An international media rights group has filed a complaint with German prosecutors against Saudi Arabia's crown prince and four other top officials accusing them of crimes against humanity over allegations they were involved in the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, authorities said Tuesday.
The German federal prosecutors office in Karlsruhe told The Associated Press that it received the complaint from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders on Monday.
The complaint, relying partially on a newly declassified U.S. intelligence report released Friday, identifies five primary suspects: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his close adviser Saud Al-Qahtani and three other high-ranking Saudi officials, Reporters Without Borders said.
They were identified for their “organizational or executive responsibility in Khashoggi's killing, as well as their involvement in developing a state policy to attack and silence journalists,” the group said in a statement.
In the U.S. report, intelligence officials stopped short of saying the Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s slaying in Turkey in October 2018, but described him as having “absolute control” over the kingdom’s intelligence organizations and said it would have been highly unlikely for an operation like the killing to have been carried out without his approval.
Saudia Arabia's U.N. ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, on Monday disputed the report, saying it didn't come “anywhere close” to proof of any allegations against the crown prince.
Saudi Arabia's embassies in Berlin and Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Reporters Without Borders complaint.
Under the German legal system, anyone can file an allegation with prosecutors and there is an obligation for them to look into the accusations. It is up to them to determine then whether they justify launching a full investigation.
German law allows prosecutors to claim universal jurisdiction in crimes against humanity, and last week they secured the conviction of a former member of Syrian President Bashar Assad's secret police for his involvement in facilitating the torture of prisoners in his homeland.
In that case, however, the defendant had been living in Germany. The Khashoggi case has no obvious connections to the country.
“Those responsible for the persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, must be held accountable for their crimes,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement. “While these serious crimes against journalists continue unabated, we call on the German prosecutor to take a stand and open an investigation into the crimes we have revealed."
The U.S. document released Friday said a 15-member Saudi team, including seven members of the prince’s elite personal protective team, arrived in Istanbul, though it says it’s unclear how far in advance Saudi officials had decided to harm him.
Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate to pick up documents needed for his wedding. Once inside, he died at the hands of more than a dozen Saudi security and intelligence officials and others who had assembled ahead of his arrival. Surveillance cameras had tracked his route and those of his alleged killers in Istanbul in the hours before his killing.
A Turkish bug planted at the consulate reportedly captured the sound of a forensic saw, operated by a Saudi colonel who was also a forensics expert, dismembering Khashoggi’s body within an hour of his entering the building. The whereabouts of his remains is unknown.
Besides the crown prince and his adviser, the complaint names Saudi Arabi's former deputy head of intelligence Ahmad Mohammed Asiri; Mohammad Al-Otaibi, the Consul General in Istanbul at the time of the murder; and intelligence officer Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb.
Dubai Startup Hub, an initiative of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec), the largest tech co-working space in the Middle East wholly owned by Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), have released the Dubai Startup Report 2021, an informative guide on Dubai’s startup ecosystem for international startups and investors that are keen on exploring business opportunities in the emirate.
The report brings together the hands-on experience of Dubai Startup Hub and Dtec serving a community of more than 10,000 founders and investors, and the public policy and legal perspective on incentives and schemes available in the Emirate.
Featured in the report are several business-friendly measures introduced in recent years to support business activity, boost foreign investment and attract promising companies and investors from around the world such as several stimulus packages, the golden card permanent residency system for expat investors, a 5-year visa for entrepreneurs, a virtual working programme and a decision to grant UAE citizenship to select foreigners.
The report highlights various programmes, resources and value-added services available in Dubai that are designed to support the growth of startups and connect them to new business opportunities. Dubai Startup Hub, an initiative of Dubai Chamber, along with Dtec are among the most active startup ecosystem players in the emirate.
Among other topics of interest covered in the report are ease of doing business, economic competitiveness, government initiatives supporting startup growth, venture capital activity, free zones and the services they offer, access to finance, investment incentives and availability of skilled talent, in addition to useful tips on setting up a company in Dubai.
In addition, the report features exclusive interviews with a variety of entrepreneurship ecosystem stakeholders, including Hans Christensen, Vice President, at Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec); Natalia Sycheva, Senior Manager of Entrepreneurship and Special Projects at Dubai Chamber; Hasan Haider, Managing Partner, MENA at 500 Startups; Kushal Shah, Co-founder of Dubai Angel Investors; and Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, President & CEO of Higher College of Technology.
Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber, described the report as a valuable and reliable resource for startups and investors in other markets as it provides a wealth of practical information about Dubai’s dynamic and fast-growing startup ecosystem.
