UN: Iranian Forces ‘Shooting to Kill’ Protesters, At Least 7,000 Held



UN: Iranian Forces ‘Shooting to Kill’ Protesters, At Least 7,000 Held

Friday, 6 December, 2019 – 12:45
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United Nations said Friday that at least 7,000 people have “reportedly” been arrested in Iran since mass demonstrations erupted last month, adding Iranian security forces were “shooting to kill” in their deadly crackdown against protesters in recent weeks.

In a statement, the UN human rights office said it had obtained “verified video footage” showing security forces firing on protesters, apparently with intent to kill.

The rights office added that it had “information suggesting that at least 208 people were killed” during the unrest, echoing a count also tallied by Amnesty International.

“There are also reports, which the UN Human Rights Office has so far been unable to verify, suggesting more than twice that number killed,” the statement added.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said video obtained by her office shows “severe violence was used against protesters.”

“We have also received footage which appears to show security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators from behind while they were running away, and shooting others directly in the face and vital organs – in other words shooting to kill,” Bachelet said.

Additional video material shows “armed members of security forces shooting from the roof of a justice department building” in the city of Javanrud, west of Tehran in Kermanshah Province, as well as gunfire from helicopters in Sadra, in Fars Province.

The protests began on November 15 following a surprise hike in fuel prices.

Iran has yet to give overall figures for the number of people killed or arrested when security forces moved in to quell the unrest that saw buildings torched and shops looted.

Bachelet’s office said it had received many reports of ill-treatment against people arrested, “including with the apparent aim of extracting forced confessions.”

She charged that “many of the arrested protesters have not had access to a lawyer,” while raising alarm over “reports of severe overcrowding and harsh conditions in detention centers, which in some cities include military barracks, sports venues and schools.”

“I urge the authorities to immediately release from detention all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty,” she further said.

The demonstrations show the widespread economic discontent gripping Iran since May 2018, when President Donald Trump imposed crushing sanctions after unilaterally withdrawing the United States from the nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers.

Israel: In surprise change, 13 countries vote against pro-Palestine UN resolution



In surprise change, 13 countries vote against pro-Palestine UN resolution

States led by Germany change their voting pattern in favor of Israel, opposing Division of Palestinian Rights, although motion still passes by wide margin

View of the United Nations General Assembly during a vote the US-imposed embargo on Cuba on November 7, 2019. (Evan Schneider/ UN)

View of the United Nations General Assembly during a vote the US-imposed embargo on Cuba on November 7, 2019. (Evan Schneider/ UN)

Over a dozen countries on Tuesday abruptly changed their voting pattern at the United Nations in Israel’s favor, opposing an annual resolution expressing support for a pro-Palestinian UN agency traditionally critical of the Jewish state.

Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Brazil and Colombia for the first time voted against the resolution regarding the Division of Palestinian Rights at the UN Secretariat.

In past years, these countries had abstained on the resolution.

“I am pleased that this significant group of countries has decided today to voice a clear moral stance against discrimination toward Israel at the UN,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement. “This represents an important step in the long struggle against the prejudiced bias toward Israel at the United Nations. Particularly noticeable is the shift in the stance of several member states of the European Union and I trust that the remaining EU members will adopt this position soon.”

The UK, France and Spain abstained, as they do every year.

The resolution — co-sponsored by Comoros, Cuba, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, United Arab Emirates and Yemen — still passed with a comfortable majority, with 87 “yes” votes, 54 “no” votes and 23 abstentions.

UN Watch


The resolution titled “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” was adopted by a vote of 147 – 7 – 13.

The U.S., Canada, and Australia voted No.

See text here: https://undocs.org/en/A/74/L.15 

View image on Twitter

UN Watch


The resolution titled “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat” was adopted by a vote of 87–23–54.

