US Appoints New Envoy to Sudan Amid Conflicting Responses

Sudanese refugees escaping conflict regions (AFP)
Sudanese refugees escaping conflict regions (AFP)
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US Appoints New Envoy to Sudan Amid Conflicting Responses

Sudanese refugees escaping conflict regions (AFP)
Sudanese refugees escaping conflict regions (AFP)

The US administration is striving to contain growing criticism of its attempts at controlling the situation in Sudan amid increasing concerns about deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions.

Washington responded to the persistent demands of US lawmakers and appointed Tom Perriello as the seventh envoy to Sudan in 23 years.

US President Joe Biden's allies and the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, welcomed the new appointment.

Sullivan quickly highlighted the administration's "deep commitment to ending the conflict and addressing the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sudan and the region."

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that the Special Envoy will coordinate the US policy on Sudan and "advance our efforts to end the hostilities, secure unhindered humanitarian access, and support the Sudanese people as they seek to fulfill their aspirations for freedom, peace, and justice."

- Challenges and obstacles

CISIS analyst and consultant on African peace, security, and governance issues Cameron Hudson believes appointing a special envoy to Sudan may be the right diplomatic step.

However, it would only be effective if his efforts were boosted to lead the track of the US government and diplomatic talks with Sudan and stakeholders there.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hudson warned that if the appointment was merely an attempt to contain the ongoing criticism of Washington for not working enough to solve the crisis, it would fail and the situation would be much worse.

The former Charge d'Affaires of the US Embassy in Sudan, Alberto Fernandez, voiced Hudson's approach, telling Asharq Al-Awsat that he doubts appointing special envoys in general yields results.

Fernandez explained that appointing envoys embodies Washington's attempt to appear as if it cares about a specific issue without actually achieving much.

Both Hudson and Fernandez's analysis reflects the fears of many officials who have been calling since the outbreak of the crisis to intensify diplomatic efforts and push for Congress-approved sanctions against the parties responsible for the conflict.

Most US legislators demand a presidential envoy with powers to carry out his duties.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch said the temporary appointment of a special envoy to Sudan, ten months into the war, "shouldn't be viewed as recognition by the Biden Admin of the significance of this crisis. Instead, it demonstrates another failure in its response. Sudan must be a higher priority."

Risch and other Senators released the following statement on the Biden Administration's temporary appointment of Perriello as special envoy for Sudan.

The statement explained the approach of the legislators who called on the administration to appoint a presidential envoy subject to the approval of Congress to give him sufficient powers to deal with the file.

It warned that the war has significant consequences for innocent Sudanese and the entire region.

"As such, Congress began calling for a special envoy who reports directly to the president on a bipartisan basis immediately after the war began. We regret that after all these months, the administration still failed to appoint a more permanent presidential envoy."

They addressed issues of bureaucracy, saying the Department will argue it chose to avoid Senate confirmation due to the urgency of the situation, "it sat on this decision as the interagency argued about resources, reporting lines, and how this position will be used."

Former special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that the special envoy must be the primary person to engage and discuss with the warring parties, those affected by the conflict, and external involved parties.

Regarding Sudan, Booth noted that it would be easier to see the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces agreeing to commit to a political path once their supporters are prepared to pressure them.

- Molly Phee and her "obstructing role"

Sources in Congress, who refused to be named, discussed the "obstructive" role of Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee in Sudan.

The sources noted that Phee controlled the Sudanese file and refused anyone else assuming the role.

However, Fernandez did not hesitate to criticize Phee publicly, voicing his belief that her role was very harmful to Sudan since the military coup in October 2021.

The expert added that Perriello's appointment begs the question of who will have the final decision in the Sudan file and whether it would be the new envoy or the official who has more influence in the State Department, meaning Phee.

Fernandez feared Perriello will have to spend most of his time facing bureaucratic issues in Washington instead of working to stop the actual war in Sudan.

Hudson believed that the failure of high-level officials, such as the Secretary of State, to resolve the conflict in Sudan and the assignment of people like Phee led to the absence of a solution to the crisis.

