US VIEWING SITUATION IN WEST BANK AS APARTHEID?

Senior US officials are closer than ever to viewing Israel’s occupation as apartheid, a report said on December 2. A wall-to-wall consensus exists within the international human rights community over Israel’s practice of the crime of apartheid. But until now no Western government has backed the findings of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW). In the frenzied discussions underway between Washington and Tel Aviv over the formation of the far-right Israeli government, the Occupation State was cautioned that a situation in which the Israeli occupation’s control of the West Bank would be seen as apartheid was now “closer and more real than ever.” The comment was made in response to the transfer of Civil Administration of the occupied West Bank to Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich. Moreover, the UN General Assembly has approved a resolution to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, a term used to describe the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

AZERBAIJAN SLAMS NEW FRENCH PARLIAMENTARY RESOLUTION

Slamming a new French resolution on what Paris calls “aggression” against Armenia, Azerbaijan on December 1 called the move “another provocation by France against Azerbaijan.” “The false and slanderous anti-Azerbaijan resolution adopted in the lower chamber (National Assembly) of the French Parliament on November 30, 2022 is another provocation by France against Azerbaijan, similar to the recent resolution adopted in the Senate,” said an Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry statement. The statement says the resolution “aims to undermine the process of normalisation of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as efforts to establish peace and stability in the region.” The statement added, “This resolution, contrary to the norms and principles of international law, once again clearly demonstrates France’s biased political position, and its inability to act as an impartial and fair mediator.” According to a statement issued by Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, it summoned Julien Le Lan, the chargé d’affaires of the French Embassy in Baku, and protested the “false and slanderous” resolution against Azerbaijan adopted by the lower house of the French parliament.

OUTRAGE OVER ‘ANTI-MUSLIM TRUCK’ CIRCLING MOSQUES IN NEW JERSEY

A mobile billboard truck emblazoned with anti-Muslim images that drove around the state of New Jersey and parked outside at least three Islamic centres last weekend was a deliberate attempt to intimidate and demonise the community, Muslim activists and community leaders said on December 2. According to the Council for American Islamic Relations, New Jersey (Cair-NJ), a mobile billboard truck entered the parking lot of the Muslim Centre of Middlesex County in Piscataway and the New Brunswick Islamic Centre last Saturday, broadcasting video and photos from the horrific Mumbai attacks in India that killed at least 175 people in late November 2008. According to the report, the truck also stopped outside the Muslim Community of New Jersey Masjid in Fords, where it parked outside the entrance of the mosque and flashed scenes of explosions, names and faces of suspects responsible for the attacks and other messages of hate for 45 minutes, activists said. One of the signs on the rotating billboard read: “Mumbai 26/11: We won’t forgive. We won’t forget.”

TUNISIA’S UGTT UNION REJECTS DECEMBER GENERAL ELECTION

The head of Tunisia’s powerful labour union on December 3 spoke up against the general election called for by President Kais Saied and set for later this month. “We no longer accept the current path because of its ambiguity and individual rule, and the unpleasant surprises it hides for the fate of the country and democracy,” UGTT’s leader Noureddine Taboubi said in a speech to thousands of supporters. With more than one million members, the UGTT is the country’s most powerful union and, until recently, it has largely avoided directly opposing Saied. “We will not hesitate to defend rights and freedoms whatever the cost,” added Taboubi, in his strongest criticism yet of the president. Speaking to union members at a rally, Taboubi said that the election expected to be held on 17 December will “have neither taste nor colour” due to Saied’s constitution that was not “approved by a majority”.

SUDANESE RIVALS SCHEDULE FINAL POLITICAL AGREEMENT

Sudanese civilian and military rivals will sign a political framework agreement on December 5, the Sudanese Sovereign Council said. The agreement will include the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the rebel coalition of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (RSF). The FFC said the agreement will be the base for civilian rule and the formation of a transitional government. “The forces that signed the political declaration recently had a meeting on Friday with Army General Abdul Fattah Alburahn and the head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (Hmemedti) amid wide regional and international presence and discussed the final touches of the political agreement that would be signed on Monday,” the FFC said in a statement. The meeting was brokered by the UN, EU, African Union, US, UK, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

US APPROVES ANTI-DRONE SYSTEM SALE TO QATAR WORTH $1BN

The US State Department has approved the potential sale of a $1bn anti-drone system to Qatar, the pentagon said on November 29. “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the statement said. Qatar has also been waiting for a response from the US on a request it made more than a year ago to buy four armed MQ-9B Predator drones, as part of an estimated $600m deal to boost their defensive capabilities. Qatar is home to Al Udeid, a US air base and the forward operating headquarters of all US forces in the Middle East, also known as Centcom. Qatar’s designation as a major non-Nato ally placed it among the ranks of Bahrain and Kuwait as one of the few Gulf states with the title, giving Doha preferential access to US military equipment and technology, free surplus material, and prioritised cooperation on training.

MALAYSIA’S ANWAR PICKS 2 DEPUTIES AMONG 27 CABINET MEMBERS

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced 27-member cabinet on December 2. Two among the cabinet members will have the status of deputy prime minister, Anwar told a news conference in capital Kuala Lumpur. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, chairman of National Front, or Barisan Nasional (BN) and Fadillah Yusof of Sarawak Parties Alliance (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) are the two deputy prime ministers. Ahmad Zahid is president of the United Malays National Organisation (UNMO) which is part of the BN – the alliance which has proven pivotal to form the unity government. Besides being the chief executive of the Southeast Asian nation, Anwar will himself retain the portfolio of finance ministry while Ahmad Zahid will be rural and regional development minister. Fadillah has been given plantation industries and commodities minister portfolio. Anwar, 75, was sworn-in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister last month.

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