A group of EU states who last year abstained switched their votes to No, including:

🇩🇪 Germany
🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇩🇰 Denmark
& more

See text here: https://undocs.org/en/A/74/L.16 

View image on Twitter
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Katz also thanked the United States, Canada, Australia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati who again voted against the resolution.

The New York-based Division for Palestinian Rights is notorious among Israeli officials and pro-Israel advocates for its harsh criticism of Israeli policies. It serves as the Secretariat of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and organizes international conferences that usually focus on bashing Israel. It is also responsible for the annual observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 27.

The resolution passed Tuesday states that the Division for Palestinian Rights “continues to make a constructive and positive contribution to raising international awareness of the question of Palestine and of the urgency of a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine in all its aspects.”

“This body represents the structural discrimination against Israel in the UN arena and uses UN manpower and budgetary resources to promote a Palestinian narrative while simultaneously encouraging a distinctly anti-Israel agenda,” Katz said.

According to Hillel Neuer, the executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch, the surprising change in the voting pattern of 11 EU states has to do with “an unprecedented focus” on Germany, whose Foreign Minister Heiko Mass earlier this year pledged to oppose the unfair treatment of Israel at the UN.

“I think Germany felt the need to modify some of its anti-Israel votes, and that this rare EU split at the GA allowed Netherlands, Austria and others to follow,” Neuer told The Times of Israel. “We were disappointed that countries like the UK, France and Spain did not join this principled opposition.”

“With it’s ‘no’ this year, Germany expresses its criticism on the disproportionally high number of resolutions that are critical of Israel,” Germany’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The ministry further said that there was no reason for the special status enjoyed by the Division for Palestinian Rights.


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How Wealthy Countries Can Step Up Their Contribution to Fight Global Poverty



How Wealthy Countries Can Step Up Their Contribution to Fight Global Poverty

Wednesday, 4 December, 2019 – 12:30
Impoverished girl | Photo: REUTERS
Ferid Belhaj
How can the wealthiest nations around the globe continue to help the world’s poorest countries? This is a question that delegates will look to address during a meeting organized by the International Development Association, or IDA, in Stockholm next week.
The role of IDA, a financial institution and a member of the World Bank Group, is to offer loans, grants and debt relief to poor countries unable to borrow on the terms offered by another arm of the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Its member states will gather in the Swedish capital on December 12 and 13 to set the agenda for assistance to these countries for the three-year period starting in July 2020. While countries in the Mena region, including Saudi Arabia, had contributed funds to the previous cycle, it is critical that they – and potentially others – sustain and increase their participation in this forum and support a global public good.

Many people are unaware that countries such as China, India, and South Korea were beneficiaries of IDA assistance in the past but now they have become donors giving back to the international community

This upcoming replenishment, as it is called, is indeed an opportunity for the region as a whole to make its presence felt. Beginning next year, it will be the epicenter of several global events. Saudi Arabia will host members of the G20, Egypt is the chair of the African Union and the UAE is preparing to host the region’s first World Expo. The World Bank-IMF annual meetings will take place in Marrakech in 2021. While these events are significant in their own right, a substantially higher financial contribution from Mena countries to IDA will demonstrate the region’s capacity to lead on long-term challenges such as poverty reduction, inclusive growth, and climate change.

Since its creation in 1960, IDA has become one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries and the foremost instrument to channel multilateral funding where it is needed the most and in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Over six decades, it has provided almost $400 billion for investments in over 100 countries, its support paving the way towards equality, economic growth, job creation, higher incomes and better living conditions. IDA’s work covers primary education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate improvements, infrastructure, and institutional reforms. More recently, it has intervened to bring hope to people affected by conflict and violence.

Since 2000, it has provided more than $88 billion in financial assistance to Arab and Muslim countries. In the previous replenishment, more than 50 percent of the resources were allocated to 28 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, including Djibouti, Syria, and Yemen.

