Syria steps up fuel rationing as crisis worsens



Syria steps up fuel rationing as crisis worsens


The Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources is introducing a temporary measure to regulate the distribution of petrol to all vehicles.

“Private cars will be given 20 litres every five days, three litres will be given for every three days, and taxis and public transport will be given 20 litres every 48 hours.

“On Sunday, the cabinet decided to reduce the quantities of gasoline allocated to government vehicles, set up mobile fuel stations and reopen closed stations,’’ the ministry said in a statement.

It added that all stations would be put under supervision of the Ministry of Oil to control the allocation of fuel and reduce any waste, smuggling or monopoly.

A Syrian official, who requested anonymity, told dpa that the crisis was the result of economic sanctions imposed by Western countries on the Syrian government and Iran.

The official also said that many Iranian tankers heading to Syria were far from reaching their destination.

Many Syrian oilfields were taken and exploited by Islamic State when it took over large parts of the country in 2014.


United States initiates ‘snapback’ process to reimpose sanctions on Iran – Pompeo



The United States has initiated the so-called snapback process to restore almost all previously lifted UN sanctions against Iran, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Saturday.

“Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and anti-Semitism,” Pompeo said.

He said the snapback of previously terminated UN sanctions became effective at 8 pm Washington time (0000 GMT).

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected the United States move, saying that the snapback mechanism and reimposed sanctions were invalid.

“This step is not supported by the UN Security Council because the United States is no longer in the nuclear agreement and accordingly no longer plays a role in UN resolution 2231,” Zarif said referring to the resolution in which the UNSC backed the Iran nuclear deal signed in Vienna in 2015.

The move by Washington was merely a “propaganda trick” ahead of the United States election, Zarif said on Iranian state television.

Washington’s plans to reimpose international sanctions on Iran have been met with overwhelming opposition from other countries.

Other members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), including key United States allies who are part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, have rejected Washington’s move and have vowed to ignore it.

Under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran limited its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.

“Sanctions are being re-imposed on Iran pursuant to the snapback process under UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2231. On August 20, the United States notified the President of the Security Council of Iran’s significant non-performance of its JCPOA commitments,” Pompeo said in the Saturday statement.

“Virtually all @UN sanctions have returned on Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism.

“This includes a permanent extension of the arms embargo. This is great news for peace in the region!” Pompeo added on Twitter.

He later added that Washington would soon “announce a range of additional measures to strengthen enforcement of @UN sanctions on Iran.”

“Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until it stops spreading chaos, violence, and bloodshed,” he said.

United States special representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams had already signalled Washington’s determination to reimpose sanctions on Tehran earlier this week.

The United States launched a formal bid in August to revive the UN sanctions under the “snapback” mechanism included in the Iran deal.

Those sanctions include the indefinite extension of an arms embargo that would otherwise expire in October.

But few countries believe Washington’s move is legal, as United States President Donald Trump unilaterally exited the JCPOA in 2018.

Washington said it would provide more information this weekend and next week on how the United States intended to enforce the global sanctions.

“In the coming days, the United States will announce a range of additional measures to strengthen implementation of UN sanctions and hold violators accountable,” Pompeo said in Saturday’s statement.

“Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until Iran reaches a comprehensive agreement with us to rein in its proliferation threats and stops spreading chaos, violence, and bloodshed,” Pompeo asserted.

Trump is likely to address Iran in his speech next week to the UN General Assembly’s largely online meeting of world leaders.

The stand-off between the United States and other member states over the issue threatens a diplomatic crisis at the world body.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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Berlin’s refusal to share evidence with Russia on Navalny case raises suspicion – Lawmakers



The German government’s refusal to share evidence with Russia on the circumstances surrounding opposition activist Alexey Navalny’s illness raises suspicions, German lawmakers have said.

Alexander Neu, the Die Linke party spokesman in the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, who made this known to Sputnik on Thursday, added: “The fact that the German government refuses to exchange information with Moscow makes it suspicious.

“The chain of evidence Berlin claims is far from being as strong and complete as they always say.”

Navalny fell ill in mid-August while on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow.

He immediately received medical care from Russian doctors and was later transferred to Germany for treatment.

Following his arrival in Germany, Berlin announced that lab analysis had shown that the opposition figure had traces of a nerve agent from the Novichok group in his system,

Russian officials, including Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, have indicated Moscow’s willingness to cooperate in a joint investigation in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding Navalny’s illness, and Neu said that nothing has so far proven Russia’s guilt.

“According to all we know, the Russian side has shown itself to be correct and willing to cooperate in this matter from the very beginning.

