Dozens of Syrians took to the streets in southwest Syria to protest deteriorating economic conditions and corruption in the country, according to reports by local media run by activists in the area.
The demonstrations in Suweida province on Sunday come as the Syrian pound continues to plummet.
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The currency hit a record low last week followed by another on Sunday. One Syrian pound currently stands at $0.002, according to currency conversion websites.
The protests also mark the first major gathering which called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the Druze-majority province remained loyal to Damascus throughout the Syrian uprising.
Widely shared videos showed mostly young men marching through a market in Suweida towards the municipality building. They chanted anti-government slogans, similar to those used when peaceful protests first erupted in 2011 before quickly turning bloody.
عاجل| انتقل المحتجون من أمام مبنى محافظة #السويداء، باتجاه دوار المشنقة مروراً بسوق المدينة، وسط هتافات غاضبة من تردي الأوضاع المعيشية والاقتصادية، حيث هتف المحتجون “سوريا لينا وما هي لبيت الأسد”، وهتافات أخرى حملوا فيها السلطات السورية مسؤولية الأوضاع المتدهورة. pic.twitter.com/Bm9HeGo74c
— السويداء 24 (@suwayda24) June 7, 2020
“Leave now Bashar” and “the people want the fall of the regime” were among the chants that could be heard.
— IDLIB POST (@IdlibEn) June 7, 2020
Others videos showed people holding signs and chanting “Syria is free, out with Russia … out with Iran”.
عاجل| المحتجون يعودون إلى ساحة محافظة #السويداء، ويهتفون ” #سوريا حرة #إيران و #روسيا برا”، و”يرحم روحك يا سلطان البلد صارت لإيران”، بالإضافة إلى هتافات تندد بالسلطة السورية، وتحملها مسؤولية تدهور الأوضاع المعيشية والاقتصادية، وفق مراسل السويداء 24. تفاصيل أكثر حال ورودها .. pic.twitter.com/rx49glGkKJ
— السويداء 24 (@suwayda24) June 7, 2020
In neighbouring Deraa, where the Syrian uprising began some nine years ago, reports of similar protests emerged later on Sunday, though they were limited to Tafas, a town in the province’s north.
‘Nothing to lose’
The country remains sanctioned by the European Union, which imposes trade and transport sanctions that have impeded the flow of much-needed humanitarian aid.
Medicine is scarce and has become increasingly unattainable during the past couple of months amid reports of pharmacies shutting down.
Most pharmacists “aren’t selling essential drugs due to accelerated loss of the buying power of the Syrian pound/lira,” Zaher Sahloul, senior adviser and past president of the Syrian American Medical Society, said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
“The situation is desperate and adding to the public anger from their government. People expect the worse,” he added.
According to Syrian journalist Asser Khattab, two smaller demonstrations took place in Suweida during the last month.
“Many Syrians have nothing to lose now that the value of their currency is in a freefall and inflation is ravaging the market,” the Paris-based journalist told Al Jazeera.
“Suweida is a special case where people have been more or less under less influence of the Syrian regime’s direct military and security reach which may have allowed people to feel less worried about the repercussions of going on a demonstration,” Khattab added.
Khattab believes that living conditions are bound to get worse, and it is likely that more demonstrations will occur as Syrians “struggle to attain their daily bread”.
The 10-year war in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population.
Apart from the rebel-held northwestern region, President al-Assad has regained much of the country’s territory since 2015, when Russia intervened militarily to assist the government in pushing back opposition fighters.
In recent years, Russia and Turkey, which backs opposition factions, have become the main power-brokers in Syria.
Additional reporting by Farah Najjar.
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Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com
Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year. On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the…
Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year.
On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the roof to collapse and parts of the building were blackened by the blaze.
“One of the strong theories is based on internal agents being involved in the incident,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).
“The issue is being seriously reviewed by the country’s security organisations and we will announce the results after things are clear.”
It is the first time an Iranian official specifically pointed to the possibility of an inside job for the blast.
In late August, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed the damage to the facility was the result of “sabotage”.
“But how this explosion took place and with what materials … will be announced by security officials in due course,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at the time, citing “security reasons” for not disclosing further information.
‘Sabotage is certain’
In early September, Kamalvandi announced Natanz saboteurs “have been identified” but refrained from discussing further details, including whether internal agents were complicit.
On Tuesday, Rabiei also reiterated that “sabotage is certain” but the incident still needs to be investigated due to its complexities.
The desert Natanz site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities regularly monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
Following the explosion, international media reports indicated Israel may have been behind the attack. Israel has been deliberately vague, neither confirming nor denying involvement while stressing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.
“Everyone can suspect us in everything and all the time, but I don’t think that’s correct,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said days after the attack.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also said “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear capabilities”, adding to that end, “We take actions that are better left unsaid.”
September’s announcement that Iran knows the saboteurs behind the Natanz explosion came one week after IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the country.
The trip was successful, leading to Iran granting access to two suspected former nuclear sites that the UN watchdog wished to inspect.
“In this present context, based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran,” the IAEA and Iranian officials said in a joint statement following the visit.
In a speech during the 64th session of the General Conference of the IAEA on Monday, the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi referred to the Natanz incident.
“These malicious acts need to be condemned by the agency and member states,” he said via video conference, adding “Iran reserves its rights to protect its facilities and take necessary actions against any threat as appropriate.”
Salehi also urged the UN watchdog not to compromise its “impartiality, independence and professionalism”.
Iran, UN and the United States are locked in a major disagreement centred around the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018.
The US on Sunday declared it reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that was roundly rejected by the United Nations Security Council as lacking legal basis.
The US is trying to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has always maintained it never pursued nuclear weapons, accepted the nuclear deal that removed all UN sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The US reneged on the deal, unilaterally imposing a harsh campaign of sanctions that have hit almost all the productive sectors of the Iranian economy. US sanctions have also targeted Iranian officials and organisations.
In response, starting exactly one year after US sanctions were imposed and other parties failed to guarantee economic benefits promised Iran under the deal, Iran started gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments.
Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com
Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel. Palestinians see the deals that the United…
Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been informed of the Palestinian decision.
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The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies
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