Egypt Seeks International Support in GERD Talks

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). File photo
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). File photo
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Egypt Seeks International Support in GERD Talks

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). File photo
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). File photo

Egypt addressed the UN Security Council and the General Assembly on Tuesday, seeking international support on the dispute over the mega-dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile.

Cairo appealed for a UN role that would contribute to resolving the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis through a binding legal agreement.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed the dispute during a telephone conversation.

The FM stressed his country’s keenness to reach a legally binding agreement over the operation and filling of the dam.

He warned against Addis Ababa’s unilateral second filling of the dam next July before reaching a binding agreement, noting that it would affect “regional security and stability”.

Shoukry further pointed to the importance of the role played by the UN and its agencies to push for resuming negotiations and reaching the desired agreement, in addition to backing the African Union in its mission.

According to a foreign ministry statement, Shoukry sent letters to Guterres and the presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly, requesting that they circulate them as an official document.

The letters include various stages of negotiations on the dam and the latest developments, the statement noted.

Ethiopia began constructing the 1.8-kilometer-long GERD in 2011 as a key to its economic development and power generation.

Egypt fears the dam will imperil its supplies of Nile water, while Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety and water flows through its own dams and water stations.

Both countries continue to stress the need to reach a binding and comprehensive agreement that guarantees the rights and interests of the three countries.

Addis Ababa finished in July 2020 the first phase of filling the reservoir, in preparation for its operation, and announced going ahead with the second filling in the next rainy season.

The latest round of talks between the three countries in Kinshasa ended earlier this month with no progress made.

Sudan and Egypt were aligned on a proposal to include the European Union, United States and United Nations in the negotiations, as an addition to current African Union mediators.

Both countries said Ethiopia rejected the proposal during the meeting, as well as other suggestions to re-start negotiations.



Four More Officials Held after Libya Flood Disaster

People clean their homes which were impacted by fatal floods in Derna, Libya, September 28, 2023. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
People clean their homes which were impacted by fatal floods in Derna, Libya, September 28, 2023. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
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Four More Officials Held after Libya Flood Disaster

People clean their homes which were impacted by fatal floods in Derna, Libya, September 28, 2023. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
People clean their homes which were impacted by fatal floods in Derna, Libya, September 28, 2023. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Libya's prosecutor general has ordered the arrest of four more officials, bringing to 12 the number held as part of an inquiry into this month's flood that killed thousands.

Flooding caused by hurricane-strength Storm Daniel tore through eastern Libya on September 10, leaving at least 3,893 people dead and thousands more missing.

The seaside city of Derna was the worst-hit in the flash flood, which witnesses likened to a tsunami. It burst through two dams and washed entire neighborhoods into the Mediterranean.

The four additional suspects, including two members of the Derna municipal council, were arrested for suspected "bad management of the administrative and financial missions which were incumbent upon them", said a statement issued overnight Thursday-Friday by the prosecutor general's office in Tripoli, western Libya.

On Monday the office ordered the arrest of eight officials, including Derna's mayor who was sacked after the flood.


Netherlands Deploys More Troops to NATO Mission in Iraq

Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
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Netherlands Deploys More Troops to NATO Mission in Iraq

Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The Netherlands will deploy around another 120 soldiers and three Chinook transport helicopters to the ongoing NATO alliance mission in Iraq, the Dutch government said on Friday.

The deployment is in addition to the infantry unit of around 145 soldiers the Netherlands said in July they would send to Iraq from Jan. 1, 2024.

NATO says its non-combat mission in Iraq is aimed at strengthening Iraqi security institutions and forces so they can prevent the return of ISIS, fight terrorism and stabilize the country.

The new Dutch unit will primarily be used to supply food and equipment to troops and for transport of military staff and equipment.


