Daily Archives: March 29, 2020

Iran’s President Says Economy Is a Factor in Virus Response

TEHRAN – Iran’s president on Sunday lashed out at criticism of its lagging response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East as a “political war,” saying he had to weigh protecting the economy while tackling the pandemic.

Hassan Rouhani said the government had to consider the effect of mass quarantine efforts on Iran’s beleaguered economy, which is under heavy U.S. sanctions. It’s a dilemma playing out across the globe, as leaders struggle to strike a balance between containing the pandemic and preventing their economies from crashing.

“Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us,” Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting. “We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.”

“This is not the time to gather followers,” he added. “This is not a time for political war.”

Even before the pandemic, Rouhani was under fire for the unraveling of the 2015 nuclear deal he concluded with the United States and other world powers. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement and has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran that prevent it from selling oil on international markets.

State TV on Sunday reported another 123 deaths, pushing Iran’s overall toll to 2,640 amid 38,309 confirmed cases.

Most people suffer only minor symptoms, such as fever and coughing, and recover within a few weeks. But the virus can cause severe illness and death, especially in elderly patients or those with underlying health problems.

It is highly contagious, and can be spread by those showing no symptoms.

In recent days, Iran has ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and banned travel between cities. But those measures came long after other countries in the region imposed more sweeping lockdowns. Many Iranians are still flouting orders to stay home in what could reflect widespread distrust of authorities.

Iran has urged the international community to lift sanctions and is seeking a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Elsewhere in the region, Qatar reported its first death from the new coronavirus late Saturday, saying the total number of reported cases there was at least 590.

The tiny, energy-rich nation said it flew 31 Bahrainis stranded in Iran into Doha on a state-run Qatar Airways flight. But since Bahrain is one of four Arab countries that has been boycotting Qatar in a political dispute since 2017, Doha said it could not fly the 31 onward to the island kingdom.

“Bahraini officials have said they will send a flight for them at some undefined point in the future,” the Qatari government said in a statement.

Bahrain said it planned a flight Sunday to pick up the stranded passengers. The kingdom said it had its own repatriation flights scheduled for those still stuck in Iran and warned Qatar that it “should stop interfering with these flights.”

Source: Voice of America

Iran Defends Virus Response as Syria Reports First Death

TEHRAN, IRAN – Iran’s president on Sunday lashed out at criticism of authorities’ lagging response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, saying the government has to weigh economic concerns as it takes measures to contain the pandemic.

Syria meanwhile reported the first fatality from the virus in the war-torn country, which has five confirmed infections. State news agency SANA said a woman died upon reaching an emergency room and tested positive for the virus, without saying where it happened.

Syria has closed schools, restaurants and nightclubs, and imposed a nighttime curfew last week aimed at preventing the virus’ spread. Its health care system has been battered by nearly a decade of civil war, leaving the country particularly vulnerable.

Libya, which has also been mired in chaos since 2011, reported another five cases, bringing its total to eight. The country is split by rival governments, each backed by an array of militias, that have been battling over the capital, Tripoli, for nearly a year.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said authorities had to consider the effect of mass quarantine efforts on Iran’s beleaguered economy, which is under heavy U.S. sanctions. It’s a dilemma playing out across the globe, as leaders struggle to strike a balance between restricting human contact and keeping their economies from crashing.

“Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us,” Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting. “We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.”

“This is not the time to gather followers,” he added. “This is not a time for political war.”

Even before the pandemic, Rouhani was under fire for the unraveling of the 2015 nuclear deal he concluded with the United States and other world powers. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement and has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran that prevent it from selling oil on international markets. Iran has rejected U.S. offers of humanitarian aid.

State TV on Sunday reported another 123 deaths, pushing Iran’s overall toll to 2,640 amid 38,309 confirmed cases.

Most people suffer only minor symptoms, such as fever and coughing, and recover within a few weeks. But the virus can cause severe illness and death, especially in elderly patients or those with underlying health problems. It is highly contagious, and can be spread by those showing no symptoms.

In recent days, Iran has ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and banned travel between cities. But those measures came long after other countries in the region imposed more sweeping lockdowns. Many Iranians are still flouting orders to stay home in what could reflect widespread distrust of authorities.

Iran has urged the international community to lift sanctions and is seeking a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Elsewhere in the region, Qatar reported its first death from the new coronavirus late Saturday, saying the total number of reported cases there was at least 590.

The tiny, energy-rich nation said it flew 31 Bahrainis stranded in Iran into Doha on a state-run Qatar Airways flight. But since Bahrain is one of four Arab countries that have been boycotting Qatar in a political dispute since 2017, Doha said it could not fly the 31 onward to the island kingdom.

“Bahraini officials have said they will send a flight for them at some undefined point in the future,” the Qatari government said in a statement.