In Yemen, IDA has played a critical role in providing relief and mitigating the lasting impacts of conflict. It has helped Yemenis fight diseases and famine, helped train nearly 12,000 health personnel and immunize 6.9 million children. Through an emergency program, it has helped ensure around nine million vulnerable Yemenis have access to food and other basic necessities.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Syria continues to take a heavy toll. More than 5.6 million people are registered as refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In Lebanon, where many of them live, IDA is helping the country enroll 200,000 children in public schools. In Jordan, IDA assistance is creating 100,000 jobs for Jordanian nationals and Syrian refugees.

Beyond the Mena region, IDA is a development partner for the poorest countries.

International institutions remain important for some of the most lagging regions and communities in the world. Independent assessments have documented the tremendous benefits of IDA’s support for the development of poor countries. Many people are unaware that countries such as China, India, and South Korea were beneficiaries of IDA assistance in the past but now they have become donors giving back to the international community.

Multilateral institutions deserve our utmost support because when misfortune strikes countries, the knowledge and financial resources of these institutions can save, protect and nurture lives. They can provide ideas for development strategies and funds for critical infrastructure. To eliminate extreme poverty and shared growth, they are a valuable ally for governments and citizens.

The World Bank Group is grateful for generous financial contributions from the international donor community to IDA. However, I believe that the more fortunate Mena countries can and must enhance their contribution to this agency. Its economic heft presents an opportunity for the region to take on a leadership role in this forum. It is also a wonderful opportunity to help those in need, which is fully in line with the region’s rich history of generosity towards the less fortunate.

Ferid Belhaj is World Bank regional vice president for Mena

Pakistan, with China, tries to put 4 Indians on UN terror list


Pakistan, with China, tries to put 4 Indians on UN terror list

After the UN Security Council designated Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan has been on an overdrive to frame Indians in terror cases.

INDIANS-ABROAD Updated: Nov 22, 2019 04:24 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
After Masood Azhar was designated global terrorist by the UN security panel, there have been several attempts by Pakistan to falsely implicate Indian nationals in terror cases.
After Masood Azhar was designated global terrorist by the UN security panel, there have been several attempts by Pakistan to falsely implicate Indian nationals in terror cases.(VIA REUTERS)

Officials in the national security agencies and South Block are now convinced that Pakistan has embarked on a tit-for-tat designation of Indian nationals as terrorists under the UN Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaida sanctions committee as a response to India’s success, with assistance from the US and France, in having got Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist on May 1.

Last week, Pakistan, with the support of UN Security Council permanent member and its all-weather ally China moved the 1267 Al Qaida sanctions committee to designate two Indians global terrorists after accusing them of past terror attacks in Balochistan and Peshawar, and even registered FIRs against them. This takes to four the number of Indians labelled terrorists by Pakistan. All four persons were evacuated by Indian security agencies from Afghanistan, with the last one being flown out of Kabul on November 18.

Hindustan Times has reported on three of the cases. The fourth is that of Andhra Pradesh resident Appaji Angara, who was working as a software developer in a bank in Kabul, Afghanistan. While Angara was moved out of Kabul as early as January 18, Pakistan accused him of a terrorist attack on Mall Road in Lahore on February 13, 2017, along with the Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan.

ALSO WATCH | PM Modi hails ‘big victory’ after UN sanctions on Jaish chief Masood Azhar

In the dossier submitted to the 1267 committee, Angara has been accused of the attack on Army School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, in collaboration with JuA, and a bombing in Warsak colony in Peshawar on September 2, 2016. An FIR number 77 (dated July 13, 2019) under sections 312, 324, 353, 14B, 149, ¾ F & P, 7 ATA, counter-terrorism department, police station Peshawar, has been registered against him. The residence address, passport number and personal details of Angara are being withheld by HT.

