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IN BRIEF

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W

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Saudi Gazette, Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mideast

Fighting since the Mosul offensive began in

October has displaced up to 355,000 people,

according to government estimates. The civilian

death toll is unclear but some estimates put it as

high as 3,500. The fighting has also damaged

infrastructure including electrical power.

s

s

Yes, he

(Hosni Mubarak) is

now in his home in

Heliopolis.

Farid El Deeb

Mubarak’s lawyer

Egypt’s former leader Mubarak freed, six years after overthrow

CAIRO —

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian

president overthrown in 2011 and the

first leader to face trial after the Arab

Spring uprisings that swept the region,

was freed on Friday after six years in

detention, his lawyer said.

He left the Maadi Military Hospital

in Cairo where he had been detained,

heading to his home in Heliopolis.

“Yes, he is now in his home in

Heliopolis,” Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid

El Deeb told Reuters when asked if

Mubarak had left the hospital. He-

liopolis is an upscale neighborhood

where the main presidential palace

from which Mubarak once governed is

located.

The 88-year-old was cleared of the

final murder charges against him this

month, after facing trial in a litany of

cases ranging from corruption to the

killing of protesters whose 18-day

revolt stunned the world and ended his

30-year rule.

Mubarak was initially arrested in

April 2011, two months after leaving

office, and has since been held in prison

and in military hospitals under heavy

guard.

He was sentenced to life in 2012 in

the case, but an appeals court ordered a

retrial which dismissed the charges two

years later.

Egypt’s top appeals court on March

2 acquitted him of involvement in the

killings.

In January 2016, the appeals court

upheld a three-year prison sentence for

Mubarak and his two sons on corrup-

tion charges.

But the sentence took into account

time served. Both of his sons, Alaa and

Gamal, were freed.

On Thursday, a court ordered a

renewed corruption investigation into

Mubarak for allegedly receiving gifts

from the state owned Al-Ahram news-

paper.

— Agencies

This file photo taken on Oct. 6, 2016, shows Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak

waving to people from his room at the Maadi military hospital in Cairo. — AFP

Geneva

Turkish minister visits Switzerland

as Europe row simmers

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Swiss counterpart

Thursday after having to call off a campaign appearance amongst diaspora

voters, in a bitter row between Ankara and Europe. Relations between Turkey

and Europe have been severely strained since several Turkish ministers were

blocked from campaigning on the continent for a ‘yes’ vote in next month’s

referendum on boosting the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Swiss

Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter “underscored the validity of Swiss law on

Swiss soil, urged Turkey to comply with it,” a statement said. “Freedom of

expression is a universal value recognised by Switzerland, which hopes that

this freedom will also hold true for Turkish citizens whether they cast their

votes in Switzerland or in their own country,” it quoted Burkhalter as saying.

Cavusoglu’s visit comes after the Swiss government rejected a request from

Zurich authorities to cancel a previously planned visit by the minister earlier

this month, after the canton’s security spokesman warned that a rally he was

due to attend could be hit by “heavy demonstrations”. However, the organizers

cancelled the event after the hotel they had booked refused to host it.

— AFP

PARIS

French Defense Minister: Raqqa

battle starting in coming days

A battle against Daesh to recapture the Syrian city of Raqqa is likely to

start in the coming days, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said

on Friday. “France has always said that Raqqa was a major objective,”

Le Drian told CNews television station. “Today, one can say that Raqqa is

encircled, that the battle for Raqqa will start in the coming days.” “It will be

a very hard battle, but a battle that is going to be of utmost importance,”

he added. Earlier this week, the Pentagon had said that the US-led coalition

against Daesh had for the first time airdropped local ground forces behind

enemy lines near the Daesh-held town of Tabqa in northern Syria, opening

up a new front in the campaign to recapture Raqqa.

— Reuters

ABU DHABI

UAE says it’s surprised by

laptop ban but will cooperate

The United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s top aviation hubs, has said it was

surprised by the ban on laptops in plane cabins bound for the United States

because UAE security was already tight, but it pledged to cooperate with US

authorities. Washington announced the new measure on Tuesday, prohibiting

electronic devices larger than smart phones in cabins on flights from 10

airports in countries including the UAE, Qatar and Turkey. In the UAE’s first

official response to the ban, Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, Minister of Economy

and chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority, said it was surprising

because the UAE aviation sector and airports had proven themselves safe.

“The UAE is the number one ranked country worldwide by the International

Civil Aviation Organization regarding the UAE’s compliance with international

security and safety standards,” he said in a statement late on Thursday.

