War of Words between Moroccan and Saudi MPs at the Arab…

Rabat – An acrimonious disagreement between a Saudi and Moroccan members of parliament ignited a series of defiant exchanges at the recent gathering of Arab parliamentarians in Cairo, Egypt.Speaking to Moroccan outlet le 360, the ruling Justice and Development Party MP Abdellatif Benyacoub said that the fierce dialogue started because of his vehement objection to the introduction by the Saudi MP of four proposals in the final communiqué  without consulting other MPs.According to Benyacoub, Mishaal ben Fahm al Salami, the Saudi MP who is the current chair of the Arab parliament, condemned the French government’s handling of the Yellow Vests protests in one of his proposals. The clause pointed to France’s “state violence” and “human rights abuse.”   Read Also: Saudi Arabia at War with America’s Rising Muslim PoliticiansWhile angered by the fact that the Saudi MP made the additions without asking for other MPs’ opinions, Benyacoub told le 360 he could not stand the “vindictive” language Al-Salami used in condemning France. He suggested he felt that the condemnation was biased, uncalled for, and politically motivated.“I expressed to the Saudi president of the Arab parliament my reservations about the resolutions and requested the clause that condemned France be cancelled,” the Moroccan MP said.“I told him that his denunciation of France was unfounded and inappropriate.”But why would a Moroccan MP mount a fierce objection to draft proposals made in the Arab parliament to condemn a European country?Apparently aware that his statements are bound to be interpreted as a pro-France stance, Benyacoub said that he simply felt that the Cairo gathering had no legal right to interfere in political developments in France. Not only was the Arab parliament interfering in France’s internal affairs, but democracy and human rights in France are more “robustly respected than they are in many Arab countries.”“I said that France’s democracy is solid and exemplary… unlike many Arab countries where human rights are not respected.”To the Moroccan’s pile of reservations and objections, however, the Saudi MP is believed to have answered that “the Arab parliament has the right to have opinions on any matter.”Was it all a pretext?But what if MPs’ disagreements on France’s handling of the Yellow Vests hide something much deeper? Did the strained bilateral ties between Morocco and Saudi Arabia play a role in the two MPS’ war of words?Morocco may have brought the point of order to the floor, but the North African country’s delegation was not alone is its opposition to the Saudi’s proposals.Read Also: King Mohammed VI Snubs Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin SalmanMPs representing Iraq and Qatar were among Morocco’s main supporters. Delegates who shared the Moroccan MP’s position are said to have pointed out that the “vindictive” Saudi MP had no genuine interest in France’s police’s handling of the Yellow Vests protests. Instead, they argued, Al-Salami wanted to “use the platform of the Arab parliament to denounce Paris in revenge for France’s condemnation of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”At the G20 summit earlier this month, France’s Emmanuel Macron was seen telling Saudi Arabia’s MBS off for supposedly “not listening” to the French president. “You never listen,” Macron told the Saudi prince, according a widely circulated footage of the pair’s brief conversation.However, a more important factor of the MPs’ swiping at each other may be the increasingly cold relations between Rabat and Riyadh. This month alone, a number of developments have brought to light the possibility of an impending rift in what used to be a “strategic,” “natural,” and “important” alliance. King Mohammed VI snubbed MBS’s request for an audience, eliciting rapturous comments from Moroccans who thanked the King en masse for his move.Most recently, the website of the Saudi football federation featured Morocco’s map without Western Sahara, sparking rage and resentment in Morocco. That was months after Saudi Arabia lobbied against Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup.Whether these series of head-on collisions between Saudi and Moroccan positions are deliberate and connected is debatable. What seems certain, though, is that a lot of what has been happening of late between Rabat and Riyadh suggest that the rift between the two allies may take time to come about, but it will come—at least if Rabat reaches a point where it can’t stand Riyadh’s continued provocations. read more

CBSA seized 35 bricks of suspected opium hidden in coffee packaging

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Commercial Operations seized 37 kilograms of suspected opium that was hidden inside coffee packaging.Border services officers examined a shipment from German on December 23 and noticed the weight felt heavier than the 500 grams listed on the packaging. Officers opened the shipment and found 35 brick-shaped objects containing suspected opium. CBSA officers turned over the shipment to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.Goran Vragovic, CBSA Regional Director General, says CBSA officers are always on the lookout for contraband. “This significant seizure demonstrates our commitment to Canadians to intercept illegal narcotics and prevent them from hitting the streets of our communities.”

