Monday, January 25, 2016

From Ian:


Palestinian twin sisters accused of making bombs for attacks
Israeli security forces arrested 18-year-old bomb-making twin sisters from Shwaika, outside the Palestinian city of Tulkarem in the West Bank last month, the Shin Bet security service announced Monday.
Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Shin Bet officers discovered pipe bombs and other explosive materials in the home of Diana and Nadia Hawila in late December 2015, officials said.
In addition, they found knives, Hamas headbands and “equipment for riots,” the Shin Bet said in a statement, though it did not claim that the twins were, in fact, Hamas members.
“This investigation again shows the motivation to carry out terror attacks, especially among those who are not a part of terrorist organizations, including women,” the Shin Bet said.
In interrogation, Diana Hawila admitted that she had purchased the fertilizer and other chemicals necessary to create the explosives.
She learned how to create bombs by watching instructional videos online, according to the Shin Bet. Diana also watched Islamic extremist videos that encouraged women to take part in terror attacks against Israelis and Jews, which “strengthened her decision to act,” the Shin Bet said.
Teen stabber had ‘urge’ to act, says relative
A relative of a 13-year-old Palestinian girl, who was shot and killed on Saturday when trying to knife a security guard at a West Bank settlement, said she had an “urge” to act and was influenced by other terrorists.
At the same time, other family members of Roqaya Abu-Eid questioned why she had been killed rather than subdued. Her father said there had been no need to kill her.
Abu-Eid was shot by a civilian security guard at the entrance to Anatot, near Jerusalem, when she rushed at him with a knife, police said. She lived in the nearby Palestinian village of the same name.
Israel Police said after an initial investigation that the girl had fought with her parents and stormed out the family home with the knife, declaring that she wanted to die, a claim rejected by her family.
A teenage relative told Channel 2 on Sunday that she had been inspired to carry out the attack by seeing other incidents.
Israel strikes Hamas terror target in Gaza in response to rocket fire
The Israel Air Force struck a Hamas military compound in the center of the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Monday in retaliation for a Gazan rockets fired on the Southern region of Israel.
The rocket was fired from the Gaza strip at southern Israel on Sunday evening setting off the color red sirens in the Sha'ar Hanegev region, sending local residents fleeing for cover.
The rocket exploded in an open area, failing to cause injuries and there was no damage, the army said.
In the response a few hours later, IAF aircraft struck a Hamas military installation, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said.
On Saturday night, Gazan terrorists fired a rocket towards Israel. The rocket landed inside Gaza in open territory. The color red siren was not sounded.



Israeli treated for shock after drive-by shooting near settlement
An Israeli man came under fire Sunday night while driving near the West Bank Settlement of Dolev, north of Jerusalem, but escaped uninjured.
His car was struck by at least one bullet, and he was treated for shock after the attack.
The victim, described by the Magen David Adom emergency service as an Israeli man in his 50s, managed to escape and continued driving to the settlement of Dolev, where he was treated for shock by paramedics.
Israel Defense Forces said security forces had launched a manhunt for the perpetrator.
IDF Arabic Spokesman Posts ‘Be Like Bilal’ Meme Encouraging Palestinians to Use Knives for Cooking, Not Killing
The IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman posted a meme on his Facebook page urging Palestinians to start using knives for cooking, rather than killing, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Sunday.
Major Avichay Adraee, who has hundreds of thousands of followers across the Arab world, employed a gimmick that has been taking social media by storm over the past few weeks to convey a serious message.
Mimicking the “Be like Bill” stick-figure meme (and Facebook page), which is now being widely circulated with different names to give humorous advice about how a person should be behave, Adraee created a “Be like Bilal” figure with a life lesson aimed at young Arabs.
Netanyahu: The world must work to stop PA's incitement
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged the international community to work to stop Palestinian incitement to terrorism against Israelis.
Netanyahu’s message came after it was revealed that the 16-year-old Arab terrorist who last Sunday stabbed to death Dafna Meir at the entrance to her home in Otniel was inspired by Palestinian TV.
“The terrorist who murdered Dafna Meir last week has admitted that the images he saw on Palestinian television motivated him to murder the Israeli mother of six,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page.
“As I wrote at the time, the terrorist was ‘acting in a manner consistent with the values that the Palestinian Authority promotes in schools, on television shows, and in public statements.’ I demand that the international community stop its hypocrisy and do everything in its power to pressure the Palestinian Authority to stop its incitement against Israel,” he added.
