RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestine Liberation Organization named loyalists of Mahmud Abbas to top leadership posts on Monday, with Hussein Al-Sheikh appointed to the organization’s executive committee.
But no decision was made on naming a new PLO secretary general and chief negotiator with Israel, two key posts held by Saeb Erekat, who died in 2020 after contracting coronavirus.
At the end of the rare two-day meeting of the PLO’s central committee, officials said the roles would be filled at a later date.
Ahead of the meeting, analysts had said the 86-year-old Abbas, the PLO’s chairman, was seeking to elevate Sheikh, perhaps to position him as a favored successor to take charge as president of the Palestinian Authority.
Mohamed Mustafa, another Abbas supporter who chairs the Palestinian Investment Fund, was selected to take the executive committee seat vacated by Hanan Ashrawi, who resigned in 2020.
Abbas loyalist Rawhi Fattouh was elected chair of the Palestinian National Council — the PLO’s parliament in exile.
Analysts have said that support for the PLO, an organization founded in 1964 and charged with leading the battle for statehood against Israel, was growing increasingly unpopular among Palestinian people, amid frustration over its failures to hold open elections for key positions.
Addressing PLO executives on Sunday, Abbas pledged commitment to reform, calling it a “continuous process.”
But as the meeting started Sunday demonstrations calling for Abbas’s resignation were held in Ramallah and in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas Islamists.
Hamas is not part of the PLO, and has boycotted the organization over its decision to negotiate with Israel.
CAIRO: Tunisia’s president issued a decree on Saturday to establish a provisional Supreme Judiciary Council, effectively replacing the present council, the Tunisian presidency announced on Facebook.
Late last week President Kais Saied said he would issue a decree effectively dissolving the Supreme Judiciary Council, one of the last remaining institutions in the country able to work independently of him.
SANAA, Yemen: Suspected Al-Qaeda militants have abducted five UN workers in southern Yemen, Yemeni officials said on Saturday.
The officials said the workers were abducted in the southern province of Abyan late Friday and taken to an unknown location. They include four Yemenis and a foreigner, they said.
In response to a question about the abduction, United Nations UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said “we are aware of this case but for obvious reasons we are not commenting.” He did not elaborate.
Tribal leaders said they were negotiating with the abductors to secure the workers’ release. They said the abductors demanded a ransom and the release of some militants imprisoned by the internationally recognized government.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media and the tribal leaders did so for fear of reprisals.
The secessionist Southern Transitional Council, which controls much of Yemen’s south and is at odds with the Yemeni government, condemned the abductions as a “terrorist operation.”
The Yemeni government confirmed that the workers with the UN Department of Security and Safety were abducted by unknown armed men, adding that it was working to secure their release. It didn’t provide further details.
Abductions are frequent in Yemen, an impoverished nation where armed tribesmen and Al-Qaeda-linked militants take hostages to swap for prisoners or cash.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, has long been considered the global network’s most dangerous branch, and has attempted to carry out attacks on the US mainland.
Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa and much of the country’s north, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia.
The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen entered the war in March 2015, backed by the United States, to try restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.
RIYADH: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed received a message from Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on ways to strengthen bilateral relations, Emirati state news agency WAM reported on Saturday.
The message was delivered to Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, during a meeting with Duterte’s special envoy and presidential assistant on foreign affairs, Robert Borje, at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Sheikh Abdullah also handed Borje a message from Sheikh Mohammed to the Philippines president, which dealt with bilateral relations, WAM said.
The two sides discussed joint cooperation and a number of issues of common interest.
They also reviewed Manila’s participation at Expo 2020 and its role in enhancing joint cooperation between the two countries in a number of important fields, such as industry and trade.
Borje praised the impressive organization of Expo 2020 Dubai, which drew wide participation from about 192 countries, and has provided an important global platform to create promising opportunities for cooperation and partnership between states.
He said that the Philippines was keen to elevate joint cooperation with the UAE in all fields, praising its leading regional and international position.
Reem Al-Hashimi, UAE minister of state for international cooperation and director-general of Expo 2020 Dubai, attended the meeting.
The Philippines celebrated its National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday, with a host of activities marking the country’s strong ties with the UAE.
MAARAT AL-NAASAN: Syrian regime shelling killed six civilians including women and children on Saturday in Idlib province, the country’s last main rebel bastion, a war monitor said.
A photographer at the scene reported seeing several bodies being taken away from a wrecked home in Maarat Al-Naasan, an area close to regime-controlled territory.
“The shell fell on a civilian home,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group with a network of sources on the ground in the war-torn country.
The monitor said two women and two children were among those killed, who were all from the same family. Many others were wounded.
The shelling had begun at around 1130 GMT, with more shells fired intermittently afterwards.
The Syrian regime and its ally Russia have regularly targeted hospitals and civilian areas since the start of the war in 2011, according to the observatory. The Idlib region bordering Turkey is home to about 3 million people and it is one of the last pockets to oppose Damascus.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a former Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, controls with its allies about half of the region and parts of neighboring provinces.
After a months-long military campaign to flush out the enclave sparked fears of the war’s worst bloodshed yet, a ceasefire deal was reached in March 2020. The agreement brokered by the regime and the rebels’ main backers — Russia and Turkey respectively — has largely held since, despite sporadic flare-ups.
But Damascus has intensified attacks on southern Idlib since June.
The war in Syria has killed around half a million people and displaced millions more, the observatory says.
LONDON: French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country remains committed to the continued enhancement of joint cooperation with Egypt in a number of fields, and to supporting Cairo’s efforts to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development, and combat terrorism and extremist ideology in its region.
Macron said his country is proud of its strong relationship with Egypt, which has gained momentum in recent years through the many visits by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to France.
His comments came during a meeting with El-Sisi on the sidelines of the One Ocean Summit in the French port city of Brest on Friday, according to Bassam Rady, a spokesman for the Egyptian presidency.
El-Sisi said Cairo is in turn keen to develop ties with Paris in various fields, especially the transfer of expertise and the employment of French technological know-how in all types of development.
He added that Egypt also hopes to maximize coordination and consultation with France on political, security, military and economic issues, and to help maintain security and stability in the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and the African continent, especially under the current French presidency of the EU.
Macron and El-Sisi also reviewed opportunities for cooperation ahead of Egypt’s hosting of the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, in Sharm El-Sheikh in November, given the prominent role they their countries play in environmental and climate issues, the spokesman said.
El-Sisi said the invitation for him to participate in the One Ocean Summit reflected the importance Egypt attaches to protecting the marine environment, as evidenced by the establishment of nature reserves and efforts to preserve biodiversity and reduce marine pollution.
The Egyptian president also held talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, and Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Bouden on the sidelines of the summit.