Saudi Arabia to resume tourism activities from June 21

Agencies
June 18, 2020

Riyadh, Jun 18: Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that Saudi Arabia will resume tourist activities at the end of Shawwal (June 21) after a hiatus of more than three months due to lockdown measures imposed following the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

The minister made the remarks during a television interview after chairing the emergency meeting of the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism on Wednesday. He said that the current indications are positive and that the Kingdom is ready to launch the summer program, which will be a boost for domestic tourism.

“It was revealed in a research study carried out by the Tourism Authority that 80 percent of Saudi citizens want to take advantage of domestic tourism. We will launch the domestic tourism program for the public after having made necessary coordination with the Ministry of Health and the concerned higher authorities,” he said.

Several Arab tourism ministers and officials of the relevant organizations attended the meeting, which discussed the challenges that the region’s tourism sector is facing due to the pandemic. Al-Khateeb pointed out that the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism, headed by Saudi Arabia, held the virtual session in exceptional circumstances to discuss ways to get out of this pandemic and revitalize the tourism sector.

“Saudi Arabia has initiated a package of financial stimulus activities with a total value of more than $61 billion to protect jobs and businesses and reduce the economic burden of the crisis. The domestic tourism sector has benefited from it as one of the important economic sectors, as it covered 60 percent of salaries of Saudi employees in the private sector for a period of three months,” he added.

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News Network
November 30,2020

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The source made the revelation on Monday, saying the weapon collected from the site of the terrorist act bears the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry.

Iran's Ministry of Defense also said it had obtained "new leads" on the identity of the perpetrators and that the information "will be publicized very soon."

A former head of the Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, Fakhrizadeh was targeted in an attack involving at least one explosion and machinegun fire in the town of Absard near Tehran.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Sunday that the assassination bears all the hallmarks of the Israeli regime.

The history of Tel Aviv’s sabotage targeting Iran’s nuclear energy program is as old as the program itself.

Many observers believe Israel is not able to carry out such dangerous operations without the prior information and support of the United States which left a landmark nuclear deal with Iran in 2015.

Israel possesses the Middle East’s sole nuclear arsenal estimated to contain at least 200 warheads. The occupying regime maintains a policy of ambiguity concerning its nuclear weapons, neither confirming nor denying publicly that it has the capability.

It also refuses to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and does not allow any international inspection of its nuclear weapons program.

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News Network
December 1,2020

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Nicosia, Dec 1: Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian Professor of physics who was the brains behind the Project Amad, Tehran's alleged covert programme for building a nuclear bomb, was killed near the city of Absard, 50 miles from Tehran last Friday in an ambush, by highly trained assassins, believed to be members of Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.

It is unclear how the attack actually took place, as a press report speaks about 12 assassins who exploded a Nissan car when Fakhrizadeh's convoy of three bulletproof cars was passing, and then the gunmen opened fire on the cars, killing the nuclear scientist and his guards. However, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, quoting Iranian officials, says the assassination was carried out from distance with a remote-controlled automatic machinegun. "No human assets were present at the scene of the assassination and the shooting was carried out only with automatic weapons, " it claimed.

Iran immediately accused Israel of being behind Fakhrizadeh's death and for good reason. Since 2010 Israel had carried out 4 assassinations of scientists who were believed to be involved in Iran's nuclear programme and caused explosions at various facilities associated with the programme. As has been its usual practice, Israel did not publicly admit that it was behind the killings.

It should be mentioned that in 2018, Fakhrizadeh was named by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said that secret documents concerning Iran's nuclear programme, which were stolen by Israel, showed that Fakhrizadeh secretly continued Project Amad.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, promised to retaliate for the killing of the prominent scientist, while President Hassan Rouhani declared that Iran would retaliate for the murder, but pointed out that it would do so at a time of its choosing. "In due time, they will answer for this crime," he said, adding that the assassination shows Iran's enemies despair and depth of their hatred".

An immediate response came from the Iranian Parliament which on Sunday approved a vote to raise the rate of uranium enrichment to 20% (from 4%) and gradually withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (Iran nuclear deal).

BBC reports that John Brennan, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said the killing of the scientist was a "criminal" and "highly reckless" act that "risks lethal retaliation and a new round of regional conflict".

However, although the Israeli government did not publicly admit that the assassination of the top Iranian nuclear scientist was its own doing, a senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the New York Times on Sunday that the world should "thank Israel for killing the father of Iran's nuclear programme" and added that Israel would keep acting to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Many analysts believe that US President Donald Trump gave the green light to the Israelis to kill Fakhrizadeh, pointing out that Trump recently sought options for a military strike on Iran's nuclear programme, but was dissuaded from doing so by his senior advisers.

Amos Yadlin, Chairman of the Institute for National Security Studies of Israel told the Army Radio that whoever operated in Tehran "has one eye, maybe two on Washington. If the Iranians respond, it will enable President Donald Trump to order his generals to act against them. And if they don't, it could still possibly block the Biden administration from opening negotiations."

A similar view was expressed by Sweden's former Prime Minister Carl Bildt who said: "It's not unlikely that this targeted killing was part of efforts to prevent the Biden administration from reviving diplomacy with Iran and going back to the nuclear agreement".

Zvi Bar'el, Middle Eastern Affairs Analyst for Haaretz newspaper, points out that the timing of the assassination, "even if it was determined by purely operational considerations, is a clear message to President-elect Joe Biden, intended to show Israel's criticism of the intent to return to the nuclear accord with Iran and other issues, like freezing Iran's ballistic missile programme in return for economic cooperation".

Haaretz newspaper's diplomatic reporter Noa Landau writes that US President Donald Trump has more than a month before he leaves the White House, and on his way, he could set the world on fire. In starting this conflagration, it seems as though he plans to strike every match in the box. Standing beside him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be more than happy to lend him a lighter".

Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei stated on Sunday that the Islamic Republic "should not fall into the trap of linking the assassination to past nuclear negotiations". He added that the killing of Fakhrizadeh would not remain unanswered, but not at a time that they want or the way and place they expect. "Iran sets the time and the place," he concluded.

What is noteworthy is that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have maintained a deafening silence on the matter and did not utter a word about the assassination.

However, given that they publicly vowed to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, they probably think that by the targeted killing of Fakhrizadeh, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was betting on a harsh response by Iran, and in this way tried to sabotage future US negotiations with Tehran. This is something that it will be difficult for Biden to forget.

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News Network
November 29,2020

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About 1,000 protesters gathered outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem on Saturday night, pressing ahead with their months-long campaign demanding his resignation.

A mix of grassroots groups have held the weekly protests, saying Netanyahu should step down while he is on trial for corruption and because of his handling of the coronavirus in Israel. After two lockdowns this year, the nation’s economy is struggling, and hundreds of thousands of Israelis remain out of work. Many protesters are Israelis who have lost their jobs.

After six months of demonstrations and with wintry weather setting in, the protest crowds have started to shrink. But participants remained vocal and animated Saturday. Nearly all wore masks, though not everyone observed social distancing.

Many held Israeli and pink flags, one of the symbols of the protest movement. Others hoisted model submarines, a reference to a scandal over an Israeli purchase of German submarines in which several Netanyahu associates have been implicated. Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in that case, though his rival, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, ordered an investigation into the affair this week.

Smaller protests also took place at junctions and overpasses across Israel, and at Netanyahu’s private home in the upscale coastal town of Caesaria.

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