Russia says intercepted two US drones near Crimea

After the arrival of the Russian planes, the drones “changed their direction of flight and left the areas where aerial reconnaissance was being conducted,” the ministry added. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 29 August 2023

Russia says intercepted two US drones near Crimea

  • Incidents involving Russian aircraft and US drones have increased in recent months

MOSCOW: Moscow said Monday that it had scrambled two fighter jets to intercept two US reconnaissance drones near Crimea.
The Russian defense ministry said on Telegram that it mobilized the two jets after it “detected a flight in the direction of the Russian state border.”
According to the ministry, the two US drones, a Reaper and a Global Hawk, were “carrying out aerial reconnaissance in the region of the Crimean peninsula,” near the Black Sea.
Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.
After the arrival of the Russian planes, the drones “changed their direction of flight and left the areas where aerial reconnaissance was being conducted,” the ministry added.
Incidents involving Russian aircraft and US drones have increased in recent months.
On Sunday, Russia said it had scrambled a fighter plane to deter a US air force reconnaissance drone from crossing its borders over the Black Sea.


EU should recognize Palestinian state: Spanish PM

Updated 6 sec ago

EU should recognize Palestinian state: Spanish PM

MADRID: The European Union should recognize a Palestinian state since this would help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and “stabilize” the region, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday.
“It is obvious that we must find a political solution to put an end to this crisis and this solution requires, in my opinion, the recognition of the Palestinian state,” the Socialist premier said during an interview with Spanish public television TVE.
“It is in Europe’s interest to address this issue out of moral conviction because what we are seeing in Gaza is not acceptable,” and also for “a geopolitical objective — to stabilize a region,” he added.
When he was sworn in for a new term this month, Sanchez said his foreign policy priority would be to “work in Europe and in Spain to recognize the Palestinian state.”
If there is no consensus among the EU’s 27 member states, Sanchez has said Madrid does not rule out unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state.
A handful of smaller European countries have taken the step, mainly east European nations like Hungary, Poland and Romania that did so before they joined the EU.
But until now no large member of the bloc has made the move, which would make Spain a pioneer.
Spain’s parliament voted in 2014 in favor of a resolution calling for recognition of Palestine as a state.
The vote was non-binding, however, and there has been no follow up.
“The situation has changed,” Sanchez told TVE, adding that Arab nations did not understand the EU’s position.
“During all these years, we have seen how Israel systematically occupied Palestinian territory,” he added in a reference to Israeli settlement- building.
According to Amnesty International: “Israel’s policy of settling its civilians in occupied Palestinian territory and displacing the local population contravenes fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.”
Palestinians say the settlements jeopardize their goal of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Israel last week summoned Spain’s ambassador over criticisms Sanchez made of the Israeli offensive on Gaza during a visit to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Friday.
Israel accused Madrid of supporting “terrorism.”
“Friendly nations must tell the truth,” Sanchez said before recalling he had unequivocally condemned the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians and soldiers.
“But we must tell Israel with the same conviction” that it must respect international law, he added.

India to launch green credit initiative with UAE at COP28

Updated 34 min 22 sec ago

India to launch green credit initiative with UAE at COP28

  • PM Modi to participate in World Climate Action Summit and three side events
  • Green credit initiative is based on a program of India’s Ministry of Environment

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra will launch the Green Credit Initiative with the UAE during the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, the Indian government said, as the summit began on Thursday.

World political and business leaders from nearly 200 countries are arriving in Dubai this week for the UN’s annual meeting, which aims to address some of the most pressing issues related to global warming and climate crisis.

Modi will deliver a speech at the opening session of the World Climate Action Summit and will participate in three high-level side events, two of which are being co-hosted by India.

“The first high-level event which is being co-hosted by India and the UAE is the launch of the green credit initiative ... The second side event, co-hosted by India and Sweden, is the launch of Lead IT 2.0,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters in Delhi.

The green credit initiative is based on the Green Credit Program, which was notified by the Indian Ministry of Environment in October. It is a market-based mechanism to incentivize voluntary environmental actions by various stakeholders such as individuals, communities, private-sector industries, and companies.

The LeadIT 2.0. is “essentially a leadership group for energy transition,” Kwatra said.

“This was a joint initiative launched by India and Sweden in 2019 at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York ... This initiative fosters collaboration among the decision-makers, bringing together both the public sector and the private sector with the objective of accelerating the industry transition to net zero emissions.”

The Indian prime minister is also scheduled to participate in another high-level event, “Transforming Climate Finance,” which will be hosted by the COP28 presidency, the UAE.

During the two-day visit, Modi is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with many of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, as India — the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and a country experiencing the brunt of global warming — seeks to play a leadership role in shaping the international agenda on climate change.