Earlier this week, HT reported Pakistan’s effort to designate Gobinda Patnaik Duggivalasa. The Odisha-born Duggivalasa, 54, was hurriedly evacuated from Kabul by Indian security agencies on November 18 after he was accused of a terror attack on Siraj Raisani, a Pakistani politician, on July 13, 2018 in Mastung, Baluchistan in which 160 persons were killed. An FIR number 12/18 (dated July 13, 2019) under sections 109-427-34-ATA counter terrorism department, police station Quetta, Balochistan, and another FIR number 08/2018 (dated July 9, 2019) under section 109-427-07 ATA CTD, police station Quetta, Balochistan, names Duggivalasa as a terrorist.

A B. Com graduate from Odisha, with a diploma in computer applications from Chennai and a MBA from Vishakapatnam, Duggivalasa, according to dossier, worked as President of Phoenix Consulting Services in Kabul, Afghanistan. The company was a wholly owned subsidiary of Fluentgrid, and involved in capacity-building projects in Afghanistan. The full details of Duggivalasa are being withheld by HT.

Several Indian companies are working on projects in Afghanistan as the country seeks to rebuild its infrastructure after years of conflict.

Indian intelligence officials point to the two other instances, involving Indian nationals Ajoy Mistry in October and Venu Madhav Dongara in September – HT was the first to report on both – where Pakistan, with the help from China, tried to embarrass India in the UN through the 1267 route.

In the backdrop of the Imran Khan government showcasing two Indians arrested this week near Bhawalpur, despite New Delhi having informed Islamabad about their inadvertent crossing over to Pakistan months ago, the proposals before the 1267 committee are ominous, officials say it is evident from the chain of events that Pakistan, with the help of China, wants to brand India as a terror factory to “achieve parity”.

Had these Indians not been extracted, it is possible that they may have been abducted by ISI from Afghanistan, in much the same way Indian naval officer-turned-businessman Kulbushan Jadhav was from Iran, the officials added. Islamabad claimed in 2017 that he was arrested from Balochistan and accused him of terrorism and spying for Indian spy agency Research & Analysis Wing. He was sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan but the International Court of Justice stayed the execution. In July, it asked Pakistan to review his trial and conviction and to also provide consular access to India.

While the first two proposals (involving Mistry and Dongara) were blocked by the US, New Delhi has again sought the help of its friends within the UNSC to stop any further attempts by Pakistan to tarnish India’s reputation.


Saudi: With Little Progress on ‘Safe Zone,’ Erdogan Says Turkey to Act Alone in Syria



With Little Progress on ‘Safe Zone,’ Erdogan Says Turkey to Act Alone in N. Syria

Tuesday, 1 October, 2019 – 11:30
FILE PHOTO: An internally displaced woman sits outside a tent in Idlib province, Syria July 30, 2018. REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Tuesday that his country had no choice but to act alone in northern Syria after a deadline to jointly establish a “safe zone” with the United States in the area by the end of September passed.

“We have not achieved any of the results we desired in the east of the Euphrates. Turkey cannot lose even a single day on this issue. There is no other choice but to act on our own,” Erdogan said at the parliament’s opening ceremony in Ankara.

“We plan to settle two million people in the safe zones we will establish. We calculated the costs and we will carry out efforts to improve. We will start taking steps as soon as the region is saved from the invasion of terror,” he said.

Erdogan told the United Nations last week he wanted to set up the zone along 480 km of border and reaching 30 km inside Syria. Under the Turkish plan, up to 2 million Syrian refugees would be settled in the safe zone, with international support.

If implemented, the project could halve the number of Syrian refugees sheltering in Turkey from Syria’s eight-year conflict, and drive the Syrian Kurdish YPG – which Ankara says is a terrorist group threatening its security – from the border, Reuters said.

While diplomats, analysts and Turkey’s main opposition say Ankara would be unwilling to anger Washington with a military incursion as the allies try to repair strained ties, Erdogan’s comments on Tuesday marked the clearest indication of an offensive in the region.

He added that Turkey aimed to host an “international donors meeting” to get funding for its plans in the area, which he said would stretch from the Euphrates river in Syria east to the Iraqi border.