Tunisia’s Ghannouchi Starts 3-Day Hunger Strike in Prison

FILE PHOTO: Tunisia's Rached Ghannouchi is surrounded by presidential guard members upon his arrival for questioning after he was summoned by Tunisian anti-terrorism police in Tunis, Tunisia April 1, 2022. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Tunisia's Rached Ghannouchi is surrounded by presidential guard members upon his arrival for questioning after he was summoned by Tunisian anti-terrorism police in Tunis, Tunisia April 1, 2022. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo
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Tunisia’s Ghannouchi Starts 3-Day Hunger Strike in Prison

FILE PHOTO: Tunisia's Rached Ghannouchi is surrounded by presidential guard members upon his arrival for questioning after he was summoned by Tunisian anti-terrorism police in Tunis, Tunisia April 1, 2022. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Tunisia's Rached Ghannouchi is surrounded by presidential guard members upon his arrival for questioning after he was summoned by Tunisian anti-terrorism police in Tunis, Tunisia April 1, 2022. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo

Jailed Tunisian opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi has begun a three-day hunger strike in support of other imprisoned opposition figures, his Ennahda party said on Friday.

Ghannouchi, 82, was sentenced to a year in jail in May on charges of incitement and plotting against state security. More than 20 other opposition figures have been detained this year.

An Ennahda party statement said its leader had launched the three-day action to support fellow jailed opposition figures who are protesting at what they say is unjust imprisonment.

Jawher Ben Mbarak, a prominent opposition figure who has been detained for more than seven months, began an open-ended hunger strike this week, arguing that his jailing was politically motivated.

President Kais Saied has called his critics criminals, traitors and terrorists and warned that any judge who freed them would be considered to be abetting them.

Ghannouchi was parliament speaker from the 2019 election and his party was the biggest in the legislature until Saied sent tanks to shut it down in 2021.


Successive Egyptian-Iranian Moves Increase Chances of Improving Relations

Ghalibaf during a meeting with the Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament (Mehr News Agency)
Ghalibaf during a meeting with the Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament (Mehr News Agency)
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Successive Egyptian-Iranian Moves Increase Chances of Improving Relations

Ghalibaf during a meeting with the Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament (Mehr News Agency)
Ghalibaf during a meeting with the Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament (Mehr News Agency)

Political, economic and parliamentary movements between Egypt and Iran have increased the chances of improving ties between the two countries, heralding the return of relations between Cairo and Tehran.

Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament Hanafi Gebaly and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, stressed “the importance of cooperation between Egypt and Iran,” during their meeting in Johannesburg, days after talks between Egyptian Minister of Finance and the Iranian Minister of Economy, and another meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York.

The past period has witnessed frequent Iranian statements regarding rapprochement with Cairo. In remarks in May, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian expressed hope that relations with Egypt would witness “mutual development and openness.”

On Wednesday, Gebaly met with Ghalibaf on the sidelines of the 9th BRICS Parliamentary Forum in Johannesburg. Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported that the meeting came in light of “increasing diplomatic movements in recent months to improve relations between the two countries.”

The agency quoted the Iranian official as saying that Egypt has always been “an influential country in history and Islam, and we must try to strengthen the relationship between Islamic countries in West Asia and the North Africa region.”

For his part, Gebaly said: “I believe that by participating in the BRICS group, we are on the right path towards the two countries’ development. We must try to increase bilateral relations and cooperation on various levels.”

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, former Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister and member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, Rakha Ahmed Hassan, said that the recent Egyptian-Iranian meetings signaled the near return of diplomatic relations.

In July, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid noted that as the result of the development in Iranian-Gulf relations during the recent period, “some expect that it is normal for Egyptian-Iranian ties to witness a similar progress.”

He added: “Interaction and communication are always present and have not been interrupted at any stage.”

On the sidelines of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) meeting in the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh this month, Egyptian Minister of Finance, Mohamed Maait and Iranian Minister of Economy Sayyed Ehsan Khandozi, discussed bilateral and trade relations.

In remarks on the occasion, Khandozi stressed that Iran is “ready to develop cooperation in the field of Asian banking and infrastructure.”
He also proposed the formation of a joint committee between the Iranian Deputy Minister of Economy and the Egyptian Deputy Minister of Finance to maintain communication and follow up on the planned projects.

For his part, the Egyptian Minister of Finance pointed to his country’s readiness to implement the proposals presented by his Iranian counterpart, saying: “Egypt believes that it is important to expand and develop relations with Iran.”

