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Media Summary

France opens inquiry into Emirati general over torture

BBC News reports on the plight of a Moroccan student studying in Ukraine, and his journey to get back home. Marik, a 22 year old medical student had to wait in line for 3 days to cross the border into Poland. He described the whole experience as “hell.”

BBC News reports that the ex-wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, has been given sole responsibility over their children. Sir Andrew McFarlane, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales ruled that Al Maktoum “consistently displayed coercive and controlling behaviour.” Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein fled Dubai in 2019 and now resides in the UK. Reuters details the three year custody battle and outlines the various issues at hand while providing a timeline of the court proceedings and other developments.

The Financial Times reports that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are seeking increased security from the US as the Biden administration has requested the Gulf states step up oil production in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The paper notes that “The UAE has requested the US agree to a more “institutionalised security commitment” that would include enhanced intelligence sharing, more combined exercises and operation… Saudi Arabia is also seeking greater security commitments, including intelligence co-operation and operational support to counter threats from Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, who regularly launch missile and drone strikes into the kingdom.”

The Independent outlines how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing catastrophic damage to the world’s food supply, emphasizing the disastrous impact on an already famine stuck Yemen. The report notes that the World Food Programme “has been forced to reduce by 50 per cent what it feeds to children caught up in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, and its head has asked that his staff not be asked to decide which children in the world live or die.”

The New Statesman examines how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to unrest across the Middle East, noting that the rising price of wheat will have severe repercussions for the region. The paper notes that “most at risk are those countries already facing severe cost-of-living crises. Some 16 million people in Yemen and 12 million Syrians were living in food insecurity prior to the war in Ukraine.”

The Times reports on how Russian Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, now named the butcher of Mariupol, was the man behind the bombing of Aleppo, the Syrian city reduced to rubble six years ago. According to Ukrainian military officials, the bombings of Aleppo and Mariupol bare many similarities because both were coordinated by Mizintsev.

The Times reports that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC and an Israeli citizen, was involved in the early stages of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, but is no longer a participant – the Kremlin confirmed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had reportedly asked the US not to sanction him due to his involvement in the talks.

The Spectator examines Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dilemma in the Ukraine-Russia war, noting that his unique position has allowed the leader to emerge as a key power broker. The paper notes that “So far, Erdogan has hedged his strategic bets. Ankara has not joined in Washington- and Brussels-led economic sanctions on Putin, and Turkish airspace remains open to Russian traffic. At the same time, however, Erdogan has invoked the 1936 Montreux Convention that allows Turkey to close the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Strait to Russian battleships ‘in time of war’, which has eased Nato concerns about where Turkey’s real loyalties lie.”

Reuters reports that the UK and US have charged the Russian government of hacking key infrastructure, including a US nuclear plant and Saudi oil refinery. According to filings from the US Department of Justice, four Russian agents were accused of hacking operations aimed at disrupting the global energy sector. Their actions impacted thousands of computers in 135 countries between 2012 and 2018.

The Guardian reports that Frances has opened an inquiry into Emirati general Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi over allegations of torture and acts of barbarism. Al-Raisi became the president of Interpol in November. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and NGO filed a legal complaint against al-Raisi, which prompted the French inquiry.

The Economist examines the implications of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to the UAE. The paper notes that his “warm welcome in the Emirates is a sign of America’s waning influence.”

The Economist reports on Lebanon’s plastic surgery sector, and how doctors in the field have been making a fortune despite the country’s economic crisis. Nearly 40 per cent of the country’s doctors have fled the country due to the crisis. The plastic surgery sector has been kept afloat by foreigners of Lebanese descent, who are estimated to make up 70 per cent of patients as such procedures are cheaper in Lebanon.