Hamas deputy leader praises media for supporting the 'intifada'
Hamas' deputy leader Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday praised the Palestinian Arab media for continuing to play a major role in strengthening the morale of the Palestinians during the intifada.
Speaking at an event of Hamas’s Communications Department honoring journalists who won international awards in 2015, Haniyeh said that "there is an ongoing campaign without guns and without the noise of bullets, and that campaign is the siege on the Gaza Strip, and it is more dangerous than aircraft and cannons, and so the Palestinian media must show it and remind the world of the suffering of the residents of Gaza."
Haniyeh added, "The media people must protect the culture of the intifada, to keep the problem under the media microscope, follow the developments on the local, national and international arenas, and focus at this point on protecting the internal front and supporting the morale of Palestinians in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank, because the volume of the counter-media is so large and the other side works non-stop in an attempt to circumvent the achievements recorded by our people during the years of conflict and confrontation."
"We are in a sensitive stage and we need to strengthen the national fraternity, and the media must protect the Palestinian morale in light of the difficult conflicts and the psychological media war that the occupation is conducting,” he claimed.

Jeremy Corbyn and the hard left are wilfully blind to the evils of Islamist Nazis
Initially, the hard left had no difficulty in condemning Islamism. Tony Cliff, the founder of the Socialist Workers Party, wrote a pamphlet in 1946 drawing attention to the fascist nature of the Muslim Brotherhood. But various Trotskyist sects began to warm up to Islamism in the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in a full-blown coalition in the run up to the Iraq war. In mass protests organised by the Socialist Workers Party and its European counterparts in 2003, Islamists carrying the banners of Hamas and Hezbollah marched with veterans of the European internationalist left, including Jeremy Corbyn. For the most part they got on well, although there were occasional flare-ups. For instance, during an anti-war demo in Paris a gang of Islamists broke off to beat up a group of yarmulke–wearing Jews, even though the Jews had turned up to support the cause.
One reason for the hard left’s change of heart about Islamism was straightforward political expediency. Here was an anti-western political movement boasting huge support among disadvantaged groups of young Muslims in Europe’s major cities. If Trotskyist front groups like the Stop the War Coalition could harness these disaffected youths to their cause, it might lead to a much-needed injection of energy and resources. And to a limited extent, that tactic succeeded, with new hybrid political groups springing up, such as Respect.
But as Paul Berman points out, it was also an expression of a wilful political blindness. The hard left had so much in common with the Islamists — a history of fighting colonialism, a hatred of Britain and America, a contempt for liberal democracy, a romantic attachment to revolution and a willingness to countenance violence as a tool of political change — that they were prepared to overlook some of their less savoury beliefs, such as virulent anti-Semitism. They were also prepared to make excuses for the activities of their more radical elements, such as the Taleban and al-Qaeda.
Back in the 1940s, few would have predicted that this bastard child of Nazism would find an ally in the leader of the Labour party. But it looks increasingly as though that has happened and I doubt if Labour will ever recover.
Paris terrorists: 'With Allah's help we will liberate Palestine'
The Islamic State group on Sunday released a video showing the last message of the terrorists who committed the terror attacks in Paris that killed 128 people last November.
One of the terrorists, Abu Omer al-Baljiki – known as the "mastermind" and who also went by the name of Abdelhamid Abaaoud – says in the film: "With Allah's help we will create rivers from your blood today! With Allah's help we will be the ones who liberate Palestine."
The film also shows the imminent execution of "infidels," to be conducted out by the same terrorists who would go on to carry out the Paris attacks. The victims are beheaded and shot at point-blank range. One of the militants can be seen grasping the head of someone who's been executed and saying: "This will be your fate (the infidels)."
In the film, al-Baljiki addresses the "infidels," saying: "You have dared to come to Muslim territory and to fight. You declared a war that you lost before it had even begun. You think that you can fight Muslims and then expect to live in peace in your land?
"You are the reason that you are tasting terror. With Allah's help we will reach you. We are actually already in your territory. We will come and slaughter you in your houses."
ISIS plot on London, Brighton, Bath and Ipswich FOILED as pilots discuss targets on radio
The jihadist attacks were being planned in the week after the Paris massacre, but the two foreign pilots, one of whom was flying for an airline on an intelligence service watchlist, were intercepted talking about the plot.
Although they used coded messages from the cockpits of their passenger jets, the Arabic transcripts were passed to GCHQ where spies established they were talking about attacks on London, Bath, Brighton and Ipswich.
