Harmukh News https://www.harmukhnews.in Truth Ethics Responsibility Thu, 04 Apr 2020 21:18:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 130199475 Islamic State ‘caliphate’ exodus overwhelms east Syria hospitals https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/islamic-state-caliphate-exodus-overwhelms-east-syria-hospitals/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/islamic-state-caliphate-exodus-overwhelms-east-syria-hospitals/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 21:18:42 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123341 HASAKEH (SYRIA) Young children nursing severe facial burns, others suffering from malnutrition — an exodus of jihadist families and civilians from the Islamic State group’s vanquished final enclave is overwhelming eastern Syria’s hospitals. A handful of health facilities in the Kurdish-administered northeast receive dozens of patients every day, often including young victims who are terribly …

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HASAKEH (SYRIA)

Young children nursing severe facial burns, others suffering from malnutrition — an exodus of jihadist families and civilians from the Islamic State group’s vanquished final enclave is overwhelming eastern Syria’s hospitals.

A handful of health facilities in the Kurdish-administered northeast receive dozens of patients every day, often including young victims who are terribly disfigured, some allegedly by mortar fire.

Most arrivals are women and children from Al-Hol, a camp for the displaced that has swelled far beyond its capacity to house more than 70,000 people during a months-long offensive against the last scrap of the jihadists’ “caliphate”.

“The situation here in the hospital is tragic,” said Aydin Sleiman Khalil, who manages the main health institution in Hasakeh, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Al-Hol.

To cope with the influx, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region’s hospitals are desperately seeking support from the international community and aid agencies.

“We lack equipment, medicine, finances and medical personnel,” Khalil said, urging humanitarian groups and the United Nations to help.

Lit by neon strips, long and clean corridors led to a succession of hushed rooms inhabited by women clad in black from head-to-toe, caring for their sick and wounded offspring.

In one room, several women slept on iron beds, their newborn babies in nearby cots, wrapped in thick blankets.

On another floor, Iraqi mother Badreya Kamel said she arrived a few days ago with her three children.

One of them, Rowayda, died at the hospital on Monday from severe burns.

“She was two years old,” said the 24-year-old, her voice barely audible behind her face veil, long black robes draped over her frail figure.

– ‘Urgent need’ –

Kamel had spent the last five months at Al-Hol, after fleeing a village caught up in the fighting between IS and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are backed by a US-led coalition.

She left her tent to look for breakfast one recent morning. During her brief absence, her children lit a gas stove, sparking a fire.

Four-year-old Zobeida and 10-year-old Hafsa survived.

In their hospital room, both children sat in silence, moving their heads only rarely, a thick cream smeared over the raw, red wounds disfiguring their faces.

“We do what we can, but it’s not enough,” said Khalil, referring to the two girls and a clutch of other very young burn patients.

“They need more care — more medicine, aesthetic surgery.”

His hospital hosts around 25 in-patients who fled the collapsing IS “caliphate”, mainly via Al-Hol.

Around 50 more arrive for out-patient appointments each day from the camp, including many who need dressings changed and wounds cleaned.

In March alone, local hospitals were “overwhelmed” by some 2,000 women and children from Al-Hol, mostly suffering from wounds or malnutrition, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) aid group says.

But two new field hospitals should open at the camp itself by the end of April, the aid group says, to fill what the United Nations says is a pressing need.

“There is an urgent need for expanded health services in the camp itself,” said the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.

Donors have disbursed 4.3 million dollars (3.8 million euros) for Al-Hol, including to combat malnutrition and to provide emergency health care, it said.

– ‘Many children burnt’ –

On March 23, the SDF proclaimed victory against IS, after dislodging the jihadists from all but a few tunnels on the edge of Baghouz, a village that served as their final Syrian redoubt.

Over several weeks before that, the Kurdish-Arab alliance periodically had paused operations to allow out civilians — including jihadists’ families — and surrendering fighters.

Among the 500 most recent arrivals to Al-Hol, a number of women and children were trucked in with burns and shrapnel wounds, the IRC confirmed.

Saniya Roustom arrived around three weeks ago at the hospital, where she shares a room with two other Russian women and their children, all burn cases.

