State of Emergency Declared in California Due to Winter Storms

Washington, Jan. 6, 2023, SPA -- California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as the Golden State prepares for winter storms.

According to what was reported by the US media, the declaration includes allowing the governor of the state to mobilize the National Guard to assist in disaster response and to obtain assistance from the Federal Highway Administration if necessary, while securing equipment and personnel for rapid response to disasters; such as floods, avalanches, and mudflows.

Residents of the state of California received special warnings to avoid any unnecessary driving, and to develop contingency plans for alternative energy sources if necessary, and the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County announced evacuation orders for a number of neighborhoods at risk.

Source: Saudi Press Agency

Uyghur News Recap: December 28, 2022 – January 6, 2023

Here's a summary of Uyghur-related news from around the world this week.

Uyghur Writer Dies After Prison Release During COVID Lockdown

Uyghur writer Abdulla Sawut, 72, died lacking food and medical treatment during a COVID lockdown last month, a Chinese government employee in Xinjiang confirmed to Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service. Sawut was sentenced to prison in 2017 on charges of separatism for his writings about Uyghur history. He died soon after he was released from prison in poor health, according to the RFA’s investigative report.

Japanese Artist Produces 7th Manga Book on Internment Camps in Xinjiang

Tomomi Shimizu, a Japanese writer and illustrator, released her seventh manga book depicting alleged persecution of Uyghur women in internment camps in Xinjiang. Her latest work is based on testimonies of an Uzbek woman from Xinjiang who was forced to teach Mandarin to Uyghur detainees in an internment or “re-education” camp in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

Uyghur Muslim Religious Leader Dies in Prison

Omar Huseyin, 55, a former Uyghur imam of a mosque in Xinjiang, died of cancer in prison last February while serving a five-year prison term since 2017 for making a religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 2015, a resident in Xinjiang told Radio Free Asia.

Turkey Says China Prevented Turkish Delegation's Visit to Xinjiang

Last week, at a year-end press conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that China had prevented a Turkish delegation visit to the Uyghur region in China to observe how the Uyghurs were being treated by Chinese authorities.

Rights Advocates: World Must Focus on China's Actions in Xinjiang

Rights activists are demanding that the international community focus on an international, independent investigation into crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and work toward an end to Uyghur forced labor in 2023.

Repression of Uyghurs Detailed

A Uyghur emigre, who requested to use an assumed name for fear of reprisal from the Chinese government, told VOA that in 2022, China continued its repressive system in Xinjiang toward the Uyghurs and other Muslim groups. According to the Uyghur man, the government measures included restriction of domestic movement and international travel.

Quote of Note

"Any Uyghur passport holder should be able to present a consent document from the Xinjiang authorities at any customs in China. If a Uyghur person has a valid Chinese passport and a visa to go to a certain country but doesn’t have that government consent document, customs won’t let them cross the border. When a Uyghur presents his Chinese ID, passport and consent document to the customs officers, they would take that person to a special designated place for Uyghurs and then call the police authorities in Xinjiang to authenticate the document. If the Xinjiang police corroborate, then customs would let them go." — Jamal (assumed name), Uyghur exile

Source: Voice of America

NEMA Extend Distribution of KSrelief Food Donation to 8,000 IDPs in Borno State

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has commenced the second phase of food distribution from items donated by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) for 8,000 households of Internally Displaced Persons in four camps and host communities in Borno State.

Director General NEMA Mustapha Habib Ahmed who flagged off the distribution in Maiduguri on Thursday said at conclusion of the second phase of the distribution, about 16,000 IDPs households in Borno State would have benefitted from the food donation by KSrelief. The first phase of the food distribution was done in December 2022.

He said the distribution would be carriedout in four camps that are located around Maiduguri namely: Muna Kumburi, Gongulon, Madinatu I and Madinatu II. These, according to him were in addition to the earlier distribution in December 2022, during which about 8,000 households benefitted in five camps at El-Miskin, Doro, Ashiri, Shuwarin and Nganzai.

The NEMA DG who was represented by the Director of Planning Research and Forecasting Hajiya Fatima Suleiman Kasim said each of the households is expected to have 59.8 kilograms food basket, made up of 25kg of rice; 25kg of beans; 4kg of Masa vita flour 2kg of tomato paste; litres of ground nut oil; 1kg of salt and 0. 8kg of maggi cubes.

While appreciating the King of Saudi Arabia, His Majesty, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammad Bin Salman for the donation delivered through KS relief, the NEMA DG Mustapha Habib Ahmed said the gesture would go a long way to benefit the IDPs and complement the efforts of the Federal Government.

He said “our partnership with KSrelief dates back to 2018. Between 2018 and 2021, the Centre donated relief items (food baskets) to some Internally Displaced persons in Borno, Yobe and Zamfara States.”

He further that “KSrelief has been very benevolent to the Country. Interventions have been beneficial as evident from the positive testimonies from the IDPs.”

The food distribution is being carriedout directly to the IDPs in their places of abodes at the camps by NEMA Staff in collaboration with staff of Borno State SEMA.

