Israeli navy ships attacked, on Wednesday evening, a Palestinian fishing boat offshore the city of Gaza, in the besieged coastal region.
Media sources said the boat was within Palestinian water, less than six nautical miles from the shore, when a navy ship started firing live rounds at it, in addition to using water cannons.
The attack caused damage, but did not lead to casualties or abductions, and forced the fishermen back to the shore to avoid further escalation.
On Tuesday, similar Israeli attacks targeted fishermen off the coast of Gaza city, and farmers on their lands in the central Gaza Strip.
The army frequently attacks farmers, shepherds, workers, and fishermen across the eastern parts of the coastal region and in Palestinian territorial waters, leading to dozens of casualties, including fatalities, in addition to preventing the Palestinians from tending to their lands and from fishing to provide for their families.
In March of last year, the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza said Israeli mines were responsible for an explosion that led to the death of three fishermen.
The prime minister is fully engaged in a campaign to fight corruption, which is at the core of the Sadrists’ reform agenda.Thursday 13/01/2022
Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Najaf, Iraq, January 6, 2022. (REUTERS)
Iraqi political sources say that Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is smoothly gliding towards a new term in office, given the support he enjoys from the Sadrist Movement.
The sources point out that Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr sees Kadhimi as the most capable figure who could lead a “national majority” government to be formed by the Sadrists with the backing of Sunni and Kurdish blocs.
The sources note that the objections of the pro-Iranian Coordination Framework Shia parties to Kadhimi are not of much concern to the Sadrists.
Iraq watchers point out that Kadhimi, despite the modest results achieved during his current term in office, has shown himself to be able to deal effectively with Iraq’s quandaries and has demonstrated a great measure of pragmatism in handling foreign interference in Iraqi affairs.
Analysts say there is no external veto on Kadhimi. Even Tehran does not object to his nomination as it does not consider the premier, in the final analysis, to be a threat to its interests.
They believe that the only obstacle to Kadhimi’s accession to the premiership is the opposition of the pro-Iranian militias. But these forces will ultimately have no choice in the matter if Muqatada Al-Sadr insists on nominating Kadhimi and if the latter wins the support of the Sunni and Kurdish blocs.
The prime minister had met, on Monday, the leader of the Al-Fatah (Conquest) Alliance, Al-Hadi Al-Amiri, in Baghdad. The purpose of the visit, according to sources, was to de-escalate tensions with the alliance, considered a political offshoot of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).
Kadhimi also visited Najaf, Wednesday. Sources close to the prime minister said the visit was a follow-up to a previous visit, less than a week ago, during which the prime minister examined the state of services in the governorate, the stronghold of the Sadrist Movement.
During his earlier visit to Najaf, where he was warmly welcomed by Sadr, Kadhimi announced a set of measures regarding local affairs of the west-central province.
Analysts say Kadhimi has recently been leading an active campaign to burnish his own image, by announcing a number of development projects and reshuffling governors and senior officials so as to remove from office those suspected of corruption or the repression of protests, as was the case with the governor of Dhi Qar.
Iraqi affairs experts believe that the recent anti-graft measures taken by Kadhimi are consistent with the positions advocated by the Sadrist Movement and its leader, putting corruption at the forefront of the reform project they want to be implemented after the formation of a national majority government.
Iraq’s Integrity Commission announced on Wednesday the issuance of arrest warrants and summons for 85 high-ranking officials, on corruption-related charges, during the month of December.
A statement by the official commission, tasked with investigating corruption cases in Iraq, said that judicial authorities issued the warrants after the investigation by the Integrity Commission of cases in Baghdad and other provinces. It indicated that 21 arrest warrants and 77 summonses were issued, including one involving a current government minister, as well as a number of former ministers, in addition to former parliamentarians, governors and other senior officials. No names were however revealed.
Iraq is considered to be among the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the Transparency International index over the past years.
Last October, the country held early legislative elections in the wake of large protests against corruption since 2019.
The leader of the Sadrist Movement has focused during the election campaign on the need to prioritise the fight against corruption.