The 32-year-old had been trapped in Baghouz, where she sheltered against the gun battles, mortar fire and coalition air strikes in a trench covered by tarpaulin sheet.

That sheet was ignited by a mortar round, she said.

“Many children were burnt. They needed help, good doctors… We were brought here,” Roustom said in hesitant Arabic.

Of her six children, only one is still alive. The others died during other bombardments, or from their burns.

(AFP)

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Nuclear watchdog IAEA inspects Iran ‘secret atomic warehouse’ Netanyahu pointed to: Report https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/nuclear-watchdog-iaea-inspects-iran-secret-atomic-warehouse-netanyahu-pointed-to-report/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/nuclear-watchdog-iaea-inspects-iran-secret-atomic-warehouse-netanyahu-pointed-to-report/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 21:16:52 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123340 VIENNA The U.N. atomic watchdog policing Iran’s nuclear deal has inspected what Israel’s prime minister called a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran, three diplomats familiar with the agency’s work said. In a speech at the United Nations in September Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vehemently opposes the deal, called on the International Atomic Energy …

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VIENNA

The U.N. atomic watchdog policing Iran’s nuclear deal has inspected what Israel’s prime minister called a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran, three diplomats familiar with the agency’s work said.

In a speech at the United Nations in September Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vehemently opposes the deal, called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the site immediately, saying it had housed 15 kg (33 lb) of unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed.

Netanyahu argued the warehouse showed Tehran still sought to obtain nuclear weapons, despite its 2015 pact with world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for a loosening of sanctions.

At the time the IAEA bristled at being told what to do, saying it does not take information presented to it at face value and sends inspectors “only when needed”.

“They’ve visited the site,” one of the three diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and details of inspections are confidential.

One of the diplomats said the IAEA had been to the site more than once last month. The others said the agency had been there, without specifying when. The IAEA declined to comment.

“We have nothing to hide and any access given to the IAEA so far has been in the framework of laws and regulations and nothing beyond that,” an Iranian official said.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran declined to comment. Iran has said the site is a carpet-cleaning facility.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Determining what nuclear materials if any were present at the site will depend on an analysis of environmental samples taken there, and the results will not be in until June, two of the diplomats said.

Such environmental samples can detect telltale particles including highly enriched uranium even long after material has been removed.

The IAEA has the power under the landmark 2015 deal to carry out so-called complementary access inspections in Iran, which are often conducted at short notice, wherever it needs to.

The IAEA carried out 35 complementary access inspections in Iran in 2017, the latest year for which data is available, according to an annual report to member states that is itself confidential and which Reuters obtained.

Diplomats familiar with the IAEA’s work say such inspections are often carried out to clear up questions Iran has not fully answered or discrepancies in its declarations.

‘NOTHING TO HIDE’

The IAEA has repeatedly said Iran is holding up its end of the deal, which lifted international sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its atomic activities that increased the time it would need to make a nuclear bomb if it chose to. Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

Quarterly IAEA reports say its inspectors have had access to all the places in Iran they have needed to visit, which IAEA chief Yukiya Amano repeated in a speech on Tuesday.

At the same time, some diplomats who follow Iran closely say it has dragged its feet in dealing with the agency and some inspections have gone down to the wire.

“Full cooperation with the IAEA must be the norm, and Iran should not need a quarterly reminder of its importance,” the United States, which has pulled out of the deal and now opposes it, said in a statement at last month’s IAEA Board of Governors meeting, referring to another regular comment in IAEA reports.

Pending the results of the sample analysis, several diplomats said the fact inspectors were granted access to the site showed the deal is holding for now, despite Washington re-imposing punishing sanctions that have targeted Iran’s economy.

“The Iranians have realized that complying with the deal is in their interests,” one diplomat said.

(REUTERS)

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Iran reports massive flood damage to farms https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/iran-reports-massive-flood-damage-to-farms/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/iran-reports-massive-flood-damage-to-farms/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 21:10:44 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123335 LONDON Flooding has caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to Iranian agriculture, an official said on Thursday, as the parliament speaker questioned whether government funds would be adequate to compensate communities and farmers About 1,900 cities and villages have been affected by floods and exceptionally heavy rains since March 19. The disaster, which …

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LONDON

Flooding has caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to Iranian agriculture, an official said on Thursday, as the parliament speaker questioned whether government funds would be adequate to compensate communities and farmers

About 1,900 cities and villages have been affected by floods and exceptionally heavy rains since March 19.