He indicated the file should not have been handed to mid-level diplomats, who need to gain experience in managing transitional processes or have weak records in responding to conflicts.

- Consecutive resignations

Critics of Phee's role point to the successive resignations of officials in the Sudan file.

Hudson stated that Washington has shown weakness in commitment in naming the diplomats assigned to Sudan, threatening its efforts for peace in the country.

Fernandez explained that he worked with three special envoys in Sudan, noting that there are many challenges facing the official, such as his knowledge and experience, the time and effort that he will devote to the file, and the administration's support, which is essential.

The expert concluded that there could be good policies and bad envoys, but the truth usually reflects the opposite reality: policies are unclear or unrealistic, and the envoy's qualities do not matter because the problem is politics.

However, Booth pointed out that the special envoy's duties include coordinating Washington's approach to resolving the conflict, adding that he needs to be involved in the talks that formulate policies and enjoy the support of high-ranking officials to ensure a succeeded mission.



Hamdok, Abdul Wahid Nur Sign Declaration Urging Sudan War Halt

Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Paris (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Paris (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Hamdok, Abdul Wahid Nur Sign Declaration Urging Sudan War Halt

Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Paris (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Paris (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, leading the “Tagaddum” anti-war civilian coalition, and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement joined forces in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to sign a political agreement.

This deal aims to end the conflict and establish civilian rule in Sudan. Both leaders pledge to work together to tackle Sudan’s challenges and find lasting solutions.

Both parties urged an immediate ceasefire to pave the way for ending the war, with support from international and regional efforts, including the Jeddah platform.

The Nairobi declaration called on the warring factions to abide by international humanitarian law by removing obstacles to aid delivery and ensuring access for all citizens in conflict zones.

It also stressed the importance of protecting humanitarian workers from international and local organizations.

Tagaddum and the Sudan Liberation Movement have agreed to establish a security and military system meeting international standards.

This system aims to create a unified national army dedicated to safeguarding national security under a new military doctrine aligned with the constitution.

The agreement also calls for a federal democratic civilian government in Sudan, ensuring equal participation for all Sudanese in power and resources.

The Nairobi declaration stressed the need for an inclusive discussion involving all national stakeholders supporting these principles.

Both sides called on international and regional actors to pressure the warring factions and step up efforts for an immediate end to the war.


Two Israeli Soldiers Killed in South Gaza

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Two Israeli Soldiers Killed in South Gaza

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a battle in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, the military said on Sunday.

Israel's military has been focusing its offensive in the southern part of Gaza where it says the remaining Hamas brigades are holed up.


UNSMIL Calls for Locating Kidnapped Libyan Parliament Member

Libyan members of the parliament meet during a session. Reuters file photo
Libyan members of the parliament meet during a session. Reuters file photo
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UNSMIL Calls for Locating Kidnapped Libyan Parliament Member

Libyan members of the parliament meet during a session. Reuters file photo
Libyan members of the parliament meet during a session. Reuters file photo

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has called upon the competent authorities to locate and secure the prompt release of Ibrahim Aldrasi, a member of parliament, who has gone missing.

The House of Representatives (HoR) member for Benghazi is missing after a robbery at his home, the media manager of the ministry said in a statement on Friday evening.

On Saturday, UNSMIL expressed “deep concern” about the abduction and called upon “the competent authorities to locate and secure his prompt release.”

The Mission also urged the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Aldrasi’s disappearance and to hold those accountable under the law.

It condemned all forms of arbitrary detention throughout Libya. “Such acts undermine the rule of law and create a climate of fear,” it said on X.

The Mission also reminded the authorities of their obligation to respect fundamental freedoms and uphold human rights and the rule of law.


