Iran Cautions against Doha Meeting's Repercussions

Iran on Tuesday warned the participants in the so-called 'Friends of Syria' meeting in Doha that their decision to send arms to the "rebels" in Syria would further deteriorate the crisis in the country, according to FNA.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi made the remarks in Tehran on Tuesday when asked by reporters about Iran's position on the Geneva II conference on Syria due to be co-hosted by the US and Russia in Switzerland.

Araqchi welcomed any political discussion in pursuit of a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Syria, but said there are some obstacles to the success of the Geneva II conference, including the decisions made in the recent 'Friends of Syria' meeting in Doha to further arm the rebel groups in Syria.

"Certain attempts are made alongside this idea (of holding the Geneva II conference) which run counter to the goals pursued by the Geneva meeting, including the recent meetings which were held and the efforts which were made to arm the "dissident groups" and these (moves) would provoke tension and conflict in Syria," he added.

"We are surprised that those who claim to be advocates of a peaceful settlement of the issue (in Syria) move towards arming the Takfiri and "dissident groups"," Araqchi underlined.

The foreign ministers of the so-called 'Friends of Syria' countries held a meeting in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday to discuss the volume and recipients of arms supplies to the rebels in Syria. The US and other western states allege that they intend to funnel arms into the hands of the Free Syrian Army to avoid equipment of terrorist groups with advanced weapons.

But, diplomatic sources present at the meeting told FNA on Sunday that both the 'FSA' and the al-Nusrah Front had sent separate letters to the meeting to warn the participants about the destination of the arms supplies.

"The commander of the al-Nusrah Front in a letter to the Doha conference called on the countries which took part in the meeting to supply the group with 50% of the weapons decided to be sent to the rebel groups in Syria," a diplomat present at the meeting said on the condition of anonymity for fear of his life.

According to the diplomat the letter warned the participants that "they should wait for dire consequences if they refrain from complying with the al-Nusrah request".

"Also, the ringleader of the 'Free Syrian Army' Salim Idriss in a separate letter to the conference demanded that FSA be the only recipient of any future arms supplies to be sent by the participants to Syria," added the diplomat.


Rouhani: the Syrians should determine their own destiny

TEHRAN - Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani stressed that helping the regional countries and preventing further violence to settle the problems of the region constitute the main core of Iran's foreign policy, according to FNA.

 “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s policy is to help the regional nations and governments, and I do not believe that problems in the region, particularly in Syria, can be solved militarily, but we seek (to help establish) a ceasefire in Syria to prevent [further] killings,” Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman on Sunday.

Rouhani dismissed any foreign meddling in Syria, stressing that the Syrian nation should determine its own destiny.


Qatari "emir" to step down

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 61, has informed members of the ruling family of his decision to transfer power to his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, according to Express Tribune.

Qatar’s royal court said that the emir would address his people on Tuesday morning.

The "emir" came to power in a coup when he overthrew his own father Sheikh Khalifa in June 1995.

Diplomats said that over the past three years the emir has increasingly handed over military and security responsibilities to Tamim, who like his father was educated at the British military academy Sandhurst.

Analyst Neil Partrick, an expert on the Gulf, ruled out major changes in Qatar when Tamim, who was born in 1980, succeeds his father.

Qatar took part in the armed intervention in Libya and is actively supporting "rebel forces" in Syria.


UN concerned over rising food insecurity in Palestine

Two UN agency heads Friday expressed concern at the deteriorating food security in the West Bank and Gaza where one in three Palestinian households now struggle to feed their families, a statement read. 

Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the UN World Food Programme and Filippo Grandi, the commissioner-general of UNRWA visited a Bedouin village between Jerusalem and Jericho where a food distribution carried out jointly by the two agencies was taking place.

“High food prices and low wages mean that 1.6 million Palestinians don’t know from where their next meal is coming,” said WFP’s Ertharin Cousin.

“Yet food security is security. Food security is a vital component for sustained peace across the region.”

Cousin also welcomed a new agreement with UNRWA that will strengthen cooperation in Palestine and throughout the region and address the urgent needs of the population, the statement read.

High unemployment, poor economy leading to food insecurity

In 2012, a total of 1.6 million people – 34 percent of households in Palestine – were food insecure, a dramatic rise from 27 percent in 2011, according to preliminary results of a joint UN survey carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, WFP, UNRWA and the Food and Agriculture Organization, found that

Contributing factors include high unemployment rates, stagnant economic growth, the financial problems of the Palestinian Authority, the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, the statement read.

In Jericho, Cousin met shoppers using electronic vouchers from WFP to buy olive oil, salt and other groceries, most of which are produced locally in Palestine.

In the past three years WFP has injected more than $100 million into the Palestinian economy through local purchase and the redemption of electronic food vouchers. "This investment supports local businesses and generates employment," the statement read.

During the visit to the village of Khan al Ahmar, the two agency heads signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in an agreement which will deepen and expand ties between the two agencies.

“As well as cooperating more in the fields of food security and nutrition, we can share expertise in logistics, supply chain management and other initiatives, not just in Palestine, but regionally, particularly as we face up to the challenge of the Syria crisis,” said Commissioner-General Grandi.


Source: Ma'annews



Anti-Morsi campaign gathers 15 million signatures

15 million signatures have been collected by the Tamarod (“rebellion” in Arabic) campaign demanding Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi’s resignation and calling for early presidential elections. Opponents of Morsi accuse him of stealing the 2011 uprising that resulted in the collapse of Hosni Mubarak's regime and plan to stage a rally against him June 30, one year after Morsi’s election,according to Voice of Russia.

“The Muslim Brotherhood" listens to the people when they need their votes and then they forget about us,” says a young woman, who confessed she voted for Morsi a year ago, but now she is disappointed, because “nothing has changed.”

The Tamarod campaign was launched in early May by a group of young people – including a few members of Kefaya, one of Egypt’s oldest opposition movements, – all disturbed by the current situation in the country.

The campaign claiming that Morsi has lost the trust of Egyptians has received a widespread support across the country.

Over the past few weeks volunteers have been collecting signatures at traffic intersections, markets and metro stations in Cairo and other Egyptian cities and towns.

The campaigners say almost 15 million Egyptians have already signed the petition, which is 2 million more than the 13 million voters who supported Morsi in June 2012 election.

Mohamed Abdel Aziz, a member of the campaign's central committee, said Tamarod will soon hold a press conference to announce the total number of petitions gathered.

Meanwhile Tamarod is planning to hold a press-conference on Thursday as part of preparations for mass protests scheduled for 30 June.

Egypt's defence minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has warned that the army will intervene if violence breaks out during the rallies on the first anniversary of Morsi’s election. The official has said it was the army’s duty to act to prevent chaos.