Archive for April, 2016

Qatar agrees to projects worth $20m in Gaza

April 19, 2016

Qatar yesterday signed a $20 million package of new projects in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Minister of Public Works and Housing, Moffeed Al Hasina, and the Chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, Ambassador Mohammed Al-Emadi,signed the deal in Gaza City.

“Today we celebrate together the signing of a contract for a new package of projects under the $407 million Qatari grant announced by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani during his historic visit to Gaza,” Al Hasina said.

Al-Emadi said that Qatar has now spent $300 million of the $407 million grant. The new projects include the construction of the first phase of Hope City for detainees and former detainees, a rehabilitation centre in Khan Younis, in addition to the supply and installation of medical equipment for the Hamad Rehabilitation and Prosthetics Hospital.

Al Hasina explained that Qatar had previously funded the reconstruction of 1,000 destroyed housing units and expressed his hope over the renewed support for the reconstruction of 1,000 more housing units as part of the $1 billion grant pledged by the State of Qatar during the donors’ conference in Cairo.

According to Al Hasina, 30 per cent of the money pledged during the Sharm El-Sheikh conference has reached the Gaza Strip, while hundreds more families are still living in caravans.

He stressed the need for an immediate end to the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and the unconditional access to all materials and equipment needed for reconstruction in order to bring life and hope back to the besieged territory.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


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Iran’s new aerial drone makes maiden flight

by Carlo Munoz

Tehran (UPI)

Apr 12, 2016

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, on Tuesday unveiled its newest aerial surveillance drone during large-scale military exercises in the western part of the country.

Iranian media reports the drone, named “Hamasseh” or “Epic” in English, conducted its first ever surveillance flights during the exercise in Sistan and Baluchestan Province in western Iran. The drone flew as part of a three-plane formation and carried out several high-altitude reconnaissance flights, Iranian news outlet Press TV.

The Iranian military’s smaller, tactical Mojahr-1 and Ababil-5 drones as well as the high-altitude Shahed-129 surveillance drone flew alongside the Hamasseh during the exercises, IRGC’s Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said.

Aside from long-range surveillance operations, the drone is also reportedly designed to carry out airstrikes as part of its anticipated multimission package.

The drone will continue to see action during the exercise in Kerman, South Khorasan and Homozgan, Pakpour added. The drills are expected to wrap up on April 14th.

On Monday, Tehran announced the first tranche of Russian-built S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems are en route to the Iranian military. The weapons transited to Iran via the Caspian Sea arriving this week, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Jaberi Ansari said Monday.

Source: Space War.


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Turkmen demand representation in new Iraqi cabinet

Sunday, 03 April 2016

Turkmen lawmakers on Saturday demanded to be represented in Iraq’s new cabinet, saying that a lack of representation will create “crises.”

“During our meeting with the prime minister and the leaders of political blocs, we did not sense any desire to enlist a Turkmen figure among the cabinet’s candidates,” Arshad Salehi, a Turkmen MP, said during a press conference at the parliament.

Salehi, who was joined by other Turkmen MPs, also said that the Turkmen community has qualified candidates that the government should consider.

Turkmen are represented by nine MPs and had only held one ministerial post (Ministry of Human Rights) in the past. That ministry was later canceled by Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi.

Meanwhile, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, said in a separate press conference that the prime minister of the new government needs to be “independent.”

The Iraqi parliament set 10 days before voting on Al-Abadi’s new proposed cabinet.

On Thursday, prominent Shia leader Muqtada Al-Sadr announced the end to sit-ins organized by his supporters in front of the Green Zone in central Baghdad.

Al-Sadr’s move came after Al-Abadi submitted his new cabinet line-up to parliament. Al-Sadr had warned that his bloc in parliament would vote to withdraw confidence from Al-Abadi if the latter failed to appoint a new government.

Al-Sadr’s “Ahrar” bloc holds 34 seats in the 328-seat body.

Last summer, Iraq’s parliament approved a sweeping raft of reforms proposed by Al-Abadi.

The reforms were aimed at meeting popular demands to eliminate government corruption and streamline state bureaucracy.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


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Iraq PM pushes back against deadline for new cabinet

Baghdad (AFP)

March 29, 2016

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called Tuesday for parliament to support or reject his calls for a technocratic government, pushing back against a looming deadline for a new cabinet line-up.

“It is not wise to present a ministerial line-up that faces rejection by parliament,” Abadi said in televised remarks, calling on lawmakers to clarify their position.

Parliament must decide if it wants him “to present ministers from the political blocs or to present technocratic ministers from outside the blocs,” said Abadi.

Abadi has repeatedly called for the current cabinet of party-affiliated ministers to be replaced with technocrats, but has faced resistance from powerful blocs and their ministers who rely on ministries for patronage and financial gain.

Lawmakers voted to give the embattled premier until Thursday to present a new cabinet line-up, with the speaker’s office terming it “the final deadline”.

With his remarks on Tuesday, the premier apparently aimed to put the onus back on parliament, leaving it up to lawmakers to act so the process can move forward.

Abadi is also under pressure from powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose has orchestrated an 11-day sit-in at entrances to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where the government is headquartered.

Sadr had warned his supporters would storm the Green Zone if Abadi failed to present a line-up of technocrats.

But buying Abadi a little more time, Sadr entered the Green Zone alone on Sunday, asking his supporters to remain outside the perimeter.

Iraq withdrew significant forces involved in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group, which overran large areas in 2014, in order to increase security in Baghdad during the protests, according to military officers.

Abadi implicitly called for Sadr’s sit-in to end on security grounds, saying the country’s forces were under “major pressure”.

“We call on all our people and their political forces to consider that and reduce the pressure on the armed forces,” the premier said.

The scion of an influential clerical family from the holy city of Najaf, Sadr first made a name for himself at the age of 30 as a vociferous anti-American cleric who raised a rebellion.

His influence ebbed after the 2011 US pullout but he retained strong support among the lower classes and is now casting himself as the champion of the fight against graft.

Source: Space War.


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