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Zimbabwe soldiers patrol streets after deadly protests

Soldiers patrolled city streets in Zimbabwe on Tuesday, as confrontations with angry civilians threatened to boil over a day after violent protests against a fuel price hike led to the death of three people, including a police officer. One of the dead was a police officer who was stoned to death by protesters in the city of…

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Zimbabwe soldiers patrol streets after deadly protests

Soldiers patrolled city streets in Zimbabwe on Tuesday, as confrontations with angry civilians threatened to boil over a day after violent protests against a fuel price hike led to the death of three people, including a police officer.

One of the dead was a police officer who was stoned to death by protesters in the city of Bulawayo, while two people died during protests in Chitungwiza, a town south of the capital Harare, and Kadoma, a town 141km to the west, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

In Harare and Bulawayo, banks, schools, businesses and the stock market remained shut as many residents stayed at home on the second day of a three-day general strike. 

Most shops remained closed and minibus taxis that usually transport workers from the suburbs to the Harare city centre were not running.

Security forces have also been deployed to stave off further demonstrations, witnesses told Reuters, and people in Harare said they could no longer access the internet.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said she was not aware of an internet shutdown and Zimbabwe’s three mobile telecoms firms had no immediate comment.

The latest unrest followed sharp increases in fuel prices decreed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa five months after post-election violence during which six people died when the army intervened to quell trouble.

Zimbabweans accuse Mnangagwa of failing to live up to pre-election promises to kick-start growth, having seen their purchasing power eroded by rampant inflation.

The government more than doubled petrol prices at the weekend after months of shortages that saw drivers queuing for hours to fill up. Essentials such as bread and medicines have also been scarce.

As security forces faced accusations of heavy-handedness and more protests threatened to break out, Labour Minister Sekai Nzenza said public workers would get a monthly supplement of between 5 and 23 percent of their salaries from January to March while wage negotiations with unions continued.

‘Needless loss of lives’

Opposition politician Jacob Mafume denounced the “needless loss of lives” during the protests. 

“Many have been injured, some of them seriously,” Mafume said.

On Monday, the police dispersed hundreds of protesters who burned tyres, erected barricades and looted businesses on the first day of the general strike.

Mnangagwa, who is on an official visit in Moscow, said Zimbabwe was interested in receiving Russian loans and might need Russia’s help in modernising its army, RIA news agency reported.

The president has also promised a clean break from the repressive regime of his long-time predecessor Robert Mugabe, who was forced out in a de facto coup in November 2017.

But critics accused Mnangagwa of resorting to Mugabe-style tactics to contain the current unrest.

“We are suffering. Mnangagwa has failed this country. Enough is enough, we no longer want this,” protester Takura Gomba said in Warren Park, a Harare township, while retreating with others as soldiers approached in trucks.

A human rights lawyers’ group said it had received reports of soldiers and police breaking into homes in townships overnight and assaulting suspected demonstrators.

Military and police spokespeople said they could not comment for the time being.

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Saudi Arabia issues calming statement as Lebanese tensions rise over port explosion case

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the Kingdom “cares for Lebanon’s security, stability, institutions and co-existence between Christians and Muslims.” The Saudi embassy’s media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of strife, nor for one that goes against Lebanon’s Arab identity.” This was…

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Saudi Arabia issues calming statement as Lebanese tensions rise over port explosion case

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the Kingdom “cares for Lebanon’s security, stability, institutions and co-existence between Christians and Muslims.”

The Saudi embassy’s media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of strife, nor for one that goes against Lebanon’s Arab identity.”

This was the first Saudi statement since the bloody clashes in Tayouneh on Oct. 14.

At least seven people were killed in the violence in Beirut amid a protest organized by Hezbollah and its allies against the lead judge probing last year’s blast at the city’s port.

The protestors, gathered by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, demanded the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar from the investigation.

According to the embassy’s statement, Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian “expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for never abandoning Lebanon and its people, despite the unfair stances against the Kingdom by some Lebanese parties that only represent themselves.”

Sheikh Derian added that “the Saudi-Lebanese relations have always been and will remain solid regardless of any offensive speeches because our relations are above these speeches and Saudi Arabia will always see Lebanon as an Arab brotherly country.”

The statement comes after the Intelligence Directorate summoned the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, to the Defense Ministry on Wednesday as part of the investigation into the bloodshed in Tayouneh.

The summoning was the motivation for Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi’s spontaneous visits on Tuesday to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun.

Al-Rahi denounced “the summoning of Geagea only by the Intelligence Directorate to testify.”

Charles Jabbour from the Lebanese Forces party told Arab News that “Geagea will not appear at the Defense Ministry on Wednesday.

“They should start with summoning Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah. All parties should give testimonies, beginning with the party that called for the demonstration. Only when a judge dares to summon Nasrallah, will we be able to talk about a state and a judiciary in Lebanon.”

The move to summon Geagea was condemned by several political figures.

Former Premier Saad Hariri refused “to engage in an absurd conflict and the frontlines of a civil war and sectarian divisions.”

