought its influence for eight years.

Deputy head of the parliamentary security and defense committee Nayef al-Shammari, however, stated that Saadi was a victim of the failure to resolve certain pending issues. He added that the committee will probe the decision to transfer him to the Defense Ministry.

“We have yet to receive an explanation for the move,” he remarked.

Reports even said that Sadrist movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr had intervened to urge the PM against transferring Saadi to the ministry.

Former parliament Speaker Usama al-Nujaifi called on Abdul Mahdi to reconsider his decision.

He said that commanders are usually rewarded for their heroics, warning that the transfer would send a negative message to the military and people.

Former PM Haidar al-Abadi, who also served as armed forces chief during the war on ISIS between 2014 and 2017, tweeted: “This is how the state rewards the fighters who defended the nation.”

Military and security appointments must be based on professional grounds and “we must not squander those who made sacrifices for the people and nation during difficult times.”

Former editor-in-chief of the al-Sabah daily, Fallah al-Meshaal, attributed the uproar over Saadi’s decommissioning “to national consensus over his national principles and Iraqi spirit during the battles to liberate Mosul city from ISIS.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he hailed his humanitarian stances with the people and shunning of sectarianism, which is why the people see in him an example of a national military commander. They rose up to defend his honor in a precedent not enjoyed by any Iraqi politician since 2003.”

Political science professor at the University of Kufa, Eyad al-Anbar told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The people see Saadi as a symbol of the state against the infiltration of militias factions and commanders.”


Houthis Fail to Rally Attendees for Ashura Commemoration Events

Houthi coercion and violence failed to get residents in nine districts to partake in the Iran-backed group’s Ashura commemoration marches and festivals. Traditionally, Houthis use brute force to push citizens into attending their public events.

Local sources, speaking under the conditions of anonymity, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthis failed in establishing their sectarian festivals in more than nine militia-run districts in three Yemeni governorates: Dhamar, Ibb and Al-Mahwit.

Local observers considered that all activities held by Houthis are sectarian, inspired from Iran, and are completely foreign practices to the Yemeni people.

Confirming that the foreign practices are unfamiliar to Yemenis, observers said: “What is happening in areas controlled by the putschists are exotic customs and are derived from old Iranian traditions mixed with Christian traditions then presented as Islamic by Iran’s mullahs.”

Twelvers represent the majority of Muslims in Iran.

In turn, a source close to Houthi militias, who refused to be named for security reasons, revealed the group spent over one billion Yemeni riyals to commemorate Ashura in the capital Sanaa and other areas under its control.

The source pointed out that most of the money was spent on printing sectarian brochures and posters, large propaganda paintings, and for covering expenses for organizers and militiamen.

This astronomical spending comes at a time war-ravaged Yemenis face the threat of famine, spread of diseases and the exhaustion of public institutes.

The source added that the militia’s absurd squandering of public money was met with widespread resentment as Yemenis continued to refuse integrating foreign culture and ideology exported from Iran.

In a desperate move to try and rally attendees, Houthi gunmen threatened to cut off UN aid and basic commodities.


JIAT Blasts Using Civilians for Military Purposes

The Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) of the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen held parties using civilian objects for military purposes liable for damages or victims, noting that there would no longer be any legal protection when an object is militarized.

JIAT Spokesman Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour confirmed that the Geneva Conventions and human rights laws prohibit exploiting civilians for military gains. Civilians, once involved in battle, lose legal human rights protection and become a valid military target.  

In a Riyadh presser held on Tuesday, Mansour revised a number of cases presented to JIAT on Arab Coalition strikes allegedly hitting civilian targets.

One of these cases included a civilian home in Yemen’s southern Abyan province. It was allegedly struck with two surface-to-air missiles back in August 2015, killing three and wounding six.

Speaking on the matter, Mansour said investigations found that the Arab Coalition, at the time, carried out a mission on a legitimate military site 86 kilometers away from the house in question, which is considered a safe distance. This concludes that Coalition forces did not target the house.