The uncovering of the plan raised the terror alert in the UK and was one factor which led to Operation Templer, involving 10,000 soldiers being deployed to support police on Britain’s streets.
The pilots, who were unknown to the authorities but believed to be sympathetic to Islamic State, were using the emergency “Mayday” channel in the belief they were not being monitored.
They coded their language with musical references, often referring to “hits”. The conversation included boasts that a song would “climb up the charts” – a veiled reference to increases in jihadi recruits once the attacks had been launched.
It is thought the pilots were preparing to smuggle in explosive devices or chemical weapons. The messages were intercepted as they flew from a European airport, thought to be Schiphol, in Amsterdan, to Middle Eastern destinations.
They were unaware that Channel 121, the Mayday channel used to broadcast emergencies, was being monitored.
Europol: ISIS planning large scale attacks in Europe
ISIS has increased its ability to launch global terror attacks and plans to attempt more Paris-style attacks in Europe, the head of EU police agency Europol was quoted as saying by AFP on Monday.
Rob Wainwright told reporters that a new report by the agency shows "how the so-called Islamic State had developed a new combat style capability to carry out a campaign of large-scale terrorist attacks on a global stage, with a particular focus in Europe."
Wainwright's comments came a day after the media center of Islamic State purported to show images and last statements of nine of the people who took part in the Paris attacks that killed 130 people on Nov. 13.
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the footage, which showed the men delivering anti-Western diatribes and concluded with an apparent threat to attack Britain.
Laith Alkhouri of Flashpoint Global Partners, which monitors militants' social media, said the "video meets all the right criteria of an authentic and official ISIS release."
Two British women soldiers fighting ISIS alongside the SAS in Iraq shoot their way out of jihadi ambush
Two female soldiers who travelled from Britain to fight ISIS in Iraq survived a deadly shoot-out when terror chiefs closed in on discovering their identities.
The pair - who are working alongside the SAS as officers in the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) - were travelling with locally recruited spies when they were pulled over at an Islamic State checkpoint near the Syrian border.
When their inquisitors' suspicions grew, the women claim to have become embroiled in a gun fight, leaving several extremists dead before escaping with their vehicle almost completely destroyed.
A defence source told the Daily Star: 'These women are probably the most deadly in the armed forces.
'They are extremely fit, intelligent and very professional. They handled themselves really well and have proved to be just as good as the men in every respect.
'They were really up for the fight once they were compromised.'
The Fake Facebook News Driving Iraq’s Wars
After Saudi Arabia’s recent execution of a leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, there was widespread outrage in Shiite Muslim communities across the Middle East, and especially in Iraq.
Protests were organized in Baghdad fed by social media. One video was shared that allegedly showed the last seconds of Nimr’s life and his execution. Another widely shared video showed Nimr’s body being dropped out of a helicopter after the execution. Some Iraqis even said he was thrown out of that helicopter while still alive.
This kind of “news” is common on Iraqi social media. And it’s dangerous because for many Iraqis, social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and to a lesser degree Instagram have become a major source of political- and security-related news. They do not trust mainstream media in Iraq, which is mostly considered to be partisan, with much of it funded by political parties, religious bodies, or other organizations pushing their own agenda.
Syrian opposition groups accuse Kerry of working to maintain Iran’s dominance of Syria
Members of the Syrian opposition lashed out at US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday, accusing him of taking the side of Iran and Russia in discussions over Syria’s future.
Kerry demanded that the Syrian opposition participate in the upcoming Geneva talks, threatening to stop US military and financial aid to them if they do not, Syrian opposition media reported on Monday. Kerry reportedly made the demands in his meeting with the Syrian opposition's coordinator to the peace talks, Riad Hijab, on Sunday.
Kerry's demand stands in contrast to the Syrian opposition's insistence on participating in the Geneva talks only after the regime ends its siege on Deir al-Zor and Madaya, stops bombing civilians and liberates all the political detainees in Syria.
Another condition of the Syrian opposition that was not met by Kerry, according to Syrian reports, is the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad from power. The opposition has consistently insisted that Assad must not be part of Syria's future, and only on Saturday, Kerry himself expressed a similar attitude, referring to Assad as "the magnet that attracts violent terrorism."
Iran's Rouhani heads to Europe to drum up business
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani brings the case to Europe this week for Iran as a potential investment bonanza, after the lifting of financial sanctions brought his country of 80 million people back into the world of global commerce.
Rouhani, elected in 2013 on a platform to reduce Iran's international isolation, championed the deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for the lifting of U.S., EU and United Nations sanctions this month.