"The launch of the Dubai Startup Report comes as a time when startups are driving Dubai’s digital transformation, fostering innovation and playing a crucial role in building the emirate’s post-Covid-19 economy. The informative guide supports Dubai Chamber’s comprehensive entrepreneurship strategy and ongoing efforts to promote Dubai as a preferred market for high-potential startups from around the world," said Buamim.
He added that Dubai Chamber supports the growth of startups in Dubai through its entrepreneurship initiative Dubai Startup Hub by providing startup members access to resources, tools, knowledge and market opportunities that can help them thrive and grow.
For his part, Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Vice Chairman and CEO of DSOA, noted that Dubai’s competitiveness attracts innovative thinkers, positioning it as a preferred destination for entrepreneurs in diverse industries, especially those in technology and fourth industrial revolution applications. These sectors have recently surged, given the measures in response to COVID-19.
Al Zarooni said: "Start-ups are a pillar of a flexible economic system that is agile enough to quickly adapt to new developments and achieve sustainable growth. The facilities that Dubai offers to this dynamic segment, through a supportive ecosystem and an incubator for innovation, helps them grow and achieve strategic business objectives. The Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus at Dubai Silicon Oasis, which is home to hundreds of technology start-ups, is an exemplary model of the unique ecosystem that Dubai and the wider UAE offers."
He added that the Dubai Startup Report 2021 presents a holistic view of Dubai’s attractiveness as a launch pad for entrepreneurs from across the globe.
by Dubai Chamber in 2016, Dubai Startup Hub is the first initiative of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region. The initiative aims to provide clarity and guidance for entrepreneurs throughout their journey, while it also leverages public-private sector partnerships to promote innovation and develop Dubai’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus is the largest tech hub and coworking space in the MENA region and a base of operations for more than 820 startups from 72 countries.
President Joe Biden said Friday that Iran should view his decision to authorize U.S. airstrikes in Syria as a warning that it can expect consequences for its support of militia groups that threaten U.S. interests or personnel.
“You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” Biden said when a reporter asked what message he had intended to send with the airstrikes, which the Pentagon said destroyed several buildings in eastern Syria but were not intended to eradicate the militia groups that used them to facilitate attacks inside Iraq.
Administration officials defended the Thursday night airstrikes as legal and appropriate, saying they took out facilities that housed valuable “capabilities” used by Iranian-backed militia groups to attack American and allied forces in Iraq.
John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, said members of Congress were notified before the strikes as two Air Force F-15E aircraft launched seven missiles, destroying nine facilities and heavily damaging two others, rendering both “functionally destroyed.” He said the facilities, at “entry control points” on the border, had been used by militia groups the U.S. deems responsible for recent attacks against U.S. interests in Iraq.
In a political twist for the new Democratic administration, several leading Congress members in Biden’s own party denounced the strikes, which were the first military actions he authorized. Democrats said the airstrikes were done without authorization from lawmakers, while Republicans were more supportive.
“Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. And Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said lawmakers must hold the current administration to the same standards as any other. “Retaliatory strikes not necessary to prevent an imminent threat,” he said, must get congressional authorization.
But Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, backed the decision as “the correct, proportionate response to protect American lives.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday that Biden used his constitutional authority to defend U.S. personnel.
“The targets were chosen to correspond to the recent attacks on facilities and to deter the risk of additional attacks over the coming weeks,” she said.
Among the recent attacks cited was a Feb. 15 rocket attack in northern Iraq that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops.
At the Pentagon, Kirby said the operation was “a defensive strike” on a waystation used by militants to move weapons and materials for attacks into Iraq. But he noted that while it sent a message of deterrence and eroded their ability to strike from that compound, the militias have other sites and capabilities. He said the strikes resulted in “casualties” but declined to provide further details on how many were killed or injured and what was inside the buildings pending the completion of a broader assessment of damage inflicted.
An Iraqi militia official said Friday that the strikes killed one fighter and wounded several others.
Kirby said the facilities hit in the attack were near Boukamal, on the Syrian side of the Iraq border, along the Euphrates River.
“This location is known to facilitate Iranian-aligned militia group activity,” he said. He described the site as a “compound” that previously had been used by the Islamic State group when it held sway in the area.
The Iraqi militia official told The Associated Press that the strikes against the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, hit an area along the border between the Syrian site of Boukamal facing Qaim on the Iraqi side. The official was not authorized to speak publicly of the attack and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Speaking to reporters Thursday evening shortly after the airstrikes were carried out, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “I’m confident in the target that we went after. We know what we hit.”
Biden’s decision to attack in Syria did not appear to signal an intention to widen U.S. military involvement in the region but rather to demonstrate a will to defend U.S. troops in Iraq and send a message to Iran. The Biden administration in its first weeks has emphasized its intent to put more focus on the challenges posed by China, even as Mideast threats persist.