In another report on extrajudicial killings, Coalition jets are cited as striking a Hodeidah hospital, killing seven civilians.

On that matter, Mansour said: “Upon verification, it was found that Coalition forces did not target any hospital in Hodeidah on the presented date… On that date, Coalition forces carried out an air raid against Houthi militia concentrations 100 kilometers from Hodeidah using a precision-guided bomb that struck the target accurately.”

In another report, Mansour tackled claims on a 2018 airstrike resulting in a number of deaths and injuries in Sanaa.

“Upon verification, the panel found credible Coalition intelligence on a Houthi militia site used to store and equip ballistic missiles in Sanaa to strike Saudi Arabia.”

“Accordingly, the Coalition carried out an aerial mission on a legitimate military target using a precision-guided bomb that struck its targets accurately, noting that the target struck was 17 kilometers away from Sanaa,” Mansour noted.


Arab fathers’ role key to shaping children’s future

Arab fathers have a significant role to play in shaping the self-esteem and educational success of their children, according to a new study unveiled by the Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research.

The findings of the research were presented at the Foundation’s ‘Global Trends in Parental Involvement’ symposium held in Dubai on Wednesday and Thursday. The study highlights the benefits that Arab fathers’ involvement can have on their child’s self-esteem and educational outcomes, calling for a less constricted definition of the paternal role and for more fatherly involvement.

In the Arab world and especially in the Gulf, fathers have a distinct and central role in the family. Fathers in the region are often regarded as the family’s key ‘breadwinner’ as well as the moral role model. However, the study shows their influence is far greater than that.

According to the research, children had greater self-esteem and better academic performance if they perceived their fathers as being more positively and responsibly engaged in their lives, more emotionally responsive, did household chores, were accessible, and showed paternal affection than those who did not.

The lack of paternal involvement was also associated with poor self-esteem as well as academic performance, especially among male children in the Gulf. Participants rated their fathers highest on the family’s financial provider role but ranked them lowest on the responsible paternal engagement role on a scale of different parental involvement behaviours. GCC fathers were perceived by their adult children as good providers and moral role models, however they were less involved in their schooling and in their day-to-day life.

According to the study, 49 per cent of GCC fathers showed a strong interest in their children’s schoolwork, compared to 56 per cent of other Arab fathers and 61 per cent of western fathers. Furthermore, only 28 per cent of GCC fathers attended school activities regularly, compared to 40 per cent of other Arab fathers and 55 per cent of western fathers.

Dr Natasha Ridge, Executive Director at the Foundation, said that parents play an incredibly decisive role in the socio-emotional wellbeing and self-esteem of their children.

“From our research, we know that higher self-esteem is linked to higher educational outcomes. Despite this, there is limited research measuring the impact of parental involvement in children’s development and educational outcomes in the Middle East. In an effort to address the shortage of research on this topic, the Al Qasimi Foundation and our partners have curated this symposium to provide a platform for academics, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to share a deeper understanding of parental involvement and discuss solutions,” added Ridge.

Survey findings also suggested that Emiratis were more likely than non-Emirati Arabs to feel close to their fathers during childhood and adolescence. Emiratis also reported that their fathers took them on activities and to doctors’ appointments more often than non-Emirati Arabs.

The study also sheds light on the different forms that paternal involvement takes for GCC fathers in the family setting. This includes 83 per cent of fathers in the GCC are mostly or always present around their family. In the home, 33 per cent of GCC fathers are reported to regularly help clean the house compared to 28 per cent of other Arab fathers and 25 per cent of western fathers. In the home, 44 per cent of GCC fathers are reported to regularly cook meals compared to 32 per cent of other Arab fathers and 28 per cent of western fathers.

The symposium underscored various aspects of parental involvement, including stimulating children’s development in early childhood and supporting parents in the 21st century; caregiver perceptions of early childhood socio-emotional development: cultural attitudes towards parenting; developmental screening;  creating an accepting environment for 21st century parents; engaging parents in school programmes; connecting school programmes with student employability; parental involvement in building resiliency: enhanced emotional and academic support utilising a range of techniques.