Iraqi prime minister unharmed after failed assassination attempt on his residence

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi called for calm and restraint
More than five were injured in the drone attack
RIYADH: Iraq’s prime minister was unharmed after a drone assassination attempt at his residence early Sunday morning.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said he was fine in a televised message recorded after the incident, which injured seven members of his security team.

Al-Kadhimi, who has been moved to safety, called for calm and restraint for the sake of Iraq, and backed the security forces to ensure the nation’s security and uphold the law.

“Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and they don’t build a future,” he said in the short televised address, sitting behind a desk in a white shirt, looking composed.

There was no immediate claim for the attack.

He said security forces were doing their part to track down the perpetrators of the attack, which involved a single drone, according to Al Arabiya, who also broadcast clips of what sounded like gunfire from Baghdad. But security officials told the Associated Press that two explosives-laden drones were used in the attack.

Later that day, Kadhimi appeared in a video posted by his office presiding over a meeting with top security commanders to discuss the drone strike.

“The cowardly terrorist attack that targeted the prime minister’s house last night with the aim of assassinating him is a serious attack on the Iraqi state by criminal armed groups,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement issued after the meeting. .

Baghdad residents said they heard gunshots and an explosion in the direction of the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the prime minister’s home, as well as several diplomatic missions and government offices.

“We strongly condemn this apparent act of terrorism and are in close contact with the Iraqi security forces,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department. “Our commitment to our Iraqi partners is unwavering.”

Al-Kadhimi on Friday ordered the formation of a committee to investigate clashes between Iraqi security forces and supporters of parties that dispute the results of the October general elections.

One protester was killed and around 100 injured after hundreds of pro-Iranian Hashed Al-Shaabi supporters demonstrated in Baghdad near the Green Zone firing projectiles and blocking access before being dispersed by security forces.

Pro-Iran groups said actual rounds were used against the protesters, but the Health Ministry denied the claims.

Voters turned their backs on the previously powerful Fatah Alliance, reducing its number of seats in parliament from 48 to no more than 14.

The alliance is made up of candidates from Hashed Al-Shaabi, who finished second in the last elections of 2018 in what was seen as proof of Tehran’s growing influence.

That triggered a backlash in October 2019, when hundreds of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in “Tishreen” protests against corruption, unemployment and foreign influence. The security forces and the Hashed Al-Shaabi militia killed some 600 people in a violent crackdown.

European UNSC members criticize Israel’s designation of Palestinian NGOs as terrorists

Joint Statement: Appointment Has “Far-reaching” Political, Legal, and Financial Consequences
France, Ireland, Estonia, Norway and Albania also express “strong opposition” to settlement expansion.
NEW YORK: European members of the UN Security Council on Monday expressed “serious concern” over recent Israeli designations of Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations.

The listings “have far-reaching consequences” for organizations “in political, legal and financial terms,” ​​the members said.
EU members France, Ireland and Estonia, along with Norway and incoming UNSC member Albania, said they will seek further information from Israel on the basis of these designations, “which we will study carefully.”
In a joint statement following a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the issue, they added: “A prosperous civil society and respect for fundamental freedoms are cornerstones of open democracies. Civil society is an essential contributor to good governance, human rights, international law, democratic values ​​and sustainable development throughout the world, including in Israel and Palestine. It also contributes to peace efforts and confidence-building between Israelis and Palestinians. ”
The meeting came amid news that the mobile phones of six Palestinian human rights defenders were attacked by spyware from the Israeli hired hacker company NSO Group.

Three of the targets are related to NGOs that the Israeli army has recently accused of terrorism.
European members of the United Nations Security Council also called on Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and to cancel recently announced plans to build thousands more housing units in the Occupied Territories.
“We reiterate our firm opposition to the expansion of the settlements and we will not recognize any changes in the pre-1967 borders, including with respect to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties,” they said, urging “both parties” to avoid action. . that “undermine the two-state solution.”
They added: “We urge all parties to refrain in particular from all forms of violence and incitement directed against the civilian population.
“We will continue to support steps towards a sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Iran says it warned of US drones near its Gulf drilling

There have been periodic clashes between the Iranian military and US forces in the Gulf since 2018.
DUBAI: Iran’s military warned of US drones trying to approach Iranian war games near the mouth of the Gulf, state broadcaster IRIB said on Tuesday.
The annual exercises concluded on Tuesday, a few weeks before the resumption of talks between Tehran and world powers to reactivate a 2015 nuclear deal.
“These aircraft (US RQ-4 and MQ-9 drones) changed their route after approaching the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran following decisive interception and warning from air defense,” IRIB reported.
The exercises ranged from the eastern Strait of Hormuz to the northern Indian Ocean and parts of the Red Sea. Approximately a fifth of the oil consumed globally passes through the strategic waterway of the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf.
There have been periodic clashes between Iran’s military and US forces in the Gulf since 2018, when former US President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear pact and reimposed tough sanctions against Tehran.
Iran has reacted by violating the limits of the agreement on its nuclear program.
Indirect talks between Iran and the administration of US President Joe Biden to revive the pact, which were suspended since the election of Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi in June, will resume in Vienna on November 29.