Also this month, discussions took place between the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, in New York.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said that the meeting opened a “new horizon” in the course of relations between the two countries.

The Arab World News Agency also quoted the Egyptian Foreign Minister as saying that there were “positive signs” regarding relations between Egypt and Iran.


King Mohammed VI Grants Pardon to 742 Detainees on Prophet’s Birthday

The King of Morocco presiding over a religious ceremony in Rabat. (MAP)
The King of Morocco presiding over a religious ceremony in Rabat. (MAP)
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King Mohammed VI Grants Pardon to 742 Detainees on Prophet’s Birthday

The King of Morocco presiding over a religious ceremony in Rabat. (MAP)
The King of Morocco presiding over a religious ceremony in Rabat. (MAP)

Marking Prophet’s birthday, King Mohammed VI has granted pardon to 742 detainees, sentenced by various courts across the country, according to a press release from the Ministry of Justice.

Beneficiaries of the Royal Pardon in detention amount to 528 detainees, including 22 convicts who benefited from pardon over their remaining prison terms.

About 503 detainees had their prison sentence commuted, while 3 detainees saw their life imprisonment commuted to a fixed-term sentence.

Beneficiaries of the Royal Pardon who are free amount to 214, including 50 inmates that benefited from pardon over their prison sentence or its remainder.

The number also includes 8 people who benefited from pardon over their prison sentence with their fines maintained.

This category also features 146 people who saw their fines annulled, while nine others saw both their prison and fine sentences annulled.

One person benefited from pardon over the remainder of their prison term and had their fine annulled.

King Mohammed VI presided over a religious ceremony on Wednesday evening at the Hassan Mosque in Rabat, in commemoration of Prophet’s birthday. The Sovereign was accompanied by Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan, Prince Moulay Rachid, Prince Moulay Ahmed, and Prince Moulay Ismail.

The Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, presented the report on the activities of the Ulemas of the Supreme Council and local councils, before handing over the report to the Sovereign.

Toufiq also assured that the scholars, through their main task of “Tabligh” or communication, are working to establish a sound methodology based on their rich experience.

Subsequently, the King awarded the Mohammed VI Prize for Islamic Thought and to Ibrahim Id Ibrahim from the city of Agadir. This prize is awarded annually to reward eminent scientific personalities and encourage them to conduct research in the field of Islamic studies, in accordance with the teachings of the noble Sharia, which advocates the pursuit of knowledge and encourages its beneficial use.

The King was then greeted by Hamza Sabou from the city of Tangier, who received the International Mohammed VI Prize for Memorization, Recitation, and Exegesis of the Holy Quran from the Sovereign.

The Sovereign also presented the International Mohammed VI Prize for Quranic Recitation with Memorization of five Hizbs to Omar Ben Abdelaziz El Baridi from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Lebanon’s Central Bank: No Funding for the State, Neither in LBP nor in USD

Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Beirut
Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Beirut
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Lebanon’s Central Bank: No Funding for the State, Neither in LBP nor in USD

Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Beirut
Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Beirut

Acting Governor of Banque du Liban (BDL), Dr. Wassim Mansouri, said that the policy of the central bank would not change, reiterating that there would be no funding for the state, “neither in Lebanese pounds nor in US dollars.”

He also called for holding a joint workshop to respond to the citizens’ inquiries about their deposits in US dollars.

Mansouri was speaking during a meeting at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESC), where he outlined the BDL’s financial and monetary policies.

Mansouri assumed the position of acting governor of the BDL on the first of August, after the expiry of the term of Governor Riad Salameh.

Since the beginning of his duty, he has refused to use the Central Bank’s reserve funds, and has refrained from disbursing amounts to cover major government expenses, if legal cover was not available for them.
Mansouri stressed that the state would continue to pay public sector salaries in US dollars.

“We, as the Central Bank of Lebanon, agree to this mechanism from a purely monetary standpoint. This ensures living and social stability for about 400,000 families,” he stated.

However, the acting governor noted that these amounts were entirely derived from the revenues of the Lebanese state, not from the Central Bank. He explained that not a single dollar has been paid by the BDL since the beginning of August to finance the state.