The disaster, which has so far killed 62 people, has left aid agencies struggling to cope and seen 86,000 people moved to emergency shelters.

Early estimates put agriculture sector losses at 47 trillion rials (about $350 million), the head of the Agriculture Ministry’s crisis management, Mohammad Mousavi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA based on the unofficial exchange rate of 135,000 rials to a dollar.

The government has assured citizens, and especially flood-affected farmers, that all losses will be compensated.

But the speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, said on Thursday the new year budget would not suffice to cover the damages and the government should seek other resources.

Iran’s operating budget is already stretched under U.S. sanctions on energy and banking sectors that have halved its oil exports and restricted access to some revenues abroad.

President Hassan Rouhani, whom critics have accused of mismanaging the response to the disaster, said on Wednesday the sanctions were also hampering aid efforts.

The lawmakers have summoned several ministers to parliament on Sunday to explain why preventative measures were not in place. At least 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces have been affected.

COMMUNITIES UNDER WATER

As waters continue to submerge villages, the government said it had deployed more mobile medical units to southern provinces. Around 1,000 people have been airlifted by emergency helicopters to safety in recent days.

The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards reiterated that the forces “were using all their power” to minimize damages in oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province. Iranian drilling companies and other energy firms have been assisting rescue efforts in flooded areas, using pumps to remove water.

Rising water, mudslides and rockslide have blocked 36 roads across the country. Many flights and trains have been affected.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has released around 500,000 Swiss francs ($500,000) as cash grants for 3,000 Iranian families who have lost homes and livelihoods in the floods.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Tehran’s handling of the crisis on Tuesday, saying the “floods once again show the level of Iranian regime mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness.”

Iranian Foreign Minister snapped back on Thursday, calling his comments “unprofessional, interventionist and demagogic”.

“Apparently Mr. Pompeo has forgotten that the U.S. federal government itself has shown to be incapable of providing sufficient relief in many regions affected by natural disasters, which have claimed the lives of thousands of Americans,” he tweeted.

(REUTERS)

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NATO plans for Russian ‘aggression’ on 70th anniversary https://www.harmukhnews.in/international/nato-plans-for-russian-aggression-on-70th-anniversary/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/international/nato-plans-for-russian-aggression-on-70th-anniversary/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 21:07:26 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123336 WASHINGTON NATO said Thursday it was taking new action to counter Russia’s “aggression,” finding a united message amid other differences within the Western alliance on its 70th anniversary. Closing two days of talks in Washington, foreign ministers from the 29-nation alliance said in a joint statement that they face “an unpredictable and challenging security situation” …

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WASHINGTON

NATO said Thursday it was taking new action to counter Russia’s “aggression,” finding a united message amid other differences within the Western alliance on its 70th anniversary.

Closing two days of talks in Washington, foreign ministers from the 29-nation alliance said in a joint statement that they face “an unpredictable and challenging security situation” that includes “a more aggressive Russia.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance approved new surveillance measures and naval exercises in the Black Sea to back Ukraine and Georgia, aspiring members of NATO that are facing Russian-backed separatist forces.

Stoltenberg urged Russia to return three Ukrainian navy vessels and its sailors which it seized in November near Crimea — the peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014, in a move not recognized internationally.

“We are stepping up our efforts in the Black Sea region,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that NATO members agreed to study strategies to face non-traditional warfare from Russia, which is accused of meddling in a series of Western elections.

“Vladimir Putin harbors dark dreams of imperialism. This is evident from his invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, his meddling in Syria and now in Venezuela. He wants to split our alliance and weaken our democratic resolve,” Pompeo said.

– ‘The Eastern threat’ –

Russian President Vladimir Putin counters that NATO has posed a threat by its eastward expansion into the former Soviet bloc and accuses the United States of plotting a coup with its bid to oust Venezuela’s leftist leader Nicolas Maduro.

