Jordan Parliament Votes to Expel Israeli Ambassador

The Jordanian parliament meets on Wednesday. (Jordanian parliament)
The Jordanian parliament meets on Wednesday. (Jordanian parliament)
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Jordan Parliament Votes to Expel Israeli Ambassador

The Jordanian parliament meets on Wednesday. (Jordanian parliament)
The Jordanian parliament meets on Wednesday. (Jordanian parliament)

Jordan's Parliament voted on Wednesday to expel the Israeli ambassador in Amman in protest of against Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s appearance at a podium adorned with an Israeli flag that included all of Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

House Speaker Ahmed Safadi called on the government to take effective measures against the minister's statements and behavior.

MPs said Smotrich’s behavior reflects “an Israeli arrogance and disrespect of international treaties and conventions.”

The vote is non-binding to the government but reflects public outrage of the Israeli far-right's provocations against the Palestinians and Jordan.

Smotrich’s appearance and ensuing remarks in which he claimed there’s “no such thing” as a Palestinian people sparked furor in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Saudi Arabia condemned on Tuesday the minister's offensive and racist remarks.

The Foreign Ministry underscored the Kingdom's rejection of such baseless statements that only stoke hatred and violence and undermine international efforts for peace and dialogue.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi decried on Tuesday the minister's comments as "racist".

Amman late on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassador in Jordan and said Smotrich's move was a provocative act by an "extremist" and "racist" minister that violated international norms and Jordan's peace treaty with Israel.



Lebanon’s Opposition Likely to Nominate Jihad Azour as Presidential Candidate

 Former Minister Jihad Azour (Reuters)
Former Minister Jihad Azour (Reuters)
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Lebanon’s Opposition Likely to Nominate Jihad Azour as Presidential Candidate

 Former Minister Jihad Azour (Reuters)
Former Minister Jihad Azour (Reuters)

Lebanon’s opposition parties are expected to officially announce the candidacy of former Minister Jihad Azour for the presidential elections.

Representatives of the Christian parties confirmed moving forward with Azour’s candidacy, while opposition parliamentary sources stressed that the agreement was reached between the opposition and the Free Patriotic Movement, noting that some small formal details were still being discussed.

Lebanese Forces MP, Ghada Ayoub, announced that the coming days would witness the announcement of the opposition’s stance towards Azour’s nomination for the presidency.

“Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has not held an election session since January, and today there is no excuse for not calling for a session, as all justifications have fallen,” she told a radio interview.

She continued: “Azour is not a candidate for confrontation, and the facts on the ground, in addition to the external circumstances, no longer allow Hezbollah to run the game as it pleases and in the same way.”

Ayoub went on to say that with the nomination of Azour, the opposition succeeded in overthrowing the candidacy of former minister Sleiman Franjieh, who is backed by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement.

“Today there is an existing opposition... We will not allow anyone to impose their candidate on us by force,” the deputy underlined.

Meanwhile, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) is yet to announce its position on the presidential candidate, knowing that Azour was among the names proposed by the party in a previous initiative.

While PSP MP Ghassan Atallah expressed his optimism that the meeting of the Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc on Tuesday could end in this direction, his colleague, MP Bilal Abdullah, called for searching for a candidate who would be approved by all political forces.

“We had nominated Jihad Azour for his economic vision and successful experience in the Ministry of Finance; but what is required is to search for a new space for dialogue, and for a common candidate among all political forces. We will announce our position after we feel that all parties have agreed on a specific candidate,” Atallah said.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement are still dealing negatively with Azour’s candidacy.

MP Ali Khreis from the Development and Liberation bloc, which is headed by Speaker Nabih Berri, warned against “the danger of the coming days in light of the vacuum in the position of the presidency of the republic and the deliberate paralysis in state administrations...”

In similar remarks, Hezbollah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan said: “We announced our support for Franjieh some time ago, and we are convinced that he is the right person for this role. The other team had a candidate, and now they are trying to agree on another... We will see developments in the coming days.”

“However, we are questioning whether the election of the president can take place without a national understanding,” he added.


