The power struggle in Tunisia and possible solutions

There is a complex constitutional crisis in Tunisia following President Kais Saied’s refusal to allow new ministers to join the government and take their constitutional oath even after they were given a vote of confidence by parliament. The resultant political crisis has deepened the differences between the president, the speaker of parliament and the prime minister. All possible escape routes out of this crisis remain open to complex calculations. There are also intense debates wherein each party sticks to its positions and barricades itself behind a wall of constitutional powers. Possible solutions to the crisis revolve around three basic propositions: one is presented by Saied, and two are proposed by others. The president’s proposal is accepted and supported by the opposition parties and the parliamentary blocs that support them. It includes two options: the first calls for dismissing ministers who he says are suspected of corruption or conflicts of interest. This is regarded as one of the easiest and most reasonable options for resolving the crisis, but it will not end it completely, because the president believes that the main problem lies in the cabinet reshuffle, which he describes as illegal, since it brought about a change not only in

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Controversy as Saddam Hussein's daughter appears on TV

The appearance of the eldest daughter of the later Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on Al Arabiya TV caused a diplomatic crisis between Baghdad, Riyadh and Amman, regional media reported yesterday. Raghad Saddam Hussein appeared with Sohaib Charair on a programme aired by Saudi satellite channel Al Arabiya, saying it is possible for her to play a role in Iraqi politics. Following the show, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the Jordanian and Saudi ambassadors to protest against Raghad’s appearance on TV. Raghad has lived in the Jordanian capital Amman since 2003, when the US invaded Iraq and ousted her father. Charair asked Raghad if she intended to play a more direct role in Iraqi politics soon. She replied: “Everything is possible.” She slammed Iranian interference in the region, noting that “the Iranians violated Iraq after the absence of a real power.” هل من دور سياسي كانت تمارسه النساء في أسرة #صدام_حسين أثناء حكمه؟ #رغد_صدام_حسين حصريا للعربية#العراق@RghadSaddam@sohaibpic.twitter.com/BKCOGif4Pi — العربية برامج (@AlArabiya_shows) February 15, 2021 READ: Iraq’s Muqtada Al-Sadr warns of looming normalisation with Israel

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PA condemns Israel plan to expand 4G to 95% of West Bank

Palestinian Authority (PA) yesterday condemned Tel Aviv’s decision to allows Israeli cellular companies to expand their 4G services to 95 per cent of the area of the occupied West Bank, ignoring international laws and the legitimate rights of Palestinians, Wafa news agency reported. In a statement, PA Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Ishaq Sider, said that his ministry is closely following up on this matter with the relevant authorities, including the International Telecommunication Union and the International Quartet’s office. He said that his ministry is going take the issue to international courts “to put an end to this blatant transgression, through which the Israelis aim to destroy the Palestinian economy and the Palestinian telecom companies that would prevent the development of the Palestinian technological sector.” “While the Palestinians are still deprived until today of 4G and 5G services, the Israeli government continues to impose a fait accompli on the ground and in cyberspace, which we consider a violation and theft of the Palestinian people’s resources.” According to the statement, the minister stressed that “this grave aggression is not the first by Israel and that it is part of an Israeli policy that aims to dominate the Palestinian airwaves and

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World leaders voice shock, concern over events in US

World leaders reacted with shock and dismay to the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of US President Donald Trump, protesting congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory, Anadolu Agency reports. “Shocking scenes in Washington, D.C. The outcome of this democratic election must be respected,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Twitter. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the events “disgraceful” and said the US “stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.” Criticized for a belated reaction, after midnight local time French President Emmanuel Macron posted a video on Twitter, describing the scene of violence in Washington, D.C. as “not American.” “We believe in the strength of our democracies. We believe in the strength of American democracy,” he added. READ: Trump’s incitement led to the chaos on Capitol Hill, but democracy must prevail “I am following with concern the news that are coming from Capitol Hill in Washington. I trust in the strength of America’s democracy,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. “The new Presidency of Joe Biden will overcome this time of tension, uniting the American people.” German Foreign Minister Heiko

