Eight Pakistani Children, Five Others Killed In Jordan Fire

Ali Akyuz / AFP

 

 

Thirteen Pakistanis including eight children died early Monday when a blaze tore through their corrugated metal home in a rural area of western Jordan, authorities said.

Rescue services said “13 people died and three others were injured when fire broke out in a corrugated metal house” on a farm in South Shona, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Amman.

The makeshift building was home to two Pakistani families working as agricultural labourers, they said in a statement.

Fire service spokesman Iyad al-Omari told state television channel Al-Mamlaka that eight children, four women and a man had died in the blaze at around 2:00 am, which was likely caused by an electrical fault.

Jordan is home to thousands of Pakistanis, many of them agricultural labourers.

House fires in Jordan are often caused by the use of cheap but dangerous forms of heating while the occupants are asleep.

AFP

UN Report Finds Jordan, Turkey, UAE Violated Libya Arms Embargo

 

Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have regularly violated the UN arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011, according to a confidential report by UN experts seen Thursday by AFP.

The three countries “routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied weapons with little effort to disguise the source,” a summary of a year-long study by the UN experts said.

According to diplomats, Jordan was accused of having trained troops of Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman in eastern Libya who launched an offensive in April in a bid to seize Tripoli.

The United Arab Emirates, another Haftar backer, is suspected of using attack aircraft on behalf of his forces.

READ ALSO: Baghdadi’s Wife Reveals IS Group Secrets After Capture

The UAE is suspected of involvement in a July 2 bombing of a detention center for migrants in a Tripoli suburb which left around 50 people dead.

The report does not definitively apportion blame for the attack but notes that the UAE is equipped with both US-made F-16s and French Mirage 2000-9s.

Turkey, which openly supports the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, is accused of supplying his forces with military material ranging from armored vehicles to drones.

“Both parties to the conflict received weapons and military equipment, technical support and non-Libyan fighters in non-compliance with the sanctions measures related to arms,” said the experts’ report, delivered to members of the UN Security Council on October 29.

“The panel also identified the presence of Chadian and Sudanese armed groups in support of forces affiliated” with Sarraj and Haftar, the report said, although they have had only a limited impact.

“Although the military capability of both parties was apparently enhanced, in reality the impact of the foreign armed groups to outcomes in the conflict was limited,” it said.

– ‘New phase of instability’ –
The 85-page document and a more than 300-page annex includes pictures, maps and copies of ship manifests of cargos delivered to Libya by sea.

The report is expected to be the subject of debate by the Security Council’s 15 members at the end of the month in the sanctions committee responsible for Libya. It is then expected to be approved for public release, probably in December.

The experts said they were awaiting answers to their questions from several UN member states.

“The panel identified multiple acts that posed a threat to the security, peace and stability of Libya,” they said.

Since Haftar’s offensive in April, a “new phase of instability, combined with the interests of several states and non state actors in the outcome, amplified the existing proxy conflict that took shape post-2011,” they said.

“Military operations have been dominated by the use of precision-guided munitions from unmanned combat aerial vehicles, which to a degree has limited the collateral damage normally expected from such a conflict,” they said.

The use of drones “has been massive by both sides,” a diplomat said, confirming accusations leveled previously by the UN envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame.

Another diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the report does not mention the presence of Russian mercenaries in Libya.

Several hundred have been deployed in Libyan territory in recent months, taking part in combat in support of Haftar’s forces, US media reported earlier this week, a charge denied by Moscow.

The report also said that human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, although reduced considerably, “continues to finance networks that contribute to instability.”

The panel said there had been attempts by the National Oil Corporation in the east of the country to illicitly export crude oil.

“Refined petroleum products continue to be diverted by sea and overland, albeit at a lower level than in previous years,” it said.

Four Tourists Among Six Wounded In Jordan Stabbing – Security Official

This picture taken on November 6, 2019 shows a view of the scene outside Jerash Government Hospital where victims were taken following a knife attack at the site of Jerash/ AFP

 

Six people, including four tourists, were wounded in a knife attack in Jordan on Wednesday, a security spokesman said, adding that the assailant had been apprehended.

