ROHINGYA MARK 5TH ‘GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE DAY’ IN B’DESH CAMPS

The Rohingya Muslims living in sprawling camps in Bangladesh’s southern border district of Cox’s Bazar on August 25 staged rallies to mark the fifth anniversary of “Genocide Remembrance Day.” More than 1.2 million Rohingya, the majority of whom fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar on August 25, 2017, have marked the day by staging rallies in 12 of the 34 camps to raise awareness of their plight and remind the international community of pledges for their safe repatriation to Rakhine State. They presented seven demands to the international community, including justice for Rohingya genocide victims, restoration of citizenship rights, repeal of Myanmar’s controversial 1982 Citizenship Law that has been used to deny Rohingya citizenship in their home country, repatriation, compensation for property destruction, and safety guarantee under UN supervision after repatriation.

OMAN REFUSES TO OPEN AIRSPACE TO ISRAEL

Oman has reportedly refused to open its airspace to Israeli commercial flights due to pressure from Iran, despite other Gulf states having opened theirs amid growing relations with Tel Aviv. According to a report by Israel Hayom, Oman decided to keep its airspace closed to Israeli flights, a week after the chief executive of Israel’s carrier El Al – Dina Ben-Tal – said that Tel Aviv would receive official permission from Muscat to use its airspace. Muscat’s decision to keep its airspace closed to Israeli flights would be the main obstacle preventing Tel Aviv’s plans to utilise its planned flight corridor over the Gulf to save time and fuel. Instead, the airlines will have to continue passing over the Red Sea and around the Gulf region during flights. The Israeli newspaper’s report of Oman’s apparent decision came on the same day that the Omani and Iranian foreign ministers held a phone call to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues.

KUWAIT TO LAY OFF 750,000 EGYPT WORKERS

Kuwait has announced that it will lay off 250,000 Egyptian workers next month and suspend all contracts with non-nationals. Some 500,000 further Egyptian workers will lose their jobs over the next year as the Gulf country seeks to remove all expatriate workers across sectors. Egyptians make up around 24 per cent of the total workforce in Kuwait, making them the largest expatriate group in the country. In 2020 Kuwait’s parliament proposed a draft law to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country with the aim of getting the number of Egyptians down to 10 per cent. The law stipulated that government agencies should not renew the residencies of foreign workers. The decision to lay off 750,000 Egyptian workers has come as the cost of living across the world has soared and many families have struggled to buy basic goods. Egypt’s unemployment rate hit 7.2 per cent this year.

RAGING FLOODS KILL ANOTHER 34 ACROSS PAKISTAN

Swirling floods inundated more districts and towns across Pakistan, killing another 34 people over the past 24 hours, officials and local media reported on August 26. Swollen rivers, streams and dams burst their banks and swept through hundreds of houses, buildings and dozens of bridges, and roads in southwestern, northwestern and southern Pakistan, disconnecting several major cities, including a provincial capital, from the rest of the country. The latest casualties bring the total number of casualties since June 14 to 937, with nearly 1,400 injured across Pakistan, mostly in Sindh and Balochistan. Authorities fear an increase in the death toll as hundreds of people are still missing, mainly in the mountainous regions of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister and Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan was granted pre-arrest bail on August 25 by an Anti-Terrorism Court in Islamabad. In his speech during a rally on August 20, Khan said he will take legal action against Islamabad’s police chief, and a judicial official who ordered two-day physical remand of his former chief of staff, Shehbaz Gill.

AZERBAIJAN TAKES FULL CONTROL OF LACHIN CITY OF KARABAKH

The Azerbaijani army has been deployed to the strategic city of Lachin in Karabakh, the country’s President Ilham Aliyev announced on August 26. “Today, on 26 August, we – the Azerbaijanis – have returned to the city of Lachin,” Aliyev said on Twitter. “Azerbaijan’s Army is now stationed in the city of Lachin. The villages of Zabukh and Sus were taken under control,” he added. Aliyev also congratulated all the residents of Lachin and the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion. A video on social media showed that Azerbaijan’s flag has been raised on a building in the city centre of Lachin. Accompanied by a group of soldiers, Maj. Gen. Kanan Seyidov, the commander of the army corps, said that the Azerbaijani army has taken full control of the city of Lachin, as well as Zabukh and Sus villages – the areas occupied by the Armenian army in 1992.

Image with caption: Rights groups say Sheikh Saleh al Talib was arrested after he delivered a sermon critical of the government’s entertainment industry regulator

FORMER IMAM OF MAKKAH’S GRAND MOSQUE JAILED FOR 10 YEARS

A Saudi court has reportedly sentenced a former imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah to 10 years in prison. The Specialised Criminal Appeals Court in Riyadh sentenced Sheikh Saleh al Talib to prison after overturning a previous acquittal, US-based rights group Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn) said on August 22.  Saudi authorities first detained Talib in 2018, which came after he delivered a sermon criticising the General Entertainment Authority, a government body in-charge of regulating the entertainment industry. He condemned concerts and events that he said broke away from the country’s religious and cultural norms. His arrest comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues his drive to ‘reform’ Saudi society and ‘diversify’ the Gulf kingdom’s oil-dependent economy. Since MBS assumed de facto power as crown prince, rights groups allege authorities have arrested dozens of several prominent scholars and imams who are critical of his reform agenda.

CIA FINDS NO EVIDENCE TO BAN PALESTINIAN NGOS AS ‘TERROR’ GROUPS

A classified CIA report has revealed that no evidence has been found to support Israel’s decision to label six prominent Palestinian NGOs as “terrorist organisations”. The agency was apparently handed intelligence by the Israelis about its designation earlier this year, but has dismissed the occupation state’s claims about the Palestinian groups and concluded that the material investigated did not show any evidence to support the Israeli position. US President Joe Biden and his administration is now under pressure to make its position clear on the issue, especially as numerous countries, including allies of Israel, have rejected the terror designation of the Palestinian human right groups. The US, however, has not criticised or questioned Israel’s position publicly, despite there being no evidence to support the “terrorist” claim.

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