Iraq: Parliament Likely to Adopt Budget Law after Secret Deal to Settle Kurdish Demands

A meeting between Iraq Parliament speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi and Head of the State of Law Coalition Nuri al-Maliki last month (Iraqi Parliament)
A meeting between Iraq Parliament speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi and Head of the State of Law Coalition Nuri al-Maliki last month (Iraqi Parliament)
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Iraq: Parliament Likely to Adopt Budget Law after Secret Deal to Settle Kurdish Demands

A meeting between Iraq Parliament speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi and Head of the State of Law Coalition Nuri al-Maliki last month (Iraqi Parliament)
A meeting between Iraq Parliament speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi and Head of the State of Law Coalition Nuri al-Maliki last month (Iraqi Parliament)

Iraqi political sources said that a “secret political agreement” was likely to speed up the adoption of the Iraqi budget next week.

According to the sources, Head of the State of Law Coalition Nuri al-Maliki highlighted technical and political issues in his address to the Coordination Framework regarding the budget, which have stalled the legislation process and sparked a dispute with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

Parliament’s Finance Committee had made surprise amendments on the draft budget late last month. Those included three items pertaining to the share of the Kurdistan region from oil and the export mechanism from its territory.

Parliament was preparing to hold a session to vote on the budget, last Saturday, according to its speaker, Mohammad al-Halbousi. But the new amendments renewed negotiations on the draft law.

The sources said that the former prime minister objected to the mechanisms for disbursing funds to the Kurdistan region, and expressed reservations over items, which he said could shake the power equation within the State Administration coalition, which includes, in addition to the coordination framework, Sunni and Kurdish forces.

In this context, the sources stressed that the controversy over the share of the Kurdistan region and the oil export mechanism has turned the agreement between the governments of Baghdad and Erbil into an understanding with explicit guarantees between the KDP and Al-Maliki.

The Kurds’ demands to restore the old version of the budget will be settled by a secret political agreement, with minor amendments that do not anger the leaders of the Coordination Framework, according to the sources.

A leader in the State Administration coalition expects that the vote on the country's general budget will be decided this week, as political actors are now convinced that the secret settlement is the only solution that the Framework can offer to its partners in the government.


50 Extremists, 168 Family Members Repatriated From Syria to Iraq

A member loyal to ISIS waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
A member loyal to ISIS waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
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50 Extremists, 168 Family Members Repatriated From Syria to Iraq

A member loyal to ISIS waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
A member loyal to ISIS waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Fifty ISIS militants and 168 Iraqi members of extremist families were repatriated from Syria to Iraq on Saturday, an Iraqi official said.

Iraqi authorities "received 50 members of the ISIS from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)", said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The SDF are the Kurds' de facto army in the area, and led the battle that dislodged ISIS group militants from the last scraps of their Syrian territory in 2019.

They will "be the subject of investigations and will face Iraqi justice", they added, AFP reported.

According to conflict monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights they were detained in Hasakah, northeast Syria.

Additionally, 168 relatives of ISIS-group members were repatriated from Syria's Al-Hol camp to be relocated to Al-Jadaa camp south of Mosul, the Iraqi official added, where they will undergo psychiatric treatment.

"Once we receive the assurances of their tribal leaders that they will not face reprisals, they will be sent home."

Al-Hol camp, in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria, is home to about 50,000 people including family members of suspected jihadists.

Among them are displaced Syrians, Iraqi refugees as well as more than 10,000 foreigners originally from some 60 countries.

In March, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the swift repatriation of foreigners held in Al-Hol.

Nearly half of the camp's population is under the age of 12 and residents are "deprived of their rights, vulnerable, and marginalised", Guterres said in a statement during a visit to Iraq.

"I have no doubt to say that the worst camp that exists in today's world is Al-Hol, with the worst possible conditions for people and with enormous suffering for the people that have been stranded there for years," Guterres said.

Since May 2021, hundreds of families have been transferred from Al-Hol to Al-Jadaa in Iraq, with a number of those going on to flee.

The repatriation to Iraq of relatives of militants who joined the ultra-radical group that controlled one-third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017 has sparked opposition.

In December 2021, Iraqi authorities announced plans to close Al-Jadaa.

But little progress has been made and the relocation of displaced people to their home regions has proven challenging and prompted opposition from local people.


