Irish artist behind famous Che Guevara poster flies the flag for Palestine

Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, the man behind the renowned red and black print of Che Guevara, has his focus on a new hero, Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi.

Fitzpatrick has created a print of Tamimi holding a Palestinian flag above DC Comics’ Wonder Woman symbol. The strap-line reads ‘There is a real wonder woman”. The image can be found at his website.

Ahed, 17, has become an international symbol of Palestinian resistance following her arrest in December last year, which came days after a confrontation with Israeli soldiers.

“Ahed Tamimi, to me, signifies nobility in the face of oppression. This is a kid, a child,” Fitzpatrick told news website Newsweek.

When I was 15, I think I would have been petrified. Wherever she’s getting her courage from, there’s a resonance of it echoing across the world. I’m just a part of it.” He said, “I’m afraid they’re going to kill her. And that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick with a promotional image of a stamp featuring his world famous image of Che Guevara [Irish Times]
Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick’s image of Ahed Tamimi, with note stating it ‘may not be used by anti-Semetic individuals’ [Jim Fitzpatrick / jimfitzpatrick.com]

In the incident, which took place in her home village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, Ahed was filmed by her mother, Nariman, screaming at and pushing two soldiers. She is seen kicking one soldier and slapping his face and threatens to punch the other. The video went viral and just four days later, on the night of December 19, Ahed and her mother were arrested after soldiers stormed her house. Ahed said that the incident took place after she had seen a video of her 15-year-old cousin being shot in the head with a rubber bullet.

She faces 12 charges, including assault, “incitement” and stone-throwing. If she is convicted she faces a lengthy jail term. Judge Menachem Liberman ordered that the case, which is being held in a military court, would take place behind closed doors.

The judge cleared the court of diplomats, journalists and Ahed’s supporters. Mr Liberman said the move was to protect Ahed’s privacy as a minor. The teenager’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said her client was willing to waive this right.

“This court of occupation fears the light shined on it by this case.” Ms Lasky said. “After it placed Ahed under open-ended detention in violation of her rights as a minor, the court now uses the false pretext of protecting these rights to shield itself from the criticism this case raises.”

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India, Iran sign pact during Rouhani visit on leasing port


Indian President Ram Nath Kovind (R) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) welcome Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) during an official welcoming ceremony in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) pose for a photo after signing a cooperation agreement between India and Iran in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) attends a meeting with Vice-President of India Venkaiah Naidu (L) in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (3rd L) scatters petals on the Mausoleum of Mahatma Gandhi, who was the leader of the Indian independence movement, in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]

India and Iran on Saturday signed agreements including Tehran leasing to New Delhi operational control of part of the Iranian east coast port of Chabahar for 18 months.

Reuters reports the $85 million project, just 90 km from the China-sponsored Gwadar port in Pakistan, creates a transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

India is trying to develop Chabahar as a way to gain access to the markets of central Asia as well as Afghanistan.

But progress is slow because of concern that President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington may eventually scrap the Iran nuclear deal.

A leasing agreement giving operational control to India of Shahid Beheshti port – phase one of the Chabahar port – was signed in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Later, addressing a joint press conference with the Iranian president, Modi said both countries wanted to expand bilateral ties and cooperation in economic development.

“We will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link so that Chabahar gateway’s potential could be fully utilised,” Modi said.

We want to expand connectivity, cooperation in the energy sector and the centuries-old bilateral relationship.

Other agreements included a double taxation avoidance treaty, extradition, and cooperation in the farm sector.

Rouhani, who arrived in the southern city of Hyderabad on Thursday, will later address industrialists.

Rouhani arrived in India on a three-day visit part of efforts to expand bilateral ties and cooperation in economic development.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (2nd R) places a wreath at the Mausoleum of Mahatma Gandhi, who was the leader of the Indian independence movement, in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) after signing a cooperation agreement between India and Iran in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind (L) meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) at Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind (2nd L) welcomes Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (2nd R) during an official welcoming ceremony at Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (not seen) attend an inter-delegation meeting in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) inspect the honor guard during an official welcoming ceremony in New Delhi, India on February 17, 2018 [Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency]

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Paris hosts PA-Israeli economic summit

French President Emanuel Macron hosted on Thursday a Palestinian-Israeli economic summit in the Alethea Palace in Paris aimed at reinforcing mutual economic cooperation and maintaining stability in the region.

Israel’s Economic Minister Eli Cohen and the Palestinian Authority (PA) Economic Minister Abeer Odea attended the summit and discussed efforts to erase the obstacles that undermine bilateral economic cooperation.

They agreed on widening commercial activities, pushing forward investments and supporting the PA’s imports of consumer goods.

French president said that he was happy with hosting both sides in the royal palace; he emphasised the need to increase economic cooperation and improve living standards for both sides.

Mr Macron said he was content with the outcome of the meeting and that he was ready to host the two sides again in future.