On his first trip abroad since the accord took effect, Rouhani will lead a 120-strong delegation that includes Iranian entrepreneurs as well as the oil and gas minister and other government officials for five days in Paris and Rome. He will meet Pope Francis and French President Francois Hollande.
A week after nearly all sanctions were lifted, French and Italian officials still do not expect major deals to be signed yet during the trip. Rouhani himself has spoken of a "long road" to Iran's economic integration with the world.
Nevertheless, Iran already demonstrated its hunger for Western goods at an aviation conference on the eve of the visit, announcing plans on Sunday to buy eight A-380 superjumbo jets from Airbus and eventually buy up to 100 planes from Boeing.
Kurdish Leader Calls For The End Of The Mideast As We Know It
The leader of the semi-autonomous state of Kurdistan in the northern region of Iraq believes the old borders are irrelevant and should be redrawn.
President Massoud Barzani has been the leader of Kurdistan for just over 10 years, and through that time he has witnessed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the rise of Islamic State, the civil war in Syria and severe destabilization of the Middle East in general. Though the Iraqi Kurds have their own government, military and society, they are still in the jurisdiction of Baghdad’s government. Barzani wants that to end.
“I think that within themselves, [world leaders] have come to this conclusion that the era of Sykes-Picot is over,” Barzani told The Guardian Friday. “Whether they say it or not, accept it or not, the reality on the ground is that. But as you know, diplomats are conservatives and they give their assessment in the late stages of things. And sometimes they can’t even keep up with developments.”
Sykes-Picot was a secret agreement made between Great Britain and France during World War I that carved up the Middle East following the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Dissolving the agreement may not be so much a matter of political expediency — the Kurds have wanted a country of their own for decades — as much it is an inevitable reality.
Critics are now bashing Israel’s pro-democracy efforts
If you believe Israel’s relentless critics in the media and now in the State Department, Israeli democracy is on death’s door.
The irony is, this accusation comes in response to Israel’s efforts to actually preserve and strengthen democracy from the forces that seek to weaken it.
The fuss is about Israel’s proposed law requiring transparency from political organizations in our country funded by foreign governments.
My country can’t ignore the protests, especially since US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has publicly joined them, after voicing his objections to Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s justice minister and the force behind this proposal. Shaked has also been defending the policy to European governments, which provide the lion’s share of funds to these groups.
Shapiro thinks this law would erode democracy in Israel. He’s not alone in this hyperbole: Major American newspapers have published editorials on it, even making the absurd comparison between Israel and Putin’s Russia.
So let’s set the record straight, for Ambassador Shapiro and the American public. Here are the facts about the proposed law:
'Timing of my Israel criticism not ideal,' US envoy Shapiro says
Dan Shapiro, Washington’s ambassador to Tel Aviv, acknowledged on Monday that the timing of his criticism of the Israeli government's policies in the West Bank - which took place on the same day as the funeral of a woman who was brutally stabbed to death by a Palestinian in the settlement of Otniel - "was not ideal."
In an interview with Army Radio, Shapiro warned on Monday that the current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations has created a set of circumstances “that are leading to a binational state.”
The envoy told both Israel Radio and Army Radio on Monday that Palestinian violence and the Israeli government’s expansion of West Bank settlements both make the prospect of a two-state solution more remote.
Shapiro has generated headlines in the last week following remarks to a Tel Aviv defense conference in which he criticized the Israeli government for applying separate sets of laws on Jewish and Arab residents of areas beyond the 1967 Green Line.
Netanyahu Thanks Obama for Visit to Israeli Embassy ‘After so Many Years’
At the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Jan. 24, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered several pointed remarks.
Netanyahu thanked U.S. President Barack Obama “for deciding to attend the International Holocaust Remembrance Day event at the Israeli embassy. The US President has not been at the Israeli embassy for many years.” The day of remembrance this year will be observed on Jan. 27.
Although Netanyahu claimed that Obama’s decision to attend the event was evidence of the strong relationship between the two countries, his verbiage suggested otherwise.
Netanyahu claimed the relationship between the two nations is “very strong and steadfast.”
To save Israel, Lapid pitches ‘separation’ from Palestinians
Yesh Atid party leader MK Yair Lapid called Monday for a “comprehensive regional agreement” and a unilateral Israeli pullout from parts of the West Bank.
Speaking in English in Jerusalem, at a press conference organized by his party, Lapid made clear that he was delivering a political speech.
