Categories
Middle East

Biden says Saudi announcement to come Monday; White House plays down new steps – Middle East Monitor

President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following a US intelligence report that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, reported Reuters.

The Biden administration has faced some criticism, notably an editorial in the Washington Post, that the president should have been tougher on the crown prince, who was not sanctioned despite being blamed for approving Khashoggi’s murder.

Asked about punishing the crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, who is also known as MbS, Biden said: “There will be an announcement on Monday as to what we are going to be doing with Saudi Arabia generally.”

Biden did not provide details. But a White House official suggested no new significant steps were expected.

Read: Don’t bully Riyadh, Saudi columnists tell Biden administration

“The administration took a wide range of new actions on Friday. The president is referring to the fact that on Monday, the State Department will provide more details and elaborate on those announcements, not new announcements,” the official said.

Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post critical of MbS policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of operatives linked to the prince in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

The Saudi government, which has denied any involvement by the crown prince, on Friday issued a statement rejecting the US report’s findings and repeating its previous statements that Khashoggi’s killing was a heinous crime by a rogue group.

Among the punitive steps the United States took on Friday was the imposition of a visa ban on some Saudis believed involved in the Khashoggi killing and sanctions on others, including a former deputy intelligence chief, which would freeze their US assets and generally bar Americans from dealing with them.

Opinion: Will the US hold Saudi Arabia to account for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?

Categories
Middle East

Israel defence minister secretly met Jordan king – Middle East Monitor

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz allegedly met secretly with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Sunday.

The newspaper said the meeting took place in Jordan, but did not specify the precise date of the meeting.

Gantz, who is leading the Blue and White party in the upcoming Israeli elections, told his party members earlier that he was conducting secret meetings with top Jordanian officials.

Gantz also criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relationship with Amman, accusing him of harming Israel’s relations with Jordan.

“I think Jordan is a great asset to Israel, and I think that our relationship with Jordan could be 1,000 times better. Unfortunately, Netanyahu is an unwanted figure in Jordan, and his presence harms” the two countries’ relations, Gantz said.

The Jordanian authorities have yet to comment on the Israeli media report.

According to the Israeli daily, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also met twice with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman al-Safadi in the past months and discussed possible joint projects.

Jordan shares the longest borders with Israel, where both signed a peace agreement in 1994, and became the second Arab country to establish official ties with Israel following Egypt, which signed its peace agreement with Israel in 1979.

Opinion: International initiatives exclude any voice for the Palestinian people

Categories
Cruises

Cruise Line Eliminates Single Supplements on Cruises Through 2023

A cruise line is eliminating single supplements on select cruises through 2023 across all of their itineraries.

Star Clippers is embracing the trend of solo traveling with tall ship sailing itineraries designed for all types of traveler—solo, couples and groups alike. Single travelers especially are drawn to the social and casual on-board atmosphere, where it’s easy to meet new friends and bond over the love of sea and sailing, as well the excitement of being on board a working sailboat in exotic locales like Malaysia and Thailand, Athens, and St. Maarten.

To make solo cruising even more enticing, Star Clippers is waiving single supplements on select sailings in 2021 through 2023 across all their itineraries, including in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Southeast Asia.

With a wide array of departures across all three of their modern clipper ships included in this offer, solo cruising in some of the most desired locations in the world is also an affordable option for solo travelers.

Sponsored Links

The single supplement waiver is also an ideal offer for those who love to cruise with a friend but crave the privacy of their own cabin. Offer is valid for residents of North, Central and South America only.

Caribbean sailings between November 2021 and March 2023 sailing round trip out of Barbados or St. Maarten start at $1,310 for a six-day sailing. Offerings in the Mediterranean for the 2022 season include sailings along the coasts of France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Spain and Morocco, to name a few. Solo guests can book a three night cruise out of Venice starting at just $870, or enjoy seven nights out of Athens starting at $1,850.

For those looking to experience exotic Southeast Asian locales aboard a tall ship, Star Clippers is offering itineraries in Thailand and Malaysia with departures from Phuket and Ko Samui between September 2021 and March 2022. A six-night sailing out of Phuket starts at $1,300.

For more than 25 years, Star Clippers has been introducing travelers to the thrill of modern tall ship sailing to remote ports in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indonesia and Far East.

The cruise line operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels: Star Clipper and Star Flyer are traditional clipper ships with modern amenities carrying 170 guests, while the 227-guest Royal Clipper holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest and only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship in service today.

All three ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, convivial tropical bars on deck and piano lounges.

Categories
Middle East

Iran might be behind explosion on Israeli-owned ship – Middle East Monitor

Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday his “initial assessment” was that Iran was responsible for an explosion on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman, reported Reuters.

