UAE officials visit SAMI’s stand at IDEX 2021

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The UAE’s ministers of interior and foreign affairs paid a visit on Sunday to SAMI’s stand at IDEX taking place in Abu Dhabi. (SPA)
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The UAE’s ministers of interior and foreign affairs paid a visit on Sunday to SAMI’s stand at IDEX taking place in Abu Dhabi. (SPA)
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The UAE’s ministers of interior and foreign affairs paid a visit on Sunday to SAMI’s stand at IDEX taking place in Abu Dhabi. (SPA)
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The UAE’s ministers of interior and foreign affairs paid a visit on Sunday to SAMI’s stand at IDEX taking place in Abu Dhabi. (SPA)
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The UAE’s ministers of interior and foreign affairs paid a visit on Sunday to SAMI’s stand at IDEX taking place in Abu Dhabi. (SPA)
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Updated 21 February 2021

UAE officials visit SAMI’s stand at IDEX 2021

  • The ministers were accompanied by the governor of GAMI and the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UAE
  • IDEX runs between Sunday and Thursday this week

LONDON: The UAE’s ministers of interior and foreign affairs paid a visit on Sunday to the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) stand at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) taking place in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, who is also deputy prime minister, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, visited the Saudi company that is owned by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The ministers were accompanied by the governor of the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali, who is leading the Saudi delegation at the exhibition and the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UAE Turki bin Abdullah Al-Dakhil
The delegation was received by the CEO of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) Walid Abukhaled and other executives.
The dignitaries were briefed on SAMI’s efforts to advance localization of the Kingdom’s military industry, and the company’s pursuit of innovation in defense production to ensure Saudi Arabia’s sustainability and self-sufficiency in the sector.
IDEX runs between Sunday and Thursday this week.


Bahrain’s crown prince calls Israel PM on Iran nuclear talks

Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 5 min 35 sec ago

Bahrain’s crown prince calls Israel PM on Iran nuclear talks

  • The statement marks the first response from a Gulf Arab leader to President Joe Biden’s announcement earlier this month

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Bahrain’s crown prince spoke with the Israeli prime minister on Thursday about the return to nuclear talks with Iran, Bahrain’s state-run news agency reported, as the US administration tries to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear accord.
Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, also the country’s prime minister, stressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the importance of the participation of regional countries in any negotiations on the Iranian nuclear file” to support “security and stability in the region,” according to the official Bahrain News Agency.
The statement marks the first response from a Gulf Arab leader to President Joe Biden’s announcement earlier this month that he was seeking a return to nuclear negotiations with Iran. Nearly three years ago, former President Donald Trump abandoned the landmark accord and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran. His withdrawal was welcomed by Gulf nations and Israel, Iran’s foes in the region that are most directly threatened and staunchly opposed the deal.
The sheikhdoms in the Arabian Gulf, along with Israel, were excluded from the last nuclear negotiations and remain highly skeptical of Iran’s intentions. They have indicated they would only be open to a deal if it included limits on Iran’s non-nuclear activities, including missile development and support for rebel groups and militias in the Middle East. A main reason Trump gave for withdrawing from the nuclear deal was that it did not address those issues.
In Thursday’s call, the Bahraini crown prince urged that any nuclear negotiations with Iran “include broader issues,” without elaborating.
The readout from Israel made no mention of Washington’s outreach to Tehran. It said only that the crown prince repeated his invitation for Netanyahu to visit Bahrain once the pandemic allows and that the kingdom is interested in investing jointly with other countries in a vaccine production factory planned to be located in Israel.
Following the United Arab Emirates, the island kingdom of Bahrain normalized relations with Israel last fall, an agreement forged out of mutual enmity for Iran.

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Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party MPs targeted in legal barrage

Updated 25 February 2021

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party MPs targeted in legal barrage

  • The government accuses the Peoples’ Democratic Party of ties to Kurdish militants
  • The legal bids will first be handled by a parliamentary commission
ISTANBUL: Turkey’s parliament is set to consider legal bids to lift the immunity from prosecution of 21 pro-Kurdish MPs, applying more pressure on a political party targeted in a years-long crackdown and that now faces calls for its closure.
The government accuses the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), parliament’s third largest, of ties to Kurdish militants and stepped up its accusations after Turkish captives were killed in Iraq earlier this month.
The HDP in response criticized President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party (AKP) for using a failed military rescue mission to target it politically and to sow ethnic division, and the European Union has expressed concern over the legal moves.
AKP Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop told reporters on Thursday it was “saddening” for parliament to have to deal with so many dossiers with such charges, including “manslaughter,” “spreading terrorist propaganda” and “provoking hatred.”
State-owned Anadolu news agency said 20 HDP deputies and one from an affiliated party were among 25 targeted by the cases. The HDP, which has 56 members in the 660-seat assembly, denies links with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.
The legal bids will first be handled by a parliamentary commission which will decide whether to put them to a vote in the general assembly. The timing of the process was unclear.
Nine of the HDP deputies were accused in connection with protests triggered by a Daesh militant attack on the Syrian town of Kobani in 2014. The subsequent protests in Turkey led to the deaths of 37 people.
Ankara said this month in Iraq’s Gara region the PKK executed 13 prisoners, including Turkish military and police personnel, during an army operation meant to rescue them. The PKK said the captives died during clashes.
HDP co-leader Pervin Buldan, one of those accused over the Kobani protests, said this week the government had sought to make political capital out of the Gara operation.
“They began to attack the HDP from all directions. Each day the ‘shut down the HDP’ chorus continues to cause uproar, show enmity toward Kurds and spread the hatred climate,” she said.
Erdogan’s nationalist allies have repeatedly called for the HDP’s closure over links to the PKK, which Turkey, the EU and United States designate a terrorist group. The PKK has waged an insurgency in the mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey since 1984 and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
The crackdown on the HDP in recent years has included the arrests of thousands of party officials and members, while dozens of its elected mayors and lawmakers have been ousted.
EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said earlier this week the EU was “gravely concerned” about continuing pressure on the HDP, including “what seem to be politically motivated judicial proceedings.”