Tunisia Recovers Bodies of 4 Migrants Off its Coast, Rescues Dozens

Activists demonstrate outside the delegation of the European Union to Tunisia against migrant deals with EU, in the capital Tunis, Thursday, May 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Anis Mili)
Activists demonstrate outside the delegation of the European Union to Tunisia against migrant deals with EU, in the capital Tunis, Thursday, May 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Anis Mili)
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Tunisia Recovers Bodies of 4 Migrants Off its Coast, Rescues Dozens

Activists demonstrate outside the delegation of the European Union to Tunisia against migrant deals with EU, in the capital Tunis, Thursday, May 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Anis Mili)
Activists demonstrate outside the delegation of the European Union to Tunisia against migrant deals with EU, in the capital Tunis, Thursday, May 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Anis Mili)

Tunisia recovered the bodies of four migrants off the country's coast on Saturday, the national guard said, amid an increase in migrant boats heading from Tunisia toward Italy in recent weeks.
According to Reuters, the force said the coast guard separately rescued 52 migrants. The national guard arrested nine smugglers, and boats were seized.
At least 23 Tunisian migrants were missing after setting off in a boat for Italy, the national guard said earlier on Saturday.
Tunisia is facing a migration crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe.


Report: One Killed, Six Injured in Clashes in Western Libyan City

 A Libyan flag is seen outside an oil refinery in Zawiya on Sept. 23, 2011. (AFP/Getty Images)
A Libyan flag is seen outside an oil refinery in Zawiya on Sept. 23, 2011. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Report: One Killed, Six Injured in Clashes in Western Libyan City

 A Libyan flag is seen outside an oil refinery in Zawiya on Sept. 23, 2011. (AFP/Getty Images)
A Libyan flag is seen outside an oil refinery in Zawiya on Sept. 23, 2011. (AFP/Getty Images)

At least one person was killed and six injured when fierce clashes broke out on Saturday in the city of Zawiya in western Libya, prompting calls for a ceasefire to rescue families trapped in the conflict area, a Libyan TV channel said.

Ali Ahneesh, head of the Red Crescent branch in Zawiya, told the Istanbul-based Libya Alahrar TV channel that 10 families had been evacuated, and called for “a ceasefire to evacuate families stuck in the areas where the clashes have taken place”.

Red Crescent volunteers had been receiving calls from families in the conflict area asking to be evacuated, he said.

There was no immediate indication of who had taken part in the violence or why they were fighting.

Imad Ammar, a member of Zawiya's elders and notables council, said the fighting appeared to involve individuals rather than armed groups.

Zawiya, 40 km (25 miles) west of the capital Tripoli, is home to Libya's biggest functioning refinery, with a capacity of 120,000 barrels per day.

"The clashes in the morning were fierce, and the casualties are one killed and six injured," Tripoli-based Ambulance and Emergency Services spokesperson Osama Ali told the TV channel.

Ali said rescue teams had been unable to reach the conflict zone, and it was not clear if the casualties were civilian or military.

Zawiya has witnessed repeated armed clashes that have at times forced the closure of the coastal road to the border with Tunisia.

Reports of unrest in the city were circulated on the internet with unverified footage of gunmen exchanging fire.

Libya's state electricity firm (GECOL) said in a statement that the unrest had led to power cuts in some areas in the city.

"The situation was very bad in the morning. There is calm now, but the security and government authorities must use all their power to end this conflict," said Ammar.

He said there had been no response from the city's security authorities to what he described as "a fight between persons and not specific parties" for which civilians were paying the price.


US Intelligence Suggests American Who Vanished in Syria in 2017 Has Died, Daughter Says

Maryam Kamalmaz holds a photo of her father with some of his 14 grandchildren in Grand Prairie, Texas, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
Maryam Kamalmaz holds a photo of her father with some of his 14 grandchildren in Grand Prairie, Texas, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
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US Intelligence Suggests American Who Vanished in Syria in 2017 Has Died, Daughter Says

Maryam Kamalmaz holds a photo of her father with some of his 14 grandchildren in Grand Prairie, Texas, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
Maryam Kamalmaz holds a photo of her father with some of his 14 grandchildren in Grand Prairie, Texas, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

US officials have developed specific and highly credible intelligence suggesting that an American citizen who disappeared seven years ago while traveling in Syria has died, the man's daughter said Saturday.