The ship, a vehicle-carrier named MV Helios Ray, suffered an explosion between Thursday and Friday morning. A US defence official in Washington said the blast left holes above the waterline in both sides of the hull. The cause was not immediately clear and no casualties were reported.

“Iran is looking to hit Israeli infrastructure and Israeli citizens,” Gantz told the public broadcaster Kan. “The location of the ship in relative close proximity to Iran raises the notion, the assessment, that it is the Iranians.”

“Right now, at an initial assessment level, given the proximity and the context – that is my assessment,” Gantz said, adding a deeper investigation still had to be carried out.

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials.

The ship is owned by a Tel Aviv company called Ray Shipping through a company registered in the Isle of Man, according to a UN shipping database.

Read: Israeli vehicle-carrier ship hit by explosion in Gulf of Oman

Israeli Channel 13 News said defence officials believed the Iranian navy had launched a precision strike to avoid casualties, firing two missiles at a part of the ship that if damaged would not have sunk the vessel.

It added an Israeli delegation was en route to Dubai, where the ship was docked, to investigate.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report.

Kan named the owner as Rami Ungar and quoted him on Friday as saying: “The damage is two holes, diameter approximately 1.5 metres, but it is not yet clear to us if this was caused by missile fire or mines that were attached to the ship.”

Iran said in November it would make a “calculated” response to the killing of its top nuclear scientist, which it blamed on Israel.

Tensions have risen in the Gulf region since the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then-president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

Washington has blamed Iran for a number of attacks on shipping in strategic Gulf waters, notably on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, in May 2019. Iran has denied carrying out those attacks.

Read: Iran condemns US strikes in Syria, denies attacks in Iraq

Categories
Middle East

Will the US hold Saudi Arabia to account for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi? – Middle East Monitor

The Biden administration in Washington is set to declassify an intelligence report which could be a vital step in the search for accountability over the murder of respected journalist Jamal Khashoggi. If the US president makes progress with evidence from the report, it could mean that the US will be in the position of being able to assign blame for the killing of Khashoggi and take steps to hold Saudi Arabia to account. The question is, will it do so?

Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist and US resident when he travelled to Turkey in October 2018 to obtain a document from the Saudi Consulate which would allow him to marry his fiancé Hatice Cengiz. He entered the consulate in Istanbul but did not leave. He was killed within minutes, and a lookalike left by a back door wearing his clothes in an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Exiled from his home in Saudi Arabia for expressing views about the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Khashoggi sought refuge in the US. Bin Salman has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder but says that it was “rogue elements” of a Saudi hit squad who killed the journalist.

Despite the trail leading back to the crown prince and him admitting responsibility because the murder took place on his watch there has been no attempt to hold him to account for what took place in Istanbul. Human rights activists and the UN have both urged that a thorough investigation should be held, but will Joe Biden be the one to make that happen?

Saudi Arabia: A police state of which Stalin would have approved

2 years after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder MBS has nothing to be worried about – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

When he was still seeking the Democrat nomination for the presidency In November 2019, Biden stated, “Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered… at the orders of the crown prince. We are going to make them pay the price and make them the pariahs that they are.”

During the election campaign itself, Biden was seen as a frontrunner in his commitment to accountability and justice for Khashoggi’s murder. His predecessor Donald Trump had close ties to Bin Salman, but Biden was noted to be someone who would stand his moral ground and ensure that justice is served.

Khashoggi’s fiancée and human rights organisations have urged the US to release details of the CIA intelligence report, a move that she has said would “greatly assist” the efforts to uncover the truth. If the report is published it would enable Biden to hold Bin Salman to account.

It is hoped, therefore, that President Biden will keep the promises that he made during his electioneering so that there can be a final closure for all the loved ones, family and friends of Jamal Khashoggi. More than anything else, such a move will demonstrate that his administration is taking a firm stand for press freedom and human rights.

Ghada Oueiss: ‘Saudi has based its rule on the suppression of women’

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

Categories
Top Cities

10,000 Cities—and Counting – News

The European Commission and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently presented “groundbreaking new mapping research” at World Urban Forum 10, concluding that there are around 10,000 cities in the world.

Gregory Scruggs shares insight into the unprecedented effort to document and define the contemporary city in an article for Next City. Nailing down a definition of cities is surprisingly challenging. Nuances can neglect huge swaths of the built environment or in wildly different population estimates.

No two countries define cities the same way, notes Scruggs: “In Denmark, 200 people living near each other constitutes a city. In Japan, the threshold is 50,000,” for example.

The new mapping project overcomes some of those challenges by adding a third definition besides urban and rural: the town. According to Scruggs’s explanation of the new definition, “over a quarter of the planet lives in towns — like those Danish hamlets of 200-odd souls — a category that the world has largely ignored in its preference for an urban-rural binary, the idea that someone either lives in a city or in the countryside.”