Four tourists — three Mexicans and a Swiss woman — were wounded in the knife attack, along with a Jordanian tour guide and a security officer, public security directorate spokesman Amer Sartawi told AFP.

“Around noon, a man attacked tourists, a tour guide and a security officer who tried to stop him in Jerash” a popular attraction 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Amman, Sartawi said.

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“The wounded were transported to the hospital for treatment” and “the assailant was immediately arrested”, he added.

He did not specify the nationality of the attacker or give details on the severity of the wounds. The attacker’s motivation is so far unknown, he added.

It is not the first time tourist sites have been targeted by attacks in Jordan.

In December 2016, in Karak, home to one of the region’s biggest Crusader castles, 10 people were killed in an attack that also left 30 wounded.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) and 10 people were eventually convicted of carrying it out.

Four “terrorist” incidents struck the country the same year, including a suicide attack in June claimed by IS that killed seven Jordanian border guards near the border with Syria.

Tourism is a mainstay of the Jordanian economy, with the kingdom working to pull the sector out of a crisis caused by regional unrest.

Jordan’s tourism sector suffered after the Arab Spring uprisings convulsed the Middle East in 2011 and IS later rampaged across neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

Lacking in natural resources, the country of nearly 10 million depends on tourism, with 10 to 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) coming from the sector last year, according to the tourism ministry.

The country boasts 21,000 archaeological and historical sites that span millennia, according to the tourism board.

They include the Roman ruins of Jerash, the ancient city of Petra, the Dead Sea and Wadi al-Kharrar, or Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where some believe Jesus was baptised.

Jordan welcomed seven million tourists in 2010, but arrivals plunged to around three million in each of the following two years, tourism board head Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat said in April.

Numbers have rebounded as spillover from the war in neighbouring Syria has abated, officials have said, with the government working to bring annual tourist arrivals back up to 7 million by 2020.

Jordan Summons Israeli Ambassador Over Jerusalem

 

Jordan summoned Israel’s ambassador on Sunday in protest over “violations” at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the foreign ministry said. 

It summoned envoy Amir Weissbrod to voice its “condemnation and rejection of Israeli violations” at the highly sensitive site, where Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinian worshippers last week.

READ ALSO: Gibraltar Rejects US Demand To Seize Iranian Oil Tanker

Jordan, the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have a peace agreement with the Jewish state, supervises Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.

AFP

Buhari Prepares With His Team In Jordan Ahead Of World Economic Forum Participation

 

President Muhammadu Buhari and his team in Jordan have met as part of final preparations ahead of the president’s presentation at the World Economic Forum (WEF)

The President and his team met earlier today ahead of the WEF on the Middle East and North Africa holding on Saturday at the Dead Sea, Amman.

The President departed Abuja on Thursday for Amman to honour an invitation by King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s ‘Resignation’: I Can’t Say Yet That The President Is Aware – Femi Adesina

President Buhari is to deliver an address at the opening of the plenary alongside King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, as well as join world economic leaders in an informal gathering at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre.

President Buhari is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with some world leaders on the sidelines of the forum.

He will subsequently depart Amman on Sunday for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to participate in the ninth edition of the Annual Investment Meeting scheduled for April 8-10, 2019.

Invited by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rachid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the President, as Guest of Honour, will deliver the keynote address under the theme, “Mapping the Future of Foreign Direct Investment: Enriching World Economies through Digital Globalisation.”

According to the organisers, the meeting is “the largest gathering of corporate leaders, policymakers, businessmen, regional and international investors, entrepreneurs, leading academics and experts showcasing up-to-date information, strategies and knowledge on attracting FDI.”

The meeting seeks to explore investment opportunities in more than 140 countries, connect businesses and countries willing to engage in sustainable partnerships with investors.

Buhari Travels For Economic Forum In Jordan

Kaduna Killings: Politics Hampering Efforts To Punish Perpetrators, Says Buhari
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja today for Amman to honour an invitation by King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

The President is to participate in the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa holding at the Dead Sea, Jordan.

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He will deliver an address at the opening of the plenary alongside King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, as well as join world economic leaders in an informal gathering at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre.

President Buhari is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with some world leaders on the sidelines of the forum.