Russia criticized the Black Sea plan and, in a statement for the NATO anniversary, voiced regret that the alliance “has no intention to renounce its political and military confrontation with Russia.”

“It is time to stop bringing back the ‘Eastern threat.’ In the interest of peace, the world needs a de-escalation of military and political tensions,” the foreign ministry said.

Stoltenberg, asked by a reporter if NATO was provoking Russia by considering membership for Ukraine and Georgia, said that “big powers” cannot dictate terms to others.

“As soon as you accept that that’s a provocation against Russia, then you accept that Russia has the right to decide what neighbors can do,” he said.

The renewed worries about Russia come after a decade in which NATO’s focus has shifted well beyond Europe, with the alliance engaged for nearly 18 years in Afghanistan.

Pompeo briefed the allies on US efforts to broker a solution with Taliban militants to end the war triggered by the September 11, 2001 attacks.

– Internal divisions –

He said that NATO needed to confront “Russian aggression” but also “emerging threats” including the rise of China as well as Iran.

The United States has enjoyed less support over those two issues, with all of its NATO allies backing an international accord on ending Iran’s nuclear program from which President Donald Trump withdrew.

Pompeo has also been seeking with limited success to persuade US allies not to choose Chinese telecom giant Huawei for their fifth-generation networks, warning that the company poses risks to security and personal privacy.

The Trump administration has been livid at Germany, Europe’s largest economy, for its budgetary plans that do not come close to the NATO goal of spending two percent on defense spending.

“Now is not the time to repeat tired excuses that our citizens don’t support increased defense or security spending. Each nation has the duty to make the case to our people,” Pompeo said.

NATO allies have also seen rising friction with Turkey, which has been clamping down on dissent and has defiantly insisted on buying a major missile defense system from Russia, even after the United States suspended its participation in the F-35 fighter-jet program.

But the NATO meeting witnessed the end to one long-running standoff with the participation of the foreign minister of North Macedonia.

AFP / Gal ROMANorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
The former Yugoslav republic had been in limbo for years, with Greece objecting to the name of Macedonia, which is historically tied to Hellenic rather than Slavic civilization.

Greece’s left-wing prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, brokered a deal to welcome the country after it changed its name to North Macedonia and it is expected to enter NATO as its 30th member later this year.

Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Katrougalos said the deal can offer a “blueprint” for resolving conflicts as leaders need not see “history as a prison.”

(AFP)

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Iraqi victims of Islamic State leadership deserve justice: UN https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/iraqi-victims-of-islamic-state-leadership-deserve-justice-un/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/iraqi-victims-of-islamic-state-leadership-deserve-justice-un/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 21:07:12 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123331 GENEVA Iraq must ensure that Islamic State leadership faces justice for alleged war crimes and genocide against civilians, not just charges of belonging to a terrorist group, a United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday. Four men, two Iraqi and two Syrians, were sentenced to death by a Baghdad court on Oct 30 on …

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GENEVA

Iraq must ensure that Islamic State leadership faces justice for alleged war crimes and genocide against civilians, not just charges of belonging to a terrorist group, a United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday.

Four men, two Iraqi and two Syrians, were sentenced to death by a Baghdad court on Oct 30 on charges of membership of Islamic State, a banned terrorist organisation, Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said.

Their identity has not been revealed but she described them in a statement as “four senior affiliates of the ISIL leadership”, using a widespread acronym for the militant group.

“The trial should have shed light on the inner workings of ISIL and created a crucial judicial record of ISIL crimes against people.”

The jihadist group, which took large swathes of Iraq and Syria from 2014, declared a “caliphate” and imposed a reign of terror with public beheadings and sexual enslavement of women and girls including from the Iraqi Yazidi sect. It lost its last territorial stronghold in Syria last month.

“The Government of Iraq should take appropriate steps to prosecute the crimes perpetrated against the Iraqi people, including alleged genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Callamard said.

“At the very least, the Iraqi prosecutors should have brought additional charges from the Iraqi penal code, such as charges of murder, torture or disappearance, against the defendants, for the purpose of accountability,” she said.

