The national intelligence agency has arrested eight Islamic State operatives in the capital, Kabul. The arrests follow an assault by five heavily armed Islamic State suicide bombers on the Afghan military academy in Kabul that killed 11 soldiers. The suspects were recruiting Afghan youth and planning terror attacks in Kabul, the agency said. They were accumulating funds for subversive activities. Afghan security forces have since improved security around the capital and made raids against IS militant. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, acting on findings of a probe into the assault, fired seven army officers, including two generals, for ‘professional negligence”. The situation in Kabul is criticized and Ghani’s government is accused of failing to protect the city and Afghanistan.
The nearly 3-year-old Yemen war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced 2 million and helped spawn a devastating cholera epidemic in the Arab world’s poorest country. The shocking report on its humanitarian crises goes hand in hand with the affection of Yemen’s culture and historical sites. UNESCO reports numerous example of this silent but still ongoing distraction. For instance, the Awwam Temple, which links a region now on the front lines of the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels to Arabia’s pre-Islamic past. Experts fear the temple, as well as other historic and cultural wonders across Yemen, beyond those acknowledged by international authorities, remains at risk as the country’s stalemated war rages on. Anna Paolini, the directorate of UNESCO’s regional office placed in Qatar and that oversees Yemen and Gulf Arab nations declares that “All the villages are historic in a way” and that “They’re still heritage of the country. It’s sad to see what’s happening”. ” Saudi-led air attacks have destroyed historic mud homes in Saada, the birthplace of the Houthi rebels. Air attacks have also hit the over 2,500-year-old Old City in Yemen’s rebel-held capital of Sanaa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its intricately decorated, burnt-brick towers. Shelling and air attacks have struck museums and other sites in the country. In 2015, air attacks damaged part of the Great Marib Dam, near the Awwam Temple and built by the same civilization, according to UNESCO. Just the shockwaves of an explosion in the distance can be enough to damage delicate structures. UNESCO has shared coordinates of some 50 historical sites with militaries involved in the fighting, to try to protect the sites, Paolini said, though many remain unguarded now in the chaos of the war.
U.S. President Donald Trump told Israel on Friday that it too would need to make “significant compromises” for peace with the Palestinians, even as they accused one of his Middle East envoys of bogging down diplomacy with what they see as pro-Israel bias. The Palestinians were outraged by Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a move overturning decades of U.S. reticence on the city’s status, and say they are looking at additional world powers as potential mediators. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper that was excerpted ahead of its full publication on Sunday, Trump described his Jerusalem move as a “high point” of his first year in office. The language of Trump’s announcement did not rule out a presence in Jerusalem for the Palestinians, who want the eastern part of the city – captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally – as their own capital.
Congress ended an hourslong federal government shutdown early Friday, sending President Donald Trump a $400 billion budget deal that sharply boosts spending and swells the federal deficit. The White House said Trump would sign the measure Friday morning. The 240-186 vote came in the pre-dawn hours, putting to bed a five-and-a-half hour federal freeze that relatively few would notice. Many who did quickly labeled it a pointless, head-scratching episode. The shutdown was the second in three weeks. The breakdown came largely in the Senate, when after a day of inaction, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky went rogue and stalled a vote in protest over his party’s willingness to bust the budget. But Democrats also had their divisions and wrangling, largely with liberal upset the measure was not tied to any plans to assist the “Dreamer” immigrants.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a lawsuit against opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu over an alleged “attack on personal rights”, for a speech the latter gave in a parliamentary group meeting. Erdoğan demanded 250,000 Turkish liras in compensation from Kılıçdaroğlu. Before the complaint, the president had blasted Kılıçdaroğlu for a in which he had accused Erdoğan of “abetting terrorist organizations. Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s comments, CHP lawmaker Mahmut Tanal filed a criminal complaint against Erdoğan for “abetting terrorist organizations”. The last suit was announced on Jan. 12, to the tune of 150,000 Turkish Liras.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli next week in Brussels and discuss the situation in Afrin and Manbij. Mattis said the situation in the Syrian town has not changed despite the Turkish pressure. Mattis described Ankara’s rhetoric on Manbij as something very concerning for the U.S. and he added that operation in Manbij is a distraction from the fight against Daesh. The Obama administration previously had promised Ankara that once Manbij was cleared of Daesh, the YPG would leave the town, but YPG-affiliated commanders are still in the town, according to Turkey government.
The Civil and Political Coalition “Tunisians for Palestine” on Friday organised a protest rally outsite the Bardo Palace to protest against the procrastination of the parliament in complicity with the executive power in examining the draft law on the criminalisation of normalisation with the Zionist entity. This protest rally coincides with the review by the Parliamentary Committee on Rights and Freedoms of the bill in question. The Committee has decided to postpone the examination of the draft law on the criminalisation of normalisation with the Zionist State, following a majority vote of the members for the reorganisation of the timetable for the examination of draft law according to their priority. According to coalition coordinator Slah Daoudi, the protesters are calling for the acceleration of the review of the bill in question and taking the necessary steps to vote it before its consideration in plenary session as of February 20, 2018.
Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui on Friday held talks with President of National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) David Hammoud on strengthening bilateral trade relations, the ministry said in a statement. Khemaies Jhinaoui placed emphasis on “the importance of developing cooperation with this organisation to open up new prospects for exports of Tunisian products to the US market and consolidate the links between businessmen and business leaders from both countries in order to explore new prospects for partnership”. In turn, David Hammoud stressed his organisation’s will to help Tunisian companies to establish partnerships with their American counterparts in all fields. He also stressed the consolidation of ties between the two parties, so as to create a new dynamic for bilateral trade and allow local businesses to access US markets.
According to medical sources in Arbin and Hammuriye, two of the areas struck overnight, a total of 75 bodies have been reported on the streets and in hospitals in the cities of Ghouta after the Syrian government air strike on Ghouta, Damascus. Babies, children and women were among the victims, the sources said.
Instead of seeking to wipe out Daesh terrorists in Syria and Iraq, it seems that the United States’ real agenda is to enlist local proxies to counter the initiatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the region, according to Erdogan and his PM Metiner.