Yemen’s Government demands UN action regards Houthi violation of deal
The looted funds were supposed to be used to pay salaries of public workers. (File/AFP)
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The militants looted the central bank in Hodeidah city
Houthis are delaying fuel and food shipments at the Hodeidah port
Updated 12 June 2020
June 12, 2020 08:53
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DUBAI: Yemen’s government has demanded UN action against Iran-backed Houthi militants for violating the Hodeidah deal, state news agency Saba New reported.
Yemen’s Economic Council – a state advisory body composed of cabinet members – said the militants looted the central bank in Hodeidah city and were delaying the fuel and food that arrive at the Hodeidah port.
The looted funds were supposed to be used to pay salaries of public workers, who have not received payments for months, according to the report.
This money will now “feed the militia’s pointless war,” the council said.
On Wednesday, Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani said Houthis are looting and extorting the private healthcare sector.
Complaints from medical staff living in areas under Houthi control reveal additional taxes on owners of hospitals, private clinics and medical workers in the private sector, Al-Eryani said.
“Houthi militia, after destroying public health sector … went to impose additional taxes on private hospitals and clinics, drug manufacturers and stores on basis of military effort,” he added.
The militants have left the public without a defense against diseases but equipped the hospitals where their leaders and personnel stay with the highest technologies, Al-Eryani said.
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Libya launches COVID-19 vaccination drive after delays
The country's healthcare system has been strained by years of political turmoil and violence
Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh called it a "blessed day" in the fight against COVID-19 after receiving his shot
Updated 10 April 2021
April 10, 2021 16:11
TRIPOLI, April 10 (Reuters) - Libya's new unity government launched a long-delayed COVID-19 vaccination programme on Saturday after receiving some 160,000 vaccine doses over the past week, with the prime minister receiving his jab on live television.
While Libya is richer than its neighbours due to oil exports, the country's healthcare system has been strained by years of political turmoil and violence, and it has struggled to cope during the pandemic.
Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh called it a "blessed day" in the fight against COVID-19 after receiving his shot, without saying which vaccine he had been given. At least 100,000 of the doses that arrived this week were Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.
Dbeibeh's interim Government of National Unity was sworn in last month after emerging through a UN-facilitated process with a mandate to unify the country, improve state services and oversee the run-up to a national election in December.
Dbeibeh's government has framed the delivery of vaccines and the national roll-out as evidence that it is improving the lives of ordinary Libyans after replacing two warring administrations that ruled in the east and west of the country.
"Through the political consultations and the efforts of the prime minister, the vaccine is available," said Health Minister Ali Al-Zanati, who has said previously the government had so far ordered enough doses to inoculate 1.4 million of the country's more than six million people.
Libya's National Centre for Disease Control has said more than 400,000 people have registered for vaccination in more than 400 centres around the country.
Libya has recorded more than 166,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 3,000 deaths, though UN envoys have said the true figures are likely far higher.
"I feel sorry that the vaccine arrived late in Libya after thousands were infected. But better late than never," said Ali al-Hadi, a shop owner, adding that his wife had been sick with COVID-19 and recovered.
Many Libyans fear the vaccination campaign could be marred by political infighting or favouritism after years of unrest.
"We hope the Health Ministry will steer away from political conflicts so that services can reach patients," said housewife Khawla Muhammad, 33. 
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Suez Canal receives Middle East’s largest dredger
A file photo shows a dredger trying to free the Panama-flagged MV Ever Given long vessel across the waterway of Egypt's Suez Canal. (AFP)
Its maximum drilling depth is 35 m and the dredger has control, safety and security systems matching the latest standards of international supervisory bodies
Updated 10 April 2021
April 10, 2021 22:23
CAIRO: Egypt has welcomed the largest dredger of its kind in the Middle East, the “Mohab Mamish,” on board the heavy transport vessel Xiang Rui Kou.
Dredgers are advanced drilling equipment used by the Suez Canal to cleanse the waterway of sand and mud deposits, contributing to its expansion and deepening.
The Suez Canal showed its reliance on dredgers in the rescue and re-float operation of the giant container ship “Ever Given,” which ran aground in the shipping course on March 23. The incident caused the canal’s closure for six days.
Sources said that the dredger, inaugurated by the Dutch IHC Shipyard, would begin its new duties within the Suez Canal fleet soon.
