END COUP, PROSECUTE SAIED: MARZOUKI TO TUNISIANS

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has called on Tunisians to resume the revolution to end what he called the “coup” that President Kais Saied carried out against the revolution, put him on trial and restore Tunisian democracy. In a speech addressed to Tunisians on his Facebook page on the 12th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, Marzouki explained the situation that Tunisia has reached, which he described as: “A source of irony among the peoples of the world.” “The date of the anniversary of our glorious revolution is 17 December. Twelve years passed for our dreams, hopes and pains. On this day, we must remember Mohamed Bouazizi and all the people who died in the same horrible way he died, and we must remember the 308 martyrs who sacrificed their lives for us to enjoy freedom. We must remember the two thousand wounded who, unfortunately, did not get their rights, and their physical and psychological wounds still cause them all kinds of pain. We also must remember those glorious days when we became the pride of the Arab peoples,” Marzouki expressed.

AZERBAIJAN REJECTS CANADIAN STATEMENT ON KARABAKH

Criticising Armenia’s illegal activities in the region, Azerbaijan on December 18 pushed back on Canada urging it to reopen a corridor Armenia has been using to access Karabakh. “Strongly reject the biased statement by Canada’s Foreign Ministry calling on Azerbaijan to reopen the Lachin road. Canada would better aid the peace process by calling (on) Armenia to end abusing Lachin road for illegal military and economic activities, incl. transferring & planting 2021-Armenia-produced landmines in Azerbaijan,” said Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry on Twitter. Since Monday, Azerbaijani ecologists representing NGOs have been protesting Armenia’s illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Karabakh region, where Russian peacekeepers have been stationed since the aftermath of the fall 202 0 conflict in the region. Last Sunday, Azerbaijan sent a diplomatic note to Russia concerning the “illegal exploitation” and mining of natural resources in the liberated Karabakh region, as its officials had been prevented from entering the area.

TÜRKIYE CALLS ON LIBYA, EGYPT TO INITIATE DIALOGUE

Ankara is calling on Libya and Egypt to start dialogue and negotiations “as soon as possible” to resolve the differences between the two countries over the demarcation of maritime borders, Turkish diplomatic officials said on December 18. The remarks came after Libya on December 16 rejected a December 11 decision by Egypt to unilaterally demarcate its western maritime borders with neighbouring Libya with nine geographic coordinates. Stressing that the boundary line was not agreed upon through bilateral negotiations between Libya and Egypt, the officials said Türkiye favours the launching of dialogue and negotiations between Egypt and Libya as soon as possible for the delimitation of their boundary in line with international law, and, within this framework, the application of all peaceful means as stipulated in Article 33 of the UN Charter, including the International Court of Justice, on the basis of mutual consent.

IRAQ DRAFTS LAW TO BAN LGBTQ+ PUBLISHING

On 3 December, 25 Iraqi MPs, mostly belonging to Shia group Coordination Framework, which opposes influential cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who is also Shia, signed a bill proposing the criminalisation of all publishing on LGBTQ+ topics in Iraq. The proposed law would “punish” anyone who “promotes homosexuality for any reason, whether in state’s media, institutions, schools, universities, and social media platforms, books, cinemas, theatres, publications, and in public”. Individual citizens could be fined one million Iraqi dinars ($685), while government bodies and companies could be fined millions more. The bill came just days after the country’s most prominent Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, called on his millions of followers to unite to combat “the LGBTQ community, not with violence, nor with murder and threats, but with education, awareness, logic and high moral standards”. In another recent statement, he wrote: “Our goal is to acquaint, guide, and prevent them from being drawn into forbidden desires and lustful and chaotic freedom.”

MOROCCO HAILS FRANCE’S DECISION TO END VISA RESTRICTIONS

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on December 16 welcomed the French decision to end visa restrictions for Moroccan nationals. This came during a joint press conference held by Bourita in the capital, Rabat, with his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, who is visiting Morocco between 15-16 December. “There is a need to renew relations between the two countries,” Bourita announced. According to Bourita, the talks between the two sides focused: “On how to develop relations between the two countries and how to revive cooperation mechanisms.” Bourita discussed with Colonna: “Some of the challenges facing the relationship between the two countries and how to deal with them.” Colonna said that her country: “Has decided to take practical measures to regularly grant visas to Moroccans and has already begun to do so.” She announced: “French President Emmanuel Macron intends to visit Morocco soon, in the first quarter of next year.”

YEMEN WAR HAS KILLED OR MAIMED OVER 11,000 CHILDREN: UN

More than 11,000 children have been killed or maimed as a result of the war in Yemen, according to UNICEF, as the organisation called for an immediate renewal of a truce. Yemen descended into civil war in 2014, when Houthi rebels aligned with Iran seized the capital, Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognised government to flee to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh and a coalition of regional allies, chiefly the UAE, intervened in March 2015 to push the Houthis back. Seven years of fighting have failed to dislodge the Houthis who control northern Yemen and about 80 per cent of the country’s population, along with major urban centres. A UN-brokered truce collapsed in October. Since then, at least 62 children have been killed or wounded in Yemen, said UNICEF. Many of those killed have been from landmines and unexploded ordinances, with at least 74 children killed between July and September 2022 alone.

MOROCCO TO HOST NEXT CLUB WORLD CUP, SAYS FIFA

Morocco is set to host the next global football tournament in February as FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced the North African country will be the host of the Club World Cup after six weeks.

The FIFA Club World Cup has been held every year since 2005 and has been hosted by Brazil, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Qatar. Infantino also said that the tournament, which currently involves seven teams, would now be held every four years and would feature 32 teams from 2025, making it similar to the World Cup. The seven teams include the champions of every continental competition as well as the host nation’s top team. Infantino said the new format will boost FIFA revenues, and that the expected revenues for the global football association are $11 billion for the period between 2022 and 2026, without including the 2025 Club World Cup. “This 11 billion figure is without the club World Cup [in 2025]. At the end of the four years we will make even more revenues,” Infantino told a news conference.

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