“Therefore, the German and Western reproaches to the address of Moscow are unfounded,” the German lawmaker said.

Berlin has called for the participation of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its ongoing investigation.

The OPCW announced on Thursday that a team of experts from the organization had traveled to Berlin to collect samples taken from the Russian opposition figure.

Dr. Harald Weyel, the AfD spokesman in the Bundestag Committee on the Affairs of the European Union, told Sputnik that there were questions surrounding OPCW’s reliability and trustworthiness, making reference to previous events in Syria.

“If the German authorities were interested in clearing up the case, surely they would provide the evidence.

“As we saw with the alleged ‘chemical attacks’ in Syria, ‘independent’ international organisations such as the OPCW can be playgrounds for the manipulation of evidence,” Weyel remarked.

European Union officials have hinted that further sanctions may be issued against Russia following Navalny’s illness, and earlier on Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the imposition of tougher measures on Russia.

According to Lord Richard Balfe, a Conservative member of the UK parliament’s House of Lords, imposing sanctions on Russia at this stage may not be the most appropriate decision.

“I am not sure that we want sanctions, I certainly do not think they are appropriate in this case.

“What we do need is more democratic pluralism and an understanding that in a democracy there is ‘a circulation of elites’ in other words power cannot be monopolised and has to change hands from time to time in a peaceful manner.

“That is why governments in the West lose elections,” Lord Balfe told Sputnik.

The head of the Russian lower chamber’s international affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, told reporters on Thursday that the European Parliament’s resolution was an instance of “direct gross interference” in Russia’s domestic affairs.

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a potential target of further EU sanctions, will still be completed despite the ongoing threats, Russian Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov also said on Thursday.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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Red Cross warns coronavirus is driving discrimination in Asia



The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Thursday warned the novel coronavirus is driving discrimination towards vulnerable communities in Asia, including migrants and foreigners.

The humanitarian agency surveyed 5,000 people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Pakistan and found about half blamed a specific group for spreading the coronavirus, with many mentioning Chinese people, immigrants and foreigners.

“It is particularly concerning that both national migrant and foreign workers are blamed for the spread of COVID-19 as they are quite vulnerable already,” Dr Viviane Fluck, one of the lead researchers and the agency’s Asia Pacific community engagement and accountability coordinator, told Reuters.

She said there should be more focus on combating rumours that are linked to underlying power dynamics and structural issues of inequality.

Over half of the Indonesians surveyed blamed “foreigners and rule-breakers” while in Myanmar, the groups most often thought to be responsible were people from China and other foreigners.

“In Malaysia, two-thirds blamed a specific group, most frequently mentioning migrants, foreign tourists and illegal foreigners,’’ the researchers said.

Malaysian authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented migrants and refugees in May in a crackdown the United Nations said could push vulnerable groups into hiding and prevent them from seeking treatment.

Police said at the time the operation was aimed at preventing people from travelling amid movement curbs.

In Pakistan, most people surveyed blamed inadequate government controls on the Iranian border, followed by nationals including pilgrims coming back from Iran and then people from China.

In all four countries, higher education had a small impact on whether respondents blamed a specific group, with university graduates slightly less likely to hold certain people responsible, the researchers said.


Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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United States withdrawal from Afghanistan, Africa affects EU security, defence policy – Germany



The United States disengagement from Afghanistan and Africa affects the security and defence policy of the EU, which will require the latter to improve its set of tools to deal with regional conflicts, an official said.

The German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, said this in Berlin on Thursday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to lead to even greater instability in our region.

“We are dealing with destabilising actors in a number of countries – just think of Ukraine, Syria or Libya.

“The United States is withdrawing not only from Afghanistan but also from Africa.’’

“For the EU, this can only mean one thing: we need a set of tools to resolve conflicts in neighbouring countries.

“And this toolbox, ladies and gentlemen, is our common security and defence policy,’’ Maas said at the opening of the European Centre of Excellence for Civilian Crisis Management in Berlin.

According to the minister, during its presidency in the EU Council, Germany wants to make the coordination of the EU countries in the field of security and defence more effective and permanent.

“To achieve sustainable peace, we need an ‘integrated approach’.

“Consequently, civil crisis management should be at the centre of European foreign and security policy,’’ Maas added.

The Centre of Excellence for Civilian Crisis Management was established in February at Germany’s initiative.

The institution will serve as a centre of knowledge for gathering and sharing national models as well as experiences.

It will also draw up concrete proposals on how European civilian crisis management can be further developed in terms of concept and practice.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde
Source: NAN
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