Six In The Morning Monday 28 August 2023

Taliban stop female Afghan students leaving country to study in Dubai

By Noor Gul Shafaq
BBC Afghan

“After the Taliban shut universities for women, my only hope was to get a scholarship which would help me study abroad,” says 20-year-old Afghan student Natkai.

Natkai’s name has been changed for her own safety.

The Taliban have cracked down hard on women who oppose them.

Natkai says she kept studying even though there was little chance of her ever attending university in her homeland.

Then she was granted a scholarship to study at the University of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Emirati billionaire businessman Sheikh Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor.

The scholarships for Afghan women were announced in December 2022 after the Taliban banned women from university.

Syrian protests enter second week with calls for Assad to go

Demonstrations have grown steadily throughout the south, centering around the province of Suwayda

A spate of protests and strikes across government-held areas in southern Syria have continued into their second week, with demonstrators increasingly unafraid to call for the removal of the president, Bashar al-Assad.

Protesters gathered in the southern city of Suwayda on Monday, closing provincial roads. The province of Suwayda has remained under government control since Syria’s 2011 uprising and is home to much of the country’s Druze minority.

Video shared by the activist-led organisation Suwayda24 showed several hundred people gathered in a central square waving Druze flags and chanting “long live Syria, and down with Bashar al-Assad”.

Iran, Iraq agree to disarm Kurdish militants — Tehran

Iran’s foreign ministry says Iraq has agreed to disarm and relocated exiled Iranian Kurdish opposition groups operating in autonomous northern Iraq. It said Iran will take action if Baghdad does not honor the deal.

Iran said on Monday it and Iraq had reached an agreement to disarm and relocate Kurdish militant groups.

Tehran said it would take action if Baghdad does not honor its commitment by mid-September.

“According to a deal reached between the Iranian and Iraqi governments, the Iraqi government has pledged to disarm armed terrorist groups in Iraq by September 19,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani told a news conference.

“The September 19 deadline will under no circumstances be extended,” Kanani said. “After this deadline, if Iraq fails to meet its commitments, the Iranian government will assume its responsibility, in order to ensure the country’s security.”

Erdogan to push Putin on grain deal in Russia

Turkey said Monday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will “soon” visit Russia for talks with Vladimir Putin on reviving a Black Sea grain deal that could be used as a springboard for broader Ukraine peace negotiations.

Erdogan’s ruling party spokesman Omer Celik told reporters that the meeting will take place in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi and focus on averting a looming “food crisis”.

“As you know, (Erdogan) will pay a visit to Sochi soon,” Celik said in televised remarks.

The Bloomberg news agency had earlier reported that Erdogan could meet the Russian president on September 8.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that a meeting was being prepared “intensively” but provided no time or place for the talks.

Erdogan has used his good relations with Moscow and Kyiv to try to bring the two sides into formal peace talks.

Japan conveys concern to China over harassment following Fukushima water release

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that Japan conveyed its concern to China over harassment by Chinese citizens following the start of the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant last week, calling such behavior “regrettable.”

Earlier in the day, Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Masataka Okano summoned Chinese Ambassador Wu Jianghao and called on China to encourage its people to “react calmly” to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens and facilities in the neighboring nation.

Okano also strongly urged the Chinese government to deliver “accurate information” on the safety of the water, which has been treated through a process capable of removing most radionuclides except tritium.

Australian writer detained in China fears he will die in jail

Updated 4:19 AM EDT, Mon August 28, 2023

A Chinese-Australian writer who has been detained in China for more than four years said he fears he could die in jail, after a large cyst was found on his kidney.

Yang Hengjun, an Australian citizen and democracy activist, was detained in 2019 during a visit to see family in China and charged with espionage – accusations he has denied.

A Beijing court held his trial in secret in 2021 but a verdict has been repeatedly delayed.

In a message to supporters last Thursday, Yang, 58, said he had experienced discomfort and pain in his kidney for a couple of months.