Russian-Turkish Dispute Over Idlib Agreement Explanation- Sources

Presidents Putin and Erodgan shake hands. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Presidents Putin and Erodgan shake hands. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
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Russian-Turkish Dispute Over Idlib Agreement Explanation- Sources

Presidents Putin and Erodgan shake hands. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Presidents Putin and Erodgan shake hands. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

There are four points of dispute between Moscow and Ankara over the explanation of the agreement on Syria's Idlib, reached two weeks ago between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sources with knowledge of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.

On Sept. 17, Moscow and Ankara signed in Sochi an agreement on setting up a 9-12 mile demilitarized zone in Idlib along the contact line of the armed opposition and regime forces.

According to the agreement, all heavy weaponry operated by opposition factions must be pulled out of the demilitarized zone by October 10 and “terrorist groups” should be cleared by October 15.

The sources said Moscow already informed Tehran, Damascus and Ankara that in case the above conditions were not fully implemented, Russia would therefore immediately launch a military operation and airstrikes against Idlib.

According to the sources, Russia and Turkey disagree over the depth of the decentralized zone, as Moscow is seeking to annex Idlib and other main cities to it, but Ankara has rejected the offer.

The second disagreement is related to the two main roads linking Aleppo to Latakia and Hama, which are considered the “main artery of the North.” Russia asked that the Syrian regime control the M4 from Aleppo to Latakia and the M5 from Aleppo to Hama before 2019. However, Ankara insists that the roads remain monitored by Russia and Turkey.

The third disagreement is related to the fate of extremists as Turkish officials want to transfer them to Kurdish-controlled areas while Russian officials insist on “terminating them.”

Also, the two sides disagree over the range of the Sochi agreement.

Moscow wants it a temporary agreement similar to the ones implemented in the de-escalation areas of Daraa, Damascus Ghouta and Homs, while Ankara prefers to have it permanent, similar to the one implemented in the areas of Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations.

Both countries hope that a Russian-Turkish-French-German summit planned for next month could contribute to solving the disputes over Idlib.



Türkiye Warns Will Strike Kurdish Militants in Iraq, Syria after Ankara Suicide Bombing

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan attends a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 31, 2023. (AP)
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan attends a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 31, 2023. (AP)
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Türkiye Warns Will Strike Kurdish Militants in Iraq, Syria after Ankara Suicide Bombing

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan attends a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 31, 2023. (AP)
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan attends a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 31, 2023. (AP)

Türkiye’s foreign minister warned on Wednesday that Kurdish militants behind a suicide bombing in the Turkish capital face robust retaliation against their group’s positions in Syria and Iraq.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack outside the Interior Ministry in Ankara in which one attacker blew himself up and another would-be bomber was killed in a shootout with police. Two police were wounded in the attack.

Turkish warplanes already have conducted two airstrikes against suspected Kurdish militant sites in northern Iraq following the attack, which came as Parliament prepared to reopen after a long summer recess. Meanwhile, dozens of people with suspected links to the Kurdish militants have been detained in a series of raids across Türkiye.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said during a news conference that Turkish intelligence officials have established that the two assailants arrived from Syria where they had been trained. He said Türkiye would now target facilities in Syria and Iraq belonging to the PKK or its affiliated Kurdish armed group, People's Defense Units, or YPG.

“From now on, all infrastructure, superstructure and energy facilities belonging to the PKK or the YPG in Iraq and Syria are legitimate targets of our security forces, armed forces and intelligence elements,” Fidan said.

“I advise third parties to stay away from the PKK and YPG and their facilities. Our armed forces’ response to this terrorist attack will be extremely clear and they will regret committing such an act," Fidan said.

Later on Wednesday, Fidan joined a previously unannounced security meeting with the country's interior minister, defense minister, top military commander and intelligence chief, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Iraq’s defense minister was scheduled to visit Türkiye on Thursday, the agency also reported.

The PKK has led a decades-long insurgency in Türkiye and is considered a terror organization by the United States and the European Union. Tens of thousands of people have died since the start of the conflict in 1984.

Türkiye’s air force struck suspected PKK sites in northern Iraq, where the group’s leadership is based, hours after the attack on Sunday, and again on Tuesday. The Defense Ministry said a large number of PKK militants were “neutralized” in the strikes.