He added: “Announcing that Dr. Geagea was informed to appear before the Intelligence Directorate via a plastered notification is absurd and leads the country into further division along with using state machinery for revenge politics.”

Former Premier Fouad Siniora also denounced “the bias of the judicial authorities in the military court over the deplorable Tayouneh events and the continuing violations of the constitutions by those who were entrusted with the task of preserving and protecting it.”

Siniora rejected “the practices seeking to use the judiciary for reprisals against political opponents, and not for its main mission: To seek the truth and achieve justice.”

Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat criticized the “selectivity instead of a transparent and just investigation for a comprehensive justice.”

He said: “All those who fired shots in the Tayouneh events should be arrested, without discrimination, and this destructive and futile political dispute must be ended.”

Samy Gemayel, head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, announced his rejection to “all the means Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have resorted to in hampering the investigation into the Beirut port blast.”

Hezbollah accused Geagea of firing the first shot on Oct. 14 at the demonstrators who penetrated the anti-Hezbollah and Christian-majority Ain Remaneh area.

Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who is also a defendant in the Beirut port explosion investigation, visited Sheikh Derian on Tuesday, reiterating his demand “to either lift immunity from everyone without exception, or adopt the legal and constitutional mechanisms in force in the Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers.”

So far, all the politicians who have been accused of being involved in the Beirut port blast have declined to appear before Judge Bitar.

Amal Movement and Hezbollah ministers have refused to attend Cabinet sessions unless Judge Bitar is removed and the investigations into Tayouneh are halted, causing a governmental paralysis at a time when Lebanon is in desperate need of reforms to unblock the international aid that would lessen its dire economic situation.

Prime Minister Mikati hoped on Tuesday that “Cabinet meetings will resume as soon as possible to make the decisions required to activate the work of commissions and committees and do what is needed from the government.”

Mikati added that he hoped his government would supervise “the parliamentary elections with full integrity, to enable these elections to renew the political life in Lebanon.”

The joint parliamentary committees held a session on Tuesday and voted to keep the electoral law as it was, thus rejecting Aoun’s proposal to make amendments.

Aoun had objected to holding the elections on March 27 and to the proposals to change the expatriate voting formula by canceling the six seats allocated for Lebanese voters who live abroad.

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Damascus bookshops disappear as crisis hits culture

LONDON: A former Iranian air force pilot exiled in Turkey has said he still feels unsafe after a failed kidnapping attempt last month. Mehrdad Abdarbashi, a former helicopter pilot who defected from the military when he was ordered to fight in Syria, had previously tried to resign from the armed forces, but Tehran rejected his…

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Damascus bookshops disappear as crisis hits culture

LONDON: A former Iranian air force pilot exiled in Turkey has said he still feels unsafe after a failed kidnapping attempt last month.

Mehrdad Abdarbashi, a former helicopter pilot who defected from the military when he was ordered to fight in Syria, had previously tried to resign from the armed forces, but Tehran rejected his resignation and seized his passport.

In 2018, he said he received orders to be deployed to Syria on behalf of the Assad regime and decided it was time to flee Iran.

“It was the first time I was being deployed there, and I refused because I did not want to be involved in a proxy war going on there,” he told Al Jazeera.

He is now in hiding in eastern Turkey, and was recently targeted by two Iranian agents who tried to drug and kidnap him.

Turkish intelligence, which had been in contact with Abdarbashi, foiled the plot. The Iranian agents were charged with espionage and conspiracy to commit a crime in a Turkish court earlier this month.

But Abdarbashi said he still fears the Iranian regime will reach him despite Ankara’s protection.

“I don’t think I am safe in any city in Turkey right now. I think Iranian intelligence will come after me, and this time they won’t try to kidnap me, this time they will just kill me,” he said.

“Of course, Turkish police and intelligence are still looking after me. But I still think Iranian agents will somehow reach me.”

Iranian exiles in Turkey are often targeted by Tehran’s agents, who try to kidnap them to bring them back to the Islamic Republic.

In June 2020, Eisa Bazyar, a writer critical of the Iranian regime, was forced into a car in western Turkey and held for two days before he managed to escape.

The following November, Habib Chaab, an Iranian dissident with Swedish citizenship, was seized as he transited through an Istanbul airport.

For a period of time, it appeared that Ankara was complying with and even directly cooperating with Tehran’s attempts to kidnap foreign dissidents and bring them back to Iran.

In two cases, Ankara assisted with the capture and deportation of men sentenced to death for their role in anti-regime protests.

But last year’s war between Azerbaijan — perhaps the nation with the closest ties to Ankara — and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh appears to have prompted a cooling in relations between Turkey and Iran. Their opposing sides in the Syrian conflict has also proved a more subtle bone of contention.

As relations between the two large Middle Eastern states — which share a long border and have a centuries-old history of Persian-Turkic competition — have declined, Ankara’s cooperation with Iranian intelligence operations on Turkish soil appears to have ceased.

In February this year, Turkish police arrested an Iranian diplomat at the Istanbul consulate in connection with the assassination of spy-turned-dissident Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in November 2019. 

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Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times   Click above icon to download full news paper   The post Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times

 

Click above icon to download full news paper

 

The post Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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