International standards guaranteeing a fair trial appear not to have been met at the “hasty” criminal proceedings, during which the men were denied access to legal counsel, Callamard said.

Despite widespread violations, no victims or their families participated in the trial at Karkh criminal court or presented testimony, she said.

Callamard, who made recommendations about criminal accountability after a visit to Iraq in 2017, said on Thursday that the right to truth about gross human rights violations is an inalienable right.

“There is no justice delivered in secrecy,” she said.

“The trial of these four ISIL senior leaders should be an important opportunity for the victims, victims’ families, and witnesses to report on their ordeals and to be heard,” she said.

(REUTERS)

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Syrian government forces shell rebel-held northwest, kill 12 https://www.harmukhnews.in/international/syrian-government-forces-shell-rebel-held-northwest-kill-12/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/international/syrian-government-forces-shell-rebel-held-northwest-kill-12/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 21:02:46 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123329 BEIRUT Syrian government shelling killed at least a dozen people in the rebel-held northwest on Thursday, rescue workers said, as Damascus said its patience was running out over the implementation of a Russian-Turkish agreement in the area. The shelling killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens in Kafr Nubl, where one missile hit a …

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BEIRUT

Syrian government shelling killed at least a dozen people in the rebel-held northwest on Thursday, rescue workers said, as Damascus said its patience was running out over the implementation of a Russian-Turkish agreement in the area.

The shelling killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens in Kafr Nubl, where one missile hit a market, said Obada Dhikra, the director of civil defence service in the area. The number of dead could rise due to the severity of the injuries.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights separately reported that government shelling had killed 17 civilians in the past 24 hours in different locations of the northwest, with half of the dead under the age of 18.

The northwest represents the last big piece of territory held by rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

Last year, the Syrian government, backed in the war by Russia and Iran, was poised to mount a major offensive into part of the northwest – Idlib and adjoining parts of Hama and Aleppo provinces – raising concerns of a humanitarian catastrophe.

But the attack was postponed after Moscow struck a deal with Ankara that included the creation of a “demilitarised zone”. Moscow is the government’s strongest ally and Turkey backs some rebel groups and has troops on the ground in the northwest.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said the government was still determined to take back the territory and repeated the government’s view that Turkey had failed to implement the agreement with Russia.

“Until now, we hear from our Russian friends that the situation is difficult, but that Turkey is determined to implement the agreement,” Moualem said.

“Patience has limits. We must liberate this land and therefore our Russian friends began to feel our patience running out, and they are dealing with the matter with the Turkish leadership,” he said at a Damascus news conference.

The northwest, including Idlib province and parts of Hama and Aleppo provinces, is home to about 3 million people, half of whom have already been internally displaced, the United Nations says.

Early this year, the jihadist groups in the northwest seized most of the enclave from other rebel factions. Turkish-backed insurgents hold an adjacent enclave in northern Aleppo province where there is no active fighting with the government.

(REUTERS)

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Saudi Arabia grants Iraq loans as Baghdad consulate opens https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/saudi-arabia-grants-iraq-loans-as-baghdad-consulate-opens/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/iran-middle-east/saudi-arabia-grants-iraq-loans-as-baghdad-consulate-opens/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 21:02:41 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123322 BAGHDAD Saudi Arabia’s trade minister announced a one-billion-dollar aid package for Iraq during a visit to Baghdad on Thursday, pledging stronger bilateral ties as the kingdom competes with rival Iran for influence over Iraq. Majed al-Qasabi also inaugurated a new Saudi consulate in Baghdad, one of four planned branches to open in Iraq after decades …

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BAGHDAD

Saudi Arabia’s trade minister announced a one-billion-dollar aid package for Iraq during a visit to Baghdad on Thursday, pledging stronger bilateral ties as the kingdom competes with rival Iran for influence over Iraq.

Majed al-Qasabi also inaugurated a new Saudi consulate in Baghdad, one of four planned branches to open in Iraq after decades of no diplomatic links between the two countries.

Speaking to reporters alongside Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadban, Qasabi said the relationship had entered “a new phase”.