Egypt Tows Away Stranded Oil Tanker in Suez Canal

A general view of two tugboats working to refloat the cargo ship XIN HAI TONG 23 to the waiting area, in the canal next to Ismailia, Egypt May 25, 2023. The Suez Canal Authority/Handout via REUTERS
A general view of two tugboats working to refloat the cargo ship XIN HAI TONG 23 to the waiting area, in the canal next to Ismailia, Egypt May 25, 2023. The Suez Canal Authority/Handout via REUTERS
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Egypt Tows Away Stranded Oil Tanker in Suez Canal

A general view of two tugboats working to refloat the cargo ship XIN HAI TONG 23 to the waiting area, in the canal next to Ismailia, Egypt May 25, 2023. The Suez Canal Authority/Handout via REUTERS
A general view of two tugboats working to refloat the cargo ship XIN HAI TONG 23 to the waiting area, in the canal next to Ismailia, Egypt May 25, 2023. The Suez Canal Authority/Handout via REUTERS

An oil tanker that suffered engine failure in Egypt's Suez Canal, briefly disrupting traffic in the vital waterway, has been towed away, the canal's authority said on Sunday.

The canal authority's head, Osama Rabie, said in a statement that traffic in both directions had resumed as normal after tugboats managed to move the stranded tanker.

The crude tanker, SEAVIGOUR, is a Malta-flagged vessel that was built in 2016, according to Refinitiv Eikon shipping data.

It was heading from Russia to China, the canal authority added.

Frequent traffic disruptions occur in the Suez Canal due to technical malfunctions, but stoppages are usually brief.

Less than two weeks ago tugboats had to move a bulk carrier that had been stranded for several hours in the canal. 

 


Italian PM to Visit Tunisia Next Week, Discuss Illegal Immigration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (EPA)
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (EPA)
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Italian PM to Visit Tunisia Next Week, Discuss Illegal Immigration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (EPA)
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (EPA)

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is scheduled to visit Tunisia next week at the invitation of President Kais Saied.

Political observers believe the visit will address several thorny issues between the two nations, including illegal immigration from the shores of Tunisia towards the Italian coasts.

Tunisian presidency announced that Saied discussed the distinguished bilateral relations and the strategic ties between Tunisia and the European Union over the phone with the Prime Minister.

Observers also expect the visit to address Saied's initiative to hold a high-level conference between all countries affected by the migration issue.

The initiative includes countries in North Africa, the Sahel, the Sahara, and the northern shore of the Mediterranean. It aims to tackle the causes of irregular migration and identify appropriate ways to end the resulting humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar hailed Italy's understanding of the need to support the economic recovery ongoing in his country.

Ammar was speaking Friday night during a ceremony marking Italy's National Day at the residence of Italy's ambassador to Tunis.

The top official also thanked Italy for all its efforts to explain Tunisia's viewpoint to other countries regarding negotiations for a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He described Italy's backing of Tunisia on this point as "intelligent and constructive," saying it is a position that reflects Rome's insistence that the IMF finances the Tunisian economy to avoid collapse.

Last May, Meloni called on the International Monetary Fund during the G7 Summit in Japan to adopt a "pragmatic" approach to disburse financing to Tunisia without preconditions.


Comprehensive Settlement for Daraa Residents Directed by Syrian President

Individuals at the reconciliation center in Daraa Al-Mahatta city, Syria (an image circulated on social media platforms)
Individuals at the reconciliation center in Daraa Al-Mahatta city, Syria (an image circulated on social media platforms)
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Comprehensive Settlement for Daraa Residents Directed by Syrian President

Individuals at the reconciliation center in Daraa Al-Mahatta city, Syria (an image circulated on social media platforms)
Individuals at the reconciliation center in Daraa Al-Mahatta city, Syria (an image circulated on social media platforms)

The local security committee in Syria’s Daraa province, following President Bashar al-Assad’s directives, has called for a comprehensive settlement to address the status of all willing residents seeking reconciliation with the Syrian government.

This significant development occurred on Saturday and included those who aspire to return to their normal lives, including individuals who have fled military or police service, evaded mandatory or reserve military service, those facing security or military prosecutions, and individuals who have taken up arms against the Syrian state.

The committee urged all concerned parties to surrender their weapons to the appropriate authorities and engage in settlement agreements, emphasizing that this would contribute to regional stability and enable the state to restore normalcy to the region.

Scores of individuals flocked to the reconciliation center in Daraa Al-Mahatta city on Saturday morning, engaging in the new settlement process.

“This is the third settlement I have applied for,” one individual, who requested anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

It was revealed that many young people who attended to submit their settlements inquired about the effectiveness of the new reconciliation process and sought assurance from the relevant authorities and the security committee officers in Daraa, as previous attempts at reconciliation had not cleared their security record.

These individuals included former members of opposition factions who have not yet joined the local armed formations after the settlements, as well as individuals affiliated with groups formed by the security apparatus following the initial reconciliation agreement in 2018.