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'One state is a game changer': A conversation with Ilan Pappe and Awad Abdelfattah on the one democratic state campaign 

As the US ruling elites have fully succumbed to Israel’s political discourse on Palestine, the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may feel that it, alone, is capable of determining the future of the Palestinian people. This conclusion is, perhaps, gleaned from Israel’s behavior in recent years and months. The expansion of illegal Jewish settlements, the plan to annex large swathes of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the entrenching of the existing system of apartheid and perpetual colonialism are all evidence that demonstrates Israel’s renewed sense of empowerment. Israel is further emboldened by the fact that the so-called ‘international community’ has, thus far, failed to challenge American and Israeli intransigency. The European Union, which is fighting for its own identity, let alone survival, is proving to be a marginal force in Israel and Palestine. Without American guidance, the EU seems incapable of leading its own independent initiatives. Moreover, the lack of an alternative global power that could offset the political imbalance created by Washington’s blind and unconditional support for Tel Aviv is making it difficult, if not impossible, for the Palestinian leadership to invest in an entirely new political paradigm. Normalisation among various Arab countries and Israel has

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US congresswoman to fly Israel flag outside office of Rashida Tlaib

US Republican Congresswoman Kat Cammack has pledged to hang an Israeli flag outside her Capitol Hill office, which is right next door to that of Democrat Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian heritage. Cammack was sworn into the 117th Congress last week by the House Speaker as the US Representative from Florida’s Third Congressional District. “She [Tlaib] has some very strong opinions about Israel, and I have some very strong opinions about Israel, so I have made a pledge that I’m going to be planting the flag of Israel outside my door right next to the American flag,” Cammack told local ABC News. “I think it’ll be very helpful as she walks past it every day,” she added. Rep. Tlaib, who has an office right next to mine in DC, has some strong opinions about Israel that I 💯 disagree with, so I’ve made a pledge to plant Israel’s flag outside my door right next to the American flag. I think it’ll be very helpful as she walks past both every day 🇺🇸🇮🇱 https://t.co/5VMDXDWllM — Kat Cammack (@Kat_Cammack) January 6, 2021 According to the Times of Israel, the Israeli flag she will be using was sent to her

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Houthis threaten to bomb Saudi ports after coalition blocks their ships 

Houthi militias yesterday threatened to bomb Saudi ports in the Red Sea after their oil tankers were blocked from reaching Al-Hudaydah port in Yemen, Al-Khaleej Online reported. Foreign Minister of the Houthis’ self-proclaimed National Salvation Government, Hisham Abdullah, warned that the militias would carry out revenge attacks on ports of countries which form part of the Saudi-led coalition. “Sanaa will not stand idle as expected by some,” Abdullah said, “if the siege on the Yemeni ports continues, the ports of Yemen’s enemies will not remain safe.” In the recent months, Saudi ports on the Red Sea have been targeted by the Houthis several times, Al-Khaleej Online said, noting that some of these attacks were aborted and some others caused harm to foreign ships. “Blocking the oil tankers aggravates the crisis and pushes back any political solution,” Abdullah said, pointing out that Saudi’s intermittent permission for some tankers to reach Al-Hudaydah port from time to time “contradicts Saudi and UAE claims of offering humanitarian assistance to Yemen.” READ: Amnesty calls on Algeria ‘not to deport Yemen refugees’ 

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Italy: Release of fishermen in Libya made in return for restoring relations with Haftar

The release of the Sicilian fishermen in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi has taken place in exchange for restoring relations with the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, the Italian foreign minister announced yesterday. Luigi Di Maio denied recent media reports of a “prisoner exchange deal”, stressing that the rumours were “groundless”. “To release our fishermen, we were asked to release four smugglers, which was impossible,” Di Maio told reporters, referring to his recent visit to Benghazi with the Italian premier, Giuseppe Conte. “We had to re-establish relations with Haftar,” he added. “Italy has always had good relations with Haftar, and last year we both met nine times, but our relationship was cut for three months after his forces detained Sicilian fishermen on charges of penetrating Libyan territorial waters early last September,” he said. Italy recognises the legitimacy of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which is backed by the United Nations. Libya to Italy: Seek France mediation to release captives from Haftar