France, it would be recalled, brokered the 1994 Paris Protocol which which defines almost all economic relations between Israel and Palestine. However, Palestinian economists now believe the Protocol should be revised because it has been implemented by Israel selectively and mostly to its benefit.

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Controversy rises over Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia

Pakistan’s decision to send its troops to Saudi Arabia for “advisory and training” purposes has sparked controversy, with some fearing that the troops might be used in the Saudi-led war against pro-Iran Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Although the army insists that the unspecified number of troops being sent to Saudi Arabia under a longstanding bilateral agreement will be stationed within the kingdom, and will not be part of any armed conflict, several parliamentarians questioned the move, claiming it violates a parliamentary resolution that Islamabad will not be part of any conflict in the Middle East, particularly Yemen.

The upper and lower houses — Senate and National Assembly — have asked the defence minister to appear before the parliament on Monday to explain the move, which follows a recent meeting in Riyadh between the country’s powerful army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdel Aziz.

The development also coincides with the culmination of a weeklong joint exercise between Pakistan’s Navy and the Saudi Royal Navy on Saturday in the Arabian Sea.

Though the army has not given the specific number of troops being sent to Saudi Arabia, opposition Senator Farhatullah Babar claimed in his speech during the Senate debate that a full division was being sent.

However, a senior military official, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, told Anadolu Agency that slightly more than 1,000 troops were being sent to Saudi Arabia to join the already stationed more than 1,100 troops in the kingdom in line with a 1982 security protocol between the two sides.

‘Unilateral decision’ 

“Who has taken this unilateral decision? Has anyone given serious thought to its grave consequences?” Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said during a debate on Friday.

Referring to repeated Foreign Ministry statements condemning the missile attacks by Houthi rebels as a threat to Saudi Arabia and the holy mosques, Rabbani, who belongs to the left-wing Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), argued that they seemed to justify the move to actively engage the Yemenis in the conflict on the side of Saudis.

Shireen Mazari, a legislator from former cricket hero Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, voiced similar views.

“Why has such an important decision been taken without consulting the parliament, especially when there is already a resolution that bars the government from taking such steps, which could harm our relations with other countries?” Mazari, a former professor of international relations at Islamabad’s Quaid-I-Azam University, told Anadolu Agency, in a thinly veiled reference to Iran.

Pakistan army, in a previous statement, insisted that neither the fresh contingent nor the already stationed troops would be deployed outside Saudi Arabia.

“In continuation of ongoing Pak-KSA bilateral security cooperation, a Pakistan army contingent is being sent to the KSA on training and advise mission. These or troops already there will not be employed outside KSA. Pak Army maintains bilateral security cooperation with many other GCC / regional countries,” said the statement.

Security cooperation 

Downplaying parliamentarians’ concerns, security analysts see growing security cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which according to them is facing internal security issues.

“I do not give any weight to the apprehensions from some parliamentarians. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have had longstanding security cooperation, which includes the deployment of Pakistani troops on Saudi soil only for internal security and training purposes,” Ikram Sehgal, a Karachi-based defence analyst, told Anadolu Agency.

Pakistani troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, he insisted, have never been deployed outside the kingdom’s territory.

Sehgal, editor of the country’s respected Pakistan Defense Journal, observed that security cooperation between the two allies is beefing up.

“Saudi Arabia is facing problems over its internal security,” Sehgal said, referring to reported differences within the ruling Al-Saud family, and a recent crackdown on corruption which led to the arrest of several ruling family members.

“Pakistani soldiers will have nothing to do with the Yemen war or any other conflict. Their only role will be to train and help Saudi forces maintain internal security,” he said, citing the appointment of former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif as commander of a 42-nation anti-terrorism alliance in support of his argument regarding growing security cooperation between the two sides.

Sehgal dismissed fears that sending additional troops to Saudi Arabia would irk its longtime rival Iran.

“The army chief already made it clear to the Iranian leadership during his recent visit to Tehran that Pakistan’s army will not be part of any conflict involving Tehran and Riyadh. I don’t think Iran will take this move to be against it,” he maintained.

Retired Brig. Mahmood Shah, an Islamabad-based security analyst, supported Sehgal’s point.

“Deploying additional troops in Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with the Yemen conflict. It is linked to the kingdom’s internal security, which seems to be in trouble,” Shah, who himself was part of a Pakistan army contingent stationed in Saudi Arabia in 1984-87, told Anadolu Agency.

“There was no need for additional troops for training and advisory purposes when over 1,100 soldiers are already there for the same. Similarly, they will not be used in Yemen as Pakistan has already made it clear that it will not be part of any conflict involving pro- and anti-Saudi elements,” said Shah.

“It seems as if Saudi Arabia needs additional strength to deal with its internal security-related issues,” he added.

But he also said the issue had been mishandled.

“The deployment is part of a government-to-government agreement between the two countries. Pakistan’s army should not have announced it unilaterally. Instead, the defence minister should have made an announcement in this regard,” said Shah.

