Ammon News, Editor's Choice

Top US general to visit Beirut on July 8


[7/7/2020 4:50:22 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The top US military official for the Middle East will visit Beirut on July 8, diplomatic sources and Lebanese political sources have confirmed. US Central Command chief, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, will meet with Lebanese government and military officials during his visit, described as “routine,” by an official source. McKenzie is expected to make stops in other countries in the region, including Iraq. For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app. The source told Al Arabiya English that Lebanon would express its frustration with US policies toward Lebanon. “They should at least ask for our opinion before they do what they are doing,” the source said, without elaborating. Lebanon has come under increased pressure from the international community to carry out reforms that would curb decades of corruption, wasted public funds and irresponsible spending, which has led to more than $80 billion in public debt. In addition to this, Lebanon has failed to address Hezbollah’s weapons. The group, designated a terrorist organization by Washington, reportedly has a massive stockpile of precision-guided missiles; the Lebanese state does not control the group’s weapons. Nevertheless, according to US officials, support for the Lebanese army will continue. This is something that has strong, bipartisan support between many Republicans and Democrats. McKenzie has also voiced his conviction of the need to maintain a close relationship between the US and Lebanese armies. During a webinar last month, McKenzie said the counterbalance to Hezbollah “for us is the LAF, the Lebanese Armed Forces.” Although he admitted it was “not a perfect relationship,” McKenzie said that it needed to be viewed as “ultimately the expression of state security in Lebanon.” The US general admitted that there was constant talk of cutting US funding for the Lebanese army, something he does not support. “I believe that they offer the best opportunity to provide security and sovereignty for Lebanon,” McKenzie said during the webinar. *Al Arabiya

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In Turkey, Erdogan’s AKP loses popularity amid coronavirus, economic woes


[7/6/2020 5:13:29 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP has lost a modest amount of support over the past few months, according to a Turkish research organization. Independent research group MetroPoll Arastirma asks each month “If there were a parliamentary election this Sunday, which political party would you vote for?” The next general elections are scheduled for 2023, and voters will elect a new president as well as 600 members of the parliament for a term of five years. While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is still nearly six points ahead of the primary opposition party the Republican People’s Party (CHP) according to June’s poll, the AKP has lost support over the last few months. For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app. The CHP is a social-democratic party and it is the oldest political party in the country. The party is also considered the main opposition in the Grand National Assembly. From January to March, Erdogan’s party held steady, with 33.7 percent saying they would vote AKP, but by June support had dropped to 30.3 percent. In May’s poll, the 30.7 percent of respondents said they would vote AKP if there was an election on Sunday. The poll did not mention how many voters contributed to the results. Turkish economy Turkey’s economy has deteriorated over the last two years, sliding into recession in March 2019, with inflation taking hold. In mid-2019 unemployment was around 15 percent, and the economic downturn eroded the popularity of the AKP. Erdogan’s AKP won the March 2019 local mayoral elections nationally, but lost Turkey’s three largest cities, Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. In April, a Reuters poll expected Turkey’s economy to contract this year for the first time in over a decade as the coronavirus pandemic slashes output through mid-year. Also read: Turkish investigators call it the ultimate long game Before the coronavirus outbreak, the government expected the economy to expand 5 percent this year after rebounding from last year’s recession. Turkey currently has the world’s 14th highest number of coronavirus infections. “Ankara’s finances were weak before the pandemic—but the combination of external debt, a public health crisis, and a president who chooses to protect his reputation rather than his people could spell disaster,” a Foreign Policy article read. Turkish involvement in Libya Turkey has recently become heavily involved in the ongoing war in Libya as Ankara seeks to secure natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean and has sent troops and military aid in support of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord. The GNA has been in conflict with the Libyan National Army (LNA) since April 2019, when the LNA launched an offensive to take the capital Tripoli. Backed by Syrian mercenaries sent to Libya by Turkey, the GNA has taken ground against the LNA in recent months and now poses a threat to the strategic city of Sirte and the Al Jufra airbase. Benghazi remains a stronghold of the LNA, which is backed by the Tobruk-based Libyan parliament and foreign countries including Egypt, Russia, France and the United Arab Emirates. In a separate poll conducted by the research group, 42 percent of respondents negatively view taking an active role in the Libyan conflict. Crackdown on opposition Erdogan’s crackdown against his critics escalated in June when state media announced that arrest warrants had been issued for over 400 people, including soldiers, doctors, and teachers. Erdogan accuses his critics of being affiliated with a religious movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim preacher who lives in the United States who was also blamed for the 2016 coup attempt. Turkey’s “anti-terrorism legislation is vague and widely abused in trumped up cases against journalists,” according to Amnesty International. Over 319 journalists have been arrested in Turkey since 2016, with 189 media outlets shut down, according to Turkey Purge, a website run by Turkish journalists that documents arrests in the country. *Al Arabiya