The “Mohab Mamish” has a length of 147.4 meters, a width of 23 m, a depth of 7.7 m, and a draft of 5.5 m. It has a productivity of 3,600 cubic meters of sand per hour over a length of 4 km.
Its maximum drilling depth is 35 m and the dredger has control, safety and security systems matching the latest standards of international supervisory bodies.
The head of the Suez Canal Authority, Osama Rabie, said the “Mohab Mamish” was one of the vessels used to boost the canal’s development and that the dredging fleet was the main pillar in the strategy for developing the canal’s shipping course.
It provided the best guarantee to maintain the canal’s 24-meter depth, allowing the crossing of giant ships with large submersibles.
Rabie added that the canal’s dredging fleet had recently expanded its work, joining in with the development of Egypt’s ports and the disinfection of lakes.
IHC is working on launching another dredger for the Suez Canal called “Hussein Tantawi.” The two dredgers have a combined value of €300 million ($357.06 million).
Rabie also said the authority’s machines would be developed and the tensile strength would be adjusted to carry 250,000 tons, in comparison to the current 160,000 tons to match the tonnage and size of ships crossing the shipping course.
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Coptic prayers suspended in Egypt as virus cases rise
Egyptian Christians worshippers attend Christmas Eve mass at the Coptic Catholic St. Mark Church in Minya city, in Cairo on January 6, 2021. (AFP)
Prayers will be limited to priests and a few deacons during the restrictions
Updated 10 April 2021
April 10, 2021 22:42
CAIRO: Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has suspended Mass prayers in seven dioceses following a rise in daily coronavirus cases.
Prayers were suspended at the dioceses of the Virgin Mary in Fayoum, Archangel Michael in Aswan, Asna and Armant in Luxor, Akhmim in Sohag, Tahta and Juhaina in Sohag, Nag Hammadi in Qena, and Sohag.
“The suspension follows a significant increase in coronavirus cases recently,” said Besada El-Anba, bishop of Akhmim.
He said that priests will continue daily Mass with a number of deacons without people attending for an indefinite period.
“The diocese of Aswan started suspending Coptic prayers in churches during the holy week and resurrection,” the bishop added.
“Mass prayers will be limited to priests and a limited number of deacons,” said Bishop Hani Bakhoum of Sohag.
Anba Kyrillos, bishop of Nag Hammadi, said that the suspension of prayers will begin on Monday and will continue on until further notice, depending on health advice.
Prayers will be limited to priests and a few deacons during the restrictions.
Other dioceses have taken precautionary measures to confront the outbreak of the virus, including holding Mass with 25 percent of the church’s capacity, stopping church activities, services, Sunday schools and conferences, and closing cemeteries.
Priests have also been advised against making home visits.
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Never insulted Erdogan? You’re eligible to stay in a Turkish student dormitory
Students who have been convicted for a prison term of more than six months — or for insulting Erdogan— will be unable to stay in dormitories
The move was criticized by rights groups as politically motivated
Updated 10 April 2021
April 10, 2021 20:43
JEDDAH: A surprise amendment to the regulation of dormitory services under the Youth and Sports Ministry was adopted and published in the Official Gazette on Friday.
Under the amendment, students who have been convicted for a prison term of more than six months — or for insulting the Turkish president — will be unable to stay in student dormitories.
The move was criticized by rights groups as politically motivated.
Between 2014 and 2019, 128,872 investigations were launched into cases of insults against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and prosecutors launched 27,717 criminal cases about these alleged insults.
Turkish courts sentenced 9,556 of those charged with insulting the president, including politicians, journalists and even children. A total of 903 minors between the ages of 12 and 17 appeared in court on this charge.
In 2018, a 14-year-old boy was prosecuted over an Instagram post that allegedly insulted the president. Although he was sentenced to five months in jail, it was later turned into an administrative fine.
Several students from Bogazici University were recently charged with “insulting the president” during protests against the appointment of a ruling party loyalist, Melih Bulu, as the rector of the university, one of the most prestigious in the country.
An open letter in which they addressed the president, reiterating their demands and seeking to enjoy their constitutional rights, was also subjected to criminal proceedings with charges of insulting Erdogan.
Separately, Turkey’s main opposition Peoples’ Republican Party (CHP) faced an investigation after banners were put up in the northwestern province of Mudanya.
On the banners, which were taken down within hours, the CHP asked about a $128 billion hole in the Turkish Central Bank’s foreign reserves.