A few findings from the study stand out: half of the world’s 10,000 cities didn’t exist 40 years ago, for example, and 20 percent of the world’s cities are shrinking. “[Shrinking is] getting more common in countries where the population has started to stagnate or decline,” according to a quote from OECD’s head of urban statistics, Rudiger Ahrend, included in the article.

Categories
Destination Guides

The Top 7 Best Airbnbs in Augusta, Georgia







The Top 7 Best Airbnbs in Augusta, Georgia – Out of Town Blog





















Categories
Middle East

Will the US hold Saudi Arabia to account for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi? – Middle East Monitor

The Biden administration in Washington is set to declassify an intelligence report which could be a vital step in the search for accountability over the murder of respected journalist Jamal Khashoggi. If the US president makes progress with evidence from the report, it could mean that the US will be in the position of being able to assign blame for the killing of Khashoggi and take steps to hold Saudi Arabia to account. The question is, will it do so?

Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist and US resident when he travelled to Turkey in October 2018 to obtain a document from the Saudi Consulate which would allow him to marry his fiancé Hatice Cengiz. He entered the consulate in Istanbul but did not leave. He was killed within minutes, and a lookalike left by a back door wearing his clothes in an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Exiled from his home in Saudi Arabia for expressing views about the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Khashoggi sought refuge in the US. Bin Salman has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder but says that it was “rogue elements” of a Saudi hit squad who killed the journalist.

Despite the trail leading back to the crown prince and him admitting responsibility because the murder took place on his watch there has been no attempt to hold him to account for what took place in Istanbul. Human rights activists and the UN have both urged that a thorough investigation should be held, but will Joe Biden be the one to make that happen?

Saudi Arabia: A police state of which Stalin would have approved

2 years after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder MBS has nothing to be worried about – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

When he was still seeking the Democrat nomination for the presidency In November 2019, Biden stated, “Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered… at the orders of the crown prince. We are going to make them pay the price and make them the pariahs that they are.”

During the election campaign itself, Biden was seen as a frontrunner in his commitment to accountability and justice for Khashoggi’s murder. His predecessor Donald Trump had close ties to Bin Salman, but Biden was noted to be someone who would stand his moral ground and ensure that justice is served.

Khashoggi’s fiancée and human rights organisations have urged the US to release details of the CIA intelligence report, a move that she has said would “greatly assist” the efforts to uncover the truth. If the report is published it would enable Biden to hold Bin Salman to account.

It is hoped, therefore, that President Biden will keep the promises that he made during his electioneering so that there can be a final closure for all the loved ones, family and friends of Jamal Khashoggi. More than anything else, such a move will demonstrate that his administration is taking a firm stand for press freedom and human rights.

Ghada Oueiss: ‘Saudi has based its rule on the suppression of women’

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

Categories
Destination Guides

Travel Guide: Caleruega Church in Nasugbu, Batangas







Travel Guide: Caleruega Church in Nasugbu, Batangas – Out of Town Blog





















Categories
Middle East

Iran might be behind explosion on Israeli-owned ship – Middle East Monitor

Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday his “initial assessment” was that Iran was responsible for an explosion on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman, reported Reuters.

The ship, a vehicle-carrier named MV Helios Ray, suffered an explosion between Thursday and Friday morning. A US defence official in Washington said the blast left holes above the waterline in both sides of the hull. The cause was not immediately clear and no casualties were reported.

“Iran is looking to hit Israeli infrastructure and Israeli citizens,” Gantz told the public broadcaster Kan. “The location of the ship in relative close proximity to Iran raises the notion, the assessment, that it is the Iranians.”

“Right now, at an initial assessment level, given the proximity and the context – that is my assessment,” Gantz said, adding a deeper investigation still had to be carried out.

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials.

The ship is owned by a Tel Aviv company called Ray Shipping through a company registered in the Isle of Man, according to a UN shipping database.

Read: Israeli vehicle-carrier ship hit by explosion in Gulf of Oman

Israeli Channel 13 News said defence officials believed the Iranian navy had launched a precision strike to avoid casualties, firing two missiles at a part of the ship that if damaged would not have sunk the vessel.

It added an Israeli delegation was en route to Dubai, where the ship was docked, to investigate.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report.

Kan named the owner as Rami Ungar and quoted him on Friday as saying: “The damage is two holes, diameter approximately 1.5 metres, but it is not yet clear to us if this was caused by missile fire or mines that were attached to the ship.”

Iran said in November it would make a “calculated” response to the killing of its top nuclear scientist, which it blamed on Israel.

Tensions have risen in the Gulf region since the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018 after then-president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

Washington has blamed Iran for a number of attacks on shipping in strategic Gulf waters, notably on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, in May 2019. Iran has denied carrying out those attacks.

Read: Iran condemns US strikes in Syria, denies attacks in Iraq