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Tarawneh urges Arab parliaments to counter Israel's annexation plans


[6/24/2020 1:14:18 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Lower House Speaker and President of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (APU), Atef Tarawneh, called on his Arab counterparts to take positions rejecting the plans of the Israeli government to annex swathes of the Jordan Valley, the West Bank and Golan. In a House media statement issued on Wednesday, he confirmed Jordan's unwavering stance towards the Palestinian cause, adding Jordanians firmly stand in support of His Majesty King Abdullah II, in rejection to any solutions that would undermine the "historic" rights of the Palestinian people on their land, especially the right to establish an independent state. Discussing future pan-Arab steps, Tarawneh said the Arab parliaments are requested to pressure their governments and to communicate with the "active, and effective" players on the international decision capitals to thwart the Israeli plan that undermines all peace agreements and puts the whole region to tension and chaos, according to another statement issued by the APU on Wednesday. The Palestinian cause, he said, is "undergoing its most dangerous stages," with the growing threats and plans, as the Israeli government seeks to impose a fait accompli, based on the support and bias of the American administration. In light of the Arab division over many files, Palestine was and will remain our central issue, and should become at forefront of the agenda of the Arab decision at all levels, as it is the true key to peace, security and stability of the entire region, according to the APU statement. On the Palestinian arena, he urged the Palestinian factions to press ahead with the reconciliation file to counter the Israeli annexation plans.

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FM, Swedish Counterpart chair international conference to support UNRWA


[6/23/2020 4:57:28 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, and Swedish Minister for International Cooperation and Development Peter Erickson chaired an international ministerial conference for donors in support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Attended by the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, foreign ministers and representatives of 75 countries and regional and international organizations, financial pledges of $139 million were announced in the meeting. In a speech during the conference, Safadi said that "UNRWA should continue to provide its services to the Palestinian refugees until their case is resolved in a way that guarantees their right to return and compensation in accordance with the international legitimacy resolutions, especially Resolution 194 and within the framework of a comprehensive solution to the conflict ending the occupation that began in 1967 on the basis of the two-state solution." He added that any decline in the agency''s services would exacerbate the suffering of the Palestinian people, stressing that "we are meeting at a time when Israel''s decision to annex a third of the occupied West Bank in a clear violation of international law that threatens all opportunities to achieve a just and comprehensive peace." Safadi warned that the agency''s failure to obtain the support it needs will deprive refugee children of their right to education and the sick of their right to treatment. Safadi thanked the representatives of the 75 countries and organizations who participated in the conference for their commitment to support the right of more than five million Palestinian refugees to live in dignity and for their support for a just peace. Safadi also confirmed the Kingdom’s support for the agency’s new Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, in his noble and difficult mission. This is the fourth international conference organized by Jordan and Sweden to support the agency financially, in addition to two strategic ministerial conferences aimed at mobilizing political support for the agency and renewing its mandate, and these joint efforts with other partners paid off the full fiscal deficit in 2018, which amounted to $446 million, and also reduced in 2019 to $55 million.

