AL-AZHAR URGES DIALOGUE TO SOLVE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, has appealed to Russia and Ukraine to solve their conflict through dialogue. “I urge Russia and Ukraine to refer to the voice of reason,” Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, said in a statement. “Wars will only bring destruction and hatred to our world and that conflicts can only be settled by dialogue,” he added. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, days after recognising two separatist-held enclaves in eastern Ukraine. He claimed that Moscow had no plan to occupy its neighbour, but wanted to “demilitarise” and “denazify” Ukraine. While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenkskyy pledged to defend the country, the West announced sanctions against Moscow, including measures targeting Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is exerting efforts to reach a truce to stop the fighting.

TURKEY TO SEND HUMANITARIAN AID CONVOY TO UKRAINE

The Turkish Red Crescent and state-run Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) announced on February 25 that they would send a humanitarian aid convoy to Ukraine. Head of the Turkish Red Crescent Kerem Kinik posted on Twitter that the convoy will “address urgent basic needs” and “coordinate with Red Cross Ukraine.” Kinik added: “Our teams are being deployed to the region with warehousing tents, family-type tents and mobile catering vehicles,” pointing out that these materials would be given to evacuees and internally-displaced people. AFAD confirmed that five trucks of humanitarian aid, including food, blankets, bedding, hygiene materials and tents, would be sent to Ukraine with a humanitarian team. Moscow officially recognised Ukraine’s regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states earlier this week, followed by the start of a military operation in Ukraine on February 24.

SAUDI ARAMCO FINDS NEW GAS FIELDS IN 4 REGIONS

Saudi Aramco has discovered natural gas fields in four regions of the kingdom. The fields were found in the central area of the kingdom, in the Empty Quarter desert, near its northern border and in the eastern region. Saudi Arabia wants to increase gas production and boost the share of natural gas in its energy mix, replacing crude and fuel oil, to meet growing electricity consumption and to make more crude available for export. The minister said an unspecified number of fields were discovered and he mentioned five by name, without indicating in the SPA report if these were all the reservoirs that has been found. The fields he mentioned are Shadoon, in the central region, Shehab and Shurfa, in the Empty Quarter, in the southeastern region, Umm Khansar, near the northern border with Iraq, and Samna, in the eastern region. Two of the gas fields, Samna and Umm Khansar, are “non-conventional,” he said. Non-conventional deposits, also known as shale, are usually trapped in tight pore spaces, requiring special extraction techniques.

TUNISIA CALLS FOR STOPPING PRESIDENT’S SUPPRESSION OF NGOS

A number of Tunisian associations have called for confronting any attempt by the executive authorities under the grip of President Kais Saied to suppress the work of NGOs, a report said on February 25. This came in a joint statement signed by 12 NGOs and rights groups published on their Facebook pages. The statement rejected the call made by Saied to draft a law preventing NGOs from receiving funds from abroad, over claims that these NGOs are an extension to external powers. Thousands of NGOs have operated legally in Tunisia since 2011 on the condition of not accepting donations from countries that do not share diplomatic relations with Tunis, or from organisations that defend the interests and policies of those countries. “Any intervention that confiscates freedoms by the executive authorities, mainly in light of current unprecedented exceptional laws, would undermine human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the international treaties signed by Tunis,” the statement said.

Image with caption: Jeremy Corbyn has called for the immediate and unconditional recognition of the State of Palestine

CORBYN CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE UNCONDITIONAL RECOGNITION OF PALESTINE

Former head of Britain’s Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has called for the immediate and unconditional recognition of the State of Palestine. During a discussion in Parliament regarding the recognition of the State of Palestine on February 24, Corbyn asserted: “We should support the immediate and unconditional recognition of the State of Palestine.” Corbyn also tweeted a video of his speech in Parliament in which he spoke about the abuses of the Israeli settlement policy. He stated that the settlements built by the occupation have for years aimed to strip Palestinians of the homes in which they have lived for 70 or 80 years. Corbyn noted that he has personally witnessed refugees suffering profoundly due to the Israeli policies displacing them from their homes. He also talked about the occupation’s attempts to evacuate the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, and other areas in occupied Jerusalem, whose residents fled to Jerusalem after the 1948 Nakba.

MOROCCO GOVERNMENT TO SUBSIDISE CONSUMABLE MATERIALS

The Moroccan government announced on February 25 its intention to directly support certain productive social sectors and consumable materials. This came in a statement by the Presidency of the Government, following the first round of social dialogues with unions and employers, which began on February 24 and ended on February 25. According to the statement, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch expressed: The government intends during the next few days to take initiatives in order to preserve the citizen’s purchasing power through direct support of a group of productive social sectors and consumable materials. The government currently subsidises flour, sugar and butane gas canisters for domestic use. According to the statement, the prime minister and the other parties have agreed that: “Despite the difficult circumstances and the multiple and varied coercions, it is necessary to reach clear agreements within reasonable deadlines.”

HUNDREDS DEMONSTRATE IN TRIPOLI CALLING FOR ELECTIONS

Hundreds of Libyans have demonstrated in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on February 25, calling for holding elections, ending the transitional phase in the country and overthrowing the House of Representatives and the High Council of State. Reports said that hundreds of people have gathered in Martyrs’ Square in central Tripoli following an invitation by activists on social media platforms and civil society institutions to call for holding elections. The demonstrators displayed banners with phrases that read “No to extension… Yes to elections”, “No to transitional stages”, “Down with Parliament, down with the High Council of State… leave us” and “Legitimacy is for people, not for those who robbed the people.” While participating in the demonstration, political activist Salah Al-Bakush expressed: “We are all here to support the electoral process in Libya to remove the outmoded legitimacy of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State and to change the government as well.”

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