US LAWMAKERS CALL FOR MORE OVERSIGHT OF AID TO GULF STATES
A bipartisan group of lawmakers on September 7 urged the Biden administration to take further measures to ensure US military support to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates does not contribute to civilian casualties in Yemen. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee sent letters to the State Department and Pentagon in response to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found the US had failed to determine how its aid to Gulf allies was linked to civilian casualties. “We urge you to review whether or not the Saudi and Emirati governments are taking the necessary precautions to prevent harm to civilians in Yemen,” the letters said. “If either are found to be in violation, we urge State to halt all arms sales to either country until it can verify they are taking steps to protect civilians.” Meanwhile, the US military’s Central Command is working on plans to open a new testing facility in Saudi Arabia, NBC News reported on September 9, citing three unidentified US defence officials.
RUDY GIULIANI WENT ON ISLAMOPHOBIC RANT, NEW BOOK CLAIMS
Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor and confidant of US President Donald Trump, lashed out with Islamophobic comments during a dinner party, according to a report citing a new book, Holding the Line: Inside the Nation’s Preeminent US Attorney’s Office and its Battle with the Trump Justice Department. At a 2016 dinner, an inebriated Giuliani mistook a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke for a Muslim and called out: “I’m sorry to have tell you this, but the founder of your religion is a murderer,” according to the new book by Geoffrey Berman, a former US attorney for the southern district of New York (SDNY). Giuliani went on to share a “wholly inaccurate, alt-right history of the creation and development of Islam, stating that it was an inherently violent religion from its origins to today”, Berman writes. The former New York mayor pulled his phone out to guests and “showed the group drawings of violent acts purportedly committed by Muslims”. “It was unbelievable,” Berman said. “Rudy was unhinged. A pall fell over the room.”
TUNISIA’S FRONT ANNOUNCES BOYCOTT OF DECEMBER ELECTIONS
The National Salvation Front in Tunisia (NSFT) on September 7 announced that it will boycott the legislative elections scheduled to be held in December, describing the authority supervising the elections as “not neutral”. The head of the NSFT, Ahmed Najib Chebbi, said in a press conference in the capital, Tunis, that “the elections will be held under the supervision of an authority that has been revealed not to be neutral, but rather loyal to the state authority… and cannot gain the trust of Tunisians.” “For all these reasons, the NSFT decided not to engage with this coup and to resist its institutions.” On May 31, Chebbi announced the establishment of the National Salvation Front, which included five parties: Ennahda, the Heart of Tunisia, Dignity Coalition, Movement Party, and Al Amal, in addition to the Citizens Against the Coup campaign and several MPs.
NON-OIL EXPORTS TO NEIGHBOURING STATES SURGE SINCE MARCH: IRAN
Iran’s non-oil exports to neighbouring countries have surged in the five months since the start of the Persian calendar year on 20 March. There has been a 27 per cent year-on-year increase to $10.7 billion, according to government figures. The spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Association (IRICA), Ruholah Latifi, said that more than 33.3 million tonnes of non-oil goods worth $20.6bn were exchanged between Iran and fifteen of its neighbours in the same period. Iran’s overall trade in non-oil goods was worth $42.5 billion. Latifi also pointed out that after Iraq, which imported 8.6 million tonnes of non-oil goods from Iran worth over $2.9 billion, the UAE was next in value at $2.7 billion, followed by Turkiye with $2.3 billion in imports. The UAE and Kuwait agreed last month to send their ambassadors back to Tehran, after a six-year hiatus in downgraded ties with the Islamic Republic.
CANADA AGREES TO RESETTLE AFGHANS HELD IN UAE FACILITY
Canada will accept some 1,000 Afghans who fled the Taliban takeover of their homeland and have been held for months in a makeshift refugee centre in the United Arab Emirates, awaiting resettlement to the United States and elsewhere, a report said on September 8. Ottawa has agreed to a US request to resettle some of the 5,000 Afghans still in Emirates Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi, and Canadian officials were now reviewing cases to identify those who meet Ottawa’s resettlement criteria. Canada’s criteria for resettlement of those from the facility include religious minorities, single women, civil servants, social activists and journalists, the reported added.
IRAN CALLS ON ARAB LEAGUE TO FOCUS ON ISRAEL’S CRIMES NOT ON TEHRAN
The Arab League states have a “lack of understanding” of regional developments and “what is going on in the region”, the spokesperson of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on September 8. Nasser Kanaani was responding to a statement released by the Arab League foreign ministers following their meeting earlier this week in which they criticised the Islamic Republic for interfering in the internal affairs of Arab states. “The issuance of such statements reflects the lack of understanding, by the signatory countries, on the developments of regional events and the reality of what is going on in the region,” Kanaani said. He advised that the Arab League states to “focus on the crimes of the Zionist entity against the Palestinian people, instead of repeating these accusations that lack any value,” noting that the Arab League’s statement “contradicts the attempts by some signatory countries to improve their relations with Iran.”
THOUSANDS OF SYRIANS MIGRATED FROM TURKIYE TO EUROPE
About 25,000 Syrians have migrated from Turkiye to European Union countries over the past few months due to rising anti-refugee rhetoric in Turkiye, Turkish media reported. TGRT said as many as 10,000 Syrians travelled legally to countries in the European Union through a resettlement project, in addition to 15,000 Syrians who travelled through other means. The rising anti-immigrant rhetoric and calls for the deportation of refugees from Turkiye have prompted thousands of Syrians to seek ways to leave the country. The number of asylum seekers arriving in Europe increased over the first five months of 2022, compared to the same period last year. Some 86,420 Syrian asylum seekers arrived in EU member states between January and late May, an increase of 82 per cent compared to the same period last year.
SUDAN ACCUSED OF TRYING TO ‘BURY THE TRUTH’ WITH MASS GRAVES
The families of those missing after three years of political unrest in Sudan are to meet government officials to discuss how to bury more than 3,000 unclaimed bodies in the country’s mortuaries. Last week, the government announced plans to dig mass graves as Sudan’s senior public prosecutor said mortuaries were overcrowded, many remains were decaying and they needed to be cleared. But the move angered families and campaigners who said it would “bury the truth”, eliminating any remaining evidence about the pro-democracy protesters presumed to have been killed by paramilitaries during and after the 2018 uprising and 2019 coup that ousted former president Omar al-Bashir. In May, authorities closed down a hospital morgue in the capital, Khartoum, after more than 1,000 bodies were found to be decaying in the heat. Officials said another 1,300 bodies were being kept in two other Khartoum hospitals.