Reconciliatory authorities have recently pledged to swiftly clear the security prosecutions for all applicants, reaffirming that the leadership in Damascus is keenly interested in the process.

The settlement applicant interviewed by Asharq Al-Awsat pointed out that the previous settlements had similar advantages to the new reconciliation process.

The proposed settlement details include the removal of names of individuals who have evaded mandatory or reserve military service from the security lists, in exchange for a six-month grace period to join military service.

Meanwhile, military deserters or police defectors are granted a full month to rejoin their respective military or police units. They are provided with a judicial departure decision and a reenlistment assignment, with their names being removed from the security lists.

As for individuals listed as armed militants, their names will be removed from the security lists after surrendering their weapons.

Those facing security prosecutions will also have their names removed from the security lists, allowing them to resume their normal lives after engaging in the reconciliation process.

The recent settlement came after a series of meetings between local dignitaries, social figures in Daraa, and officials from the security committee affiliated with the Syrian government in the province.

Several reconciliations have recently taken place in the towns of Al-Naima, Nasib, and Umm Al-Mayazen in eastern rural Daraa, as well as in Ankhel and Sanamein in northwestern rural Daraa.

However, despite these settlements, the greater challenge remains in improving the living and economic conditions and providing essential services to the affected areas of the province, which have been subject to various agreements and decisions related to the reconciliation process that began in 2018.


Lebanon Launches Probe after Ambassador in France Accused of Rape, Violence

Lebanese Ambassador to France Rami Adwan and French President Emmanuel Macron. Reuters file photo
Lebanese Ambassador to France Rami Adwan and French President Emmanuel Macron. Reuters file photo
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Lebanon Launches Probe after Ambassador in France Accused of Rape, Violence

Lebanese Ambassador to France Rami Adwan and French President Emmanuel Macron. Reuters file photo
Lebanese Ambassador to France Rami Adwan and French President Emmanuel Macron. Reuters file photo

The Lebanese Foreign Minister has said it will investigate reports of rape and intentional violence by its Ambassador to France Rami Adwan.

The Ministry said on Twitter on Saturday that it will send a committee to Paris to question the diplomat and embassy staff about the complaints.

Adwan has already been investigated following complaints by two former embassy employees, informed sources said, confirming an earlier media report.

Due to his position, Adwan enjoys diplomatic immunity from prosecution, but the French government urged the Lebanese authorities to lift this and allow him to go on trial.

"In view of the seriousness of the facts mentioned, we consider it necessary for the Lebanese authorities to lift the immunity of the Lebanese ambassador in Paris in order to facilitate the work of the French judicial authorities", the French foreign ministry told AFP late Friday.

The first woman, aged 31, filed her complaint in June 2022 for a rape she says was committed in May 2020 in the ambassador's private apartment, according to sources close to the investigation.

According to her deposition seen by AFP, she made clear her lack of interest in having sex and that she screamed and burst into tears.

The woman, who was working as an editor, had already reported to police in 2020 that Adwan, in his post since 2017, had struck her during an argument in his office.

She said she had not filed a complaint because she did not want to "break the life" of the ambassador.

According to the complaint, she had a relationship with the ambassador, who carried out "psychological and physical violence with daily humiliations".

The second woman, aged 28, made a complaint last February after what she said was a series of physical attacks after she turned down sexual relations.

She claims Adwan tried to hit her with his car after an argument on the sidelines of last year's Normandy World Peace Forum.

She also accused the ambassador of trying to suffocate her at her home last December by pressing her face to her bed.

"My client contests all accusations of aggression in any shape or form: verbal, moral, sexual," Adwan's lawyer Karim Beylouni told AFP.

"Between 2018 and 2022 he had with these two women romantic relationships punctuated by arguments and breakups," Beylouni said.

An informed source said the Paris judicial police had closed the case.

Asked by AFP to comment, the Paris prosecutor's office said it was not immediately in a position to do so.


US Says Will Continue to Support a Civilian Government in Sudan

Sudanese army touring a Khartoum neighborhood (AFP)
Sudanese army touring a Khartoum neighborhood (AFP)
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US Says Will Continue to Support a Civilian Government in Sudan

Sudanese army touring a Khartoum neighborhood (AFP)
Sudanese army touring a Khartoum neighborhood (AFP)

The United States affirmed its support of the Sudanese people's demand for a civilian government and the resumption of Sudan's disrupted democratic transition.