“At the next election, I’ll be running for prime minister, and will ask the Israeli public for their support,” he said.
Lapid described the diplomatic plan his party would present at the next election — still as much as three years away — as aimed at “separation from the Palestinians.
“The details may be complex, but the basic idea is simple – Israel doesn’t want to absorb 3.5 million Palestinians. It is time to separate and guarantee our future as a Jewish and democratic state,” he continued.
Qatar said pushing Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal
Qatar is trying to help the Palestinian organizations Fatah and Hamas to mend their fences and reach a unity agreement, which has eluded them for a decade, the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Monday.
After a string of secret meetings, preparations are underway for a public meeting of the two sides in the Qatari capital of Doha aimed at sealing an agreement, the report said.
Fatah controls the West Bank, while Hamas wields power in the Gaza Strip. The two groups have been at loggerheads almost constantly since Hamas won elections in the Palestinian Authority in 2006 and subsequently staged a violent takeover of Gaza.
Many meetings have been held over the years and three agreements were signed — in Qatar, Cairo and Gaza — but none has led to any real change on the ground.
The last unsuccessful attempt to form a national unity government in 2014 petered out in June.
Ten Years of Hamas Rule: The Palestinians Must Solve Their Divide Before Peace With Israel
After a decade of failed reconciliation efforts and a collapsed unity government in 2015, the intra-Palestinian conflict now appears intractable. The Gaza Strip remains firmly in the hands of Hamas, while the Fatah faction clings to the West Bank with the help of Israeli security and intelligence. There are two separate Palestinian governments with their own bureaucracies, two sets of cadres of political elites, two distinct economies, and increasingly two different cultures.
Nevertheless, Washington continues to call for a single Palestinian state. It’s a call that echoes across most Western capitals, too. The overriding assumption is that deft diplomacy coupled with Israeli territorial concessions could pave the way for the Palestinian Authority, unpopular and corrupt as it may be, to regain the moral and military high ground from Hamas and somehow bring the Gaza Strip back under its jurisdiction. These plans remain vague, to say the least.
Equally difficult to discern is the logic behind Washington’s long-held belief that Islamist extremists in the Palestinian territories are distinct from their counterparts elsewhere in the region—namely, that Hamas’s extremist ideology was primarily a reaction to Israel. As while this may explain much of Hamas’s motivations, one cannot ignore the fact that the Islamist group continues to clash with Fatah on broader issues like the role of Islam in society and the validity of secular governance. Indeed, these debates mirror the upheaval we have witnessed across the Middle East since the eruption of the Arab Spring in 2011.
The near collapse of the post-colonial system since the Arab Spring has challenged almost all of our assumptions on how to bring order to the chaos of the Middle East. Yet, the perceived need to create a single Palestinian state spanning the West Bank and Gaza has endured. Ten years on, the Palestinians are still divided—both ideologically and territorially. It may be time to acknowledge that if they can't peacefully resolve their own territorial conflict, they certainly are not likely to resolve the one with Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas: Any who relinquish Jerusalem as Palestinian capital is a 'traitor'
Anyone who gives up Jerusalem is a traitor and there will be no Palestinian state without the city as its capital, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said.
He also reiterated his opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
Abbas was speaking during a meeting with Palestinian journalists in his office on Saturday night. It came 48 hours after he held a similar meeting with a group of Israeli journalists.
He said the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders was “inevitable,” adding that the Palestinians would remain steadfast on their lands despite the challenges.
The Palestinian Authority leader said Palestinian diplomatic efforts were continuing to convene an international peace conference. He said the Arab countries supported the efforts.
He said the Palestinian leadership would go to the UN Security Council in a bid to halt construction in the settlements.
The 'green' Iron Dome: Trees to block terrorists
Four years after the end of Operation Protective Edge, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund has completed another round of tree planting to hide the Israeli settlements and roads abutting the Gaza Strip in order to make it more difficult for terrorists shooting projectiles over the border.
The tree-planting operation began four years ago, after an anti tank missile exploded near a school bus between Kibbutz Sa'ad and Kibbutz Miflasim killing sixteen-year-old Daniel Viflic. Since then, some twelve kilometers of trees have been planted, or around one kilometer for each community in the area.
The project has been expanded to 'hide' major roadways around the train tracks between the towns of Netivot and Sderot and this week 'security rings' of trees were planted around Sa'ad, Miflasim, and Bnei Netzarim.
KKL-JNF invested five million shekels in the project, half its cost, which was approved by the Ministry of Defense and the IDF and which was executed in cooperation with the area regional councils.
