‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN

Tunisia's Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on Sept. 23, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 24 September 2023
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‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN

  • Conflict, climate change, poverty fueling mass migration from Africa: Nabil Ammar
  • Global governance must be rebuilt to navigate ‘delicate page in history’

NEW YORK: “Substantive” reforms to the international financial system and global economic governance are necessary to bridge the gap between rich and poor countries, Tunisia’s foreign minister told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Nabil Ammar warned that the world is “experiencing a very delicate page in its history,” defined by growing crises and challenges, “wars and conflicts getting worse and geopolitical divisions being evident.”

He said: “Is this really the world to which we aspire after almost eight decades since the creation of the UN? This is an image that’s very distant from the goals and values that this organization is based on.”

Ammar called for universal acknowledgment that the international financial system has failed in its objectives.

Only then can the system, “which has increased the gap between advanced countries and developing countries,” be rebuilt, he said.

“The international monetary system has failed; the system which was created following the Second World War to provide a safety net for the world, to guarantee lasting financing for development and for the least-developed countries. This system, quite to the contrary, has disappointed and has abandoned these countries.”

Indebtedness among developing countries is worsening, he warned, with growing poverty and hunger fueling an “unprecedented increase in refugees and migrants.”

Tunisia has taken on an outsized burden in that regard because of its geographical position as a gateway to Europe, and due to the effects of conflict and climate change in Africa, Ammar added.

“We reiterate the need to adopt a global approach to tackle this issue of illegal migration, by focusing on its root causes rather than simply its consequences.”

He added: “We once again would like to reiterate the need for all parties to assume their responsibility — origin countries, transit countries and destination countries, as well as regional and international organizations.”

As part of the effort to address the root causes of mass migration, Ammar welcomed a decision by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to launch a response group for energy and food crises.

Ammar relayed an appeal by Tunisian President Kais Saied to establish a global emergency grain stockpile to safeguard against supply chain issues.

Ammar said confronting climate change is an “absolute priority” for Tunisia, adding: “What the world is experiencing today — the impact of climate change, deterioration of ecosystems, worsening of natural disasters — all of this forces all of us to confront these challenges urgently.”

He said: “Tunisia hasn’t been an exception to what the world has experienced and continues to experience in terms of challenges — economic challenges, social challenges and living conditions.

“And we, in spite of these difficulties, intend to overcome them, strengthen resilience and sustainability in cooperation with our friends and partners, while respecting the principles and the guiding principles of our national policies and national destiny.”

Ammar said Tunisia will continue “tirelessly” with reform, strengthening good governance and combating corruption in order to “strengthen and fine-tune our democracy.”

The country will also continue empowering women and young people to “strengthen their participation in public life and in decision-making,” he added.

Ammar called for “a new global order” and a new vision that promotes balance and equality between states, and which “takes into account the root causes of instability.”

The Palestinian question is part of that effort, he added, condemning the “silence of the international community” on Israel’s “disregard of international law.”

A just solution, overseen by the UN and based on the June 1967 borders, is necessary to achieve peace for Palestinians, Ammar said.

In Tunisia’s “immediate neighborhood,” he said his country is “providing all possible assistance” to Libya in order to achieve a political agreement there. Tunisia rejects any military solution or foreign incursions into Libya, Ammar added.

He ended his address by telling the UNGA: “We’re at a crossroads, given the scale of the risks and challenges that are unprecedented.”

The choices each country makes “should be based on long-term vision and our engagement to humanity,” he said.


Israeli strikes target Lebanon’s Baalbek for first time since Gaza war

Updated 26 February 2024
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Israeli strikes target Lebanon’s Baalbek for first time since Gaza war

  • The strikes are among the deepest into Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began more than four months ago
  • Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes on the outskirts of the village of Buday, near Baalbek, targeting a convoy of trucks

BEIRUT: The Israeli military said Monday its air force was striking targets of the militant Hebollah group “deep inside Lebanon,” where residents reported explosions near the northeastern city of Baalbek.
The strikes are among the deepest into Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began more than four months ago. They come a day after Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed to step up attacks on Lebanon’s Hezbollah even if a cease-fire is reached with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Lebanese security officials said Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes on the outskirts of the village of Buday, near Baalbek, targeting a convoy of trucks. Buday is a Hezbollah stronghold. There was no immediate word on casualties.
A Hezbollah official confirmed that three strikes hit near Baalbek. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
The Israeli army said further details will follow.
The airstrikes near Baalbek came hours after Hezbollah said its fighters on Monday shot down an Israeli drone over its stronghold in a province in southern Lebanon. Anotehr missile fired by Hezbollah toward the drone was intercepted by Israel, and landed near a synagogue in a town close to Nazareth in northern Israel. There were no injuries or damage.
Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israeli troops along the border since the Israel-Hamas broke on Oct. 7.
The strike on Baalbek, because of its location deep inside Lebanon, is the most significant one since the early January airstrike on Beirut that killed top Hamas official Saleh Arouri.
Hezbollah, which has been exchanging fire with Israel throughout the war in Gaza, has said it will halt its nearly daily attacks on Israel if a cease-fire is reached in Gaza.


Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

Updated 26 February 2024
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Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

  • Move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up Palestinian Authority
  • Shtayyeh says he is resigning to allow broader consensus among Palestinians following Israel’s war on Gaza

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday he was resigning to allow for the formation of a broad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements following Israel’s war against the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority as international efforts have intensified to stop the fighting in Gaza and begin work on a political structure to govern the enclave after the war.
His resignation must still be accepted by Abbas, who may ask him to stay on as caretaker until a permanent replacement is appointed.
In a statement to cabinet, Shtayyeh, an academic economist who took office in 2019, said the next stage would need to take account of the emerging reality in Gaza, which has been laid waste by nearly five months of heavy fighting.
He said the next stage would “require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus.”
In addition, it would require “the extension of the Authority’s authority over the entire land, Palestine.”
The Palestinian Authority, formed 30 years ago under the interim Oslo peace accords, exercises limited governance over parts of the occupied West Bank but lost power in Gaza following a struggle with Hamas in 2007.
Fatah, the faction that controls the PA, and Hamas have made efforts to reach an agreement over a unity government and are due to meet in Moscow on Wednesday. A senior Hamas official said the move had to be followed by a broader agreement on governance for the Palestinians.
“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.


UAE floating hospital begins operations at Al-Arish to treat Palestinian patients

Updated 26 February 2024
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UAE floating hospital begins operations at Al-Arish to treat Palestinian patients

AL-ARISH: A floating hospital provided by the UAE, anchored in Egypt’s Port city of Al-Arish, commenced operations on Sunday to provide treatment for injured Palestinians.

The initiative is a part of the UAE’s “Gallant Knight 3” humanitarian operation.

The 100-bed hospital has operating rooms, an intensive care unit, radiology section, laboratory and pharmacy, state news agency WAM reported.

A 20-year-old Palestinian man was the first to undergo surgery at the hospital. He was treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder and injuries caused by shrapnel.

Doctors repositioned his shoulder, and he will require a follow-up operation to repair nerve damage.

The floating hospital was established in cooperation with the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi and AD Ports Group. It is being staffed by 100 medical workers who are skilled in anesthesia, general surgery, orthopedics, and emergency medicine.

Dr. Falah Al-Mahmoud, director of the hospital, said the facility would help alleviate the suffering of Palestinians.

Dr. Falah Al-Mahmoud, director of the hospital, said the facility would help alleviate the suffering of Palestinians. (WAM)

 


Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

Updated 26 February 2024
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Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

  • Palestinian PM says ‘new political measures’ needed amid Gaza war
  • The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday he was resigning to allow for the formation of a broad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements following Israel’s war against the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority as international efforts have intensified to stop the fighting in Gaza and begin work on a political structure to govern the enclave after the war.
His resignation must still be accepted by Abbas, who may ask him to stay on as caretaker until a permanent replacement is appointed.
In a statement to cabinet, Shtayyeh, an academic economist who took office in 2019, said the next stage would need to take account of the emerging reality in Gaza, which has been laid waste by nearly five months of heavy fighting.
He said the next stage would “require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus.”
In addition, it would require “the extension of the Authority’s authority over the entire land, Palestine.”
The Palestinian Authority, formed 30 years ago under the interim Oslo peace accords, exercises limited governance over parts of the occupied West Bank but lost power in Gaza following a struggle with Hamas in 2007.
Fatah, the faction that controls the PA, and Hamas have made efforts to reach an agreement over a unity government and are due to meet in Moscow on Wednesday. A senior Hamas official said the move had to be followed by a broader agreement on governance for the Palestinians.
“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.


Yemen’s Houthis announce first civilian death in US-UK strikes

Updated 26 February 2024
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Yemen’s Houthis announce first civilian death in US-UK strikes

  • One person was killed and eight wounded a day after US and British forces said they fired on 18 targets
SANAA: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia have reported the first civilian death in US and British air strikes after the latest round of joint raids over the weekend.
One person was killed and eight wounded, the Houthis’ official news agency said late on Sunday, a day after US and British forces said they fired on 18 targets across the country.
The US-British strikes were in response to dozens of Houthi drone and missile attacks on Red Sea shipping since November, which the rebels say are in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.
“The American-British aggression on the district of Maqbana in the governorate of Taiz has left one civilian dead and eight wounded,” the Houthis’ Saba agency said, citing a statement from the rebel-run health ministry.
The Houthis, who control war-torn Yemen’s most populated areas, have previously reported the death of 17 of their fighters in the Western strikes targeting military facilities.
The Houthi attacks have had a significant effect on traffic through the busy Red Sea route, forcing some companies into a two-week detour around southern Africa. Last week, Egypt said Suez Canal revenues were down by up to 50 percent this year.
Washington, Israel’s vital ally, gathered an international coalition in December to protect Red Sea traffic. It has launched several rounds of strikes as well as four joint raids with Britain, which began last month.
The Houthis initially said they were targeting Israel-linked shipping in the Red Sea and adjoining Gulf of Aden, but then declared that US and British interests were also “legitimate” targets.