A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut

Al-Arab was surprised to stumble across the refrigerator that he had left behind in Bab Sabaa in a Beirut store. (File/Getty Images)
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Updated 25 October 2020

A Syrian refugee whose fridge was stolen from his home in Homs finds it in Beirut

  • I checked the fridge well. I recognized it from a distinguishing mark in one of its lower corners: Al-Arab
  • He said that when he brought the fridge home, his wife screamed and cried, and so did his daughter

BEIRUT: Mohammed Al-Arab, a Syrian refugee, was displaced from Bab Sabaa in Homs (30 kilometers northeast of the Lebanese-Syrian border) to Beirut as war raged in his country.
He left his house and shop in July 2012, after he and his family were displaced due to the bombing, deciding to seek refuge in Lebanon until the war ended.
Eight years have passed since the displacement; Al-Arab settled in Beirut, rented a home for his family in the Corniche Al-Mazraa area, and resumed his work as a plumber. Years passed, and his children grew older.
“A few weeks ago, my wife told me we needed a freezer. I went to a store that sells electrical appliances in a working-class neighborhood in Beirut.” Whilst there, he was surprised to stumble across a refrigerator — the one he and his family had left behind in Bab Sabaa.
“I froze. I was unable to speak. It was like someone I had seen someone I thought was dead,” he told Arab News. “I remembered the day I bought this fridge in Homs — it cost me 40,000 Syrian pounds, the equivalent of $800 at the time. Its brand is Al-Joud, made in Syria and manufactured in Lattakia. I checked the fridge well. I recognized it from a distinguishing mark in one of its lower corners. I asked the seller about the price and, after some bargaining, managed to buy it for 580,000 Lebanese pounds ($380).
Al-Arab said that when he brought the fridge home, his wife screamed and cried, and so did his daughter. “My wife said: ‘This fridge is a symbol of our suffering, our weariness and our lives. We bought it at a time when we were enjoying stability in our country and the roof of a home we owned protected us,’” he added.
The family home was “destroyed by bombing that demolished the ceilings and walls, and there was no trace of furniture inside the house and no goods in the shop, according to the pictures that relatives sent us after the war in the area subsided,” Al-Arab said. “That means that the stuff was stolen before the destruction. What survived the theft was my car that I parked in front of my wife’s family home, far from the area of the clashes.”
Al-Arab refused to reveal the identity of the merchant who sold him the fridge, and Arab News tried to follow the path of this fridge and how it got to Beirut.
Syrian refugees have many stories of stolen goods and their sale. Jumah, a young greengrocer from Idlib who works in Lebanon, said: “Syrians who fled from Aleppo to Idlib to escape the battles were surprised after a period of time that the contents of their homes were sold in public markets in Idlib.”
Sami, a young Lebanese from the Bekaa, said: “During the years of war in Syria, the stolen goods from nearby areas to the Lebanese borders were smuggled into Lebanon and displayed in Bekaa towns for sale. Among these stolen goods were tractors, windows, home furniture and electrical tools.”
Dr. Hadi Murad is a physician and activist in the field of combating smuggling medicine across the Lebanese-Syrian border. Murad, who lives in Brital on the border with Syria, said: “All villages and towns on the common border between Lebanon and Syria, specifically the towns of Nabi Chit, Brital, and Al-Khader, are crossings for all types of smuggling. More than 50 percent of the illegal crossings are in this region, and are protected by Hezbollah.”
Al-Arab does not care much about the thefts that occurred. For him, this matter has become of secondary importance. The priority is to know the fate of missing people instead.
“Our pain is much greater than the issue of thefts,” he said. “The Syrian people are exhausted. Our children are left without education, and no one can protect us in the countries (we have emigrated to). We are left to our destinies, without medical care nor education, nor do we know the fate of the missing in Syria. The father of my brother-in-law left his home and disappeared; my cousin left his home to buy a bundle of bread and never came back. Many tragedies have not been written yet.”


Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return

Updated 28 September 2022

Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return

  • Kuwait has held 18 elections since the parliamentary system was adopted in 1962
  • Parliament has been all-male since the only woman MP lost her seat in December 2020

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait will hold its most inclusive elections in a decade Thursday with some opposition groups ending a boycott after the oil-rich country’s royal rulers pledged not to interfere with parliament.
The polls are the sixth in 10 years, reflecting the repeated political crises that have gripped the only Gulf Arab state with a fully elected parliament.
The elections come after Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah announced the dissolution of parliament in June following disputes between lawmakers and the government, the fourth to be named in two years.
Several opposition MPs had been on strike in protest at delays to parliamentary sessions and the failure to form a new government. A core source of friction is MPs’ demand for ministers from the royal family to be held accountable for corruption.
Kuwait, which borders Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran and is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, has held 18 elections since the parliamentary system was adopted in 1962.
But when he dissolved parliament, Sheikh Meshal promised there would be no interference by authorities in the election or the new parliament.
“We will not interfere in the people’s choices for their representatives, nor will we interfere with the choices of the next National Assembly in choosing its speaker or its committees,” the crown prince said.
“Parliament will be the master of its decisions, and we will not be supporting one faction at the expense of another. We will stand at the same distance from everyone.”
Opposition figures have stayed out of elections over the past 10 years, accusing executive authorities of meddling in the workings of parliament.
One of them, People’s Action Movement candidate Mohammad Musaed Al-Dossari, said he had been persuaded to stand again by the crown prince’s promises.
Sheikh Meshal’s speech “reassured” Kuwaitis and “encouraged the political groups and MPs who had been boycotting to return to run in the elections,” Al-Dossari said.
Thursday’s vote also comes after the country’s emir issued an amnesty last year for political opponents who had been tried on various charges.
Some 305 candidates, including 22 women, are competing for 50 seats in five constituencies. Parliament has been all-male since the only woman MP lost her seat in December 2020.
Women represent 51.2 percent of the 795,920 voters. About 70 percent of the population of around 4.2 million is made up of expatriates.
While the last elections were affected by anti-coronavirus measures, this time candidates have been able to open electoral offices and hold live hustings. Security services have stepped up their monitoring of vote-buying.
The election results are expected to be announced on Friday. The opposition, mostly Islamist politicians, won 24 seats out of 50 in the last polls.