Washington warned that the ongoing fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) threatened the people of Sudan with the prospect of a protracted conflict and widespread suffering.

The US Embassy in Khartoum issued a statement asserting that Washington will continue to hold the belligerent parties accountable for their unconscionable violence and blatant disregard for the will of the Sudanese people.

The statement added that every day hostilities continue, the parties hinder the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those who need it most, destroy key infrastructure, and deny the aspirations of the Sudanese people for freedom, peace, and justice.

Meanwhile, violent clashes erupted in Khartoum as people commemorated the fourth anniversary of the forceful dispersal of the sit-in on June 3, 2019, during which the army general command killed hundreds and injured thousands of others.

It marks the second day in a row of clashes with heavy weapons, after the collapse of the Jeddah cease-fire agreement signed by the two warring parties, with Saudi-US mediation, amid the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the increasing number of displaced people.

Clashes renewed in the old Omdurman and south of Khartoum, and explosions were heard in the cities and around vital and strategic locations.

 

 

 

Residents of Khartoum reported that the army's warplanes had bombed areas in the south of Khartoum, and the RSF units responded using ground anti-aircraft missiles.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Red Crescent announced the burial of 180 unidentified persons after the bodies piled up in the streets and people's inability to go out to bury them.

 

 


180 Dead from Sudan Fighting Buried Unidentified as Battles Rage

Smoke billows behind buildings in Khartoum on June 2, 2023, as fighting between Sudan's warring generals intensified. (AFP)
Smoke billows behind buildings in Khartoum on June 2, 2023, as fighting between Sudan's warring generals intensified. (AFP)
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180 Dead from Sudan Fighting Buried Unidentified as Battles Rage

Smoke billows behind buildings in Khartoum on June 2, 2023, as fighting between Sudan's warring generals intensified. (AFP)
Smoke billows behind buildings in Khartoum on June 2, 2023, as fighting between Sudan's warring generals intensified. (AFP)

Blasts rocked the Sudanese capital Saturday, as fighting between warring generals entered its eighth week, with volunteers forced to bury 180 bodies recovered from combat zones without identification.

Witnesses told AFP of "bombs falling and civilians being injured" in southern Khartoum, while others in the city's north reported "artillery fire", days after a US- and Saudi-brokered ceasefire collapsed.

Since fighting between Sudan's warring generals erupted on April 15, volunteers have buried 102 unidentified bodies in the capital's Al-Shegilab cemetery and 78 more in cemeteries in Darfur, the Sudanese Red Crescent said in a statement.

Both regular army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-rival, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, have issued repeated pledges to protect civilians and secure humanitarian corridors.

But civilians reported escalated fighting after the army quit ceasefire talks on Wednesday, including a single army bombardment that killed 18 civilians in a Khartoum market, according to a committee of human rights lawyers.

Both sides have accused the other of violating the ceasefire, as well as attacking civilians and infrastructure.

Washington slapped sanctions on the warring parties Thursday, holding them both responsible for provoking "appalling" bloodshed.

Not allowed in

In negotiations in Saudi Arabia last month, the warring parties had agreed to "enable responsible humanitarian actors, such as the Sudanese Red Crescent and/or the International Committee of the Red Cross to collect, register and bury the deceased".

But volunteers have found it difficult to move through the streets to pick up the dead, "due to security constraints", the Red Crescent said.

Aid corridors that had been promised as part of the truce never materialized, and relief agencies say they have managed to deliver only a fraction of needs, while civilians remain trapped.

Over 700,000 people have fled the capital to other parts of Sudan that have been spared the fighting, in convoys of buses that regularly make their way out of Khartoum.

But on their way back, bus drivers were shocked to find they "were not allowed into the capital", one told AFP on Saturday, with others confirming authorities had blocked access since Friday, ordering the drivers to turn back.

The army had earlier on Friday announced it had brought in reinforcements from other parts of Sudan to participate in "operations in the Khartoum area".

That sparked fears it was planning "to launch a massive offensive," according to Sudan analyst Kholood Khair.

So far neither side has gained a decisive advantage. The regular army has air power and heavy weaponry, but analysts say the paramilitaries are more mobile and better suited to urban warfare.

The RSF announced Saturday its political advisor Youssef Ezzat had met with Kenyan President William Ruto in Nairobi, as part of his visits to several "friendly countries to explain the developing situation in Sudan".

"We are ready to engage all the parties and offer any support towards a lasting solution," Ruto said on Twitter.