Source: International Crisis Group

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2023 [EN/AR]

Will he or won’t he? This time last year, that was the question. Russian President Vladimir Putin had massed almost two hundred thousand troops on Ukraine’s borders. U.S. intelligence warned that Russia was preparing for all-out war. All the signs pointed to an assault, bar one: it seemed unthinkable.

True, Russia had attacked Ukraine in 2014, and in the spring of 2021 had staged a dress rehearsal for an invasion, building up forces on the frontier before sending them home. Putin seemed ever angrier at Kyiv’s refusal to bow to his will. He openly derided Ukrainian national identity and sovereignty. Still, it was shocking, when Russian forces did roll in, that a nuclear-armed power in 2022 would seek to conquer a neighbour in an act of unprovoked aggression.

Beyond the devastation in Ukraine, the war has cast a long shadow over global affairs.

For Russia, so far it has been disastrous. An offensive that was supposed to subjugate Ukraine, weaken the West, and strengthen the Kremlin has, up to now, done the opposite. It has turbo-charged Ukrainian nationalism and pushed Kyiv closer to Europe. It has breathed new purpose into a previously adrift NATO. Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, which seems on track, will dramatically shift the balance of force in Northern Europe, more than doubling the length of Russia’s borders with NATO states. The war has laid bare weaknesses in Russia’s military that operations in Syria (2015) and Ukraine (2014 and 2015) had disguised. It has revealed resolve and competence in the West that fiascoes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya had obscured (though admittedly things might have been different had the U.S. been under other leadership).

Still, the war is far from over. Russia’s economy has adapted to massive Western sanctions. The Kremlin appears convinced that Russia has staying power. Moscow might yet force an ugly settlement and set a troubling precedent for aggression elsewhere. If, on the other hand, Putin feels truly in peril, due to Ukrainian advances or other reasons, it is not impossible?–?unlikely, but hard to completely rule out?–?that he will use a nuclear weapon as a last roll of the dice. Whatever happens in Ukraine, the West and Russia will likely remain a miscalculation away from confrontation.

For China, the war has been mostly a headache. Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s public embrace of Putin and continued trade between the two countries that has helped Russia weather sanctions, Beijing’s material support has been lacklustre. Xi Jinping has not sent weapons. He appears disturbed by Putin’s travails and nuclear bluster. Beijing does not want to undercut Moscow and is unlikely to compel Putin to reach a settlement. But neither does it wish to provoke Western capitals by abetting the invasion. It watches warily as U.S. allies in Asia bolster defences and seem even keener to keep Washington around, even as they still want access to Chinese markets. The war has heightened fears of a Chinese assault on Taiwan. But an invasion that seemed too risky for Beijing in the near term even before the war seems?–?at least for now?–?even less likely. The massive sanctions imposed on Russia are not lost on China. Nor are Moscow’s battlefield failures.

As for the relationship?–?between the U.S. and China?–?that will dominate the coming decades, the Russia-Ukraine war has not changed the fundamentals. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to Taiwan riled Beijing, but the meeting three months later between U.S. President Joe Biden and Xi promised a resumption of dialogue. Competition is still baked into the two countries’ foreign policies, however. Chinese designs upon Taiwan are not going anywhere. Though the world’s two biggest economies remain entwined, technological decoupling is underway.

The war has shone light on non-Western middle powers’ influence and autonomy. Turkey, long walking a tightrope between NATO membership and ties to Moscow, has brokered, with the United Nations, a deal to get Ukrainian grain onto global markets via the Black Sea. The initiative follows years of Turkish assertiveness abroad, including tipping the battlefield balance in Libya and the South Caucasus and expanding drone sales. For Saudi Arabia, the abrupt removal of Russian oil from the market was a boon. It forced a visit from Biden, who had entered office promising to shun Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Riyadh decided, with other oil producers, to keep prices high, much to Washington’s fury. India, at once a U.S. security partner and major purchaser of Russian arms, has both bought knock-off Russian oil and chided Putin for his nuclear sabre-rattling. This is no coordinated non-aligned movement. But activist middle powers feel space to chart their own course and, while few welcome big-power rivalry, will seize the opportunities that multipolarity brings.

Elsewhere in the global south, the war exposed raw nerves. Most non-Western capitals joined in UN General Assembly votes against Russia’s aggression. But few have condemned Putin publicly or imposed sanctions. Many have reason?–?trade, mostly, but also historical ties or reliance on Kremlin-linked Wagner Group mercenaries?–?not to break with Moscow. They see picking a side or incurring costs for a war many believe is Europe’s problem as against their interests. Frustration with the West plays a role too, whether over COVID-19 vaccine hoarding, migration policy or climate injustice. Many see a double standard in outrage over Ukraine given the West’s interventions elsewhere and colonial record. Many global south leaders also believe, particularly when it comes to sanctions, that Western governments have put fighting Russia over the global economy.

Indeed, outside Europe, the war’s biggest ramifications are economic. Financial jitters triggered by the invasion and announcement of sanctions roiled markets that COVID-19 had already shaken. Food and fuel commodity prices shot up, sparking a cost of living crisis. Though prices have since come down, inflation remains rampant, magnifying debt problems. The pandemic and economic crisis are two among several mutually reinforcing threats, notably also including climate change and food insecurity, that can beset vulnerable countries and fuel unrest. On this year’s list, Pakistan is a prime example. Many countries are in similar boats.