For a couple of months, the CHP has been raising the issue of accountability as to where and how these reserves have been spent since 2019.
Durmus Yilmaz, former head of the Turkish Central Bank, has also called for an investigation to determine how these huge and much-needed reserves were spent.
The opposition claims that the reserves might have been spent to support the Turkish lira against foreign currencies, while Erdogan said that the money was used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The chief public prosecutor will investigate the party officials — who will be charged with insulting the president — for being involved in the preparation and display of the banners on the billboards for a couple of hours.
“The name of the president does not appear anywhere on the posters. I’m wondering what they thought about when opening such an investigation,” Zeynep Gurcanli, a senior journalist, tweeted.
The decision triggered a nationwide social media protest, with thousands of people tweeting: “Where is the 128 billion dollars?”
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Disappointed Lebanese protesters return to street, demanding end of deadlock
“Soldiers can no longer provide for their families or even pay transportation to and from work,” Akar said
170 days have passed since Hariri’s nomination to form a new government
Updated 10 April 2021
April 10, 2021 20:26
BEIRUT: Heavy rainfall on Saturday afternoon prevented large numbers of people from participating in a “Day of Rage” in the heart of Beirut, declared by the Oct. 17 groups demanding a transitional government with exceptional legislative powers.
These groups are trying to reactivate protests against the political class that they accuse of corruption.
Waddah Sadek, deputy head of the “I Am a Red Line” initiative, told Arab News: “We support these protests. The aim on this day was to mobilize school and university students to take to the streets and encourage people to gradually return to the streets to express their anger. Protest squares have been empty in the past few months due to the coronavirus and people are disappointed as demos did not manage to make any change on the governmental level.”
Sadek talked about “the recent mistakes of protesters, caused by some disputes over minor issues that could have been avoided.”
Sadek said that “the main revolutionary groups, opposing political parties, independent politicians and intellectual figures will announce the formation of an opposition political front by the end of April, that has a political program aiming to form a rescue government that would save the country.
“The current political class is unable to form an alternative government. Any government they form will only be the same as the current one,” he said.
Judge Shoukri Sader, who served as head of the State Shoura Council before retiring, told Arab News: “If protesters do not unite, the same politicians will be elected in 2022. Those in power now are seeking to divide us. If we present three electoral lists in the next parliamentary elections, they will beat us. Today, we are risking our own presence. We cannot remain divided; therefore, we are forming a political front to unify votes and priorities.”
He added: “We cannot play their game; they disagree on the government’s nature and quota. We, on the other hand, must unite and put the small details aside.
“Large groups of protesters are communicating via Whatsapp and Facebook and each one of them has their own demands and opinions. What is required of these groups at this point is to be mature and aware, before actually trying to wake up the silent majority of Lebanese who are suffering.
“Activists must agree on the priorities and must not force others to follow them. People quit their political parties and joined us not to be forced to follow opposing politicians and partisans nor to be marginalized.
“The top priority we should agree on is the rejection of Hezbollah’s arms. We must reclaim the decision of the state from its kidnappers. Our second priority is restoring the provisions of the constitution because the Lebanese constitution includes all our sovereignty demands; the neutrality of Lebanon, a parliamentary republic and a free economic system. Therefore, let us cut to the chase and call for early elections and a transitional government. The country is collapsing.”
He said: “President Michel Aoun’s experience in power has been unsuccessful, from the War of Liberation in the 1980s, the War of Cancellation until his current mandate. He has only done the opposite of what he promised and has put his personal interests above the national interests. We are aware that in Lebanon, revolutions are doomed to fail, and we are also aware that a new civil war is impossible since there is no equity among fighters in the presence of Hezbollah’s arms. Chaos might prevail and this is what is making us wait for the constitutional deadlines to make the change.”
One hundred and seventy days have passed since Saad Hariri’s nomination to form a new government, yet officials are still swapping responsibilities and accusations without establishing any social security network for the poor and needy amid the worsening economic collapse.
Zeina Akar, defense minister in the caretaker government, shed light on the living situation of soldiers during a visit she made to a town in the Bekaa valley. She said that soldiers’ salaries had lost 85 percent of their value against the US dollar. “Soldiers can no longer provide for their families or even pay transportation to and from work,” she said.
Akar urged soldiers “not to slip into anything that could prevent them from performing their duties because they represent the safety valve protecting Lebanon’s sovereignty and people, and preserving its security and stability.”
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