Six In The Morning Sunday 4 February 2024

US says strikes on Iran-linked targets just ‘the beginning’ of response

In summary: Arab press reacts to US strikes

BBC Monitoring

There’s been extensive focus in the Arabic-language press on the strikes against Iranian-linked sites in Iraq and Syria by the US last Friday.

Here’s some of the reaction.

Many dailies, such as Emirati daily al-Khaleej, show concern about an “increasing level of tensions”.

Egyptian privately-owned daily newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm calls the strikes “US revenge” and highlights internal criticism within the US over their timing.

The chief editor of London-based pan-Arab website Rai al-Youm lambasts Washington for “brutal flagrant aggression” against Iraq and Syria. He adds that US President Joe Biden has committed a “great sin” and accuses Israel of “dragging” the US into war in Iraq.

Saudi journalist Tariq al-Homayed, writing in pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, criticises both the Iran-backed militia for “targeting regional stability” and US strategy, describing the region’s situation as “attrition”.

Syrian journalist Absi Smeisem writes in the Qatar-affiliated pan-Arab Al-Araby al-Jadeed that the US carried out its strikes in a way “closer to a media show”. He also says the strikes “will not change the scope of Iranian presence in Syria”.

‘Everything beautiful has been destroyed’: Palestinians mourn a city in tatters

More than 200 buildings of cultural and historical significance have been reduced to rubble in Gaza, including mosques, cemeteries and museums

Its walls collapsed and its minaret cut short, Gaza’s Omari mosque remains standing but vastly diminished. Around it, the historic old city is also in tatters. The 7th-century mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Gaza, was Gaza’s most famous and its surroundings a focal point of the Palestinian enclave’s history and culture, but the damage done to its heritage over more than 100 days of Israeli bombardment spreads across the city.

For the few Palestinians who remain, and the far greater number displaced and hoping to return, the culture and history has been reduced to memories.

“Reason of State”The True Story Behind Merkel’s Promise to Israel

Israel’s security is an element of Germany’s “reason of state,” Chancellor Angela Merkel famously stated. It is a formulation that has since been adopted by the country’s leading politicians. But what does it mean? And where did it come from?

By Christoph Schult und Klaus Wiegrefe

Chancellor Olaf Scholz was wearing black when he stepped in front of Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, on October 12 of last year. Five days after the massacre perpetrated by Hamas, he said that the hearts of all Germans were “heavy in the face of the suffering, the terror, the hate and the contempt for human lives” that had been visited upon Israel. It was clear, he said, that Germany sided with the victims.

And then he uttered a notable sentence: “Israeli security is Germany’s ‘reason of state.'” In other words, Germany’s very existence was linked to Israel’s security.

How ‘Myanmar Witness’ documented a deadly air strike denied by state-owned media

A number of photos and videos that circulated on social media and were picked up by pro-democracy media outlets show the aftermath of an air strike on the village of Ka Nan, in the west of Myanmar on January 7, 2024. While the state television outlet claimed that reports of the air strike were “fake news”, a visual investigation published by “Myanmar Witness” documented the attack and proved the Myanmar Air Force’s involvement. Seventeen civilians are believed to have been killed.

A civil war between the ruling junta and armed ethnic groups has been raging in Myanmar since the military coup that took place three years ago on February 1, 2021. Human rights organisations have repeatedly denounced the Myanmar Air Force’s bombing of civilian infrastructures like churches and schools – but these air strikes continue.

However, these air strikes are rarely as well documented as the strike that took place on January 7, 2024 in Ka Nan. The Three Brotherhood Alliance, made up of a number of ethnic groups, has, since November 7, controlled this village located in western Myanmar near the Indian border. Since October, the alliance has been carrying out a counter-offensive and taken back several strategic areas from the Myanmar Army.

El Salvador goes to polls with strongman Bukele way ahead

President Nayib Bukele is the favorite to win the elections in El Salvador after clamping down on gang violence. But critics accuse the self-described “world’s coolest dictator” of creeping authoritarianism.

Salvadorans headed to the polls on Sunday in a presidential election expected to deliver an overwhelming victory for the incumbent Nayib Bukele.

Recent polling shows that about eight out of 10 voters support Bukele, who has led a crackdown on gang violence that once plagued the country.

Why is Bukele so popular?

The 42-year-old is credited with slashing the murder rate in a country that was once among the most dangerous in the world to its lowest level in three decades. Currently, the murder rate is well below the world average.

At least 28 killed in strike on Russian-occupied town in eastern Ukraine

At least 28 have been killed in an attack on a building in the town of Lysychansk in the Russian-occupied region of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, the region’s Moscow-installed head said Sunday.

In a statement on Telegram, the head of self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic Leonid Pasechnik said emergency services had rescued 10 people from under the rubble after what he said was a Ukrainian attack on a building housing a bakery on Saturday.

Pasechnik said Sunday has been declared a day of mourning in the Luhansk People’s Republic for the victims of the attack.

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