Muslim Brotherhood Apologists Travel From Egypt to US to Protest ‘Repressive’ Sisi Government
Three Muslim Brotherhood supporters who caused a row in Egypt last year after they met with Obama administration officials and members of Congress returned to the US on Wednesday, according to the Facebook page of Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ).
During their 2015 trip, Brotherhood leader Gamal Heshmat, former Egyptian Judge Waleed Sharaby, and Maha Azzam, head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) lobbied State Department and White House officials for help against the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fatal al-Sisi.
The ERC was formed in 2014 with the aim of toppling Sisi and possibly bringing the Brotherhood back to power in Egypt. Sisi took power in 2013 after the Egyptian army ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
Heshmat has a long history of supporting Palestinian terrorists and was photographed in June 2014 with Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal.
Egypt Allows University to Ban Niqab-Covered Professors
A court in Egypt has allowed Cairo University to ban female professors from wearing the Islamic niqab in the classrooms.
The Administrative Court ruled on the lawsuit presented by Ahmed Mahran, the head of the Cairo Center for Political and Legal Studies, against university president Dr. Gaber Nassar. The lawsuit included “77 women faculty members, including some who do not wear the niqab but joined the cause in solidarity with those the ban would harm.”
Nassar said only 10 women on the 22,000-strong staff wear the niqab.
The court agreed the decision does not violate the law, but it in fact helps public interest since banning the niqab “protects the rights of students” while also prevents “entry of extremists and outsiders of the University.” He also said the ban will “ease communication with students.”
The lawyers fired back with more lawsuits to overturn the decision. Despite the ruling, they insist the ban violates the Constitution, which states that people earn or keep public jobs “on the basis of merit” and may only be dismissed by points “specified by law.” They claim these professors must be allowed to perform their jobs “without any discrimination because of religion, or creed, or sex, origin, race, color, language, or disability, or social status, or political affiliation.”
Uganda bans maids working in Saudi Arabia amid complaints of mistreatment
The government of Uganda said on Friday it will stop sending housemaids to Saudi Arabia, eclipsing a deal between the two nations to ship workers to the wealthy Gulf nation amid complaints of poor conditions and mistreatment.
The ban will remain until working conditions in Saudi Arabia are "deemed fitting," the Ugandan government said.
The two nations had signed a deal in July for the deployment of university graduates to work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia. It was seen as a way of addressing high unemployment rates among young people in Uganda.
But the Ugandan government has gotten complaints of workers being treated inhumanely by their employers in Saudi Arabia, according to the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Welfare.
The ban also comes after an audio recording was widely circulated this week on social media of Ugandans in Saudi Arabia who said they were being tortured and imprisoned.
Uber Flourishes In Saudi Arabia, Where Women Cannot Drive
Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory automotive policies against women have allowed for the ride-sharing app Uber to achieve great success, due to females having limited transportation options.
Majed Aboukhater, who heads Saudi operations for Uber, told ArabianBusiness that Uber expects to grow 50-60 percent in trips per months in Saudi Arabia in 2016, surpassingg an estimated 25-40 percent boost last year, . He commented that negotiations with Saudi regulators have been “extremely positive” compared to other countries’ hostility towards the app business.
Aboukhater claims Uber is offering a “new regulatory space” for women in the Kingdom, who are not allowed to drive.
Women, who are banned from operating vehicles, make up 70 percent of Uber’s customer base in Saudi Arabia, according to the report.
“Women can’t keep their jobs in Saudi Arabia because they have trouble finding reliable transportation to get to work, so how can we help,” Aboukhater said, speaking with ArabianBusiness from Uber’s office in Dubai. “I’m not worried about the future, because of the discussions I’ve been having. It leaves us in a place where we can work very closely with regulators to set up an industry.”
WATCH: Saudi Young Men Harass Schoolgirls in Burqas
A video that went viral on social media prompted the Saudi police to clamp down on sexual harassment.
Undercover police units arrested several suspects on Thursday after a video showing young men and boys sexually harassing schoolgirls in the town of Khamis sent shock waves across the kingdom.
Saudi media outlets reported that the alleged felons seen in the video have been identified and arrested.
Several campaigns have recently tried to raise awareness of the culture of impunity in Arab countries regarding sexual offenses. Critics have accused the authorities of downplaying the seriousness of the offenses while focusing their attention on terror threats, which many see as an excuse.
One commenter suggested launching a hashtag #think_its_your_sister.


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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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