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Qatar donates 10,000 mobile homes used at World Cup to Turkey and Syria



(Last Updated On: February 15, 2023)

Last year’s FIFA World Cup host nation Qatar has donated 10,000 cabins and caravans used during the tournament to areas impacted by the catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

At least 41,000 people have died since the initial 7.8 magnitude quake and aftershocks struck last Monday (February 6), and the disaster has had a devastating impact on cities in both countries.

More than one million people have lost their homes in Turkey, and it is feared the number is much higher in Syria.

International relief efforts are ongoing, with the focus switching from rescuing survivors under the rubble to providing food, psychological care and shelter.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is an International Olympic Committee member, was the first foreign leader to visit Turkey since the earthquake when he travelled to Istanbul to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on how the Gulf state could help to “mitigate this disaster” on Sunday (February 12).

It has pledged to send 10,000 mobile housing units used to reduce the burden of accommodation at the Qatar 2022 World Cup to Turkey and Syria.

“In view of the urgent needs in Turkey and Syria, we have taken the decision to ship our cabins and caravans to the region, providing much needed and immediate support to the people of Turkey and Syria,” a Qatari official told Reuters.

Fans reportedly paid around £175 ($213/€198) per night to stay in the cabins located in empty stretches of desert at the World Cup, where there were complaints over issues including leaky toilets.

The first batch of the mobile homes have been dispatched to Turkey and Syria.

Qatar is also donating tents, food packages and medical supplies to assist relief efforts, and has about 130 people on the ground in Turkey.

Turkey and Qatar had already built strong ties in recent years, particularly since the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar in 2017, which ended in 2021.

Erdoğan, who has led Turkey since 2003 and faced accusations of pursuing an increasingly authoritarian approach particularly since a failed military coup in 2016, faced criticism for the Government’s response to the earthquakes.

He accepted there were shortcomings in the initial stages of the response, but has insisted the situation is now under control.


China, Russia launch joint air patrol, alarms South Korea



(Last Updated On: June 7, 2023)

China and Russia conducted a joint air patrol on Tuesday over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea for a sixth time since 2019, prompting neighboring South Korea and Japan to scramble fighter jets.

China’s defense ministry said the patrol was part of the two militaries’ annual cooperation plan. South Korea scrambled fighter jets, according to its military, after four Russian and four Chinese military aircraft entered its air defense zone in the south and east of the Korean peninsula, Reuters reported.

Japan’s military said it had scrambled fighter jets after verifying that two Russian bombers had joined two Chinese bombers over the Sea of Japan and flown together as far as the East China Sea, where they were joined by two Chinese fighter planes.

In China’s last joint aerial patrol with Russia in November, South Korea also scrambled fighter jets after Chinese H-6K bombers and Russian TU-95 bombers and SU-35 fighter jets entered its Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ).

Japan similarly scrambled jets when Chinese bombers and two Russian drones flew into the Sea of Japan.

An air defense zone is an area where countries demand that foreign aircraft take special steps to identify themselves. Unlike a country’s airspace – the air above its territory and territorial waters – there are no international rules governing air defense zones.

The joint aerial patrols, which began before Russia sent its troops in Ukraine and Beijing and Moscow declared their “no-limits” partnership, are a result of long expanding bilateral ties built partly on a mutual sense of threat from the United States and other military alliances.

In their May 2022 patrols, Chinese and Russian warplanes neared Japan’s airspace as Tokyo hosted a Quad summit with the leaders of the United States, India and Australia, alarming Japan even though China said the flights were not directed at third parties.

China’s increasing military assertiveness in the region has coincided with an increase in military maneuvers and drills by the United States and its allies in the region.

Since last week, the coast guard of the United States, Japan and the Philippines have held their first trilateral naval exercise in the South China Sea.

The White House said on Monday that recent encounters between U.S. and Chinese forces in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea reflect a growing aggressiveness by Beijing’s military that raises the risk of an error in which “somebody gets hurt.”

Over the weekend, a Chinese warship came within 137 meters of a U.S. destroyer while the U.S. and Canadian navies were conducting a joint exercise in the sensitive Taiwan Strait, prompting complaints about the safety of the maneuver.

Shortly before that, a video showed a Chinese fighter jet passing in front of a U.S. plane’s nose with the cockpit of the RC-135 shaking in the turbulence caused by the flight.

“U.S. military ships and aircraft have traveled thousands of miles to provoke China at its doorstep,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a regular news conference on Tuesday.

“Insisting on conducting close reconnaissance and flexing its muscles near China’s territorial waters and airspace is not safeguarding freedom of navigation, but promoting of navigation hegemony and is a blatant military provocation,” he said.

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Pakistan’s embattled Imran Khan faces blackout on local media



(Last Updated On: June 6, 2023)

Coverage of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has disappeared from all mainstream news channels in the country after the media regulator asked networks to block out people involved in rioting last month, a Reuters survey showed on Monday.

A directive, seen by Reuters, was put out by the regulator last week referring to violent protests in Pakistan last month following Khan’s brief arrest that saw military installations ransacked, allegedly by the former prime minister’s supporters.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) asked television licensees to ensure that “hate mongers, rioters, their facilitators and perpetrators” are “completely screened out from media”. It did not refer directly to Khan.

However, coverage of the former prime minister – Pakistan’s most popular leader according to polls – has disappeared to the extent that his name and image are not being aired. His mention has also disappeared from news websites.

PEMRA officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment and queries on whether the directives pertained to Khan, and if the directive was meant to be an all-encompassing ban.

Khan has long been the most televised politician in Pakistan, with his speeches and gatherings getting wall-to-wall coverage and widespread viewership.

The ban comes amidst a wider crackdown on Khan and his party that has seen dozens of his party members and thousands of his supporters arrested, which, he says, is being done by the country’s powerful military.

The military has not responded to a request for comment on that allegation by Khan. It has previously denied orchestrating his removal from power in a parliamentary vote last year.

Khan himself was arrested on charges of graft but released two days later after courts deemed the manner of his detention illegal. He remains out on bail, but faces dozens of cases.

In an interview, Khan said that the incidents of violence were used as a “pretext” for a “blanket ban” on him and his party.

“We cannot be mentioned on television,” said Khan, who now regularly speaks through his party’s YouTube channel.

Senior officials of four major news channels did not respond to requests for comment.

Even ARY News, considered a pro-Khan channel by the former prime minister’s political opponents, had no mention of Khan on Monday, despite his standoff with the military dominating headlines globally for weeks.

“The reports of blocking all news related to Imran Khan is the latest in a series of disturbing steps that authorities have taken to crack down on the opposition,” Dinushika Dissanayake, Deputy Director South Asia at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

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IEA’s Supreme Leader meets with minister and all provincial education directors



(Last Updated On: June 5, 2023)

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), met with the Education Minister, Mawlavi Habibullah Agha and directors of education departments of 34 provinces, in Kandahar on Sunday, the Ministry of Education of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan said in a statement.

The IEA’s Supreme Leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada called the meeting of senior education officials in order for them to share their plans, goals, and achievements.

The directors of education for each province shared their plans, developments, achievements and challenges with the supreme leader, the statement read.

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