The rare Golan Heights film is the highlight of the Palestinian film festival

RAMALLAH: A rare film to be shot in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights turned out to be a highlight of this year’s six-day festival of Palestinian Film Days that ends on Monday, with hundreds of people flocking to see the film set against the backdrop of the Syrian civil war.
“The Stranger” tells the story of Adnan, a Golan resident who feels like an outsider in his own community, but finds a new sense of purpose in helping a man who comes to the territory after being wounded in the Syrian conflict.
Director and screenwriter Ameer Fakher Eldin said Adnan’s experience is that of many Syrians separated from their home country in the Golan, a territory that Israel captured in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally.
“We live (in the Golan) on the border fence with our homeland. Imagine hearing the echoes of the war but not seeing the war for 10 years, “he said of President Bashar Assad’s civil war in Syria that erupted in 2011.
Fakher Eldin told Reuters that experience had led him to ask “who owns these wars … and whether it is a war within us or not.”
At the start of the Palestinian Film Days, now in its eighth year, actors and filmmakers posed on the red carpet in front of the Ramallah Cultural Palace in the occupied West Bank, in typical film festival scenes everywhere.
But unlike them, this festival takes place in six cities often separated by borders and checkpoints. The films were seen in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Haifa, and audiences included members of Israel’s Arab minority who consider themselves Palestinian citizens of Israel.
“We want to reach our audience in different cities and towns,” said festival spokesman Khulood Badawi.
“We want to give them this opportunity to return to the cinema and revive the film culture in these cities despite the obstacles that the Israeli occupation is imposing.”
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 conflict and cites security concerns by maintaining checkpoints throughout the territory.

Militia ‘tried to assassinate Iraqi prime minister with Iranian-made drones

JEDDAH: The assassination attempt on Iraq’s prime minister was carried out by at least one Tehran-backed militia using drones loaded with Iranian-made explosives, security officials and militia sources said on Monday.

Mustafa Al-Kadhimi escaped unharmed when three drones attacked his residence in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Sunday. Two of the weapons were intercepted and destroyed, but a third detonated, damaging the building and injuring several of his personal bodyguards.

The incident has triggered tensions in Iraq, where powerful Iranian-backed paramilitaries are contesting the outcome of a legislative election last month that delivered a crushing defeat at the polls and greatly reduced their strength in parliament. Many Iraqis fear that the tension will escalate into widespread civil conflict if more such incidents occur.

Baghdad’s streets were emptier and quieter than usual on Monday, and additional military and police checkpoints in the capital appeared determined to control possible violence.

Iraqi officials and analysts said the attack was intended to be a message from the militias that they were willing to resort to violence if they were excluded from forming a government or if their control over large areas of the state apparatus was questioned.

“It was a clear message of ‘We can create chaos in Iraq, we have the weapons, we have the means,'” said Hamdi Malik, a militia specialist at the Washington Institute.

Militia sources said that the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force abroad traveled to Iraq on Sunday after the attack to meet with paramilitary leaders and urge them to prevent further escalation of violence.

One of the Iraqi security officials said that the drones used were of the “quadcopter” type that contained high-powered explosives capable of damaging buildings and armored vehicles.

The official said they were the same type of Iranian-made drones and explosives used in this year’s attacks against US forces in Iraq, carried out by Kata’ib Hezbollah.

How the neglect of health services left MENA countries ill-prepared for the impact of COVID-19

DUBAI: A combination of chronic underfunding of public health services and long-term socioeconomic trends resulted in a tenuous and uneven recovery for the Middle East and North Africa region as it emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic , according to a recent World Bank report. report.

Titled, “Overconfidence: How Health and Economic Failures Left the Middle East and North Africa ill-prepared to deal with COVID-19,” the report highlights the stress on MENA’s healthcare systems even before the pandemic.

The study says that an inflated public sector and excessive national debt displaced investment in MENA countries in social services such as health, a symptom it described as “fiscal myopia.” In turn, that transferred some health costs to individuals.

Another symptom of stressed public health systems was the low share of public spending on preventive health care, a downside that contributed to high rates of communicable and non-communicable diseases.

The report concluded that the region’s public health systems were not only ill-prepared to absorb the impact of the pandemic, but also that the authorities were guilty of over-optimism in self-assessments of the readiness of their health systems. The survey referred to this as “overconfidence.”

Iraqi prime minister unharmed after failed assassination attempt on his residence

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