Meanwhile, Turkish intelligence agents killed a wanted Kurdish militant in an operation in Syria, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Wednesday.

The militant, who was identified as Nabo Kele Hayri and went by the codename of Mazlum Afrin, was wanted for his alleged role in planning an attack last year on Istanbul’s main pedestrian street, Istiklal. The attack left six people dead.


Morocco Announces Monthly Financial Aid of $250 for Earthquake-Affected Families

The 5th meeting of the Interministerial Commission (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The 5th meeting of the Interministerial Commission (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Morocco Announces Monthly Financial Aid of $250 for Earthquake-Affected Families

The 5th meeting of the Interministerial Commission (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The 5th meeting of the Interministerial Commission (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Moroccan government announced on Monday a decision to start the payment of $250 to needy families as part of its emergency program to rehabilitate and help rebuild homes destroyed in the Al Haouz earthquake.

Starting from October 6 to October 16, the families benefiting from the program are those whose homes were partially or completely collapsed from the earthquake.

The quake-affected families, who would not have received financial aid during the aforementioned period, can present their grievances to the relevant provincial commissions in order to examine and rule on them, the same source pointed out.

The aid came following the 5th meeting of the Interministerial Commission in charge of deploying an emergency program to rehabilitate and help rebuild homes destroyed in the Al Haouz earthquake. It was chaired by Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch.

The commission also decided to launch the road upgrading and widening operation, which will focus in a first phase on the opening and widening of the road between Ouirgane and Tlat N'Yacoub and the road linking Tizi N'tasset and Tafoughalet, and to begin the payment of aids to farmers for the reconstitution of the national herd, as well as the subsidy of barley and compound feed in the disaster areas.

Additionally, it decided to immediately and convergently implement urgent reconstruction projects through the launch of architectural and technical studies which relate in particular to the reconstruction and upgrading of more than 1,000 schools, the upgrading of 42 local health centers, as well as the actions aimed at shoring historic sites and reinforcing and restorate mosques, Zaouias and mausoleums.


Nasrallah Is Criticized for Suggesting Facilitating Migration of Syrian Refugees by Sea to Europe

Syrian refugees are seen at a camp in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley. (Getty Images)
Syrian refugees are seen at a camp in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley. (Getty Images)
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Nasrallah Is Criticized for Suggesting Facilitating Migration of Syrian Refugees by Sea to Europe

Syrian refugees are seen at a camp in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley. (Getty Images)
Syrian refugees are seen at a camp in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley. (Getty Images)

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s suggestion that Lebanon should facilitate the migration of Syrian refugees by sea to Europe has sparked a heated debate in the country given the dangerous implications it may have.

Millions of Syrians have fled abroad since their country's war broke out in 2011 following the government's repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests. Many have crossed the border into Lebanon, which the United Nations says hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world.

Lebanon, which has been mired in a crippling economic crisis for more than three years, says it hosts nearly two million Syrians. The United Nation has registered almost 830,000 of them.

Anti-Syrian sentiment has soared in recent months as some officials have sought to blame refugees for the country's woes.

After welcoming hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in the early years of the conflict, Lebanon banned them from entry in 2015. Since then, many Syrians have used smugglers to cross the border and seek other opportunities in Lebanon or beyond.

Lebanon's own economic collapse has also turned it into a launchpad for would-be migrants, with Lebanese joining Syrian and Palestinian refugees clamoring to leave via dangerous sea routes across the Mediterranean.

Earlier this week, Nasrallah said: “Why stop them [from getting on boats]? When you stop them, they resort to smugglers and have to travel on board these rubber boats. We learn of a new catastrophe at sea every couple of days.”

“Let them travel on ships, not just rubber boats. Syrian refugees must have the opportunity to ride a ship and head to Europe,” he added.

Should the authorities adopt the idea, “it will lead to an inevitable conclusion: The European countries will succumb and come to Beirut and the government to ask the Lebanese what they want in return for ending the migration to Europe,” he explained.

Nasrallah’s suggestion, which may have been intended to unite the Lebanese over the issue, sparked intense criticism among political and legal circles over its possible economic and political implications on Beirut.