“There’s no doubt that this exchange, this discussion, is a two-way street that will strengthen these ties,” said Qasabi, wrapping up a two-day visit.

Saudi Arabia would provide Iraq with $1 billion in loans for development projects, said Qasabi, plus $500 million to boost exports and a gift of a 100,000-seat sports stadium to be built on Baghdad’s outskirts.

A joint Saudi-Iraq business council also proposed dozens of opportunities in Iraq for Saudi private investors and a free trade zone along the desertic border between the two countries, he said.

Ghadban said the council had prepared “memoranda of understanding that will be signed in Riyadh during the upcoming visit of Iraq’s prime minister.”

He said the trip would take place in the “coming days,” but Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi is set to travel to Iran on Saturday.

Iraq is caught in a tug-of-war over influence pitting Iran against the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Iran is the second-largest supplier of imported goods to Iraq and also has deep-rooted political influence in the country, particularly over Shiite factions.

But Tehran’s top foes Riyadh and Washington are seeking to increase their sway in Baghdad, including through trade.

Last year, Washington urged Baghdad to partner with US firms instead of relying on Iranian gas and electricity, key crutches for Iraq’s faltering power sector.

Riyadh, too, has looked into providing electricity to Iraq through solar power and hosted Iraqi President Barham Salih last year, a major step in the bilateral relationship.

Saudi Arabia cut off ties with Iraq after former dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and only reopened its embassy in Baghdad in 2016.

But eight months later, the newly arrived ambassador was recalled to Riyadh in protest over the influence of Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq.

Iraqis had to travel to neighbouring Jordan to apply for a Saudi visa, until the consulate opening on Thursday.

“Today, our brothers in Iraq can acquire a visa in Baghdad directly, without having to suffer a trip abroad,” Qasabi said outside the consulate.

(AFP)

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Hollywood actresses appear in court in US college admissions bribery case https://www.harmukhnews.in/international/hollywood-actresses-appear-in-court-in-us-college-admissions-bribery-case/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/international/hollywood-actresses-appear-in-court-in-us-college-admissions-bribery-case/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 20:52:11 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123325 BOSTON Surrounded by a mob of journalists, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin appeared in a Boston court on Wednesday to face charges in connection with a massive college admissions scam involving other celebrities and top industry CEOs. Huffman and Loughlin, who have remained silent since they were charged in March, arrived separately and said …

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BOSTON

Surrounded by a mob of journalists, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin appeared in a Boston court on Wednesday to face charges in connection with a massive college admissions scam involving other celebrities and top industry CEOs.

Huffman and Loughlin, who have remained silent since they were charged in March, arrived separately and said nothing to the reporters outside the courthouse.

Huffman, known best for her role in the “Desperate Housewives” series, arrived without her equally famous husband, actor William H. Macy.

Loughlin, known for her role on “Full House,” smiled and waved at her fans before entering the building.

The actresses were the most famous of the 50 people indicted in a scam to help children of the American elite gain entry into top US colleges.

The ringleader behind the scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million dollars to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.

Some of the universities targeted in the elaborate cheating scam include Yale, Stanford, UCLA and Georgetown. None of the schools or the students have been charged in the case.

According to prosecutors, the accused parents paid a firm run by Singer as much as $6 million to cheat on college entrance exams for their children or to bribe coaches to help non-athletic students get scholarships.

The 33 parents in the case have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, a crime punishable by five years prison.

Huffman has been accused of paying $15,000 dollars to help her eldest daughter get better results in the SAT college entrance exam.

According to the indictment, she and Macy paid for an examiner to correct their daughter’s test answers through a phony donation to Singer’s foundation. They reportedly agreed in 2018 to repeat the scam for their youngest daughter, although this did not happen.

Loughlin and her husband are accused of paying $500,000 in 2016 and 2017 to Singer’s foundation so that their two daughters could pose as rowers and join the University of Southern California (USC) crew team.

Thanks to Singer’s cooperation, investigators have recordings of telephone conversations and e-mails exchanges with the actresses about the cheating.

No parent has yet pleaded guilty in the case.

There is plenty of speculation about ongoing negotiations between attorneys representing the defendants and the Massachusetts federal prosecutor, which could lead to plea agreements.