More than 1,800 people have been killed in the fighting, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

Entire districts of the capital no longer have running water, electricity is only available for a few hours a week and three quarters of hospitals in combat zones are not functioning.

The situation is particularly dire in the western region of Darfur, which is home to around a quarter of Sudan's population and never recovered from a devastating two-decade war that left hundreds of thousands dead and more than two million displaced.

Renewed clashes were reported on Saturday in the town of Kutum in North Darfur, according to witnesses.

Amid what activists have called a total communications "blackout" in huge swathes of the region, hundreds of civilians have been killed, villages and markets torched and aid facilities looted, prompting tens of thousands to seek refuge in neighboring Chad.

According to aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF), those crossing the border report horrific scenes of "armed men shooting at people trying to flee, villages being looted and the wounded dying" without access to medical care.

The UN says 1.2 million people have been displaced within Sudan and more than 425,000 have fled abroad -- more than 100,000 west to Chad and 170,000 north to Egypt.


Gadhafi’s Son Goes on Hunger Strike in Lebanon to Protest Detention without Trial

Hannibal Gadhafi, son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, watches an elite military unit exercise in Zlitan, Libya, Sept. 25, 2011. (AP)
Hannibal Gadhafi, son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, watches an elite military unit exercise in Zlitan, Libya, Sept. 25, 2011. (AP)
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Gadhafi’s Son Goes on Hunger Strike in Lebanon to Protest Detention without Trial

Hannibal Gadhafi, son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, watches an elite military unit exercise in Zlitan, Libya, Sept. 25, 2011. (AP)
Hannibal Gadhafi, son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, watches an elite military unit exercise in Zlitan, Libya, Sept. 25, 2011. (AP)

A son of Libya’s late leader Moammar Gadhafi, who has been held in Lebanon for more than seven years, began a hunger strike Saturday to protest his detention without trial, his lawyer said.

Hannibal Gadhafi has been held in Lebanon since 2015 after he was kidnapped from neighboring Syria where he had been living as a political refugee. He was abducted by Lebanese militants demanding information about the fate of a Shiite cleric who went missing in Libya 45 years ago.

Gadhafi was later taken by Lebanese authorities and has been held in a Beirut jail without trial.

Attorney Paul Romanos told The Associated Press that his client started the hunger strike Saturday morning and “he is serious and will continue with it until the end.” Romanos did not go into details of the case as he was not authorized to speak about it to the media.

Gadhafi issued a statement describing his conditions.

“How can a political prisoner be held without a fair trial all these years?” Gadhafi, who is married to a Lebanese woman, wrote in his statement.

The Libyan citizen added that now that he is on hunger strike, “those who are treating me unjustly” will be responsible for the results. He added that “the time has come to liberate the law from the hands of politicians.”

Romanos said his client suffers from back pain due to being held in a small cell for years without being able to move or exercise.

The disappearance of prominent Lebanese Shiite cleric Moussa al-Sadr in 1978 has been a long-standing sore point in Lebanon. The cleric’s family believes he may still be alive in a Libyan prison, though most Lebanese presume al-Sadr is dead. He would be 94 years old.

Al-Sadr was the founder of a Shiite political and military group that took part in the lengthy Lebanese civil war that began in 1975.

Born in the Iranian city of Qom, al-Sadr came to Lebanon in 1959 to work for the rights of Shiites in the southern port town of Tyre. In 1974, a year before Lebanon’s 15-year civil war broke out, al-Sadr founded the Movement of the Deprived, attracting thousands of followers.

The following year, he established the military wing Amal — Arabic for “hope” and an acronym for the militia’s Arabic name, the Lebanese Resistance Brigades — which later fought in the civil war. The group is headed by powerful parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Since al-Sadr’s disappearance, Libya has maintained that the cleric and his two traveling companions left Tripoli in 1978 on a flight to Rome and suggested he was a victim of a power struggle among Shiites.

Most of al-Sadr’s followers are convinced that Moammar Gadhafi ordered al-Sadr killed in a dispute over Libyan payments to Lebanese militias.

The Libyan leader was killed by opposition fighters in 2011, ending his four-decade rule of the north African country. Even after his death, al-Sadr’s fate is still unknown.

Hannibal Gadhafi was born two years before al-Sadr disappeared. He fled to Algeria after Tripoli fell, along with his mother and several other relatives. He later ended up in Syria where he was given political asylum before being kidnapped and brought to Lebanon.