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Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone

Updated 28 September 2022

Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone

  • Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government

BAGHDAD: Supporters of Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr again stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone government area Wednesday as the Iraqi parliament holds session on the resignation of its speaker.
Associated Press journalists saw those supporting Sadr waving flags as security forces gathered around them.
Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government. His followers stormed the parliament in late July to prevent their rivals from Iran-backed Shiite groups from forming the government.
With ensuing rallies, clashes with security forces, counter-rallies and a sit-in outside parliament, the government formation process has stalled.
Al-Sadr has now been calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections and has been in a power struggle with his Iran-backed rivals since the vote.


Two dead in Iran strikes on Iraqi Kurdistan: Iran Kurd rebels

Updated 40 min ago

Two dead in Iran strikes on Iraqi Kurdistan: Iran Kurd rebels

  • Iranian artillery fire has hit border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan on several occasions in recent days

IRBIL, Iraq: Two people were killed in Iranian cross-border strikes Wednesday against military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan belonging to the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, the KDPI said.
“The forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked the bases and headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran with missiles and drones” in Koysinjaq, east of Irbil, the KDPI, which operates rear bases in Iraqi Kurdistan, announced in a statement.
“Two people have been killed, while several peshmergas have been wounded,” it added, referring to fighters.
Iranian artillery fire has hit border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan on several occasions in recent days.
The fire comes amid tensions generated by the death in Iranian morality police custody of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini earlier this month after she was arrested in Tehran for allegedly breaching the Islamic republic’s strict rules on hijab headscarves and modest clothing.
Protests have swept Iran, prompting a domestic crackdown that has killed at least 76 people, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has put the protest toll at “around 60,” inclusive of several members of the Iranian security forces.
Kurdish communities in western Iran share strong connections with Kurdish-inhabited areas of Iraq.
Many cross the border into Iraq to find work, due to a biting economic crisis in Iran driven in large part by US sanctions.


At least 4 killed in Israeli raid in West Bank

Updated 48 min 53 sec ago

At least 4 killed in Israeli raid in West Bank

  • The Israeli army confirmed in a tweet that troops were “operating in Jenin”
  • The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians, including fighters

JENIN: An Israeli raid targeting alleged militants in a West Bank flashpoint killed four Palestinians Wednesday, including the brother of a man blamed for a deadly attack in Tel Aviv.
The violence was the latest to hit Jenin, in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an area that has seen near daily clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen since an escalation that began in March.
The Palestinian health ministry recorded four dead and 44 wounded by live fire in the latest Israeli operation.
Among them was Abed Hazem, whose brother Raad was named as the killer of three Israelis in a shooting spree in Tel Aviv’s busy nightlife district in April.
Raad Hazem was shot dead after a massive Israeli manhunt. Israeli forces have been pursuing Abed and Raad’s father Fathi for months.
The army only immediately confirmed two deaths during an operation it said targeted “two suspects involved in a number of recent shooting attacks.”
“While surrounding the residence in which both suspects were located, an explosive device detonated and the suspects opened fire toward the security forces. The security forces fired back according to standard operating procedures and the two suspects were both killed,” the army statement said, confirming Hazem as one of the men killed.
Since March, Israel has launched hundreds of operations in the northern West Bank, including in Jenin and nearby Nablus, in pursuit of alleged militants.
The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians, including fighters.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967 but parts of the territory are nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, in accordance with terms set out in the 1994 Oslo peace accords.
Analysts have warned that the dramatic rise in Israeli West Bank raids is further weakening the unpopular Palestinian Authority, with Palestinians increasingly condemning president Mahmud Abbas’s administration for its security cooperation with Israel.
Following the latest Jenin unrest, Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, accused Israel of “tampering with security and stability through pursuing a policy of escalation,” in a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.
Israel has demanded that the PA security forces do more to crack down on alleged militants, and Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed earlier this month that he would “not hesitate to act in any place that the Palestinian Authority does not maintain order.”
Israel is on high alert over the Jewish holidays, which began Sunday with New Year, or Rosh Hashana, and continue Tuesday with Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar.


Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Updated 28 September 2022

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

  • Funeral held for Hadis Najafi, young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran
  • Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to report by Radio Farda

DUBAI: A funeral has been held for Hadis Najafi, a young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran.

Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to a report by Radio Farda.

Videos of Najafi's funeral has been circulated on social media as online users paid tribute to the 20-year-old.

She had earlier gone viral in a TikTok video where she was seen tying her hair and preparing to join the anti-government protests, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the ‘morality police’ for breaching the strict Hijab rules.

At least 41 people have been killed as Iran continues to crack down on the nationwide demonstrations.