Erdogan has repeatedly called on Turkey’s allies to provide financial support for the plans, including in his speech at the United Nations last month. But Ankara is unlikely to receive a response for any plan that settles people hundreds of kilometers from their homes and alters the demographics of northeast Syria.

The United States agreed to the safe zone as a way to protect its Kurdish allies in Syria and address Turkish concerns about the border, after President Donald Trump announced plans last year to abruptly withdraw 2,000 US special forces troops that helped Kurdish fighters battle ISIS.

But the US troops have yet to leave and Washington and Ankara have so far failed to agree on details. Turkey has accused the United States of dragging its feet and warned that it would take matters into its own hands.

Turkey has already launched two military incursions into northern Syria in the last three years and has stationed troops into the opposition-held Idlib region. It says preparations for another operation are complete.

Brazil: Bolsonaro intends to attack Venezuela, Cuba and Macron in UN speech



Bolsonaro intends to attack Venezuela, Cuba and Macron in UN speech

Even at the risk of being protested internationally during his trip to the United Nations over anti-civilian stances and the destruction of the Amazon, Jair Bolsonaro decided to go to the opening of the UN General Assembly. His speech will be aligned with Donald Trump’s policy, with attacks on Venezuela, Cuba and Frenchman Emmanuel Macron.

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro (Photo: REUTERS / Adriano Machado)

247 – Jair Bolsonaro has even decided to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, where he will address the opening day of the event, exposing Brazil to unprecedented shame, as even diplomatic representatives are considering protesting against its policies. and their anti-civilization postures. The speech will be fully in line with Donald Trump’s interests and will have criticism of Cuba, Venezuela and Frenchman Emmanuel Macron – one of the US interests in South America is undermining the agreement to build nuclear submarines in partnership with France. , in Brazil.

“The speech that President Jair Bolsonaro prepares for the opening of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, on the 24th in New York, will have harsh criticism of the regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and Cuba as one of the main points of his speech. Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon, in a response to French President Emmanuel Macron, should also be included in the text, which is in the final stages of adjustment, “said Jussara Soares and Daniel Guilino, in a report published in Globo.

“He will present our country and our potential and will clarify once and for all these issues Brazil versus the environment. How much Brazil defends the environment and has been doing, since now, a sustaining process often unknown, either because of ignorance of the person or not wanting to disclose what Brazil has been doing in terms of protection, “said spokesman Octavio Rêgo Barros.

Brazil: Bolsonaro must even flee UN General Assembly



Bolsonaro must even flee UN General Assembly

Jair Bolsonaro, who previously said he would “even on a stretcher” at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, must remain in Brazil, claiming health care. Advisers say he would be the object of protests over the destruction of the Amazon. Another fact that motivates manifestations against him are his public praise for dictators and his postures against the most elementary principles of civilization.


247 – Jair Bolsonaro is expected to flee the opening of the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, although he said he would “go wheelchair-wise.” “Members of Planalto Palace already admit that the chief executive may not attend the event next week in New York, United States. Officially, the alleged reasons are only medical restrictions. Bolsonaro recovers from surgery to correct a hernia However, even before the medical procedure, some advisers privately assess that, after controversies involving the burning of the Amazon rain forest, there is also a political risk for the possibility of protests, “said journalists Jussara Soares and Gustavo. Maia, in a report published in Globo.

“Among the president’s aides and family members, there is disagreement about whether or not to go to the UN. The medical team that performed the last surgery and people close to Bolsonaro recommend that he not travel to preserve himself. Interlocutors told the report that the first Michelle Bolsonaro tries to convince her husband to cancel the trip. Another group argues that the moment is crucial for the Bolsonaro government to stand before the international community and make a public defense of the sovereignty of the Amazon, “says the report, without paying attention. to the fact that Bolsonaro intends to open the Amazon for commercial exploitation by Donald Trump.