Bahrain said it planned a flight Sunday to pick up the stranded passengers. The kingdom said it had its own repatriation flights scheduled for those still stuck in Iran and warned Qatar that it “should stop interfering with these flights.”

In Egypt, at least 1,200 Sudanese are stranded at the border after Sudan closed all its crossings, according to Egyptian officials at one of the crossings. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

Sudan, which is still reeling from the uprising that toppled President Omar al-Bashir last year, has six confirmed cases, including two fatalities. It’s one of several countries in the region where the health care system has been degraded by years of war and sanctions. Authorities closed the borders to prevent any further spread. The second death was announced earlier Sunday, more than two weeks after the person’s return from the United Arab Emirates.

Sudan’s Information Minister Faisal Saleh said Sudanese authorities are looking for lodging in Egypt for the stranded passengers. He said authorities have quarantined at least 160 undocumented migrants who were sent into Sudan from war-torn Libya earlier this month.

Residents in Egypt’s southern city of Luxor say they are providing shelter to the stranded Sudanese.

“We have provided food and medicine to the Sudanese brothers,” said Mahmoud Abdel-Rahim, a local farmer. “People hosted women, children and elders in their homes.”

Egypt, which has reported 609 cases and 40 fatalities, imposed restrictions on cash deposits and withdrawals to prevent crowding at banks as payrolls and pensions are disbursed. Authorities began imposing a nighttime curfew last week.

Source: Voice of America

MoFAIC closes its Customer Happiness Centers temporarily as of today March 29 2020, Smart Services available to the public online.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) announced that its Customer Happiness Centers are temporarily closed starting March 29, 2020 and until further notice, and that it will continue to serve the public through online Smart Services, in line with precautionary measures and pursuant to government directives in the prevailing circumstances. 

MoFAIC notified customers through social media, clarifying the process rolled out to avail attestation services online through the Ministry’s website on www.mofaic.gov.ae

Customers can apply for attestation services by logging onto MoFAIC’s website and contact Emirates Post on 600599999 to pick up their documents from their location, enclosing original documents and a copy of the proof of payment. The Ministry will then attest received documents and notify the customer via email/SMS upon completion. Emirates Post will then contact the customer to schedule delivery. 

MoFAIC has taken all necessary measures to ensure business continuity in the current circumstances  by providing a range of smart services designed to facilitate procedures for customers.

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UAE strongly condemns Houthi ballistic missile attack on Saudi Arabia.

United Arab Emirates has condemned the Houthi militias’ attempt to target civilian areas in the cities of Riyadh and Jazan in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with two ballistic missiles, which Saudi air defenses intercepted. The attack resulted in the injury of numerous individuals.

In a statement released on Sunday, UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation reiterated its solidarity with the Kingdom over these terrorist attacks, affirming its support for all measures taken by Saudi authorities to safeguard the country’s security and stability and uphold the safety of its citizens and residents.

The statement underscored that the security of UAE and that of Saudi Arabia are indivisible, and UAE considers any threat facing the Kingdom to be a threat to its own security and stability.

The statement noted that the continuation of these attacks illustrates the danger confronting the region from the Houthi coup in Yemen, which seeks to undermine regional security and stability.

It concluded by emphasizing that this attack not only targeted the Kingdom, but also threatens international unity and solidarity in light of challenges presented by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Egyptian President review global fight against COVID-19.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, reviewed the global fight against COVID-19 in a phone call with Egyptian President Abdulfattah El Sisi today.

The conversation covered the prospects of further consolidating the brotherly relations between the two sisterly countries in addition to an array of regional and international issues of common concern.

The two leaders reviewed the efforts made by the two countries and the measures taken to contain the spread of the novel virus as well as ways to cement cooperation in this respect.

Sheikh Mohamed reiterated the UAE’s support for Egypt in surviving the repercussion of the virus, with the Egyptian president commending the supportive stance of the UAE toward sisterly and friendly countries and all nations in need of assistance under these trying times.

They underlined the importance of all countries coordinating and uniting efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Qatar Taekwondo, Judo & Karate Federation postpones 2020 IJF Masters

Doha, The Qatar Taekwondo, Judo & Karate Federation (QTJKF) announced on Sunday that it has postponed the 2020 IJF Masters which was scheduled to take place from 28-30 May in Doha in line with the protective measures taken by the state of Qatar to limit the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The QTJKF’s decision to postpone the event came upon the request of the International Judo Federation (IJF), where the championship’s new date will be confirmed later.

It is worth mentioning that the QTJKF announced that it will host the event, after it has signed an agreement with the IJF in Hungary’s capital of Budapest in October 2018.

The event, which will feature the participation of the world’s 16 top seeds of each weight, will act as a qualifying tournament for 2020 Tokyo Olympics which has been postponed for next year.

Doha will host the 2023 World Judo Championships which will serve as a qualifying tournament for 2024 Olympic Games. The event will bring together more than 117 countries.​

Source: Qatar Olympic Committee