All the Israeli papers provide an update on the injured victims of the fatal terror attack in Beer Sheva this week. Hila Avisror recounted the horrific event on Thursday as she continues to recover in the hospital. “I did not think it would get to this,” the mother of three told Hebrew media. “We went shopping in town and I went into the store, then he came from behind and stabbed me twice. I fell while he was moving towards the other girl, and as soon as he stabbed me I realised it was a terror attack. He looked me in the eyes and did not speak, he had a look of anger, a bad look in his eyes.” Meanwhile, Channel 12 News reports that following the attack and with the Ramadan holiday approaching, the Israel Police are bolstering their forces, not only in the Jerusalem area but also in the Negev, Wadi Ara, and mixed cities such as Haifa, Ramle, and Jaffa.

Israel Hayom reports that in wake of the stabbing and ramming attack in Beer Sheva this week, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked intends to promote a bill that would permit the state to revoke the citizenship of Israelis who commit acts of terrorism and receive a stipend of support from the Palestinian Authority (PA). The bill is based on one that MKs Avi Dichter and Orit Struck previously cosponsored, which Shaked had planned to have the bill passed several months ago. Minister Shaked told Israel Hayom: “Murderers and despicable terrorist operatives who commit attacks against Jews should not be rewarded. Whoever turns their back on the State of Israel and is bankrolled by the Palestinian Authority does not deserve to be part of [the state].” The bill is also intended to deny the PA the possibility of paying terrorist salaries to Israeli citizens who commit terror attacks.

Maariv leads with the COVID update provided yesterday by Prof. Salman Zarka, the coronavirus project coordinator, who revealed that a new variant of the coronavirus, BA.3, had been discovered in Israel. He said that so far one person had been diagnosed with it, after returning from overseas. Prof. Zarka said that there was no need at this time to take extra measures or impose restrictions. According to the Health Ministry the infection rate has continued to rise. A total of 13,603 people tested positive yesterday out of 106,486 tests. This is the tenth consecutive day in which the number of people testing positive has been higher than the day before. There are 301 people hospitalised in serious condition, 130 of them on ventilators.

Yediot Ahronot reports that Israeli security forces seized the largest arms smuggling operation to date on the Lebanon border. A total of 58 handguns, three M16 assault rifles were seized and three Arab residents of the north were arrested. The operation began early on Thursday morning after the IDF alerted the police that suspects were seen approaching the border from the Lebanese side. Police Northern District Commander Shimon Lavi said the weapons would have been put to use by criminal elements had they not been captured.  “Anyone who buys an illegal weapon of this caliber, buys it to use it … it is not about the number of weapons we caught, it is about the lives we managed to save, some certainly might have been innocent citizens and even children who could have been harmed,” he said. The government has invested more money and resources into combating gang crime, particularly in the Arab sector which has seen an unprecedented rise in criminal activity and murder rates over the last few years. In the first three months of 2022, police said they have thwarted four smuggling attempts from Lebanon, during which 120 weapons were seized.

The Jerusalem Post reports on comments made by the Russian Ambassador to Syria who warned Thursday that Israeli strikes in Syria are “provoking” Russia to react, in one of the strongest Russian condemnations of Israeli operations in Syria. Alexander Efimov additionally complained that Israeli strikes aim to “escalate tensions and allow the West to carry out military activities in Syria”. Earlier this month, however, the Russian embassy in Israel said that it saw military coordination with Israel in Syria continuing, noting: “Our military officials discuss the practical issues of this substantively on a daily basis. This mechanism has proven to be useful and will continue to work.”

A new poll by Israel Hayom and the Maagar Mochot research institute shows that 51 per cent of Israelis support Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s mediation efforts between Ukraine and Russia, whilst only 25 per cent are opposed. As for Israel’s policy on refugees from Ukraine, 35 per cent said the country should only take in those eligible for citizenship in accordance with the Law of Return. Thirty-three per cent said Jerusalem should allow all Ukrainians seeking refuge in Israel to enter the country until the fighting ends, and 18 per cent said Israel should limit the entry of refugees to the extent possible through the use of caps on entry. A plurality of respondents, 47 per cent, called Israel’s policy on the conflict “balanced,” while 25 per cent urged greater support for Ukraine in the war. Only 5 per cent of Israelis surveyed called for Israel to show greater support for Russia.