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Jordan calls for emergency Arab League session on COVID-19


[6/22/2020 6:04:25 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Minister of Social Development, Basma Ishaqat, on Monday called on the Arab League to hold an emergency session of the Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers to discuss the regional ramifications of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Ishaqat, who headed the 39th session of the Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers, sent a memo to the Assistant Secretary-General and Head of Social Affairs sector of the League, Haifa abu Ghazala, in which she underlined the need for urgent action to address the repercussions of the pandemic, discuss the difficulties of implementing social protection policies and programs, and strengthen protection systems during emergencies. The session, which is slated for June 28, will be held via visual communication technology to discuss Arab countries requests, approve the draft emergency session and approve a number of bills.

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Azeri envoy hails Jordan's anti-COVID-19 efforts


[6/8/2020 4:05:37 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Azerbaijan's Ambassador Rasim Rzayev lauded Jordan's "ideal" response to the COVID-19 crisis and the decisions taken to deal with the pandemic under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II. "We in Azerbaijan look with pride and admiration at the historic Hashemite leadership, which has led Jordan to civilizational achievements in all walks of life despite regional challenges," the envoy said, commending the Kingdom's foreign policy, which is based on recognition of rights and respect of the sovereignty of states. In a press conference on the occasion of his country's National Day, Rzayev stated that Jordanian-Azeri relations are steadily growing, thanks to the friendship between their leaders and common cultural and religious relations and understanding on various local and international issues. He said that the joint governmental committee will hold its fourth meeting in Baku to discuss removing trade barriers, promoting investments and reactivating 40 agreements signed by the two countries. The envoy said that the two sides seek to encourage Azeri firms to invest in oil and gas exploration in Jordan, and also noted that the number of Jordanian tourists to Azerbaijan has multiplied in the last three years. He also stressed the importance of His Majesty King Abdullah's visit to Azerbaijan late last year to enhance bilateral cooperation and strengthen relations and coordination on current international issues. The visit, he pointed out, focused on expanding cooperation in the economic, investment, tourism and defence industry fields and increasing bilateral trade, as well as building on signed agreements.

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Study: Irbid wedding resulted in a deadly COVID-19 outbreak


[5/23/2020 10:47:29 AM]

AMMONNEWS - A recent study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the Irbid wedding resulted in the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. The study showed that the wedding led to 85 people being infected with COVID-19, resulting in one death. According to researchers at Jordan University of Science and Technology, the wedding ceremony and party were held indoors on March 13. Around 360 people attended the event, according to the researchers. Around that time, Jordan only had one confirmed case of COVID-19. The study conducted tests on samples from 350 possible cases within four weeks of exposure at the wedding, including people who were at the wedding and people who had close contacts with attendees. Here's what the study found: At least 85 people with a history of exposure related to the wedding tested positive for COVID-19, the study found. Researchers believe the first documented patient in the outbreak was the father of the bride, who traveled to Jordan from Spain, where community spread was already taking place at the time. Of those who tested positive, 76 attended the wedding and nine were close contacts of confirmed cases from the event. All positive cases were admitted to the hospital for monitoring. Nearly half of the 76 patients who tested positive and attended the wedding were asymptomatic at the time of diagnoses. Four of the 9 cases that tested positive but did not attend the wedding were symptomatic, with symptoms starting between 9 and 19 days after the wedding. Only two patients had serious or critical conditions, including an 80-year-old woman with breast cancer who developed pneumonia and respiratory failure, dying two weeks after being admitted to the hospital for monitoring. One woman gave birth to a healthy baby on the second day of being admitted to the hospital for monitoring. Cases in the outbreak may have been undercounted because possible asymptomatic patients had either shed the virus or have not yet started when tested, researchers said. Researchers added that their findings show one infected person "can transmit the disease to 2-3 other susceptible persons." *CNN

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