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Hamas denies US accusations on Gaza misery

Palestinian resistance group Hamas has dismissed US accusations for the group of causing a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this month, Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, blamed Hamas for causing “misery” to Gaza’s people by choosing “to increase violence”.

“We reject the White House allegations that Hamas was responsible for Gaza’s aggravating humanitarian crisis,” Hamas said in a statement on Sunday.

It described the US accusations as a “green light for the Israeli occupation to continue its aggressive approach against the Palestinian people.”

Hamas blamed Israel’s decade-long blockade on the seaside strip for “Gaza’s humanitarian catastrophe”, which, it says, has been imposed with “a public US support”.

It went on to hold “successive US administrations responsible for the tragedies that have plagued the Palestinian people since the beginning of the occupation”.

Home to nearly two million people, Gaza has been reeling under a decade-long siege that has badly affected livelihood in the Palestinian territory.

“The US ignored throughout the history of the [Arab-Israeli] conflict the right of the Palestinian people to live in security and peace on their land,” Hamas said.

The Palestinian group said Trump was seeking to tighten up the blockade with a view to “bringing our people and political forces to their knees for imposing solutions that aim at liquidating their cause”.

Last month, the US Treasury Department placed Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh on its terror list.

The US move came amid intense tension with the Palestinians after Trump’s decision on 6 December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to cut some $65 million in US aid to the Palestinians.

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Gaza: 2 Palestinian teens killed in Israeli raids

Two Palestinians were martyred in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early Sunday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Israeli warplanes carried out several raids in the Palestinian territory, shortly after four Israeli soldiers were injured in a bomb blast near the border with Gaza.

“Two youths were martyred in the attacks,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said in a statement.

He identified the victims as Salem Sabah, 17, and Abdullah Abu Sheikha, 17, from southern Rafah city.

On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “respond harshly” to the attack.

Israel waged a devastating 51-day military onslaught on the Gaza Strip in mid-2014 in which more than 2,300 Palestinians were killed and tens of thousands injured.

According to Israeli figures, 68 Israeli soldiers and five Israeli civilians were killed in the conflict, while 2,522 others, including 740 soldiers, were injured.

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UN blames funding cuts and blockade for Gaza crisis

Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric blamed on Thursday UNRWA funding cuts, the closure of Gaza’s crossings, and the delay of internal Palestinian reconciliation for the dire situation in the enclave.

Answering to questions about the situation in Gaza, Dujarric said: “The dire humanitarian situation has obviously been made more stressful with the funding crisis” facing UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).

He added: “So far, UNRWA has not cut back on any services and is striving not to.”

“We know the humanitarian crisis is also linked to internal issues having to do with the reconciliation between various Palestinian factions and, of course, issues related to closures;” he said.

On his part, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, told the Security Council that: “The United Nations have presented proposals to revitalize Gaza’s economy and discussed the conditions required to ease movement and access, and support Palestinian development.”

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Lebanon rejects US proposal on maritime borders with Israel

Speaker of Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri on Friday told the state National News Agency (NNA) that a US proposal concerning the disputed Lebanon-Israel maritime border was “unacceptable.”

During a meeting with the acting Assistant US Secretary of State David Satterfield, Berri stressed that the borders could only be demarcated based on the April 1996 Understanding between Israel and Hizbullah, which was brokered by the US to end the conflict initiated by Israel’s Grapes of Wrath operation. After the conflict, a Monitoring Committee was set up to implement the Understandings; it was composed of US, France, Syria, Israel and Lebanon

Beside meeting with Berri, Satterfield met on Friday with Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

In a statement issued by Berri’s office, he insisted that borders’ demarcation could only be decided by the Monitoring Committee.

The statement added that this stance was expressed during a discussion about regional issues and the maritime borders with Israel.

According to Anadolu Agency, Satterfield offered a previous US proposal, which is based on Lebanon conceding 360 square kms out of its 860 square kms of water to Israel. This area is known as the disputed Number 9 oil field.

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Libya’s mufti accuses Saudi Arabia of supporting Haftar

Libya’s Mufti Sheikh Sadeq al-Gharyani revealed on Friday that Saudi Arabia had sent followers of the Saudi Salafist Scholar Rabee al-Mudkhali to support Khalifa Haftar.

Al-Gharyani, who was speaking to the Libyan TV Channel Al-Tanasuh, said that these people had previously supported Al-Gadhafi and are currently supporting Haftar, accusing both Al-Gadhafi and Haftar of “having blood on their hands.”

Additionally, the mufti accused the United Nations of claiming to achieve peace in Libya, but have instead “installed Haftar, who undermines peace in the country.”

Regarding the issue of migrants, he said; “If the UN wants to stop the influx of migrants into Libya, it would guard Libya’s borders.”

Al-Mudkhali, it should be noted, is a Saudi Salafist sheikh who believes that Islam does not allow opposition to the rulers or giving them public advice.

His followers have a huge presence in Libya and their militias fought in several battles in support of Haftar.

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