Mansouri called for the holding of a joint workshop that includes representatives from the government, Parliament, the central bank, and the Economic Council, to give answers to the citizens regarding their stranded bank deposits in US dollars.

“The Central Bank is a strong institution and has capabilities. Diligent work is underway to improve all its governance mechanisms,” he said, calling on the Lebanese people to “trust the institution.”

In response to a question about whether more Lebanese pounds would be printed to maintain monetary stability, Mansouri stressed that there would be no change in the Central Bank’s policy.

“There will be no funding for the state, neither in lira nor in dollars, which means that, in principle, there’s stability, and the impact is more on the state than on the central bank...” he remarked.

For his part, the president of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, Charles Arbid, emphasized that monetary stability was one of the priorities of the council’s work.

He called on the political forces in Lebanon to expedite the election of a new president and form a capable and reliable government, stressing that political matters “have a fundamental impact on the monetary and economic situation and the social reality.”


Israel Doesn’t Want Escalation in Gaza

Palestinians burn tires during previous clashes with Israeli soldiers near the border fence between Israel and Gaza. (AFP)
Palestinians burn tires during previous clashes with Israeli soldiers near the border fence between Israel and Gaza. (AFP)
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Israel Doesn’t Want Escalation in Gaza

Palestinians burn tires during previous clashes with Israeli soldiers near the border fence between Israel and Gaza. (AFP)
Palestinians burn tires during previous clashes with Israeli soldiers near the border fence between Israel and Gaza. (AFP)

Tor Wennesland, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has affirmed that there are ongoing international efforts to avoid a security deterioration in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stressed that his government doesn’t want an escalation or fight in the Gaza Strip.

“This evening, it is important that we remind the terrorist elements in Gaza of the real power dynamics between the Israeli army and Hamas and its partners,” the minister said during a commemorative ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the October War.

“We don't want an escalation and we don't want to fight, but if we reach a situation where it is necessary to act, Operation Shield and Arrow should serve as a reminder to any terrorist elements what the capabilities of our security system are," Gallant said.

If Israeli citizens or Israeli army soldiers are harmed, “we will not hesitate to use the full force at our disposal to ensure the safety of our citizens, and to restore peace to the sector," he stressed.

Gallant had participated Wednesday in a consultative meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli army's Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, the head of the National Security Council of Israel Tzachi Hanegbi, and a group of officers attended the meeting that discussed expected scenarios of the protests in Gaza.

The intelligence revealed that “Hamas” doesn’t want an escalation, however, Bar stated that the protests increase the possibility of making a mistake that leads to a new escalation round that could be violent.

While the security officials advised Israel to contribute to the calm, they stressed the necessity to be prepared for "a potential escalation".

“The United Nations is talking to and working with all concerned to improve the lives of people in Gaza, particularly the most vulnerable,” Wennesland said Thursday on his X account.

One day after his meeting with “Hamas” officials in Gaza, he added: “The situation inside the Strip is dire and we must avoid another conflict that will have grave consequences for all. The people of Gaza have suffered enough and deserve more than a return to calm.”

Moreover, a regional diplomat said Egypt had stepped up its efforts to prevent a slide into another war, according to Reuters.

The diplomat added that international mediators have stepped up efforts to prevent a new round of armed confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian resistance forces.


Sudani Visits Wedding Fire Victims

Sudani speaks to medical staff at Al-Hamdaniya Hospital in northern Iraq (Reuters)
Sudani speaks to medical staff at Al-Hamdaniya Hospital in northern Iraq (Reuters)
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Sudani Visits Wedding Fire Victims

Sudani speaks to medical staff at Al-Hamdaniya Hospital in northern Iraq (Reuters)
Sudani speaks to medical staff at Al-Hamdaniya Hospital in northern Iraq (Reuters)

The Iraqi Council of Ministers announced compensation for the victims of the fire that broke out during a wedding in Mosul, which led to the death and injury of hundreds of people.

In parallel, Prime Minister Mohammad Shiaa Al-Sudani ordered the harshest penalties to be imposed on officials of administrative units in Nineveh Governorate as a result of negligence that caused the fire.