Maryam Kamalmaz said in an interview with The Associated Press that during a meeting in Washington this month with eight senior American officials she was presented with detailed intelligence about the presumed death of her father, Majd, a psychotherapist from Texas.

The officials told her that on a scale of one to 10, their confidence level about her father's death was a "high nine." She said she asked whether other detained Americans had ever been successfully recovered in the face of such credible information, and was told no.

"What more do I need? That was a lot of high-level officials that we needed to confirm to us that he’s really gone. There was no way to beat around the bush," Maryam Kamalmaz said.

She said officials told her they believe the death occurred years ago, early in her father's captivity. In 2020, she said, officials told the family that they had reason to believe that he has died of heart failure in 2017, but the family held out hope and US officials continued their pursuit.

But, she said, "Not until this meeting did they really confirm to us how credible the information is and the different levels of (verification) it had to go through."

She did not describe the intelligence she learned.

Spokespeople for the White House and the FBI, which investigates abductions in foreign countries, did not immediately return messages seeking comment Saturday.

Majd Kamalmaz disappeared in February 2017 at the age of 59 while traveling in Syria to visit an elderly family member. The FBI has said he was stopped at a Syrian government checkpoint in a suburb of Damascus and had not been heard from since.

Kamalmaz is one of multiple Americans who have disappeared in Syria, including the journalist Austin Tice, who went missing in 2012 at a checkpoint in a contested area west of Damascus. Syria has publicly denied holding Americans in captivity.

In 2020, in the final months of the Trump administration, senior officials visited Damascus for a high-level meeting aimed at negotiating release of the Americans. But the meeting proved unfruitful, with the Syrians not providing any proof-of-life information and making demands that US officials deemed unreasonable. US officials have said they are continuing to try to bring home Tice.

The New York Times first reported on the presumed death of Majd Kamalmaz.


Dozens Killed and Wounded as Israeli Forces Thrust Deeper in Gaza’s Jabalia and Rafah

 Children stand near a crater caused by Israeli bombardment in a street in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (AFP)
Children stand near a crater caused by Israeli bombardment in a street in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (AFP)
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Dozens Killed and Wounded as Israeli Forces Thrust Deeper in Gaza’s Jabalia and Rafah

 Children stand near a crater caused by Israeli bombardment in a street in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (AFP)
Children stand near a crater caused by Israeli bombardment in a street in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (AFP)

Israeli troops and tanks pushed on Saturday into parts of a congested northern Gaza Strip district that they had previously skirted in the more than seven-month-old war, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, medics and residents said.

Israel's forces also took over some ground in Rafah, a southern city next to the Egyptian border that is packed with displaced people and where the launch this month of a long-threatened incursion to crush Hamas hold-outs has alarmed Cairo and Washington.

Israel has conducted renewed military sweeps this month of parts of northern Gaza where it had declared the end of major operations in January. At the time, it also predicted its forces would return to prevent a regrouping by the Palestinian group that rules Gaza.

One site has been Jabalia, the largest of Gaza Strip's eight historic refugee camps. On Saturday, troops and tanks edged into streets so far spared the ground offensive, residents said. In one strike, medics said 15 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded.

The Gaza health ministry and the Civil Emergency Service said teams received dozens of calls about possible casualties but were unable to carry out any searches because of the ongoing ground offensive and the aerial bombardment.

"Today is the most difficult in terms of the occupation bombardment, air strikes and tank shelling have going on almost non-stop," said one resident in Jabalia, Ibrahim Khaled, via a chat app.

"We know of dozens of people, martyrs (killed) and wounded, but no ambulance vehicle can get into the area," he told Reuters.

The Israeli military said forces have continued to operate in areas across the Gaza Strip including Jabalia and Rafah, carrying out what it called "precise operations against terrorists and infrastructure".