Lebanese Forces MP Ghayath Yazbeck slammed Nasrallah’s “reckless and militia behavior.” He said his remarks are aimed at pressuring the caretaker government to in turn pressure the international community to lift the siege on the Syrian regime - Hezbollah’s ally – and kick off the war-torn country’s reconstruction.

Yazbeck told Asharq Al-Awsat that the refugee file is a “massive and deadly burden” on Lebanon and its demographics.

Hezbollah’s demand for unity over some issues is good, but that does not absolve Nasrallah of his partnership with the regime that has caused this migration, he added.

The party controls the Lebanese regions that border Syria and so, it must pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his army to stem the flow of refugees because quite simply, this task is beyond the Lebanese army, he continued.

Moreover, he said the caretaker government is also responsible for this file because it is comprised of forces that are loyal to Hezbollah, which is also part of the cabinet.

So, Nasrallah is “60 percent responsible for this crisis and his statements are useless,” concluded Yazbeck.

“The only remarks we will accept are his call for national unity as his assessment of the situation is unrealistic,” he noted.

“We are not vindicating the international community of the situation we have reached, but suggesting that refugees should be sent to Europe is the talk of militias and rogue states,” the MP said.

“This is the source of our objections to Assad’s behavior and Lebanon cannot tolerate the consequences of such a decision. Rather, diplomatic and political pressure needs to be applied on the United Nations and international community to help us reach a solution and this is what the LF is doing,” he stated.

On the legal level, Dr. Paul Morcos, founder and manager of JUSTICIABeirutConsult, warned that Nasrallah’s suggestion, if implemented, could force the international community to impose an economic and diplomatic boycott of Lebanon.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that should Lebanon allow the refugees to head to Europe by sea, the European countries, specifically those on the Mediterranean, could approach the issue from a diplomatic and political angle.

They may take a more severe approach and impose trade and financial restrictions on Beirut, summon their ambassadors from Lebanon and possibly even sever diplomatic relations, effectively boycotting the country, he went on to say.

A third option would be for Europe to turn to the UN Security Council to issue a resolution under Chapter 7 that would allow an economic siege of Lebanon and possible even military action against it, he warned.

Morcos speculated that the Europeans may resort to the first option that would not lead to a boycott with Lebanon. Perhaps this will prompt Lebanese authorities to take serious action to return the refugees back to their home.


Abadi’s Remarks on War against ISIS Stir Debate in Iraq

Members of the Popular Mobilization Forces prepare to fight ISIS in an area west of Mosul in 2017. (Getty Images)
Members of the Popular Mobilization Forces prepare to fight ISIS in an area west of Mosul in 2017. (Getty Images)
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Abadi’s Remarks on War against ISIS Stir Debate in Iraq

Members of the Popular Mobilization Forces prepare to fight ISIS in an area west of Mosul in 2017. (Getty Images)
Members of the Popular Mobilization Forces prepare to fight ISIS in an area west of Mosul in 2017. (Getty Images)

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's remarks about the fight against the ISIS terrorist group have stirred controversy in the country and sparked a Sunni-Shiite debate.

Abadi, who was in office from 2014 to 2018 at the peak of the fight against the group, described Iraq as being ruled by gangs. He explained that the political agreement that led to the formation of the current government, headed by Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, included a request against criminalizing belonging to ISIS.

In televised remarks, he revealed that he and head of the Badr organization Hadi al-Ameri had refused to sign the agreement.

At the same time, however, Abadi defended the militias, who had come under attack by MP Haybat al-Halbousi. Abadi said Halbousi was criticizing the “militias that made him return home after the fight against ISIS.”

Initially, Shiite forces of the pro-Iran Coordination Framework criticized Abadi’s statements, saying he was seeking political gains ahead of local elections that will be held towards the end of the year.

Halbousi, of the Progress Party of parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, slammed Abadi, saying he was never fit to serve as prime minister.

“Everyone recalls what the residents of these provinces had to endure after the security forces withdrew from them and ISIS seized full control,” he said in televised remarks.

People who wanted to escape from living under ISIS suffered after all exits from the mainly Sunni provinces were shut. This led to the kidnapping and the disappearance of thousands of civilians in those regions, he said.