However, the UAE’s statement said its aviation authority and airlines would

continue cooperating with authorities in the United States and around the

world to ensure safety. Meanwhile, Turkey is negotiating with international

aviation authorities on easing the conditions of a ban barring passengers from

carrying large carry-on electronics on US and Britain-bound flights, Turkish

Transportation Minister Ahmet Arslan said on Friday.

— Reuters

Occupied Jerusalem

Israel, US conclude talks without

settlement agreement

Israel and the United States concluded talks in Washington on advancing

peace with the Palestinians, without agreeing on one of the thorniest

issues — Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. The US

delegation, led by President Donald Trump’s special representative Jason

Greenblatt, reiterated the president’s “concerns regarding settlement

activity,” a joint statement read of the four-day talks, which ended late

Thursday. The Israelis “made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to

adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes these concerns into

consideration,” the statement read. The Trump administration is looking

for ways to revive peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli

settlement building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank is seen as illegal

under international law and a major obstacle to peace as they are built on

land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

— AFP

Mosul’s east

begins to bustle

MOSUL, Iraq —

Eastern Mosul is

coming back to life. In the few

weeks since Iraqi forces drove

Daesh from this side of the city,

markets have opened and bull-

dozers have begun to clear the

debris left by battle.

Stalls spilling onto the street

in between collapsed buildings

display fruit and vegetables,

and vendors play recordings

advertising SIM cards and

mobile phones — use of which

was punishable by death under

Daesh.

But everywhere are remind-

ers of the pain the city has

endured and the irreversible

physical and psychological dam-

age caused to Mosul, the Iraqi

stronghold of the militant group

for nearly three years.

Sections of road are closed

off because of bomb damage,

or because they lead to bridges

across the Tigris river to western

Mosul, where fighting still rag-

es. There is no mainline electric-

ity or running water, residents

say, and dejected labourers sit

on the roadside hoping for work

or asking for money.

A US-backed offensive, now

in its sixth month, looks set to

drive Daesh from the city and

end its sway over territory in

Iraq. Troops recaptured east-

ern Mosul in late January and

began assaults on the west last

month. There, civilian deaths are

increasing and physical destruc-

tion has been greater.

The dire situation in east

Mosul shows that once militant

rule has ended, the city will

likely face a slow recovery at

best.

“This war has destroyed ev-

People do shopping at a market after returning to their homes in the city of Mosul, Iraq. — Reuters

erything,” Mohammed Abdullah,

a 50-year-old day laborer said,

standing with several other men

outside a covered central market.

“Every day we look for work

but there’s nothing — maybe one

day a week, for which we earn

around 10,000 dinars ($8.50).

There’s no government aid. All

I have left is my citizenship,” he

said.

Much manual labor work,

organized by the town hall,

involves clearing up debris and

rubble-littered streets.

“Work is very occasional but

we’re glad to be out doing it, and

free of Daesh,” said 30-year-old

Waddah, who asked not to be

identified by his last name be-

cause he still has relatives living

in Daesh-held areas.

Displaced from western

Mosul by fighting, Waddah had

come with 14 other relatives to

live at his cousin’s home.

“It’s cramped and there’s no

electricity or running water,” he

said.

Fighting since the Mosul

offensive began in October has

displaced up to 355,000 people,

according to government esti-

mates. The civilian death toll is

unclear but some estimates put it

as high as 3,500.

The fighting has also dam-

aged infrastructure including

electrical power.

At the market, some shop-

owners ran generators to light

their stores. Business had some-

what picked up, they said.

One vendor displayed clothes

he said he had not been able

to sell under Daesh, such as

full-length trousers rather than

ankle-length ones required under

the group’s narrow interpretation

of Islam.

Goldsmith Moayed Sayegh,

54, said business was back to

about 40 percent.

“You can see there’s life in

the market now, but the problem

is infrastructure and security,”

Sayegh said.

“There are still mortar shells

being fired across the river by

Daesh and landing in eastern

Mosul. Today one hit a school

building and a child was killed.”

The physical damage is

always visible and residents are

still in danger from spillovers of

fighting.

But for some, it is the

psychological scars that run

deepest.

During their rule, Daesh

militants executed the mother of

Loay Jassem, now 21, for being

an MP.

“They executed so many

politicians and police, people

who worked for the govern-

ment,” Jassem said, gathered

with friends at a market stall.

The militants shot his mother

Ibtisam Jaber in the head in

front of his younger sister, who

was six at the time, Jassem said.

The boys said they had also

seen Daesh kill a disabled child.

Those still young enough

wanted to go back to school,

having missed more than two

years of education.

Other youngsters were more

desperate for money.

A young man standing on

the city outskirts watched a

private company de-mine a

patch of land thought to be

booby-trapped by Daesh as they

withdrew.

“Who’s the boss here? I need

work,” he said.

— Reuters