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Yemen campaign urges president, government to return to Aden

Yemeni activists on Tuesday launched an online campaign calling on President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the newly formed government to return to the interim capital of Aden. The activists said the campaign aims to put pressure on the presidency, the government and the Yemeni parliament to immediately return to the country to carry out their duties. They went on to call for the new government, which was formed on Friday, to take its constitutional oath in Aden and not in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, tomorrow. Armed groups should be removed from Aden, they continued, and state security operations should be in control of the safety and security of the country. Groups wishing to continue to protect Yemen should join the army, they continued. Earlier this week, five Yemeni ministers in the new government left the temporary capital Aden and headed to Riyadh to take the constitutional oath before Hadi. The minister’s departure goes against the terms of the Riyadh Agreement, which stipulates that the ministers should take the oath before the president in Aden. Aden is still controlled by the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), with presidential protection forces unable to enter. Last Friday, Hadi issued a republican decision to form a new government headed

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Qatar cancels $300m annual trade subsidy with Australia over airport search debacle

Qatar has cancelled a $300 million annual trade subsidy for the Australian lamb industry after the country condemned a series of invasive medical examinations of its nationals in Doha in October. The deal was due to end in 2023, but the Qatari government has made the decision to finish the subsidy early, on 31 December this year. Stephen Crisp, the chief executive officer at Sheep Producers Australia, told the Guardian the sudden decision has come as a surprise for the industry, which is also grappling with Chinese import bans. “It was a surprise. I don’t think we were ready for this. But we’re fortunate to be in a very adaptable industry. We service many, many countries, so we can adapt,” Crisp was quoted by the Guardian as saying. Industry insiders cited by the British newspaper said they were unwilling to link the decision to end the subsidy early to the diplomatic row sparked by the airport search debacle. The row started after 13 Australian women were removed from a Qatar Airways flight in October and subjected to an invasive medical examination to determine whether any of them had recently given birth. The searches, which delayed the women’s flight by four hours, were carried out after a

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Jamaica's Lowe signs for Egypt football club Al-Ittihad

Jamaican defender and captain Damion Lowe has signed for the Egyptian Premier League football club Al-Ittihad becoming the first Jamaican player in an Egyptian club. Lowe arrived in Cairo on Friday where he was greeted by Al-Ittihad’s Manager Bilal Nazir and club President Mohamed Moselhy. The 27-year-old previously played for US United Soccer League (USL) side Phoenix Rising FC since September but due to a COVID-19 outbreak among some of the league’s players the season was concluded without a champion ahead of his team’s scheduled final against Tampa Bay Rowdies earlier last month. “I’m excited and very optimistic. I’ve been out of a contract for a couple of weeks since leaving Phoenix Rising and it’s a new adventure for me. I think I’m the first Jamaican to play professionally here, so I see this as me opening doors to another market for other Jamaicans to come,” he said in a report by the Jamaica Observer. “I’m looking forward to meeting the team and to start training and getting back to playing well and being on my ‘A game’,” he was quoted as saying ahead of the semi-final fixture against champions Al-Ahly in Cairo which will kick off tonight. Egypt Cup

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Egypt arrests 14 for racism against black Zamalek football player