“India’s approach to climate action is deeply rooted in our civilization ethos and is reflected foremost in our contributions and our ambitious and effective national policies, especially those which are aimed at economic development, energy, health and nutrition,” Kwarta said.

“We have also been pioneering and in the forefront, and taking global initiatives in fighting climate change and its impacts.”

Asian publishers join campaign to counter Western narrative on Palestine

Updated 56 min 37 sec ago

Asian publishers join campaign to counter Western narrative on Palestine

  • #ReadPalestine campaign makes available works by Palestinian authors 
  • Publishers say literary community ‘cannot remain neutral’ over plight of the Palestinians

JAKARTA: Asian publishers want to counter the Western media narrative as they take part in a global initiative launched this week to encourage people to read Palestinian authors and history. 

#ReadPalestine started on Wednesday and runs through to Dec. 5. 

It was created by Publishers for Palestine, a global solidarity collective comprising more than 350 publishers who have called for an end to all violence against Palestinian people and for Tel Aviv and its allies to be held accountable for war crimes in the wake of the deadly Israeli onslaught on Gaza that started last month. 

The collective, which includes more than 70 Asian publishers, has made available for free download more than 30 works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. 

“The initiative aims to be an amplifier for the Palestinian cause within the literary community, particularly in the West,” Iskandar Kamel of Malaysia’s Kawah Buku told Arab News.

“The way they have muted themselves and chosen to align with genociders, adopting an apolitical stance and neutrality in the face of atrocities, is entirely unacceptable. This is especially noteworthy considering that, all the while, they have preached about human rights and liberal principles to the Global South.”

Kamel cited as an example the biggest annual book fair in Frankfurt, which last month called off an awards ceremony to celebrate Palestinian writer Adania Shibli. 

“Publishers, bookstores, authors and the entire literary community cannot remain neutral; choosing to be apolitical is not an option. It is our responsibility to play our part,” he said. 

Ronny Agustinus, chief editor of the Indonesian publishing company Marjin Kiri, is a member of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, which wrote a letter condemning the cancelation of the Frankfurt event. 

“Because there are so many misunderstandings about Palestine from various parties, it becomes important to share studies and reading materials as thoroughly and as much as possible about Palestine so that we can get the whole picture,” he said. 

“Literature can paint the reality of Palestinian lives poignantly and evocatively.” 

The #ReadPalestine free ebook list includes “Wild Thorns,” a novel by Sahar Khalifeh about life in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and “Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear” by Mosab Abu Toha, a Palestinian poet whose abduction by Israeli forces made global headlines earlier this month. He was later released following an international outcry.   

“Writers and publishers bear histories and narratives; and with them, truth. Western media is so powerful and it has skewed the thinking of many people, including writers. We can fight against that through our books and writings,” said Faye Cura of Philippines-based Gantala Press. 

When it comes to Palestinian literature, women writers are Cura’s favorite. 

“Many people have biased views against Muslim women, thinking they are ‘conservative,’ ‘passive,’ ‘silent,’ etc. The women writers definitely resist all that and paint a stronger, more powerful image of the Palestinian woman,” she said. 

She hopes that #ReadPalestine will forge strong relations among writers, translators, artists and publishers across the world so that the “conversation and resistance continue until liberation.”

Malaysian publisher The Patriots said speaking about the Palestinian plight was also a responsibility of the literary community. 

“We are collectively disappointed with this ongoing cancel culture against the Palestinian literature. It is against free speech to do so,” The Patriots said in a statement to Arab News. 

“We hope this initiative could at the very least break this hostile attempt. The Palestinians could not, should not and must not be stifled.”  

Explainer: How will countries measure climate action at COP28? 

Updated 30 November 2023

Explainer: How will countries measure climate action at COP28? 

  • In September, the United Nations offered an early stocktake assessment that revealed countries were far behind in meeting climate goals
  • It said action required “on all fronts” to keep global average temperature rise limited to 1.5 C beyond which irreversible climate impacts will occur

DUBAI: Countries will for the first time assess how far off track they are to curb global warming at this year’s COP28 climate change summit, a process known as the “global stocktake.” 

Governments will look at progress so far as well as what action is still needed to get the world on track. The aim is to yield a plan by the end of the two-week UN conference in Dubai. 

The assessment could become politically divisive as it sets the stage for the next few years of global action in cutting planet-warming emissions. 


Each country sets its own targets and policies for meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement’s overall goal of holding global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius of preindustrial times, and aiming for just 1.5 C of warming. 

Under the 2015 pact, countries must gauge their progress as of this year, and then every five years afterwards. Based on the results, countries may be pressed to set more ambitious climate policies or to contribute more financing to help developing countries adopt clean energy. 