Did 2022 give any cause for optimism for the year ahead? Given Ukraine’s anguish, finding good in the war might seem perverse. But had Kyiv put up less of a fight, had the West been less united than it was under Biden’s leadership, and had Russia prevailed, Europe, and arguably the world, would be in a more dangerous place. Nor was Putin the only strongman who had a bad year. Several populists, whose politics have recently sown much discord, also lost out. Jair Bolsonaro was defeated in Brazil. Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears, for now, a diminished figure. Marine Le Pen failed to win the French presidency. In Italy, where populists did win power, they mostly tacked centre once in office. Far-right populism is not a spent force, but some of its champions suffered setbacks. Plus, multilateral diplomacy largely muddled through. Notwithstanding their bitter differences, China, Russia and Western powers still mostly saw the UN Security Council as a venue to manage crises outside Ukraine. A deal that could end Ethiopia’s horrific war and warmer Colombia-Venezuela ties show that peacemaking elsewhere can trundle along despite conflict in Europe.

Overall, though, it was an unsettling year, all the more so given that it’s the latest in a string of them. The pandemic upended much of the globe. An angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. Temperatures in parts of the world threaten human survival. Now, a major war rages in Europe, its architect invokes nuclear escalation, and several poor countries face debt crises, hunger and extreme weather. None of these events arrived without warning, and yet a few years ago they would have boggled the mind. They also come as the number of people killed in conflicts is ticking up and more people are displaced or hungry, many due to war, than at any time since World War II.

So, will 2023 see major powers go to war or break a nearly 80-year nuclear taboo? Will political crises, economic hardship, and climate breakdown cause social meltdown in not just individual countries but a swath of the world? Worst-case answers to this year’s big questions seem far-fetched. But after the past few years, it would be complacent to dismiss the unthinkable.

Source: International Crisis Group

Today..the Gulf 25 opening whistle sounds in Basra

Basra / NINA /- The opening whistle of the 25th Gulf Championship sounds in Basra this evening, Friday, with the Iraq-Oman match at the Sports City Stadium in Basra, led by an entire Romanian referee team, preceded by the opening activities of the tournament with the participation of artists and popular teams presenting visual and Gulf folklore.

Eight teams are participating in the tournament, divided into two groups. The first plays in the Palm Trunk Stadium, which includes Iraq - Yemen - Saudi Arabia - Oman, and the second group: Bahrain - Kuwait - Qatar - UAE.

The opening activities of Gulf 25 begin at half past five, after which the Iraqi and Omani teams match at seven o’clock in the evening, after our national team finished its preparations for the match, at a time when the city of Basra was adorned with the beauty of its view and corniche with the waves of the Shatt al-Arab, where thousands of citizens of Basra and other provinces and the two Gulfs witnessed the influx who will attend the tournament matches that will start today Friday.

The first edition of it was held in Bahrain in 1970, and the last tournament hosted by Qatar was in 2019, in which Bahrain crowned the first title in its history.

Iraq participated for the first time in the fourth Gulf Championship in Doha in 1976 and lost in the final match against Kuwait by four goals to two. Iraq was able to win the title of champion of the fifth edition in Baghdad in 1979, then won the title for the second and third times in the 1984 and 1988 editions.

Source: National Iraqi News Agency

Saudi productive families represent KSA at Arab Productive Families Exhibition in Egypt

Cairo– Social Development Bank has represented the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the first Arab Productive Families Exhibition held in Egypt, under the name of the Arab Exhibition for Productive Families "Bayt Al-Arab", which is supervised by the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity and the Arab League, under the patronage of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The Saudi delegation participated in various products that reflect the Saudi identity and highlight the cultural diversity of the Kingdom. The head of the Saudi delegation, Saeed Al-Zahrani, in a speech at the opening of the exhibition, highlighted the Bank’s successful experiences represented in enabling 10,000 productive families to penetrate the labor market through local and international events, in addition to the marketing of 7,500 products by e-stores, while creating an appropriate work environment through production incubators, business accelerators, and community kitchens, whose number exceeded 14 facilities equipped with all necessary operational means and expertise.

Al-Zahrani explained that the Kingdom applies international best practices to support micro-enterprises, through legislation and regulation of the third sector that supports productive families, in addition to building the capabilities of workers in this vital sector, developing its business, and facilitating financing for those interested in starting a business in it.

The bank's participation comes within its strategic plans to develop and bridge microenterprises, which benefited more than 150,000 productive families with financing amounting to SR2 billion. This Bank’s participation in the Arab Exhibition for Productive Families is the third internationally, less than a month after the participation of Saudi productive families in a joint exhibition with productive families from the United Arab Emirates, in addition to another participation in the global village in Dubai.

The Arab Productive Families Exhibition, which kicked off on Thursday, will continue to receive visitors at its headquarters in Cairo until January 11, with 13 Arab countries displaying the products of 150 families.

Source: Saudi Press Agency