The tragic incident was ignited by fireworks within the venue hall, and led to the loss of at least one hundred lives in the town of Qaraqosh, part of Al-Hamdaniya district.

Local medical reports suggested that the number of fatalities might exceed 120 individuals, who lost their lives due to severe burns or suffocation.

During a visit on Thursday to the district, Sudani held the venue’s owners and supervisory authorities responsible for the disaster.

The Iraqi premier attended a meeting at the headquarters of the Nineveh Operations Command, before visiting the injured at the Republican Hospital, where he listened to the families of the victims and asked the hospital officials to provide all treatment requirements without delay, and to immediately transfer critical cases outside Iraq for recovery.

For its part, the Iraqi Council of Ministers issued an order to form a committee to compensate the families of the victims with IQD 10 million for the deceased and IQD 5 million for the injured.

On Wednesday, Sudani declared general mourning throughout Iraq, for a period of three days.

The Iraqi government announced its intention to take strict measures to re-examine all wedding halls and buildings that were constructed using flammable sandwich panels, which are widely utilized in Iraq as part of a solution to the housing crisis.

Meanwhile, the owner of the venue surrendered himself to the authorities in the Kurdistan region at dawn on Thursday, after escaping from Mosul on the night of the incident for fear of revenge. The security authorities arrested about nine persons, including organizers, who had decorated the venue with flammable materials and had allowed fireworks to be brought into the hall.


US Imposes Sanctions on Former Sudanese FM for ‘Undermining’ Peace Efforts

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AFP)
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US Imposes Sanctions on Former Sudanese FM for ‘Undermining’ Peace Efforts

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AFP)

The United States imposed sanctions Thursday on former Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti, accusing him of obstructing efforts to reach a ceasefire between the rival Sudanese parties.

Karti, who was foreign minister from 2010 to 2015 in the government of now-deposed Omar al-Bashir, is currently secretary general of the Sudanese Islamic Movement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the movement as "a hardline Islamist group that actively opposes Sudan's democratic transition."

“Following the fall of the al-Bashir regime, Karti led efforts to undermine the former civilian-led transitional government and derail the Framework Political Agreement process,” said Blinken.

“He and other former regime officials are now obstructing efforts to reach a ceasefire between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, mobilizing forces to enable continued fighting, and opposing Sudanese civilian efforts to resume Sudan’s stalled democratic transition,” he added in a statement.

"Today's action holds accountable those who have undercut efforts to find a peaceful, democratic solution in Sudan," the Treasury Department's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement.

"We will continue to target actors perpetuating this conflict for personal gain."

The US also imposed sanctions on two companies, GSK Advance Company Ltd (GSK) which is ostensibly a Sudan-based information technology and security company, and Aviatrade LLC, a Russia-based company.

The Treasury said that as of late 2020, GSK worked with Aviatrade LLC, “to arrange the procurement of parts and supplies, as well as training, for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) previously purchased by the RSF.”

“As of mid-2023, the RSF used GSK to facilitate additional purchases from Aviatrade LLC, including monitoring equipment and spare parts. Purchases between GSK and Aviatrade LLC were likely directed by senior leaders within the RSF.”

Sanctions aim at locking those named out of legitimate trade and finance networks and allowing the seizure of their assets under US jurisdiction.

The State Department meanwhile said it added a number of members of Bashir's regime to its visa ban list. It did not provide the names.

“Karti is designated for being responsible for, or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Sudan," added the Treasury.

“He and other hardline Sudanese Islamists are actively obstructing efforts to reach a ceasefire to end the current war between the SAF and RSF and opposing Sudanese civilians’ efforts to restore Sudan’s democratic transition.”


Saudi KSrelief Distributes Food Aid Tons in Sudan's Khartoum

SPA
SPA
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Saudi KSrelief Distributes Food Aid Tons in Sudan's Khartoum

SPA
SPA

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) distributed on Thursday 35 tons of food baskets in Khartoum.

The aid reached 5,314 individuals in the Sudanese capital.

The assistance comes within the humanitarian aid provided in Sudan by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through its humanitarian arm, the KSrelief, to alleviate the suffering of the needy people there.