Another fact that motivates manifestations against him are his public praise for dictators and his postures contrary to the most elementary principles of civilization. According to Ambassador Rubens Ricupero, Bolsonaro is an unrepresentable figure in the world.

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

(This article is courtesy of India’s Hindustan Times)


Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

INDIA Updated: Sep 14, 2019 14:20 I ST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.(AP)

With Pakistan getting no traction for its efforts to raise the Kashmir issue at least four times at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Islamabad is at its wit’s end about forcing an urgent debate or introducing a resolution at the session in Geneva.

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

Pakistan, as a coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued a joint statement that claimed all 58 members were supporting Islamabad and standing against New Delhi for revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. While OIC members haven’t castigated the coordinator for issuing a statement on their behalf or challenged the document, an influential section of the grouping has made it privately known to Indian counterparts that it has little to do with the statement.

WATCH | Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?

Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?
“Pakistan’s bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue again, this time at the UNHRC will come to a naught,” opines Hindustan Times’ Executive Editor Shishir Gupta in HT Conversations.


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To date, Pakistan has not named the 58 countries, apart from China and other Arab non-members, who are backing the statement on the changes in Kashmir and alleged human rights violations.

“The fact that Pakistan, despite raking up the issue four or five times in Geneva, has got no overt support in the UNHRC shows that the council has no appetite to discuss Kashmir,” said a top UN diplomat.

“I would say a debate over the issue without any outcome is possible as European nations are silent on the issue and feel there is no harm in debating Kashmir. However, the possibility of Pakistan forcing a resolution in Geneva is very unlikely,” the diplomat added.

Apart from Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua’s statements, Islamabad has made two “right of reply” interventions on the Kashmir issue since the council’s session began on September 9.

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support. It is understood Pakistan had got support on the Kashmir issue from a 22-member Arab group, though only a couple of them are members of the UNHRC.

Pakistan has so far not moved the UNHRC for an urgent debate and Indian diplomats are keeping their powder dry to scuttle any such move. Ajay Bisaria, who was till recent India’s envoy to Islamabad and was sent to Geneva to help counter Pakistan’s efforts, will stay on till the UNHRC session ends on September 27, people familiar with developments said.

“If the statements by Pakistan on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir have no support from UNHRC members, it will be very difficult for Pakistan to muster the numbers to force a debate, what to talk of a resolution in Geneva,” said a senior diplomat.

First Published: Sep 14, 2019 00:56 IST

Saudi Arabia Opens its Doors to Tourists by End of 2019



Saudi Arabia Opens its Doors to Tourists by End of 2019

Thursday, 12 September, 2019 – 08:45
Visitors walk outside the tombs at the Madain Saleh antiquities site, al-Ula, Saudi Arabia February 10, 2019. Picture taken February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Kalin
Saint Petersburg – Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia will open its doors to tourists from around the world by the end of 2019, the head of the Saudi Tourism and Heritage Authority, Ahmad al-Khatib, said on Wednesday.

Khatib made the announcement during his speech at the meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which is held in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on September 9-13.

The Organization’s secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, praised the ambitious plan led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to place the Kingdom at the forefront of global tourism destinations.

In March, UNWTO’s general assembly approved Saudi Arabia’s membership in the executive council of the Organization for the Middle East region for the third time in a row. The Kingdom has retained its seats in the Tourism Statistics Committee and the Program and Budget Committee, and also joined the Executive Committee’s Membership Review Committee.

Saudi Arabia has provided some USD1.7 million to fund cooperation with the international organization, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“Saudi Arabia is proud to be one of the first countries to work with the organization in the preliminary studies for the Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST) project,” Khatib said in his speech.

The head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage also announced ongoing cooperation with UNWTO for the preparation of a strategy for the development of human capital in tourism, and the establishment of a tourism academy.

He noted that his country has invited the Executive Council to meet in Saudi Arabia in 2020.

