The Middle East English Language Press. What They Are Saying.


Pro-Israel Kurdish Journalist’s abduction, Iran denies involvement.

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region, Iraq. – A source says that Mawloud Afand, [seen here on the left] the Kurdish journalist who disappeared without a trace a month ago, was abducted from Sulaimaniyah and is now in Tehran. The editor-in-chief of Israel-Kurd magazine, Mawloud Afand visited Sulaimaniyah on June 8; later that day, both his cell phones were turned off. Dawood Baghestani, founder of the Israel-Kurd Institute, immediately pointed a finger at Itlaat, the Iranian secret service agency. In a statement, Baghestani suggested that Afand was abducted by Itlaat, which has an office in Sulaimaniyah, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). A source among the activists investigating Afand’s disappearance told Rudaw, “Afand was arrested in Sulaimaniyah and is in Tehran now.” However, no official statement or entity has confirmed this information.

U. S. Clinton is taunted by chants of “Monica” in Egypt.

(AGI) Alexandria – Demonstrators threw shoes and tomatoes at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s motorcade and chanted “Monica, Monica. ” The protesters were referring to Ms. Monica Lewinsky, who was said to have had an affair with the then U.S. President Bill Clinton.The protest seems to have been triggered by the suspicions that Washington had helped Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, win elections in Egypt. U.S. Secretary of State firmly said “I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which, of course, we cannot.” Mrs. Clinton was in Alexandria, her last stop in Egypt, to reopen the U.S. consulate, which was closed in 1993.

Hezbollah delegation visits Cuba, Venezuela, meets officials.

A Hezbollah delegation visited Cuba and Venezuela last week and met with a number of parliamentarians and officials, the party’s press office said Wednesday. The visit came in response to an official invitation by the head of International Relations Division of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, José Ramon Balaguer. At one point, the delegation, which comprised Loyalty to the Resistance Party MP Nawwar Sahili and head of Hezbollah’s International Relations Department Ammar Musawi, visited the Santa Clara tomb of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentinean Marxist revolutionary icon, where they laid a wreath. Musawi was quoted by the Hezbollah press office as having praised the “Cuban experience in resisting American hegemony,” which he held up as “a model for all countries and peoples in how to challenge policies of hegemony, arrogance and plunder.” The Hezbollah official also commended Cuba’s historical stances in defending the Arabs’ rights in their conflict with the “Zionist enemy” and the country’s support for the Palestinian cause. He also participated in the Sao Paolo gathering for international leftist parties and forces in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 3 and 4, in which many issues of international concern were discussed. Musawi met with several participants, including Venezuelan Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs David Velasquez, with whom the Hezbollah MP discussed his party’s view of regional development and what he described as the “vicious attack on Syria.”

Saudi Arabia donates $100 million to Palestinian Authority.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – President Abbas on Sunday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to donate $100 million to the Palestinian Authority, official news agency Wafa reported. Ramallah prime minister Salam Fayyad applauded King Abdullah for arranging the contribution through Saudi’s ministry of finance. The transfer, described by Palestinian officials as imminent, will only partially defray the Authority’s some $300 million in expenditures this month. But officials in Ramallah are seeking the support of yet more countries to patch a budget deficit projected at over $1 billion for 2012. “This $100 million is important and significant because it’s coming from a leading Arab state, and this hopefully can be an example for other countries to follow,” Ghassan Khatib, a government spokesman, told Reuters. “We will remain in need of external funding. Whenever it is affected, then we will be in crisis,” he said. Amid a downturn in productive sectors and with its economic and commercial prospects hamstrung by Israeli restrictions, the PA is deeply dependent on foreign aid to pay its bills. Of a hoped-for $1.1 billion in donor funds in 2011, the Western-backed Authority in Ramallah received just under $750 million. Several factors coalesced last year to leave the Palestinians out of pocket: a global financial downturn, a freeze in Israeli-managed customs duty as West Bank officials sought unity with Hamas in Gaza, and an aid freeze by the United States following the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations last year. But with Saudi Arabia’s aid offer, Palestinians may hope for an end to the shortfall in pledges by traditional Arab benefactors, wrought in part by attention to domestic unrest and spending during the Arab Spring last year…

Iran shuts down coffee shops in morality crackdown.

(Ma’an News Agency)  – Iranian police shut down dozens of restaurants and coffee shops over the weekend, Iranian media reported, in a renewed crackdown on what the state sees as immoral and un-Islamic behavior. Regular officers and members of the “morality police” raided 87 cafes and restaurants in a single district of the capital Tehran on Saturday and arrested women for flouting the Islamic dress code, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “These places were shut for not following Islamic values, providing hookah to women, and lacking proper licenses,” said Tehran police official Alireza Mehrabi, according to ISNA. Women are not allowed to smoke hookah, water pipes, in public. Mehrabi said the raid came as part of a plan to provide “neighborhood-oriented” security, and would continue in other parts of Tehran. Coffee shop culture has flourished in Iran in recent years, offering wireless Internet, snacks, hot drinks, and a place to hang out for Iranian youth in a country where there are no bars or Western chain restaurants or cafes. But that trend has been criticized by conservative Iranians who consider it a cultural imposition from the West and incompatible with Islamic values. The government periodically cracks down on behavior it considers un-Islamic, including mingling between the sexes outside of marriage.

Cyprus detains Lebanese man for allegedly plotting attack on Israeli interests.

(AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES)  – Cypriot police are questioning a 24-year-old foreigner arrested last week who may have been plotting an attack on Israeli tourists visiting the Mediterranean island, media reported on Saturday. The man, thought to be a Swedish passport holder of Lebanese decent, was arrested on July 7 and was being detained following remand hearings held behind closed doors, Sigma TV reported. He has not been charged with any offence.  Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said: “We can confirm the arrest of a 24-year-old foreign national for specific, serious offences, and who is in custody by order of the court.” Sigma TV’s website reported the man had been tracking the movement of Israeli tourists on the island, while Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros said he was attempting to pinpoint areas frequented by Israeli tourists and the buses they used. The Jewish state’s diplomats have been targeted in several countries in recent months by bombers Israel said struck on behalf of Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. Though Tehran has denied involvement, some analysts believe it is trying to avenge the assassination of several scientists from its controversial nuclear program, deaths the Iranians have blamed on Israel and its Western allies. Israel linked the Cyprus arrest to the attacks on its diplomats. “Iranian terrorism knows no borders,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “The international community must fight the world’s biggest exporter of terror.” “After Iran sent its people to assassinate — on U.S. soil — the Saudi Arabian ambassador and to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan, Bangkok, Tbilisi, New Delhi and Africa, its intention to perpetrate attacks in Cyprus has now been exposed,” he added… 

Jordan police teargas Libyan protesters.

(Gulf Times, Qatar) – Jordanian anti-riot police fired teargas yesterday to break up a crowd of angry Libyans who attacked Tripoli’s embassy with stones, over unpaid medical bills, according to an AFP reporter. “Around 200 Libyans demonstrated this morning outside the Libyan embassy in Amman to demand their government pay their medical bills and other expenses,” a police statement said. “When embassy officials refused to see them, the demonstrators threw stones at the mission, other buildings and cars in the area,” it said, adding that the Libyans also attacked police who tried to disperse them. “A suitable force had to be used to stop them,” police said.

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