"The IAF (air force) continues to operate in the Gaza Strip, and struck over 70 terror targets during the past day, including weapons storage facilities, military infrastructure sites, terrorists who posed a threat to IDF troops, and military compounds," the military said in a statement.

Armed wings of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Fatah said fighters attacked Israeli forces in Jabalia and Rafah with anti-tank rockets, mortar bombs, and explosive devices already planted in some of the roads, killing and wounding many soldiers.

Israel's military said 281 soldiers have been killed in fighting since the first ground incursions in Gaza on Oct 20.

At least 35,386 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes since Oct. 7, according to figures from the enclave's health ministry, while aid agencies have warned repeatedly of widespread hunger and dire shortages of fuel and medical supplies.

In the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, 1,200 people died in Israel and 253 were taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. About 125 people are still being held in Gaza.

In Rafah, where Israeli tanks thrust into some of the eastern suburbs and clashed with Palestinian fighters there, residents said Israeli bombing from the air and ground persisted all night.

Rafah had been sheltering more than one million displaced Gazans. UNRWA, the main UN aid agency for Palestinians, said more than 630,000 people had fled Rafah since the offensive there began on May 6. Israel says it must capture Rafah to destroy Hamas and ensure the country's security.


Austria to Unblock Funds for UN Palestinian Relief Organization

Youths gather with jerrycans to fill up water from a tanker truck in the yard of a school of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), housing Palestinians displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian territory on May 14, 2024. (AFP)
Youths gather with jerrycans to fill up water from a tanker truck in the yard of a school of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), housing Palestinians displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian territory on May 14, 2024. (AFP)
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Austria to Unblock Funds for UN Palestinian Relief Organization

Youths gather with jerrycans to fill up water from a tanker truck in the yard of a school of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), housing Palestinians displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian territory on May 14, 2024. (AFP)
Youths gather with jerrycans to fill up water from a tanker truck in the yard of a school of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), housing Palestinians displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian territory on May 14, 2024. (AFP)

Austria will release funds to the UN's Palestinian relief organization UNRWA that were blocked after allegations agency staff were involved in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

Vienna's decision comes after UNRWA set out an action plan to better ensure its impartiality, strengthen internal reviews, and improve how its staff are monitored.

"After a thorough analysis of the action plan, we will release funds to UNRWA again," the Austrian foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Funds totaling 3.4 million euros ($3.70 million) have been budgeted for 2024, with the first payment due to be made in the summer, it added.

Austria was one of the donor states to freeze some $450 million in funds after Israel accused 12 UNRWA staff of participating in the Hamas-led attack that triggered the Gaza war.

Germany said last month it would resume cooperation with UNRWA following a report led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna into UNRWA's procedures for ensuring adherence to principles of neutrality.

UNRWA employs 32,000 people in the Palestinian territories and nearby countries, including 13,000 in the Gaza Strip, running schools and social services.


UN Denounces 'Intimidation and Harassment' of Lawyers in Tunisia

Hundreds of Tunisia lawyers and activists from civil society organizations take part in a protest against the decline in freedoms (EPA)
Hundreds of Tunisia lawyers and activists from civil society organizations take part in a protest against the decline in freedoms (EPA)
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UN Denounces 'Intimidation and Harassment' of Lawyers in Tunisia

Hundreds of Tunisia lawyers and activists from civil society organizations take part in a protest against the decline in freedoms (EPA)
Hundreds of Tunisia lawyers and activists from civil society organizations take part in a protest against the decline in freedoms (EPA)

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned on Friday the recent intimidation and harassment of lawyers in Tunisia after authorities launched a massive arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists critical of the government.
“Reported raids in the past week on the Tunisia Bar Association undermine the rule of law and violate international standards on the protection of the independence and function of lawyers,” OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.
“Such actions constitute forms of intimidation and harassment.”
She said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk urges the authorities to respect and safeguard freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Tunisia is a party.
Over the past few days, Tunisian authorities have detained civil society figures including anti-racism activist Saadia Mosbah, a number of lawyers, as well as political commentators on radio and television stations.
On Thursday, hundreds of Tunisian lawyers led a strike in the capital Tunis to protest the decline of freedoms in a country that saw the onset of the Arab Spring.