He will subsequently depart Amman on Sunday for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to participate in the ninth edition of the Annual Investment Meeting scheduled for April 8-10, 2019.

Invited by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rachid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the President, as Guest of Honour, will deliver the keynote address under the theme, “Mapping the Future of Foreign Direct Investment: Enriching World Economies through Digital Globalisation.”

According to the organisers, the meeting is “the largest gathering of corporate leaders, policymakers, businessmen, regional and international investors, entrepreneurs, leading academics and experts showcasing up-to-date information, strategies and knowledge on attracting FDI.”

The meeting seeks to explore investment opportunities in more than 140 countries, connect businesses and countries willing to engage in sustainable partnerships with investors.

President Buhari will be accompanied on both trips by Governors Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), and Yahaya Bello Kogi State.

Others on the entourage include the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), and other top government officials.

Ex-Customs Boss, 28 Others Charged With Corruption In Jordan

 

A former customs chief, an ex-minister and a top businessman in Jordan were among 29 suspects charged Thursday with corruption in a case involving fake cigarettes, a judicial source said.

More than a dozen companies and firms were also charged in the “tobacco case” which media reports have said had cost Jordan’s treasury hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues.

The suspects indicted by the prosecutor of the state security court, which is a military tribunal, include prominent businessman Awni Mutee, ex-customs chief Waddah al-Hamoud and former water minister Munir Oweis, in a 66-page charge sheet seen by AFP.

READ ALSO: Pope Calls For Rejection Of ‘All Forms Of Corruption’

Several charges were levelled against 29 suspects and the companies implicated in the case, including abuse of power, bribery, smuggling and money laundering.

They stand accused of “activity harmful to the security and well-being” of the public and of “endangering” society.

The prosecutor has referred them to trial.

Oweis and Hamoud were arrested in January, while Mutee, the main accused, was extradited from Turkey in December. Six suspects are on the run.

Security sources said last year that they had raided a factory south of Amman owned by Mutee where fake cigarettes were produced.

The raid came a month after angry demonstrations in Amman to denounce corruption, price rises and austerity measures.

King Abdullah II vowed in October that authorities would crack down on corruption.

Jordan Floods Kill 20 In ‘Dead Sea Tragedy’

Jordan Floods Kill 20 In 'Dead Sea Tragedy'
This picture shows the site of a bus accident near the Dead Sea in Jordan on October 25, 2018. Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP

 

At least 20 people, most of them schoolchildren, were killed in flash floods in Jordan, the emergency services said Friday, in what a government newspaper dubbed a “Tragedy at the Dead Sea”.

Another 35 people were injured following heavy rains on Thursday, including members of the security forces involved in rescue operations, a civil defence official told AFP, updating earlier tolls.

A security source said rescuers were still searching for eight people missing in the Dead Sea area, a popular tourist attraction around 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Amman.

“Most of the dead were schoolchildren aged 11 to 14 taking part in a school trip to the Dead Sea region” when their bus was swept away by the floodwaters, he said.

The floodwaters had carried away schoolchildren into the sea after they had descended from the bus.

Also among the dead were passers-by who had been picnicking in the area, the civil defence said, adding that a nearby bridge had collapsed.

Jordanian television reported that King Abdullah II had cancelled a planned visit to Bahrain to monitor developments.

“My sadness and sorrow are matched only by my anger at anyone who did not take the steps that could have prevented this painful incident,” the king wrote on Twitter.

Government newspaper Al-Rai carried the headline “Tragedy at the Dead Sea” on its front page, while the private Al-Ghad daily said it was a “Black Day”.

– ‘Full inquiry’ –

A medical source told AFP three Iraqi pupils were among the dead.

Private television station Roya showed an Iraqi man crying and saying: “My wife died a month ago and today my son died.”

The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is surrounded by steep valleys and gullies that frequently see flash floods and landslides in autumn and winter.

Education Minister Azmi Mahafzah promised a “full inquiry” into the school children’s deaths.

He said the bus had taken a route not agreed upon by the ministry and that the organiser of the trip bore full responsibility.

An official at Jordan’s education ministry said the school had received permission around a week ago to visit Al-Azraq, the site of a nature reserve east of Amman.