At least 14 people have been arrested for racism aimed at a top Zamalek football player after a highly disturbing video circulated on Facebook. The video shows a crowd of people chanting “Shikabala, Shikabala” – the nickname for Mohamed Abdel Razek, who is black – and raising a black dog wearing a Zamalek football shirt with the number 10 above their heads. It was circulated following Zamalek’s defeat at the hands of Al-Ahly. Abdel Razek, who is originally from Aswan, has been the victim of racist attacks in the past. In 2010 the player announced he was quitting international football as a result. In 2015 football player Ahmed Almerghani, who is also from Aswan, appeared on the Egyptian call-in TV show Al-Aashira Masaa. Following the show, Zamalek President Mortada Mansour called Almerghani a “traitor” in what was interpreted by analysts at the time as racism. READ: Egypt football player Mido Jaber feared forcibly disappeared from army hotel Nubians are often targeted for racism due to their darker skin, which is perpetuated by Egyptian media and the film industry, which often casts Nubians to play characters who come across as stupid. In addition to racism against football players, rights groups have criticised the racism prevalent among Egyptian

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Hamas and the other factions must act to stop Abbas destroying the Palestinian cause

The positions of the Palestinian factions, including that of Hamas, do not live up to the seriousness of the situation following the decision by the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian Authority to resume security cooperation with Israel. The PA announced this move at the same time that the factions were meeting in Cairo with representatives of the Fatah movement as part of the farcical “reconciliation efforts”. Condemnation and rejection of this crime, without forming a comprehensive national strategy to confront its dangers, means that these factions, including Hamas, will bear the consequences of what Abbas has done. Before getting into the details of what must be done in response to Abbas’s miserable decision, though, it is of utmost importance to review how serious it is. The decision represents a clear statement that Arab normalisation with Israel, which helps the occupation state to damage the Palestinian cause, now enjoys the support of Abbas and his authority. The evidence for this is that soon after announcing the resumption of security coordination, Abbas sent his ambassadors back to both the UAE and Bahrain. Moreover, the resumption of security cooperation — which I doubt was ever really suspended — lends credibility to my belief that Abbas

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Egypt police detain dancer for 'wearing an outfit betraying ancient heritage'

Egyptian police have detained a photographer and a dancer after they shot images outside the pyramids of Giza. Last week, Salma Elshimy posted photographs of herself in an ancient Egyptian dress in front of the Pyramid of Djoser in the Saqqara archaeological area. Local news reported that Salma, dubbed “the Saqqara girl”, exploited the cultural value of the antiquities in inappropriate Pharaonic clothes. READ: Journalist Solafa Magdy spends 1 year in Egypt prison Sources told Masrawy that she wore a black abaya while entering the area so as not to attract attention, then took it off for the photographs. Director of the Saqqara Antiquities Zone, Mohamed Youssef, said that Salma has been referred for investigation and that legal measures would be taken against her for wearing outfits that betrayed ancient heritage. Salma is a graduate of nursing from Ain Shams University. She has also published a number of videos on TikTok. Over the last several months Egyptian authorities have arrested a number of female influencers who have become known as the TikTok girls in what is seen as a crackdown on women and social media influencers.

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Turkey pauses Mediterranean oil search on further EU sanctions threat

Turkey pulled an energy exploration ship from the Eastern Mediterranean in overtures to European leaders who’ll be pondering imposing tougher sanctions on Ankara next week, Bloomberg reports. In a Twitter post yesterday, Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez confirmed the Oruc Reis survey ship was brought home. “The Oruc Reis seismic research vessel had returned from the Eastern Mediterranean to the southern port of Antalya after completing its current research activities,” he wrote. Oruç Reis Sismik Araştırma Gemimiz, 10 Ağustos’ta başladığı Demre sahasındaki iki boyutlu (2B) sismik araştırmalarını tamamladı. 10.955 km 2B sismik veri toplayan gemimiz, Antalya Limanı’na döndü. pic.twitter.com/8WWhcLQ16s — Enerji ve Tabii Kaynaklar Bakanlığı (@TCEnerji) November 30, 2020 Meanwhile, Turkey has consistently contested efforts by EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration to restrict its legitimate energy research in the Eastern Mediterranean. While warning against additional EU sanctions, Turkey has already signaled its readiness for confidence-building measures and negotiations with Greece over territorial disputes, and recently sent an envoy to Brussels in an effort to de-escalate tensions. On the other hand, European Union spokesperson Peter Stona yesterday said that the EU will assess its relations with Turkey not over one action, but on Ankara’s actions over a