Iran: UN investigator lacks authority to comment on downing of Ukrainian plane

Updated 25 February 2021

Iran: UN investigator lacks authority to comment on downing of Ukrainian plane

  • Agnes Callamard: No concrete evidence the plane was targeted intentionally but Iran had not proven it was accidental
  • ‘... by issuing an immature and impetuous text ... she may have been promised a new job positions’

DUBAI: Iran dismissed as “immature” a statement by a UN investigator that inconsistencies in its explanation of the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane last year raised questions over whether the act was intentional, Iranian media said on Thursday.
All 176 people aboard the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, most of them Canadian, were killed when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff en route from Tehran to Kiev on Jan. 8, 2020.
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said on Tuesday she had found no concrete evidence the plane was targeted intentionally but that Iran had not proven it was accidental.
After denying blame for three days, Iran’s Guards said they had shot it down by mistake while under high alert for a possible attack. Hours earlier it had attacked US targets in Iraq in retaliation for Washington’s killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, with a drone strike five days before.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Callamard’s “sphere of activity has nothing to do with these regulations and frameworks. Rather, her unwarranted involvement might not have a constructive impact on the legal procedures as well.”
Callamard, who carried out a six-month investigation into the case under her global mandate, said on Tuesday that Iran had not replied to her detailed queries. She is stepping down from the independent post at the end of March, a year early in the six-year term, to take another job, officials said.
Khatibzadeh accused her of rushing out her statement.
“Maybe one of the reasons of this unwarranted haste is her resignation from her post as special rapporteur, and by issuing an immature and impetuous text ... she may have been promised a new job positions,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.
“Accordingly, some charges have been levelled against the Islamic Republic of Iran without any valid evidence and documents.”
In December, Khatibzadeh said an indictment would be issued in less than a month against “those whose negligence caused the accident”. But Iran’s military court, which is handling the case, has yet to publicly announce it.

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Egypt authorizes Sputnik, AstraZeneca virus jabs

Updated 25 February 2021

Egypt authorizes Sputnik, AstraZeneca virus jabs

  • The agency had previously given emergency authorization for the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and the AstraZeneca jab produced in India
  • Russia’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF said Egypt is the 35th country Sputnik V
CAIRO: Egypt’s pharmaceutical authority on Wednesday approved the use of the Sputnik V and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines, a month after the North African country kicked off its inoculation campaign.
The drug body had “provided emergency authorization for the use of the two vaccines, Sputnik V, and AstraZeneca... imported from South Korea,” it said in a statement on its Facebook page.
The agency had previously given emergency authorization for the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and the AstraZeneca jab produced in India and marketed under the name Covishield, it added.
Russia’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF said in a statement that “Egypt is the 35th country in the world to approve Sputnik V.”
Egypt began its Covid-19 immunization program on January 24, becoming one of the first countries in Africa to vaccinate its citizens, with a doctor and a nurse receiving the Sinopharm jab.
The Arab world’s most populous country, with over 100 million people, received its first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine in December, and its first doses of the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine at the end of January.
Egypt has officially registered more than 179,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and over 10,400 deaths.
Health officials have warned that low testing rates mean the real number could be at least 10 times higher.

Egypt backs call to internationalize Ethiopia dam dispute

Updated 25 February 2021

Egypt backs call to internationalize Ethiopia dam dispute

  • The dispute centers on how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries would settle any future disputes
  • Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on dam’s operation to avoid flooding and protect its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile

CAIRO: Egypt said Wednesday it has endorsed a Sudanese proposal to internationalize arbitration in a years-long dispute with Ethiopia over a massive dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said Cairo backs the formation of an “international quartet” including the US, the European Union, and the UN, along with the African Union to facilitate reaching a deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam.
The dispute centers on how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries would settle any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan also call for a legally binding agreement on the dam’s filling and operation, while Ethiopia insists on guidelines.
Shukry said Egypt wants to develop the negotiating mechanism to reach a “legally binding agreement” at the earliest possible opportunity.”
He announced Egypt’s position during a meeting Wednesday in Cairo with Alphonse Ntumba Luaba, the coordination of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s current leadership of the African Union.
There were no immediate comments from Washington, Brussels, or the UN
Sudan has announced its proposal earlier this year after AU-led talks failed to achieve progress. Since then, Khartoum has become vocal against Ethiopia’s plans to start the second filling during the next rainy season.
Prime Minister Abddalla Hamdok said earlier this month that the dam threatens at least 20 million Sudanese, roughly half the country’s population.
Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on dam’s operation to avoid flooding and protect its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile River. The Blue Nile meets with the White Nile in central Sudan from where the Nile winds northward through Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
There was no comment from Ethiopia that had left a US-led attempt to mediate the dispute, alleging bias. The administration of former President Donald Trump last year sanctioned Ethiopia over the dam’s first filling before reaching a deal with Egypt and Sudan.
On Friday, President Joe Biden’s administration said it has de-linked the sanctions from the dam dispute.
About 85 percent of the Nile’s flow originates from Ethiopia. Officials hope the dam, now more than three-quarters complete, will reach full power-generating capacity in 2023, helping pull millions of its people out of poverty.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with over 100 million people, called the dam an existential threat and worries that it would reduce its share of Nile waters. The country relies almost entirely on the Nile to supply water for agriculture and its people.