Social media users said several parents had at the last minute refused to let their children join the trip after Jordan’s meteorological office warned of severe weather conditions and possible mudslides.

Roads leading to the area were closed on Friday morning “to allow search and rescue operations”, the Directorate of General Security said.

Jordanian television showed scenes from the rescue operation, with dozens of security personnel and local residents searching near the shore of the Dead Sea, with boats also deployed in its waters which had turned brown from mud.

Neighbouring Israel’s military said that at the request of the Jordanian government, it had sent helicopters and forces specialised in search and rescue to assist in the operation.

AFP

Jordan Reopens Main Border Post With Syria After 3 Years

This handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on October 15, 2018, shows the main border crossing between Jordan and war-torn Syria reopened on October 15 after a three year closure, an AFP photographer reported. The black metal border gate was opened from the Jordanian side of the crossing at 8:00 am (0500 GMT), AFP / SANA

Jordan on Monday reopened its main border crossing with war-torn Syria, a key Middle East trade route, after a three-year closure, AFP reporters said.

The black metal border gate was opened from the Jordanian side of the crossing at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) as more than a dozen police and customs officials stood nearby.

Cars bearing Jordanian license plates queued to enter Syria as travelers expressed their joy at being able to cross the border.

Syrian businessman Hisham Falyoun, who lives in Jordan with his wife and children, was the first person to cross the border in his black Mercedes jeep.

“I am extremely happy, I can’t express my feelings. This crossing should have been reopened earlier as it is a very vital line for all Arab countries not only Jordan and Syria,” he said.

“I wanted to be the first person to cross to show everyone that Syria is safe, Syria is back,” said Falyoun, who was hoping to surprise his parents in Damascus.

Other travelers were likewise elated to make the crossing.

“Today is a celebration for us and I wanted to be among the first to cross the border,” said Syrian businessman Mohammed Hisham as he waited for his turn to enter Syria from Jordan where he now lives.

Jordanian taxi driver Imad Sariheen called the reopening of Jaber a source of “great happiness for all of us” which will help ease “economic hardships” caused by the closure of the crossing.

“Our conditions have worsened over the past years. Our work was halted because of the closure of the border between Jordan and Syria,” he added.

The border crossing, known as Jaber on the Jordanian side and Nassib on the Syrian side, was a key trade route before Amman closed it after the post was overrun by rebels in April 2015.

The reopening comes after Syrian government troops retook their side of the crossing in July under a deal with rebel fighters brokered by Moscow.

 Vital trade artery

Before it was shut the crossing was a major link not only for direct trade between the neighboring countries but also for longer-distance transit, which was a significant source of revenue.

Its closure strained the economy of Jordan — a desert kingdom with little resources which is heavily reliant on imports and foreign aid.

Nabil Romman, a Jordanian trade official, told AFP in 2015 that “70 percent of what we eat, of everything we import and export, passed through Syria”.

Cross-border trade between Jordan and Syria in 2010 — a year before the war broke out — stood at $615 million (530 million euros).

Damascus hopes that resumption of activity across the border post will help revitalize its own economy which has been devastated by the war.

After seven years of civil war, Syria’s government has recaptured large swathes of territory from rebels with backing from Russia, but it still only controls around half the 19 crossing points with neighbors Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey.

Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said Sunday that the decision to reopen the border was taken after “Jordanian and Syrian technical teams agreed on the final measures”.

Syria’s Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar also confirmed on Sunday that Jaber would start working again.

According to an agreement between Jordan and Syria have seen by AFP, the traffic of passenger and goods at the border crossing will resume daily from 0500 GMT to 1300 GMT.

Syria also requested that Jordan send an expert to help with border checks at Nassib where there are no X-ray machines, according to the terms of the agreement.

The accord stipulated that travelers entering Jordan from Syria “must obtain prior to their trip a security permit” from Jordanian authorities.

And those who plan to use Jordan as a transit stop en route to a third country must show proof of their residency permit in Syria as well as an entry visa to the country they plan to visit.

Abdullah, a Syrian in his 20s who studies in Jordan, told AFP he had been waiting at Jaber since dawn for his turn to go across to Syria.