Such agreements are common in the US legal system: when investigators have evidence they believe is enough to get a jury to obtain a conviction, defendants are encouraged to at least partially recognize their guilt to avoid an expensive court case that they could lose, with the promise of a more lenient sentence.

(AFP)

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Sri Lanka police commando commits suicide at PM’s residence https://www.harmukhnews.in/international/sri-lanka-police-commando-commits-suicide-at-pms-residence/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/international/sri-lanka-police-commando-commits-suicide-at-pms-residence/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 20:50:52 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123320 COLOMBO A police commando in Sri Lanka committed suicide on Thursday by shooting himself at Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s official residence in Colombo, officials said. The Special Task Force (STF) member used his officially issued automatic assault rifle to shoot himself at the gate of the Temple Trees residence while the premier was inside the …

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COLOMBO

A police commando in Sri Lanka committed suicide on Thursday by shooting himself at Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s official residence in Colombo, officials said.

The Special Task Force (STF) member used his officially issued automatic assault rifle to shoot himself at the gate of the Temple Trees residence while the premier was inside the sprawling complex.

It was not immediately clear why the commando took his life, but police officials said an investigation was underway.

An opposition legislator raised Thursday’s suicide in parliament during a debate on the budgets of the military and the police, but there was no immediate comment from the government.

Sri Lanka’s leaders and visiting dignitaries are given protection by the Special Task Force which is specially trained for security as well as urban guerrilla warfare.

(AFP)

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Facebook app developers exposed users’ data on Amazon Cloud: Report https://www.harmukhnews.in/lifestyle/facebook-app-developers-exposed-users-data-on-amazon-cloud-report/ https://www.harmukhnews.in/lifestyle/facebook-app-developers-exposed-users-data-on-amazon-cloud-report/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2020 20:48:35 +0000 https://www.harmukhnews.in/?p=123319 SAN FRANCISCO In yet another shocking revelation, US-based cyber security firm UpGuard has found that Facebook app developers left millions of user records, including comments, likes and reactions, exposed on the Amazon Cloud servers. The third-party Facebook app developers exposed data in the public domain in two large datasets that contained 540 million users’ records. “One, originating from the Mexico-based media company Cultura Colectiva, weighs …

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SAN FRANCISCO

In yet another shocking revelation, US-based cyber security firm UpGuard has found that Facebook app developers left millions of user records, including comments, likes and reactions, exposed on the Amazon Cloud servers.

The third-party Facebook app developers exposed data in the public domain in two large datasets that contained 540 million users’ records.

“One, originating from the Mexico-based media company Cultura Colectiva, weighs in at 146 gigabytes and contains over 540 million records detailing comments, likes, reactions, account names, FB IDs and more,” said UpGuard in a blog post on Wednesday.

“A separate backup from a Facebook-integrated app titled ‘At the Pool’ was also found exposed to the public internet via an Amazon S3 bucket,” said the researchers.

The “At the Pool” discovery is not as large as the Cultura Colectiva dataset, but it contains plaintext (unprotected) passwords for 22,000 users.

“As Facebook faces scrutiny over its data stewardship practices, they have made efforts to reduce third-party access.

“But as these exposures show, the data genie cannot be put back in the bottle. Data about Facebook users has been spread far beyond the bounds of what Facebook can control today,” said UpGuard.

Combine that plenitude of personal data with storage technologies that are often misconfigured for public access and the result is a long tail of data about Facebook users that continues to leak.

A Facebook spokesperson told The Verge that the company’s policies prohibit storing Facebook information in a public database.

“Once alerted to the issue, we worked with Amazon to take down the databases. We are committed to working with the developers on our platform to protect people’s data,” the spokesperson added.

The political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica also harvested data of 87 million users via a quiz app, leaving Facebook under heavy criticism on how it share user data with third parties.

“In each case, the Facebook platform facilitated the collection of data about individuals and its transfer to third parties, who became responsible for its security,” said UpGuard.

“The surface area for protecting the data of Facebook users is thus vast and heterogenous, and the responsibility for securing it lies with millions of app developers who have built on its platform,” it added.

(IANS)

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