Given his position as PM, Abadi was supposed to be held to account for these developments and the “sheer number of victims,” he went on to say.

After first denouncing the former PM, the Coordination Framework came to Abadi’s defense, questioning and rejecting Halbousi’s statements and saying it reserves the right to take legal action to “put an end to such petty lies.”

Abadi’s Nasr Coalition also said it reserves the right to take legal action against the lawmaker.

Meanwhile, the Progress Party parliamentary bloc slammed the former PM over his contentious statements.

“At a time when we are seeking to bolster security and stability in our country, strengthen unity among its people and shun all forms of extremism that is alien to our society, along returns such lamentable and shameful political rhetoric from figures who have adopted hate speech and resorted to harmful media statements,” it said.

It expressed its “categorical rejection” of Abadi’s remarks, adding: “We have not and will not forget all the dangerous crimes and human rights violations that took place during the operations to liberate regions from ISIS.”

It said: “Thousands of innocent people had gone missing or were arrested during the operations for committing no other crime than being held prisoner by terrorist groups” and for Baghdad turning them away when they sought safety.

It stressed that the “Iraqis remember the dark days in the liberated provinces.”

It recalled the images of displaced men, women and children amassing on the Bzaibiz bridge after Abadi issued orders to prevent their entry into Baghdad.

“The memory is full of other images and crimes, such as those committed in al-Razzaza, Baiji, al-Saqlawiyah, Samarra, Diyala, Salaheddine, Nineveh, al-Anbar, Kirkuk and Jurf al-Sakhir,” it continued.

It called on Abadi to cease making such divisive statements and to cease making claims against innocents, both dead or alive.


Israel on Alert After Islamic Jihad Launches Military Exercises in Gaza

Al-Quds Brigades’ maneuvers in Gaza on Tuesday
Al-Quds Brigades’ maneuvers in Gaza on Tuesday
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Israel on Alert After Islamic Jihad Launches Military Exercises in Gaza

Al-Quds Brigades’ maneuvers in Gaza on Tuesday
Al-Quds Brigades’ maneuvers in Gaza on Tuesday

The Israeli Army said it raised the state of alert around the Gaza Strip after the Islamic Jihad movement started on Tuesday military exercises in the coastal enclave.

“Due to the presence of increased risks, the Home Front Command has activated the alert for the area around Gaza after the Islamic Jihad movement began offensive drills, including firing a barrage of rockets towards the Mediterranean,” it said.

Al-Quds Brigade, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, announced that its exercise simulated raids on Israeli military sites and fortifications using live ammunition and combined arms, including special forces, rockets, artillery, armor, and intelligence units.

On Tuesday, the exercises activated sirens at the Home Front Command’s internal application after suspicions that one of the rockets launched by Al-Quds Brigade had fell near the Zikim coasts, Israeli media outlets said.

But an Israeli army spokesperson said the rockets were aimed at the sea and did not cross into Israeli territory.


Iraq Arrests 24 People for Promoting Banned Baath Party

Security forces are seen at Baghdad's Tahrir square. (dpa)
Security forces are seen at Baghdad's Tahrir square. (dpa)
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Iraq Arrests 24 People for Promoting Banned Baath Party

Security forces are seen at Baghdad's Tahrir square. (dpa)
Security forces are seen at Baghdad's Tahrir square. (dpa)

Iraq’s national security agency announced on Tuesday the arrest of 24 people for promoting the dissolved Baath party.

In a statement, the agency said it had carried out a widescale campaign in various regions after receiving accurate intelligence information about people promoting the banned party.

In Kirkuk, intelligence efforts and tips from citizens led to the arrest of 13 people for belonging to and promoting the party, it added.

The campaign also included the al-Anbar, Baghdad, Karbala and Nineveh provinces.

Eleven people were arrested in a matter of hours, continued the agency.

Some individuals had recorded videos of themselves in which they glorified the former regime, while others have been accused of putting up posters in support of the Baath in public places.

The arrests were made in line with judicial orders and the law related to the ban of the party, stressed the agency.

All the detainees have been referred to the judiciary.

The constitution banned former ruler Saddam Hussein’s Baath party in 2005 and in 2016, the parliament ratified a law that criminalizes membership in and the promotion of the party.