First progress report on Sustainable Development Agenda aims to leave no one

Officially launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the ministerial meeting of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on Wednesday, the report was detailed today to highlight its most important asset – the global data it contains. “We have the chance to truly set the world on a different sustainable path leaving no one behind,” Assistant-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Thomas Gass, today told the press in New York. The annual Sustainable Development Goals Report is an opportunity “to review where the world stands at the start of this collective journey,” Mr. Gass added. He then listed a number of figures – about 800 million people around the world live in extreme poverty and hunger, 5.9 million children die before they reach the age of five, 59 million of primary school age are out of school, 2.4 billion people still lack improved sanitation facilities, one in two children under the age of five lack birth certificates. These statistics are at the core of the progress report which is the baseline for evaluation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs. “It is crucial to build a global data ecosystem replete with quality reliable and timely data,” said Mr. Gass, speaking alongside Francesca Perucci, Chief of the Statistical Services Branch. The global data is part of the 169 targets which will guide the plan of action for people, planet and prosperity from this year through 2030. The Indicators were developed by experts representing 28 national statistical systems through an “open, inclusive and transparent process,” Mr. Gass said. While the 17 Goals were universally accepted and approved by all 193 Member States last year, the indicators still have to be adopted by the UN’s Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly. “The idea is that every country would provide the data – all the goals and all the targets are valid for all the countries,” Mr. Gass underscored in today’s press conference. This week’s report is the first progress report since the launch of the SDGs. Progress reports are expected every year for the next 14 years and will be presented to the High-level Political Forum, which is the UN’s central platform for the follow-up and review of the SDGs. During his speech yesterday, Mr. Ban said he would convene an event on 21 September for countries to deposit their instruments of ratification on the Paris Agreement on climate change, an accord that was adopted in December last year and will enter into force when 55 countries ratify, and 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for.In April, 178 countries signed the Paris Agreement at the UN Headquarters, and 19 countries have so far ratified. But these 19 countries accounted for less than 1 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.Mr. Ban encouraged at least 40 countries who committed that they will ratify this Paris Agreement before the end of this year, including the United States, China, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, and Argentina. He noted that a key feature of this year’s Forum is the voluntary national reviews, a mechanism that allows Governments to voluntarily present what they and their societies are doing to implement the 2030 Agenda. This year, 22 countries will share their experiences. “Ensuring progress in achieving the SDGs will be greatly enhanced by making sure that lessons are shared and best practices are replicated,” he explained, calling on Member States to intensify efforts at follow-up and review through a participatory process, with the full engagement of the business sector and civil society. @media only screen and (min-width: 760px), screen9 {#PhotoHolder3 #PhotoCrop { max-height: 770px; /* sets max-height value for all standards-compliant browsers */ width: 134%; margin-left:-161px; margin-top: -568px;}#story-headline{ font-size: 5.2em; line-height: 1.2em; color:#fff; position: relative; top: 100px; margin-left:0em; text-shadow: 10px 10px 10px rgba(0,0,0,0.8); width:52%;}}#sidebar {display:none;} div#story-content .span8 {width:100% !important} #fullstory p { font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.8em;}strong { font-size: 1.2em; line-height: 1.7em; xfont-family:Georgia, “Times New Roman”, Times, serif;}li { font-size: 15px; xline-height: 1.7em;}blockquote { font-size: 1.2em; line-height: 1.5em; font-style:italic;} read more

Theresa Mays flagship immigration policy hit by lastminute Cabinet row

The move threatened to overshadow the policy, which has been repeatedly delayed after ministers clashed.–– ADVERTISEMENT –– He was demanding that the threshold be put out to consultation but Downing Street was said to be refusing to do so. Cabinet ministers were locked in a row over Theresa May’s flagship immigration White Paper on Tuesday night, hours before its long-awaited publication. Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, has raised repeated concerns over plans for a £30,000 minimum salary threshold for skilled EU migrants coming to the UK. The plans are due to be set out on Wednesday in a White Paper which Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, will hail as keeping Britain open to the “brightest and the best” with…