Aug 152017

DOHA: An Arab embargo on Qatar is inflicting pain on foreign migrant workers struggling amid an oil slump and disruption of deliveries for large construction projects linked to the 2022 soccer World Cup. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) imposed sanctions on fellow US ally Qatar in June and cut all transport links with the country, accusing it of supporting terrorism, a charge Doha denies. To get around the boycott Qatar has flown in food from Turkey and Iran and chartered ships via Oman to bring in construction materials needed for World Cup projects. But the feud is making life harder for some foreign workers in Qatar, already faced by layoffs caused by low oil prices and a work-sponsorship system that restricts their movement. Fresh vegetables usually trucked across Qatar’s land border with Saudi Arabia, a route now blocked, have increased in price. That is indebting some workers from places like India and Nepal who typically earn 800 rial ($219.78) a month and who make up about 90% of Qatar’s 2.7 million population. Arab states demand Qatar closes Jazeera, cuts back ties to Iran South Asian workers have been left stranded on Qatari farms in Saudi Arabia without food after their Qatari employers fled to Doha in June, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Last week dozens of Indian and African workers at hotels in Doha were told to take extended unpaid leave and return to their countries because of a drop in occupancy caused by [Read More…]

Aug 092017

Islamic State issued a video on Wednesday threatening new attacks in the Iranian capital Tehran and calling on young Iranians to rise up. A man wearing a black ski mask and holding an AK-47, seated alongside two others, made the threat in a video bearing the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency logo and showing footage of two attacks in Tehran in June claimed by the militant group. Iran’s Rouhani names two female vice presidents after backlash over male-only cabinet “The same way we are cutting the necks of your dogs in Iraq and Syria we will cut your necks in the center of Tehran,” the man said, speaking accented Farsi. Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim group which has sought to establish a caliphate in parts of the Gulf but is now under pressure from national armies and international groups in Syria and Iraq, sees Iran, which is predominantly Shia, as one of its biggest enemies in the region. The group killed at least 18 people in attacks on parliament in Tehran and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini on June 7. Iran’s Rouhani under fire for male-only cabinet Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired several missiles at Islamic State bases in Syria on June 18 in response to that attack. Iranian officials have also announced the arrests of dozens allegedly linked to the attacks. Another portion of the video showed militants in black ski masks speaking out against Shias in Arabic and threatening attacks against them in Iraq. The post Islamic State threatens [Read More…]

Aug 062017

TEHRAN: At least four soldiers were killed and eight injured when one of their colleagues opened fire on a military air base in southern Tehran on Sunday, the Iranian military said in a statement. The incident was “probably related to psychological problems of the soldier who suddenly started firing on his comrades,” the statement said. It took place on a shooting range, and could also have been the result of a gun misfiring, the statement added. “The injured were transported to a medical centre and an investigation has been opened,” it said. Iran hits back at missile test criticism State television reported a similar incident last month when a serviceman opened fire at a barracks in Abyek, around 40 kilometres northwest of Tehran, killing three and injuring six. The gunman in that incident, who had reportedly been denied a transfer to his home town, shot himself but survived his injuries, according to the ISNA news agency. Military service of two years is mandatory for Iranian men when they turn 19. The post Four dead, eight injured as soldier opens fire on Iran military base appeared first on The Express Tribune. Click for detailed story

Aug 022017
Wushu chiefs to discuss Asian Games plans soon

KARACHI: Pakistan Wushu Federation’s (PWF) top officials will put their heads together in the next few days to decide about the training camp and other relevant matters relating to the preparation for the Asian Games slated to be held in Palembang, Indonesia, from August 18 to September 2, 2018. “I have contacted my secretary and senior-vice president and we will meet on August 6 or 7 to decide about the camp which is expected to be set up in the third week of this month,” PWF president Malik Iftikhar told ‘The News’ from Lahore on Wednesday. Wushu is one of the disciplines in which Pakistan has a fine record in the Asiad as the country has been able to win medals in the last three Asian Games on the trot. Pakistan won bronze medal on debut in the Asiad through Syed Maratab Ali Shah in the 2006 Doha Asian Games. In the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Ijaz Ahmed secured silver medal. In the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Pakistan completed hat-trick of medals when Maratab claimed bronze medal. Malik said that the purpose of the early start of the camp for the Asiad was to determine the weak points of the players and take remedial measures. “Some of our fighters are very good. They are very bold but they have not clicked so far. At some stages our players also remained unlucky. One of our boys knocked out his opponent in the Baku Islamic Games but you know referees favoured our [Read More…]