UN Food Agency: 1 in 5 Children Who Arrive in South Sudan from Sudan Are Malnourished

Sudanese move past trucks in Shendi, 190 kilometers (120 miles) from Khartoum, on September 21, 2023. (AFP)
Sudanese move past trucks in Shendi, 190 kilometers (120 miles) from Khartoum, on September 21, 2023. (AFP)
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UN Food Agency: 1 in 5 Children Who Arrive in South Sudan from Sudan Are Malnourished

Sudanese move past trucks in Shendi, 190 kilometers (120 miles) from Khartoum, on September 21, 2023. (AFP)
Sudanese move past trucks in Shendi, 190 kilometers (120 miles) from Khartoum, on September 21, 2023. (AFP)

At least one in five children arriving in South Sudan from Sudan are malnourished and more than 90% of arrivals haven’t eaten in days, the UN food agency said Tuesday.

The World Food Program said that nearly 300,000 people have arrived in South Sudan in the last five months — the majority of whom are South Sudanese. South Sudan plunged into civil war in 2013, forcing thousands of its citizens to flee to neighboring countries, including Sudan.

“We are seeing families leave one disaster for another as they flee danger in Sudan only to find despair in South Sudan,” says Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP’s country director in South Sudan.

Sudan plunged into chaos in mid-April when long-simmering tensions between the military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Force paramilitary, or RSF, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, escalated into open warfare.

The WFP is appealing for additional funding of more than $120 million to meet humanitarian needs at the border.

The agency says with the start of the rainy season, there’s flooding that has contributed to the spread of disease.

“Those arriving today are in an even more vulnerable condition than families that fled in the early weeks of the conflict,” a WFP statement said.

The UN estimates that 5,000 people have been killed and more than 12,000 others wounded since the conflict in Sudan started in mid-April.

More than 5.2 million people have fled their homes, including more than 1 million who crossed into Sudan’s neighboring countries. Half of the country’s population — around 25 million people — needs humanitarian assistance, including about 6.3 million who are “one step away from famine,” according to UN humanitarian officials.


Int'l Efforts to Resolve Lebanon’s Crisis Stumble at Local Intransigence

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh last week. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh last week. (SPA)
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Int'l Efforts to Resolve Lebanon’s Crisis Stumble at Local Intransigence

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh last week. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh last week. (SPA)

International efforts to resolve the presidential vacuum in Lebanon are stumbling at the intransigence of the local parties, which has so far prevented a tangible breakthrough.

French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to visit Beirut this month in continuation of Paris' efforts to help the country’s disputing parties to agree on a new president for the republic.

Eleven months after the expiry of President Michel Aoun’s term, Lebanon’s political parties are still unable to elect a successor.

The Hezbollah party and Amal Movement are insisting on nominating the head of the Marada movement, former Minister Suleiman Franjieh, while the opposition is asking Speaker Nabih Berri to call for successive electoral sessions that would ultimately end with the election of a new president.

Member of the Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam pointed to “continuous, diverse and extensive initiatives” to end the crisis, the latest of which has been from Qatar.

He added: “It would have been more beneficial for the internal parties to resort to the constitution and apply it instead of waiting for external initiatives.”

In a radio interview, Karam stressed that the Qatari initiative was not aimed at electing Army Commander General Joseph Aoun as president, adding that the Qataris were “open to all possibilities.”

Despite the multitude of initiatives, the issue is still being met with “internal intransigence” and “rigidity in positions,” according to parliamentary sources who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat.

They revealed that the internal political forces “did not show sufficient flexibility in dealing with these efforts.”

This assessment was confirmed by MP Ghassan Skaff, who said on X that the Qatari and French efforts will not succeed if they are not reciprocated by the Lebanese parties.


Iraq: Head of Mosul Diocese Calls for Int’l Probe into Wedding Hall Fire

People light candles in front of pictures of some victims of the wedding hall fire in Al-Hamdaniya. (Reuters)
People light candles in front of pictures of some victims of the wedding hall fire in Al-Hamdaniya. (Reuters)
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Iraq: Head of Mosul Diocese Calls for Int’l Probe into Wedding Hall Fire

People light candles in front of pictures of some victims of the wedding hall fire in Al-Hamdaniya. (Reuters)
People light candles in front of pictures of some victims of the wedding hall fire in Al-Hamdaniya. (Reuters)

The Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Benedictus Younan Hanno, described the results of an investigation announced by the Interior Ministry on a fire at a wedding hall in Al-Hamdaniya as “shameful,” questioning the measures taken by the government authorities in dismissing some heads of the directorates of the district.