This year’s stocktake could also offer important guidance as countries prepare to update their emissions-cutting targets again by 2025. For example, the stocktake could advise that CO2-cutting targets should cover a country’s entire economy, not just certain sectors. 


In September, the United Nations offered an early stocktake assessment that revealed countries were far behind in meeting climate goals. It said action was required “on all fronts” to keep the global average temperature rise limited to 1.5 C — the threshold beyond which scientists say more severe and irreversible climate impacts will occur. 

Despite a huge increase in the number of countries setting CO2-cutting targets since the Paris Agreement, current emissions plans still put the world on track to warm by at least 2.5 C, the UN estimates. 

Many countries also have yet to set strong enough short-term policies to steer their economies toward emissions targets for 2030 and 2050. 

The global average temperature has already warmed by 1.2 C since pre-industrial times, which is causing widespread drought along with more frequent deadly heat waves, wildfires and storms around the world. 


Before the stocktake has even started, countries are squabbling over the scope of future plans — including whether they should commit to phase out fossil fuel use, end investments in new coal power plants or triple renewable energy capacity within this decade. 

COP28 delegates will also need to decide if the stocktake should recommended action for specific sectors, such as the energy or manufacturing sectors. 

The UN’s report in September urged countries to cut CO2-emitting coal power by 67 percent to 82 percent from 2019 levels by 2030. 

The report also called for more finance to help poorer countries adopt clean energy, and noted that billions of dollars were still being invested in fossil fuels every year. 

The European Union wants the stocktake to produce “concrete policy signals” for countries to follow. 

Some developing countries have suggested the stocktake should focus on pressuring wealthy nations to do more, since they have contributed the most emissions to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, diplomats said. 

“This is where we take stock and see where we are — where are the gaps between the targets and our ambitions, and the actual action. What then needs to be decided... what do we then do from here,” Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s Global Climate Policy Minister, told Reuters. 

COP28 summit opens in Dubai with hopes for early deal on climate damage fund 

Updated 30 November 2023

COP28 summit opens in Dubai with hopes for early deal on climate damage fund 

  • Governments are preparing for marathon negotiations on whether to agree, for the first time, to phase out world’s use of CO2-emitting coal, oil and gas
  • UAE COP28 presidency published proposal on eve of summit for countries to formally adopt outlines of new fund to cover losses and damages in poor countries

DUBAI: As global leaders gather in Dubai for the world’s UN climate conference, delegates hope to clinch an early victory on a disaster fund on Thursday before the summit turns its focus to fossil fuels and other divisive topics. 

Governments are preparing for marathon negotiations on whether to agree, for the first time, to phase out the world’s use of CO2-emitting coal, oil and gas, the main source of warming emissions. 

With finance also high on the meeting agenda, the United Arab Emirates’ COP28 presidency published a proposal on the eve of the summit for countries to formally adopt the outlines of a new UN fund to cover losses and damages in poor countries being hit by climate disasters like extreme flooding or persistent drought. 

An early breakthrough on the damage fund — which poorer nations have demanded for years — could help grease the wheels for other compromises to be made during the two-week summit. 

Some diplomats said they hoped the draft deal would be approved quickly, with one delegate describing the possibility of objections at this point as “opening Pandora’s box.” The deal was crafted over many months of tough negotiations involving wealthy and developing countries. 

Establishing the fund allows rich countries to begin pledging money for it, and nations including Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are expected to announce contributions over the next few days, European diplomats told Reuters. 

The European Union has pledged a “substantial” contribution, but wants countries whose economies have boomed in recent decades, like China and the UAE, to follow suit. 

“Everyone with the ability to pay should contribute,” said EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra, who said he wanted to “broaden the donor base beyond the usual suspects, simply because that reflects the reality of 2023.” 

Adnan Amin, CEO of the COP28 summit, told Reuters this month the aim was to secure several hundred million US dollars for the climate disaster fund during the event. He said he was “hopeful” that the UAE would make a contribution. 

“We cannot rest until this fund is adequately financed and starts to actually alleviate the burden of vulnerable communities,” said Samoa’s Ambassador to Europe, Pa’olelei Luteru, who is also the chairman of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) negotiating bloc. 

Countries are split between European nations and climate-vulnerable states demanding an agreement to replace fossil fuels with clean energy, and oil and gas producers seeking to preserve a role for traditional energy sources. 

Many developing countries are also reluctant to quit fossil fuels, which they say are necessary to grow their economies. 

Another major task at this year’s summit will be for countries to assess their progress in meeting global climate goals — chiefly the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). 

This process, known as the global stocktake, should yield a high-level plan telling countries what they need to do.