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7 dead, 2,496 arrested during Sudanese protest

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…As Iran decries ‘illegal’ U.S. designation of Guards, retaliates with terrorism listing***

Seven people were killed and 2,496 arrested during anti-government protests in Sudan over the weekend, state-run media reported on Monday, citing the country’s Interior Minister.

Bushara Aror told parliament that 15 civilians had also been injured, as well as 42 members of the security forces, according to state-run news agency SUNA.

Protests against the rule of long-time President Omar al-Bashir, meanwhile, continued in the capital of Khartoum, with at least tens of thousands of people staging a sit-in at the army headquarters on Monday.

Some witnesses put the number of demonstrators at almost one million people.

In the presence of heavily armed security forces and riot police, protesters were chanting slogans to encourage the army to help them overthrow Al-Bashir’s government.
Some held placards that read: “The army and the people are one’’ and “One army is unity.”

Earlier on Monday, security forces unsuccessfully tried to disperse demonstrators by using tear gas, but the army stepped in to protect the protesters, eye witness said.

Security forces injured three soldiers and several civilians, an army official said on condition of anonymity.

The Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) had called for widespread rallies and a march on the army headquarters on Saturday, the 34th anniversary of the 1985 uprising that toppled the then-government of President Gaafar Nimeiry.

The military removed Nimeiry before handing over power to an elected government, which in turn was overthrown by al-Bashir in a coup in 1989.

The East African nation has seen ongoing protests since December 2018, when a sharp hike in bread and fuel prices caused a public outcry.

The oil-rich country’s economy was badly affected when it split with South Sudan in 2011, and the government is currently facing an economic crisis while also battling several rebel groups.   

Meanwhile, Iran on Monday warned that Washington’s designation of its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation could endanger peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond, state TV reported.

Tehran also took retaliatory action by naming the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organisation and the U.S. government as a sponsor of terror.

“This unwise and illegal measure is a major threat to regional and international stability and peace … Iran labels the American regime as a supporter of terrorism,” Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said in a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump designated Iran’s Guards a foreign terrorist organsation on Monday — an unprecedented step that will raise tensions in the Middle East.

Iranian authorities have said the U.S. decision is a great mistake that will endanger U.S. interests in the region, where Iran is involved in proxy wars from Syria to Lebanon.

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Zarif said on Twitter that the move was aimed at securing the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.

“Another misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu”, and another “dangerous U.S. misadventure in the region”, Zarif tweeted.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders have repeatedly said that U.S. bases in the Middle East and U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within range of Iranian missiles.

Iran has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if the U.S. tries to strangle Tehran’s economy by halting its oil exports. 

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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