Syria’s Assad Issues Conditional Amnesty for Draft Dodgers

A man walks near a poster depicting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad inside Ibn al-Nafis hospital in Damascus, Syria November 8, 2022. (Reuters)
A man walks near a poster depicting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad inside Ibn al-Nafis hospital in Damascus, Syria November 8, 2022. (Reuters)
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Syria’s Assad Issues Conditional Amnesty for Draft Dodgers

A man walks near a poster depicting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad inside Ibn al-Nafis hospital in Damascus, Syria November 8, 2022. (Reuters)
A man walks near a poster depicting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad inside Ibn al-Nafis hospital in Damascus, Syria November 8, 2022. (Reuters)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued an amnesty on Wednesday that pardons draft dodgers and helps them avoid prison if they report to duty within three to four months.

Syrians who escaped the mandatory military service and are inside the country will have three months to turn themselves in, while those abroad will get four months.

The decree applies to crimes committed before Dec. 21, the presidency said.

Aid agencies have said that the fear of conscription is a major reason for refugees not wanting to return to the country, which is in the throes of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

The lack of opportunity in the country also often limits the benefits of such amnesties. The government had previously issued similar amnesties during the Syrian war.

With help from Russia and Iran, Assad has reclaimed control of most of the country from an array of opposition factions, some that were backed by foreign governments and extremist militants.

The war, which spiraled out of a peaceful uprising in 2011, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and uprooted half the pre-war population.



Egypt Needs to Import $1.18 Billion in Fuel to End Power Cuts, PM Says

The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Egypt Needs to Import $1.18 Billion in Fuel to End Power Cuts, PM Says

The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)

Egypt needs to import around $1.18 billion worth of mazut fuel oil and natural gas to end persistent power cuts exacerbated by consecutive heat waves, its Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a televised address on Tuesday.

It hopes the shipments will arrive in full around the third week of July, by which point the government aims to stop cutting power during the remaining summer months, he added.

It has already started contracting for 300,000 tons of mazut worth $180 million to boost its strategic reserves which are expected to arrive early next week.

Egypt's government on Monday extended daily power cuts to three hours from two hours previously in response to a surge in domestic electricity consumption during the latest heat wave.

These three-hour cuts will continue until the end of June, before returning to two hours in the first half of July with the aim of stopping completely for the rest of the summer, Madbouly said on Tuesday.

Egyptian social media has lit up with complaints about the impact of the blackouts, with some saying they have been forced to purchase private power generators.

The problem has particularly affected teenagers preparing for the crucial high school certificate, with some posting about students studying by candlelight and others in coffee shops.

A wedding hall owner in the coastal city of Port Said said he would turn one of his ballrooms into a study hall.

Since July last year, load shedding linked to falling gas production, rising demand and a shortage of foreign currency has led to scheduled two-hour daily power cuts in most areas.

"We had said that we planned to end load shedding by the end of 2024... we do not have a power generation problem or a network problem, we are unable to provide fuel," Madbouly said on Tuesday.

"With the increase in consumption related to the major development and population increase, there has been a lot of pressure on our dollar resources," he added.

He said production in a neighboring country's gas field had come to a full halt for 12 hours leading to an interruption in the supply, without naming the country or the gas field.

Egypt's Abu Qir Fertilizers said on Tuesday three of its plants had halted production because their supply of natural gas was cut.