The protest came after security officers stormed the Tunisian Bar Association's headquarters during a live television broadcast, arresting a media commentator and lawyer, Sonia Dahmani.
The officers also arrested her colleague, Mahdi Zagrouba, who was tortured during interrogation—an allegation denied by Tunisian officials.
The arrests have sparked condemnations and an international backlash, which Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has slammed as foreign “interference.”
Saied said the detention of lawyers is “legal,” adding that the events of the last few days had nothing to do with the legal profession of lawyers, but “with those who dared to denigrate and even slander their country in the media and who violently assaulted a security officer.”
In her statement, Shamdasani had also quoted Türk as saying that the rule of law in Tunisia must be upheld, and those arbitrarily detained, including for defending the rights of migrants and for combating racial discrimination, released.
“The human rights of all migrants must be protected, and xenophobic hate speech must stop,” she said.
The OHCHR spokesperson said, “We are very concerned by the increased targeting in Tunisia of migrants, mostly from south of the Sahara, and individuals and organizations working to assist them.”
At the same time, she noted, “we are witnessing a rise in the use of dehumanizing and racist rhetoric against Black migrants and Black Tunisians.”
Shortly following Shamdasani’s statements, sources in Tunisia said judicial authorities have arrested Saadia Mosbah, an anti-discrimination activist, as part of a money laundering investigation.
The arrest of Mosbah, the president of Tunisian anti-racism association Mnemty ("My dream"), came just hours after Saied criticized Tunisian humanitarian organizations that defend sub-Saharan migrants at a National Security Council meeting on Monday.
“The associations that cry today and shed tears in the media receive huge amounts of money from abroad,” Saied said.

 


Jordan Foils Major Drug Smuggling Attempt from Syria

A Jordanian army patrol is deployed at the border with Syria to prevent drug smuggling, April 2023. (AFP)
A Jordanian army patrol is deployed at the border with Syria to prevent drug smuggling, April 2023. (AFP)
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Jordan Foils Major Drug Smuggling Attempt from Syria

A Jordanian army patrol is deployed at the border with Syria to prevent drug smuggling, April 2023. (AFP)
A Jordanian army patrol is deployed at the border with Syria to prevent drug smuggling, April 2023. (AFP)

The Jordanian army announced on Friday that it thwarted a major drug smuggling operation from Syria.

In a statement, it said two smugglers were killed and others wounded in the operation. Some smugglers managed to flee back to Syria.

The army seized the drugs and weapons in possession of the smugglers.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned that the Jordanian authorities will release some of the confessions of Syrian smugglers it had detained in late 2023.

They were arrested during a clash that led to the arrest of nine smugglers along the northeastern border.

Jordanian sources had previously told Asharq Al-Awsat that smuggling gangs active in southern Syria were cooperating with Jordanian cells to deliver illicit material to the eastern Ruwaished region before smuggling them to neighboring countries.

Authorities soon carried out an operation against the cell, arresting some members and killing others. The search is still ongoing for some fugitive members.

Amman accuses Iran and its allied militias, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah which is active in southern Syria, of being behind the drugs smuggling.

It says the operations aim to cause tensions and security instability in Jordan.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in New York in mid-April where they were attending a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East.

Safadi informed Abdollahian that “Jordan won’t allow Iran or Israel to turn it into a warzone.” Jordan will “confront any violation of its territories and threat to its security and safety of its citizens,” he vowed.

“Jordan wants good relations with Iran, but getting there demands the removal of the sources of tension and the immediate end of meddling in Jordanian affairs,” he stressed.

Damascus did not comment on the latest drug smuggling attempt, but local media sources said the operation had taken place in the desert area between Syria and Jordan.

It added that a person in connection to the government-affiliated Fifth Brigade was involved in the smuggling attempt.