Observers believe that Kadhimi’s anti-corruption moves, at this particular time, are a prelude to his assumption of the premiership in the government, which the Sadrist movement is to form, despite the misgivings of the Shia forces loyal to Iran.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will not sacrifice energy security for the sake of energy transformation, a leading minister has warned as he talked up the importance of uranium to the Kingdom’s power plans.
Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman made the comments at the Future Minerals Forum in Riyadh as he discussed how developing the Kingdom’s mining sector could help with economic and environmental transitions.
Prince Abdulaziz was bullish when it came to the use of nuclear power in the energy mix, telling delegates at the conference: “We have a huge amount of uranium resource, which we would like to exploit and put in the most transparent way.
“We will bring partners and we will be exporting and manufacturing and developing it and we will be commercially monetizing that resource.”
Referring to the drive to move the Kingdom away from its reliance on oil, he said: “We should not forfeit energy security for the sake of a publicity stunts — that transition needs to be well thought.
“Let’s not forfeit energy security for moving away from the classical concern of over-reliance in the Middle East when it comes to oil to different types of energy security challenges which has to do with availability of these minerals and the concentration of the ownerships of those minerals.”
The Future Minerals Forum is a special event bringing together ministers, organisations and mining leaders from more than 30 countries.
Hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, is aimed at highlighting the role of mining in Saudi Vision 2030, after the government identified it as the third pillar of the Kingdom’s economy.
By Vladimir Isachenkov and Emily Schultheis, Associated Press
Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 | 8:48 a.m.
MOSCOW — Russia on Thursday sharply raised the stakes in its dispute with the West over Ukraine, with a top diplomat refusing to rule out a Russian military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela if tensions with the United States mount.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led the Russian delegation in Monday’s talks with the U.S. in Geneva, said he could “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Cuba and Venezuela if the talks fail and U.S. pressure on Russia mounts.
The Russia-U.S. negotiations in Geneva and a subsequent NATO-Russia meeting failed to narrow the gap on Moscow’s security demands amid a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine. While Moscow demanded a halt to NATO expansion, Washington and its allies firmly rejected that as a nonstarter.
Speaking in an interview with Russian RTVI TV, Ryabkov noted that “it all depends on the action by our U.S. counterparts,” pointing to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning that Moscow could take military-technical measures if the U.S. provokes the Kremlin and turns up military pressure on it.
While voicing concern that NATO could potentially use Ukrainian territory for the deployment of missiles capable of reaching Moscow in just five minutes, Putin has noted that Russian warships armed with the latest Zircon hypersonic cruise missile would give Russia a similar capability if deployed in neutral waters.
Zircon, which Putin said flies at nine times the speed of sound to a range of more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), is hard to intercept and could be fitted with conventional or nuclear warheads. It’s set to be commissioned by the Russian navy later this year and installed aboard its frigates and submarines.
Ryabkov’s statement followed his comments last month comparing the current tensions over Ukraine with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis — when the Soviet Union deployed missiles to Cuba and the U.S. imposed a naval blockade of the island. That crisis ended after U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed Moscow would withdraw its missiles in exchange for Washington’s pledge not to invade Cuba and the removal of U.S. missiles from Turkey.
Soon after his first election in 2000, Putin ordered the closure of a Soviet-built military surveillance facility in Cuba as he sought to improve ties with Washington. Moscow has intensified contacts with Cuba in recent years as tensions with the U.S. and its allies mounted.
In December 2018, Russia briefly dispatched a pair of its nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela in a show of support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro amid Western pressure.
Ryabkov said a refusal by the U.S. and its allies to consider the key Russian demand for guarantees against the alliance’s expansion to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations makes it hard to discuss such issues as arms control and confidence-building steps that Washington says it’s ready to negotiate.
“The U.S. wants to conduct a dialogue on some elements of the security situation … to ease the tensions and then continue the process of geopolitical and military development of the new territories, coming closer to Moscow,” he said. “We have nowhere to retreat.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also described this week’s talks as “unsuccessful” even though he noted “some positive elements and nuances.” “The talks were initiated to receive specific answers to concrete principal issues that were raised, and disagreements remained on those principal issues, which is bad,” he said in a conference call with reporters.
Peskov warned of complete rupture in U.S.-Russian relations if proposed sanctions targeting Putin and other top civilian and military leaders are adopted. The measures, proposed by Senate Democrats, would also target leading leading Russian financial institutions if Moscow sends troops into Ukraine.