The U.S. has previously targeted facilities in Syria belonging to Kataeb Hezbollah, which it has blamed for numerous attacks targeting U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq. The Iraqi Kataeb is separate from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the war in Syria, said the strikes targeted a shipment of weapons that were being taken by trucks entering Syrian territories from Iraq. The group said 22 fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi umbrella group of mostly Shiite paramilitaries that includes Kataeb Hezbollah, were killed. The report could not be independently verified.
In a statement, the group confirmed one of its fighters was killed and said it reserved the right to retaliate, without elaborating. Kataeb Hezbollah, like other Iranian-backed factions, maintains fighters in Syria to both fight against the Islamic State group and assist Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in that country’s civil war.
Austin said he was confident the U.S. had hit back at “the same Shia militants” that carried out the Feb.1 5 rocket attack in northern Iraq.
Kirby credited Iraqis with providing valuable intelligence that allowed the U.S. to identify the groups responsible for attacks earlier this year. The U.S., he said, then determined the appropriate target for the retaliatory strike. He said the U.S. also notified Russia shortly before the strike as part of the ongoing deconfliction process of military activities in Syria.
“The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel,” Kirby said.
Syria condemned the U.S. strike, calling it “a cowardly and systematic American aggression,” warning that the attack will lead to consequences.
U.S. forces have been significantly reduced in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and no longer partake in combat missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations against the Islamic State group.
A new report published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has identified a series of policy measures that can help advance the energy transition towards renewable energy in Jordan.
The "Renewables Readiness Assessment: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" – developed in co-operation with Jordan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, suggests opportunities exist to deepen private sector engagement in national efforts to reach a 31 percent share of renewables in total power by 2030.
"The recommendations of this report comply with the newly issued Energy strategy 2020-2030 and its action plan," said Engineer Hala Zawati, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources in Jordan. "We are fully aware that to achieve all these ambitious targets, a strong partnership between the public and private sectors is needed. We are also eager to work with international friends and partners to make renewable energy a main pillar of the Jordan energy sector."
The report presents policy action areas to increase energy security and boost supply diversity through the accelerated uptake of renewables and includes ideas to boost end-use electrification and increase the availability of energy transition investments from domestic institutions.
Jordan’s share of electricity from renewables grew from almost zero in 2014 to around 20 percent in 2020 thanks to enabling frameworks and policies that have supported the deployment of renewable energy technologies, including solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind.
"Jordan boasts significant renewable energy resource potential that if realised will reduce consumer energy costs, improve national energy security, create jobs and stimulate sustainable growth – boosting post COVID-19 economic recovery efforts," said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. "This report highlights a series of policy and regulatory measures that will allow Jordan to build on its energy transition progress to date and align it with 2030 national decarbonisation goals."
Capacity building in local financing institutions and project developers can drive their engagement in the energy transition, the report says, while helping the country to meet its needs in important areas such as the build-out of electric charging infrastructure for the transport system.
Challenges associated with integrating higher shares of renewables in Jordan can be addressed by building and upgrading transmission and distribution infrastructure, deploying storage, promoting demand-side management and incentivising electrification of heating, cooling and transportation.
Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, affirmed that the UAE rejects foreign interference in the internal affairs of countries and stresses the importance of respecting the rule of law and adhering to international conventions, and the security and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab region.
This came during her Excellency’s participation in the activities of the "Philia Forum 2021", which was held in the Greek capital Athens today to discuss regional developments and issues in the region and in the eastern Mediterranean region, at the level of foreign ministers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Republic of Greece. And the Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of France.
Her Excellency said that the meeting comes in light of the increasing volume of challenges and crises facing the two regions, which requires us to take serious collective action and increase cooperation and coordination, and to deal with them with rationality, wisdom and balance to lay the foundations for development, security, stability and peace in a way that achieves the hopes and aspirations of our peoples.
Her Excellency clarified that one of the most important challenges facing the world is the emerging Corona virus pandemic crisis and that since the beginning of the pandemic, the UAE has been keen to affirm its human solidarity with the countries of the whole world in dealing with this pandemic and that this crisis needs to increase coordination and cooperation among all Concerned authorities and concerted efforts to overcome challenges and preserve the safety of society. In this context, the UAE has so far provided more than 1760 tons of aid to more than 129 countries, from which about 1.7 million medical workers have benefited.
Her Excellency affirmed that the United Arab Emirates, as a peace-loving country, will continue its efforts aimed at spreading a culture of tolerance, moderation and coexistence among peoples, giving preference to the language of dialogue and reason among them, and that there is no tolerance and tolerance for extremism and terrorism in all its forms.
She noted that the UAE renews its support for achieving and sustaining regional and international stability, noting that the volume of joint coordination in this forum confirms the existence of the common political will to overcome the challenges on the regional and international arenas effectively and positively.