Scores of panicked guests surged for the exits last week in the Haitham Royal Wedding Hall in the predominantly Christian area of Hamdaniya in Nineveh province after the ceiling panels above a pyrotechnic machine burst into flames.

Iraq released the results of its probe on Sunday saying unsafe fireworks were the main reason that caused the deadly fire.

On Monday, the Nineveh Heath Department updated the death toll to 113, including 41 who have not been identified yet. It said 12 people who suffered severe burns were sent for treatment abroad and eight will follow.

In a press conference on Sunday evening, the archbishop rejected the outcome of the probe, saying: “There are things that don’t make sense in this investigation... I feel that there are political conspiracies behind these dismissals.”

Some reports indicated that most of the sacked employees belonged to the Christian community and other minorities. Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that some “armed groups close to the Catholic Church fear that the fire will be used as a pretext to settle scores and dismiss local Christian officials in favor of their opponents from other sects and minorities.”

Hanno called for “an international investigation based on clear facts and strategy.” He continued: “We are with the state in expelling any corrupt manager with evidence and documents. But we give the authorities 24 hours to withdraw this decision and take matters seriously.”

The investigative committee formed by the federal authorities recommended the dismissal of the mayor of Hamdaniya, the town’s municipal director, the director of tourism classification in Nineveh Governorate, the director of Hamdaniya Electricity and the director of the Fire and Safety Directorate in the Civil Defense Directorate in Nineveh, as well as the referral of the director of civil defense in the governorate to a specialized committee.

On Saturday, the head of the investigation committee, Major General Saad Al-Dulaimi, said that the venue was overcrowded, and roofed with flammable sandwich panels and decorations made from flammable materials.

“The committee noticed that there were no emergency doors other than the small and insufficient service doors, and no safety supplies, which led to a large fire and heavy losses among the people in the hall,” he stated.


Israel Mulls De-Escalation Measures in Gaza

Palestinian workers in the Gaza Strip enter from the Erez Crossing into Israel after it reopened on September 28. (AFP)
Palestinian workers in the Gaza Strip enter from the Erez Crossing into Israel after it reopened on September 28. (AFP)
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Israel Mulls De-Escalation Measures in Gaza

Palestinian workers in the Gaza Strip enter from the Erez Crossing into Israel after it reopened on September 28. (AFP)
Palestinian workers in the Gaza Strip enter from the Erez Crossing into Israel after it reopened on September 28. (AFP)

Israel is considering a series of measures to de-escalate tension in the Gaza Strip and prevent a potential escalation.

Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that Israel is mulling increasing workers’ permits to Israel and easing the conditions for bringing goods into the Strip.

Meanwhile, Israel is holding talks with Qatar with the aim of transferring financial aid to “Hamas” to pay the salaries of its employees.

The government fears that any escalation in Gaza would undermine the ongoing talks with Saudi Arabia, according to the newspaper.

These measures are part of talks that kicked off two weeks ago in an attempt by mediators to de-escalate tension with Gaza after “Hamas” resumed protests near the border before it suspended them in parallel with a progress in talks.

Israel estimates that Hamas initiated the protests and mounted pressures in efforts to enhance the economic situation.

A Western diplomat who recently visited the Gaza Strip told the newspaper that these pressures ensue from the deteriorating economic distress in Gaza, the cut-off of international aid to residents, and the increasing challenges in the Strip.

The Israeli government is considering increasing entry permits for Gazan workers to Israel from 15,000 to 20,000 and easing the conditions for bringing goods into the Strip.

Haaretz said that the government components including the far-right wing approve that the current government is endorsing the policy of the former government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to present this issue for discussion in the government and to promote these measures in order to maintain calm on the Palestinian lands amid ongoing talks with Saudi Arabia.

US President Joe Biden told Netanyahu during their meeting in New York last week that preventing violent escalation against the Palestinians would help the US administration strengthen communications with Saudi Arabia.