“It concerns sanctions, which taking into account the inevitable adequate response, effectively amount to an initiative to rupture relations,” he warned, adding that Russia will respond in kind.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov likewise denounced the proposed sanctions as a reflection of U.S. “arrogance,” adding that Moscow expects a written response to its demands from the U.S. and NATO next week in order to mull further steps.
The talks come as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops with tanks and other heavy weapons are massed near Ukraine’s eastern border. Russia has dismissed concerns that it was preparing for an invasion and in turn accused the West of threatening its security by positioning military personnel and equipment in Central and Eastern Europe.
Peskov rebuffed the West’s calls for a Russian troop pullback from areas near Ukraine. “It’s hardly possible for NATO to dictate to us where we should move our armed forces on Russian territory,” he said.
Tensions revolving around Ukraine and Russia’s demands on the West again appeared on the table at Thursday’s meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Vienna.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who assumed the position of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, noted in his opening speech that “the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years.”
“For several weeks, we have been faced with the possibility of a major military escalation in Eastern Europe,” he said.
In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula after the ouster of its Moscow-friendly leader and threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in the country’s east, where over 14,000 people have been killed in more than seven years of fighting.
The tensions over Ukraine also figured high on the agenda of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brest, France. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said it’s important “for Putin to understand that the military threats, the game he’s playing, the way he’s trying to take us back to the darkest days of the Cold War, is totally unacceptable.”
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, reiterated that “any further aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe costs for Russia,” saying that the 27-country bloc is providing 31 million euros ($35.5 million) in logistical assistance to the Ukrainian army and is preparing to send a mission to help the country counter cyber-attacks.
Emily Schultheis reported from Vienna. Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.
File photo: Iraqi Air Force helicopters land at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province, Iraq (REUTERS / Thaier Al-Sudani)
At least five Katiusha-type rockets hit the Ain al Asad military base in western Iraq on Wednesday, where US forces are stationed, in the second attack in one day against Iraqi military installations, an Iraqi Army source informed the agency EFE.
According to the source, who requested anonymity, “Five Katiusha rockets hit the Ain al Asad base”, where “US forces are present who work as advisers” to the Iraqi troops, and so far it is unknown if there are human or material losses.
This new attack occurred on the same day that a missile of unknown origin hit a base near Baghdad International Airport., located in the west of the capital, without causing victims.
With this, the attacks in the last three days against positions in which there is or has been a US presence have risen to four.
What’s more, The Ain al Asad base, one of the most important in Iraq and one of the main centers of operation of the international coalition led by the United States that fights against the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), was yesterday the target of another attack. with two drones that were intercepted before they hit the compound.
These actions coincide with the second anniversary, on January 3, of the death of the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and number two of the pro-government armed group Multitud Popular, Abu Mahdi al Mohandes, in a US targeted attack on Baghdad.
The death of these two Shiite leaders prompted broad condemnation of the pro-Iranian militias operating in Iraq, demanding the total withdrawal of foreign troops from the country and In the last two years they have repeatedly attacked positions with a US presence.
In early December the coalition confirmed that, as the United States had agreed with Iraq, its combat mission in this country had ended and that the troops that remain are dedicated to “advising, assisting and training” the Iraqi forces.
However, some of the pro-Iranian militias have branded “lie“Is withdrawing and they threatened to attack the international coalition troops if they remained in Iraq after December 31, 2021.
The old arms control model was a product of a bipolar world. The real challenge is creating a new model to deal with rising nuclear risks in a multipolar world
PREMIUMStatements and actions by the US, Russian, and Chinese leaders indicate growing tensions, with rapidly receding prospects of any arms control (AFP)
Updated on Jan 12, 2022 08:00 PM IST
Mixed signals emerging in 2022 reflect the challenge in dealing with rising nuclear risks in an increasingly polarised world. On the face of it, the January 3 joint statement by leaders of the five nuclear-weapon States (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races should have been a matter of global relief. However, statements and actions by the US, Russian, and Chinese leaders indicate growing tensions and the beginnings of a new nuclear arms race with rapidly receding prospects of any arms control.