“I brought my Jordanian friend with me. I had promised him we would visit my country together once the border reopens,” Abdullah said.

AFP

Jordan Defends Decision Not To Arrest Sudanese President

Sudanese Prime Minister Omar al-Bashir                                                        ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

 

Jordan defended Monday its decision not to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during an Arab League summit last year, saying it was not obliged to detain and hand him over to the International Criminal Court. 

Amman’s lawyers are appealing a December 2017 decision by the court which found that Jordan “failed to comply with its obligations” when it refused to detain Bashir, wanted by the Hague-based tribunal for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The ICC’s judges also referred the incident to the United Nations Security Council and the court’s Assembly of States Parties, which represents the nations that have ratified the ICC.

Long-time Sudanese leader Bashir jetted into Jordan in March last year to attend an annual Arab League summit, despite opposition from human rights groups and two ICC warrants out for his arrest.

But on Monday Amman’s representative Mahmoud Daifallah Mahmoud Hmoud said the ICC’s “pre-trial chamber erred in its conclusions”.

Jordan “regards Omar al-Bashir as a sitting head of state and therefore immune to arrest,” based on the international legal principle of comity between states.

“Jordan fully subscribes to the importance of the fight against impunity and the need to punish those responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the court,” he said.

“However, this cannot be done at the expense of fundamental rules and principles of international law aimed at securing peaceful relations among states,” he said.

Judges will during the next five days listen to complex legal arguments which touches a crucial aspect of the ICC’s work — namely whether a head of state can indeed be arrested and handed over to the ICC, set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes.

The appeals judges can then either uphold the court’s earlier decision to sanction Jordan or to scrap the measures.

Meanwhile, Bashir continues to travel with impunity including to Morocco and Rwanda last year. He has steadfastly denied the charges.

Last year, the ICC’s judges ruled that South Africa too flouted its duties to arrest Bashir during a 2015 visit, but they declined to refer the matter to the UN Security Council.

Bashir faces 10 charges, including three of genocide as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity and charges relating to the conflict in the western Darfur region.

Sudan‘s deadly conflict broke out in 2003 when ethnic minority groups took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, which launched a brutal counter-insurgency.

The UN Security Council tasked the ICC in 2005 to probe the crimes in Darfur, where at least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced, according to UN figures.

AFP

Prince William Visits Jordan’s Roman Ruins At Jerash

Britain’s Prince William visits the Jerash archaeological site, some 50 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on June 25, 2018. The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
AHMAD ABDO / AFP

 

Britain’s Prince William visited the Roman ruins of Jerash in northern Jordan on Monday, accompanied by his host Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah as part of a historic Middle East tour.

The two princes met children from Jordan and neighbouring war-torn Syria during their visit to the site, 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Amman.

The visit to Jordan by the second in line to the British throne has been billed as a chance to bond with Hussein, a fellow graduate of Britain’s Royal Sandhurst Military Academy.

William was also due to meet British troops based in the kingdom, before heading across the River Jordan to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The Duke of Cambridge and the heir to the Jordanian throne strolled along Jerash’s Colonnaded Street, a paved promenade lined with towering columns.

They also visited the Temple of Artemis, built on an elevated part of the site in honour of the goddess believed to protect the city, which was at its most prosperous in the third century.

When they reached the ancient site’s theatre they were greeted by Syrian and Jordanian school children in traditional dress, who gave a performance including music and poetry.

The show was organised by the Makany Centre, a UNESCO-backed programme providing health and education to both Syrian and Jordanian pupils.

Some 650,000 Syrian refugees have registered with the United Nations in Jordan since fleeing their country’s seven-year war which was sparked by peaceful anti-government protests in 2011.

Amman estimates the actual number is closer to 1.3 million people and says it has spent more than $10 billion (8.5 billion euros) hosting them.

William paid tribute in a speech on Sunday to “the way in which you opened your doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees”, even as Jordan said the same day that it would be unable to host any new wave of asylum seekers.

His Middle East tour will see William become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

William, who is president of the Football Association, was flying into Jordan as England thrashed Panama 6-1 in the World Cup on Sunday, but he caught a recording of the match on television at his host’s home.