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Ennahda leader defends inclusion of ex-officials of Ben Ali regime

The Chairman of Tunisia’s Ennahda movement has renewed his call for a comprehensive national reconciliation with the former regime’s officials who choose to be reintegrated in the post-revolution political scene and adhere to the new constitution. Rached Ghannouchi said that this is better than retaliation and rupture, Anadolu has reported. The Speaker of the Tunisian Parliament made his comment during a speech in parliament on Sunday. It was his response to criticism voiced by deputies following the recent appointment of Mohamed Ghariani as adviser to the Speaker in charge of reconciliation and the completion of the transitional justice file. Ghariani served as secretary general of the Democratic Constitutional Rally Party — led by former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali — from 2008 until the party’s dissolution in March 2011, following the popular revolution that overthrew Ben Ali’s regime. His appointment, explained Ghannouchi, is part of the process to provide advisers who are neutral. “Some object to this decision, but when dealing with the former regime, only two methods are usually applicable: reconciliation or revenge.”  Ghannouchi clarifies statements on France, offensive caricatures of Prophet Ennahda’s Chairman pointed out that retaliation has been seen in other Arab Spring countries, which led

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Iran moves nuclear centrifuges underground, exceeds limit by 12 times

Iran has moved a cascade of advanced centrifuges from a nuclear plant and enrichment site to an underground facility, in what is the country’s latest breach of the nuclear deal agreed upon five years ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency has said. In a report released yesterday by the IAEA, Iran was seen moving the centrifuges from the Natanz nuclear facility in Isfahan on 21 October to an underground site reportedly built to withstand aerial bombardment. The move came after an explosion at the Natanz plant in July, which Iran suspects Israel of being behind in order to cause sabotage. Following that incident, Iran informed the IAEA that it would be transferring three cascades of its advanced centrifuges from the site to an underground one. The report detailed that of those cascades, the first which consists of IR-2m machines has been installed but has not yet been filled with the uranium hexafluoride gas that centrifuges are fed with. According to an unnamed senior diplomat cited by the news agency Reuters, Iran “finished installing one of the three cascades and they have started installing a second cascade,” adding that they were not yet operational during their transferral underground. READ: Iran reveals an underground missile city Iran’s

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UAE poet barred from travel for rejecting Israel deal

A prominent Emirati poet said Sunday she was barred from travel over her opposition to her country’s decision to normalise relations with Israel, Anadolu Agency reports. Dhabiya Khamis said she was banned from boarding a Cairo-bound flight from the Dubai Airport. “The ban is probably because of my announced opinion against Zionism and normalisation,” she said on her social media accounts. “I fear for my freedom and life from being threatened and arrested,” she said. Several writers and poets have expressed support and solidarity with Khamis after being banned from travel. The female poet has earned the ire of the Emirati authorities after she described her country’s decision to normalize relations with Israel as a “sad and catastrophic day”. On Sept. 15, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed US-brokered normalisation agreements with Israel at the White House, ignoring the Palestinian rejection. READ: Palestine professor narrates his suffering inside US jails

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PA: US imposing political, economic and financial siege on Palestine

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said yesterday that the US is imposing a political, economic and financial siege on the Palestinian leadership, Anadolu reported. At the beginning of his weekly cabinet meeting, Shtayyeh said US President Donald Trump had stopped American assistance for the Palestinians and prevented some Arab states from paying funding they had pledged. He also said that this aimed at “putting pressure on the Palestinian leadership, extorting it and forcing it to barter its rights for money.” The prime minister stressed: “The people who have right on their side are strong. The one who has will or faith in his homeland, does not bargain it for money.” Shtayyeh hailed the Arab states and nations “who believe in Palestine, its right, its freedom and its independence.” Official: Abbas under pressure to talk to US

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