Jul 212017
Knocking at Qatar?s door

Following the Qatar crisis, Pakistan’s neighbouring countries, including India and Iran, have smartly availed the opportunity and grabbed all available chances to boost their businesses with Qatar. The local markets in the country are flooded with all kinds of stuff like vegetable, fruit, dairy and poultry products, etc., from India, Iran and Turkey. On the other hand, we rarely find any such items from Pakistan. Pakistani fruit, especially mangoes, is famous in the world. Although the season of mangoes has started with full bloom, we have yet to find those in the markets in Qatar. Pakistan’s export department has to quickly and smartly act to capture the market of fruit not only in Qatar but in the entire world. M Khalid Kamal (Doha, Qatar) Click for detailed story

Jun 232017
Saudi says suicide bomber killed in foiled Makkah plot

Saudi security forces said Saturday they disrupted a plot to attack the Grand Mosque at Makkah, home to the holiest site in Islam, just as Ramazan concludes. The Interior Ministry said it launched raids in Jeddah as well as two areas in Makkah itself, including the Ajyad Al-Masafi neighbourhood, located near the Grand Mosque. There, police said they engaged in a shootout at a three-story house with a suicide bomber, who blew himself up and led to the building's collapse. He was killed while the blast wounded six foreigners and five members of security forces, according to the Interior Ministry's statement. Five others were arrested, it said.Saudi state television aired footage after the raid near the Grand Mosque, showing police and rescue personnel running through the neighbourhood's narrow streets. The blast demolished the building, its walls crushing a parked car as what appeared to be shrapnel and bullet holes peppered nearby structures. The Interior Ministry “confirms that this terrorist network, whose terrorist plan was thwarted, violated, in what they would have perpetrated, all sanctities by targeting the security of the Grand Mosque, the holiest place on Earth.” “They obeyed their evil and corrupt self-serving schemes managed from abroad whose aim is to destabilise the security and stability of this blessed country,” the statement said. The ministry did not name the group involved in the attack. The ultraconservative kingdom battled an Al Qaeda insurgency for years and more recently has faced attacks from a local branch of the Islamic State group. [Read More…]

Jun 232017
Chants against Saudi royals as Iran marks Jerusalem Day

TEHRAN: Chants against the Saudi royal family and the Islamic State group mingled with the traditional cries of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” at Jerusalem Day rallies across Iran on Friday. The annual show of solidarity with the Palestinians, during which hundreds of thousands of Iranians take to the streets, was launched by the Islamic republic’s late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and is now also marked by its allies across the Middle East. This year’s commemoration coincided with an intensifying battle for influence in the region between Shia Iran and its Sunni arch rival Saudi Arabia, Gulf neighbours which severed diplomatic relations in January 2016. “Death to the House of Saud and Daesh (IS),” the demonstrators chanted. “Death to America”, “Death to Israel”, “Death to the UK”. Iran has been heavily involved in the war against IS in both Iraq and Syria, where it has trained and advised militias to fight the militants. On Sunday, Iran fired six 750-kilometre (470-mile) range missiles at an IS base in eastern Syria, days after the militant group claimed twin bombing and shooting attacks in Tehran that left 17 people dead. Iran nuclear chief urges West to save historic deal On Friday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards displayed some of the same Zolfaghar missiles used in the strike at Valiasr Square in the heart of the capital, alongside a 2,000-kilometre (1,250-mile) range Qadr missile. Iran’s ballistic missile programme has been the subject of persistent concern in Washington and the target of repeated US sanctions. [Read More…]

Jun 212017

BEIRUT: Iranian state media on Wednesday called the appointment of Mohammed Bin Salman to the position of crown prince and successor to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman as a “soft coup”. “Soft coup in Saudi Arabia/Son becomes the succesor of the father,” read the headline on the Iranian state TV website. The move is likely to rattle Iran’s leadership, which has been critical of comments by Prince Mohammed last month that the ‘battle’ should be taken into Iran. Iran, which is predominantly Shia Muslim, and Saudi Arabia, which is mostly Sunni, compete for power and influence across the region. The two countries support opposite sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Saudi king appoints son as crown prince in major reshuffle Islamic State carried out attacks on the Iranian parliament in Tehran and the shrine of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, two weeks ago that left at least 17 dead. Iranian officials pointed a finger at Saudi Arabia, which denied any involvement. Tension between the two countries increased last month when US President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia and took a bellicose stance against Iran in an official speech, repeatedly accusing the Islamic Republic of supporting terrorism. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei labeled the Saudi leadership ‘idiots’ in a speech last month. The post Iran state media calls promotion of Mohammed bin Salman a ‘soft coup’ appeared first on The Express Tribune. Click for detailed story

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