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC



Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

INDIA Updated: Sep 08, 2019 09:03 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, Singapore
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

With a crucial UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session beginning on Monday, New Delhi’s aim is to ensure that Pakistan does not secure any outcome on Kashmir. Pakistani foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi personally leads the charge against India in Geneva from September 9 to 12.

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

According to diplomats and security officials based here, Geneva and New Delhi, while foreign minister S Jaishankar has personally contacted or visited each and every member of the 47-member UNHRC, national security adviser Ajit Doval has managed the internal situation in Kashmir. The government will stress the fact that not a single life has been lost in Jammu and Kashmir at the hands of Indian security forces. The vital political aspect of Kashmir is being handled by home minister Amit Shah.

The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.

Also Watch | Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move


Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move
Hindustan Times’ executive editor Shishir Gupta explains how the trio of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Ajit Doval orchestrated the move to bring about this landmark decision on Kashmir of revoking the contentious Article 370.


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According to diplomats, Pakistan will first assess the situation before it either calls for an urgent debate or resolution at the UNHRC. If Pakistan moves for an urgent debate by writing a letter to the UNHRC president, then the matter will be put to a simple majority vote with absentees or abstentions not being counted. The other option for Pakistan is to move a resolution citing alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, but this will also be put to vote. However, the matter is tedious as China and the UK (in the first round) took Pakistan’s side on August 16 at the UNSC. The eventual result, though was a knockout totally in favour of India with the US, France and Russia against the outcome.

Since the August 5-6 resolutions and laws that scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Jaishankar has been on the move, travelling to China, Indonesia, the Maldives, Belgium, Poland, Russia and Hungary explaining the Indian position on Jammu and Kashmir. He has engaged Indian Ocean rim countries and others including South Africa, Fiji, Australia and the Philippines over the phone to defeat Pakistani designs. He is currently in Singapore working away the phones as he has been tasked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convince UNHRC members that Kashmir is an internal matter of India.

On Friday, speaking at the HT-MintAsia summit in Singapore, Jaishankar said most countries accepted that the Indian move to nullify Article 370 was an internal issue. “They think it’s an Indian issue. They are aware, in part from the reactions, that Pakistan is saying some pretty strong things about it. The general sentiment is that if there are issues at all, India and Pakistan should sit down and sort it out,” the minister said.

Doval bears the onerous task of handling the internal security situation in Kashmir and ensure that innocents are not used as cannon fodder by Rawalpindi general headquarters (GHQ) to project alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. Interacting with reporters in Delhi, Doval made it clear that more than 230 jihadists were waiting across the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate India and spread mayhem in the Valley at the behest of their Pakistani handlers.

Reeling out the figures, Doval, who handled the J&K internal security on the ground till August 15, said that contrary to some reports, medical services in the region haven’t been hit: at least 400,000 people have been treated, 35,000 admitted and 11,000 operated upon for a variety of ailments since August 5, he explained. He said all landline connectivity has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir with some amount of mobile connectivity in Jammu, Ladakh and two districts ( Kupwara and Handwara) in Kashmir. Internet kiosks have been opened in all 10 districts of Kashmir with a minimum five terminals apart from 12 counters with internet access also available at the tourist reception centre in Srinagar. There are eight internet terminals working at the media centre in Srinagar.

According to the NSA, restrictions on movement have been lifted from 92% of the state and are in place now in only 11 out of 199 police station areas in the region. More than 1.67 metric tons of apples have been transported and ~98 crores disbursed through ATMs in the state to date, he added, listing two other issues that have been highlighted — the status of the apple trade and the availability of cash. Schools too are open, he told reporters.

However, Doval added that Indian agencies have intercepted messages that point to efforts to disrupt the movement of the trucks carrying apples. This is the peak apple season and the trade in Kashmir is worth around Rs 15,000 crore a year.

First Published: Sep 08, 2019 05:38 IST